Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I think the joint has finally moved

I am verbally nimble, though that won't get you out of the way of a wildly careening truck. I have a sharp wit and a dull ache. They say that after 2 AM there are no ugly women, but in San Diego in the wee early morning hours I have bedded ugly women. I am not proud of it, just guilty. Bucky Katt is my hero.

I have pretty much moved this joint to Facebook now. Much easier to keep up to date in real time. Some say it's a time suck. Even more say it's addicting, but I can handle it. I mean, c'mon man, I can quit it anytime I want to.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

About that technology ...
Potential GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says she is worried that the new airport screening technology could lead to nude pictures of her being leaked out, the Minneapolis Post reports. Where do they find these so called "candidates"?

I sat today in the front yard, slow burning a stogie and hanging out inside my head. I like to just sit. The neighborhood was pretty quiet, the air was anticipatory. There was a storm off in the gulf and it was rolling this way. The air was warm and sultry, but with that cool, tinny feel that the rain...is...almost...here. So yeah, anticipatory.

I see a lot of things that I see all the time without. Seeing. Like Nancy's yard. She has a small orange grove in her back yard. Today I realized there were literally hundreds of oranges on the ground. Looked like the water around a sinking ship as they jettisoned everything to get lighter. It was just amazing, the number. OK, amazing to me.

Pat's yard looked perfectly orderly. All the plants where they belonged. Uniform in size, straight in their borders. Now this is Florida and in the time it takes you to run inside and get a glass of water plants will jump their borders and wild vines will swallow your fence. At least all of our weeds have flowers, so when you finally give up on trying to control nature it's still pretty. What struck me as pretty amazing is that no one ever works in the yard. Ever. It just kind of stays this static perfect on its own.

Been working on this post about 5 weeks now. Type a couple of sentences, then either delete them or move on. you know why, too. Shivagitter's broken. Been visiting with my friend, Ben Gonna. Almost did a lot of things...but didn't. Anyway, I am here today because the wife has gone to that crazy place women go and I am just trying to make myself small. I don't know why God would ingrain so deeply the need to constantly re-arrange the furniture in the house without also endowing them with the upper body strength to satisfy those urges. Those urges which peak at the same time the best ball games are airing. And for some reason are requiring of male assistance all-dang-DAY!

Speaking of inspiring ball games, it's a great time to be an NC State basketball fan. Oh, wait. No, it isn't. I keep waiting for Sidney Lowe to turn them around, but he just ain't getting the same quality of folks that Duke, Carolina, Ga Tech and them are getting.

Been working mightily on my Spanish. I understand a lot more than I did before. In my mind I can speak pretty well on a couple of subjects. It'll take a while to really grow my vocabulary into anything useful. But I can do directions, introductions, and simple descriptions. I know my numbers, days of the week, and colors. I know right from left from straight ahead. So I am getting there. My accent, however, is a bit of an impediment to being understood. I practiced what I could with the Colombians who were here last week. My reply to the first "Como esta?" thrown my way was, "No bien. Necessito un poco cerveza," which caused smiles all around. Partly because it was a humorous answer, but mostly because I butchered most of the pronounciation. Oh well. It is what it is.

On tap for a two week trip to London. This one is firm. Every previous trip to Europe has fell through or been rescheduled. Ought to be downright freezing there, at the end of February. Here,it has been nice. I guess it was around 70 today. I shed the shirt and read the paper outside under the orange tree. Of course, I went in every now and then to help with the great furniture migration. If I don't show at least a token interest in what's going on, well...

Loving American Idol. Who knew Steven Tyler would be such a positive influence on the show? I think it is better than it's been for some time. And, while most of you don't know and couldn't really care less, Nigel Lithgow is back to producing the show. Trust me, that is a good thing. So, I'm a fan.

"Sooooo, Tomo. Tell me 'bout this Godzilla fellow". "Well, actury, Noah-san, it's Godzira. And he's a real bad ass. OH NO! There goes Tokyo..."

I grabbed both the Japanese class and the Colombian class and took them out for a little bit of St. Petersburg culture. I am not sure why I appear so less than enthused, though.

As I attempt to get my kindling going (it rained hard the day before, which always makes for a smokey start to things), Noah supervises the group working on the other fire pit. Noah is a good supervisor as a) he likes to help carry the wood and b) he likes to put wood on the fire. He's not particularly long in the patience department though and he would, without oversight, build a 30 foot wall of flame. Dang 4 year olds!

See, I am NOT driving. I asked him if he could keep it in a straight line and he said "Yep". He was delusional. The dog, by the way, was both delusonal and quite circular. He circled the tractor the whole time we were on it. DRE calls him Circle Jerk cuz he runs in circles and is none too bright.

We've certianly had a freeze warning here and there, I won't lie. But I have been so very thankful that I don't live and haven't traveled in the NorthEast or New England this year. From what NBC nightly news (with Brian Williams or Lester Holt) has shown me, ya'll have got the smack down from old man winter. And every time you try to get back up you get another smack down.

I'm sorry, but I still don't know why anybody is against the health care bill. I mean in principle.

I am glad to see the Middle East in a political revoloution. Seriously. A few democracies in the area would be good. Or at least a secular government or two. I hope that what the one protester said comes to pass, "No longer will religion be politics."

And seriously, could you ask for a classier military? They have kept their hands clean, run tanks up between the factions when things got too heated, and laid out smoke screens to give whichever side was getting whooped at the time cover to get out of there. I have been quite impressed with their restraint.

I am pretty sure that our economy is getting much better. You can't tell it from reading the newspapers, though. However, using my unscientific "Jerkometrics" methodology, I have seen a marked increase in both cars and aggressive driving in my morning commute. It had dropped down to a sane number of cars and a unharried drive, but now it has once again turned into an every man for himself scramble. Luckily, we here in this area are steadfastly against mass transit in any way, shape, or form.

