August 31, 2003

A different kind of countdown

This nicely sums up the military's role in the War on Terrorism.

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Click on the category "9/11 Countdown" over on the right column to see all of the items in the countdown.

Update: Thanks to Pixy, who helped me get the categories to display on the 'posted by' line for each post.

Posted by: Ted at 11:43 PM | category: Countdown to 9/11
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Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

Rolling Stone published their list of all-time greats. As with any such list, you have to wonder what they were thinking with some choices (or what they were smoking, it is Rolling Stone dont'cha know). I'd be interested to know exactly what criteria they had in mind when they made their rankings.

Link via Dean Esmay.

Posted by: Ted at 08:43 PM | category: Links
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It makes perfect sense when you think about it

A good friend of mine took his family to DisneyWorld, and they had a great time. Among his stories about their vacation, this little bit of insight really stuck with me:

I amused myself by attempting to calculate something I call the Disney Critical Number: the maximum number of steps between two opportunities to buy something. The biggest DCN I got was 48, in the MetLife pavilion. My stride is a little under 3 feet.

Let the kids enjoy it, and you can marvel at it for what it is: an amazingly efficient machine designed to separate you from your money. Every place where there's a chair, someone has calculated the average amount of time you'll spend sitting on it. Everything you see, they know how long you'll look at it and what you're likely to do next. It is social engineering on a grand scale, and can be appreciated as such.

Posted by: Ted at 08:38 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Cleric Assassination

I think it's terrible that the bomb killed so many, including this cleric. But I also find it encouraging that everyone seems to be looking at this as what it was - a terrorist attack attempting to destabilize Iraq. The Iraqi population is being alienated by al-Qaida and Saddam's loyalists, which can only help us in the long run as the terrorists find fewer willing to help or hide them.

In response to the bombing, a highly respected Shiite cleric suspended his membership in the U.S.-chosen Iraqi interim Governing Council, citing a lack of security.

Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, in exile in London until Saddam's ouster, said Saturday that his return to the council depended on the U.S.-led coalition's handing security matters to Iraqis, so that Muslim shrines could be under Islamic protection.

He's absolutely right about this too. We're training an Iraqi militia and police force, who need to take over security of the holy sites. The problem is already recognized and being addressed, it just takes time.

After this terrible incident, thousands of pissed off Iraqi citizens march and complain that the US isn't providing enough security. We're not hearing about the US being anti-Islam, nor are the Iraquis saying the US should pull out and go home. They are behaving exactly like citizens in the US do, they complain about the lack of police protection. I don't care what anyone says, we are winning in Iraq.

Posted by: Ted at 08:28 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhhhhh...

This recipe for authentic German Potato Salad has been passed down for generations on my wife's side of the family. And with names like Kneppel and Thoerwachter and Karlson on the branches of the family tree, well, how much more authentically German can you get?

German Potato Salad

5 lbs medium potatoes
12 slices bacon, cut into fourths
4 Tbsp bacon drippings
1 cup onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp flour
6 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2/3 cup vinegar
1 1/3 cup water

*you can peel the potatoes if you want, before or after cooking

Directions
1. Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and slice 1/4" thick.
2. Cook the bacon. Drain, reserving 4 Tbsp drippings. Add bacon to potatoes.
3. Cook onions in reserved drippings until tender.
4. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and sugar to the onions.
5. Add vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
6. Pour over potatoes and mix gently until well coated.

Serve warm.
Makes 8 servings.

Posted by: Ted at 08:09 AM | category: Recipes
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August 30, 2003

A different kind of countdown

I thought that this was an appropriate start.

Click below to see it. I hope that by doing it this way, I'm saving you dial-uppers some load time. Yes?

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If you don't know what this is about, read this.

Posted by: Ted at 11:09 PM | category: Countdown to 9/11
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Respecting the Flag

Over at You Can Call Me Al, his latest post is about a pet peeve of his, namely flag etiquette. I read it a couple of times, trying to figure out what he was actually trying to say. Parts of it seemed to be attempted humor, but other parts were over the top and offensive to me.

The US Flag flies in front of my house every day of the year. It is illuminated at night. When it gets worn I replace it. I understand flag etiquette. I love my country and I stand for the national anthem. I proudly say the pledge of allegiance. I've participated in official flag disposals, and have been moved to tears by the ceremony. I hate to see the flag being burned in anger or protest.

I was also somewhat of a pariah at my American Legion post because I refused to sign a petition for the Flag Amendment. I didn't serve my country for the flag. I served for what the flag stands for. Idiots burning the flag are just as right as fools demanding an amendment to protect it. If you look at countries around the world where it is against the law to dishonor the flag, you'll find that most of those countries are autocratic tyrannies. Because the flag there represents the government, and not the ideals on which that government is based. Big difference.

The protester setting an American flag on fire is, in a painful sort of logic, a powerful example of American freedom in action.

If you see someone displaying a flag incorrectly, you talk to them and help them get it right. If they care enough to display the flag in the first place, you'll find they appreciate the assistance. An attitude of "get it right or don't bother" just isn't what it's all about.

