J. D. Pendry, Retired Sergeant Major, USMC: "On Your Hands"

Please read this on the original site (http://web.archive.org/web/20080529143907/jdpendry.com/2006/09/04/on-your-hands/) and with comments by Pendry (http://www.blogcatalog.com/search.frame.php?term=j.+d.+pendry&id=dd91ef39250dabc2a9e2a06c8a301c37).

I am reprinting it here because I feel it deserves to not get lost.


What follows is a reposting of a mailing I sent to my private email list on June 24, 2006. I don’t feel a need to explain myself, but I wrote this right after someone sent me pictures of the mutilated bodies of two young American Soldiers. Since the original posting, this letter has made a few laps around the net and been posted in many different places. Other than to my private email list, I originally posted it at Free Republic and it’s been posted there several more times and to a Geocities Website that I once maintained. I can’t even tell you where else because, except for a few Freepers, no one ever asked me if they could repost it. Copyright notices have little impact these days. I’ve even received inquiries from people that heard it read on radio programs. There’s been some minor editing of my original post as it’s traveled around and I’ve seen it renamed several times, “No Punches Pulled Here”,“Axis of Idiots”, “Insight of a Sergeant Major”, etc., etc. frankly I prefer my title because my title is my point.

It’s been pointed out to me in some “fan” mail that I didn’t mention President Regan’s lack of response following the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, 1983. If Ronald Regan spent his life before, during and after that bombing blaming the United States, belittling American Soldiers and the Administrations that followed his, I would most certainly have had some unkind words to say about him. You see, I’m sort of one dimensional when it comes to the treatment of my country and most particularly when politicians and others disparage the men and women with which I spent half my existence on this planet. I can’t do much in my old, decrepit state to help them with their current mission, but you can bet your butt that I’ll take every opportunity to speak out for them back here where – because of them - we sit safe, fat and happy. They need us to protect their six and confront enemies here at home while they confront our enemies around the world.

It was also pointed out to me that it was the first President Bush that got us into Somalia. That statement is true for as far as it goes. President Bush sent U.S. Forces to Somalia on a humanitarian aid mission. Their purpose was to ensure food and other supplies sent there to aid starving Somalis got to them and not the warlords. It was a President Clinton mission for Army Rangers and Special Operations Soldiers to capture Adid. President Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, Les Aspen, refused these units the Armor support they requested. Support that would have easily broken and extricated them from the ambush where 18 of them died.

So here’s the original unedited post. Thanks for supporting our Soldiers.

Our God and soldiers we alike adore,
Ev’n at the brink of danger; not before;
After deliverance, both alike requited,
Our God’s forgotten, and our soldiers slighted. – Frances Quarles, 1632


Jimmy Carter, you’re the father of the Islamic Nazi movement. You threw the Shah under the bus, welcomed the Ayatollah home and then lacked the spine to confront the terrorists when they took our embassy and our people hostage. You’re the runner-in-chief.

Bill Clinton, you played ring around the Lewinsky while the terrorists were at war with us. You got us into a fight with them in Somalia, and then you ran from it. Your weak-willed responses emboldened the killers. Each time you failed to respond adequately they grew bolder, until 9/11.

John Kerry, dishonesty is your most prominent attribute. You lied about American Soldiers in Vietnam. Your military service, like your life, is more fiction than fact. You’ve accused our Soldiers of terrorizing women and children in Iraq. You called Iraq the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, the same words you used to describe Vietnam. You’re a fake. You want to run from Iraq and abandon the Iraqis to murderers just as you did the Vietnamese. Iraq, like Vietnam is another war that you were for, before you were against it.

John Murtha, you said our military was broken. You said we can’t win militarily in Iraq. You accused United States Marines of cold-blooded murder without proof. And said we should redeploy to Okinawa. Okinawa John? And the Democrats call you their military expert. Are you sure you didn’t suffer a traumatic brain injury while you were off building your war hero resume? You’re a sad, pitiable, corrupt and washed up politician. You’re not a Marine sir. You wouldn’t amount to a pimple on a real Marines butt. You’re a phony and a disgrace. Run away John.

Dick Durbin, you accused our Soldiers at Guantanimo of being Nazis, tenders of Soviet style gulags and as bad as the regime of Pol Pot who murdered two million of his own people after your party abandoned South East Asia to the Communists. Now you want to abandon the Iraqis to the same fate. History was not a good teacher for you, was it? See Dick run.

Ted Kennedy, for days on end you held poster sized pictures from Abu Grhaib in front of any available television camera. Al Jazeera quoted you saying that Iraq’s torture chambers were open under new management. Did you see the news this week Teddy? The Islamic Nazis demonstrated real torture for you again. If you truly supported our troops, you’d show the world poster-sized pictures of that atrocity and demand the annihilation of the perpetrators of it. Your legislation stripping support from the South Vietnamese led to a communist victory there. You’re a bloated fool bent on repeating the same historical blunder that turned freedom-seeking people over to homicidal, genocidal maniacs. To paraphrase John Murtha, all while sitting on your wide, gin-soaked rear-end in Washington.