To that, I say, build the mass transit. Despite the ignorant chorus that anything not the status quo is a "job killer" (new buzzword, same lack of factitude seeing as how we massacred tens of thousands of jobs with the status quo). Somebody will have to build it (jobs), administer it (jobs), and will inevitably begin to develop businesses to cater to the riders along the route (dare I say it? Construction and retail jobs). I saw a trolley built is San Diego, with very limited routes. 25 years later the routes are expanded and entertainment areas, retail shopping, and dining line its routes. Bankok was considered a bad bet for the elevated train due to it's cheap and plentiful taxis. Now that sucker goes all over town with full cars and its success convinced them to also build a subway system, also very successful. Boston. Portland. Chicago. Commuter trains make sense.

Just build them. And if you'd prefer, YOU can play rockem-sockem bumper cars on the way to work each morning and I'll ride them.

And back to Idol. Lay off Steven Tyler. He's a trip. And we can only dream to be that cool when we're 65.

A little John Hiatt to get us on out of here.

Buddha was not a Christian, but Jesus would have made a good Buddhist, out
Ramblin' Ed

Friday, December 24, 2010

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.

I was probably right at 18 years old. Or 19. But not 17, of that I am sure. She was what I would suppose could best be described as, what?... pre-Goth. Kind of in the direction of what is now Gothic, but without all of the make-up and affectations. Anyway, back then I just found her dark and mysterious. She was Italian-American, as so much of my high school was back in the 1970's I knew her, from around school. Had one of those names that I had to stop and think about before I said it. One of them vowel ending names. It was DiFillippi or Boniocilli or something. Didn't matter since I never spoke to her.

Back in high school I was pretty sure that none of the girls were interested in me. Which is surprising, since more than a couple, who were for sure out of my little North Carolina swamp stomping self's league, went out with me. But I was always so surprised to get a yes from them, that apparently I never saw a pattern to it. But, I meander.

I was at a party. Or get together. Or bonfire. Or otherwise not all by myself. I believe it was a graduation party for someone who, unlike myself, wasn't going to still be trying to graduate two years past when they should. She was standing near me, turned, leaned into my ear and said, " Hey, let's take off and go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Well, hell! Me being all suave and debonaire like I was back then, replied, "Man, sounds good. But I don't really like to be scared that much." She laughed at me and told me I was going anyway. "Trust me, " she said, "you'll like it."

And while I had never even considered that there might be a movie about a transvestite Dr. Franenfurter making a gay monster...a musical at that!.... she was right. I did find it enjoyable. And we went another 2 dozen times or so, driving all the way into Tampa every Friday night.

In junior high, the pretty girl beside me was trying to strike up a conversation with me because, as we have previously established, I was pretty clueless about things. She ased me if I liked Deep Purple? And me, being all suave and debonaire like I was back then, replied, "I really prefer deep blue. But light purples aren't too bad." Her Dork-O-Meter pegged! "The group. The rock band Deep Purple." I tried, but did not recover so much as just smile back as she laughed. At least she laughed in amusement.

I got me some more stories of what all ignorant stuff I have done and stupid things I have said. They run the gamut from eating an omlette I was sure I wouldn't like (but I did), and not only because said cook came out to cook it for me in her underwear. While her mom was not amused squashed the idea in it's infancy, I must say I did appreciate the gesture.

I have tried to swim with alligators, but fortutiously was unsuccessful. Got stuck in the mud half way between the Gulf of California, which was much further off than it appeared, and the deserted highway running up from San Felipe, Mexico to Mexicali, CA. Got woke up by CHIPS, after spending the night with a girl in my camper on a hillside near Poway, CA only to discover that we were not as remote as we had thought because we were actually overlooking I-5. (That one continued at a Denny's a little while later when a table full of Troopers were laughing about us. So yes, I have shown my butt to a highway patrolman at least once.)

Basically, girls kinda lead me places and I just doofy along behind them.

Was driving home yesterday, listening to Outlaw Country on Sirius, and most of what they play isn't even country although I really like it. It ought to just be called Outlaw Music. Anyway, a song kicked off and the first line was, "If you're gonna be dumb then you gotta be tough." Can't argue with that.

It was a girl that turned me onto David Allan Coe. And though we've since gone off in our different directions, I will always be indebted to her for that.

Y'all can mosey on off if you want. This is the me-centric part of the post where I indulge myself. But if you're still here and you'd like, some videos from a couple of my favorite songwriters. I love great lyrics and these two are some of the best.
Lucinda, ladies first. Sure wish I had written this.

(Factoid: Ray Wylie Hubbard wrote UP AGAINST THE WALL REDNECK MOTHER for those old as me who can remember that.) I wish I'd written this one too, but I can't state anything simply.

Brad and Janet are forced to seek shelter in a nearby castle that is home to notorious sexual deviant Dr Frankenfurter and his army of debauched misfits, out
Ramblin' Ed

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it

Hola, peeps.

Took off about 4 AM on Black Friday. The crowds at the Super Target on Bloomingdale Ave were large and restless. It was a sea of people, who for some reason, needed a 32" TV at 4 AM. Luckily, I was driving past them on my way to Miami. Yep, another South Florida fishing trip in search of the not so elusive Peacock Bass.

Just past the Super Target we jumped on I-75 Southbound, setting a blistering 65 MPH pace all the way down to Naples. The road turned to the east and we turned with it, paying our two dollar and fifty cents toll to drive across a gatorless Alligator Alley, which means, I suppose, we paid a toll to drive through what would merely be an alley. Wait a sec. We were pulling a boat trailer. No extra axles for free on a toll road. I must ammend this to read that the road turned to the east and we turned with it, paying our five dollar toll to drive across a gatorless Alligator Alley, which means, I suppose, we paid a toll to drive through what would merely be an alley. FIVE DOLLARS & NO GATORS!! What a ripoff. (And $5 back, too.)