Posted by: Ted at 08:26 PM | category: Politics
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"...Brilliant...Addictive..."

In an effort to bring you all things 'rocket', here's a downloadable game that's been recommended to me. I'm not much of a PC game player, but I've seen similar stuff, and it looks like fun.

Posted by: Ted at 03:04 PM | category: Links
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Havoc!

I'm not one for polls and following trends, but I got curious. Sue me.

more...

Posted by: Ted at 02:21 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Breather

Taking a break while the last floor dries. Mookie and I just finished cleaning the house since mom had to work today. She picked up, dusted and vacuumed, while I did the kitchen, mopping and laundry. We each did a bathroom. In the spirit of diversity, I picked the music today, so we listened to my new Busboys CD, followed by Ray Stevens Live*, and then Mookie got her first exposure to Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is.

I asked her if she'd like to watch a movie later, one of those flicks that mom hates, and she asked if we could watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Gotta love that kid!

She's upstairs now, working on the last of her summer homework. Man, I can't believe the amount of stuff she had to do this year. Read and annotate All Quiet on the Western Front, plus an assignment for her history class that ended up being 40 double-sided pages about world events, including maps and diagrams. Her class schedule arrived in the mail yesterday; this year (sophomore) she's taking Algebra II, Chemistry, Government, English, Speech and Drama, Theater Production, and PE/Health/Drivers Ed (oh joy).

Break over - dryer's buzzing. Almost done, there's a lot less laundry now that Robyn is gone away to school.

* The main track I wanted Mookie to hear was Ray Stevens' version of Misty. I love the original done by Johnny Mathis (?), but Stevens won a grammy with his toe-tapping arraingement, and it's one of those that makes you wonder why nobody ever did it like that before.

Posted by: Ted at 01:20 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Random thought over breakfast

I used to think that apple juice looked like a urine sample, but I've decided it's closer to cheap scotch.

Posted by: Ted at 11:29 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Another Russian Sub Accident

A Russian nuclear-powered submarine sank in the Barents Sea on Saturday morning as it was being towed to a scrapyard, killing at least two of the 10 sailors on board, the Defense Ministry said.

The two nuclear reactors of the 40-year-old K-159 was shut down at the time of the sinking at about 4 a.m. about 3 1/2 miles northwest of Kildin Island, the ministry said. No weapons were aboard.

One sailor was rescued, but seven more are missing and presumed dead.

The K-159, a November-class attack submarine, was decommissioned on July 16, 1989. It was being towed on four pontoons from its base in the town of Gremikha to a plant in Polarnye where workers were to unload the nuclear fuel and scrap the vessel.

The pontoons were torn off by the fierce storm, and the submarine sank in 560 feet of water, the ministry said.

More information about the November class can be found here.

The sheer numbers mentioned in this next bit astound me.

Russia has decommissioned about 189 nuclear-powered submarines over the past 15 years. However, officials say 126 of those are still are at docks with nuclear fuel in their reactors, prompting international concern about leaks and the possibility of nuclear materials being transferred to other nations or terrorists.

It will cost $3.9 billion to scrap all the subs, Russian officials say. Yet last year, the Russian government budgeted just $70 million for improving nuclear safety in the country as a whole.

Scary.

Update: Random Nuclear Strikes (how can you not love a name like that) also talks about this story, and the comments are especially good.

Posted by: Ted at 10:20 AM | category: Military
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August 29, 2003

Relevant is a relative thing

The U.N., tower of courage, is reducing it's staff by 90% in Iraq because of security concerns.

The U.N. Staff Union's committee on security has called on Annan to suspend all U.N. operations in Iraq and withdraw staff "until such time as measures are taken to improve security."

By someone other than the U.N. of course. They just want to run the whole show. From somewhere safe.

The biggest impact of the cutback in international staff is likely to be on the phasing out of the U.N. oil-for-food program.

Read that again. The biggest effect of the U.N. leaving is to slow the closing of a program no longer needed. In other words, they weren't doing much in the way of positive actions, just mostly shutting down unnecessary functions.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, you useless cowards.

Posted by: Ted at 10:54 PM | category: Politics
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A different kind of countdown

Over on the right is a small graphic remembering the victims of 9/11/01. Each day until the anniversary, I'll post a cartoon or photo here that is originally from the days and weeks immediately following that day.
more...

Posted by: Ted at 09:53 PM | category: Countdown to 9/11
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My Logo

I'd like to thank Carl for the awesome cartoon he drew for me. I told him the name of my blog and he ran with the idea. Great job Carl!!!

Posted by: Ted at 04:57 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Just like people

Jeff of Alphecca fame has written an amazing post about his pets. After reading that, I’m inspired to write about some cats I used to know.

We’re not cat people, although we did own a cat once, for about a month. She was a declawed stray that we picked up at the shelter. The whole family sat around the table discussing names, but we couldn’t reach a consensus so I finally just opened the newspaper and put my finger down at random. Our new pet was named Porsche.

