Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone gets Hurt!

Warning: This is not a religious posting. I am not the one to consult on religious matters as I am not religious and in fact have trouble believing in much of anything, sad as that may seem. If you are here to find words of salvation, you are reading the wrong Blog.

Somewhere between Lutheran Sunday School and reading the teachings of other people’s Gods I lost my ability to believe in much of anything. Sad, but there it is. The reason I am telling you this is because in my wanderings I came across a sentiment I would like to share. I may have read it in “The Incredibly Inept Person’s Guide to Buddhism” or it may have been the prayer of Jabez. It seems Old Jabez’s only contribution to the Old Testament was that he possessed a strong desire to obtain more land which was enough to launch an entire religious program, but I digress.

The statement I came across was basically “Go though your day without doing anyone harm”. Sounds like something that you’d find in a fortune cookie so it could well be Buddha speaking. He and Christ were both gentle souls and were both interested in having people treat each other kindly and respectfully. You can’t argue with that. The statement “do no harm” doesn’t make any promises – it doesn’t say be good to everyone, greet everyone with a smile, or buy a homeless person a sandwich, it only says do not harm anyone. Even so, that is a tall order.

Did that comment posted leave the wrong impression, did it sound hurtful, did that off handed remark harm someone’s sensibilities - those are tough calls, especially if your sense of humor is anything like mine (I hope that it is not). The obvious ones are not cutting someone off in traffic, verbally or physically abusing a coworker on the grounds they are a moron, and so forth. Ok, using the word “moron” is probably hurtful as well.

I think it boils down to “try your best to do no harm”. Don’t chop the infidel’s noggin off, don’t flip that discourteous driver off and spread the anger, but on the other hand, f**k ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

Epilog: If you mistakenly came here to “find your way”, sorry. Might I suggest you talk with this guy, but he’ll probably ask for money. Or check out the religion section at the library – tons of books and hundreds of philosophies – I am sure the answer is in there somewhere. Just speak softly or the librarian might have to harm you.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Times They are a Changin'

When I was a cub scout, many long years ago, my troop took a field trip to see a computer. The computer was the pride and joy of a large company in Milwaukee – the "computer" took up an entire building. The scope of the computer was impressive to me, but in reality tracking payroll and inventory were the only capabilities of that machine. The box on or next to your desk is so much more powerful than the computer that had its very own, rather large building. It only takes one to run it where the company’s computer took at least fifty folks. Wonder if your great grandkids will look at a picture of a PC and say “You used that huge clunky old thing?” Then imagine trying to explain a typewriter or writing letters to them.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another Sunday Goin' Down

Looks as though there’s something brewing. The large ring around the moon tonight indicates a change in the Wx. Checking the forecast for the upcoming week reveals plummeting temps (for here that is) and rain as early as Tuesday. The rain is welcome, but hold the frost. My oleanders took a big hit, fortunately they are tough and will spring back. Of course the weed my neighbors planted on their side of the wall is fine and will continue to creep over onto my side.

Kind of an uneventful day, which is ok. The only constructive bit I accomplished was to clean out the fridge – boldly go where no man has gone in search of new life forms. I didn’t find any revolting mold creature this time, so I have that going for me, which is nice. I think NASA could run experiments in there to dry run the next Mars probe’s ability to detect different kinds of life, say broccoli based instead of the typical carbon based life you’d expect.

Took an evening off from the kitchen and hit the Chen Wok. It was delicious, as usual. It looks as though the owner has put the entire family to work – sort of a “My Big Fat Chinese Restaurant” thing going on, though there wasn’t a seating hostess that looked like a Bea Arthur body double on the premises.

The picture of the moon was kind of disappointing; there is actually a larger ring that is too faint for my camera to pick up.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Descends upon the Tiny House

Had a nice day today, Mrs. Phos got an educator discount at Barnes and noble, so we did our part to put them in the running fro the fortune 500. Afterwards we ate at a very nice restaurant called Babo’s Italian Eatery. The dining is informal, but the food is great. Mrs. Phos made a meal of the fried ravioli appetizer while I had the Alfredo Supremo. Both were very good. The service was excellent but their house Chianti is pure window wash.