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Carl Levine, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer et al ad nauseam. Every time you stand in front of television cameras and broadcast to the Islamic Nazis that we went to war because our President lied. That the war is wrong and our Soldiers are torturers. That we should leave Iraq, you give the Islamic butchers – the same ones that tortured and mutilated American Soldiers - cause to think that we’ll run away again and all they have to do is hang on a little longer.

American news media, the New York Times particularly. Each time you publish stories about national defense secrets and our intelligence gathering methods, you become one with the sub-human pieces of camel dung that torture and mutilate the bodies of American Soldiers. You can’t strike up the courage to publish cartoons, but you can help Al Qaeda destroy my country. Actually, you are more dangerous to us than Al Qaeda is. Think about that each time you face Mecca to admire your Pulitzer.

You are America’s axis of idiots. Your Collective Stupidity will destroy us. Self-serving politics and terrorist abetting news scoops are more important to you than our national security or the lives of innocent civilians and Soldiers. It bothers you that defending ourselves gets in the way of your elitist sport of politics and your ignorant editorializing. There is as much blood on your hands as is on the hands of murdering terrorists. Don’t ever doubt that. Your frolics will only serve to extend this war as they extended Vietnam. If you want our Soldiers home, as you claim, knock off the crap and try supporting your country ahead of supporting your silly political aims and aiding our enemies. Yes, I’m questioning your patriotism. Your loyalty ends with self. I’m also questioning why you’re stealing air that decent Americans could be breathing. You don’t deserve the protection of our men and women in uniform. You need to run away from this war – this country. Leave the war to the people who have the will to see it through and the country to people who are willing to defend it.

No Commander in Chief, you don’t get off the hook either. Our country has two enemies. Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within. Your Soldiers are dealing with the outside force. It’s your obligation to support them by confronting the axis of idiots. America must hear it from you that these people are harming our country, abetting the enemy and endangering our safety. Well up a little anger please, and channel it toward the appropriate target. You must prosecute those who leak national security secrets to the media. You must prosecute those in the media who knowingly publish those secrets. Our Soldiers need you to confront the enemy that they cannot.

They need you to do it now.

Copyright © J.D. Pendry 2006 "


On The Platform

I serve on a worship team at Northbrook Church in Richfield, WI (http://www.northbrookchurch.org). It has been the most rewarding ministry experience of my life. I never sang or played in a band when I was a teenager or when I was in college. I did quite a bit of choral singing – high school, Catholic church, college, stage musicals – but I only rarely had even a piece of a song that could be considered a solo.

Choral singing is significantly different than being a member of a worship team. A good friend agrees with my estimation that it is more like being in a rock band than in a choral ensemble. I have had to learn to be led not by sight, but by ear. I have had to learn to count better than I ever have before. I have had to learn my part better than I ever have before. All of those have made me a better singer and a better overall musician over the past 18 months.

At times, I have really struggled – such as last Christmas time, when we began rehearsing “O Holy Night.” The song was playing the moment my dad died in a hospice a year earlier. I was having a very difficult time finding my notes, my entrances, the rhythm... and then I remembered my dad. I had to leave the platform in the middle of rehearsing a song. I was very embarrassed to have disrupted rehearsal, but thanks to very kind and understanding team members, I was able to excuse myself from that song. I was not yet strong enough to sing that song on the platform.

That underscored something my worship mentor had been telling me – it is OK to tell the worship leader that you are not able to do what you have been asked to do. It could be a section or a song that is out of your range, more technically challenging than you can handle or with emotional connotations that can prevent you from serving as God's guide into worship for the congregation.

It is important to know your limitations so that you can both challenge your limitations and know when you cannot. My limitations are different on different songs, different seasons (early in the morning in winter in Wisconsin is a terrible time to sing tenor) or different life situations (some Christmas songs still poke at a pretty tender spot in my heart).

I have learned my limitations over the past 18 months and I know I have been able to push them back in certain areas. I am now much more comfortable taking the tenor harmony on a song or tackling a solo line when I am asked to.

Most of all, I feel grateful that God is using me in this way. I have wanted to “be in a band” since about 1969. I now know the meaning of “better late than never.”

...and it is still more fun than just about anything else I have ever done.


The President Speaks

I am absolutely astonished at the level of vituperation being leveled at schools and school districts regarding decisions having been made regarding the upcoming speech by President Obama. I think many are overreacting to decisions in both directions. Some, angry that their children are not able to view the speech in class, are reminding us that schools in the past allowed their students to hear presidential speeches directed at students. Others, angry that their children are to be “forced” to hear the President speak, are calling for the heads of various personnel in charge of such decisions.

I think we all need to take a deep breath and place the President's speech in some sort of context – and I mean a larger context than “my political leanings are more important than yours.”

First, we should all listen when the President speaks. Our Presidents do not often speak directly to the American public. We need to respect the office of the President enough to listen when the the President speaks – it does not matter whether we voted for him or not.

