Sunday, January 31, 2010
I can hear the occasional rattle of ice falling from tree branches and there is a steady drip of icicles from the roof and elsewhere.
I backed the Subaru out into the sunshine to let it warm up a bit in case we decide to go anywhere.
This stein commemorates the exploits and battles of the British Parachute Regiment, which is the airborne infantry element of the British Army. It forms the parachute infantry element of 16 Air Assault Brigade.
The motto, Utrinque Paratus is Latin for “Ready for Anything.”
Perhaps the most famous airborne operation of (the unit’s) history is Operation Market Garden of September 1944, in which 35,000 troops of the First Allied Airborne Army were dropped 100 miles behind the German front lines in an attempt to create a path across the Netherlands including the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. Three complete airborne divisions, the 1st Airborne Division (United Kingdom), and the 82nd Airborne Division (United States) and 101st Airborne Division (United States), and the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade (Poland) from the Army were used. The units were dropped at various points along Highway 69 in order to create a "carpet" over which the XXX Corps (United Kingdom) could rapidly advance. German opposition was some three times that expected, including two under-strength but very experienced panzer divisions. Although the operation had partial success in the end the British 1st Airborne division was all but destroyed in the Battle of Arnhem and the final bridge remained in German hands.
An interesting story arises from this episode - upon finally surrendering in the ruins of Arnhem, with no ammunition and virtually starved, a German officer reputedly said to a British officer.. “I fought at Stalingrad on the eastern front but I have never seen troops as good as you at city fighting - where did you learn this?', to which the officer replied 'well it was our first time - but we'll try to do better next time!”
Saturday, January 30, 2010
This is a half-liter stein from the Binding Bier brewery in Frankfurt, Germany.
Binding has been brewed in Frankfurt since the brewery was founded by Conrad Binding in 1870. It’s a Pilsner and a standard beer found in most pubs, sports venues and beer halls throughout Frankfurt.
The logo invokes a ski binding image and the stein proclaims Dir und mir (you and me), Binding Bier.
And neither am I. Well, I may take the all-wheel-drive, ABS-equipped Subaru Forester down to the post office to pick up the mail, but that’s the most ambitious of my travel plans for the weekend as we sit here amid a snow-covered unplowed road system. I can’t get an accurate read on how much snow we got because of blowing and drifting, but one source indicates we got somewhere between 7 and 8 inches. (Stop laughing, Yankees, this is serious business.)
I’m getting used to this Southern “surrender to snow” strategy, but it must seem incredible to folks from Colorado where only a snowfall of Biblical proportions can halt traffic even momentarily.
This will give me a chance to track down the mp3 music files that somehow didn’t make the jump when I moved my iTunes from my old C: drive to my new computer. Any maybe to hang some of my collection of autographed celebrity pictures in the half-bathroom, as I have been threatening to do for more than two years.
UPDATED AT 3:30 P.M.:
I just got back from the post office, a round trip of maybe 5 miles. The sun is shining brightly in a cloudless sky, but it appears that U.S. 49 has not seen a snowplow. The surface is hard-packed snow with patches of slush and ice and occasional glimpses of pavement (mostly in the northbound lanes). Driving at any speed above 40 mph is asking for trouble.
Likewise, nothing has been done to our subdivision gravel streets, except some tracking and packing from a few vehicles. I’m confident that my del Sol wouldn’t even get out of our driveway with its front-wheel-drive and big wide tires. They’re fabulous on dry pavement, but useless on a slick surface.
Friday, January 29, 2010
We have about 5 or 6 inches of sleety snow on the ground and more falling as I write this.
Here’s how southbound U.S. 49 looked when I drove in to town to pick up Maria at 5 p.m. There was no sign of snow plows and it was impossible to tell where the lanes were and since there was virtually no other southbound traffic to follow, driving involved a fair amount of guesswork.
This is the other side of Arkansans and snow. This kind of weather happens so infrequently that it would be fiscally irresponsible for the state and county highway departments to invest heavily in snow removal equipment, so the strategy seems to be to stay put and wait for it to melt away.
I retrieved Maria and we crept home at 40 mph or less. Now we’re safe and warm at home. We have plenty of food and I have beer and no plans to go anywhere for the next couple of days.
I got my driver’s license in July, 1961. By the time the snow was flying that year, I had enough miles under my belt that I felt absolutely immortal behind the wheel. That’s me, looking like the cocky little fuck that I was in my pegged pants (white socks!) and shades.
My friends and I reveled in the northern Indiana snow and I did stuff with my parents’ 1960 Ford Galaxie and 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 that would have given them heart attacks if they had known.
I loved to throw the car into a four-wheel drift (when there was no other traffic around), break the back end loose, and do donuts on open ground and golf courses.
And, yes, we loved to drive on the local golf course – get up to 40-50 mph in 5 inches of snow on the fairway and put the car into a high-speed dizzying spin.
There were bad moments too. Like getting stuck in a ditch a time or two coming home from a late date in Lafayette. These were mid-20th century cars with two-wheel rear drive, no antilock brakes, no power steering and, of course, no seatbelts and a steel dashboard waiting to bash your brains out.