Fired up the grill and had some steaks, tossed a potato on to bake and had a great dinner. That grill can cook! Tomorrow I am going to throw some chili together for dinner and probably roast the Atomic Hots for lunch. Should be an interesting evening heart burn-wise.


Cool, but pleasant, in the 60s with some clouds giving us a fairly nice sunset. I caught this one a little late, it was much more vivid earlier, but by the time I unlimbered the camera it was pretty well over.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Other White Meat - Back for Revenge

We at the house o' Phos are fond of spicy food, so when I saw these I had to get them. I mean any food with the word "atomic" in the name has to be good!!

If you want to see some incredible artwork you have to visit runran It is nice to see the web being used to promote beauty and culture rather then male enhancement products and porn. Sites such as this one are what the internet was meant to be...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Notes from the Tiny House


We’re rapidly coming up on the Lunar New Year, time to pull out all the stops and celebrate. I have started rehearsing some of the dishes I plan on serving at our New Years party and am sending the recipes on to Eternally Curious’s new site "Blogger World Cooking".  If you have any recipes that you are fond of, send them on to her as per the instructions on the site. All my dishes are carefully tested by my panel of experts.

I like to serve a potpourri of dishes, some Dim Sum, Pork Adobo, red cooked ribs, fried rice, and Lumpia.  I really enjoy this holiday.

The Weather:

Temps are returning to normal here at the Tiny House, though many of the plants have already taken a hit. Hopefully they will come back.

The Dark side of medical practice:

- If the Doctor orders a bunch of tests, he or she isn’t interested in the tests, they are just buying time to decide on the treatment.  

- If your doctor prescribes medication and the pills you get are green, you have just been taken for a ride. Green pills, in my experience, do nothing. I suspect they are just corn starch.
- Pills don’t cure anything; they just hold the symptoms at bay until your body can deal with the root cause.

My Panel of Food Experts testing jalapeño popcorn:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still Here...

Sorry all, been kind of busy, getting home late from work and actually sleeping though the night –no 2AM Blog sessions. I will get back to it tomorrow night, post some and go “visiting.”, I have been thinking of you all at any rate..

Took my new monopod out for a trial this morning and captured images of some visiting Super Hornets. The monopod helped to brace the camera, I need to work with it a bit more - some of the pictures were still blurry. I used a Cannon S3 in the low light mode with no flash.

These pictures will give you some sense of what it like just before dawn on a flightline...

Recipe for Lazy Daisy Cake can be found here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Phos Bakes

Phos Bakes

I usually avoid baking because the only thing I seem to be able to whip up is a calamity. I made an exception when I found out Mrs. Phos was looking for a recipe her grandma used to bake – Lazy Daisy Cake.  I found the recipe on the net and gave it a shot. Not too sure how close to grandma’s this’ll be, but with the amount of sugar it has in it, the cake is bound to be sweet.

The rain clouds are moving out. There is a side benefit to the rainy weather, beautiful sunsets…

More Rain

Phos and the Horrible Icky Rainy Day

Forecast at the Tiny House: crappity to mostly lousy, turning into nasty later in the day.  I shouldn’t begrudge the rain, but truth be told it does nothing for my mood.

The sky is wet

Birds are wet

Huskies are wet (and muddy -  note the fine paw rest Yukon has dug for himself).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Where am I?

I am still here, but taking some medication that, while making me feel somewhat better, scrambles my already confused thoughts.  I really want to write something witty and amusing, but just can’t get there from here. The medication has me so whipped I am letting Chen Wok cook tonight.  That is not a bad thing; their house fried rice is pretty good. Probably don’t want to know what those bits of meat are, but the pork patty in the MREs was the lowest point, so anything else is up. One of my favorite cartoons was of two flies that had landed on a pork patty. One fly said to the other – “Ugh, a pork patty, let’s go back to the shithouse for lunch…”  It was funny at the time.