I wound up taking Porsche back to the shelter, and happily she spent all of four hours there before another family adopted her. I know this because I talked to her new owners on the phone while they decided to adopt her. She was a good cat, it just wasn’t a good match with our family.

I like other people’s cats. My best friend Paul grew up on a farm, and always had cats and dogs (emphasis on the plural) of each. I’m going to tell you about two of his cats who were among the most unique souls I’ve ever met in this life.

His name was Slick. He was a big damn cat, and solid as a rock. His fur was that odd orange color that some cats wear. Slick barely had any ears, he'd been found as a kitten suffering severe frostbite, and the fleshy part turned black and mostly fell off. Slick also had an enormous head. Considering everything, this was one weird looking cat. But Slick was more than just a pretty face, he was that proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Slick would go out and wouldn’t come back for days. When he did show up at the door, he’d be covered with blood, sometimes his own. Scratches, gouges and chunks of flesh missing from his ornery hide were the usual. Once he came home with a broken front leg.

And that’s where the gentle side of Slick shone through. Paul’s little girl wasn’t walking yet, but could sure get around crawling. One day as Slick was nursing his battered body, just lazing around the house, that little girl crawled up to him, coo’d and petted him, and then grabbed hold of that broken leg. Slick stood up and gingerly retrieved his limb, then calmly limped behind the couch so he was out of reach. No hissing, no screeching or scratching. I can’t imagine what it felt like, but Slick knew that the baby didn’t mean to hurt him.

Slick had one other endearing trait, something I’ve never seen in another cat. Slick loved to be scratched, it made him purr like an outboard motor. And when Slick purred, he drooled. Remember, this was a big cat, so when I say he drooled, I mean he droooooled. Disgusting. Like I said, endearing.

The other cat I remember never grew up. I mean, it was a freakin’ midget cat! I don’t even recall it’s name, but this little sonuvabitch was the most gleefully evil little beast to ever stalk the earth. When you were at Paul’s house, you always checked the curtains before you sat on the couch, because this mini-satan would sit on top of the valence and wait for his next victim. Some poor fool who forgot to check – or didn’t know, which was even better – would sit on the couch, and within seconds a spitting, clawing fuzzball would drop down on top of said victim. The rest of us would laugh our asses off while watching the cat scramble back up the curtains to wait for his next chance. God, that cat could be mean.

Two memorable cats, and one I barely got to know. One of these days, I’ll tell you about my dogs...

Posted by: Ted at 07:47 AM | category: Boring Stories
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The Blue Screen of Zen?

Dawn over at Caterwauling has posted Haiku Error Messages. My favorite:

Chaos reigns within
Reflect, repent, and reboot
Order shall return

Add in a good roundhouse kick to Bill Gates, and the world will be in balance.

Posted by: Ted at 07:40 AM | category: Square Pegs
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No real point to this

Today I’m taking my traditional half-day off. I’ve taken leave on the afternoon of every 3-day weekend Friday for almost 15 years now. I don’t even have to mention it anymore, the people here just automatically put it into their schedules. I do this for one simple reason. Traffic. I hate holiday traffic with a passion, and like any major metropolitan area, this one is a choke point for all the traffic headed north and south along the eastern seaboard. I call ‘em foreigners, all these travelers with the funny license plates who don’t know how to drive in rush-hour traffic. It makes me crazy because they all want to ride in the middle lane and leave car-lengths worth of space in front of them in bumper-to-bumper traffic and they don’t know how to use a merge lane properly and they refuse to believe that the next exit is on the left side of the interstate until the last minute even though every sign for the last 5 miles has said so.

There. All better now.

Posted by: Ted at 07:27 AM | category: Boring Stories
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PSA, PMS... one of those 3-letter acronyms

Q: Why do they call it PMS?
A: Because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.

Now that I've annoyed my cherished female visitors, on to the PSA...

Give blood. There is never enough blood on hand for emergencies, but they're desperate for donations right now. Our local blood bank has just 30 units of Type O in stock, and they average 400 units a day to local hospitals. Critical shortage. It doesn't hurt. It doesn't take that long either, so please help.

Do I practice what I preach? I used to. The American Red Cross has deemed me an unsuitable doner because I spent time in Europe during the mad cow crisis (see, there was a tie-in there). A significant percentage of doners in this area have been disqualified, which contributes to the ongoing shortage.

Posted by: Ted at 07:20 AM | category: Square Pegs
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August 28, 2003

War Links

I've been busy with my eExodus, so I've neglected the blogwar. Fortunately, others have been ever vigilant...

Kin points out how Ethel could participate in the Russian X-games.

A gentleman would never embarrass a lady, but Kevin at Wizbang! let's the whole world know about Ethel's slip! Join the crowd standing around her, pointing and laughing.

And in news of the other war (the one started to distract everyone from our war), Glenn proves that quality whoops quantity's ass every time. Thanks to Electric Venom for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 01:34 PM | category: Axis of Naughty
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