Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy Days and Turkeys

The house has gone quiet, everyone has returned to their homes, the smells, the sounds, the laughter have all died away - tomorrow it is back to work and as if the holiday never happened. Tiny House goes back to being just a place to live until the next time the kids and their families come to breathe life back into the place, fill the air with memories, the smells of coking, the laughing, dogs roaming through blocks and other toys scattered across the floor in search of hand out's and Max taking center stage. Something to look forward to...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'scuse Me While I Reminisce

The weather has turned. The clouds moved in, all sharp lines, those are rain clouds, snow clouds are softer along their edges. It has been some time since I have seen snow clouds; one of my favorite times was Thanksgiving. My family often made the pilgrimage to Mauthe Lake to spend the entire weekend up in the woods of the Kettle Moraine. By that time the leaves would be gone, only the oak, a stingy tree by nature would be clinging to its brown dried leaves, rasping in the wind, busy with squirrels harvesting the last of the acorns the scent of winter in their noses. Winter winds do have a particular scent to them, more of a fresh smell with the promise of Christmas snow in the offing. Back then I looked forward to the snow, the sledding, building forts and snowball fights. It was nature’s invitation to brave the cold and come out and play.

There were times we had snow for Thanksgiving, a thin skein of ice across the lake – sometimes my brother and would dare to walk out on the new ice, laugh at our Springer Spaniel’s attempts to run on the ice and slide halfway across the lake before she came to a stop, or watch foolish snowmobilers try to drive their heavy machines out on to the lake only to promptly break through and sink. Karma was exacting its toll for their disruption of the solitude of the forest. It is sad that we have grown apart from nature to some degree – those times with my brother in the woods are some of the fondest memories of childhood I have. Hiking or riding our bikes on the trial around the lake, taking the ‘”secret trail” through the swamp to get to New Prospect to buy candy, smoke bombs, and sometimes meal worms for fishing through the ice, if it was thick enough and some kind soul had drilled and abandoned a hole in the ice for us to fish through.

And the stars shone at night, unimpeded by bright city lights, Milwaukee was a smear of light in the distance so even the Milky Way shown in all its glory. We’d walk through the park at night to look for deer and pause to check out the sky, relish the quiet and dark, soak in the solitude and majesty of the woods. I miss walking the paths carpeted in the gold of shed Larch needles, colored crunch of leaves, or powered white snow, our tracks often the only ones to be seen. Those were indeed wonderful times. Happy Thanksgiving to you all…

Sunday, November 23, 2008

P is for Plane

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dolly 7.2: When Good Science Goes Bad...

Here at Phos Labs we pride ourselves in topnotch research and science to benefit all of mankind, unfortunately sometimes things go awry. I think it is because my garage, I mean Phos labs, is so small I cloned a Dolly, but was too close to my uranium enrichment project. Or it could have been melamine in the DNA as I got it off E-bay from some Chinese guy, so who knows. That's what you get for buying black market lamb DNA - a flat lamb. Pretty useless unless you need to slip your sheep under the door, so to speak.

Not to worry, the experiment isn't a total waste as Dolly 7.2 is very flexible and she wads up to point where she is the perfect caliber for the "lamb-zooka" I am building. I call it an LPG, sort of like an RPG, only fluffier. The bottom line is I am planning on running a test to see what happens if I fire her out of a cannon. Serious science, no - cannons have been around a long time, hilarious fun, yes. I can almost picture a flaming ball of lamb rocketing across the backyard and into a cement block wall. Should be a hoot!

Well, Dolly 7.2 is due for her fitting, don't want her getting stuck part way down the muzzle of the gun, you know!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finding Phos

Woof, been gone awhile, my apologies to Troll for not doing Mute Monday - I do enjoy it, just got behind the power curve this weekend and still chasing the end. I suppose it's best if you don't make it to the end - out here Navajo Indians that weave rugs and blankets never complete the piece because the believe if they finish its curtains for them. So maybe it is best we never really finish everything - there'd be nothing left to do and then it would be off to the happy hunting ground. Happy Hunting Ground, now there's a real myth. Whoever came up with that never froze their ass off waiting for a deer to amble along.

But I digress - this is Troll's fault, he got me thinking about Indians AK Native Americans AKA First Americans AKA whatever the current PC title has been bestowed upon them talking about Aztecs in his last comment. Those Aztecs were plain crazy, took some upstanding Catholics to sane them up and wipe them out.

Anyhoo, it was a nice weekend spent with my daughter and her family and I am here to tell you it was a hoot. Got to see he grandpuppy, always a treat.Mostly we ate a lot. My Son-in-law was kind enough to schlep us all over Chandler and took us to Chino Bandido's, a Chinese/Mexican/Jamaican fusion kind of restaurant. At first gasp it doesn't sound like a good mix, but looking at Chinese and Mexican food you can see a lot of parallels. And toss in some jerk spice and now you're talking good food.He also made some most excellent baked Ziti, he is a most excellent baker and cook in his own right.