Turns out that the new lake DRE wanted to try was literally in the only neighborhood in Miami that I am completely familiar with. We were fishing at Airport Lake/Blue Lagoon which, coincidentally, was right beside the Airport. I work at airports! So I am fishing in the back yard of the hotels I stay at when I'm there for work. Had I known they had the peacock basses in the water there, I'd have brought along a rod on previous trips. I will next time for sure. I have been sitting around the pool, shirtless, enjoying a cigar when I could have been sitting out on the rocks, shirtless, fishing and enjoying a cigar.

From the lake, a bunch of canals went thisaway and that. So once you get to fishing, you can just meander all over the place. Normally we fish out in the woods, so it was cool to look up and see a plane looking like it was going to land on you, or to be cruising from neighborhood to neighborhood while fishing. It was a lot like the boat rides through Bangkok's canals, except we didn't have to pay and we never encountered a floating market. But we did come face to face with a surprising number of the wild urban iguanas. Miami is a lot of things, many just a bit surreal and not all of them pleasant, but it is never dull.

At one point I noted that we were in a boat, fishing beside a railroad track that ran between the runways and a freeway. Although, it was not a freeway since it charged a toll, a distinction I just snapped off as I typed that. So I will leave the quote I made unmolested. By the way, I just thought about the signs we have at all of our retention ponds in the Tampa Bay area that say do not feed or molest the alligators. I always think that the warning to not molest the alligators should be removed so as to not to upset the Darwinian balance of the universe.

I am on a learning kick. I hope. I tell people all the time, but while they hear, they never listen. I am surrounded by people who reach a level, any level even a bad one, and get comfortable. But I tell them, once you get here, look to see how you get there, then learn what you need to reach it. And if your employer will pay for it or subsidize it, all the better. Then I'm done. I mean, you can lead a dope to water, but you can't make them think. But me, I'm going to at least try.

So, I got the company to purchase Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America). Except they didn't. They had me research it. Twice. They had me write up a proposal that included cost, coverage, and licensing information. Twice. They told me we were going to do it. Twice. Then I was ultimatly informed that Spanish For Dummies was only $29 and that's the way they'd decided to go with it. I imagine that at some point, while we are down in Latin America trying to grow our business opportunities, one airport manager is going to turn to another and say something like, "Their Spanish makes them sound kinda like dummies".

So anyway, I just bought my own Rosetta Stone. And it was not cheap. But being bilingual is better than not being bilingual. I am going to attempt to put it on my taxes as an uncompensated business expense, because it is. I expect to be training operators down in Colombia and Costa Rica and who knows where else. I want to know at least a little Spanish. In real life I can get through an order at Pollo Tropical with out it.

But wait, there's more. I also put in an external training request for a full course in Linux. I especially have difficulty moving around in our software and configuration menus because you have to type the command lines and that kind of stuff does not come naturally to me. I will, in effect, be learning a second foreign language. But the products are requiring more and more fiddling around with the command lines and I don't want to be the old guy that got stuck in one spot and couldn't keep up as technology changed. And I know I am close to becoming that guy because I am not particularly interested in smart phones and don't see why I'd want to watch video on them. So, I am at the cusp of becoming a crusty, ill-tempered, old curmudgeon anyway in real life, no need to be one at work also.

My fall of self-improvement, if you will.

I watched The Bad Lieutenant. The reviews were good. The movie was bad. Although, Harvey Keitel is always a trip to watch. Just like Dennis Hopper was. But I digress. Anyway, do I learn not to pick these off beat movies to watch? You know, since I am frequently disappointed in them. Not on your life. Life's too short for Disney Flicks and Iron Man III. I have The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans queued up in Netflix. It has Nicolas Cage, not Harvey Keitel, but Nicolas has a full on crazy side that could be interesting. Plus, for you ladies, Val Kilmer is in it. You know, The Ice Man.

Review from Esquire Magazine:
Cage's performance as the rogue cop hunting a murderer while battling his inner demons is absurd, an endless muscle cramp devoid of depth, nuance, or credibility. And Herzog, who has made a handful of truly brilliant films — check out Aguirre, the Wrath of God, an ice ax par excellence — is content in his dotage to toss poo against the wall and film whatever sticks. In BL: POCNO, this boils down to random footage of gators and iguanas and a break-dancing corpse.

Hey, say what you will about the not so glowing review of the flick, who among us is not willing to see it just for the break dancing corpse? Yeah, I know.

Well, I have lingered more than is normally comfortable, so I say goodbye.

Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves, out
Ramblin' Ed

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beg Peace

Beg Peace 20 Nov 2010

When I called you
I had fallen in a bad place
Reaching for a memory
that the haze of time had shaded
Shadows lay a softness
and had worn away the edges
Never mind they're lying
They were all the lies I needed

When you picked up
I could hear that you were smiling
More than I remember
Or that you believed you'd ever
In time our crooked questions
Brought us all these twisted answers
It seems you've found your sunshine
Without knowing where you're headed

So I'll move on
Always been that kind of restless
I find my peace
without seeking understanding
It's too late
for me to die too young
We fade slow
While believing we're still giving


Friday, November 12, 2010

A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for

I can make things better than they are. It's a mostly true statement. I definately believe it. I am kinda like a bona fide, living and breathing spell check. A lubricant for getting things done. I am an idea guy. Or, as I like to put it, a de-gooberizer. So where am I going with this? Besides a healthy pat of my own back. I am going to China. Or rather, I am NOT going to China and should be.

