Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cinderella Never Had It So Good

The dog is sick. Doggie gastro-cominouttabothends-itis. I was up all night, cleaning up puddles of mucousy barf and foul smelling runny poop. The poor guy doesn't mean to make a mess, but when it happens, it happens. He actually made it outside about a quarter of the time too (I had to hose off the front walk this morning).

He's unhappy because he's not getting his normal eats. I'm tired as hell and running another laundry load of soiled towels, dishrags and rugs. We'll shampoo the carpets this afternoon.

Just thought I'd share that with y'all.

Friday, January 30, 2009

As A Male, I Have Mixed Feelings About This

If you've been vexed by the age old problems of carrying loose change and needing a unique conversation starter, may I suggest a quick stop at the Scrotum Gift Shop. Here's what they say about their "pouches":

Kangaroo scrotum pouches are made from the scrotum of male kangaroo, and it's said to be very lucky; all those in possession of one is assured of a long life, happiness and healthy children.

I suppose the luck, happiness, etc. only applies if you're not a kangaroo.

Can I Get An Amen!

I seldom read the Washington Post, and link to them even less, but this one just had to be done. Charles Krauthammer on President Obama's attitude towards Muslims:

In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?

Read the whole thing, as they say.

A Musical Description Of My Morning Commute

You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven!

by Wainwright Loudon

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Problem Isn't The Message

Alright, don't do this:

Transportation officials in Texas are scrambling to prevent hackers from changing messages on digital road signs after one sign in Austin was altered to read, "Zombies Ahead."

Unless it's true, because as a driver I think I'd like to know if there are zombies ahead, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Making Friends, The Presidential Way

So today Obama chided the metro D.C. area because schools closed for the weather.

"My children's school was canceled today because of what? Some ice."

Obama said his daughters -- Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 -- pointed out that school in Chicago is never canceled.

"In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out that you'd go out for recess. You wouldn't even stay indoors," Obama says.

"We're going to have to try some flinty, Chicago toughness to this town."

Thank you, Mr. President, for letting me know that people from Chicago are too goddam stupid to stay home when the roads are icy. Not snowy, not sleety, but covered in fucking ice.

I never realized that flinty toughness was all it took to overcome the natural laws of physics, such as the ability to stop a vehicle (like a school bus) when it's riding on a layer of ice.

As for the kids going outside, it's probably because in Chicago they just can't get enough of America's Funniest Home Videos.

Outrage Enough For The Both Of Us

You heard about that US Airways flight that ditched in the Hudson river. The one that flew through a flock of geese and lost both engines and managed to emergency land without a single person dying.

If you did, then the following will probably piss you off. If you didn't, then don't worry, because I've got you covered.

Some of the passengers are thinking about filing lawsuits, and have lawyered up.

Kreindler & Kreindler, a New York law firm that has represented plaintiffs in crashes, says it has been contacted by several passengers on the US Airways flight.

The firm's lawyers are determining what injuries and emotional distress passengers may have suffered, and what parties might be liable under New York state law, says Noah Kushlefsky, a partner in the firm.

Rachel Lucas points out the obvious, that the GEESE are responsible.

So, here are my suggestions to those ungrateful assholes unhappy passengers.

1. Sue every church in the world: "Act of God" and all that. Don't forget the Muslims either, 'cuz I hear Allah is all that.

2. Sue GreenPeace, the Sierra Club, PETA and every other animal rights organization out there. If it weren't for them, those pesky flying speedbumps would've been extinct by now.

3. Sue New York City. Their anti-gun laws obviously limited airline's ability to create a hazard-free zone for miles surrounding the airport. I'd love to get a job hunting for safety.

Really, the main thing this whole situation demonstrates is that not enough lawyers get sucked into jet engines.

Old Friends

Recently, I've been contacted by a couple of old friends that I served in the Air Force with. One was my best friend Paul, who I lost contact with back in 2006. I knew he'd moved to the Philippines, and figured that he'd eventually drop me a line since we'd gone a few years between contacts before.

So yeah, he'd lost my email address, went searching for "Rocket" on the internet. Stumbled across Rocket Jones and thought that it looked crazy enough to be me. Once he saw my picture holding our granddaughter, well, mission accomplished.

Paul's married to a local girl and spends his time building a house. He comes back to the US occasionally to visit his kids and grandkids, and to do jury duty.

Long time readers may remember Paul as the guy I stayed with when he lived in Las Vegas, and we held a reunion for a bunch of Security Police there. After the reunion, I stayed awhile longer and we repo'd cars for a few days for fun. He's also one of the former owners of the Hobbit House, a bar staffed entirely by midgets on the resort island of Boracay.