I was able to smoke three boneless turkey roasts (looks like a turkey football, has white and dark meat all packed into a string bag) for the squadron Thanksgiving party. Must've done something right because the roaster I reheated it in was emptied pretty fast. Speaking of empty, now would be a good time to donate to the local food bank if you are able - many have bare shelves. The way the economy is going and with all the layoffs the food banks are finding a larger than usual crowd coming in for food. Says a lot when a world power has so many who can't afford food on a daily basis. Anyway, help he food banks fill their shelves, and don't forget them after the holidays because they feed people every day. We have to take care of each other...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out of Office Reply

There might be some turkeys in this picture, you never know...

Going to unshackle myself form the computer for a bit, got to get out and see the grandpuppy across town. Been a while since I've seen the kids and really get to missing them. I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving (the real one, not the fake Canadian one - I think their Thanksgiving has something to do with the establishment of Hockey as a sport) when we're all together.

Got kind of a head start on the holiday, the squadron I work with has a dinner to celebrate the upcoming holiday on Monday, so I smoked some turkey roasts yesterday. That'll be my contribution to the feast, anyway and it gets me in the groove to do some more for our own family celebration. We're taking a page out of the Canuck book and celebrating on the wrong day - Friday vice Thursday, so my son and his wife can have T-Day with her folks. As long as I get some Turkey I am not too worried. Hell, might even start celebrating the Canadian version too, can never have enough holidays with food involved.

If you buy off on the Plymouth rock story we actually celebrate the arrival of the Christian Right on the shore of this continent. The rest, as they say, is history, though in fact the Christian right is still alive and well. It wasn’t all bad, because besides bringing us a jesus right or wrong attitude they also came up with the classic arrow through the head gag. Hard to believe considering their rule number 1, “Thou Shalt Not Have Fun of Any Kind.” Anyway they set up shop, much to the chagrin of the neighbors, and took a short break from killing Indians to have dinner to mark the occasion of how incredibly special they were and how hotteth Sarah Miller looketh upon that day. Even then men ran things with their pants. Oh, about the Indian thing, that one ain’t my fault. You can thank “Wrongway” Columbus for that. Right up to the last minute Ol’ Chris thought he had found India, hence called the folks he met Indians. Talk about your classic denial. Now a days, whitey is to refer to them as Native Americans, as though there is something disparaging about being called Indian – I suspect there are about 3 billion folks on the Indian sub-continent that don’t mind being called Indian a bit. Keep pushing the divisiveness, it’s good for the country. So this is one great big Euro-American bastard signing off and wishing you all a nice weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

News Flash: American Tax Payers Taking it up the Ass

Ok , so it's not really news, we have been being raped by our own government for years. I suspect there are other countries where the same thing goes on, it just strikes me as odd that the American public seems to be just fine with the way things are going. You think they'd be out in the streets, burning neighborhoods, tipping over cars, and destroying everything in their path. Wonder what the government has told them not to report about this? One thing to hide the fact McCain’s running mate can’t find her ass with her hands, quite another to use a smokescreen to keep the American people ignorant. Think about it, wealthy CEOs tap into taxpayer money so they can continue their rich and famous lifestyle, Auto Makers still believe building huge luxury cars is a great idea and that 24 miles to the gallon is phenomenal and are now lined up to get their cut of the tax bailout. Oh and don’t forget off-shoring most of the manufacturing to countries where they can rape and pillage a new group of exploitable people. They can bend the Chinese worker over a lot cheaper than they can an American worker and really get by on the cheap - that will really increase their bottom line, no matter that unemployment rates are spiraling out of control and American Citizens are being tossed out on the streets by the very banks that are now making free with their tax dollars.

By the way, if Ms. Pelosi gets her way and the auto makers get their money (it is inevitable as guess who some of the biggest contributors to Pelosi and the rest of the snake-lickers we call representatives are) it will be Chrysler’s second time at the taxpayer trough.

In fact these businesses deserve to go under. Rough for the American worker, but until we have a culture change where we punish those that mismanage, hold CEOs and government officials dishing out our hard earned money to avaricious banks accountable, and for the love of whatever deity you hold dear, have a coherent workable plan in place before you just turn the money over to these vipers.

