Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas

It is now December 30th and Margie and I are looking forward to New Years Eve at Caesar's.

The year has been interesting and in my view began with our marriage in March, but then I've gotten to be an old softy.

We spent Christmas week at my brother's home, he and his bride (of many, many years) made us feel at home as they always do. Even though we normally only see them once a year our visits are like the resumption of a conversation that was paused for only a few minutes.

Our Christmas celebration there is in two parts, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is wonderfully chaotic. My brother and his wife, Nanette, graciously open their home to their neice and nephew (who happen to be my kids) and their children and grandchild (my grandchildren and great grandchild). That tribe plus their own daughter and her significant other had a blast from noon on through early evening.

Christmas Day was unique for both Margie and I. This is the first year in the 15 or so years we've been together that we've actually exchanged and opened our gifts on Christmas morning. That was way cool. Previously we had a Christmas before leaving for Texas, but not this year. After exchanging gifts we attended a service at Nanette's church, yet another first. We seem to be doing a lot of that this year. Later in the day we visited with my daughter, Tina, and her husband Oz - continuing a long standing tradition.

Speaking of tradition, on Friday of that week we had our traditional Mexican food dinner at a terrific and fashionably grungy local Tex-Mex eatery. Somehow that has become a "must do" event, something I wouldn't miss if I had to be wheeled in.

While we weren't able to see any of Margie's side of the family over the Christmas holiday, we were able to talk to most of them at some point and they were in our hearts and prayers.

I'll post some pictures on New Years Day, I got really ambitous this year and took 70 or so. Okay, I really didn't get ambitous - Margie told me to. She has created a scrapbook of Christmasses past and made sure I knew it was my responsibility to have plenty of pictures for the 2005 addition. Another first, I listened to her (ha ha).

Signing off for now and wishing any reader a happy and prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

all righty then...here i am

so i come in to see waz up?
i would have expected to see christmas pictures up by now.
i am disappointed in you mikie.
that's all i have to say right now...
nano

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wolf Blitzer hammered by Don King

A snippet from an interview of the boxing promoter Don King by CNN's Wolf Blitzer


THE SITUATION ROOM December 14, 2005 4:00 PM EST
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Don king is known worldwide as a big-time boxing promoter. But has also taken some new fights on recently...You love George Bush?
DON KING: I love George Walker Bush because I think he's a revolutionary. He's a president that comes in with conclusiveness. What they're doing in tomorrow in Iraq is a demonstration of that for the vote for democracy. The fundamental process of democracy is freedom of speech, law and order, being able to have freedom, working with people and working and governing yourselves. George Bush is that. He included in...
BLITZER: Do you have any regrets supporting him? Take a look at that picture when you and I were there at the diner last year. Do you have any regrets supporting him as enthusiastically as you did?
KING: No, I don't. In fact, I want to support him more now because it seems like everybody is punching him. You know what I mean? But he's fighting back, and he's throwing great combinations. And I think he's the guy that is really a revolutionary president.I think he's a president that cares about the people he represents, but doesn't compromise himself to the extent that he acquiesce and accommodate. He goes out there and says like it is, and tries to make things better. Inclusiveness, education, is fighting for that.These are the things that many guys that don't fight for -- George Walker Bush is a tremendous advocate to America, a great president for the great American people, and he's decisive. He's doesn't equivocate.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

War on Christmas

If you're a FoxNews watcher you'll have seen the hew and cry regarding the war on Christmas, a fact highlighted by: John Gibson, Neil Cavuto and Bill O’Reilly. I happen to agree, there is a conscious effort by local governments, businesses and schools to transform a unique American adaptation of Christmas into some generic winter holiday. Presumably this is to avoid offending anyone who sees a religious (Christian) component to the season. FoxNews has chronicled some truly ridiculous attempts such as the rewording of Silent Night, changing it to an ambiguous secular tune, and the barring of red and green in a Plano, Texas public school because the colors were too “Christmassy”.

This is political correctness run amuck and we need to push back. I’ve seen other news shows where the contention was that the war on Christmas is a contrivance by FoxNews to sell books and build audience / market share. The truth is, the war exists. You can see it in the stores (try to find a nativity scene or the words, “Merry Christmas”), in advertisements (try to find anything other than “happy holidays”) and in the banishment of Salvation Army bell ringers from Target Store entrances.