Second, we need to acknowledge that, as parents, our children are being taught what they are being taught and how they are being taught by our choice. We have chosen to place our children in the schools they attend and have, therefore, agreed to place those teachers, boards, superintendents and administrators in charge of said education. We monitor and suggest to those professionals, but we have agreed to cede the power of control over the curricula by the act of registering our children.

My daughter's high school has taken the stand that, though the speech is important, it is not important enough to disrupt classes. Therefore, they are making the speech available to students in study halls. I think this approach makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons:

  • The schools have no control over the start time nor end time of the speech. Will it begin and end during or across class times? Further, I know few school systems operate on the same schedule – my daughter's high school is running on its third different schedule in as many years.
  • While there are many opportunities for teachers to align their curricula to allow for a presidential address, I cannot understand how such an address may be appropriate to a Chemistry, Algebra or Auto Shop class.
  • Under this approach, no one's political views are being advanced – not those who wholeheartedly support President Obama, not those who wholeheartedly decry his every move and not even those who sit somewhere in the middle. (Truth be told, we have to admit that is where the largest portion of our society sits.
While I am always glad to see heartfelt debate over the issues of the day, I do believe too many of us are taking these decisions, in either direction, too seriously. There are many opportunities to have your voice heard without the political shouting matches that have become all too common these days.

If your child's school is not making the decision you support, keep your child home from school that day and watch the speech together. For that matter, whether you agree or disagree with your local school's decision and whether your child views the speech in class that day, in study hall that day or not at all, watch it together and discuss the contents.


Windows 7 - III

I just cold-booted Windows 7 and finally remembered to time it. From a dead start, Windows 7 took 35 seconds to prompt me for my password and just another 15 seconds to reach the "usable state." 50 seconds is a pretty fast boot time. Recovering from Hibernate is just 23 seconds.

The "usable state" is reached when the operating system is functioning to the point where there is no longer an hour glass indicator showing the operating system is still loading components.

In contrast, my Windows XP Pro laptop takes 1 minute 47 seconds to reach the usable state from a cold boot. The recovery from Hibernate is 50 seconds.


Windows 7 - II

Just as I suspected, the problem I was having with the "touchpoint" area of the keyboard (the 'mouse' on the laptop) was entirely due to a missing hardware driver. I went to www.synaptics.com, downloaded the Vista driver and it has behaved itself very well since.

I am also developing the opinion that Windows 7 is one fast operating system. It reaches a usable state from a cold boot very quickly (I have yet to remember to time it) and every action is fast - from opening an application to loading my CD collection into iTunes.

The only issue I have encountered so far is an application appearing to hang when there is another application window open - in this case, it was the operating system asking me if I wanted to choose the action to take for the music CD I just inserted. Instead of iTunes grabbing that CD and taking off, I had to close applications one at a time until I came upon that window. Since it has happened only once, I can't yet call it a problem, but it will bear watching.


So Long, Ubuntu - Hello, Windows 7

My brief foray into Linux has now ended. I decided that I am not interested in an operating system that makes me work that hard to get things to work - entering a string of commands in a terminal window (to enable the sound hardware), reinstalling the operating system *twice* because it didn't like the hardware (I think) and trying to find an application to play music that didn't require me to either put up with an application that would crash just because I wanted to create a playlist, or trying out a string of applications that didn't really meet my need.

If I had wanted to tinker this much with an operating system, Ubuntu (or any Linux variant) would have been perfect.

I have since installed the RC of Windows 7. It installed in less than 30 minutes and every step of the way since has been rocket-fast. I like what I have seen so far, with one tiny exception: it seems that my touchpad is very touchy. So much so that I have to pay close attention or I will find myself typing where the mouse pointer is, instead of the cursor. That's quite a small price to pay, I think. It might even make me a better typist. :)

I have Thunderbird, Firefox, iTunes and OpenOffice already loaded. I am going to take a different approach to iTunes this time around. I am going to load only those CD's that I really want in my database (instead of all ~600 of them) and I am going to have iTunes keep everything in the MP3 format. After all, that's the format my Garmin needs. Why have multiple file formats for the same data?


Liberal Viewpoints That Worry Me: I

As you can probably tell from earlier posts, I lean quite a bit to the right politically, socially and even theologically. I realize my viewpoint is not always correct and sometimes there isn't even a "right" or "wrong" viewpoint.

I was having a conversation with a young friend from work recently about how those on both extreme ends of the spectrum seem to cause the most trouble. As an aside, he mentioned that George W. Bush would likely be regarded as one of the worst presidents to ever serve in the position. When I countered that history always takes some time to make that determination and that history's judgment of war-time presidents is always more toward the middle of the pack in terms of good vs. bad, he replied, "Bush was no war-time president."

At that point, I smiled and told him that it was probably best for our working relationship that we not continue the dialog any further.

