Thursday, November 05, 2009

Out With The Old ...

When I started this loser blog five years ago, I was the fortunate recipient of the cutting-edge of blogging technology.

Since then, BlogSpot has come up with a lot of innovations, including an entirely new stable of template designs. All I have to do to take advantage of their free new technology is to convert.


Chilly wind comes blowing down my back when I think of migrating to a new software package. Blogspot (thank you, Google) admits that 'some' of my customizations may be lost in transition.

Can you say "Everything you have ever done will be dropped" children? I knew you could.

(Sorry ... Mr. Robinson flashback there. )

Fortunately, Blogger comforts me by saying "we'll keep a copy of your template for you". It's like "We'll keep a light on for you", and you know how warm and friendly a Motel 6 is.

I'm getting really tired of the old design, though. I've tweaked it so much that it squeaks every time I sign in, and the format is, like ... narrow. Really narrow, you know?

I mean, just look at me. I'm nine inches wide and 50 inches tall. Or there-about. I've got a 20+ inch monitor, and I see more white space than I see content. I can just imagine if the layout would expand to full screen width ... the current (old, really out-of-it) template assumes the viewer has a 12" (diagonal measurement) monitor and a dial-up connection. I would really love to move into the 21st Century with this hog.

It'll probably take me a few days -- more realistically a few evenings of my capricious "free time" to effect the conversion. That's without stopping for inconsequential interruptions such as dinner and sleep.

Might be worth it, might be a royal pain in the fanny. I've been thinking about it for several months, though, and I've almost talked myself into it.

All I want is different colors, the ability to expand the text area (main body), and maybe have sidebars on each side. Or not, I don't really know what options are available. They have pre-designed templates, you know, and I don't know what they look like until I commit to the change. I'm thinking about a white background, though. Easier to read black text from a higher-contrast background.

I'll try to give you a couple of days notice before I commit to this. I wouldn't want to disappoint my readers ... all five of you.

And if I'm off-line for a week or two, you can just treat it as if I'm pouting, or don't have anything interesting to say, which is the usual case with this blog.

Come to think of it, not having anything to say hasn't really stopped me yet, now has it?

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood

Yes, boys and girls, it's time for a visit to Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood!

Yup. Finally found that NBC archive of Saturday Night Live shows.

You know, the one I tried and failed to provide last week.

This is the first time I've ever seen Eddie Murphy in a SNL skit. Pitiful, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SWMBO Report; November 09

Somedays it isn't easy to remain up-attitude.

I've tried to keep up with SWMBO's Battle Royal with Lung Cancer on a more or less monthly basis, but I skipped September and October because there wasn't a lot of news to tell.

In August I discussed her trip to Massachusetts General, located in Boston Massachusetts (hereinafter "Mass Gen", since I can't even spell Massachusetts).

After her interview and counseling with Dr. Shaw SWMBO returned to Oregon and begin working with her local Oncologist, Dr. Kenyon, and the crew at Good Samaritan Hospital ("Good Sam"), trying to gather all of her test records including CT scans, etc., on one CD to ship to Dr. Shaw for evaluation.

Dr. Shaw was particularly interested in comparing the relative CT scans over a period of time with the medications being used ... mainly, Avastin. At $3,500 to $4,000 per treatment, and treatments every month, it seemed that it should do some good.

But the first CD sent to Dr. Shaw directly from Good Sam just never arrived. After a few weeks, SWMBO emailed Dr. Shaw asking if she hadn't had time to evaluate the results. It was not until then that she learned that the CD had never arrived.

So she asked Dr. Kenyon to arrange for the delivery of another CD. That one, too, was Lost in Space.

Finally SWMBO took charge of her own welfare and early in October, 2009, she spent another $45 to have a third CD cut. Then she shipped it next-day FED EX to Dr. Shaw, and the next day received an email noting that the shipment had been received and the doctor would be evaluating the tests during the next week.

It actually took ten days for Dr. Shaw to call with the results of her evaluation. SWMBO got the phone call when we were in a restaurant having Saturday Lunch. We were just ordering when her cell phone rang. She excused herself and went to a quiet corner to take the call in relative privacy.