If you don’t believe it and you’re anywhere from 35 years or older, pay attention and check the differences between what you remember as a child or young adult and what you see today.

What I find extremely interesting, on a different level, is that the current war on Christmas has a parallel to a previous one. You may need to be older than 35 to remember this one. The battle the last time was against the commercialization of Christmas – taking Christ out of the holiday. That means in the last 50 years or so we’ve seen Christmas evolve from primarily a religious celebration into a highly commercialized event, albeit still with a religious connotation, and now we’re seeing the next step where anything that ties the holiday to Christianity is being blurred, erased or trivialized.

If we let this happen, we’re a collection of fools because we’ll lose the heart of what is not only a religious celebration, the birth of Christ, but one of the most important family holidays on the calendar.

Christmas, at least for me, is a time when the importance of family is paramount. Both my wife and I look forward to our annual trek to Dallas to be with my brother and his wife, my kids and their children. We spend a considerable amount of time in preparation for the trip, like a couple of kids we start weeks prior, shopping (that danged commercialization) for gifts to take as well as to ship to other family scattered all over the country, and Margie (bless her heart) spends weeks baking cookies to share with all.

This year the holiday is even more special since it is our first as husband and wife and the first in decades for us both as active / practicing Catholics.

War on Christmas? Not in this home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friendly neighborhood Spiderman




Yes it's a month since Halloween....but I still couldn't resist showing off our little Spider Man....



Check out the muscles on this guy....





As Peter Parker or his alter ego, Spiderman, he always has a smile on his face!

He is always ready to save the day!!





He won one of the costume contests at his Halloween carnival......Thanks to Papa and his face painting!! He wants Batman on his Birthday cake, can't wait to see it! (good luck papa)

Just look at those muscles !!

Keeping the neighborhood safe for everyone.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Marine


Here is a young man that would make any parent proud.

His name is Justin, he is one of my grandkids and he just graduated from Marine bootcamp. He came home one day and announced to his parents that he had enlisted, it was a done deed. He had taken a look at his future and decided he could make it much better by serving his country then taking advantage of the benefits that derived from that service.

My hat is off to Justin, a fine young man and one that would make any parent proud. The country needs many more like him, young men that take control of their lives and attempt to make something of themselves.

He'll soon be in traing for his speciality as a combat engineer. I wish him well and admire his courage. God bless.

Thanksgiving

Okay, so Thanksgiving was last week and I am just now posting on the subject.

Margie and I had a simply wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, it was the perfect family day. Even though we're hundreds of miles from the rest of our family, we were in touch with nearly everyone. I swear we spent most of the day (that didn't involve eating) talking to family, thank God for the telephone. The meal was great, as usual, sharing it even better.

The day after, that would be Friday, we woke up reasonably early and headed out for Christmas (NOT WINTER HOLIDAY!!!) shopping. We did our shopping at a high-end outlet mall that had a huge array of shops, terific prices and a good selection. The bottom line is that we did all our shopping in 8 hours flat. Good thing we have an SUV sorta vehicle.

Islamic link

This is a URL that I came across. It is a link to an Islamic scientific site[^] - I offer it with little comment. Oh crap, I am actually posting it because a Muslim posted a link to an article that "proved" the Quran supposedly posited an important bit of scientific information some 1,400 years ago. You have to dig around for that particular article since I have posted the link to the home page. If you dig around you'll find some interesting Islamic views. No, no one there is calling for your death (or mine for that matter), but it is interesting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Marine's report from Iraq

Iraq report from a Marine home on leave. Really interesting.

This came to me via email from a friend in Dallas. It is a father's debriefing of his son.

A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early '06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq.

He spent 7 months at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he had to say about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view.

Opinions:
1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Kid says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it is lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts รข€˜em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. Ma deuce is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the old body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefires, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. He carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:
1) Mostly AK47's . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again)

Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.


2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in his area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated shaped charges (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor.

Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of his NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage inside the wire. His base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and Google earth for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?:
Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly foreigners, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then travel down the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in sacrifice squads. Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.).

These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt's, the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing Aka's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time. ( see the M2 and M240 above).

His base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeos (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet.

Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to him, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted.