The only thing I did today was watch Serenity. I had hinted around for the movie long enough, Mrs. Phos finally bought it for me. It is a Science Fiction movie, but probably one of the best I have seen in along time.  I really enjoy that film and the TV series that spawned it, “Firefly”.  So if you are heavily medicated and can’t move more then a foot from the couch without collapsing, I would recommend watching "Serenity". I could not, in good conscience, recommend “Over the Hedge”.  I only got part way through that movie before realizing why I used to hunt varmints – so they would never make a movie like “Over the Hedge”.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where Have You Been??

Here's a rare glimpse into the chaos that is life with huskies. I managed to tape the greeting ceremony that occurs everytime we come home from work...

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

That Ain't Cold or Everything is Relative...

I had occasion to speak with an officer up in Goose Bay, Newfoundland (thanks /t.).  While he is still a southerner to nanuk, he is pretty far North.  He asked how the weather was in AZ and I mentioned it had gotten pretty cold, only realizing  my gaff when he started laughing – it had dropped to 22F by the Tiny House, but it was -22F at his.  Moral of the story: no matter how bad you have it, there is someone out there who has it worse. Reminiscent of Arlo Guthrie’s song about the “last guy”.

Speaking of songs, if you have never heard Tom Waits, you ought to beg, borrow, or steal one of his albums. His latest, “Orphans: Bawlers, Brawlers, and Bastards” is a good cross-section of the different road his music takes. It is unlikely you will ever hear any of his songs on American Idol though his “Little Drop of Poison” was in “SHREK 2”. He follows a musical path less traveled, which is making music for the sake of the music not just to see how much coin he can put in his pocket by turning suburban white kids into gangstas. He may be the last bastion of Beat philosophy and if he isn’t already considered a National Treasure he should be.

So crank the stereo and the heat and try to stay warm…

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cooking with Phos

The video is screwed up, I am not sure if it was the encoding, the multiple transfers, or the fact I don’t know how to use the video editing software (I used Ulead DVD Movie Factory 5 for this clip). It may have been, in fact, all of the above. I will try to get it sorted, but the video plays fine when I play it on my own computer, so I don’t know what the problem is. So please forgive this early attmept.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brute Force

It is a very exciting weekend around the Tiny House – time to clean up. With the Lunar New Year coming up it is best to start out with a clean house – wipe the last so to speak and begin a new.  This is better then “Gringo New Year”, as I like to call it, where you lie to yourself about a life makeover for the upcoming year.  This holiday starts with cleaning up the house - I may still be overweight, drink too much, and beat the wife, but by God the house looks great. I don’t really beat my wife, as far as you know.

The biggest challenge it’s the garage - normally I wouldn’t venture in there without body armor, or at least a whip and a chair. Then I remembered something I, ironically enough, keep in the garage that could speed things up.  Wish I had a couple more and then I could clean up my neighbor’s house too…

Well. Can’t just stand around here jawing with y’all (as much as I would like to) the joint ain’t gonna clean itself – Fire in the Hole!!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not Just Another Day Off

Many ways to climb that mountain

Another holiday coming up - no decorations or shopping binges this time, however, as with Christmas it is in honor of a man who valued peace and love.  You have to admire someone who advances his principles and his cause in a calm intellectual manner. I wonder how things would be today if he’d been allowed to carry on.  

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Poor Career Choices

Someone needs to explain to me how Howard Stern, with no visible skills or apparent talent gets an $85M bonus on top of the $100M he is already getting. Then someone needs to explain where I went wrong – I can swear and all I get is scolded for it…

Next: Larry King and Regis Philbin

Sunday, January 07, 2007

You have to look up once in awhile

A Visitor from Afar

Comet McNaught has graced the skies these past nights. It will be closest to earth and significantly brighter than Venus on Sunday 12 January.  The picture isn’t so hot, but not bad for a small digital. Sunday I may break out the Leica and see if I have a bit better luck.