Five minutes later she came back to our table and quietly completed giving her order to the waitress.

I asked her about the call. She told me it was Dr. Shaw. They had identified the 'mutation' which was her own personal cancer tumor, based on the DNA samples they had evaluated. This mutation was one for which no cure had ever been identified. Also, the Avastin treatments had not been working for her ... had not been working for the past several months. The tumor was not being reduced as hoped; it was growing again.

She only gave me the bare bones of the conversation, and then our lunch was served and we quietly ate. We both finished our meals, eating everything. Life goes on, we get hungry, we eat. Paid our bill, left a nice tip to the patient waitress who didn't know what was going on with the phone call but we were obviously upset. The we went home, sat on the couch to talk and weep a little.

SWMBO give me a little more information, as well as she could remember.

The 'mutation' was one which they were working on at Mass Gen. No, they had no specific treatment available, but they were "trying things" and "working on it", and as soon as they had any indication of a workable treatment, they would let her know. In the meantime, they would recommend to Dr. Kenyon a new course of Chemotherapy. Forget the expensive Avastin which is not working. We don't know what the specific drugs are, but they should (Dr. Shaw hoped) serve to limit the rate of growth, if not actually reduce the size of the tumor.


SWMBO took her first infusion of the new "Cancer Cocktail" 0n Wednesday last. She had a good session; they had the best needle-person in the office plug into her veins. That's a blessing, because her veins have collapsed a bit over the past year-and-change, and its usually a grueling trial for her as the technicians try various veins in her inner elbow, forearm, and the back of her hands before they get a "good stick". This time, instead of coming home with big bruises all over both hands and forearms, there was just one small bruise. A very encouraging sign.

Last weekend we had a quiet Halloween at home, watching DVDs rented from Hollywood Video. "The Proposal" was a lot more positive than The NCSI Marathon with blood and gore which typifies the well-written, but depressing series. We had a couple of dads-with-two-kids ring the doorbell to shout "Trick Or Treat!", and we gave out a couple of mini-Baby Ruth bars. Then we turned of the porch light and just vegged on the couch while we watched the movies.

Monday, SWMBO had "A Bad Day". She couldn't move around without causing a coughing jag. She was beginning to feel the side-effects of the chemotherapy. She doesn't have a good sense of balance, she feels under the weather and she's always tired and she can't often sleep through the night without coughing. When the coughing starts, with a lot of phlegm coming up, she can't lie prone. The best she can do is go sit on the couch where she can doze propped into a sitting position.


After work tonite I went over to her home to take her trash cans out to the curb. Wednesday is Trash Day, and her recycle barrel was full and the garbage barrel was also too heavy for her to handle. Stopped at the Safeway and got her a loaf of All Grain Bread; Cardboard in a Plastic Bag, but good for you!

She was feeling (thumb and forefinger a quarter-inch apart) a little better, but still a bit under the weather.

Still, she looked good. Robe and pajamas, no face-wash or hair-comb, but she looked good. Good color, the famous sparkling eyes, she dredged up the smile that enslaves me. Loving her is a privilege.

They think that the current course of chemotherapy won't cost her hair this time, as it did last year. Her voice is a bit squeaky, as if her throat was tight, but if she doesn't talk too much for too long she sounds good until she talks too much for too long and she starts coughing again.

You know what really kicks me in the rear?

They, the doctors, tell you to eat right with lots of fiber, vegetables and fruits, little red meat, lots of vitamins and minerals. Don't drink, don't smoke, get plenty of rest and plenty of exercise. You'll be fine; bring in the next patient.

She does all of those things; she has lead a healthy life-style for years.

I smoke, drink, spend all day on the computer at the office and all night on the computer at home. Eat pasta and red meat and don't exercise at all. I'm a Geek, she's a Princess. More, she's a Goddess: She Who Must Be Obeyed. Read the book.

It's just not right.

She has my tumor, dammit. I worked hard for it. I earned it. She ... doesn't deserve it.

And she feels bad because her feeling bad makes me worry about her.

Somedays it isn't easy to remain up-attitude.

