Thursday, December 30, 2004

Amazon vs France

Almost 24 to 1. 4.2 Million and climbing by the minute.


Wishful thinking by a few people here and here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"Stingy Americans"

Several years ago at a Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Day event (Thing1 lives with CF) the wife and I attended a seminar about raising kids with "issues". The main point of the seminar was to pick your battles when dealing with your kids - espicially if that kid has a genetic disease. That day changed my life. Since then not too many things in life really bother me as I've learned to accept that a unusually large number of people are just clueless. Not stupid - just completely clueless.

On December 26th, 2004 a large earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated parts of several countries in South East Aisa. Numerous countries, the U.S. included, have pledged aid and money. As usual the U.S. has led the way (35 Million in cash, two naval groups, numerous private groups, etc).  Australia is right up there as well. And what does the U.N. do? Critisize us for being stingy! I know that Egeland has recanted his accusation but the elitist attitude at the U.N. just gets to me as this person is clearly in the hopelessly clueless category.

Americans are a generous people. Since the beginning of this wonderful country we have given our time, talents, treasures, and lives to help the world.

How can you help? Prayer is a good place to start. Next open your wallet. There are so many places that are doing relief work that you can pick and choose which one. If you're a shopper (and who isn't?) they are hosting a fund drive to benefit the American Red Cross relief effort. As of this writing the amount collected as $1,196,482.75. This is significant as it is almost 10 times the amount that has been pledged by the country of France. 

Tsunami Satellite Photos

At Digital Globe

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and a Marine

were walking through the desert one day...

Some companies you should know

In the spirit of Blackfives 'People you should know' here are some companies you should know about if you want to support America's heros.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Something that won't make the papers

But it should. It's a story about two Iraqi soldiers and how they reacted after the terrorist attack on the dining hall in Mosul on December 21, 2004.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The ref blew it!

Thanks to the incredibly bad call by the ref near the end of the Detroit - Chicago game the Bears lose. The receiver has the ball under control, two steps in the end zone, the ball comes loose as his elbow hits the ground and the ref calls it incomplete. Ater a review the call stands.

Earlier in the game the Detroit running back loses the ball at the end of a run when the ground knocked it loose. After a replay review Detroit got the ball back.

One has to wonder if the game was fixed?

The Day after Christmas

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. One of the nice things about older kids (Thing1 is 19 and Thing2 is 13) is that they don't wake you up at the crack of dawn to open presents.

They still enjoyed their haul. We've been scaling back over the past few years - trying to get back to the reason of Christmas rather than the excess of Christmas as the retail industry would have.

Since the wife and I exchanged presents a few weeks ago we just got to watch the kids. It was just as much fun as when they were little and had squeaky voices. The DVDs, CDs, toys (Thing1 got a RX-8 Transformer), and even some clothes.

After breakfast we got the feast going. Simple compared to previous years but cooking for 19 isn't easy no matter what. Christmas music on the Wave playing, potatoes a peeling, and all sorts of little things getting done.

After noon the guests started arriving. And more presents. Lots of little things. We got a awesome wooden cross from my sister-in-laws. Beautiful piece of work.

My sister-in-laws husband and I disappeared for a few minutes. He wanted to see my Christmas present (Glock 17) and I wanted to see hi (Ruger MarkII Target model with scope). Ahhh - big boys toys!

During dinner Buffy the Attack Cocker Spaniel had a seizure. The whole thing: loss of motor function, coordination, everything. 15 minutes later it was like nothing happened.

Then the best part of dinner: desert! From my wifes awesome fudge to cookies made by Thing1 and Thing2 and others to popcorn cake and homemade cheesecake. Yummmmm.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Guests started leaving as soon as cleanup started. :-( Since the wife is still no where near 100% I spent an hour cleaning up the kitchen. Done in time to watch Denver and Tennessee. And see Tennessee lose. Maybe the Bears will fare better?

Friday, December 24, 2004

"Reverend" Jackson?

I admit that I do not know the Bible as well as I should. I've been working on correcting that with a Bible study course called Crossways that my church is giving.

That said I couldn't help but laugh when I read a story at NewsMAX about Reverend Jesse Jackson saying that if Jesus were to be born today he would be born under policies " that left Jesus and Mary and Joseph, in a sense, homeless ". Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to take part in a census? There weren't living there. They were in a manger because the inn was full.

I find it scary that people support Jackson in any manner. He does nothing but stir up trouble where none exists in order to keep himself in the news.

What a country

From Instapundit:

" A Jewish blogger uses a Japanese camera (made in Thailand, I think) to bring us pictures of a Mexican Christmas. Now that's America! "

He is so right. This mismash is what makes America great. If we'd just all get along.

FedEX - A company worth supporting

Why? Because they are helping out Chief Wiggles and Operation Give. Winning the hearts and minds of the kids affected by war.

Remembering the Fallen

Major Dad has the right words

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Only 15 days left

Till Syndey comes back! Combined with Lost there will finally be a night of TV worth watching!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Outta Control Christmas

On HGTV right now they are showing people who have gotten a little carried away with decorations. Stuff looks good but I have one question?

Where do they store this stuff from January till November?

Christmas with the Kranks

Yes - Critics have panned the movie. In my experience this means that the movie will probably be quite enjoyable.

All four of us went to see it yesterday. The combination of Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis was perfect. We laughed throughout the movie. It has become a Christmas classic for our family.

Jamie Lee deserves an award for bravery. While she doesn't have the same shape she showed off in True Lies she has aged well. She shows off her less than perfect shape in a couple of scenes.

Its not a perfect movie. If you like Christmas Vacation or Home Alone you'll like this movie.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Home for the holidays

Went to pick up Thing1 at school today as Christmas break started for him at 3:05pm. Traffic was much better than the last time. Since the roads were nice we got to talk like we used to. What a great time.

The house will be back to normal for a few weeks. The wife, Thing2, and Buffy the attack Cocker Spaniel will be happy.


A reason to send toys to Iraq

 They help save the lives of Marines.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Tis better to have a knife

and not need it then need one at not have it. Of course you don't expect it to happen at church.

The wife and I made it back to Bible study last night and when we got there nothing was set up. The other couples there said the door was jammed. Took a look and the knob wasn't moving the bolt more than 1/4 of an inch - just where the bevel starts for a normal door lock. Took out my handy SOG Blink, slipped it in the bevel and the door was open.

The wife sees me bringing out a table and asks how? I just smile and show her the (closed) knife.

Forget the AMEX card. Don't leave home without a(t least one) knife.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

American Soldier

Matt at Blackfive had an entry about a soldier who as killed in Iraq and had a special last request. He wanted 'American Soldier' by Toby Keith played at the funeral. The video to that song never fails to bring tears to my eyes. That may be due to the end - the soldiers going on to the transport. Just like the end of Hair.

Matt posted an update today. Apparently there was an effort to get Toby to come play the song at the funeral. For personal reasons he can't but is sending a dedication on CD along with the song. Class act Toby!

Matt has an excellent blog - check it out.

To Specialist Mahlenbrock's family - I never met your son. From everything I've read about him, well, he was a better man than most of us, including myself, will ever be. He died bringing freedom to millions. May your God continue to comfort you in your time of need.

Monday, December 13, 2004

DareDevils better half

For those you have seen DareDevil and thought Elektra was more watchable - I have something for you

Another computer in the family

Well - at least one more to support. My father in law likes computers. Every time I build or buy one he has to get something a little better. A while back I came across a Toshiba Satellite 1115 for $499 at Best Buy. Ever since then the father in law has wanted one. I've always tried to get him to buy a Mac. Much harder for him to mess up. Less work for me to do <grin>

Well - he never wanted to spend the money. Last week Dell had one of their Inspiron 1000s for 599 after rebate. Spent some time looking at options and walked him through ordering one. And getting a wireless router that was on sale at Best Buy. Now I get to spend an hour Saturday getting him online.

I see more tech support in my future...

Technique is everything

The Smallest Minority has a great story about the proper way to play video games. Thing1 would likely agree...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I love it

When there is 10 people on each line at the grocery store and the do-it-yourself checkouts are empty. Full cart and I'm out of there in a couple of minutes. Same at Home Depot. I only had one item and I was out of there in 2 minutes. Not sure why people are afraid of these things.

Same with iPass. Here is Illinois we have tollways. Never used them much till Thing1 went to college. Now I'm on them every month. iPass puts a transponder on your car that gets activated by a radio transmitter as you approach the toll booth. Stay at a reasonable speed and just keep going. Probably saves 5 to 10 minutes per trip. And people still get in line to throw coins in the basket. I suppose there are privacy issues but with the number of cameras on the tollway that is gone anyways.

Something for you to do

A) First, recommend to me:

1. a movie.
2. a book.
3. a musical artist, song, or album.

B) Ask me three questions—no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.

C) Go to your blog (if you have one), copy and paste this, and allow everyone to ask you anything.

(idea - JimK at Right-Thoughts)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Red Hawk Down

There are a few of us that walk every day. A little of 2 miles. So much better than staring at the screen.