They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

Anyway, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Memory deficit Democrats - Iraq

The drum beat of left-wing Democrats and a handful of weak kneed Republicans has built to a crescendo over the last month or so, and finally President Bush is calling their hand. The Kerry, Durbin, Kennedy, Boxer (too many list so I kept the list of mouths short) have been going on and on repeating the "Bush lied" mantra at every opportunity.

These and others should be brought up on charges for treason or a lesser charge of aiding and abetting an enemy during a time of war.

The favorite theme is, "no weapons of mass destruction" - so President Bush must have lied. They all forget they were on board while it was popular to be on board but once the press (aka, 5th column) decided to try to weaken the spines of our citizens, aligning with the cowards in Europe, the left could no longer contain themselves. After all, the press is against the war and the press and mass media now attempts to form public opinion instead of reporting news - so it is convenient for the Democrats to forget they once took a principled position. That is rare so it is easy to see why they forgot.

By the way, the commentary above does not include Senator Liebermann. Now that Zell Miller has left the Senate, Liebermann is the one remaining Kennedy Democrat (Ted is no doubt an embarrassment to his two brother's memories).

With all the harping, pissing and moaning do you think any of these Democrats remember the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 - U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 114[^] or even better, the The Iraq Liberation Act - enacted under President Clinton[^]. I bet not because it wouldn't be convenient and political convenience is a way of life for these professional whiners and liars.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Giving back

In March of this year ( 3-2005 ) Margie and I turned our 15 year long love affair into something more officially sanctioned by the world at large. In short, we were married. The decision was a derivative of many things not the least of which being that after 15 years it was obvious we had something long lasting. Other contributibing factors were no doubt the attacks of 9-11 that caused most right thinking folk to reinspect their lives to determine what is really important and what is not. We had also gone through a personal struggle that lasted around two years or so, the result had brough us even closer than we had been.

The effect formalizing our relationship has been profound and not limited to day to day living.

Shortly after we were married the Pope passed on and that drew us back to our common roots, we were both "cradle Catholics" - born and rasied as Roman Catholics, although we hadn't been to church in years (20 plus for me) the death of the Pope and the dignity of his final days drew us back. It wasn't long after we started attending mass again (and it felt good, like coming home) that we felt drawn to do more.

So now Margie is a member of the Woman's Club and We're both involved with the Society of St. Vincent DePaul[^]. We contribute a couple of hours each week and work in a food pantry. Margie bags groceries for the folks who make use of the pantry and I help them load their vehicles, then run the carts back into the building. I also contribute time every 6th Saturday at the local distribution center where the needy can pick up donated furniture, clothing and other houshold goods.

So in the course of the last 9 months have been a sea change for the two of us: marriage, a calling back to the Roman Catholic Church and an active participation in some of the works of the faith.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hillary gets one right!

Geez does this ever cause me pain. Here I am just waiting for the 2008 campaign to start, just frothing at the mouth to see the debates, surely Hillary will get mashed because of her well known (socialist) liberal tendencies. I have heard for some time now about how she's going to move to the right, landing in the middle, so she'll be acceptable to folks outside of the Socialist Republic of New York. Like most conservatives, I am skeptical that she can pull it off. Wasn't I amazed when she landed on the correct side of a controversy involving South Korea.[^]

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bathroom is finally complete - pretty much, anyway





The new bathroom is now complete or as complete as it will be for now. Pretty much a luxury.

There are a couple of features that I haven't shown in the earlier posts that are interesting.

The first is the little burled wood box that you see on the end of the counter. That is something that is designed for someone who if any lazier would suffocate because they would be so lazy their lungs wouldn't work. This box is an automatic winder for automatic watches. Yep, I have a watch that doesn't have a winder nor does it take batteries. It is a self winder that relies on a minimum of physical activity to stay wound. Since I don't walk around a lot, working from home and all, I had to get a winder to keep my watch wound. Something wrong with that picture, but I won't dwell on it.

Then you'll notice the towel rack on the end of the linen cabinets. That towel rack is also a towel warmer. It is filled with oil (I believe) and that oil is heated so the rack throws off radiant heat, warming towels as well as the bathroom.

We also added a corner cabinet. The countertop in a "perfume" bar for a spoiled rotten wife. The good part of the cabinet is underneath. That is where we store the toilet paper. The end result is that if you're sitting and ........ and find out you've run out of paper, you can simply reach out and open the door and wallah!