Home Defense

There are as many opinions about what is the best firearm for Home Defense as there are people who own firearms -- perhaps more -- and while I'm certainly no expert on the subject I do have some opinions on what I think is best for my Home Defense situation.

Why so many opinions?

The primary reason is that everyone has his/her own specific conditions which mandate certain parameters which cannot be ignored. For example, the person who lives in the country with no close neighbors may decided that any firearm that does the job is appropriate; while someone who lives in an apartment or condominium is concerned about shooting large-caliber lead bullets which may pass through many walls may have a much more limited number of options available.

There are other conditions which limits one's choice of home-defense weaponry: the presence of children in the home; the degree of training and familiarity with the available weapons of choice; local laws and restrictions on owning/keeping/storing firearms; the 'geography' of one's home; personal opinions on "stopping power" of certain calibers, loads and bullets, etc.

Let's look at these few enumerated conditions:

Children in the Home:

When there are children present, the home-owner needs to be concerned about safely securing firearms and ammunition to prevent accidents. This, along with the ever-present need to have a self-defense weapon handy and immediately available in case of emergency, seems to suggest that a handgun would be most readily be made available when stored in a 'gun safe' which is concealed from casual sight, but can be readily accessed by a person at night, under stress, and reliably. There are pistol safes which use a combination lock (such as the V-line Top Draw Handgun Safe) which can be stored inconspicuously and can easily be opened with a single-hand punching in a combination. This allows the home-owner to easily access a pistol, yet prevents access by unauthorized persons ... including children.

Since the small 'pistol' size safes are more easily concealable, if you live in a home where children reside the safest defensive weapon may be a pistol, rather than a rifle or a shotgun.

Training and Familiarity with the Available Weapon:

It's safe to say that you are more effective with a weapon which you shoot regularly. The best Home Defense Weapon is probably the weapon that you use for any hunting or other purpose. Note that a high-powered rifle is often less appropriate because of the other conditions which have been mentioned, , it still may be the most effective Home Defensive weapon you own. Note that a .30-30 lever-action carbine may work best for you, there are other considerations which may suggest an alternate weapon. But if your situation has no other limiting factors, don't entirey discount a long-gun.

Local Laws and Restrictions:
This is a gray area: if you reside in Chicago, for example, there may be NO firearms which you can legally keep and own in a 'ready to use' status. On the other hand, some places allow either Handguns, Rifles or Shotguns to be retained in a mode which is readily available in a loaded (cartridge in chamber) or semi-loaded (cartridge in magazine) configuration. Which ever type of firearms is permitted in the closest-to-fire configuration may be the best choice for you. The acid test is whether you can pick up the firearm and engage a home-invader in the shortest period of time.

Geography of the Home:

If you live in a small home, with narrow stairwells and small rooms, a long-gun may not be the best choice for you. That would seem to suggest that a handgun would better allow you to move around corners and through small, cluttered rooms with a minimum of danger of restricting free access of a target.

On the other hand, if you live in an open ranch-style house with a fairly open geography (fewer corners, etc.) you may feel free to use a long-gun (rifle or shotgun).

This condition also includes the proximity of neighbors. If you life in an apartment building, you may share a common wall with your neighbor. I that case, you may be concerned about missed shots (or shoot-throughs) which can put a bullet into an adjacent dwelling. Your choices may include a pistol loaded with frangible ammunition, or a shotgun loaded with bird-shot.

Stopping Power:
Much is said about "Stopping Power". The truth is, you cannot reliable believe any of it. Generally speaking, larger calibers are more effective than smaller calibers. On the other hand, a hit with a small-caliber weapon is more effective than a miss with a large-caliber weapon. Other than that, most generalizations (and many specific assertions) become a moot point when the home-invader meets the home-owner. Shoot what you can hit with; after that comes hitting in a vital area, etc.

There are many people who confidently assert that you can stop an aggressor with a single round of 9mm, .38 special, .25 caliber, or other calibers. There are even more people who confidenty assert that these are not reliable home-defense calibers. However, there are a number of loads (mostly depending upon bullet design) which are confidently asserted by at least one gun-writer be 'man killers'.

Generally speaking, find something you can shoot with confidence, and find the most effective load for that gun/caliber.