While out for our daily walk we were nearing the end, getting ready to cross the street and head back to the building we work in one of my co-workers said 'look out!'. A red tailed hawk had landed 3 feet from where I was walking. We watched him for a few minutes as it looked like he was searching for lunch. He didn't seem worried about us at all. After a couple of minutes he flew off to a tree across the street. So cool!

I need a lightweight digicam to keep with me all the time.

W Rocks

And Blackfive has the details

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas comes early

At least my present did!

The wife bought me a Glock 17. Well I had to buy it as the pit of a state we live in requires a Firearm Owners Identification Card and hers hasn't shown up yet.

After waiting three days I stopped by the store to pick it up. Since I had some time I decided to put a few rounds through it. 200 rounds later I was done. The Glock pistol is an interesting design: lightweight due to a plastic frame (with metal inserts for frame rails), no 'safety' in the usual sense, and an unusual trigger (where the safety is). It points well, suffered no jams in 200 rounds of 115gr FMJ, and was just plain fun to shoot. The stress of the day was gone. :-)

Field stripped it at home while listening to NYPD Blue. Took all of 15 seconds. About the same to put it back together.

Thing1 wants to go shooting after finals are over and he comes home. That may be an expensive trip...

A bit of shopping

I love Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Getting to spend some time with family and friends. The crowds at the mall. Oh wait - that one kinda s**ks.

Most of our shopping was done online again this year. Amazon is my favorite place to go but Musicans Friend was necessary this year as well. Both had what we wanted in stock for reasonable prices and there is no hassle at the mall.

The wife kept her promise of a new gun for me. Guess I was really good this year. We went to the local firearms emporium and looked at a few. I had, in my mind, settled on a Glock pistol. I just wasn't sure if it would be a 17 or a 19. Settled on this.

The salesman was great. The wife had this notion of buying a gun and this experience changed it all. Nice place to do business. Now I just have to wait three days pick it up...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Woman and a Gun

It's a beautiful thing. Watching CSI NY and Detective Stella Bonasera (the beautiful Melina Kanakeredes is assembling a AR-15. After she finishes she takes it into her bosses office with that look that gets to you. Jeans, tank top, and a AR-15 - wow!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Toys for Toys

I just saw a cool commercial.

A Marine in his dress blues standing at attention. A young boy walks up to him and asks him if he is Santa Claus. No response from the Marine. Then the white gloved hand of the Marine turns and opens. The little boy grins and says 'You are Santa Claus' and he puts his list in the Marines hand. As the Marines hand closes the boy leaves smiling.

Please add a toy for the Marines to your list this year.

Being Thankful

A bit late but Thanksgiving was a busy day. With the wife not up to doing the cooking it was up to me. Luckily my sister was bringing about half the food. Dinner was excellent (it was strange cooking a turkey inside) and a good time was had by all.

So what am I thankful for? A wife who deserves better, kids - despite their issues - are great kids, a house around us, a job that pays the bills as well as enough left over to put Thing1 through college, friends, and family.

I am thankful that 52% of voters picked the right man to lead the U.S. for the next 4 years. I am thankful for the brave men and women who put themselves in harms way so that we can live freely.

I am thankful for this wonderful country. Despite the effort of all those (inside and outside the borders) who wish to destroy it, the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.

Happy Trails

Thing1 was coming home for Thanksgiving weekend. Snow was falling. Roads were slippery. Sounds like a fun day for a drive.

Left work to go pick him up a bit early so as to miss traffic. Yea - right. Got on I88 (iPass is really cool) and traffic stopped. It usually takes me 15 minutes to get to 355. It took 55 minutes. Another hour later I was finally there. Only twice as long as usual.

Five minutes later we were heading home. 2 hours and 35 minutes later (usually an hour) and we're home. 4.5 hours on the road. Can't wait for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Nothing says Merry Christmas

like a Glock 17. Maybe a 19 - not sure yet.

While we are far (very far) from wealthy our choice of lifestyle has allowed us to live comfortably. It is also allowing for us to send Thing1 to a private college rather than a state school. Judging by the results so far this was an excellent choice.

Back to the Glock. The wife and I exchange lists of things we want for Christmas. Usually mine are filled with 'toys', her's have jewerly. They tend to be things that we want but won't usually buy for ourselves as they are past that limit that we have for 'stuff' purchases.

Several years ago I put a bunch of computer parts, knives, and DVDs on my list. I ended it with a Glock 17 or 19. In the pit of a state known as Illinois where we reside one needs a Firearms Owners Identification Card to legally buy a gun. I have one. The wife didn't at that time. So while the wife was at Best Buy looking for parts the clerk asked to see the list so he could find things quicker. After scanning the list he grinned and yelled to his buddy "Hey - this ladies husband wants a Glock for Christmas". The buddy replied "Cool!". I didn't get one that year. Or the year after. Repeat.

Now this year for some reason the wife says "Time to get your Glock". After I recover from the shock she just smiled and said "You deserve it". Who am I to argue? So after we drop off Thing2 for a Karate seminar next week we're going shopping. Maybe we'll get his-n-her's models? A 17 for me and a 19 for her? Hmmmmm...

Stranger things have happened!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


The Wife makes the best fudge. Nothing fancy - just awesome chocolate fudge with walnuts. She made a batch for Thanksgiving today. And I got to scrap the bowl!

Somedays life is just great.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I've always wanted to do this

But things never seemed to line up for me. Somehow BlackFive is always is the right place.

Growing up we always used to have sailors from Great Lakes at our house for Christmas. It was fun talking to these guys and they always seemed to enjoy Mom's cooking. Hmmm - maybe we can make room this year...

Sunday School

No - I didn't go. I taught.

The wife has been teaching 2nd grade for a couple of years at our church. She alternates weeks with another woman at our church (who used to work with my oldest sister). Since she is still not 100% after surgery. Maybe not even 50%. Maybe 20% or so. This week was hers ao it was up to me.

I had a blast. I got to spend some time with 4 wonderful little boys. Reminded me of Cub Scouts so many years ago. We talked about what it means to be a King and then segwayed into how Jesus is Christ the King and how the Ten Commandments are our laws. These kids seem to get it. Well maybe just a little. And at 7 I'll take a little.

"Train your child in the way of the Lord and when he is old he will not turn from it"

Go Get Em Marines

My dad was a Marine. He was training for the invasion of Japan. I don't know if he ever saw combat as he never wanted to talk about it. He was pretty adamant that none of his boys went into the Marines. There are a number of times since then that I wished I had ignored him on this - as I had on so many other things. I've always felt like I missed something.

Since then whenever possible I always say Thanks when I run into a active duty or retired soldiers and Marines. These men and women took time out of their lives to put their asses on the line for me. It's the least I can do.

So when the story about the Marine shooting the 'dead' insurgent/terrorist in Fallujah broke I wondered when the local clueless liberal (CL) would start whining about how evil the Marine was. Personally I felt he did the right thing. Well the CL was right on time.

I sent him a polite note:


    You have a slight flaw in your argument. You write

    "While a pledge to adhere to military codes and the Geneva Convention sounds noble, some argue that it is not realistic when fighting such a brutal war against such barbarians."

    The Geneva convention applies to uniformed combatants of a organized army. The dead terrorist is 0 for 2. Your legal resources should have told you that. General Tommy Franks discusses this in "American Soldier" when the Special Forces went into Afghanistan and went 'native' to blend in.

    On a semi-related note: Not far from where the Marine did the right thing one of his fellow Marines was killed and several others injured when the 'dead' terrorist decided to blow himself up. This Marine did the right thing. The camera operator did the wrong thing by making the tape public. He should have turned it over to JAG for a proper investigation rather than giving Al-Jazera more propaganda footage.


Shockingly I get a response a couple of days later.

    Dear Al,

    Thanks for your response. I appreciate you reading the column and taking time to respond in a polite manner.

    I understand your argument, and asked my sources about it. "It was not the military JAGs who thought up the Geneva exceptions for terror suspects in Guantanamo and elsewhere _ it was the civilians. The JAGs were horrified," one responded.

    These men have far more military sources than I (and, I'm assuming you), and they say very few military people condone any sort of deviation from the Geneva Convention and the military code. That is not the way the U.S. should fight a war, they say. I agree. A Navy admiral in the Pentagon who read my column also agrees.

    While the Marine in question might never be charged with a crime, I am troubled by your assertion that he "did the right thing." How do you know this? Or are you just echoing the anti-American "kill no matter what" philophy embraced by our enemy?

    I have a much higher opinion of our fighting men and women than that. Also, I think soldiers who fight by the rules have an easier time returning home and readjusting to civilian lives.

It seems strange that someone who in previous columns has done nothing but trash the military he claims to have a 'high opinion of them'. So I sent him a response.

    They probably have more official sources than I do. Most of what I learn about what is going on in Iraq comes from the blogs of the men who are there.

    It's really quite simple. You may even agree after reading this. From a letter from a Marine in Iraq posted at PowerLine

    "This is one story of many that people normally don't hear, and one that everyone does.