The other old friend was a guy I served with in Germany. Turns out that he's written a semi-fictional account of the Flugtag Airshow Disaster that happened in 1988, while we were stationed at Ramstein AB. In fact, that's how he found me, he sent an email after finding the Rocket Jones archives about that horrible day.

Here's a link to the book, Flugtag 88. You should buy it, and not just because both my wife and I are in it. In fact, you should buy copies of all his books, so he'll be overwhelmed with the power of a Rocket Jones endorsement. Uh... yeah.

Stop laughing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Might Be Cool


Sunday, January 25, 2009


A Georgia State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-75. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"

The driver replied, "Bout whut?"

Movie Review! Something A Little Different

Disclosure time: I was sent a free reviewer's copy of this flick, but you know I still try to be fair when I review these.

Malaysian horror. Yep, you read that right. The very first horror movie ever filmed in Malaysia! I know, you're dying to know how it was.

It was... tame.

And that's not always a bad thing. Read on.

Visits - Hungry Ghost Anthology (2004) consists of four ghost stories set in modern day Kuala Lampur and tied together by the Chinese festival of the Hungry Ghost. According to lore, during this festival the spirits in Purgatory arise and walk the earth for a day.

Quick aside: I don't get people who bitch about "long black-haired ghost girls" in Asian movies, ala The Ring or The Eye. Maybe I'm wrong, but last time I checked, there weren't many blond asians running around.

Back to the movie. Visits lacks the gore of many modern horror movies. Instead, what you get is creepy atmosphere and some pretty good storytelling. This is right up my alley, because I've always said I'd rather be scared than grossed out. Classics such as Legend of Hell House (the original, please) and more recent fare like Blair Witch Project followed this path to excellent results. I'm not saying that Visits is in the same class as those two, but it does have its moments.

Ok, four stories. Every culture has its version of "folk ritual to call up a spook". Seances, Ouija Boards, Watergate break-in, whatever. Here we see the Chinese way, and it wouldn't be much of a ghost story if it didn't actually work now, would it?

Two others explore the power of friendship in intriguing ways, including one where a girl wakes up in a hospital and discovers that she's the only survivor of a suicide pact. Only she has amnesia and can't remember anything about who or how or, most importantly, why.

The best story of the bunch is also the hardest to follow, and I give it high marks more for style and originality than for storyline, although there's a wondrous never-see-it-coming-in-a-million-years twist near the end. What's memorable about this one though, is that most of the story is told through the lenses of various security cameras located throughout an apartment building. Chilling and effective.

Pros: Solid acting all around. Very good music score. Interesting interviews on the disk extras (if you like that sort of thing). Cons: The characters are rather bland, more contrast between good and bad would've been an improvement.

Overall, Visits is a decent collection of ghost stories. Worth a rent if you prefer skin crawls to slasher flicks, and gentle enough to introduce a newbie into the world of Asian horror.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Air Force Blue

Note: This is a repost from the old Rocket Jones. The original appeared in November, 2003.

Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas. San Antonio in August. Hell with an accent.

For some strange reason, our 'flight' of recruits was almost evenly divided between New Yorkers and Californians. There may have been a few other states in there, but not many. The Californians (including yours truly) took one bay of the barracks, and the Noo Yawkahs took the other.

We had arrived on a friday, and official training didn't start until monday, which meant that our TI (training instructor, as opposed to drill instructor) had the whole weekend to fuck with us to his hearts content. And he did.

He began by running our asses ragged all day long. Mostly by announcing fire drills one after another which caused us to hustle down three flights of steps and across the street into a field where we tried to get into some sort of formation, and then we'd take verbal abuse until the TI and his assistants got thirsty from yelling. Then we'd return to our barracks ("Double-time Hollywood! Hup hup!") and do it all over again in 10 minutes. We were hot, sticky, tired and generally pissed off. A little scared too because this neckless dude with the big voice and little smokey-the-bear hat suddenly had supreme power over our lives.

Finally we were told to grab showers before evening chow. As seventy teenagers gratefully (and wearily) stripped down, we heard the TI's voice ring out, making our blood run cold.

"Holy Shit!!! Will you take a look at this?"

Most of us knew better than to look at him, not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. We'd learned that much already.

"All of you, strip to your skivvies! Then get to attention at your bunks."

Oh crap, this couldn't be good. He walked over to the other bay to give them the same directions, the east coast boys were being watched over by the assistant TI. We could here whoops and hollers from the two sergeants. We finished undressing and stood there at something resembling attention, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

I feared another fire drill.