Geek Preference:
I live in a two-story duplex in a college town. My landlord and his family live on the other side of common walls. My imperative is (1) to be able to stop an attacker, and (2) to not send a bullet through the walls with the high probability of injuring or killing a neighbor.

For that reason, my primary Home Defensive weapon is a Mossberg shotgun loaded with #7 shot. I have reasonable expectations that stray pellets will not penetrate the wall and, if they do, they will not kill my neighbors. I like my neighbors, and my Landlord; this is a major consideration for me.

Besides that, a shotgun is effective at the close range (3 yards) I can expect to engage an aggressor, regardless of the pellet size.

Also, I don't expect to be chasing a home invader around my house; if he doesn't attempt to enter my bedroom, hes probably not a dire threat.

Ultimately, I have other 'back-up' weapons: a .45 ACP pistol, and a really terrifying .41 Magnum single-action revolve which is very likely to deter anyone coming through my door while I engage them from the top of the stairwell. Any shot fired from that acute angle and missing my target will safely bury itself in the lawn -- possibly after passing through the body of a home invader.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Speaking of Stupid ...

These stupid rules gotta go, GIs tell 2-star - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

In my last article, I presented the co-existant possibilities of U.S. Army and "stupid".

It's interesting to note that a Major General (two stars) recently asked his command "What is the stupidest rule or policy you have seen in the Army?

Talk about throwing red meat to lions -- several pertinent comments were returned.

Among these:

• The M9 pistol. With all of the outstanding handguns on the market, the Army still issues this piece of junk.
Uh, yeah. I was fortunate in that my tour of duty occurred during the Viet Nam war, and we had the benefit of being issued the 1911 for officers, artillarymen, and infantry grenadiers. There was no "M9 pistol alternative available at the time, and I am pleased to have avoided this sacrifice to political correctness.

The M9 was accepted in U.S. Military inventory in an attempt to achieve a parity with United Nations "Standard" issue. If we were in a U.N. military situation, or so the logic goes, we could share ammunition with other UN or NATO countries.

Originally, the 1911 in .45ACP caliber was adopted during the Moro Wars in the Philippines because the 'current issue' handgun the .38 special, was found to be insufficient to stop the Moro "Amok" fanatics before they could penetrate American lines and kill American soldiers. The .45 ACP, however, was determined to have a greater 'stopping power' and therefore to be more effective in saving the lives of the American soldiers. Although the .45 ACP was not available for issue to American troops during this period, the lesson learned in The Philippines was an important influence on the next choice of issue handguns.

Somehow, the U.S. Army lost track of this important imperative. This may have been, in part due to political influences.


The next "Stupid Rule" was:

Beret backlash, uniform unrest

Worthless as headgear. Offers no protection from rain or sun. Bring back the cap.

— Sam Verbeck

We spent millions on berets at a time when we did not have money for spare parts for vehicles or ammo for ranges.

— Rob

The beret is an absolutely useless piece of gear. Sure it looks good, but it’s pretty obvious that the ones who made it policy to wear this piece of gear in an everyday work uniform sit in an office and don’t see the light of day.

— Joe Snuffy


The first use of the modern beret in the U.S. military was in 1943, when a battalion of the 509th Parachute Infantry was given maroon berets by their British counterparts for their service in the war.
Later, the Green Beret was give to a similar elite U.S. military group, the Special Forces, during the Vietnam War. (Special Forces were formed in 1952...)

Almost contemporaneously, the Black Beret (in 1979) was awarded to U.S. Army Rangers.

However according to the 75th Rangers ...

On October 17, 2000, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General Eric Shinseki, stated in a speech to the AUSA National Convention in Washington, D.C.:

"It is time for the entire Army to accept the challenge of excellence that has so long been a hallmark of our special operations and airborne units. As another step towards achieving the capabilities of the objective force, effective 14 June 2001, the first Army birthday of the new millennium, the Army will don its new headgear. The black beret will become the Army standard. Special operations and airborne units will retain their distinctive berets. But starting next June, the black beret will be symbolic of our commitment to transform this magnificent Army into a new force -- a strategically responsive force for the 21st century."