    This is one most don't hear:
    A young Marine and his cover man cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with Ak-47's and RPG's. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor(doctor)!" He is badly wounded, lying in a pool of his own blood. The Marine and his cover man slowly walk toward the injured man, scanning to make sure no enemies come from behind. In a split second, the pressure in the room greatly exceeds that of the outside, and the concussion seems to be felt before the blast is heard. Marines outside rush to the room, and look in horror as the dust gradually settles. The result is a room filled with the barely recognizable remains of the deceased, caused by an insurgent setting off several pounds of explosives.

    The Marines' remains are gathered by teary eyed comrades, brothers in arms, and shipped home in a box. The families can only mourn over a casket and a picture of their loved one, a life cut short by someone who hid behind a white flag.

    But no one hears these stories, except those who have lived to carry remains of a friend, and the families who loved the dead. No one hears this, so no one cares.

    This is the story everyone hears:

    A young Marine and his fire team cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47's and RPG's. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insugent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor(doctor)!" He is badly wounded. Suddenly, he pulls from under his bloody clothes a grenade, without the pin. The explosion rocks the room, killing one Marine, wounding the others. The young Marine catches shrapnel in the face. The next day, same Marine, same type of situation, a different story. The young Marine and his cover man enter a room with two wounded insurgents. One lies on the floor in puddle of blood, another against the wall. A reporter and his camera survey the wreckage inside, and in the background can be heard the voice of a Marine, "He's moving, he's moving!"

    The pop of a rifle is heard, and the insurgent against the wall is now dead. Minutes, hours later, the scene is aired on national television, and the Marine is being held for commiting a war crime. Unlawful killing."

    --End extract --

    In my opinion this Marine may have saved his life as well as the lives of his team. If you have watched the uneditied video (I have) you would notice that the only one shot was the one faking being dead. The visibly wounded were left alone.

    I think that soldiers and Marines returning from active duty will have an easier time readjusting to civilian life if it weren't for the fact the only stories the main stream media carries about Iraq show them in a less than positive light.

    As far as the rules the Rules of Engagement for clearing a room of non-uniformed combantants are much different than when fighting a regular army. (See Froggy below)

    I think if you spent some time read the blogs of those who have been shot at you might have a change of heart. A few to read

    Most of these guys link to other milblogs. I suggest spending a evening reading them.

No response.

I've never been in a life threatening situation before. Never had to point one of my guns at another human (came close once) but I'd like to think that I'd do the same as this Marine did. In my opinion he saved not only his life but several of his fellow Marines.

They guys are my heros.

Semper Gratus (Always Grateful)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

An opposing view

A letter from a Marine with a different view on the shooting in the
mosque. Worth the read at PowerLine

Exit Strategy

This was talked about alot during the presidental race. BlackFive has a exit strategy for both Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it'll work.

What could this be?


Monday, November 15, 2004

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Day at the Hospital - Part 2

After getting the wife home from the hospital I got to go back the next day. No I didn't forget something. I had to take my father-in-law in for a test. Up early to go pick him up, back home to take Thing2 to the doctor. Back home to pick up the father-in-law. Off to the hospital to be there at 10:15 for a 11:30 procedure. Sat with him for a while till they wanted to put the IV in. So out to the waiting room. Bad place for someone with a iffy lower back...

Anyways a lady that was sitting a few seats away asked if I knew where the cafeteria was. Having spent the last 4 days there I knew. Back to the book I had brought along (American Soldier by General Tommy Franks - awesome read so far). She came back, thanked me for the directions and then asked me if I was enjoying the book. We spent the next 45 minutes talking books, kids, houses, religon, and the lack of family friendly TV on the broadcast channels. Then the nurse came to get her and the conversation was over.

After I got home I took a look at the TV Guide. There isn't anything on broadcast tv to watch with small kids. Thats sad.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Scum sucking liberals

After reading this I'm amazed that anyone would want to be part of this organization. The main idea of the thread is to stop giving to charity because Bush won and 'everyone knows that charities are slaves to the Republican party'. What a bunch of loons. While there are several charities that I won't support there are so many that do such wonderful work and it is strictly with donations.

The good thing about this is that with this attitude the Republicans may get over 60 seats in the Senate in 2 years :-)

Thinking about the people I know - those that lean to the right give money to lots of different charities. They also volunteer their time. Those that lean to the left - well they complain alot about how the goverment doesn't do anything. I'll stick with whats Right

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Grrr Arg

Watching CSI - NY. The show is almost over. The case is almost solved. And CBS breaks in to tell me Arafat is dead! It couldn't wait 5 minutes for the local news?

Regarding Arafat - who cares? Maybe his family does. On the other hand the only good terrorist is a dead one...

Veterans Day

So what does it mean? For school kids it's a day off. For just about everyone else - it's another day at work. If you're a veteran - that ain't right!

I'm not a veteran. I almost went into the Air Force in 1979 but the recruiter couldn't / wouldn't put the training I wanted in writing. So I went to college instead. Ever since then I've felt like I was missing something.

To any veteran who reads this - Thank You. Thank you for taking the time out of your life and giving to your country. Thank you for your sacrifice so that the rest of us can sleep safely in our beds at night. Thank you. I know it's not much but it's what I can do. If I could give you the day off on November 11th I would. You deserve it.

Another Birthday

For a real oldie. I am soooo glad that they are still around. Happy 229th Marines

Sounds like a mandate

Much has been said about the election, exit polls, and whether or not W has a mandate. Over at Blogs for Bush Matt has a link to an article about a question asked in the exit polls. (Assume that this question for correctly answered)

Since so many who voted for Kerry were voting against Bush the actual numbers are something like 57.2 million (Bush) to 12.9 million (Kerry). Mandate!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Playing Mr. Mom

With the wife in the hospital enjoying better living through chemistry I get to run the house. Shouldn't make too much of a mess in 4 days...

Getting Thing2 up takes awhile. She likes to get moving slowly. Once moving she's ok.

But today the fun started way before that. Buffy the Cockatiel Slayer (our cocker spaniel) decided she missed the wife at 2:30am and wanted to go out. Back to sleep till 4:30AM when the CO detector decided to tell me it was time to replace the battery.

Got Thing2 up at the right time and off to school. Off to work and a huge traffic jam. Home at the usual time, make dinner, and off to visit the wife at the hospital. After an hour she was falling asleep talking. Time to go. Some DQ for desert and time to relax. And start all over again tomorrow...

Monday, November 08, 2004

A Day at the Hospital

The wife had surgery today. Fairly major operation that went well so all is good. Well except for the recovery process to come. I had the easy part - sitting in the waiting room. Easy except for lower back problems. Nothing compared to what my wife will be going through but a pain to me. A least I got to spend some time with my oldest sister who sat with me.

Doc and I got to catch up on things. Which was good as we don't get much time alone to talk. I had some things to explain after Thing1's birthday party. Funny how conversations take strange turns and half answers get out and people who know what you're going through (or at least thought they did) give you funny looks. And then you have to explain...

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Until today I had never been to a Catholic mass. Raised in a Lutheran church it was just never something I had done. Well - Thing1 still had one more non-Lutheran service to attend for Theology 101 so we went to Mass.

It was very strange. I have never understood Mass from reading about it and after seeing one I'm still lost. The Priest barely spoke English and left most of the preaching to the Deacon. Add to that some strange (to me) ceremony and I'm lost.

Afterwards Thing1 and I agreed - we both like Willow.

Some Healthy Competition

Thing1 is one of those naturally gifted kids. Pullout programs in elementary school, gifted programs in middle school, and a Technology Academy in High School. His first progress report at college was 6 A's.

Thing2 is probably as smart as Thing1. But she lives with Aspergers so learning is a bit tougher. Elementary school was a bit tough as the teachers just didn't know what to do. Now in middle school she is with teachers that know what to do and she is thriving. Her first report card was 6 A's and a B. And inclusion on the Principals Selection Honor Roll.

Even though they are 6 years apart in school they both tried to explain why their report card was better....

Quality Time

I like to shoot. Not too many things more relaxing than time spent with family and friends at the range. Where we live we have to go indoors so Thing1 and I were off to GAT Guns in East Dundee Saturday morning. 700 rounds later and both of us were ready for the week to start up again.

For people that have never shot a gun and can't appreciate the fine workmanship or the skill necessary I say - too bad! You are missing out on a great experience. Thing1 and I have spent time at the range by ourselves and with my sister-in-laws husband and son. When we are out with Matt and Jon - well several thousand rounds are fired and we've talked about jobs, family, church, scouting, and so much more. It's a great way to spend time with good people.

Happy Birthday To


He turned 19 on Friday. I still remember him getting 'stuck' and necessitating an emergency cesearan section. And he's still stubborn!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

From a Flash post on Drudge

    Marines turn to God ahead of anticipated Fallujah battle
    Sat Nov 06 2004 09:37:17 ET

    NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov 6 (AFP) - With US forces massing outside Fallujah, 35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them in what could be the biggest battle since American troops invaded Iraq last year.

    Men with buzzcuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles laying beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavoured lyrics in praise of Christ late Friday in a yellow-brick chapel.