We have customers who want and/or need our services. By having the poor foresight of being born in one of the countries on the ever expanding list of them that we figure are all trying to kill, maim, or at the very minimum, highly inconvienence all us patriotic Americans who just want to sit peacefully in front of the TV, munching our tater chips, these folks have all manner of difficulty getting a visa. Nearly as much trouble as I had finding an ending to that last sentence. So we schedule, cancel, repeat. It's not their fault. It's just the way it is. And it's been like that for a long time now.

So I said, "Then why don't we just go there?" And I sat down and looked at what we do. Then I figured out what could be exported. Then I looked at what they would not need, as it is a domestic requirement, and swapped those things for information they would need that we get locally but they probably don't. (Sorry to be vague, but I don't like to do details when it comes to my work.) I thought about how to get the materials there and how long to clear customs in the various parts of the world. Then I wrote a syllabus, lassoed all the lessons into one place and sent the email to my boss that we had a new product to offer, there was a real need for it, and go out and make some money with it. To which he replied, "Nobody will want that. Too expensive." Not exactly, the thanks I had wanted, but more or less the thanks I have come to expect.

One week later, he calls me up and says that China wants that new training. And a little something else, too. So it's a good thing that "we" have developed that training and for me to give it to this other guy so that he can go there and deliver it.

Exactly like when I saw a need for on-site refresher training for our field techs. Despite the loud protestations of my former manager that he would never allow training to take place anywhere but the factory, I developed the course anyway and just sat on it. A year later, things change, TSA writes us a new contract that includes....wait for it.... a provision to allow on-site refresher training for our field techs. It is quickly pointed out that luckily "we" have developed just such a course, but TSA will have to pay for us to hire another trainer. TSA agrees, we interview for the position, hire a new trainer and then give him my course to run.

I can no more resist tinkering with the way we do things than porcelin can resist...um, ....doing things ...... that are glass-like. Anyway, I see ideas like the spooky kid sees dead people. I've got crazy mad energy in the mornings, so I pound these things out. And I'm already working on my next idea. Because we'll eventually hire someone else.

So, kinda a segueue from there to here, though more humorous and less bitchy. And just as true. It concerns my ship, the USS Antietam, her Commanding Officer, and the 1MC. The 1MC provided helpful reminders throughout the day to help us sailors, as I used to point out, do more before 8 AM than we had wanted to do all day. Here's an example: "Sweepers, Sweepers, man your brooms. Give the ship a clean sweep down both fore and aft! Sweep down all lower decks, ladder wells and passageways! Dump all garbage clear of the fantail! Sweepers." Ah yes...the glitz and glamor of the seagoing life. So, the story begins....

We were the pre-commissioning crew for Antietam, which means we moved onto the ship when it still belonged to (what was then) Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi . Later we sailed her to Baltimore (Antietam Battleground is landlocked, most land battles tend to be fought on land as it turns out, but Baltimore is not) for the commissioning ceremony and to bring the ship to life. So yes, I am a plank owner.

Because we were a new ship, in a new class of ships, almost everything we did, we were doing for the first time. That's why the CO and XO would have to spend a lot of time on the 1MC. To tell us what was going on, what we were expecting to do, how we expected to do it, etc. However, and this is a big however, they were both prone to long pauses when they talked.

Now, if you have ever been on a ship at sea, you know that when the CO takes the mic and starts talking, everyone stops and listens. Because he has news. Be it a port added, a port taken away, news of a new inspection, news from home, or announcing that have been tasked with escorting US flagged Kuwaiti tankers therough the Straits of Hormuz (true), if he's talking, it is something worth listening to. So we stop and listen, which also entails, for some strange reason, staring up at the 1MC speaker as he talks.

The CO would announce something, we'd listen, he' d stop talking and we'd go back to work. But with this guy, as we'd all start moving along, he'd pick the announcement back up and we'd all kinda lurch back to a stop and assume the position staring up at another 1MC speaker. Then he'd stop, we'd all start moving along, he'd pick the announcement up yet again, we'd all lurch back to another stop and assume the position staring up at yet another 1MC speaker. And this would happen numerous times. Until, at some point after we had all been staring up at a silent 1MC speaker for a couple of minutes, looking for all the world like curious, stoned lemmings (dungaree clad lemmings at that), we would realize that he was actually finished now and we could carry on.

The CO has a suggestion box.

I am full of suggestions.

So guess what.

I suggested to the CO that, and this is really what I wrote as we were a close knit crew, "when you are making 1MC announcements you should say thank you, or 'out', or something so that we the crew would know the announcement was over and could stop staring up at the 1MC speaker and go back to work". And that was that.

A few days later the CO again came on the 1MC to announce something. We all stopped and listened. And, after a few minutes he unexpectedly spake these words: "Abernathy, that is all."

I broke into a huge smile. Everybody just looked at me and you could see the little cartoon thought bubbles that said What the HECK?? I thought it was a one time payback deal for pointing out the pauses, but for the next couple of months after that, whenever the CO, XO, or Command Master Chief made a 1MC announcement, all across the Long Beach, CA waterfront you could hear it end with, "Abernathy, that is all."

(Go here - see page 3)

USS Bunker Hill used bugles. Tell you about that sometime.

If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets, out
Ramblin' Ed

Friday, October 29, 2010

Letting people do what people do

Living life, waiting for fall, planning the holiday gift purchases. Don't give many Christmas gifts these days. Nobody has buckets of money any more and not so many kids to do for. Never been a giant fan of buying things "just because" anyway, although that comes off as pretty bah-humbug if you say it out loud. A better idea would be a beer and a barbeque, followed by dragging the big screen outside so we can both a) sit around the fire pit digesting burgers and hot links, and b) watch the football game. (Note to self: If this were a real plan of action I should better also drag out couches and easy chairs.) But that's just me. Oh, and just so we're clear, there would be a fire in the fire pit I mentioned earlier. I figured that was understood.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, although I'm more a wordsmith than photographer. Still, my pictures are worth a good 650 - 750 words each. If I augment them with captions, I figure we break somewhere near the standard 1k threshold. There are pictures both this post and last post. Some are not so good, but others are simply Mahvelous!, in the alternate reality, best case mediocre way in which I use the word.