Islam - the religion of peace

What a joke. You simply have to despise a group who in the name of their god is willing to slaughter young Christian girls[^] and blow up Hindus[^] on the advent of one of their most significant holidays, Diwali[^]. As far as I am concerned this is a mindless cult, premised on the rantings of an animal they revere as a prophet. The world would be a much better place if we would simply nuke both Mecca[^] and Medina[^] which are central to their bastardized cult called a religion. These people are evil to the core, a fact explified by their desire to eliminate a people and a country[^]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Christmas List

from to

Ginnie____|___Mike
Margie____|___Paige
Tina______|___Jim
Doug______|___Margie
Nanette___|___Ginnie
Paige_____|___Tina
Randall___|___Doug
Mike______|___Oz
Jim_______|___Randall
Oz________|___Nanette

Suicide

The early posts on this blog track the renovation of our master bath. There was a primary contractor and two subs. One of the subs did the lion's share of the work and the other was a drywall / paint subcontractor. He did fantastic work but the job required some touch up work. He had promised to come back and finish up but never made it. I just got a call the other subcontractor that the drywall / paint sub wouldn't be able to finish the job because he had committed suicide.

46 years old. Survived by his mother and his daughter. Unbelievable. When he was here working he was a hard worker, energetic and very competent. Why would anyone take their own life?

So sad.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Letter to the editor - Islam

Muslims around the world are missing an important point.

That point being that there is a tremendous amount of murder and mayhem taking place around the world in the name of Islam. If Muslims believe, as I've been told, or want to contend that Islam is a peaceful religion then, they could quickly put a stop to the hateful commentary by condeming the evil done in the name of Islam. If they would I would warrant that the hateful posts and snide remarks would cease world wide.

No one gives a flying fuck who someone prays to, who someone worships, how someone prays, how someone worships, etc. but they do care that there are murderers, spinless fucking creatures of the shadows who intentionally, not accidently, but purposefully, kill and maim innocents - all in the name of Allah and in the name of Islam. No Muslim I've seen posting on bulletin boards, writing articles for newspapers, sitting for interviews on the cable news shows and no mainstream or well known Islamic spokesman speaks up to condem it.

And by the way, saying Bush is a Christian and look what he does doesn't mean shit. Yes he prosecuted a war in Afganistan and we killed God only knows how many, yes he prosecuted a war in Iraq but he did so neither in the name of a religion nor did he do it in the name of God. Folks may not agree with either war but both were prosecuted because of his belief it was necessary to live up to his obligations as the elected president of the United States and not because he's attempting to convert the world to his religous beliefs.

So until you Muslims speak up against what is being done in the name of Islam, ya'll can all fuck off. A prime example of the peaceful religion of Islam[^] just took place in Egypt. The crowd, no doubt, was urged on by some jackass in the Mosque.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Letter to the editor - the ICC

Remember a few years back when we (the US) pointedly stated that we would not sign on to the concept of the Internation Criminal Court? A spot on (as the Brits say) decision. If we had signed on to the ICC we would have to turn over 3 soldiers for doing what they are paid to do[^] in the course of prosecuting a war.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Letter to the editor - exit strategy

Here is something that might make you ponder for awhile. Some 40 years ago LBJ announced a war on poverty[^]. Some 10 years later we announced a war on Drugs[^]. Hold these thoughts for just a minute and read on.

We recently went to war with the Saddam regime in Iraq. There were any number of reasons and you may not agree with any one of them. You may even be one of those demanding an Exit Strategy[^] after only a couple of years of engagement.

Now all Iraq related arguments aside, don't you think it is time for an exit strategy from a 40 year war on poverty or a 30 year war on drugs - neither of which have any hope of success, both of which are huge drains on the economy, both of which intrude on the so called right to privacy[^] that was the basis for the Roe v. Wade decision that: 1) legalized abortion, but by some twist of logic 2) doesn't apply in either of the two long term wars?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Disco may not be dead after all

I have to admit that I sometimes enjoy listening to disco. Even though I never disco'd because, well I just have no rythem. It seems there's a revival of sorts in Europe, at least in two different countries. Giev the choice, I much prefer the way the Brits do it[^] over the way they do it in the Netherlands[^] but just think how much fun it would be to watch a Netherland's version done in a London club. Makes you go, hmmmm.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Your kid's teacher