    They counted among thousands of troops surrounding the city of Fallujah, seeking solace as they awaited Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's decision on whether or not to invade Fallujah.

    "You are the sovereign. You're name is holy. You are the pure spotless lamb," a female voice cried out on the loudspeakers as the marines clapped their hands and closed their eyes, reflecting on what lay ahead for them.

    The US military, with many soldiers coming from the conservative American south and midwest, has deep Christian roots.

    In times that fighting looms, many soldiers draw on their evangelical or born-again heritage to help them face the battle.

    "It's always comforting. Church attendance is always up before the big push," said First Sergeant Miles Thatford.

    "Sometimes, all you've got is God."

    Between the service's electric guitar religious tunes, marines stepped up on the chapel's small stage and recited a verse of scripture, meant to fortify them for war.

    One spoke of their Old Testament hero, a shepherd who would become Israel's king, battling the Philistines some 3,000 years ago.

    "Thus David prevailed over the Philistines," the marine said, reading from scripture, and the marines shouted back "Hoorah, King David," using their signature grunt of approval.

    The marines drew parallels from the verse with their present situation, where they perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world.

    "Victory belongs to the Lord," another young marine read.

    Their chaplain, named Horne, told the worshippers they were stationed outside Fallujah to bring the Iraqis "freedom from oppression, rape, torture and murder ... We ask you God to bless us in that effort."

    The marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them.

    "God's people would be annointed with oil," the chaplain said, as he lightly dabbed oil on the marines' foreheads.

    The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ.

    The young men lined up and at least three of them stripped down to their shorts.

    The three laid down in a rubber dinghy filled with water and the chaplain's assistant, Navy corpsman Richard Vaughn, plunged their heads beneath the surface.

    Smiling, Vaughn baptised them "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

    Dripping wet, Corporal Keith Arguelles beamed after his baptism.

    "I just wanted to make sure I did this before I headed into the fight," he said on the military base not far from the city of Fallujah.

Go (with God) get em Marines.

250 Tons

Want to see 250 Tons of Explosives go Boom!

Be sure to read about how big the crater is

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Senator Obama?

What a sad day. Illinois has joined California, Massachusetts, and New York with have 2 ultra liberal Senators. Why do I stay in this state?

And now former Governer Jim Thompson is calling it a beautiful thing? Time to hurl.

The wife seems to like him. I just don't trust him. Time will tell.

The Republican party in Illinois blew it. I like Alan Keyes. I voted for him. However he was not the right person for Illinois. Oberweis would have been a much better choice and made it a real race. Instead Keyes turned people off and Obama cruised (with the media's help)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Final Thoughts on the Election

Well - at least before the voting starts...

It's less than 90 minutes till the nice people in Dixville Notch, NH vote. I wonder how long it will be before we have a president?

  • Update - Bush takes Dixville 19-7 . What a nice trend that would be!

I'm a Bush fan. Kerry has been less than honest on a number of issues and the complete line of bull coming out his camp just turns me off. I fear a Kerry presidency will put us back several years in the Global War on Terror and cause us to lose face with those who love freedom in the Middle East. On the other hand Iran will get nuclear fuel from us and start producing atomic weapons.

Is Bush perfect? No. But this is a easy choice. One stands by his decisions, the other takes a poll to see what position he should have. I've done my best to teach Thing1 that he has to make (and live with) his decisions. How could I expect anything less from the President?

Can I get a Amen?

In Dolby 5.1 surround no less.

The local Lowes theatre has closed and been sold to a church. The family is kinda bummed. The theatre was close enough that we could be there in about 5 minutes. No real planning involved. Now the nearest theatres are 20 - 30 minutes away. More Netflix!

Thing1 had that exact same thought. The theatre that is closest is a huge multiplexes that cost 7.50 to get in at a matinee. For 2 of us we could buy the movie.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Crazy Worship - Close To Home

Thing2 had a dinner at church before confirmation this week. A group of college students taking off on a evanglism tour of the South Eastern US was at church to lead worship for the kids. The wife dropped Thing2 off at church and we met for dinner at the local TacoFryHut.

We went to church at the usual time for confirmation to start and the college students led worship - crazy style. The wife was less than thrilled while the kids were up dancind and singing. They were getting something out of it without even knowing it.

Thats the way it should be.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Round 3

Late with comments on the third debate - I know.

I listened to most of it on the radio as I had to pick up Thing2 at church. W was not on his game for the first 30 - 40 minutes. Kerry seemed disinterested in answering questions. Toward the end W was much more like I expected. Kerry still seemed to not really be answering questions. Or just giving bad answers.

In my opinion W won. Not by much but he won. The comment Kerry made about the Cheney's daughter was the deciding factor for me. She's not part of the race. Totally uncalled for.

It's going to be a interesting couple of weeks...


Thing2 is a true child of God. There is nothing that she won't do for someone if she thinks it'll help them in some way. And she never looks for credit. She just does it.

Today our church youth participated in Crop Walk. Thing2 walked with her confirmation small group. Her leader, one of our assistant pastors, treated her girls to lunch and dinner. Fun was had by a bunch of giggley girls and money was raised for an excellent cause.

My old house - Part 2

My house is on a slab. I'd like a basement but in the area I live we'd end up with another 50 - 100K on the mortgage and its not worth it. Slabs can make for interesting plumbing installations.

The bathtub uses an usual trap. Water flows in a u-shape pipe to a trap at floor level. Then there is a pipe at the top of the trap and leads to the main line. And that pipe likes to clog with hair. Usually Thing2's.

As part of the bathroom project we (royal we) replaced the toilet. I had never done this before but it didn't look to difficult. Took the old one out, removed the tile, cleaned the wax off the flange, and put new tile down. A quick look at the flange and it looked to not be level. Bad news
for a toilet. Put the level on it and it was pretty close. The floor slopes from back to front! After the tile was down things looked pretty good. Set the new bowl in place and carefully tightened it down. Wouldn't want to crack a $250.00 toilet.

Set the tank on. Big thick gasket. This is my only complaint about the toilet. One has to put a decent amount of pressure on the tank to compress the gasket while tightening nuts that are kind of hidden. After a bit of work it was together. Connected the water and turned it on. And it worked! No leaks, no gurgles. Yes!

Finished up the trim. Just gotta seal the new grout.

Just in time to paint Thing2's room.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Blogs vs 'traditional' reporting

The local paper had a editorial about blogs vs traditional reporting. I wrote the following to the writer. No response of any kind at all.
    Dear Jim,

    Regarding your editorial of October 7th, 2004 I think that you need to visit the blogosphere a little more. Bloggers, at least the responsible ones, are quick to correct mistakes, give credit where it is due, and accept responsibility. These characteristics are missing in modern traditional print and television media.

    Traditional media has a editorial direction. So do individual bloggers. However in a blog that allows public comments the author can be challenged. While traditional media can be challenged via a letter or email it is up to the media entity to publish the letter. I would wager that those that are critical of traditional medias postition on any particular issue are quietly swept away. In the blogosphere the comment is out there for the author to rebut or acknowledge. Burt Constable is a classic example of this. I've sent him numerous corrections over the years, with the data to back them up, and never got a response. And if the subject was mentioned in a future article he attacked the position I supported with the same unsupportable arguement. Jack Mabley, on the other hand, always responded to email that I sent him. He was always polite, even when I had shown him to be wrong.

    Personally I'm very close to giving up on papers like the Daily Herald. It gets harder and harder to send that check when the bill comes. The Herald's editorial direction is leaning further and further to the political left and for someone like myself, who leans to the political right, is hard to justify the expense. I used to be able to justify the expense just for the comics but the recent changes to the best page in the paper have made it next to unreadable.

    Something that you may be overlooking in the blogosphere is the difference in what is reported. There are so many things that I would be unaware of if it were not for blogs. A few from memory:

    - Gunfire attacks on Republican campaign headquarters
    - Michael Moore breaking election laws
    - The progress in Iraq and Afghanistan (instead the Herald reports everything that is wrong there)
    - The vandalism of Bush/Cheney advertising all over the country - included the keying of cars with W 04 stickers on them.
    - The Iraq Survey Group stating that Iraq was ready to start WMD production again.
    - John Kerry and John Edwards complete lack of accomplishment in the Senate
    - Kerrys treason after Viet Nam

    For some reason the Herald chooses to ignore these.

    Good luck to the Herald. I have a feeling the future may not be as bright as you think.

Time to tweak it a bit and send it in as a letter to the editor ...

Back to normal

After our visit to Willow Creek last week we were back to our home church today. We attend the 'Mosaic' service. Its a cross between traditional and contemporary praise and worship. Think modern songs sung to a pipe organ at about 2/3 the usual tempo. It just didn't get to me. I missed Willow. What that means - I don't know. Thing2 has just started confirmation and I want her to finish where she started. Time will tell...

My Old House

Built in 1957 it's not really old but it is older than I am. It belonged to my wife's parents (who had bought it new) and Thing1 has hinted that he'd like us to give it to him someday. Give?