It was an unforgiving way to learn to drive on ice and snow, but we who survived knew how to recover from a skid and knew not to panic when the back end broke loose. You had a deeper understanding of the limits of traction and the relationship between speed and control.
Sadly, a lot of folks here in Arkansas never went to “snow school.” I am reminded of that every time the roads get a little slick. People with four-wheel drive and ABS think those features mean they can drive just like they do on dry pavement and they’re the ones you see in the ditches after they discover that ABS con only do so much on ice.
So most of them wisely stay home on days like today. A doctor just came into the Books-a-Million cafe and announced he’s taking the rest of the day off because no patients had shown up at his office by 10 a.m.
The parking lot here is mostly empty and I’m betting the weather will mean no waiting in line for lunch at Olive Garden.
So, on balance, I’m kinda liking the weather today. It reminds me of being a bullet-proof teenage driver in Indiana.
From Ace of Spades HQ:
Did I ever tell you the slogan on the masthead -- the Mencken quote -- I got from the quote-page (you know, the epigram, or whatever, that novels start with) from the Christopher Buckley book Wet Work?
Did I also tell you the book sucked and I never picked up another Buckley book again? And when, for example, a girlfriend tried to get me to see Thank You For Smoking, I refused, knowing it would be a precious, fey pile of repressed-cum-wannabe-lurid crap like Wet Work was?
Yeah. He sucks. He's always sucked.
He continues sucking.
One can do the whole verb-inflection exercise for the verb "to suck" with Christopher Buckley.
Obama didn’t deliver a speech so much as a symphony...
Well that's not trite in the least. This rara avis just dropped a completely novel metaphor on you. A speech like a symphony.
Who but Buckley could make such an unexpected connection.
Good Lord, if I could just see inside his head, to watch the fireworks of creative foment burst and dazzle and sizzle into water...
You know what that would be like, if I could see that?
A fucking symphony, that's what.
It is hard, indeed almost impossible, not to like Mr. Obama.
Oh, you'd be surprised, Chris.
But a lot of things surprise you, don't they?
That's the advantage of being a fucking retard. The constant surprise and amazement at the unexpected glory of life.
And Nilla wafers. Retards love Nilla wafers.
In recent weeks, I’ve tried—tried my best.
To hate him, he means.
But Wednesday night he made it virtually impossible. Even discounting the perhaps 40 percent of the speech that consisted of the usual bromides and platitudes, even the most hardened skeptic must admit—the son of gun gives one hell of a speech.
Bromides and platitudes? My quibble here is that, once again, he resorts to the stock phraseology of writing about this crap.
What about nostrums, Rara Avis? At least toss me a good "nostrum." Nostrum only gets used in 40% of columns about speeches, as opposed to bromides and platitudes, which get used in 94%.
Wet Work really sucked. I need you to understand this. At no point was I entertained, nor did I believe the book at all. It was about some kind of rich fat fuck (that part I believed: Write what you know) going all Rambo and shit on some drug smugglers or some other trite villain.
He got cutesy a lot, not funny but cutesy, which is like, oh, wow, the perfect tone for what is supposed to be a lurid revenge fantasy.
He was never funny and I never bought his Airwolf-level of action/military realism for a red hot second. Basically it was like Tom Clancy, minus the research, plus a cloying attempt to make his shitty style the main character, plus some queerbait punning.
When I say I put it down like six times before powering through this slight, annoying, noxious little fart of a book, I need you to understand: I finished American Psycho after putting it down only four times.
Just saying, Gee, it's not like he got his book deal based on his connection to his father or anything.
It's just he's a real fucking talent and shit.
You know what his books are like?
Symphonies, that's what
Tonight Mr. Obama proved—once again—that he hears the American music and can play it like a maestro.
Christ In Heaven, here we are with the music metaphor again.
Gee, when you came up with "symphony" (nice on that, by the way), how long did it take you to come up with the metaphor-extending notion of a "maestro"? Did you, like, sweat that one, Chris? When it finally came to you, after 0.22 seconds, were you like, "Zut alors! Le bon mot!"
How, Rara Avis, do you do it? You're like playing four-dimensional chess with the written word. You're like playing chess like... well, like it's a fucking symphony, and you're a maestro, except not a real maestro, but a maestro who moves chess pieces in between writing crappy lurid wannabe potboilers that only got reviewed well because all your former conservative supporters were so desperatefor you to make it your own.
As well as Ronald Reagan.
"The Great Maestro," we used to call him. He cut taxes like a fucking symphony.
Both presidents had—have—have music in their souls.
If this fat nepot says crescendo I shall scream.
You do realize we are only like one step away from "soulpatterns" and "mindthoughts" here, right? "Soulmusic" and "mindsymphonies."
The other people in the room where I watched the speech were in tears by the end—the kind that stream down the face.
He just outed his wife and friends as mentally unstable emotionally-fragile neurotics.
This is like a symphony of tasteless personal disclosures. And Chris Buckley is like a... hmm... I'm on this symphony kick... who would be naturally associated with a symphony....? I know I had this question on the SATs...
MAESTRO: SYMPHONY ::
Chris Buckley: Fat Talentless Nepot Who Writes Shitty Unconvincing Books About Fat Talentless Nepots Who Go on Kill-Crazy Commando Raids In Between Homoerotic Flirtations With Their Regatta-Schedulers
I managed to hold those back.