Have you ever wanted to know how good you kid's teacher is? Well, not so much how good he or she is but what other students thought about the teacher. I didn't realize that the site existed but there is a place where teachers from all over the country are rated by students. Even my little bro' has a rating. If you want to, Rate em here[^]. My bro' has an interesting rating, students enjoy him but he's tough. Have fun checking on your kid's teachers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Letter to the editor - Bush + Harriet Miers

Way back in 2000 conservatives threw their support behind George Bush. It isn't that any conservative would have considered Gore, that would have been an abomination of the first order, but it was a choice between McCain and Bush. Those of us who supported Mr. Bush did so largely because of the pending Supreme Court vacancies and his promise to nominate strict constructionists to those seats once they became available.

The seats remained filled through out his first term but 2 opened this year. The first nomination, Roberts, met the expectations of Mr. Bush's promise although that fact was difficult to discern it does appear to be true.

The second nomination falls well short of his promise in that Ms. Miers, while no doubt an intelligent lawyer, is not a schooled constitutional attorney nor can we discern whether or not she is a strict constructionist.

The country is in the midst of a cultural tug of war. One side in this tug of war is exemplified by the ACLU, and organization that believes anything goes in a public forum including desecration the flag and public sex acts but not prayer or religious figures. On the other side are traditional Americans who believe sex should be a private matter between consenting adults in the privacy of their homes and that the flag should be held high and honored.

With a Supreme Court that is populated by judges who believe they can look to European legal trends for insight instead of reading what the constitution says it is imperative that we be sure that this one remaining open seat, that of Justice O'Connor, be filled by a strict constructionist someone who understands that the founding fathers meant what they said and didn't intend that the constitution be bent to satisfy a trendy urge.

For that reason I strongly believe that Harriet Miers be denied a seat on the Supreme Court, even if that means a set back for the President that I otherwise support - well, mostly.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Our new addition

Okay, I've added a picture of Sassy, the newest member of our household, with Tyler. She's "his doggy", she's already 15# and still going... and a pic or two of the kiddo...







He's growing up so fast! I thought I would share.


The next is Tyler with his friend Christina, she lives across the street from where we got our new puppy.

I caught this one from a distance when no one thought I was looking.....sly dog!












Kids are so cute, I guess they got tired of us and decided to go for a ride....












Just a couple of Tyler, I couldn't resist...












He's posing for this one...



This was too cute, we were going to the Dallas World Aquarium, and he was ready. Nana just had to take a picture first!

Letter to the editor - more on Minutemen

My previous comments on closing off the southern border focused on illegal immigrants. That is incredibly important but as important if not more so is keeping the borders closed to the enemy. We cannot be a soverign nation if we don't protect that soverignity and that starts at the border, both North and South. Thanks to MG for correcting my original post.

Letter to the editor - Will Bush grow balls?

There has been a McCain added rider to a Department of Defense appropriations bill that is an idiotic idea[^] and president Bush may just, as he damn well should, veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The idea that we should pass legislation that interferes with the Department of Defense' ability to prosecute a war against animals using Marquess of Queensberry rules is ludicrous. Does that mean a G'tmo interrogator should be able to peel the skin off a detainees back just for the hell of it? No but it does mean that congress should worry about their personal pork barrel projects and stick to the things they do best and let the military do the same.

Point in fact if it came to it and torture was the tipping event that could save an American city from annihilation, I don't want congressional interference standing in the way. McCain suffers from the years he spent in captivity and his opinion has some legitimacy but he is further off base on this piece of legislation than he was on campaign finance.

Rumor has it thatpresident Bush will veto this, and he should.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Letter to the editor - Dumb and dumber

I typically hold these two[^] in high esteem. They are often hard hitting and (almost, but not quite) conservative. Their latest piece of team work though is laughable and dangerous. McCain should certainly know better but for some reason seems determined to under cut the war on terrorism, at least in this instance.

Instead of defining treatment for these "detainees" we should close our eyes, and say a silent prayer that the guys in uniform (and the spooks who aren't) are doing anything and everything to squeeze intelligience out of the "detainees".

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Letter to the editor - I will not watch

Sean Penn - in anything.
Barbara Striesand - in anything. Too bad, "What's up Doc?", great.
Donald Southerland - in anything because of his BBC interview.
George Clooney - in anything.
Robin Williams - in anything.
Chevy Chase - in anything.
Dixie Chicks - okay, I won't listen.