Old houses are interesting. In some ways they are built better than most of todays houses. However the quality of work that has been done on them over the years can make for exciting afternoons.

Once I had an electrical outlet in the kitchen that wasn't working right. The toaster wouldn't work. All the other outlets in the kitchen were ok as were the lights. Checked the outlet - ok. A couple of days later a light started acting strange. Ok - bad connection somewhere. Traced the problem to a junction box in the attic. Under 14 inches of insulation. At his time I had not yet turned any power off. So I unscrewed the cover plate and smoke started coming out. Thats a bad sign. Scrambled down the stairs and killed the power. Back in the attic I took the cover off and took a look. The hot line was twisted together and wrapped with friction tape! So I took everything apart and put it together the right way. Wire nuts, electical tape, and lots of care. No problems since!

We've (the royal we, I do all the work) have remodeled every room in the house at least once. The only room we've only done minor work to was the bathroom. It has (had) a pink tub and toilet. Well the tub is white now. The toilet will be soon. New walls and bright white paint as well as ceramic tile on the floor. Which leads to the interesting part. I did the measurements, laid out my reference lines, and put the tile down. As I got closer to the tub I noticed that it was set at a angle. A subtle one but enough that if one looks closely you can see it. Oh well - there is always carpet.

Round 2

And the winner is - W!

While the questions were a tad on the lame side and a bit biased towards
Senator Kerry I really enjoyed the debate. Between Kerry's condescending
attitude, repeatitive mention of war in Afghanistan as the only front in
the Global War on Terror, and out and out lying he was easy to laugh
(and yell) at. W, while a little on the cranky side at times, was really
at ease in front of the crowd.

I don't think anyone who was for either canidate changed their minds. As
far as the undecided, well, are probably still undecided. I'm not sure
how one can be at this point. The two platforms are the opposite of each
other. Either Kerry meets your needs or W does. Maybe Nader does it for
you (sorry). If you're unsure do your own investigation. Don't depend on
the news. They are biased. Read left wing blogs and right wing blogs.
You will find what you're looking for.

Anyways - back to the debate. I loved the W's line about having wood.
Excellent. Kerry seemed to be interested in dropping Republican names.
Bush was positive, Kerry dumped on our allies in the Global War on Terror.

I want to know how raising taxes on 2% of the taxpayers will pay for all
of Kerry's plans?

I want to know how the Goverment creates jobs? It seems to be that
business creates jobs. It's up to the goverment to create an environment
suitable for business. Democrats make a big deal of the millions of jobs
created in the 90's. Somehow Clinton gets the credit. Seems to be that
the dot-com explosion created the jobs. And when it ended the jobs
started disappearing. And Bush got blamed even though the job loss
started before the election.

Presidents should be selected on leadership capabilities. In that role
there is no contest. While Kerry is a war 'hero' his post war
activities, lack of accomplishment in the Senate, and his position on
getting the worlds ok to kill terrorists who threaten the U.S. make him
unsuitable. W is the opposite. Decide, plan, implement. He may not have
perfect look or speech but he is real. And that is what I want.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Semi Famous

Well - not really even close.

One of my favorite blogs is BlackFive. Run by a former AirBorne soldier named Matt and filled with stories about the military and the people in the military that you just don't seem to find anywhere else.

I ran across a story in the Daily Herald about a 55 year old neurosurgeon that joined the Marines to serve in Iraq. I was awed by someone willing to do that so I sent it to Matt. He posted it and even gave me a bit of credit. Class act. Both the Doc and Matt.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Oh Canada!

Thats about all of the Canadian National Anthem that I know.

Maybe I should learn it so I can get my drugs cheaper?

A long time ago I made a decision to stick with a job that provided excellent benefits but maybe not the highest salary. Thats ok - life is full of choices and I made the one that kept me home so I could watch Thing1 and Thing2 grow up. Maybe we would have a bigger house. Maybe I would have gotten wiped out then the dot-coms imploded. Who knows? Who cares.

Our family uses a lot of prescription medication. The drug benefits my employer provides make it very affordable. I'm not sure what we'd do it I had to pay retail for them. Thing1 has medication that would cost over $1500.00 a month. We pay way less.

So now here is the (scummy) state of Illinois the Govener wants to import drugs from Canada for Illinois citizens so that they can save money. The wife brought up a interesting point - what happens if American drug companies stop exporting so much to Canada?

So why do drugs cost so much? There are lots of reasons but a few stick out.

  1. Research. It costs. Alot. So the companies have to recover their investment.
  2. FDA trials. Years and years of trials at the drugmakers expense. Adds up pretty quick.
  3. Advertising. From the Super Bowl to hundreds of free lunches provided to doctors everyday there is tremondous competition to get physicans to prescribe their drugs.

I think the real solution to high drug costs is to address these. Number 1 would be tough but the other two might be do-able.


Since the wife and I were at Bible study I only got to see the last half of the Vice Presidential debate. Much like round 1 of the Presidential debate the Democrats are strong on style and very short on substance. And the Republicans have the facts down but lacked personality.

Senator Edwards seemed to be focused on Senator Kerry rather than himself. He looked to be getting 'schooled'. Been there, had it done to me. Its not pretty and not fun at all. And how does the one getting 'schooled' usually react? By changing the subject. Or at least attempt to. And that was Edwards. Cheney was on message, a little arrogant at times and a couple of minor mistakes, but otherwise right on. How anyone with active grey matter could give the debate to Edwards - I don't know.

Monday, October 04, 2004

If you get any older

You'll die!

That is what Thing1 told his Grandfather right before his 65th birthday.
Thing1 was only three at the time. We just celebrated Grandpas 80th.
Doesn't seem to be slowing down too much.

Grandpa had his daughters there, grandkids, great grandkids, and more. A
good time was had by all.

Surprised myself

I grew up in the Lutheran Church. Baptized, confirmed, married. Both kids baptized. Thing1 confirmed. All in the Lutheran Church. Co-workers would talk about their church - one of these non-denoniational community mega-churches. It always seemed phoney to me.

So when Thing1 had to attend three church services (of faiths not of his own) as part of Theology 101 we decided to go to one. We went to Willow Creek Community Church on Sunday.

It's a huge facility. Thousands of square feet of space. The chapel holds (only) 500 people. (Our current church, after expansion holds 450) The new auditorium holds 7200. But it seems smaller once the service starts.

The service we went to was more along the lines of Praise and Worship than a traditional service. Thing1 liked it but it was a little slower than 'Crazy Worship' at school. After music and prayer we were treated to a talk about raising kids. It was so right on that I hope it made it into the hearts and minds of those in the audience that had not yet decided to have kids. It's a lot of work but worth every bit. You just have to be willing to give up parts of your life.

Both the wife and I enjoyed the service. We'll be going back to see the rest of the series. Are we ready to switch? Not yet but who knows what the future will bring?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Debate - Round 1

The wife and I watched the debate on FNC. I was also reading some bloggers who were live blogging. I was also in a chat at the Command Post. It was fun to see impressions of people all over the country while it was happening.

General impressions

Senator Kerry - The new tan is gone. So were the wrinkles on his forehead. Hmmm. Seemed focused most of the time. The hand gestures were annoying.

Preident Bush - Looked a bit tired. Did his usual stumble that I've come to love. Seemed to hesitate too much at times. Didn't go for the kill shot when he had the opportunity.



He was in Viet Nam
Mentioned several times that he has plans but when pressed for details
they never came out
He was in Viet Nam
Unknowingly insulted the US Special Operations Community (not that they would vote for him anyways - too busy killing bad guys) with the bin Laden/Afghan warload line. Does Kerry know so little about the Afghan theatre to realize that it was a small number of SpecOps warriors that
ran the Taliban out by working with the warlords?
He was in Viet Nam
Lied about the NY City subway being closed during the entire RNC
He was in Viet Nam
Insulted Poland - the lousy b@$%@#d. Polish Special Forces rock!


Seemed bored at times
Brought up the 'love' thing again
Seemed to lose composure at times
Had his first 88 minutes been like his last 2 minutes the race might just be over
Made it clear that being a leader is everything and that you can't insult other countries or your own soldiers


In my opinion Kerry 'won' the debate. But he was factually deficent. I think that the Bush team played this one too safe. Kerry's attacks were not rebutted as strong as they could have been. On the other hand Kerry seemed to go out of his way to insult many of our allies in the Global
War on Terror. The global test Kerry is pushing seems like a bad idea for him.

Round 2 should be interesting.

It's funny (not really) how the media talking heads are declaring this as a grand victory for Kerry. Even stranger how the DNC is bending the rule about debate video. It's not to be used in campaign commercials but they have it on the web... The RNC will probably do the same.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Make a Wish

The Make-A-Wish foundation is one of those special groups of people. For those who don't know they grant a 'wish' to kids that are living with a life threatening disease. A lot of these are trips to Disney with the occasional new computer. These folks have a special place in our hearts.

So today while reading the latest posts at Blackfive I ran across a story about a wish being granted. Take a look at this.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What if God was one of us?