I believe that the official toll of casualties for the 9/11 attacks stands at 2,973. By comparison:
  • Pearl Harbor: 2,117 casualties
  • The War of 1812: 2, 260 casualties
  • The Revolutionary War: 4,435 casualties
Therefore, we have to go back to the war for our independence from Britain to see American casualties on American soil by an another invading (or occupying) nation to see casualties greater than those we saw on September 11, 2001.

One can argue that George W. Bush was a good president or a bad president. One can argue that he was competent or not. One can argue that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were morally reprehensible or morally supportable. One can argue many things, but one cannot argue that George W. Bush was not a war-time president, just as one cannot argue that Eisenhower, Kennedy, L. Johnson, Nixon and Ford were not war-time presidents. Obama is a war-time president.

The war-time status of a president is not dependent upon an opinion of the validity of the war, the "rightness" of the war nor how the war effort is going. The war-time status of a president is solely dependent upon whether or not the country sees itself in a war-time footing against the other entity.

(I would have used the word country up to the point where Al-Qaida attacked.)

My concern with my young, liberal friend's assessment is not his disagreement with Bush. It is that he has been convinced by other liberals that we were not and are not at war against Al-Qaida nor the Iraqi insurgents.

Of what else have they convinced themselves to the point where facts and truth matter not at all?


Coffee - Good, Bad and Ugly: II

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the extremely bad coffee I have experienced - almost universally - in hotels in this country over the past 25+ years. Yesterday, I was driving from St. Louis to home (about 7 hours in transit) and I wanted a cup of coffee to help me get through the fatigue.

I stopped at a rest area just across the Illinois border from Missouri and took a chance on the vending machine's coffee. Yeah, I know, I would normally be better off eating dirt. This was quite a sophisticated machine. Between varieties, strengths, sizes, flavors and options, I could have selected from between more than 150 different steaming fluids.

I selected the most "robust," extra-strong, large cup size. It arrived very hot, I placed the cover on top, returned to my truck and drove off. 15 minutes later, it was cool enough to attempt a sip while moving. I took that sip, contemplated it, took another and raised my eyebrows.

The coffee was drinkable. It was not as strongly flavored as I prefer nor am used to, but it was smooth and, at the risk of repeating myself, drinkable. Hotels around the country should take note - if a roadside rest area's vending machine can produce a good (yup, I said it) cup of coffee, there is no reason that any hotel can provide a drinkable cup of joe to every room in its location or chain.

My thanks go out to the Illinois Department of Transportation.


LA Progressive Suggests Fox News Advertiser Boycott

In the interest of not being labeled a fear-monger or fomenting any sort of ill will with those whose sensibilities are to the left of mine (it's funny how disagreeing with the left gets one labeled a fear-monger, when disagreeing with the right is patriotic... *sigh*), I include the below without comment, save my curiosity of where the comments go when they are posted (it's not obvious) and whether my comment will make it to public view.


(I sure hope I can figure out how to activate a link with the blog software. In the meantime, just copy and paste.)

[Edited: August 22, 2009 1319 CDT]
I just went back to the LA Progressive site. So far - a week after my response was 'posted' - there are no responses posted.

Perhaps they received only negative responses and decided none of them were suitable for publication?

tsk, tsk....


Logos Bible Giveaway

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

Ubuntu - Bonus Finding

I discovered a Linux-based Bible study environment based on the Sword Project (http://www.crosswire.org/sword/index.jsp), with the BibleTime application (http://www.bibletime.info/). So far, it seems to be on a par with my favorite Bible study environment for Windows - e-Sword (http://www.e-sword.net/) - in terms of usability, though it can't yet match e-Sword for the range and number of resources available. However, there are enough resources to keep me busy so I can continue my Bible studies when I travel without thinking I have to take a ton of books with me.

I also wanted to try Xiphos (http://xiphos.org/), but the download link returns an error. I'll see if they respond to my query.


Sailing the Ubuntu Sea

I finally finished converting my music files. It looks like some tracks may not have come through the conversion process, but I think I am going to re-check what has been loaded into the database anyway. It took a most of this afternoon (and I may have to manually kill and restart a process at each reboot, at least for now), but I finally have music playing through Rhythmbox (an iTunes-like application).

Installing the printer was easy - I think that was aided by the fact that it has a dedicated IP address all its own. Now I just have to replace the black toner cartridge.

So, what do we have at this point?
  • Browser: Firefox v3.0.13 and all extensions
  • E-Mail: Thunderbird v2.0.0.22 and all extensions
  • Office Suite: OpenOffice.org v3.0.1 - includes spreadsheet and word processor
  • Music Organization & Playback: Rhythmbox v0.12.0
  • Printing: Xerox 6110 color laser printer
What remains? Music composition software: There are a couple currently in the running:
  • GNU Denemo
  • MuseScore
  • NtEd
Once I have that last piece in place, I'll have the full system running.


Ubuntu & Thunderbird

... it turns out the only problem was that I had to shut down and restart the computer. After that, Thunderbird has performed flawlessly - all my extensions are working and mail is coming in and out. Excellent.