Others cried, Chris Buckley did not. He was like a maestro of self-control.
But I could not hold back my admiration at the performance, in particular of Mr. Obama’s deep humanity, as evinced by his profound, almost Lincolnesque humor. Oh dear, are tears streaming down my face, one way or the other?
My best guess? Gun to my head?
Sure, is my answer, if I'm forced to go with one. I'd have to go with "Yes, Oh dear, those are tears streaming down your fat nepot face."
Your eyes are like making a symphony of joy or something. Like -- Oh! The Ode to Joy! That like works on two levels!
You're like a maestro of the bitch-swoon.
Thank you, Mr. President.
An electrifying evening, all in all. Well done. And yes, God bless the United States of America.
Phew. He didn't say "crescendo."
If he had, I would have had tears streaming down my face, too.
You stupid fat fuck.
Thanks to AHFF Geoff.
Hat-Tip: I have hat-tipped this a bunch of times, so I didn't think a fresh one was due, but "beating my dick like it owes me money" is a commenter's invention, said during the Palin speech at the RNC, I believe by Warden.
I have tried to top that, riffing on it and extending it, like "beating my dick like it's Tina Turner and I just caught her on the phone with Berry Gordy," but there's no way to top that.
The freezing rain and sleet started about 8:30 last night and continued for another 12 hours before turning to snow.
Fortunately, it was more sleet than freezing rain and we didn’t get such a dangerous buildup of ice on trees and power lines, so the lights stayed on and the branches stayed attached to the trees.
Austin had about a quarter-inch of ice on his car, but he was able to open the driver’s side door and start the engine to warm it up while he hacked away at the ice on the windows and windshield before leaving for work about 7:40 a.m. My del Sol was solidly encased in ice and there was no hope of getting the doors open, even though I left them unlocked last night.
The Subaru spent the night in the warm garage, so there was no scraping needed. I drove Maria to work, mostly to have the use of a car rather than pretend that she couldn’t manage a little ice on the road. After all, we’re both native Hoosiers and today’s weather is no big deal for us.
It clearly is a big deal for folks around here, though. All schools are closed, as are a lot of businesses. There was almost no traffic on U.S. 49 coming in to town and the streets were mostly deserted.
I stopped by the optometrist’s office to pick up my new contact lenses and found the dispensary was closed. Fortunately, the doc was in and he authorized his people to give me my lenses and take my money.
I drove to Hastings, following a utility company pickup truck that fishtailed at every stoplight (I sure do like Subaru all-wheel drive and ABS). Hastings normally opens at 6 a.m. on weekdays, so I figured I was assured my usual cup of coffee. When it got there, I found the place dark with a sign on the door that read: In case of inclement weather, we will open at 8 a.m.
It was 8:24 a.m. at the time.
This half-liter stein is a souvenir of Spc. 4 M.G. McAdams’s service in the former West Germany with the Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 76th Field Artillery Regiment.
The official Army web site says of the coat of arms:
The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 76th Field Artillery Regiment on 19 February 1924. It was redesignated for the 76th Field Artillery Battalion on 3 December 1942. It was redesignated for the 76th Armored Field Artillery Battalion on 10 July 1947. The insignia was redesignated for the 76th Field Artillery Battalion on 13 October 1954. It was redesignated for the 76th Artillery Regiment on 10 June 1958. Effective 1 September 1971, it was designated for the 76th Field Artillery Regiment.
The Regiment served in Kitzingen, West Germany, in the 1960s (hence the image on the side with the date 1967). The painting shows the city’s principal landmark, the Leaning Tower, or falterturn. It was built during the 1200s and is distinctive for its crooked roof. According to town legend, the tower was built during a drought and the workers used wine instead of water to make the mortar, causing the top of the tower to lean.
A local legend is that the golden ball atop the crooked tower contains the heart of Vlad Dracula of Romania. If you follow the path of the crooked tower, the golden ball leans directly toward a grave in the Kitzingen Old Cemetery located across the street from the tower that is called the Grave of Dracula. Another local US army legend is the upside down crosses that make up the small windows on the tower, appear right side up when light casts towards the grave yard to ward off vampires. The crosses alternate, such that every other one is upside down - pretty spooky on a dark day. Some, however, believe that the grave that is called "Dracula's Grave" is not actually where Vlad Dracula is buried, but rather a heavely-decorated grave of a very rich family that resided in Kitzingen. To find Dracula's actual grave, try the book "In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires" by Raymond T. McNally (1994).
The Regiment was equipped with the M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzer, which was first produced in 1963. In addition to the 155mm and 28 rounds of 155mm ammunition, the vehicle carried a .50 caliber machine gun with 500 rounds of .50 ammo. The vehicle has been upgraded several times and is known today as the M109A Paladin.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I started a genealogical project on Geni.com back in February, 2007, working from memory. My paternal grandfather’s brother Noah had a considerably larger branch, which was filled out beautifully with research by the Snyder family. I filled another major branch based on data from an exhaustive genealogy work published in the early 1950s. At this point, the extended family tree includes 962 blood relatives.
I got an email this week from a long-lost cousin who discovered he was named in the tree as a result of a Google search for his name.