As a believer I think He is everywhere affecting our lives in ways we'll
never understand. Or maybe it'll take some time for it to sink it. If
thats the case I still trying to figure out what taking my Mom 19 years
ago this month was for?

Sometimes its just the decisions that you make. You find out that had
you not exited to get gas that you might have been in the massive car
accident that happened a few miles up the road a couple of minutes
later. Is it all part of a master plan? I think so but given all the bad
things that have happened to my family and the people I love I sometimes

While this is my life it seems very close to one of my favorite shows on
TV - Joan of Arcadia. A high school girl who talks to God. Face to face.
And He (well sometimes a she) talks back. The writing is excellent and
His lines are just perfect. Worth 40 minutes (Tivo or video and skip the
commercials) of your life once a week.

Isn't it funny?

That the Democratic canidate for President, who voted for the initial assault weapon ban in 1994, and who pushed for renewal of the ban this year as it was expiring, has now admitted to owning one? Yep - John Kerry, in the October issue of Outdoor Life magazine stated ''I don't own one of those now (a M-16), but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.''

Hmmm. One has to wonder how Senator Kerry acquired one of these? Was it brought back from Viet Nam? If so would that action have made him subject to a court martial? Kerry is a "registered gun owner" in Massachusetts but how can someone who can't see a reason for me to own one of these guns own one himself? Can you say hypocrite? I knew you could!

Now an aide gave the quote to the magazine. And the AK47 has turned into a bolt action rifle. What a hack...

Monday, September 20, 2004

One way to remember a hero

I think the term hero is overused. To me a hero is one who puts others above him/her self. There are everyday heros - firefighters, policeman, and paramedics come to mind. Think about it - each one of these professionals goes to where the bad stuff is happening. People like me are usually going the other way.

I cringe whenever I hear an athlete referred to as a hero. These poor folks, playing a game for a living. Some making millions a year. To play a game. Very poorly at times. Granted that some of these players are heroic on the playing field but rarely does there 'sacrifice' go beyond the game. Some pro athletes give much of their time and money off the field to charity. That is admirable. Not quite heroic but incredibly admirable.

To every rule there is an exception. On April 22nd, 2004 a true hero died. A man who had it all: playing pro football, multi-million dollar contract, everything he had worked for. He died in Afghanistan fighting for the country he loved. Pat Tillman gave all.

As a football player he was intense. After the attacks on 9/11 he decided to serve so he joined the Army. Walked away from all that he had. And then became a Ranger. One look at the Ranger motto - "Rangers Lead the Way" makes it clear that Pat would be a Ranger as he led. No following, no getting in the way, just leading.

So what can I do to make sure that someone like Pat Tillman isn't forgotten. It's pretty simple really. And it's cheap. NFL Shops now has Tillman jerseys and proceeds benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.

As a Bears fan it will be difficult to not wear the my teams colors but a Tillman jersey will be the right thing to wear.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bears Win!

Lovie said he'd do it. Way back in January he said that the Bears would beat the Packers. And they did. I watched bits and pieces while waiting for paint to dry. I kept waiting for Farve to be his usual self and throw for 3 touchdowns in 2 minutes but it just didn't happen. The Bears just didn't give up!

Thing1, who never watched football with me, went to a Bears-Packers game party in the basement of his dorm. Watched the whole game with a bunch of guys from all over the campus. And had a great time. Even though the Bear fans were out numbered they got to yell a lot more.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Big Day for Thing2

In our church each step of a childs spiritual development is called a Faith Stepping Stone. Thing2's step tomorrow is to get a new Bible for confirmation. And a letter from the Wife and I. Thing2 is a bit nervous but once she gets into it she'll have fun, learn, and get a little closer to God.

I remember my confirmation class. What an unusual bunch for Paster Keopke to handle. But we had fun. Trips to Hyde Park, Confirmation Camp, and honest discussions about faith. Now if I had only listened...

Hopefully Thing2 will.

3 weeks so far

We went to visit Thing1 at school today. Brought him some requested
supplies as well as a few gifts. He seemed pretty happy.

He seems to have grown up in the last 3 weeks. There is an air of
confidence about him that wasn't there before. Still likes to hug
everyone and the Wife kept hugging him whenever she could but he's growing.

Luckily no sign of the freshman 15 (or 20). He's out walking everyday
for exercise and trying to eat better. Good kid that one.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Assault Weapon Ban - R.I.P.

It's amazing the number of people who thought that this referred to 'machine guns'. Normally intelligent people believe the crap shoved at them by CNN and the like.

I had this conversation at lunch today. We were out doing our usual walk (2.2 miles) and Wayne and I were talking about the latest on Dan Rather and his fall from Grace. Cele commented that she wished that Bush had signed the bill (that didn't exist) to extend the ban on assault weapons. Knowing that her husband was a shooter I asked why? Her answer: Machines guns are bad. So I explained the difference and after a few minutes she understood. Another light turned on. One at a time. Now to just get her to register to vote...

I love to walk!

First job

Thing1 never had a real job while in high school. He applied for several but they just didn't seem to want him. Their loss. So as part of his financial aid package for college we had him ask for to be part of a work study program. Not a lot of hours but enough for him to have an investment in his education.

His first day of work was Tuesday. So he was up for class early and work didn't end till 9:30 at night. Long time for someone who had never worked before. The boy sounded wiped. He also sounded like he accomplished something. He may get something other than an education out of this yet.


Sign in front of a Christian School in Geneva:

Always Say A Prayer

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

PowerPoint $#%^!#$%*&

One of the joys of my job is that I get to create presentations for
meetings on occasion. Usually a couple of slides about a security
vulnerability or maybe about something we doing with our Active
Directory or maybe the latest news on the mail systems that my team
manages. While I don't really like doing these its part of the job.

So after putting the first coat of primer on the new bathroom walls (and
seeing all the little flaws I have to fix) I get to sit down and finish
a poster for a conference that I don't even get to go to. :(

Slides are a piece of cake. Most of the time it takes an hour or so to
put together a 10 minute presentation. Not being in to the fancy
animations and sounds I work on content. I wish more presenters would do

Back to the poster. Using PowerPoint to make something 2 meters by 1.5
meters is interesting. Not recommended on a laptop with a 14 inch screen.

    I sent my boss the poster. Too many hours spent for someone else to present but you do what you told to. I guess it's pretty good as he made it public and let his management know. Hmm... stock options?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Clueless local columnist

I like the local paper - The Daily Herald. For the most part the news is
reported fairly. However the liberal bias so present in the media shows up in the locally sourced op-ed pages. On the eve of the assault weapon bad ending a person by the name of Burt wrote his column
about this subject.

Here is what I sent to the letters e-mail address.

It's hard to know where to begin. There are so many 'facts' presented without any reference it seems to be a segment on 60 Minutes.

From an attempt to scare people with the line "threat 10 times more deadly than the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001" to the NRA being referred to as "gun manufacturers and their shill, the National Rifle Association." Burt pulls all the strings that liberals attempt to use support their position rather than facts.

Do most Americans support the assault weapons ban? Probably as they are mistaken about what is actually banned. TV reports show fully automatic weapons being discharged (strictly controlled since 1934), suppressed weapons, and references to armor piercing ammuntion. Unknown to these people none of these are part of the (former) ban. The ban covered 19 specific models of guns and defined what made a 'assault weapon'. When intelligent people have the law explained to them support drops.

As for law enforcements support - I've never met a police officer that supports gun control. I'm sure they are out there but they must not be on the street. I wonder if they are the ones with political aspirations doing their best to stay in good graces with their bosses.

The DC sniper reference was a interesting attempt at, once again, scaring people. Would Burt have been happier if a old west style lever action rifle had been used? Oops - can't blame an 'evil assault weapon'. I think I'll place the blame where it belongs - on the shooter.

Then the reference to hunters needing 29 shots to kill a deer: why? What does hunting have to do with the subject. Most people that I know that have weapons that could fit the definition of a 'assault weapon' shoot at paper targets. It's something we do for fun. To relax. To spend time with our friends and family.

The admission that current gun control legislation is weak is the usual left wing whining. 20,000 laws addressing firearms are on the books in the United States. And Burt calls for more. And the new lefist line about Al-Qaida manuals advising purchasing AK-47's. It seems strange to me that a deep cover terrorist would do anything to draw attention to his or herself like legally purchase a gun. Given the porous borders of the U.S. it seems that it would be easy enough to bring in whatever
weapons one wanted to.

The most humorous (to those with a clue at least) line was probably the one that included 'put more powerful weapons in the hands of more Americans...'. In this Burt showed his complete and total lack of knowledge about firearms. The so called 'assault weapons' are no more powerful than commonly available hunting rifles. Then again - maybe he's just trying to scare people.

The assault weapon ban was a joke. It addressed how a rifle looked. It did nothing to address crime. The only way to reduce crime is to address it as the social problem that it is. That is how drunk driving was reduced. The same approach could work for crime in general. Regulating a tool that requires human intervention to operate is useless.