Letter to the editor - White Caucus

Can I join it? Well no I can't because it doesn't exist and if I tried to create it I am certain that I would be in deep legal trouble. I have wondered about this for years, it is one of those things that sort of tickle the back of your mind. There is even a Hispanic Caucus[^].

Now the way I remember these sorts of things, this shouldn't be allowed. Try to form a club and exclude women. If you get tired of that, try forming a club and exclude gays. You'll get spanked again.

Seems the law of the land has somehow decided that the traditional white middle class should not exist.

A young Tennessee representative has decided to take an unusual approach to the same conceptual problem, he is trying to join the Black Caucus[^] but he is having a bit of a problem. Now that he is attempting to join it looks like mainstream media is digging a bit deeper[^].

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Letter to the editor - the New York Times

For years I bought the Sunday New York Times at the grocery store because I enjoyed much of the content and especially the crossword puzzle. Then we decided to get home delivery for that same Sunday edition because we sometimes were unable to get a copy from the grocery store. About a year ago, maybe two, I came to the realization that this venerable instituition had been taken over by political hacks - publishing to an agenda with a vengence. Their agenda was obviously not mine. So I cancelled my subscription. That was interesting because I did it by stopping the process whereby I told my MasterCard bank that I no longer would accept a charge for the Times.

The way this worked was that MasterCard then had to call the New York Times department that issues these charges to tell them that I was cancelling. When the MasterCard agent called them they put up a stink and MasterCard had to call me for a 3-way chat. When MasterCard called me to include me in the conversation the agent was thrilled, because she agreed with me (re: the Times agenda).

I am more than glad I cancelled. Since the NYT is bent on a leftist agenda and is also the prime feed for local papers, their leftist agenda is stuffed down the throat of damn near anyone who reads a newspaper. We already have to endure distortion from Reuters who refuses to call a terrorist a terrorist so why would anyone support the Times when their version of the truth[^] is anything that can smear a conservative or other media that permits conservative opinions to see the light of day?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Letter to the editor - Minutemen

Sorry President Bush, but here is one thing we certainly disagree on - the Minutemen[^]. These guys are doing what the federal government should be doing. We're literally being invaded and overrun and neither political party has the balls to do anything about it. With the Minutemen we have private citizens doing what should be done, something in keeping with our history and heritage.

Minutemen - my thanks. Generally people believe there is no harm: cheap labor, the American dream, they're only interested in providing for their families. Horseshit. These illegals cost us dearly. Increased taxes to pay for court (can you believe these are American courts?) mandated social services, increased taxes to pay for jail and prison staff, increased taxes for schools (why would we educate illegals?), the loss of entry level jobs.

You hear the old saw, "they're only taking jobs we won't do", but that is crap. If illegals weren't here filling these jobs the wages for the jobs would go high enough to attract entry level workers. Failing that, and this is one of our big losses, American engenuity would be applied to somehow fill the void.

Again, Minutemen - my thanks.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Letter to the editor - Louisiana

I can't take credit for it but I certainly agree with it, especially when idiotic Lousiana state leaders are asking me to fund corruption well into the future. We had 2 natural disasters, separated by two weeks time. One hit a state led by Democrats, the other by Rebublicans. Bug diffeence, read on: (excerpted from a site the Techniguy)

2 States, 22 Observations

1. Texas: Productive industrious state run by Republicans.
Louisiana: Government dependent welfare state run by Democrats.

2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves.
Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.

3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their
citizens and property.
Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.

4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order.
Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.

5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city.
Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.

6. Texas: Local police watch for looting.
Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.

7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested.
Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no
arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.

8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane.
Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.

9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding.
Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.

10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain.
Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.

11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3 day supply of food and water.
Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3 day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.

12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points.
Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.

13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush.
Texas: Media can't find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.

14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials.
Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.

15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime.
Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no storm related deaths.

16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area.
Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.

17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations.
Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.

18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas.
Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.

19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can't keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway, need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives.
Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can't pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.

20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger.
Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas.

21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support.
Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who is responsible.

22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens.
Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders".