I think I have not posted a picture of self since I lost me some weight. Will rectify that here (Rectum? Dang near killed 'im! Hahahaha). Had a big mirror and a digital camera. Was sitting there wondering, "what to do....what to do...", when it hit me. Heck, why didn't I think of it before? I can take a walk down to Crystal City. But first, let me take a mirror shot or two. And yes, the hair was my idea. I had me some mousse, I had me a black stripey shirt, and I had me some gold chains and such. Haven't done my Jesrey Shore look in, well, ever. Yep that's me. Since "The Situation" was already taken as an awesomely cool, Guido-fabulous if you will, self-imposed nickname, I will call myself "Compromising Position". Almost as catchy, slightly less chick magnet. But it goes nicely with my pony keg abs.

I would love to comiserate with some of you about the local races here and our bizarre political culture. But unless you live with the obvious lying, blatant stealing, and the tortured logic eminating from everybody in Talahassee, from the interns to the Court of Appeals (yes, even our judiciary is proudly on the take) that is presented, all straight faced and serious, to justify abberant behavior, you would never believe the stories. Here in the Sunshine State it's true, you can't make this stuff up! We are mostly mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. We want change and want it now, so we are going to throw the bums out and replace them with people who are exactly the same. That'll show us, er....them.

But I digress. I devolve. I may even .... Where was I?

See the pictures below. Buy a Todd Snider CD. Pictures below. Videos first. Ciao.

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history, out
Ramblin' Ed

Note the genuine smile. I believe in everyone.

I could not catch a picture that showed the beauty and quiet of this place, although I came close to showing the quiet. This is SW Washington State, 25 miles north of Portland up the I-5. Obviously, I had left the Interstate. Fun fact: I-5 from San Francisco and north, does not have very many gas stations. It's like they built a highway but forgot the gas.

I liked this bridge. It made me think of like if I was on one side of the river but needed to get to the other side. And I couldn't fly. Because I was a train. Fun fact: Despite the moniker, "Bullet Trains" cannot fly.

Pumpkin patch in WA. Fun fact: Barb wire does little to impede vegetation creep.

I wanted a picture of this awesome set of bridges back into Oregon. But the traffic was heavy and for over a mile there was no place I could pull over that also had a view of them. So, this is what they looked like from behind the wheel. Fun fact: This is kinda like dash cam, without the criminals and heavy Tru TV (Not reality. Actuality.) vibe.

At 60 mph, I soon found meself upon the bridge. Fun fact: I said "meself" instead of the more contemporary"myself".

Near Pioneer Square in Portland. Fun fact that actually is a fact: We saw these in an Armed Forces TV ad (we didn't get commercials, we got history lessons). A rich busisness man donated these to the city and they are all around downtown. His name was Benson and these are known as Benson Bubblers.

One man Blue Man Group. Fun Fact: He's not blue. It is, however, possible he has the blues. So I rate this claim as half-true. Possibly.


For such a mellow place, there's a whole bunch of rules. Bummer. Fun fact: Judging from this list, it appears that it surprisingly easy to get into a brawl around here. Hey!.... is that a Saints cap, buddy?

This self professed Billionaire slash Musician slash street philosopher is the one who wanted me to quit my job and be the face of his company for $250,000. You know the one who was also bumming smokes off of everybody. He thinks I was taking his picture. Fun fact: I wasn't. And I can give you 3 good reasons.

So, I get use a tanning bed and do my laundry at the same time? Well, it's about time. (Sign in lower right ) Fun fact: Discount Tobacco is sponsoring a wine tasting.

Would your city allow this establishment? Fun fact: Heh heh heh... Hung Farlow.
The following Monday I was far from the Pacific Northwest in Washington, DC. This was my view from the hotel. The Pentagon. Let's just say that the mood was far less mellow here. Fun fact: Local law apparently requires high and tight haircuts and prohibits public displays of smiling.

Fun fact: I am out of captions. But you should biggerize this. It's a good shot of the city and the morning traffic crawl.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Will Schuster is trying to make the world a better place

OK, sorry kiddies. I finally sat down to the keyboard and I ain't stopping for anything, otherwise another 2 months may pass between posts. The following photos are all from my BlackBerry, which for some reason has no flash like my last one. I have some pics from a real camera, but the data card is in my computer at work, so I'll have to post those pics later. They are mostly Portland and Washington State anyway.
Waiting for Hank III in St. Pete. Look who else was coming. My heros, all. Well, maybe not Assjack.
San Antonio's River Walk. Beautiful, in an old people's sort of way.
The band at Tootsie's. She sang to me. I tipped her. It was all a blur.....
I had heard of reinstatehank.com. Hank III had also mentioned it. This was outside one of the Broadway dives.
Nashville, TN. Home of endless Johnny Cash and Jack Daniels kitsch, by the way.
Ooooh... a hat band!
I was impressed with the combination spare tire/subwoofer. That's ingenious.
My Nashville rental. The one with the spare tire and subwoofer.
Enough said.

Yeah, kinda gleeky. Sue me.
My how time flies. Been a while since I posted and I feel a little bad about that. But I have been on the road nonstop. I made it to my fishing trip in So. Fla, but then TSA changed all of their schedules that I had negotiated and I missed my ship's reunion in Jacksonville (and I had been one of the requestors of an east coast reunion). When I was home for one week, my wife was in the hospital for the duration. Not so much a major problem as a drawn out one.

So, as a child of North Carolina in the 60's & 70's, I found this to be interesting. If you look at the comments in my last post, you will find comments posted there from none other than The Nature Boy, Ric Flair. Who, you ask? He was a wrestler (or, in SE N.C., a wrassler) back in the day. Had not thought about him in years, and I am not sure how he wound up visiting my blog, but this isn't the kind of thing that you can make up.