I did have an assistant comet watcher, though I think he was actually waiting for me to leave so he could enlarge his latest excavation.

What did you do in the war, daddy??

I was once told the difference between a fairy tale and a war story is that the fairy tale starts out “Once upon a time”, while the war story starts out “Now this is no shit…”

Now this is no shit. There I was in undisclosed location in the middle east, sitting on a rough wooden table in front of the GPS (General Purpose Shelter) jawing with a couple of back-seaters when I noticed on odd red streak in the sky.  About the same time I noticed the streak, I heard what sounded like a low powered jet go overcranium.  At first I thought it was an EA-6 taking off, because compared the racket produced by F-4s taking off, the EA-6 made a whussy kind of sound. the lack of deafening roar always made me wonder how the engines on the EA-6 were able to get the airframe and four crew members aloft at all.

That notion that it was a Prowler was soon dispelled by a series of blasts. The first, I found out later, were two patriot missiles launched from directly behind our position going supersonic and then coming out of supersonic speed as they intercepted two scud missiles.  The rest of the blasts were from the destruction of the SCUDs.  The ironic part is that just after the blasts we got the “Alarm Red don hood and mask and gloves” announcement, and  I remember just sitting in the same spot with my mask in its container and the gloved tucked into my belt, figuring the moment had passed.

There were two to three SCUDs depending on who you talked to. One of my local national contacts actually brought me two small melted pieces of metal taken from the impact site. I had though to make them into earrings for my daughter, but she didn’t seem interested.  And that my friends, is about the most fearsome thing that happened to me during Desert Storm, and I am fine with that.

On the Hunt for a Suck-free Video Editor

I’m still around, just experimenting with some video editors. I have downloaded a couple trails – Adobe Elements and Sony Vegas Studio.  Seems to be a steep learning curve with the Adobe editor, but I have used their products before and there is a common look and feel through out their range of software I like.  The Sony trial has the MPEG editor disabled – first strike against it. If you are going to put out a trail version it should be pretty much full up. I don’t like the idea of buying something when I can’t test all the capabilities.  

I already have Ulead DVD Movie Factory 5. I got what I deserved for not trying it out first, but I was in a rush. Movie Factory is the buggiest piece of crap I have come across in a long time.  Even trying to capture the video from the camera was a chore.  There seems to have to be a minimum of three crashes before it will import the video.  Then at least one more crash when you try to do something with what you have captured.  

If anyone out there has a good suggestion for a video editor that has a short learning curve, powerful tools, and not too buggy I am all ears.  Meanwhile I have to work on a few things – subject matter and technique.  Huskies seem to feel it is time to lie down and be very still when I bring the video camera to bear, making them poor subject matter.  /t. has indicated it may be time to give the humming bird a break, I have to agree. Over the years Mrs. Phos has gotten too quick for surprise shower videos and pictures.  All I get now is a flash of the curtain and a string of very unlady like words, so I will have to venture forth in search of something new and wonderful.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Nothing will Ever Make Him Happy or Google: The Wal-Mart of the Internet?

First, an unabashed promotion – do yourself a favor and check out Sarah Letnes at the Cursed Tongue. She has some biting prose and her posts are exemplary. Her Friday Editorials can be seen on Cynical Sarah. It is easy to tell she puts a lot of time and effort into her work. I think you will enjoy her articles.