What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government? Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month. Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help. What party will you be voting for in the next election?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Letter to the editor - Gutless Republicans

So after a Republican (because the dimocrats didn't show up) hammer the living sh*t out of FEMA head Brown for problems during Katrina, problems that to even the casual viewer were largely because of Lousianna Governor and New Orleans Mayor ineptitute, the following day that same inept, criminally inept, governor appears before a Senate committee and no one asks:
  • Why didn't you order a mandatory evacuation?
  • Why didn't you mobilize the New Orleans school buses so those poor folk could leave the city?

Hmmm. The Republicans have no spine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Day 13 - We're done


















Except for the addition of towel racks and a toilet paper holder, the bathroom is complete. I've got to give some credit here:
  • Updike Bathhroom Remodeling of Indianapolis - the primary contractor, upscale and worth the price.
  • Bradley "Brad" Ford owner of Built to Last Construction - the subcontractor, absolutely super guy.
  • Brad's assistant, "Spud" - hard working youngster.
  • Sanijet of Coppell Texas - the manufacturer of the tub, can only buy from them over the internet, and I highly recommend it.
  • Berch Cabinets - manfacturer of the cabinetry, including the mirrored medicine cabinets - good products and high quality.

Notice the "cute" corner toilet?

Back to the tub. We tracked this down because we live in a high rise condominium and the tub had to be virtually silent, and it more than lives up to Sanijet's claim.

Day 12 - Almost done




Well I tried a couple of times, but I couldn't find a way to rotate the pictures so if you're looking, just cock your head to the side.

What I am trying to show is that the tile now has grout. We chose a blue grout instead of what we originally wanted (white) and I'm glad we changed our minds, looks cool. Margie's extension mirror (I spent a ton of time trying to find this for a Christmas present last year) is now mounted on here side of the sink.

The pull knobs on the cabinets are a goofy brass or bronze colored. I talked to the contractor and he'll swap out what was delivered for Chrome.

Day 11 - Paint



It is probably hard to tell, but yes I have a shirt on (wife beater t-shirt) and the bathroom has been painted. Tile work is also complete but you can't see it from the pictures I've posted here.

The painter wasn't part of the deal from the contractor so we had to find our own. We found a really good guy who fit this in between other bigger jobs. The color really doesn't come through, but it is a pretty bold blue.

tinaoz

We have a new addition to our family....her name is Sassy. When we brought her home she weighed in at 10 almost 11#. She's nine weeks old now. She is a Chocolate Lab...such a sweet puppy. You know Tyler's just romping all over the place with her. Oz is just beside himself with joy....we have a "real dog".

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Democrats - dumb, dumber and dumber still

Judge Roberts, nominated by President Bush for the Supreme Court, has now been voted out of the Judical Committee confirmation hearings for a vote by the full senate. Key Democrats, especially those with an eye on the 2008 elections, have decided to ignore the Constituition and to ignore their responsibilities simply to cater to the left-wing of their party.

Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, Biden, Reid, Shumer, Kennedy, Feinstein, Boxer among others haev announced they'll vote no. They'll vote NO because Roberts has not said that he'll vote to protect women's right to kill (ie., did not say he wouldn't over turn Roe v. Wade) and didn't say he believed in the right to privacy, the basic rationale that supports the Roe v. Wade decision.

None of these full blown fools considered what his responsibilities are on the court, interpreting laws in the context of the Constituition.

Apparently the Democrats believe that laws should be interpreted, not in the context of the Constituition but whether or not the laws protect some presumed right.

Weather or war?

Very interesting reading regardless of whether or not you believe this guy. His contention is that the dramatic weather events were seeing, events that could include:
  • the heat wave in Europe last year that killed some 30,000
  • possibly the tsunami
  • Katrina
  • Rita
  • Southern India storm that just killed 800 plus
  • and.....

were all unnatural events caused by weather weapons of war. If have teh bandwidth, dig around and check some of the videos. If nohting else, interesting http://weatherwars.info/index.html reading.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Day 10 - A lot of progress




This was a busy day. It is amazing how fast the room is taking shape, but I guess that is a function of the time the contractor spent on what I would call the infrastructure.

Note the virtual wall of medicine cabinets and mirrors. The lights are on a dimmer switch although in the picture the lights are on full force.

More cabinetry is in place but it is only standing there and not firmly attached. The wall on the left isn't plumb so the'll gouge a little bit out and inset the vanities by about a half an inch.