I am in the process of converting my large (>5,100 songs) iTunes database to the OGG format so I can play the music from my Ubuntu box. From there, I will convert albums and songs to MP3 on an as-needed basis, since that format is the only thing the Garmin understands.

Next, I'll be searching for an application like Finale or Sibelius that will allow me to create and play back original music scores.

And I'm off....

The replacement hard drive arrived yesterday and I loaded Ubuntu last night. Fired up Thunderbird and Firefox after migrating my user profiles and almost all is well. My only problem is that Thunderbird isn't able to connect with any e-mail servers.

Troubleshooting, here we come.


Coffee - Good, Bad and Ugly

I will admit it - I am a bit of a coffee snob.

I prefer my coffee brewed from dark-roasted beans I have ground fresh for the current pot. (I will admit that I currently get my dark-roast already ground, but that's because Carol gets her espresso in bean form and until I get my own grinder, I get the ground.) I prefer my coffee brewed very strong - I once described it as strong enough that a spoon will stand up straight. Hyperbole, I know. I also drink my coffee black - I rarely (perhaps 1 out of every 1,000 cups) add milk or sugar. I am known to add a bit of Sprecher's Root Beer syrup from time to time - don't knock it until you've tried it. I was skeptical, but that flavoring has made it into regular weekend rotation in my coffee cup.

I have been drinking coffee ever since I was about 15 and on a deer-hunting trip with my dad and Roger Kane. We had forgotten to pack hot cocoa mix (neither Dad nor Roger drank cocoa) and I had to make do with coffee. I learned I love the stuff.

I have traveled on business somewhere between occasionally and "road warrior" over the past 22 years. Since I rarely begin my day without a cup of coffee, I initially saw the existence of in-room coffee makers as a real boon. No more having to find the local equivalent of (earlier) McDonald's (which still makes a decent cup) or (later) Starbucks to get my morning infusion.

However, in-room coffee in any hotel or motel in the world has to be the worst beverage ever concocted. I say "concocted," because nothing this foul ever happens by accident.

This assessment is not borne of a couple of trips to the other side of the state and an occasional stay in a Motel 6. I'd say I have a fair sample to draw upon. The unfortunate conclusion of my research is that the problem (and the only way you would not see it as a problem is if you do not drink coffee) is widespread to the point where, if it were a virus, we would call it a true pandemic.

Why can't the people in charge of providing coffee and makers to the world's hotel rooms taste-test their own products? Almost all of the stuff I have tried would have to be significantly improved just to reach a rating of "vile."

As I sit in my room this evening at the Doubletree Westport in St. Louis, I look at the Wolfgang Puck coffee maker I tried this morning. Ol' Wolfie should know the bad brew being foisted upon us in his name. Bitter, watered-down and lifeless are the most printable adjectives I can think of. I'm not sure the tools I have at my disposal would be enough to attempt to correct the problem.

I even brought my own coffee maker and coffee so that I could have a decent cup in the morning. I started doing that a few years ago when I drive to a remote location (ever try getting a coffee maker through baggage check? I haven't.). Even the commercial stuff in most business offices locations is drinkable. It's good, strong and decent. Worth $5 a cup? Not even Starbucks, Caribou or any of their ilk produce coffee that good - heck, I'm not sure coffee that good exists anywhere in the world. No, the office stuff is usually a cup of regular joe - just the way I like it.

OK, except the work situation in which I found myself many years ago where there were two factions - weak coffee vs. strong coffee. The weak coffee proponents could never figure out (even after reams of data and even a few bar charts) that one could take strong coffee and make it weaker by adding some hot water. A coffee americano in barrista-speak. No, I always had to guard the coffee I had brewed, lest someone from the other team casually pour it down the sink instead of just watering it down to the point where they wanted it. Ever try to make weak coffee stronger by removing water? While one can remove the water, the act of boiling already-brewed coffee releases some pretty unpalatable chemical compounds into the solution, making a weak, bitter liquid more bitter and interesting only if you have the right chemistry lab in which to study the results.

The hotel stuff barely qualifies as a beverage (implying it can be safely consumed), let alone a decent cup of coffee.

I have reached the point where I will complain about this every time I check out of a hotel - to remind them that ignoring such an important touch to the point where the output is vile is far worse than not providing it at all... which some hotels have begun doing.

So, tomorrow when I check out, I am going to complain. Will it do me any good? (I'll be back in twelve days for another visit.) Unlikely.

But maybe, just maybe, someone else down the line is going to benefit from my speaking up and letting them know that you can't wrap poo in gold foil and call it precious.


Take a Deep Breath, Close Your Eyes....

and jump right in. To Linux, that is, via the Ubuntu distro.

I began the process today by downloading 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope (and how could I resist, with a name like that?) and a few tools and utilities I think I will need. I signed up at the Ubuntu forums and began reading up on my new operating system.

I've given this Linux "thing" a try a few times, but I never really had a decent, full-time use computer to put it on. I do now and the hard drive should arrive in the next week or so. Then I can begin the installation (and learning) process.