I recall him only dimly, since he’s 10 years younger than I. I still have a mental image of his older sister, since she was closer to my age when I saw her last back in the late 1950s or early ‘60s.
His maternal grandmother and my father were siblings, which makes him a first cousin, once-removed. We had an email exchange last night and I was able to fill in some blanks for him about family members – a cousin who was a Japanese prisoner of war in the Philippines and an mentally disturbed aunt who spent much of her adult life in a state hospital in Indiana.
It just goes to show, you never know who is going to pop up through an Internet connection.
Next time you lose your phone charger, don't buy another one. Go to a hotel and say you think you lost it there. It's the #1 most left behind item at hotels, so most places have a big bin filled with every phone charger imaginable.
The kerosene heater and generator are in readiness and space has been made in the garage for the Subaru in anticipation of what I fervently hope is a non-event.
This morning’s update:
Issued by The National Weather Service Memphis, TN
3:41 am CST, Thu., Jan. 28, 2010
... WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO MIDNIGHT CST FRIDAY NIGHT...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MEMPHIS HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR SNOW... SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO MIDNIGHT CST FRIDAY NIGHT. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
* THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR 4 TO 7 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION. ISOLATED LOCATIONS MAY RECEIVE AS MUCH AS 8 INCHES. IN ADDITION... THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR UP TO ONE QUARTER INCH OF ICE ACCUMULATION OVER THE WATCH AREA.
* WINTRY PRECIPITATION IS ANTICIPATED TO BEGIN LATE TONIGHT AND PERSIST THROUGH FRIDAY EVENING. LIGHT SNOW AND FLURRIES MAY OCCUR LATE FRIDAY NIGHT.
* ROADS AND BRIDGES MAY BECOME SLICK AND DANGEROUS. GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS MAY CREATE DRIFTING SNOW AND MAY DROP WIND CHILLS INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS FRIDAY NIGHT.
A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW... SLEET... AND ICE ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. STRONG WINDS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. THIS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the wraps off of the iPad today.
Like the iPhone and iTouch version of the iPod, it can be held vertically or horizontally. It does not function as a telephone, but will run applications like the iPhone and iTouch do.
It costs about twice as much as Amazon.com’s Kindle ($259) but does much more than the Kindle and does it in color.
But if all you want is an e-book reader, the Kindle is probably still the best choice because it doesn’t have a backlit screen that can wash out in bright sunlight. Text on the Kindle looks very much like text on paper.
I guess the iPad is aimed at two markets – the e-readers and netbooks. I realize it’s very early in the game, but I haven’t seen anything in the iPad that makes me want one to replace my Dell Mini 9 netbook.
That’s a big red 5 gallon gasoline jug/can/container (it feels wrong to call it a “can,” since cans are generally metal) in front of the passenger seat of my Honda del Sol. (Cool seatcovers, eh? I found 'em on Ebay.)
And filling it is part of my to-do list in anticipation of impending nasty weather.
The National Weather Service still says there is a potential for 2/10 of an inch of ice from freezing rain, but other forecasters think it may be worse. I vote for less or none.
THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR 4 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION OVER NORTHEAST ARKANSAS... AND TO 2 TO 4 INCHES OVER THE MISSOURI BOOTHEEL AND NORTHERN THIRD OF WEST TENNESSEE. IN ADDITION TO THE SNOW AND SLEET... THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR UP TO TWO TENTHS OF AN INCH OF ICE ACCUMULATION OVER THE WATCH AREA.
Ron Bowen, general manager of City Water & Light in Jonesboro, told Ray Whiteside of the Sun, “A quarter-inch of ice is doable, but a half-inch could be the kiss of death.”
The ominous forecast has also triggered a run on electric generators at local home and farm supply stores. The local electric utilities are booking motel rooms in case they have to call in out-of-town crews to help with downed power lines.
I saw three electric utility crews at work along U.S. 49 when I drove in to town this morning. They may have been doing routine work or they may have been shoring up weak spots in the lines.
Much of the northeast Arkansas power grid was reconstructed after last year’s catastrophic ice storm and there are concerns that the fixes aimed at just getting power restored may not be robust enough to take another serious ice load.
We still have several large branches hanging in our trees – branches that broke, but are hanging by a thread or are tangled in other branches. We get deadfall every time there’s a strong wind and it won’t take much to bring them down it large numbers.
My pre-storm to-do list also includes shuffling the lawn tractor and other stuff in the garage to permit easy access to the Briggs & Stratton electric generator in case the power goes out. We also have 5 gallons of kerosene for the heater we bought last year, since our all-electric house will get chilly if the power fails.
With a little luck and sweat, I should be able to move enough stuff to make room in the garage for the Subaru, so it won’t be completely encased in ice by the time Maria leaves for work Friday morning. My del Sol, alas, will have to sit out in the weather along with Austin’s car.
Memo to those news organizations planning to charge for online content: Consider alternative plans. Granted, we're talking about Newsday here and their circulation has been tanking for years. Yet when a major newspaper is charging for access and gets 35 people to sign up over three months their future is rather murky, at best.