In the last 5 weeks I have been in San Antonio, which was cool enough but not as cool as I had envisioned it. I thought the river walk would be better than it was. It was beautiful, but kind of boring actually. I thought about a quick side trip up to Austin, then I thought about it a couple of more times. But the work schedule made me wary of getting too far down the dusty trail lest somthing happen. And I really, really, really want to go to Austin. It will be my pilgrimage. Would love to be there for SXSW, but....

Then I was home a week, followed by a trip to Nashville. I had a ball in Nashville. Visited a record store that was run by a fella who played in Bobby Bare, Jr's band, Bare, Jr. Yeah, I actually have the Boo-Tay! CD. So I went ahead and picked up his latest, A STORM – A TREE – MY MOTHER’S HEAD, some DBT outtakes, Todd Snider, and Justin Townes Earle. Then I hit Tootsies and all the dives on Broadway...repeatedly. My hotel was, once I figured out the back way downtown, very convienient to doing some honky tonkin'.
As an aside, Justin Townes Earle continues my infatuation with the offspring of my teen year heros. Shooter Jennings, Hank III, Bobby Bare, Jr. etc. But Earle has more points on the compass, if you will. I absolutely idolize his father Steve Earle, whos song Guitar Town was my theme song forever. I just found out this morning that his mama was Allison Moorer whos Alabama Song CD is a hauntingly beautiful favorite of mine. (And she's a red head!!). Also...yes, there's more, Jason Isbell (previously of DBT) plays on his latest. Yeah, I know.
I left Nashville for Portland, OR (go back and hit the link. It's not there for my health) which has been my favorite trip in quite some time. It's no New Orleans, but I think it could easily be my second favorite U.S. city. I could get around by rail. The city is very alternative friendly. I met a number of bona fide characters who made me smile as we talked/babbled/veered far off the conversational course. "(sob sob) Then why do I feel so much pain!?"* and "I like you and I want to hire you for $250,000 a year"** are actual peices of conversations I had. It was, to borrow a favorite Appalachianist's descriptor, quite the bohemian burg. Loved It. Or, like they say up there, Keep Portland Weird.
* From the guy who was the most interesting and enigmatic guy he knew. A real self proclaimed messiah type.
** I would get the job after he returned from his world tour (with Mick Jagger opening for him). I would be the face of his billion dollar enterprise making sheds for Lowe's. The whole time, by the way, he was bumming cigarettes from passersby. I thanked him, but allowed that I was pretty happy where I was and, as I was sure a highly enlightened rogue like himelf would understand, it isn't always about the money.
After Portland was D.C., or to be excact, the Crystal City area of Arlington, VA.My room overlooked the Pentagon. Needless to say, a very different vibe from Oregon the previous week. But I survived and they finally let me come home again.

Been bothered by a trend I have seen a lot of lately. It's a flying thing, so many of you may not appreciate why it pisses me off. Has only happened to me once, and I cut her off with a very quick "not interested", but I see it about every other flight. You get to your assigned seat and someone is already sitting there and they tell you that they want to sit in your seat and why don't you just take the one that they were assigned. I play by the rules, logging a lot of butt miles in small airplane seats, I check my seat location on the website where possible and if not, I check in two hours prior to my flight to pick my seats at the kiosk. I work my way closest to the front and into a window seat. (I used to go aisle seat for better egress, but once the bag fees started, I was getting hit in the head with far too many carry on steamer trunks to continue that). And while I am really proud that you managed to procreate just the cutest child ever, or that you married an Army man, or I sympathyze that you can't spend 2 1/2 hours separated by 3 rows from your beloved husband/boyfriend/sugardaddy, it isn't enough to give you my seat. In my case, the young mother wanted to rock her infant beside the window and wanted to trade me for her middle seat. She thought it quite rude of me that I wouldn't even consider it, and I thought it presumptuous of her to assume I would give her my seat, but thoughtful of her to pre-warm it for me.
Bonus Link: I call it Johnny Pop, but it's really God's Gonna Cut You Down.

This video has more big names than a sri-lanken phone directory, out
Ramblin' Ed

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The South Florida Catching Trip

And....we're off.
Hello. Welcome to my home, meat.
The gator above was about 20 yards away across this water hole. I never let him out of my sight. I could hear them in the water behind me, too, but DRE was facing that direction.
The air plants on the trees were just breath takingly beautiful. They lent a whole surrealism to the scene.
Fish not so impressive and was released. But looka at how much I was sweating. Pants and shirt soaked, sweat dripping into my eyes. And, just to make this the perfect example of some of the things you will read below, a biting fly (aka: mean little bastards) on my elbow.
As you can see, the canal is straight and narrow. As soon as you see it, you know there will be no hiding from the sun. One of the peacock bass what got iced and then eaten.
C'mere, my pretty!
DRE with an eating fish.
Me with an eating fish.

The narrative part:
Usually we go fishing. A lot of the time for me, its a sitting and tanning trip. A bait throwing trip. A "When you get the chance we need to go over and get my crank bait out of the tree" trip. Sometimes, suffering heat induced hallucinations, its a trip trip. But last weekend, sitting in what was basically a big ditch running between ocean and swamp, we were on a catching trip.

Me and DRE have always talked about a trip to Venezuela. We wanted to go fishing for peacock bass. Although its basic shape very closely resembles that of the largemouth, it is not actually a member of the largemouth family. Peacock Bass belong to a family of fish known as "cichlids", a group that boasts more than 1,000 species worldwide and is well known to tropical fish enthusiasts. Like the largemouth, the cichlid prefer to ambush unsuspecting prey from a stealthy vantage point and demonstrate a gluttonous appetite. The similarity ends there. However, the Florida Peacock bass, colorfully adorned in varying shades of green, blue, orange and gold, is much more eye appealing than the largemouth bass. Don't let this appearance fool you though. It's one of the toughest freshwater species in the world, with bone-jarring strikes, aerial acrobatics and line-stripping runs that make it the ultimate quarry for both the fly and plug angler. It routinely breaks line and destroys tackle.