And where is this devil-be damned Hydrogen car??? Why don’t the American companies develop one, hiring American workers to start building prototypes and pushing for cheaper production methods so we can get the cars on the road – we’ll need to light a fire under big oil so they quit whining about more drilling and produce the hydrogen (they already have that industry in their back pocket) and turn from building cement mixer sized SUVs to alternative energy type cars. This could be just what America needs, as long as the jobs to produce wind generators, solar panels, and develop ideas yet to be though aren’t off shored so some shit head CEO can continue to live La Vida Loca.No worries though, the Japanese already have a viable hydrogen car they have gifted some of the rich and famous of Hollywood with. Scooped by the Japanese again boys, good job, now get back to pumping out those Escalades!! Make sure if you ever write your congressman to ask him how many cars the US ships to Japan - free trade my ass.

If all this fails and things aren’t fixed soon, it may be time for the American people to rise up, drag their representative out of his or her seat and use the politicians to decorate the light poles around Washington D.C.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fudge Golf

Kind of an offshoot of the shitput, where you spin in circles and fling a load of dog feces in the air going for distance. This is golf with a twist. You only need one club, a seven iron works best and some dog shit. Large breed works best.

Now I am not much of a golfer, my form is atrocious, but I can drive a large chunk of husky scat at least four yards down, five if I have the wind behind me. I think if the PGA gave up balls in lieu of dog crap, I could be a contender. A couple tips. Don't spend a lot on the club, one from the goodwill is fine - you don't need the Arnold Palmer Graphites on this one, and make sure the crap has had a chance to dry thoroughly, the fresh stuff just sticks to the club. The trick is to get under it and watch your follow through. Last, it is best to play it where it lies, trying to put it on a tee could get messy...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Thanks to those soldiers and veterans of all nations who put their country above self to defend and honor that nation.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Last Word on Campaign '08

Unless you are from Milwaukee, you've probably never heard of Art Kumbalec, I know I hadn't until I had asked my brother who he voted for in the last election. A saxophone player at the Waterfront Brewery by night, presidential candidate and politico by day. He has been featured on radio talk shows in the city, dispensing such sage policial advice as "Never mix good booze with soda," and signing off with his patented "this is Art Kumbalec, and I told you so."

Considering the other choices we had Art wouldn't have been a bad pick. I know I am fresh out of tears over our government so might as well laugh...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Dark Side of The Phosgene Kid

One of my articles spurred a comment, a question really, asking if I could be wicked, which I took to mean could I kill. I can indeed, and have. With Veteran's Day coming up perhaps this might be a good time to talk of such things.

My primary job in the Air Force was ensuring pilots and their equipment reached a target safely, delivered their ordnance successfully and returned safely. With any luck the equipment could be used again. The second part of my job was as an accomplice to murder. Not just one person, but many people all at once, people I had never met and really had no personal grudge with, beyond putting me in the position I was in by their actions. I helped plan targets, helped prepare the best way around the enemy's defenses, and in some cases aided in the decision of the best weapon solution for the particular target, knowing full well that there would be people on the deadly end of that weapon.

Though I never saw them die I could well imagine what it would be like. Most would die never knowing what had hit them. Weapons, particularly GBU or Guided Bomb Units have really limited what is destroyed and have gone a long way in not leveling schools and old age homes trying to hit a bunker or manufacturing plant - a long way form the 12 o' clock high days were we made up for a lack of accuracy by dropping lots and lots of bombs at one time with the thought that if you dropped enough eventually some of the bombs would destroy what you were actually after. Better than the Strategic Air Command days were we prepped to drop "Canned Sunshine" on a city, levelling blocks and blocks and thousands of people in one shot, making thousands of others sick from the after affects.

The two major factors in killing someone or destroying some thing with a bomb is blast and shrapnel. I have a fragment of a French 2000 pound bomb. It is roughly eight inches long, an inch and a half wide, weighs about two pounds with razor sharp edges. Picture, if you will, hundreds of these fragments flying in all directions powered by the blast of roughly 2000 pounds of explosives. If you add a "daisy Cutter" Fuse, the bomb will detonate three feet off the ground, sending this steel frag in all directions - woe to anyone caught in the open, say advancing troops if subjected to this particular weapon. There are many ways to configure these weapons for maximum effect and I know most of them as it was part of my job.

Another part of my job was to look of photos taken before and after the weapons were deployed. One target stands out, a hardened aircraft shelter or "HAS" in Kuwait. The picture after the strike showed a small hole in the roof, a scorch mark in front of the HAS and the steel doors, weighing several tons, lying about 50 yards out in front of the shelter. I got to see this one first hand when deployed to Kuwait in 1998. The picture hardly did the damage to the structure and its contents justice. There were undoubtedly people in the shelter at the time the weapon pierced the roof and went off inside.

Then there are the weapons that don't work as advertised. As with anything man made, sometime the weapon, or parts of it wouldn't explode. Cluster Bomb Units scatter bunches of tennis ball sized bomblets over a wide area. Not all of them explode, right away. Years later some unsuspecting passerby could find one of these small steel spheres - explosives don't tend to age gracefully and the chance encounter can prove fatal. I have heard reports of French farmers plowing up old Mustard gas shells from WW I and having them go off, the gas still as lethal as the day it was put in the bomb.