In late October, Newsday, the Long Island daily that the Dolans bought for $650 million, put its web site, newsday.com, behind a pay wall. The paper was one of the first non-business newspapers to take the plunge by putting up a pay wall, so in media circles it has been followed with interest. Could its fate be a sign of what others, including The New York Times, might expect?
So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to newsday.com?
The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class.
That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn't know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.
Michael Amon, a social services reporter, asked for clarification.
"I heard you say 35 people," he said, from Newsday's auditorium in Melville. "Is that number correct?"
Mr. Jimenez nodded.
The web site redesign and relaunch cost the Dolans $4 million, according to Mr. Jimenez. With those 35 people, they've grossed about $9,000.
In that time, without question, web traffic has begun to plummet, and, certainly, advertising will follow as well.
Of course, there are a few caveats. Anyone who has a newspaper subscription is allowed free access; anyone who has Optimum Cable, which is owned by the Dolans and Cablevision, also gets it free. Newsday representatives claim that 75 percent of Long Island either has a subscription or Optimum Cable.
"We're the freebie newsletter that comes with your HBO,"sniffed one Newsday reporter.
Mr. Jimenez was in no mood to apologize. "That's 35 more than I would have thought it would have been," said Mr. Jimenez to the assembled staff, according to five interviews with Newsday staffers.
This is a one-liter stein from the U.S. Army’s installation at Baumholder in what was then West Germany.
This commemorates an Oktoberfest celebration at the NCO Open Mess in 1960. That’s the year before the Soviets ratcheted up the tension by building the Berlin Wall.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I just got the cheery news that our forecast has been upgraded to a Winter Storm Watch:
Issued by The National Weather Service Memphis, TN
3:33 pm CST, Tue., Jan. 26, 2010
... WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MEMPHIS HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
* THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR 5 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION OVER NORTHEAST ARKANSAS... AND TO 3 TO 6 INCHES OVER THE MISSOURI BOOTHEEL AND NORTHERN THIRD OF WEST TENNESSEE. IN ADDITION TO THE SNOW AND SLEET... THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR UP TO TWO TENTHS OF AN INCH OF ICE ACCUMULATION OVER THE WATCH AREA.
* WINTRY PRECIPITATION IS ANTICIPATED TO BEGIN LATE THURSDAY EVENING AND PERSIST THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON. LIGHT SNOW OR FLURRIES MAY OCCUR FRIDAY NIGHT.
I working under the assumption that if I make a Big Deal out of this forecast, it will turn out to be a minor event.
That is how it works, isn’t it?
The National Weather Service says we’re still likely to get freezing rain Thursday night and Friday morning.
Here’s the scenario: See that big ass storm coming ashore in California today? The forecasters see it being forced into a southerly track by high pressure systems as it moves east, bringing it to the mid-South late tomorrow or early Thursday. That means rain for us.
At the same time, a cold front of frigid arctic air is flowing down across the Great Plains and is expected to arrive late Thursday and turn the rain into freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow, depending on where you are relative to the freeze line.
I can’t imagine it rising to the level of last year’s ice storm, but “freezing rain” is my least favorite weather term these days. At the very least, I expect my car doors will be frozen shut Friday morning. I won’t go into what the worst-case scenarios are, but I’ve been there and don’t want to go again.
My dad was on the Delphi Deer Creek Consolidated School Board in the late 1960s and early 1970s and received copies of the yearbook each year.
Since I graduated in 1963, I don’t have any great interest in them so I just listed them on Ebay. The years covered are 1966-1972 except for 1968. I don’t know if he had a ‘68 Oracle, but I don’t have it.
The auctions close the afternoon of Jan. 28.
See why I call myself The Oracle?
Monday, January 25, 2010
... WINTER STORM EXPECTED THURSDAY NIGHT AND FRIDAY... WITH POSSIBLY SIGNIFICANT ICE AND SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...
A POWERFUL UPPER UPPER LEVEL STORM SYSTEM MOVING ALONG THE GULF COAST WILL BRING MOISTURE INTO THE MIDSOUTH WEDNESDAY. AN ARCTIC AIRMASS WILL LIKELY DROP INTO NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE MIDSOUTH THURSDAY AFTERNOON... CHANGING RAIN OVER TO A MIXTURE OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET. THE SHALLOW ARCTIC AIRMASS WILL ADVANCE SOUTH THURSDAY NIGHT... BRINGING THE FREEZING PRECIPITATION SOUTH THURSDAY NIGHT. AREAS ALONG THE MISSOURI AND KENTUCKY BORDERS WILL LIKELY SEE A CHANGEOVER TO LIGHT SNOW LATE THURSDAY NIGHT. SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW MAY OCCUR OVER NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE MIDSOUTH.
AT THIS TIME... THERE REMAINS SOME UNCERTAINTY WITH EVOLUTION OF THIS POTENTIAL WINTER STORM SYSTEM. SMALL DEVIATIONS IN THE DEVELOPING SYSTEM WILL GREATLY IMPACT PRECIPITATION TYPES AND AMOUNTS.
IT APPEARS THAT STRONG WINDS WILL ACCOMPANY THE WINTRY PRECIPITATION. SHOULD SIGNIFICANT ICE ACCUMULATIONS OCCUR... THE STRONG WINDS COULD HELP BRING DOWN TREE LIMBS... WHICH COULD CAUSE POWER OUTAGES.