Then the bay was filled with the rest of the flight as the guys from the other bay hurried in, being verbally herded by the TI's. They fell in between us, filling the ranks.

The kid directly across from me was buck naked. The TI called for everyone without underwear to take a step forward (I have no idea how many there were), and he read them the riot act for free-balling it. Many dire warnings about what constituted proper and complete military uniforms were issued, along with a promise of random, frequent checks to ensure compliance.

Next the TI walked down the line and pointed at various people as they walked by. "You... you... no... you... no..." We held our breath and prayed that we weren't singled out. Those selected were told to take a step forward.

Suddenly there were more smokey-the-bear hats in the room. I'm guessing that the assistant TI called the other sergeants up for the fun and games. Six or eight of them I think.

It was a fashion show. Many of the California boys were wearing, uh... unusual underwear. Various bikini styles. We were all reminded that Uncle Sam issued us six pairs of white boxers or briefs, and that's all we'd better be wearing during Basic Training.

As the troops marched up and down the aisle of the barracks, the TI's made comments. Nobody else laughed or even smirked, that was a sure way to catch personalized hell.

Afterwards, assignments were handed out for Flight Leader, Squad Leaders, Guide-on, road guards and so on. These were temporary, and could (and would) be pulled immediately upon screwup. The TI's voted and gave the jobs out based on the best underwear.

I became (temporarily) a squad leader.

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance vs. No Plan Survives First Contact With The Enemy

We got back from Florida with days to spare before I have to go back to work, thinking that I could spend one or maybe one and a half days getting everything caught up and ready to resume normal working life. With that in mind, I let my son know that his laundry needed to be done on Friday so that I could do all of ours on Saturday.

Of course, he waits until *late* on Friday night to start, and equally of course, the dryer goes kaput late last night. In fact, I no sooner hit "publish" on the last post when he comes upstairs to give us the bad news.

It's dead, Jim.

Not his fault, other than all the extra wear and tear of him doing his laundry every week while he lives here. And the dryer was old.

So this morning's project was to head on out and buy a new dryer. Yay. This is on top of the new wheel bearing for my car that we had done yesterday. Double Yay.

Liz reminded me that this is exactly what savings are for.

Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Friday, January 23, 2009


We saw lots of head scratch-worthy moments while on vacation, but this one was my favorite.

Picture a four-way intersection, and one "road" is just a stub, blocked by huge piles of felled trees and 10-foot tall heaps of busted concrete and asphalt. Someone helpfully put some traffic cones in front of the chaos and posted a couple of "Road Closed" signs.

Mookie News

Daughter Rachael graduates from Mary Baldwin college at the end of this semester. She won't be doing the ceremony thing because it looks like the timing means she'll be starting her first summer gig.

A new theater company is starting in Rockville, Maryland and they somehow got hold of Rachael's name and offered her a job as boss of the wardrobe section (she didn't apply for this one, they contacted her out of the blue). It's a short job, only one or two shows, and starts early season, so she'll be in and out before starting her next job.

That job is the biggie. A prestigious opera company outside of Denver offered her the same position, basically head of the wardrobe section. They'll fly her out there, give her a company car when she needs it, housing is included and the pay is more than double the average. This gig is eleven weeks.

Not bad for a kid who won't even turn 21 until halfway through the opera season, eh?

It also looks like she's going to put a year or two of full-time professional work on her resume before going on to graduate school. We've been assured by her professors that in the theater world this is normal, even encouraged.

So if I get details, who's up for a blogmeet/evening at the theater in Rockville? Leave comments, yay or nay.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We Now Resume Our Normal Suck

Hey all, miss me?

Liz and I drove to Florida to surprise my mother-in-law for her 70th birthday. I couldn't say so here, because she reads Rocket Jones (and she says I should do more dick jokes).

We drove down in one swell foop (14 hours), but came back in two stages, and stayed an extra day in Florida to let the weather calm down. Not that the weather in Florida was any great shakes, apparently we brought the cold with us. But mom looks good, we had a great time, and I have a whole heap o' crap to talk about.

And three more days off. Sweet!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Starting tomorrow I'll be somewhere without internet access. See you in the new world. Play nice until I get back.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Quote of the Whenever I Feel Like It

"We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds."

-- Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Late Bloomer

I'm 49 years old, been a registered voter and licensed driver since the age of 18, and today is the first time I've ever been called for Jury Duty.

Next month. Y'all be good now, 'kay?