We left Friday morning, but never made it into the canal. Canal C-111, for those of you keeping score. "Eleven", as the locals in the bait shop called it, is in Dade County, just a hair north of the Monroe County line. We found the canal, about 9:30 PM or so, but did not put in. We had planned to, but we found ourselves, flush with adventurous spirits, time to kill, and without the wifely encumberances, wandering about in the Big Cypress following every dirt trail we encountered. While we didn't get to the canal 2-ish as planned, we didn't really care. We had a grand adventure full of airplants, insects, alligators, heat, fishing, more insects, more alligators, debilitating heat, and bugs. Friends, you haven't lived until you've been 2 miles down a dirt trail into the swamp, getting out to "stick check" the depth and mud content of the big puddles BEFORE you drive through them (a lesson it took me well into my thirties to learn) and decide that it is, shall we say, imprudent to continue. Turning the pickup truck, with boat in tow, around in such tight quarters is.... well, it's another story to tell entirely.

First thing Saturday morning we slipped past the ROAD CLOSED signs at the exit off of US 1 and drove far enough along the canal access road that we figured we would either not be seen, or at the very least, might have some degree of plausible deniability concerning ROAD CLOSED signs and us being in there. Hey--- we drove a pretty long way to get here.

We got out of the truck and were absolutely swarmed by the biting flies. We almost did not get the boat in the water, we were so busy swatting at the buzzing little teeth with wings. I realized that if anything would bring this trip to a quick end, it was these flies. But God wanted us to fish. So turned us on to a couple of things. When on land, we were a biting fly buffet, and they were HONGRY! God's critters gotta eat, even the annoying ones. And when we were on the water motoring somewhere, we also got swarmed. But for some reason, when you were on the water and just doing drifting (fishing) speed, they went away. They were attracted to movement on the water. Good to know.

As you saw in the pictures, we were in a canal maybe 30 yards wide. We fished it 7 miles out* to a lock and dam. There was more canal, but we could not boat past the dam, so we turned around and fished back. 14 miles of ditch fishing. So there was no place to hide from the sun. We had a gallon of water on ice, but as the cooler started filling with fish, we started removing the water bottles. It was so hot out that even warm water was welcomed. But God, sensing that we were deep down some good boys who had waited a long time for this trip, threw up clouds between us and the sun. And ordered up a slight breeze. Were we sweating like whores in church? You betcha. But we were not being baked by the sun. Therefore, we kept fishing. for 7 or 8 hours.

* While we didn't think to snap a picture of it for proof, there were actually mile markers posted along the access road that we could see from the boat.

We caught a lot of fish, but released most of them. We brought home a few each for eating, and kept them on ice from the time they were caught until the time they were cooked. We were disappointed that we had not caught any peacock bass, although we had been catching the heck out of this aquarium fish looking thing, we thought was maybe an Oscar, that fought 3 times as big as it was. It was fun to catch and we kept a couple to eat. When we got up along the dam, we ran across a shore fisherman who was pulling in big ol' largemouth bass as fast as he pleased. Aske us if we'd had any luck and we said, "5 or 6 bass. And a lot of these things. Know what they are?" "Awww... you got you some of them damn peacock bass there." We were like, cool... explains the fighting. It did get us to thinking about how, if one a little larger than your hand could pull the boat towards shore, then if we actually hooked a large one, well... there was the possibility it would go all Moby Dick on us and flip the boat. Which would have given me a heart attack before I ever got wet because of all the not shy at all gators hanging out all around us.

Spent Saturday night in Pompano Beach with an old friend of mine from the Pittsburgh area. Carnegie, for those of you who know the area. Headed home about 8 AM, on a northwesterly course strainght up US 27. Stopped for a short time to wet a line in Lake Ocochobee, but mostly just motored straight home. The heat and the bugs and the rapid fire fish catching on Saturday had taken its toll. We were ready to be home.

The trouble with real life is that there is no danger music, out
Ramblin' Ed

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The more things change, the more they remain insane

Enjoying a little bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers and planning out my weekend. Two weekends in a row I was going to post and, as far as I know, didn't. My goodness, what a slacker I have become. But life is short, and doing things against your will only shorten it. Doing things against your better judgement, however, quickens the pulse. Which may lead to a shorter life, incrementally speaking, but really, who the heck cares? So just remember, against your will = bad. Against your better judgement = whatever.

If I died and came back as John Prine, it would not be so bad. I would have Smells Like Teen Spirit as my life's background music. (So why not just come back as Kurt Cobain? 2 Words...Courtney Love.) And I'd be quick to strike a pose. ....With the Lights out it's less dangerous. Here we are now entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now entertain us. A mullato. An albino. A mosquito. My libido. Yay.....

I saved some military themed stories on my other computer and intend to add them somewhere on this post. Probably at the bottom. Yep, since if I add them to the top, by this point you've already read them and this explaination would be made somewhat ridiculous. And before the thought gets away from me again, I just want to say that the coolest thing about living in the Tampa Bay region is how often you can be watching COPS and recognize the area they're pulled over in.