I am sure I am going to have more from-scratch starts with this than I would hope, but that is all part of the process of getting to the "Jedi master" level of a new operating system. It has been a while since I took a new OS seriously - it was Windows XP - and I hope my foo is strong.

Stay tuned.


Yippee Yi Yo Ki Yay and I wish it were a joke

Ain't it grand to have the kind of people in Washington we can really count on in an economic crisis?

We have an economic stimulus plan ginned up on Capitol Hill of dubious value to begin with, and then them good ol' boys & girls decide that, along with saving tens of thousands of auto worker jobs by nationalizing GM and handing the UAW free rein to do their thing with the company, the Western Mustang is in dire need of help. To the tune of $700,000,000.


For horses.

What are they going to do, build a gold-plated spa in the mountains where the damn things can relax after a hard day of wandering around, eating, crapping and making little horses?

No, I'm not kidding: http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=194&sid=190161&page=0

My thanks goes out to the Democratic Party and its members for helping me not lose faith in Washington. Unfortunately, my faith is in the continuing ability of politicians in Washington to do the stupidest things imaginable for the worst reason possible which is, naturally, because they can.

With a straight face, each one of them tells us that they know best.

Of course they do.


Just stop for a moment and think about what that kind of money could do for some folks who really need it:
  • Extended unemployment benefits for the jobless
  • Medical care for the uninsured (don't get me started on that one)
  • Economic stimuli for small businesses trying to hang on until the economy picks up steam again
  • Educational funding for students unable to afford college
The Left thought George Bush was criminally stupid. This is on a par with "how do you remember to breathe without detailed instructions" stupid.


A Most Brief Message

My daughter has been mowing our lawn for nearly four years. From the beginning, she was able and willing to mow better and faster than I at her age.


However, as she started the current mowing season a few months ago, her concentration seems to have been elsewhere. One day, having an extraordinary amount of time on my hands (because none of the things I should have been doing appealed to me), I wrote "A Most Brief Message" in an attempt to humorously get her attention.

: Princess Justine of the Realm of K (which is not to be confused with the very merry band of minstrels known far and wide as the Reliant of K)

With a Copy To: Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc.

From: The Royal Groundskeeper

Regarding: Her esteemed and dutiful role as the chief assistant to the Royal Groundskeeper

Thus dated: The twenty-first day of the merry month of May, the year of our Lord, 2009

Your Highness, Princess Justine of the Realm of K:

As the Royal Groundskeeper, and my thus being subordinate to the Royal Gardener, who, we are pleased to remember, is one of the Titles of the Realm held in highest honor, esteem and pleasure by Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc. it has for these past many years been my duty and my most extreme pleasure to teach you what little I can of the art of Lawn Maintenance.

It has been my privilege over these past many years to remark to those far and wide, yeah frequently any who would stop to listen, of your prodigious skill at such a young age in handling the smoke belching beasts known by their origins as Ariens and Toro, and the by the more familiar monikers of “Hound Chaser” and “What Was That I Just Ran Over?” You have indeed proven yourself to be a fine pupil of the art of Lawn Maintenance and I foresee great happiness in your future whenever and wherever in this world you may choose to ply this most noble of skills.

Alas and forsooth, it grieves me most personally to bring your Royal Highness' attention that your skills may be the suffering the slightest, the smallest, the merest, most infinitesimal bit for the nonce. I beg your Royal Highness' forgiveness as I must require of you your delicate though most sincerely princess-like attention to matters the realm once upon a time considered under your most sincere and studious mastery in the hopes that we may once again enjoy the grand parades and celebrations and generally well-trimmed greenery that in times past accompanied your regular, even in times of great rain, warmth and sunshine, frequent completion of the event known far and wide as The Grand Tour of the Realm's Outermost Boundaries.

If it pleases Your Highness, I would like to contain within this most humble, modest and ever so brief communication a very few items of definition upon which I pray you may reflect and consider henceforth. We shall consider a few terms that must be defined before proceeding to matters more detailed. We consider most essential the following definitions for everything you may encounter during each completion of the event known far and wide as The Grand Tour of the Realm's Outermost Boundaries:

Green Stuff: This stuff be that which shall forever be resigned to suffer the horrible, but entertaining to the Royal Groundskeeper, indignity of being cut by the smoke belching beasts known by their origins as Ariens and Toro, and at times the by the more familiar monikers of “Hound Chaser” and “What Was That I Just Ran Over?”. This stuff must not be confused with Other Green Stuff (please see below for that definition). Furthermore, this stuff be that which resides in all those locations of the Realm today known as “Lawn” (“Potty” to the Realm's Hounds), as well as those locations which were, once upon a time known as “Lawn,” but have in ages long ago past had their purpose changed to such noble and distinct pursuits as “Tree Ring” and the vessel constructed for much merry-making, sometimes known by that most sinister name, “The Pit of Fire,” which I consider to be such a misnomer for a place in the Realm where many cigars and many barrels of the Realm's finest elixir have been enjoyed and, in fact, I recall one specific occasion when I reposed there with the Most Esteemed Lord Mark of P and I said to him... oh, pardon me, Your Highness... I must have succumbed to a moment of fanciful reflection. Please accept my most humble apologies, Your Highness. Now, where was I? Oh, yes – I recall it now.