Second, I believe I have been relegated to the Blogger Acres Trailer park. Seems up at Google HQ the Neo-nerds decide who gets to switch and who stays in "Hillbilly Holler", despite their continued pleas that I move into the new upscale housing at Google Fountains. I could start a new Blog, I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad, maybe a reincarnation of the Shredded Monkey. They promised me I could merge with my old Blog, but then the Googlegeeks have made promises before…

Finally, I need someone to explain to me why in some cases breaking the law seems to be all right. We have Colorado City on the AZ border made up of families of polygamists living right out in broad daylight. Now I could be wrong, not being a shyster of any stripe, but isn’t bigamy a crime? Why are they still wandering around free? Is it because of the strong Mormon influence in the Southwest? Maybe the Mormons are trying the “69 Virgins” incentive the Muslim suicide bombers seem to be yakking about all the time to bolster their membership.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Drunk and Stupid is no way to go Through Life

The numbers are in - there were 1,798 DUI arrests for the East valley alone, over 400 of those were felony DUI according to the newspaper that puts us up 17% higher than last year. Statewide DUI arrests increased 10 percent, to 2,649 from 2,399.

Next to the DUI stats for the Phoenix and environs was another article claiming that AZ had tied Louisiana for 49th place in education. The study was undertaken to find which state’s kids were least likely to survive in a global economy, based on schooling and living conditions. We still hold the top spot for stupid, however. I believe there is a direct correlation to the degree of stupidity of the residents of our fine state and the number of drunks the various task forces snagged this past holiday.

One thing that makes the situation even worse is that stupid people breed and the stupid gene seems to run true thereby propagating the problem. If things keep going as they are the researchers will have to come up with a new award level for the stupidest state, maybe platinum instead of gold. Or maybe they could come up with a Fujita like scale of stupidity – AZ would be an S5, the highest level of stupidity measurable by today’s scales.

So here I sit near the epicenter of stupidity for the entire country; wonder what the smart people are doing tonight?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Rising Tide

The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II
By Jeff Shaara

Unfortunately this book was not one of Shaara’s better efforts. It may be that the span from the North African campaigns through the allied push into Italy was just too great a period of time to attempt to cover in one book.  The characters of Patton, Eisenhower, and Montgomery were like cardboard cutouts and the two characters he did develop in the story were far from notable. Jack Logan is captured early in the book and makes one final appearance upon his liberation – he did nothing to move the story forward and in fact, the whole story was driven by a wooden narration as though Shaara was setting the stage for the story but couldn’t wrap it up.  Not on par with “Rise to Rebellion” or “Gone to Soldiers”, where the characters were believable, well grounded, and the story fast paced and enjoyable.

The second character developed by Shaara, Sgt Jesse Adams, carries the reader through the second part of the book on the way to Sicily.  The character is poorly developed and somehow, though contributing very little to the unit’s efforts in battle, is attached to the general’s staff. He will be the eyes and ears for the reader in what will undoubtedly be a D-Day Book. Hopefully that next book will focus in on the seminal event of the war in Europe, develop Adam’s character to a point the reader can identify with him, and be a more entertaining read.  

11 Days in December: a Book Review

11 Days in December: Christmas at the bulge, 1944
By Stanley Weintraub

There are many books that do a much better job of covering the events at the bulge and don’t indulge in finger pointing and attempting to find some one to blame for the German’s ability to punch deep into allied territory.  11 Days was a loosely tied bunch of non sequitur anecdotes about the Bulge. Lacking were any first person interviews and helpful maps.  The fact all the information was second hand detracts from the credibility of this book and the single poorly drawn map presented in the beginning of the book did little to orientate the reader with the region. Maps showing the progress of the conflict through out the book would have made things more understandable, though even the maps might not help because the book jumped from one war story to the next making it tough to discern any coherence whatsoever. It was painful wading through this book.

“The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon” by Alex Kershaw or “Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest” by Stephen Ambrose would be better choices if one wishes to read about the Battle of the Bulge.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm no Marlin Perkins...

Chickie isn't the only one that got a camera - Santa brought us a new video camera. I need to work on holding the thing still so it doesn’t look like it was shot by Michael J. Fox on trampoline, but hopefully my technique will improve over time. Or maybe not... I decided to capture the antics of our local hummingbird. The bird wasn’t too concerned about being filmed, unlike chickie in her impromptu movie debut.

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