I am telling you this for two reasons. The first so you know I am indeed wicked and have no compunction against killing animals to include my fellow humans when the circumstances dictate. Not to say I would go out and just randomly shoot people, but if called upon by my country to go back to my old job I would not hesitate to answer the call. If an animal I was after and had a proper permit for wandered into my sights I would drop it like a bad habit with little or no remorse. I view this a privilege granted by my place in the food chain. Anyone who eats meat does the same thing, if you buy ground beef at the market, it simply means you have hired a hit man to carry out the dirty work for you. Plant eaters are not exempt. There has been research that plants can feel things to a certain degree, so when you kill them to obtain their fruit it, on some level, is the same thing.

The second reason I am telling you this is to demonstrate that warfare is inherently wicked. You don't just kill combatants - there are actually rules against this, established rules of war. We had briefings regarding the Law of Armed Conflict regularly. We could not target dams, hospitals, civilian targets, historic monuments or churches unless being used by the enemy for shelter to fire upon our own troops. The enemy we face in Iraq and Afghanistan feel bound by no such rules and there have been cases where our own troops have violated the rules and been prosecuted for their actions. Despite any established laws, innocent people get hurt, caught up in the pain and suffering. Any nation considering waging war best do so very carefully. No one person, President Bush comes to mind, should have the power to commit forces against another people. It behooves you as a citizen of your own nation to reign in those who would allow those like me to be unleashed against a neighbor or some other Nation we feel ins't doing things the way the government feels they should.

Finally, to all who voted to make the current war possible, democracy has to be learned, it cannot and should not be forced.

So, How Do You Know, you are correct in assuming I can be wicked when situation calls for it and there is blood on my hands if only by association. I do not expect your understanding or forgiveness, I do not apologize for what I have done or may do to put venison in the pot or aid my nation, but I do hope you will continue to visit despite the stain on my heart, for I respect your ideas and opinions. I believe you have a keen intellect and will strive to foment change to make the world a better, safer, and more prosperous place. You are a special person and I admire you for your convictions and thoughts.

Friday, November 07, 2008

'Tis the Season When a Young Man’s Fancy Turns to…Deer Hunting

Perched on a comfy log with a long lethal piece of wood and steel cradled in my lap I settle in to allow the noise of my entry to settle. The woods are never truly quiet. Manmade sounds, the drumming of an old John Deere tractor starting up is replaced by the drumming of the male Hungarian Partridge, the staccato rhythm of a woodpecker searching for breakfast in the bark of a dead tree. Only faint echoes farm dogs barking or shots from some hunter off to an early start resound through the forest. Those are temporary distractions and soon the voice of the trees takes over. Creaking and groaning like a group of old men, the rustling of the few leaves still clinging to the trees, save the Oak which always holds on to them to the very last. What the trees are talking about is lost on me for I do not speak their tongue.

Catching the sound of approaching prey will be difficult as there is a blanket of fresh snow on the ground, masking the faint noise of their passing. A Jay in a nearby tree Squawks it’s warning that an intruder has entered it’s domain, small red squirrels come down to the ends of slim branches to scold me for intruding on their hunt for food, though it is not them I am after this time.

Time is not relevant to the trees; they mark it by passing seasons vice passing hours. The spirits of the forest ghost through the trees beneath the ridge upon which I sit, two does, safe as my permit is buck only, but there is the anticipation a buck will follow. Not so this time. Only the occasional caw of a far off crow breaks into the forest calm. I pull out a bar of chocolate and almonds, which has frozen while in my pocket – it is impossible to describe in words the glorious taste of the chocolate, it remains the only proper way to eat one.

The cold slowly works its way through my coat, but better the cold than the warm rains of last year. The black powder in my gun is as sensitive to moisture as a lady’s fresh coif. The hammer is on half-cock, the ball seated firmly on a bed of powder, the cap tight on the nipple, ready for service, but the call never comes.

No more deer to be seen, no venison for the stew this year unless my brother or father get lucky. I pause to wipe my moustache only to find it coated with ice from my breath. Too cold for even the deer to be stirring, they are undoubtedly still curled up in the comfort of the tall grasses, having had their fill of the neighboring farmer’s corn.

All too soon the hunt is at an end, my brothers comes up the path, also giving in to the cold, and we’re off to find dad and seek the comfort of a warm trailer.

It saddens me that much of today’s youth who become nervous when their cell phone loses its signal won’t experience the forest or have the chance to gaze into the sky and really see the stars, undimmed by city lights. Though dad is gone and my brother and hunting spot far away, my thoughts always turn to the times we spent together on these expeditions, deer or no deer they were a success in their own right.