A lot of fun with electricity today. We had rewired the condo a year ago in preparation for this work becaus the tub needed juice that wasn't available otherwise. As luck would have it the electrical contractor we used last year didn't wire the feed to the breaker. Continuing with that luck, we had subsequently had a finish carpenter box in the control panel. When the contractor wired up the tub, we found out the good news and they then had to undo the work of the finish carpenter to get to and correct the connection. Luckily everything on the tub work after that bit of rewiring.

Also had another bit if fun with the electricity. When Spud (the young helper) wired up the medicine cabinet lights he wanted me to see how it looked. I noticed that one of teh bulbs wasn't lit up and he tightened it. When he did, the wall switch blew. The problem was with the light system, one of the contacts was off, which made it connect to the brass threads on the bulb. Easy to fix fo Brad, the senior of the two - he's got enough experience to have seen this sort of thing more than once.

They also prepped the walls and ceiling for painting. They'll all be in tomorrow (Saturday) and I expect to see even more progress by the end of the day.

Day 9 - Floor is tiled & cabinets start to appear







Today the contractor finished laying the tile and moved in two linen cabinets that will back up to the tub area. We were going to use white grout but after seeing the look with the quickset epoxy bondong material showing throough we've decided to use a blue grout. Note that the little diamond tiles you see are in fact royal blue. The bathroom colors are blue and white so it should all hold together as a color scheme.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today's hero

I can't really saythat I have any heros but in the last couple of days there has been a guy who stands heads and shoulders above anyone I have seen in quite a while. I'm talking about the badass Lt. General Russel Honore to whom I'll forever be grateful for coining the phrase, "We ain't stuck on stupid". If he wants to run for office, he gets my vote.

Day 8 - Shaping up



















The walls are now all up and they have started the tape and bed process to get it ready for painting. The contractors have also started laying the tile. We're going with white tile and a small dark blue inset, but you can see that. Still to be decided is the color of the grout. We had originally thought we'd use white grout but may decide on a dark, blue or black, color toset off the white. Two or three more days and it'll be readyto go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day 7 - tub hooked up


















The tub is now hooked up to the plumbing. The contractor had to over come a really awkward problem. It is difficult to tell from the pictures but the front of the tub is designed in such a way that it is difficult to attach the overflow mechanism to the p-trap/drain. The drain pipe is below the floor (d'oh) and if this were a normal house it wouldn't be a problem. This is, however, a condominium on the 6th for and the drain pipe is reach through a small cut out in the concrete floor - a very small space. A normal tub is slanted from the top / front back towards the bottom / front. That gives the installer a way to reach down under the tub and into the sub-flooring. Not so here. So they had to widen the cut out on the concrete (real fun) then devise a unique connection to the drain, which they actually reached through another hole in the concrete that is open for the airshaft that you see (the sheet metal shaft).

We almost had to get permission from the guy who lives on the floor below to let the contractor cut through his ceiling to get to our plumbing. Would have been fun.

The drain in the tub is sort of interesting, especially made for this particular tub. Instead of a lever to raise or a chain to lift the plug, the overflow outlet turns and lifts a wire that is integrated with the overflow tubing on the front of the tub (which isn't visible).

Also note there are multiple shower heads. Two small ones about halfway up the piping that leads to the top shower head hook up. These are body sprays. When everything is ready to go there will be small spray nozzles that can be directed to hit different body parts while you're showering. Hmmmm.

They also set the wall behind the tub. Ultimately this wall will be the separation between the tub area and two side by side linen closets.

Day 6 - More ceiling / walls



















Okay, this was Monday 09-19-2005 and the contractor came back from the weekend ready to roll. Ceiling is up as are most of the walls. The tub is now in the location where it will be installed. The bulk of the wiring has also been installed.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Day 5 - Ceiling is up




The ceiling has been framed in and is now installed. It is 4.5 inches higher than before, for some reason, when this place was originally constructed the builder had the bathroom ceilings much lower than needed for electrical runs.

The walls are nearly complete and the tub is sitting where it will be installed.

Day 4 - Bathroom Rennovation


















Day 4 and now the de-construction is complete and they're starting to rebuild. Some walls are on teh way back up and they have started reframing the cwiling. They have also moved the plumbing for the vanity sinks. Since we took out the closet we'll now have two more feet of vanity space to collect junk on, which means that the sinks will be in a different spot, necessitating moving the plumbing.