sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, May 29, 2009

When a Man Hits a Woman

A friend of mine is considering a divorce. She doesn't want her husband to try and beat her head soft anymore. This is for her.

It's time to make a voodoo doll and begin the process of "healing" by doing everything you'd like to do to the man who hit you to the doll first. Call it planning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Everyone Else is Doing It...

It's a difficult choice. I neither smoke nor do I drink, but if I did, it might take both to make these picks because there are so many to choose from...

My preferences: Feature Films

Top Ten (newer) Movies
(not in any order)

The Island
Blackhawk Down
Saving Private Ryan
Kingdom of Heaven
Master and Commander: Far Side of the World
Man on Fire
Pulp Fiction
Last of the Mohicans

Top Series Movies

Matrix Series
Terminator Series
Alien Series
Harry Potter Series
Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace (one long movie cut in two)
Jurassic Park Series
Star Wars Series

Top Ten (older) Movies

Name of the Rose
Full Metal Jacket
Blade Runner
The Wind and the Lion
The Blue Max
True Grit
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Godfather
Dr. Strangelove

Top Ten (vintage) Movies

Maltese Falcon
The Sand Pebbles
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Lawrence of Arabia
Gone with the Wind
The Vikings
The Enemy Below
The Guns of Navarone
Broken Arrow

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


All we have from her profile photo is a hat drawn low, 
the brim meeting mischievous eyes. 
(Azra follows this blog sometimes)

Identify the Lady

Who is the lady in the sketch?


A couple of years ago I worked for the government and had a job that most people would consider stressful. Ultimately it wasn't so much the job itself as it was the accumulation of years of stress that had been creeping up on me. 

WoFat, a friend of mine who follows this blog, told me that he had been in a similar situation and he received good advice. "If you keep it up either you'll kill somebody or they'll kill you." The advice was sound. And I retired and shifted my occupational focus.  It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Stress is cumulative.  If you look at a glass of water, judge its weight. Assume it's eight ounces. Not all that heavy. But it's not the absolute weight that matters, if you hold it straight out in front of you. Hold it for a minute, not a problem. Hold it for an hour, your arm will ache, hold it for a day and you'll need a doctor.

The weight is the same but the longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes. That's how stress works. If you carry the burden all the time, sooner or later the weight will become too heavy and you won't be able to carry it any further.

It's easy to have people preach about how you should shuck off the stress, but it's much easier to say than to do. The longer you hold it the more damage it does - cumulatively. And it can kill you. Freedom means being able to control the stressful elements of your life and to manage them. Setting down the glass of water and walking away from it, only lifting it periodically doesn't make it any lighter or heavier but it makes the effort much easier to manage.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Next US President?

I've heard Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and even Rush Limbaugh's name tossed around on popular media, but are they enough? Do they have galactic experience or are their Earth-bound exploits wanting, as leaders of the free world?

Clearly, Barack Obama needs to end this four year tour and go off into obscurity to write another book or something. America is tired of the "change" he's bringing because it's precisely the wrong thing - a recipe for disaster.

Who could be next? What about Captain James Tiberius Kirk? Based on this short video clip, I'm afraid that I will be writing in a vote for William Shatner since history tells us that actors make better presidents than peanut farmers, political organizers or corrupt political hacks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Terminator Salvation (T-4) Review

The terminators are back and are tough as ever as human beings fight to reclaim their position at the top of the food chain on a planet now ruled by machines.

I tried to get somebody to go see it with me. When nobody wanted to, I went by myself.

The humans use a Virginia Class submarine as a headquarters/command center, the special effects were spectacular and when I saw the terminator motorcycle (below), I thought to myself - I need one of my own.
I don't want to spoil the movie, but to me it was well worth the money and the time I spent - GREAT FUN!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Old Bold Pilot

My uncle John was my grandfather's youngest brother. He died at age 86 (in 2006) and the obituary called it correctly when they said he was, "a man of great integrity and love, whose life passion was to serve his fellow men." Everybody who knew John loved him. 

He was simply that sort of man. In the photo (above), I'm visiting him at his home a week or so before he died. I traveled back for his funeral because it was important for me to honor him. He served with the US Army during World War 2 in Operation Torch - Invasion of North Africa and in the battles with Rommel's Afrika Corps, in the invasion of Sicily and Italy and the bloody battles there.

But that's not why I'm writing this.

There is a saying among aviators that "there are old pilots and bold pilots but there are no old bold pilots". Uncle John proved the axiom to be wrong at least once - in his case. While he was a great humanitarian man in his post-war life, there was one place where all caution and common sense left him - behind the stick of an aircraft. I don't know what happened during the war, but in civilian life, he crashed four times and walked away to talk about it each time. That doesn't include the times he cracked up on landing.