Ozzie = Attitude

I've mentioned how our rabbit Ozzie is the poster critter for animal ADHD. I've never met a creature strung so tight, with the ability to startle himself just sitting still.

Now supposedly, rabbits love this game where you take a toilet paper tube and put a treat inside, and then stuff the ends with hay. The bunny will joyfully dig and chew and play until they get to the goody inside.

Not Oz.

I made it simple. Piece of dried pineapple, TP roll with ends *slightly* folded over. Maybe 30 seconds chewing work to get the treat.

It's been in Ozzie's cage for a week. He knows the pineapple is inside, he just refuses to go for it. I tried again this afternoon, and he stood over it and gave me an evil glare. I think he'd rather play the game where he just randomly destroys something of mine and then I give him a piece of goddam pineapple.


Today's latest from the upcoming Diefication (yeah, that's a word. I think. And if it's not, it should be): all bridges connecting Virginia to DC will be closed on Inauguration Day.

The folks at the local news radio station are speculating on air about what they'll need to sleep over the night before, since most of them won't be able to get to work that day. Like the rest of us peons, I s'pose.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Everyday Carry

Back in 2005, Rocket Jones asked, "What's in your pocket?"

Here's my answer from then:

Right front: pocket watch, loose change (if any)
Left front: keys
Right rear: wallet and comb
Left rear: handkerchief and Swiss Army knife

There were quite a few replies in the comments, and some interesting answers that included the reasoning behind what a person did or didn't carry.

Lately, I've gotten interested again in "everyday carry", those things and doo-dads that we keep with us for "just in case". This includes your pockets, but also things around your neck, a purse/backpack/briefcase, and maybe even an emergency kit you have in your car. For instance, my wife always has jumper cables and a road atlas in her car. In North Dakota, in the winter I kept an emergency "blizzard kit" in the trunk with a folding shovel, kitty litter for traction, blankets, etc.

What prompted this interest was a conversation with a coworker one day, and their incredulous reaction when they found out that I carry a small flashlight and leatherman, among other things. I was reminded of that exchange from the old show "Taxi", which went something like:
Latka, nervous about an impending date, emerges from shaving with dozens of pieces of toilet paper stuck all over his face.

Alex: You need a styptic pencil.

Reverend Jim: (reaching behind ear) Here.

Alex: No, I mean a styptic... hey, this *is* a styptic pencil! (hands it over to Latka) Why do you carry a styptic pencil behind your ear?

Reverend Jim: In light of what just happened, a better question might be, "why don't you?"

So yeah, I occasionally take a little ribbing about my everyday carry, but that doesn't stop people from coming to me when they need something I might (probably) have.

My pockets:
right front: cell phone, spare change (if any)
left front: fisher space pen, chapstick, and my keyring - three keys and a mini flashlight.
right rear: wallet, comb
left rear: handkerchief, swiss army knife

Around my neck: At work, I wear an ID badge.

Shirt pocket: a "pocket briefcase", fountain pen

Briefcase: iPaq, folding keyboard, headphones, chargers for iPaq and cell, case with memory cards, 2 Circa notebooks (one's my planner), eyeglasses wipe, more pens and a pencil, lighter, Leatherman Wave, mini-Maglight (indestructable, had it for years), 3' tape measure, and a personal first aid kit.

So, what's your everyday carry?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Words of Wisdom

Seen on the EDC Forums:

There are two kinds of people in the world, those with a zombie plan and those who are dinner.


C'mon Peeps, 2008 Wasn't All That Bad

Jeez, if you listen to conventional wisdom, last year was the lowest point in human history. Get a grip.

2008 was an ok year for us. Not great, not terrible. 2009 is going to be the same I expect.

Our health insurance went up. A lot. To the point that much of our "discretionary spending" money is no longer discretionary. But that's ok, because I know what kind of medical expenses we have every year and the health insurance is worth every penny.

This new year, I've gotten off to a running start as far as honey-do items go around the house. New closet doors in the sewing room, mucho stuff to storage in the attic, pictures re-hung in the bedroom, etc. This afternoon we're going to the hardware store and pick out new chair rail for the dining area. If'n I have a limited budget, I'll get a lot of little projects done that would have gotten lost in the big plans, like expanding the front yard flower bed. For the price of a bag of mortar and some sweat, I'll double the size, add an interesting curve to it, and do it all using bricks already stacked in the back yard. Make room for that glorious pair of flowering shrubs that way overwhelmed the bed last year, when they grew about twice the size that they were supposed to.

So for 2009. We're going to be ok. So are you. It's an attitude, an outlook. Don't let the twinkies get you down.