Will it get printed? Who knows...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Real sharp stuff

Knives are man's oldest tools. And one of my favorites. I've had knives of my own since Cub Scouts and can't remember too many times since I've been an adult that I've not had a knife on me.

I'm not much for the fancy, hang on the wall or hide in the safe art knives - I like knives that I can use. While I have a few of the fancier knives they just aren't me.

With that in mind I headed off to my first knife show - the 1st Annual Chicago Custom Knife Show. Who knows what excitement awaits?

I paid my entry fee and walked in. Over one hundred tables. People to talk to, knives to drool over look at, and just soak in the atmosphere.

I walked the room taking a quick look at everything - making mental notes as what needs a second look. I met knifemakers from all over: from South Africa to Sweden to Canada to all over the US. I met a knifemaker that is a buddy of one of my co-workers. He and his charming wife were great to talk to. I got to handle knives that cost what I make in 3 months. They were works of art. And the makers just wanted to educate me on every little detail. Even when I was upfront and told them that it wasn't my style of knife. Just wonderful people.

The wife doesn't share my feelings about knives. I can't even say it's a guy thing because I know lots of women who like knives. So it seemed strange that the first thing I bought was a bracelet for the wife from Jot Khalsa. I picked up a small fixed blade from Pat Crawford, some supplies from Koval Knives, a letter opener from Robert Rossdeutscher, and a new sharpener. I would have bought more but cash was running low. Had the Strider Knives folks had been selling one of the knives they had on display I think I would have been hitting up the ATM.

All in all it was a fun experience. Can't wait for next year. Since money will be tight (college bills add up...) I'll be on a limited budget but it'll still be fun.

One thing I noticed - the makers that were upbeat and engaging the customers were selling knives. The ones that looked like they wanted to be anywhere but there - well as nice as their knives were that had no customers. That smile goes a long way...

Where were you

when the world stopped turning - that September day? (Apologies to Alan

I was at work. Talking in cube land. Then one of the guys walks in and
says that he heard on the radio that a plane hit one of the World Trade
Towers. I'm thinking - ok some private plane went out of control and and
hit one of the building. Bad but not terrible. So back to the office and
I start cruising the web looking for news. Response was really slow. My
work has (at that time) a pair of OC-3 lines to the public internet.
Things were slow everywhere I went looking. CNN, FOX, MSN, whatever.
Finally came across a news page that confirmed that a passenger jet hit
the tower. So I called home and let the wife know. She was just on her
way out the door but stopped to watch the tv. At this same time I found
a live feed from the BBC of New York. We both saw the second plane hit.
I don't think I've been the same since.

I was watching a review of the coverage on Fox News this afternoon. I
was doing ok with the coverage till the people started jumping. I can't
imagine what kind of hell you would have to be going through to
jump to a certain death.

My boss and a couple of co-workers were traveling at the time - out in
California. I was supposed to run a meeting that afternoon. Yeah right -
totally unable to focus. I just wanted to hug my kids and the wife.
Muddled through the day and went home and did just that.

Thing1 said that school was pretty quiet that day. They had the tv's on
in the rooms and were watching the coverage. Thing2 said that teachers
talked about it but tried to keep the students minds occupied.

Thinking back to that day - I was pissed. I wanted blood. And I
still do. I have to wonder if we (the U.S.) didn't invite this type of
attack by the lack of retaliation for the first WTC bombing or the
attack on the USS Cole. It seems that the Islamafanatices thought we
were just going to take it like we had previously. Maybe launch a cruise
missle into the desert. Wrong. W kicked the SpecOps guys loose in
Afghanistan. (Read 'The Hunt for Bin Laden' for more details) The Talban
are gone and millions are free.

I still want blood. When every terrorist that wants America destroyed is
dead - I'll stop wanting. Some may think that this line of thought
contributes to more hatred of America - I say no way. These people hate
our freedom, our lives, the fact that everyone has the right to pursue
liberty and happiness. No guarantees but the right to pursue is there.

And thanks to the men and women (and thier families) who put the uniform
on, who put their asses on the line, who sacrifice so much every
day so that we can live our lives as we do, we will survive. We will
prosper, and we will help make the world a better place.

Friday, September 10, 2004

A different way of learning

Life is unusual. Thing1 is what some people refer to as 'gifted'. He was
identified as such in grade school and attended pullout schools and
academies throughout high school. Some was good and some not so good.
The high school academy was supposed to be science and technology. It
was some bad teachers and lots of lousy hardware. Teachers who just
shouldn't be there are guiding the best the district had to offer down
the wrong path. But Thing1 survived. I think that this experience had a
lot to do with him wanting to pursue a career in education.

Thing2 is the polar opposite. She has Aspergers Syndrome. It has been
described as a high function form of autisim. It seems similar to that
for me but I'm not sure. She has had special education assistance since
preschool. And just like Thing1 some were good and some were not so
good. Now that she is in middle school - well we were worried. After a
meeting with the school principal and the special ed staff the other
night our worries are gone. The school has its act together. They are
dedicated to ensuring that the kids under their care learn to function
in the real world.

Thing2 has really taken to the program. This should be a good two years.

Crazy Worship

Actually it's Praise and Worship. It's the place to be at Thing1's school on Thursday at 10:00 pm. An hour of giving thanks and glory to God that the young (and young at heart) love to go to. It gets to my heart and soul unlike most traditional services - at least at my church.

The wife likes traditional church - hymms and the liturgy. (she coined the term, at least in our house, Crazy Worship) I like the liturgy but prefer more modern music. We belong to a ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) church. It used to have mostly traditional services which we enjoyed at that time. Our church has morphed into a mega-church wanna-be. I'm not sure it's what I need anymore.

Thing1 was the reason we started back to church. We had promised at his baptism to place the Word of God in his hands, teach him the Creed and the Ten Commandments. So when Thing1 was 3 we were back in church and Thing1 started a new part of life learning about God. Over the years there has been sunday school, pagents, something called Midweek Mania for 5th and 6th graders, Confirmation, and then finally high school small groups and Quake events. He grew in church. And it shows. He just has it together. Not perfect but, I sometimes wish I had it together like he does.

The only thing Thing1 didn't like about it was the music. Thing1 likes rock. And punk and the blues. Traditional hymms just don't stir him. At a PrimeTime retreat he went to a seminar with (the awesome) Peder Eide that was titled "I want to praise God but I can't stand the hymms!". Thing1 would go to the traditional service but always wanted more.

Well - he found it. Crazy Worship Praise and Worship gives him what he needs. And that is all that matters. Getting closer to God - however you do it is a good thing.

To quote Peder "God is good. All the time"

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Computer Security 101

One of my hats at my employer deals with computer security. Not necessarily physical security (although as a system administrator I think about that too) but with protecting the computing infrastructure that I'm responsible from crackers, viruses, and clueless users. With a bit of planning and thought it's a lot easier than it seems. However if one acts without thinking then bad things happen.

At work computers are not allowed on the network without the proper security patches applied and, if the OS supports one, a real time antivirus scanner. if one is caught on the network it gets blocked pretty quick. If the same user keeps doing it then management gets involved. While I'm a 'senior person' I'd just as well stay out of managements line of fire when bad things are happening. Unless I get to figure out what happened. Thats fun stuff! And fodder for another story.

Now Thing1 is off at college, having had the computer staff there check his computers for up to date patches and AV software before the were allowed on the net. Given the problems some colleges have with viruses I can see their point. So I got a good laugh today when Thing1 called me at lunch (family time cell packages are real handy!) and said he had stopped down at the computer lab to inquire about a job and the staff
was battling a virus outbreak. Seems one of the staff put a students PC on the public network to patch it and it had a worm of some kind and it started hitting the network. Hard.

This broke a couple of basic computer security rules. Never, ever, put a unknown computer on a public network until you are sure there are no viruses or worms on it. Then you patch it (off line). Once you are sure that it has no viruses or worms and that the mandatory set of patches are installed do you put it on the net. And then you check it again. I prefer the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser for Windows systems but there are other ways.

Save the Internet - keep your systems patched!

Johnny got a gun

So John Kerry got a Remington 11-87 shotgun today from a member of a
labor union in West Virginia. Strange thing is that S 1431 (Kerry is a
co-sponsor) might ban this gun depending on how the term "pistol grip"
is defined. If you look at a picture of a 11-87 it has a grip for the
trigger hand that is similar to a old dueling pistol but nothing like a
more modern weapon.

I wonder if the proper forms were filled out to tranfer the weapon
legally? Wouldn't it be funny if JK transported the weapon across state
lines without doing the paperwork?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Saturday - What a day

Actually it was quiet around here. Working on the bathroom removing ceramic wall tile (and the drywall beneath it) so that we can paint. The rest of the world wasn't quite so peaceful...

Former President Clinton needs a quadruple bypass. While I hope he has a speedy recovery I can't help but think of the old SNL skits with him out jogging and hitting a McDonalds to discuss politics.

BESLAN, Russia
300+ dead. Over half are kids that will never get the chance to grow up and live life as they should have. Is there any doubt that the only good terrorist is a dead one?