He flew Helio Couriers (and crashed two in the US), dumped at least one Piper Cub. I think the other crash was an Aero Commander. 

I asked him how he pulled it off. He said, "I live right."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Avoid Dante's Fate!

photo of "Dante in Exile" (at left).

Would Dante have even been thinking about THE INFERNO if he'd had a few dumb jokes to tell?


Here are a few really stupid jokes to help you remain free from exile, to remove your doldrums and to tickle your funny bone.

  • Did you hear the one about the cross-eyed teacher who couldn't control his pupils?
  • What about the boat carrying red paint that crashed into the boat carrying blue paint? That's right, they were marooned.  
  • Where can you find a legless turtle? Right where you left it.
  • A duck walks into a pharmacy and says, "Give me a tube of Chapstick and put it on my bill."
  • What did the fish say when he ran into the wall? Dam.
  • Why can't a bicycle stand up by itself? It's two tired.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to your house.
Who's there?
The chicken.

And never forget the one about the cannibal who passed his friend in the jungle...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Robotic Future

Brains big, brains small,
Machines tiny, robots tall,
What will the future find,
How fluid is the human mind?
Concepts come, concepts go,
No one knows, what they will show,
When all the scheming work's complete,
What will be our final fete? 

A morning drear, a robot near.
Friend or foe, how will it go?
-By LL

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Owl and the Pussycat

The owl and the pussycat went to sea,
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely pussy, O pussy my love,
What a beautiful pussy you are,
You are,
You are,
What a beautiful pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the owl,  "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! Too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows.
And there in the wood, a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined upon mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

-- Edward Lear

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oasis of the Seas

When I first heard the keel had actually been laid down for this monument to hubris, interestingly named SS OASIS OF THE SEAS, I wondered if the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line stockholders and board of directors were mad. I marveled that anyone would underwrite a project such as this. But when you consider the sub-prime loans that have more or less ruined the American (and world) economy for a generation, perhaps we should not be surprised.
under construction in Finland

Then I learned that there was a second hull laid down for the SS ALLURE OF THE SEAS. My initial reaction that somebody, somewhere was insane had been confirmed. The phrase "more bucks than brains" leaped to mind.

These sea-going hotels are significantly larger than a US Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier and are expected to haul over 6,000 passengers in 16 passenger decks as they float around the Caribbean. A crew of 2,100 will see to the needs of those fare-paying passengers. The price tag of the two floating hotels is over $3 billion.  Each ship boasts 21 swimming pools and a kid's water park. The ship's 1,400 seat theater will feature water shows and Broadway musicals.

Now the Oasis of the Seas is nearing completion. I wonder if they'll be offering deep discounting to get people to spend their vacation bobbing up and down in this massive floating hotel on the ocean? In a financial climate where austerity seems to be the watchword, the pleasure palaces may be out of place - monuments to run-away economies.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Piracy as an Occupational Choice

There are people who tell of great opportunities in life, of career goals and toiling upwards through the night while your peers sleep soundly. There are others who tout hallowed halls of learning.

From what I've seen lately, one of the least risky careers you could choose is "high seas pirate". Gone are the days when you risked hanging from a yard arm, keel hauling or being staked out just above the high tide mark for the amusement of the crabs.

The Somali Pirates have inspired a new generation of would-be buccaneers in search of loot. On the Spanish Main, the pirates sought treasure ships worth a kings ransom. Today, they ransom the ships to insurance companies (how sanitary can you get?).

Historically, you needed a large ship and a substantial crew of brigands, each of whom shared the loot. Today you need a small motor boat and four men. Historically large cannon were required. Today an RPG launcher and a couple of rockets do the trick. There was a time when pirate ships criss-crossed the Atlantic looking for an unwary sail on the horizon. Today, the ships steam close to shore - close enough that you cant seize a ship on the high seas and be home for supper.

The Somali Pirates have shown the way to virtually risk-free career building in the early 21st Century.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Land Rover Wolf

The Land Rover Wolf (Wolf=Wheel On Left Face to describe the position of the spare). The vehicle as configured above has a Weapons Mount Installation Kit (WMIK). Even though they look awesome and very capable, I understand that they broke down or were damaged in battle faster than they could be repaired or replaced in the Iraqi Theater. I've heard that they're being phased out and will be replaced by the IVECO Panther, which has better armor protection. When that day comes and the Land Rover is no longer the Royal Army/Royal Marine light vehicle of choice, an era will have passed but the legacy will remain.

Order of the White Rose (Laos)

This certificate was issued on another planet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From the Archives

Working underwater in the tropics means you don't have to wear a wet suit or a dry suit. The dry suit in conditions such as those (above) means you'll cook like a Thanksgiving turkey in one of those roasting bags. This photo was taken on USS Cavalla, SSN-684 (Sturgeon Class nuclear powered fast attack submarine). The boat was decommissioned in 1998, dating me somewhat. However the memories remain. I was not part of her regular crew. You could fairly say I was part of the payload.