Switched to a mostly fruit and veggie diet. No, I'm not a vegan, I'm not cool enough for that or owning a Mac. I put meat in my crockpot with the beans and corn, and all. And when we take the class out to lunch on Friday's I have a big, ol juicy burger. I just decided that I had to cut back on how much I was eating because I was getting fat, fatter, fattest. The biggest I had ever been. So I dropped my intake down to about 600 calories a day for a while, shed a hair over 50 lbs, and have had success maintaining that by keeping my calories to around 1200 a day. However, my body did react for a while with displeasure at the loss of it's customary pepperoni based diet. Peaches that went in all sweet and tasty, exited all spiteful and angry. But now, all is peace and harmony in Temple Ed.

RWH Rhyme #1

Didn't know that I hadn't been watching
til I didn't know where I'd been
Can't really say if it's a mess or problem
this here fix I'm in

I never was one for better judgement
it was seldom against my will
what don't kill you gonna make you stronger
if you're still standing, friend

What I've got left
Is what I hold here
Knock back the rust
on what I hold dear

So hard to figure what I've been saying
But I'm talking all the time
Save me the whip smart, pop tart theory
one mouth, I know...two eyes

Might tote every loving thing I would give you
in a kitchen bag wrapped and tied
hot like my feelings...black my intentions...
and plastic as I feel sometimes

All I've got left
Is what I hold here
Knock back the rust
on what I hold dear

Now I carry those scars most everywhere
everytime I've touched someone else
So hard to keep foolin' all them people
so easy as you fool yourself

But I've never been one for better judgement
Ain't nothing against my will
what don't kill you gonna make you stronger
if you're still standing, friend

RWH Partial Rhyme #2

Had me a girl and her hair was red
She never was nothing like what I said
Called her my lover. Called her my friend
I got up one day and never called again

Sometimes we're funny. Sometimes we ain't
Sometimes we ain't even walking straight
Sometimes we rhyme and sometimes we're pissed
Sometimes it comes to this

Navy Stuff:

New Navy Missile Could Hit Global Targets
July 08, 2010
Military.comby Craig Hooper

As the venerable Tomahawk missile loses the battle against modernized air defenses, observers have long wondered why the Navy isn't racing to fill the U.S. surface fleet's nearly 8,000 Vertical Launch System cells with a new generation of anti-ship or land-attack munitions.

Now, the Pentagon's top researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are aiming to outfit ships like Aegis cruisers with weapons that can hit nearly anywhere on the globe – increasing the power of surface ships to that of ballistic missile-equipped submarines.

The so-called "ArcLight" program has the potential to change the way the world thinks about U.S. surface combatants, experts say.

"The ArcLight program will design, build, and flight test a long range vehicle that carries a 100-200 lb payload," DARPA says.

According to DARPA, the ArcLight program will use a high-tech missile based on the current Standard Missile 3 booster with a hypersonic glider that can reach more than 2,300 miles to its target. The missile could be fired out of a standard vertical launcher on many surface ships.

Outfitting Navy ships with ArcLight missiles will do far more than just "add capability," analysts say. It is a potential game-changer because the missiles would transform the largely defensive nature of the U.S. surface combatant carrier escorts to offensive strike ships.

That shift from the "Missile Defense" destroyer or "Air Defense" cruiser of old to a "Global Strike Combatant" is likely to pose a real conceptual challenge to any potential adversaries, experts say.
(I love the whole conceptual challenge part. - Ed)

Loading run-of-the-mill surface ships with "strategic" missiles would potentially be a boon to advocates of the so-called "Prompt Global Strike" mission who have faced opposition from lawmakers in Congress over concerns of a new arms race.

The ArcLight program will also likely resonate with Undersecretary of the Navy Robert Work, who has long preached the virtues of America's VLS-equipped surface fleet. Any prospect of leveraging new technologies for the old launch system will likely spark the Undersecretary's interest, analysts say.

© Copyright 2010 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Well, maybe on the occasional really lame blog.

(This next story reminds me of sneaking up to the Northern Pacific, us, a nuke cruiser, and a nuke carrier... racing for Vladivistok, Russia in total EMCON, waiting past the horizon overnight and stealing up to the coast under cover of fog. When the fog lifted there we were, 2 miles or so off Russia's coast, 2 cruisers and a carrier. When they scrambled the Bears and fighters to run us off, we held a cookout in shorts and tank tops on the fan tail. What was our message to the Russians? "Because we can." Good times. This next story is the same. - Ed)

U.S. Sends Tomahawk Missile Filled Subs to Western Pacific

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2010/07/09/u-s-sends-tomahawk-missile-filled-subs-to-western-pacific/#ixzz0tvVxAtfB

A lot of messaging going on in the Western Pacific, by both sides. We’ve pointed to the recent China’s PLA Navy live fire exercises in the East China Sea.

Now, we learn from Time’s Mark Thompson that three former strategic missile submarines converted to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles (SSGNs) surfaced on the same day, June 28, in the Philippine’s Subic Bay, in Pusan, South Korea and at the naval base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Each converted boomer holds up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

As Thompson writes, the alarm bells must have sounded that day in Beijing:

“In all, the Chinese military awoke to find as many as 462 new Tomahawks deployed by the U.S. in its neighborhood. “There’s been a decision to bolster our forces in the Pacific,” says Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “There is no doubt that China will stand up and take notice.”

Of course U.S. officials denied that any messaging was intended, but they did make sure news of the SSGN deployments showed up in the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post, on July 4; the same day some analysts expected China to test its DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile.

RIMPAC, the “Rim of the Pacific” war games also began on Wednesday off Hawaii. For all the attention focused on the Levant and the Gulf, its good to see these encouraging signs that at least some in the military understand that the real strategic competition of this century will play out in the Western Pacific.

Don’t miss Craig Hooper’s excellent post on how to turn the Navy’s surface ships into conventional missile carrying strike ships equivalent to the SSGNs.

– Greg Grant

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2010/07/09/u-s-sends-tomahawk-missile-filled-subs-to-western-pacific/#ixzz0tvW5CA2k

The third hand - on a watch. What is it called?, out
Ramblin' Ed