The Black Beret has been worn exclusively by Army Rangers and has become a powerful symbol of excellence earned only though extreme effort under adverse conditions. General Shinseki's directive was quickly followed with an order that all active duty Rangers serving throughout the United States Army were to remain silent on this issue.

We have seen that the prestigious Black Beret, originally assigned as an earned mark of valor to the Rangers, has been undermined by the Army High Command to exemplify all Army Personnel. While it is not in itself demeaning to allow ALL Army personnel to wear the Black Beret, in essence it is an insult to the original wearers ... the Rangers ... to permit the same expectation of excellence to be accorded to the run-of-the-mill members of the U.S. Army which has been EARNED by the Rangers.

I have been trained by Rangers. Non-Commissioned Officer Infantry School (NCOIC) 1971. I do not pretend to be as accomplished as my trainers, because I am not. But I do admire the proficiency which my trainers have demonstrated.

[I never liked them, but I did admire their demonstrated skills ... which I realized I would never match.]

So when it comes to an evaluation of the universal award of the Black Beret to all members of the U.S. Army, I share the outrage of both The Ranges, and those members of the Standing Army who recognize that they have not earned this honor.


There are other complaints by the Standing Army against 'Rules' which seem oppressive, nonsensical, or otherwise "stupid". I will not enumerate them here.

But it seems to me that the administrati9ve rules which are anathema to the common soldier are probably nonsensical to the common civilian as well, when they are understood in the context of day0by-day requirements.

President Obama ties George W. Bush on golf

POLITICO CLICK: President Obama ties George W. Bush on golf - Patrick Gavin

President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he's already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years.

CBS' Mark Knoller — an unofficial documentarian and statistician of all things White House-related — wrote on his Twitter feed that, "Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24.

Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months."

This is ... baloney.

Who cares how much Obama took playing golf?

Personally, I would encourage President Obama to spend as much time playing Golf as possible. This is time NOT spent undermining the U.S. Economy.

One of my favorite presidents was Dwight David Eisenhower, who notoriously spent a lot of time playing golf rather than being "presidential". Who was hurt by Ike's Golfing Predilection? Only the poor souls who were hit by Ike's famous Slice.

Eisenhower decidedly did NOT act very presidential during his two terms of office ('54 - '60).

He did act decisively on Civil Rights matters (eg: sent troops to Little Rock to desegregate schools), ended the war in Korea and handled International issues in Lebanon, Berlin, Suez, Taiwan, Hungary. Avoided intervention in Viet Nam. He attempted detente with the Soviets, which was demolished by the Francis Gary Powers "U2" incident. He expanded the economy, balanced the budget, established H.E.W., NASA, and the Interstate Highway System (which, among other benefits, provided a national emergency landing strip pattern for Strategic Air Command planes).

No, Ike didn't do much but play golf ... badly.

If Obama would only play more golf, badly or otherwise, he might end up being as exemplary a president as was Eisenhower.


The military has a saying about commanders who are to some degree aggressive and stupid.

A Stupid and Lazy commander may be ignored, for he will cause no lasting harm.

A Bright and Aggressive commander is a positive influence on his command.

A Bright and Lazy commander may incidentally or accidentally benefit his command, but will infrequently cause some minor damage.

But a Stupid and Aggressive Commander will confound his superiors, harm his command, and undermine the constructive intentions of his nation.

Or words to that effect.

Eisenhower was, essentially, a Bright and Lazy Commander , in that he caused no harm, and incidentally caused some good.

Obama is a Stupid and Aggressive Commander. Unfortunately, he has no superiors who might countermand his directions. He seems on the surface to be Bright, but in terms of his ability to do his job, he is overwhelmingly impressed with his own potential with the result that he acts stupidly, but is unable to recognize his limitations. He will cause more harm than good, and is unable to just play golf and let the running of his country be guided by better qualified sub-commanders.

Personally, I would prefer that he play golf more often, and attempt to govern as infrequently as is humanly possible. He should emulate Eisenhower, rather than either of the Roosevelts.

Calendar pokes fun at Mormon mom stereotype

The Associated Press: Calendar pokes fun at Mormon mom stereotype

I'm ... not really certain how to report on this subject, delicately.