1978 - lock out procedure before leaving a submarine.
The guy on the left is retired and so am I (today). This photo was taken in Aberdeen Scotland and a few of us were in the flat clowning around. Note the dapper Scottish clothing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Goofy United States

Things in the US these days are just a little strange, or so it seems to me. I suggest that we put a sign (the same language as displayed to right) in every port of entry to the country. 

Take your pictures, enjoy the scenery, the ethnic food isn't all that bad. But save the laughter for when you're alone or back home.

I'm not saying that we don't deserve to be laughed at. It's simply rude to do it in person.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

General Motors - Bankruptcy

GM lost $16 billion dollars in the first quarter with its cash reserves having been all but expended. There is no saving GM as it presently exists.  It might once have been the US Economic Engine but it's not anymore. All glory is fleeting (sic transit gloia mundi)

GM lost $6 billion in the first quarter and the company's sales around the world fell 40 percent. Making matters worse revenue was cut nearly in half. What causes the greatest concern is the $10.2 billion in cash that G.M. depleted in three months, the equivalent of $113 million a day. That is nearly twice the company’s rate of cash burn in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Einstein Speaks

Albert Einstein said: "Every man is entitled to five minutes of stupidity a day.  Wisdom consists of not exceeding your limit."

Politicians are not wise.

Divorce Agreement

This was good enough that I had to snag it for my blog. Very much on-point in a discussion of contemporary American politics.
Borrowed from

(This was posted on Kirby Wilbur's FB and, apparently, he read this on the radio. Too bad it wasn't this simple.)

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. 

That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood. 

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and over sized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everyone health care if you can find any practicing doctors. 

We'll continue to believe health care is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World. 

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag. 

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American 

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda with you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

All across the American southwest and in Mexico, people celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning the fifth of May).  For years I celebrated (a party is a party) without understanding precisely what the Mexican people were celebrating.

Context and Precedence:

In 1861, Mexico was in debt to the major European powers: Spain, France and Great Britain and Mexico defaulted on its payments. Under the provisions of the Treaty of London (October 31, 1861), the creditors combined to try and recoup their losses. 

The Spanish, French and British fleets arrived in early January, 1862. A monarchy was instituted in Mexico under Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg (Austria) and his wife, Charlotte (Belgium), supported by French troops. The creditors hoped to get the payments started by exploiting gold mines in Mexico.

The Battle:

After a string of military victories by the allied forces, the British and Spanish withdrew on April 24, 1862, leaving the French to complete the conquest of Mexico. The first major French engagement with the Mexican forces took place on May 5, 1862 (Cinco de Mayo). The French force (combined arms: cavalry, infantry and artillery) attacked the Mexican Regular Army at Alcuzingo Pass on April 28 and mauled them. The Mexicans retreated to the City of Puebla where two forts protected the approaches to the city. The forts held and the Mexicans (who outnumbered the French roughly 3:1) counterattacked. The French were thrown back with heavy losses and the Mexicans returned to their fortifications rather than following up on the success.


Following their defeat at the battle of Puebla, the French defeated the Mexican forces under Zaragoza and took Mexico City on June 7, 1863. By 1865, just about all of Mexico was  under French rule. So while the Mexican army won at Puebla, they lost the war.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thought of the day

Sometimes its good to challenge authority.

While we have life, let us LIVE! (translated: Dum Vivimus Vivamus)

Thy riddles grow dark, oh! drifting cloud
And thy misty shapes grow drear,
Thou hang'st in the air like a shadowy shroud,
But I am of lighter cheer;
Though our future lot is a sable blot,
Though the wise ones of Earth will blame us,
Though our saddles will rot,
And our rides be forgot,
--Adam Lindsay Gordon - Ye Wearie Wayfarer, hys Ballad in Eight Fyttes

Taking Risks

Umberto Eco, famous author and a favorite of mine said, "I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."

The Chinese characters for the word "risk" is two characters that represent DANGER + OPPORTUNITY. While taking risks, by the nature of the word have elements of danger interlaced within them, the only way you can move ahead in life is by taking calculated risks that lead to greater opportunities.

Those of you who know me personally, know I'm not risk-averse and that I do take risks - some that pay off and others that lead to wisdom (mistakes). However, some of my greatest experiences have come from 'mistakes'. And if you asked me if I'd make the mistakes again, hindsight being 20/20, I think I would. Because its how I learned.

Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and tack close to the breeze - hoping you don't fall off the edge of the world as in the photo above.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu

An offering to my blog from my friend WoFat...