Other Green Stuff: In this Realm this stuff very much resembles those things that may otherwise be known as Vegetables, Flowers, Shrubs, Bushes, Ground Cover or the like which the Royal Gardener, who we are pleased to remember is one of the Titles of the Realm held in highest honor by Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc., has placed or instructed to be placed in various locations surrounded by Lawn, or not, within the Realm. This stuff must never upon the pain of that which only by Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc. can conceive, suffer the indignity of being cut by the smoke belching beasts known by their origins as Ariens and Toro, and by the more familiar monikers of “Hound Chaser” and “What Was That I Just Ran Over?”

Brown Stuff: This stuff be that which shall be collected and placed in those areas in the Realm reserved for such stuff, being the brush pile along the region known far and wide as the Woods Without End (not to be confused with that most jolly of television spectacles, known far and wide only by its initials, WWE, involving overly muscled men in garish outfits dancing inside a roped platform. I chuckle near to wetting myself as if I were but a babe when I consider the level of humor brought forth by those merry men) or within the vessel constructed for much merry-making, sometimes kn0wn by that most sinister name, “The Pit of Fire,” which I consider to be such a misnomer for a place in the Realm where many cigars and many barrels of the Realm's finest elixir have been enjoyed and, in fact, I recall one specific occasion when I reposed there... oh, pardon me, Your Highness... I must have succumbed to a further moment of mere fanciful reflection. Please accept my most humble apologies, Your Highness. Now, where was I? Oh, yes – I recall it now.

Brown Stuff that Produces an Odor reminiscent of the worst scent exuding from poorly stored Offal, which is ofttimes known by the shorter (and much cuter) name “Brown Stuff – POO” (for which I must soon remember to write to Mike Rowe in appreciation for bringing this term to the attention of the Royal Groundskeeper): This stuff be that which shall, once it is discovered, be scooped with the tool known by its Royally Appointed Name of “Shovel” and placed in containers such as that which have been retained for this purpose. These containers have been given the Royally Appointed Name of “Bag.” One must never forget that the source of the odor of this stuff is the fact that it has traveled throughout a Hound's digestive tract, just so it can land on the Lawn. Poo, indeed.

Rocks, otherwise known as Stones, Gravel or Crunchy Snacks, but in that case only by the Royal Hunting Hound known as Left of Y (I wish he could talk so that I could ask him the most assuredly noble source of such a curious name): This stuff be that which must be gathered and then placed within the vessel constructed for much merry-making, sometimes known by that most sinister name, The Pit of Fire, which I consider to be such a misnomer for a place in the Realm where many cigars and many barrels of the Realm's elixir have been... oh, pardon me, Your Highness... I must have succumbed to a yet another brief moment of fanciful reflection. Please accept my most humble apologies, Your Highness. Now, where was I? Oh, yes – I recall it now.

Other Stuff: This stuff be that which does not appear to be any stuff which can be identified by any previous term defined herein. This stuff further be that stuff which shall be collected and placed in containers such as that which have been retained for this purpose. These containers have been given the Royally Appointed Name of “Bag.”

Yet Other Stuff: This stuff be ever so very mysterious that we know not its name, its function, its purpose, its source, its heritage, its nationality, its religious practices, its family history, its preferred mode of transportation, yeah verily, there is little much about this stuff can be known by anyone, for it is very unlike any stuff which has previously been seen. For this very reason, this stuff must be collected and brought for study to Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc., or to me, your most humble servant, the Royal Groundskeeper, for identification and the deciding of to which yonder destination it must be consigned. Or if we keep it to ourselves.

We find ourselves greatly rejoicing at this moment because we have at last completed the terribly arduous, difficult and hard task of defining all those such terms as are required by you during future Grand Tours of the Realm's Outermost Boundaries. We must, upon the most careful and detailed times of reflection, continue to a further topic, that of the very Outermost Boundaries of the Realm itself, though we, too, shy away from visiting those, as with many of our kindred folk throughout this Realm. For many ages, there were many of the Realm too fearful to even approach the Boundaries, lest they be carried away in unknown, fanciful carriages from the Boundaries to the East and some to to the South, be set upon by that largely unknown folk, the Kin of the Hawk who reside off the Boundaries to the North, or yet most feared, be lost in the Woods Without End which attach themselves to the Boundaries to the West. There also must be considered those Lands of the villainous creature known far and wide as the Lawn Scalper whose beast belches smoke and fire and furthermore, whose beast runs as though propelled by a score of the fastest horses and still then whose deck is set so low as to attempt to shorten the earth itself.

I have completed a survey of the entire Outermost Boundaries of Realm and have come to the conclusion that, in spite of your having been prepared to face the Woods Without End by the extensive training I have provided, you have allowed the Woods Without End to encroach by the introduction of its own Green Stuff and this ever further into the Realm ruled by Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc.