THE WINTER STORM SHOULD CLEAR THE MIDSOUTH BY FRIDAY NIGHT... WITH BITTER COLD ARCTIC AIR USHERING IN BEHIND THE DEPARTING STORM SYSTEM.
MIDSOUTHERNERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PLAN AHEAD FOR THE POTENTIAL OF SNOW AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS AND POSSIBLE POWER OUTAGES... FOLLOWED BY SHARPLY COLDER TEMPERATURES PERSISTING INTO THE WEEKEND.
Wednesday is the anniversary of the horrendous ice storm of January, 2009, that plunged hundreds of thousands of people into powerless darkness and pretty much paralyzed a swath from northern Arkansas through eastern Kentucky for several days.
We lost power a little before 6 p.m. on Jan. 27 and it wasn’t restored until the afternoon of Feb. 2
We slept little and lightly the night of the ice storm as the sound of snapping and crashing trees filled the darkness. It was like being in the middle of an artillery barrage and I expected a large tree through the roof at any second.
When the freezing rain stopped and the sun came up the next morning, we found the ground littered with branches. The house escaped damage, but our back yard chain link fence was smashed in two places. And there were a couple of trees down across the driveway.
We kept the house warm with a kerosene heater we bought a day or two before the storm hit. I bought a generator on Jan. 30 and we were able to put away our candles and flashlights until power was finally restored.
I spent the next 10 weeks with chainsaw and lawn tractor and wagon cutting and hauling branches to the street and built a pile of tree debris so big it took four county dump trucks to haul it away on April 21.
I don’t expect a repeat of last year’s disaster, but at least we’re better prepared with the kerosene heater, generator (with a full gas tank), and a couple of chainsaws.
The new Olive Garden restaurant opened a week ago, but today was the first day they served lunch.
So, naturally, we were there. I arrived first about 11:40 a.m. and there was a wait of about 25-30 minutes. The Olive Garden parking lot was full, so I parked next door in the sparsely populated Chili’s lot.(I expect this to become an issue of contention between Chili’s and Olive Garden in the near future.)
We ordered the endless soup, salad and breadsticks and were thoroughly impressed with how quickly our food arrived. The waiter was attentive but not annoyingly so and everything was up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Olive Garden. They apparently have a pretty good training program.
There is locally owned Italian restaurant about a mile away where the same order would have cost about $2 more and would not have been as tasty.
As far as I’m concerned, Chili’s might as well close now. (The Jonesboro Chili’s is the only one I’ve seen that did not have a beer and wine permit. IMHO, their menu is singularly lame without beer. I’ve dined there a couple of times and won’t go back.)
And yes, I know that Olive Garden is just a chain and hardly gourmet dining, but when you live in a region where most of the food is brown – barbecue or fried – this is a rare and long-awaited oasis of variety and flavor.
I normally avoid scatological references, but I’m making an exception for this:
There is an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year's term was:
The winner wrote:
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
Here’s a half-liter stein from the Reichelbrau brewery in Kulmbach. The city is known for its several breweries and more than 20 varieties of beer. The Reichelbräu brewery was added to the Paulaner group of breweries in 1986.
Here’s more from beerhunter.com:
Reichel, founded in 1846, has wooden lagering vessels ranged as a memory of tradition outside its white-painted tower. Its Risbock, sub-titled Bayrisch G'frorns ("Bavarian Frozen") has a gravity of 1096 and is made from five malts, one with an intentionally-sour, lactic character.
After a conventional bottom-fermentation, the brew is frozen for 11-14 days. Between 5 and 7 per cent of the volume of the brew stays behind as ice. Because water freezes before alcohol, this concentrates the brew, which then has six months' lagering.
The beer is released at about 7 o'clock in the evening at a public festival in Kulmbach town hall on the last Saturday in March. If you have missed it for this year, perhaps you should think about booking a trip for 1994.
The festival opens with the ceremonial hacking open of an icebound wooden cask. The beer that emerges is very complex, with a deep, reddish-brown color; a malty aroma; a smooth palate; a warming, faintly bitter, finish reminiscent of a coffee liqueur; and a strength of 10 per cent ABV.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This half-liter stein is from the former Oldenberg Brewing Co. of Fort Mitchell, Ky. Oldenberg had a huge German-style beer hall and my son Steve played tuba in the German band there while he was a student at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in the late 1980s.
Oldenberg went bankrupt and the brewery closed in April, 2000. Here’s what beercollections.com says about Oldenberg:
The Oldenberg Brewery, founded in 1987 as a private venture, was located 5 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. In 1998 the brewery produced approximately 7,890 barrels of distinctively flavored, high quality beer for distribution throughout the Ohio Valley area. The Oldenberg Brewing Company consisted of the Oldenberg Brewery Restaurant chain, the Holy Grail Brew Pub in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Oldenberg brewery itself. The primary brands were Oldenberg Premium Verum (OPV), Oldenberg Blonde, Holy Grail Nut Brown Ale, Oldenberg Outrageous Bock, Pious Pale Ale
They became a contract brewing company with their bottled beer being produced and bottled by Stevens Point Brewery.