I have several Mormons in my family, and while I don't necessarily agree with the constraints of their religion I respect their beliefs. I don't mind the "No Television" part, but "No Smoking" and "No Drinking" are a direct assault on my personal life-style. I admit I would be a better man if I observed these restrictions, but it probably ain't gonna happen. (There was a time in my youth when I admired, but was unable to accept, the precepts of B'nai B'rith ... but the same problems arose. Probably due to same problems which made this raised-Baptist boy a functional agnostic.)

Okay, there's probably no way to "report on this subject, delicately". Let's just see what reportage is already available:

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest installment of a calendar series that pokes fun at Mormon stereotypes is putting a twist on motherhood.

The "Hot Mormon Muffins: A Taste of Motherhood" calendar features 12 mothers who claim membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in vintage pinup picture poses. Each month also has a muffin recipe.

It's a companion piece to "Men on a Mission," the three-year series of calendars that featured 12 male church missionaries who doffed their signature white shirts.

Last year, a dustup over the calendar ultimately cost its creator, Las Vegas entrepreneur Chad Hardy, his membership in the church and his diploma from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Hardy said the projects are designed to shake up stereotypes that paint Mormons in general as stuffy or hyper-conservative and mothers in particular as homemakers from another era.

"For Mormons, the most holy calling next to missionary work is motherhood," said Hardy. "But they're not all the subservient housewives that people think they are."

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah declined to comment on the calendar Monday.

Here are some of the videos available through the website "Hot Mormon Muffins".
Episode 5: Every Muffin a Missionary:

Episode 7: Mormon Muffins for TV Dinners:

I'm re-thinking my earlier decisions vis-a-vis conversion.

Hero contractor recounts fighting off Taliban

Hero contractor recounts fighting off Taliban - TODAY People

Chris Turner ... is a hero.

And in the best tradition of heroes, he credits others for his success in defending his friends and co-workers. The surprising part is that these 'others' include United Nations troops, a group which has not enjoyed a good reputation, and Afghan guards.

For two hours, a civilian contractor held off Taliban commandos with an AK-47, saving the lives of 24 people in a Kabul, Afghanistan, guest house. But while others are praising Chris Turner’s courage, the 62-year-old former hippie refuses to be called a hero.

“The real heroes were the three U.N. guards and the Afghan guards who lost their lives defending all of us,” Turner told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Thursday from Kabul.

In the predawn darkness a day earlier, Turner and more than two dozen others who lived in a walled compound in Kabul were violently awakened by explosions and small-arms fire. The Taliban, who had been concentrating their attacks in the countryside outside the capital, had targeted the compound, where many United Nations workers were living while preparing to monitor a run-off presidential election.

Turner, the only one in the compound who was armed (with an AK-47) except for the guards, rallied the other residents in a escape from their residence to a relatively safe area, and then single-handedly mounted an armed defense against Taliban attackers, including suicide bombers, until relieved.

In the U.S. Military, such initiative, bravery and selfless devotion would be deserving of a prestigious medal.

Surely a sterling performance, especially from a self-styled "former Hippie". But Turner's modesty is commensurate with the demeanor of Alvin York and Audie Murphy ... to illustrate American heroes from both World Wars. Both of these men, American Infantrymen, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty."

But Turner is a civilian: there is no expectation of "conspicuous gallantry" in any sense, let alone in comparison to "the call of duty".

An untrained ex-hippie, who measures up to the accomplishments of the two most exemplary American Military Heroes, sure deserves nothing less from his government than the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award of the President of the United States of America ...
... the foremost U.S. civilian decoration, awarded to individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I cannot conceive of any other individual to date more deserving of recognition by President Obama in this time of terrible conflict against terrorists and suicide bombers than an American Civilian who defends his civilian colleagues against the attempted predations of the Taliban.

After all, President George W. Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to radio comentator Paul Harvey.

Modern Sporting Rifle

Modern Sporting Rifle | NSSF
"Old Betsy"?

Doesn't look like Your Father's Oldsmobile, does it? And it's not. It's better.

Check the video comparison between a "black rifle" (which, coincidentally isn't even black) and an "acceptable" semi-automatic "sporting rifle"