Indeed, this very day, I have ventured forth with the trusty Toro to do battle with the many scores of mounted soldiers left to guard the Woods Without End. I perceive I may have just managed to chase those guardians back to their own territory, which we would not deign to invade without the authority of Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc. And even then we would have to sit and think about it for a while.

After my having returned from the Woods Without End and indeed from each of the Outermost Boundaries of the Realm and thus the Lawn to its rightful condition and its borders to their rightful location, I pray that I must rely further on Your Highness' patience, attention and good graces (not to mention mood) for just a few moments longer.

If it pleases Your Highness, this ever so brief message must be read, re-read, read again and re-read again, and therefore so digested so that all its contents become as though a second nature to Your Highness, for you are now asked to recall and review the very reason for which you have been and were originally trained in the art of Lawn Maintenance and released with the beast Toro upon the Realm.

Remember, Your Highness, this is so that you may have many of the gold coins of the Realm with which to make less empty your Pod of I, to slake your thirst and ease your hunger at the Vers of Cul (or any other such fine or not so fine dining establishment) when you so desire, to clothe yourself in the raiment of your own choosing, to acquire those many images of the merry minstrels known throughout the Realms and Kingdoms of all the known world as the Brothers With The Perfect Dark Hair, Silky Voices And Clanging Instruments of Cacophony, so as to adorn the walls of your private space in the castle (though the thought of so many duplications of those visages upon your walls troubles me to this day and makes me wake up from my slumber sucking my thumb), to keep some gold coins as if for a rainy day far in the future (though you must understand that the nature of such a day of rain means that such is a term that must be considered as one would the moral of a good fable. That is to say, it is but a picture of words to indicate something else – something farther off and less concrete than the words themselves may seem to define), and most importantly, to bestow a portion of your gold coins upon your desired house of worship so that the good works being done there by those worthy monks, abbots, priests, bishops, nuns, clerics, sages and even those minstrels such as the bassist Michael of the S and his young protege the Christian of the S (though he be but a boy and therefore, unworthy of your attention), among many others, may continue as they have for lo these many countless ages.

I know that you must be very weary by this time, for even now I can feel your weariness even to the soles of my shoes and the floor beneath as I craft this ever most brief of messages. I leave you with the following instructions for your careful consideration and execution:

  • When you are guiding the beast Toro, you must always heed the newly re-established Outermost Boundaries of the Realm, for it is thereby that the completeness of your tasks shall be known. For if you do not, you may be asked to attend once more to another Grand Tour of the Realm's Outermost Boundaries, this more soon than you had hoped.

  • Always collect the Brown Stuff, for it delights the senses when ignited in the vessel constructed for much merry-making, sometimes kn0wn by that most sinister name, The Pit of Fire, which I consider to be such a misnomer for a place in the Realm where many cigars... oh, pardon me, Your Highness... I must have succumbed to a yet another most brief instant of fanciful reflection. Please accept my most humble apologies, Your Highness. Now, where was I? Oh, yes – I recall it now.

  • Always scoop the Brown Stuff – POO wherever and whenever you may discover it, for it is thus the expectation of of your humble Royal Groundskeeper, and my thus being subordinate to the Royal Gardener, who, we are pleased to remember, is one of the Titles of the Realm held in highest honor by Her Exalted Highness the Queen, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Chef Extraordinaire, Lover of All Things Furred Except The Furniture, Devotee of the Gaming Tables in the Far-Off, Though Friendly Kingdom of The Vegas, etc., etc. that the areas of the Realm now and ever to be known as Lawn must forever be clear of their kind, sort and ilk. Your Highness should be aware that your keen ability to identify such stuff is well known throughout the Realm as being far greater than you wish it to be known.

  • Always gather the Rocks and place them in the Pit of Fire (you thought that I was going to start in again with that whole, unnecessarily rambling “Pit of Fire” thing again, didn't you?), for it is by these that the aforementioned pit shall have the drainage desired by its designer, your humble Royal Groundskeeper.

  • Always collect the Other Stuff, for it has been decreed that none of this stuff shall be visible in all the Realm, save that one day per week when the Realm's Garbage Collection Service makes its call to the castle.

  • Never forget to bring to the Royal Groundskeeper all the Yet Other Stuff as the Royal Groundskeeper delights in identifying the mysterious for in them we may one day find precious jewels or other treasures.

  • I know it will delight Your Highness to learn you will receive further training this year in the art of Lawn Maintenance, as my confidence in your abilities outstrips the brief words contained in this message. This further training will involve the use of the electronically controlled device known far and wide as the String Trimmer. There will be much rejoicing.

  • I know further that Your Highness will be ecstatic to learn that beginning with this year's harvest season, you will also take on further responsibilities such as accompanying the Royal Groundskeeper in taking the beast Toro for his (it's) annual checkup. There will be even more rejoicing.

Please do not hesitate to approach the Royal Groundskeeper if anything in this, your humble servant's briefest of messages with so few words, is unclear or requires translation.