They were know for the large Line dancing hall and their Breweriana display.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This half-liter stein is from the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery in Munich. Yeah, it’s really Hacker-Pschorr, but everyone just calls it Pschorr Bräu.
Here’s the background from the 2010 Munich City Guide:
The history of the Munich brewery can be traced back as far as 1417. It started in Munich, the cradle of the world-famous art of brewing. The year 1793 marked the beginning of a new era in the evolution of the brewing industry when, in that year, the ancestor of the Pschorr dynasty of brewers, Joseph Pschorr, married the pretty brewer's daughter Maria Theresia Hacker.
He bought the Hacker Brewery from his father-in-law and, within a short time, made it the first big brewery in Munich. However, still not satisfied, he purchased a second brewery to which he gave his name. Before developing the second brewery from being a small family brewery into an industrial enterprise, with great foresight he bought a large amount of land just outside the walls of the old town, where the modern brewery of Hacker-Pschorr stood for many years. Unfortunately the site was sold and there is now an office complex.
Well ahead of his time, he there created huge underground storage facilities which were popularly know as "The Beer Fortress". These facilities made it possible for the first time for beer to be brewed all round the year, with consistent quality and long shelf life. These developments were so important that the Prince Regent, Luitpold, decided to have Joseph Pschorr's bust erected in the Hall of Fame. His bust presides over the site where the annual festivities of the famous Munich or München "Oktoberfest" are held. Before dying, he called his two sons to choose, by lottery, which would run either of the two breweries, in order to divide the inheritance into equal shares.
Matthias became the owner of "Hacker" and Georg became the owner of "Pschorr", and they shared the "Beer Fortress" equally between them.
Following generations carried both breweries to world-wide reputations. In 1861 their "Lager-Bockbeer" was already exported to Rio de Janeiro. Among many other distinctions, the Pschorr Brewery attended the 1876 Centennial Exhibition of Philadelphia. In order to supply the "U.S. Branch of Pschorr Bräu München" in New York, the ships had to be specially equipped with refrigerated space, as, for the first time, keg beer was sent to the United States.
The two World Wars however, damaged the international relationships of both breweries with the result that their very survival seemed to be in question. Yet the old spirit of enterprise survived and all the difficulties were overcome. In 1972, after a long period of laborious and successful reconstruction work, the two breweries were reunited and merged into Hacker-Pschorr Bräu AG. At the present time Hacker-Pschorr ranks again amongst the leading and most modern breweries of Germany, exporting all over the world.
There is, however, a special music in the history of the brewery: The most celebrated composer of Munich, Richard Strauss, dedicated his best loved opera, "The Gentleman of the Roses", to his mother's beloved family Pschorr, of which he was particularly fond. The great but humble Joseph Pschorr was his great-grandfather.
Carrying on the centuries old principles of the best brewing tradition, especially respect of the Bavarian Law of Purity which dates back to 1516, continues to be the heart of Hacker- Pschorr's philosophy. As determined by the ducal edict more than 460 years ago, Hacker-Pschorr beers are still brewed exclusively with malt, hops, yeast and water coming from the Bavarian Alps. It is true that this Law of Purity is known in many parts of the world, yet nowhere is it more strictly respected, as much for exports as for domestic purposes, than in Bavaria. It is still a law which is carefully administered and adhered to.
The secret of the excellent quality of the product lies in respect of these old principles and in the ability of the Brewmaster. Furthermore, it can be said that the beers also have a friendly aspect, as they come from the exuberant city of Munich, which is famous for it's jovial atmosphere and the world famous Oktoberfest.
For more information, contact:
Hacker-Pschorr Bräu GmbH
Friday, January 22, 2010
I bought dinner Tuesday evening for myself and Austin at the Citgo/Subway on U.S. 49 down in Brookland – two 12” subs costing $13.38.
I whipped out my debit card and the witless bimbo behind the counter swiped it and waited for the printout for me to sign.
Then she discovered the printer was out of paper. And since nobody had the sense to keep a spare roll under the counter, she needed to get one from another employee, who happened to be in the restroom.
So I waited. And I waited. And I waited.
Finally, she showed up with a fresh roll, but apparently had no idea how to install it.
“Can I just pay with cash?” I asked.
She took my $15 and gave me change and I left, delusionally thinking that she had voided the debit card transaction.
By the time I got home – I live about a mile away – my toasted roast beef sub was back to room temperature.
And I discovered this morning that our checking account got charged $13.38 for the transaction.
Bayh is one of the Democrat Senators who Dick Morris identified as vulnerable in the wake of Republican Scott Brown’s stunning Senate victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
“Massachusetts was a victory for the American people,” Pence said.
Pence, who says he has two pickup trucks, said he is “flattered and very humbled at the outpouring of encouragement and support from so many Hoosiers” urging him to run against Bayh.
Bayh, considered a moderate Democrat, is running for his third term in the Senate this fall.
Pence said he met yesterday with Sen. John Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee to discuss a possible Senate run.
“Karen and I will take the weekend and give the matter prayerful consideration,” Pence told Garrison this morning. “What we’re really trying to discern is where can we best serve our constituents, conservatives and the country in 2010.”
“This is not about personal ambition,” he said. “It’s about where we can make the best difference.”