Hurricane Frances
I've been through severe storms. In just about every state I've been in. (a vacation tradition) Around here they are usually over in a couple of hours. Sometimes a bad storm will give us a couple inches of rain in a day. Frances is dumping an inch a hour. I was watching Fox News this afternoon and Geraldo was leaning into the wind to stay on a beach. Having been to a number of the places being shown I was amazed at the damage. Even more amazed at the number of people out in it.

Some things are just annoying

John Kerry
Since when does pointing your voting record and publicizing your written and spoken statements fall into the attack and smear category? What a whiner!

And some are just a way to spend a little time doing next to nothing

Watched 'Ella Enchanted' with the wife and Thing2. Cute movie. So much of the humor was directed at adults.

Blue Collar TV is funniest show I've seen in a while. Scrubs is its usual excellent self. Father of the Pride was, well um, bad. Almost as much excitement as a John Kerry campaign speech. Rescue Me is getting better every week. Now if I just didn't have to wait till January for 24 and Alias

W Reloaded

While watching W's acceptance speech I kept thinking of the "I Believe" statements at the end of "Blue Collar TV". Every time W started a sentence with "I Believe" I kept waiting for Jeff Foxworthy's line - "I believe that if you can't say a nice word about someone - you must be talking about Hillary Clinton". That would have been great!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Dinner out with the girl

W is rocking the Garden!!!!
Yep - Voted for him in 2000. Voting for him again this year.

Back to the story -

The wife had a CPR certification class tonight. She went straight from work to the class. So me and the girl, AKA Thing2, went out to eat. I let her pick the resturant. McDonalds. Oh well. Far from my favorite place but she likes it. At least the McFlurries don't have grease in them. Dinner was actually quite good. Conversation with Thing2 was interesting.

Thing1 was a piece of cake to raise. Like many kids he was a bit unsure of himself but once it hit him that he is responsible for his own actions and his own future and that it was up to him to make the most of what was presented to him and what God has blessed him with he just took off. The first few days at college were a little tough. Now that classes have started the same light seems to have gone on.

Back to Thing2. Girls are much different to raise. Most of my coworkers have kids much younger than me and the wife so they all look at me funny when I say that. The ones with girls look scared... So me and Thing2 got to talk - about school, home, her brother, and boys. I was ok till the last one. I remember what it was like to be a 13 year old boy. I don't want any of them anywhere near my daughter!

So - when one of these creatures comes calling for my daughter - should I be polishing a sword or cleaning a gun? Maybe both...

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Thing1 is attending a private liberal arts school. It's also a Christian
school. It's not really in the budget but it seems like the right thing
to do.

Anyways the rooms are actually 2 room suites with a walk-in closet and a
bathroom for the occupants. 2 students per room so 4 per suite. Thing1's
roommate is(was) his polar opposite. Thing1 is quiet, keeps to himself,
neat, and very easy going. Likes loud music but wears headphones to keep
from annoying others. I may be bragging but I think the wife and I did a
pretty good job raising him.

The roommate on the other hand is very different. Loud, outgoing, and a
little messy. Gangsta rap at midnight at full volume does not make for a
happy thing...

Well Thing1 came home from a service project and got yelled at by the
roommate for not waking him. Later on he came back and roommate was
packing up and moving. Quiet for awhile. Hopefully the roommate finds
someone that he gels with so that he is a success at school. Time will tell.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Windows XP sp2

I like Windows XP. In my experience it is reliable, fairly robust,
secure (if patched as necessary), and generally easy to use (once you
loose the new interface). I use XP on 3 machines at home at 2 at work.
No problems that I can blame on Microsoft. Lots of little irrations but
nothing that compares to what I've 'enjoyed' with using Linux.

Service Pack 2 (sp2) is the latest 'patch' from the nice people in Redmond. 266MB of new applications.
I installed it the first day I could on a VMWare machine and had no problems. (For those who don't know - VMWare is the tool to use for testing) I then installed it on a couple of desktops at home and then my desktop at work, laptop at home, and then finally a old laptop at work. No problems.

So a coworker stops by my office and asks a question about a machine he
is building for his daughter to take to school with her. Based on a Shuttle box it was a new Prescott P4
with a Intel 865 chipset. Since he had installed XP Pro I advised him to
install sp2 just to stay ahead of the curve. Well he isn't talking to me...

What happened? sp2 installed without complaint, rebooted, and nothing.
Zip, zero, nothing. No safe mode nothing. Well the coworker was smart
enough to have Ghosted
the machine to DVD and restored it so his daughter could take it to
school. The coworker did some research
and discovered that there appears to be a problem with Prescott
core P4 and Celeron chips when coupled with the 865/875 chipsets. And
coworker talks to me again :-).

So Thing1 gets to college last Friday. Plugs the XP machine into the
network spigot and gets nothing. No DHCP response at all. Bummer - need
to register the MAC address. So we stop by the computer lab and ask for
the procedure to follow. The tech tells us to bring in the machine so
that it can be 'checked'. Checked means (for XP machines) sp2, some form
of antivirus and adware detector. Well Thing2's laptop is not taking
to sp2. The techs have been struggling for 3 days trying to install sp2.
We'll see what they say tomorrow.

On the other hand the iBook was back in a day ready to go...

Update on the Dell. The techs gave up trying to install sp2. Thing1 has it back in his hands. Can't get on the network with it... May need to go visit and see whats going on.

Update #2. After a long phone conversation we got both machines on the wireless net at school. Joy returns to Thing1's life

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Day After

No - not the made for TV movie from the 1980s. And it was really two
days after. The wife, Thing2, and I went to visit Thing1 at college. We
attended chapel together (a excellent mix of traditional pipe organ and
hyms with comtemporay Christian Praise and Worship) and then delivered
the rest of Thing1's stuff. The room mates have all arrived and are
starting to settle in. Things are becoming more normal. After pizza at
the local Unos we walked around campus for a while, played some pool,
and just talked. Thing1 is a wonderful kid who is going to be a great
teacher. He surprises me every day with how grown up he is. And yet
still a child at heart.

I miss him.

Happy Aniversary

August 27th, 1983. A hot and steamy day here in Illinois. I spent the
afternoon in a church. Without air conditioning. Well worth the time as
the wife and I were married before God, family, and friends. The wedding
was followed by a excellent party at a local country club that was
enjoyed by all.

Fast forward to August 27th, 2004. 21 years of marriage has produced 2
children (well according to the wife I should be included in that count
making it 3), lots of memories, love, happiness, and challenges. Usually
I take the day off from work so that I can spend it with the wife. This
year was no exception. Except that we spent the day moving Thing1 into
his room at college. The wife and Thing1 are prety close. They have been
since day 1. The tension had been building for a couple of weeks. Thing1
couldn't wait to go. The wife didn't want to let go. But finally it was
time to leave. Thing1 was off to chapel and I had finished fixing the tv
antenna connection. A quiet ride home - except for occasional tears.
It's hard to let go...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Bush vs Kerry

It seems strange to be that the Kerry campaign is calling on President Bush to condem the Swiftboat Veterans Campaign for Truth ads. JFK is also calling for the baning of the book Unfit for Duty. Hmmm... I don't recall the Bush campaign asking that the piece of fiction known as Fahrenheit 9/11 be banned? (See Dave Kopel's analysis for more) Ok maybe it's not complete fiction but Michael Moore is known for selective editing and omission in order to make his point.

Counting down ...

Less than a week till Thing1 heads off to school. The wife is getting nervous. Even the dog is nervous. I think even Thing1 is nervous. Well maybe a bit excited and a bit scared. (Think Owen Wilson's character in Armagedeon right before the shuttles lift off). Me - I wish I was the 18 year old heading off to school.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Back to school

Not me - my 13 year old daughter known to the world as thing2. (thing1 is off to college this year) Thing2 is attending the same junior high that my wife, thing1, and I did. Pretty spooky. On one hand it was nice to see the school. It had been gutted, asbestos removed and rebuilt. It is very nice inside. We walked thing2 through her schedule and, while she seemed a little confused, thing2 was ready to go. The strange thing was that both the wife and I rememberd where our lockers were. And we went there a long time ago. Thing1 and I were looking at pictures of the staff and one of the gym teachers was one of my classmates way back when...

The wife kept noticing boys looking at thing2. While she is an attractive young lady it was rather disconcerting. Time for a new gun. Or sword. Maybe both...

Thing1 heads off to college in just a few days. We are now officially broke. Don't make enough money to just write a check and make too much to get any real financial aide. It'll be tight for a few years but I just recall a bumper sticker that thing1 and I saw at the local gun store - "If you think education is expensive - try ignorance" Thing1 wants to be a elementary school teacher. And I think he'll be a great one. If nothing else a God loving, gun owning, conservative punk teacher might just shake up the teachers lounge a bit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Starting something new

A place to let my thoughts go. Run away. Very far away. As fast as you can

What will I talk about? In a year like this politics comes to mind. Living is a crappy state like I do can grate on you. Guns, technology, books and music too. Maybe even what it's like to send off your first born to college...

More soon.