“I believe with all my heart that Republicans can win the Congress back in 2010,” he said.
Pence promised “a decision in the near future.”
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I was really getting pissed off at my Avast antivirus software this morning as I blogged and surfed at Hastings.
Every web page was taking way too long to load and it was making me crazy. I was ready to uninstall Avast and look for a lighter-weight antivirus program.
But when I turned Avast off, I didn’t get any increase in speed.
So I turned off my Wifi and plugged in my Sprint U300 aircard. The difference is stunning. Pages load with amazing speed (compared with before, anyway) and my exasperation level has dropped precipitously.
Suppose the difference wouldn’t be so dramatic if I didn’t have a full five bars of EVDO 3G service, but it’s clear that the problem was with the Hastings Wifi.
I didn’t notice it, but a lot of people did.
And naturally, a lot of people think it has some connection with the quakes in Haiti.
No. It does not.
There is no linkage between the fault system that flattened Haiti and the New Madrid seismic region. Unfortunately, there are some morons on the cable news channels who can’t understand that, so they keep saying things that freak people out.
Yes, we do live in a region that saw the largest earthquakes in U.S. history, but the New Madrid fault system has its own timetable and dynamic and is not linked in any way with what happened in Haiti.
And you can find experts who differ widely on what we can expect from the New Madrid fault system. Some say its energy is spent and there will be no more major quakes here. On the other end of the spectrum, some say major quakes happen here at 200-300-year intervals and the region could suffer unspeakable devastation any day now.
This half-liter stein is a post-war creation celebrating Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a Stuka dive bomber pilot who was the most highly decorated German of World War II. He was one of only 27 men to be awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds and the only one to be awarded the Knight’s Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions and destroyed a claimed 2,000 targets, including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, a destroyer, two cruisers, a Soviet battleship, 70 landing craft, four armored trains, several bridges and nine aircraft shot down.
After the war, he lived in Argentina, returning to West Germany in 1953 to become a leading member of the Neo Nazi German Reich Party. He was also a consultant in the development of the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Warthog, the most effective tank-killing aircraft in the world. He died in 1982 at the age of 66.
The stein is one of a series created memorializing several German military heroes.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
At last, a comprehensive account of the leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia has just been published.
So much for the bullshit about anthropogenic global warming being “settled science.”
If you’re looking for factual information with which to confront the global warming morons, this is your book.
Dick Morris, former Bill Clinton political advisor-turned conservative commentator, has a column on his site today enumerating the Senate’s vulnerable Democrats in the 2010 election and naming the Republicans who will almost certainly replace them.
Included in that list is Indiana’s Evan Bayh, but Morris opines there is no likely Republican to challenge Bayh.
I was speculating at lunch that Congressman Mike Pence has the name recognition and the gravitas to deny Bayh a third term.
It turns out other people think so too.
Here’ what she says on her blog today:
Pence and his aides will meet with top staffers at the NRSC tomorrow, several sources tell Hotline OnCall, where they will discuss a possible bid. The NRSC has polled IN, and their survey shows Pence in a competitive position, though he trails Bayh in initial matchups.
GOPers have failed to recruit a top-tier challenger against the popular 2-term incumbent, thanks largely to Bayh’s bankroll. He had $12.7M in the bank as of Sept. 30, and GOPers expect he would be able to raise many more millions before Election Day.
But Pence has a base, especially as the number 3 GOPer in the House, and top Senate strategists believe he would be able to raise the money to compete with Bayh. He also has the national ambition, and Senate strategists plan to point out those ambitions are difficult to achieve without a Senate seat.
Yet Pence’s team is acutely aware of the financial challenge such a race would pose, and he had just $462K CoH at the end of the 3rd quarter. Pence’s decision will rest heavily on whether the NRSC would make a financial commitment to help make up the early difference, a source close to Pence said. The source also said Pence is unlikely to turn down the offer soon, indicating he is taking the notion seriously.
The Hated Huffington Post has a similar story, as do MSNBC, the Washington Independent and Beltway Blips.
I’m sitting at my usual table at Hastings, basking in the glow of yesterday’s Massachusetts Miracle, wearing a Brown corduroy shirt and a Brown safari jacket, and listening to Come Out from the Steve Reich album Early Works.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about Steve Reich and Come Out:
Stephen Michael Reich born October 3, 1936) is an American composer who pioneered the style of minimalist music. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns (examples are his early compositions, "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out"), and the use of simple, audible processes to explore musical concepts (for instance, "Pendulum Music" and "Four Organs"). These compositions, marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, have significantly influenced contemporary music, especially in the US. Reich's work took on a darker character in the 1980s with the introduction of historical themes as well as themes from his Jewish heritage, notably the Grammy Award-winning Different Trains.
Reich's style of composition influenced many other composers and musical groups. Reich has been described by The Guardian as one of "a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history", and the critic Kyle Gann has said Reich "may...be considered, by general acclamation, America's greatest living composer." On January 25, 2007, Reich was named the 2007 recipient of the Polar Music Prize, together with Sonny Rollins. On April 20, 2009, Reich was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Musicfor his Double Sextet.
The 13-minute "Come Out" (1966) uses … manipulated recordings of a single spoken line given by Daniel Hamm, one of the falsely accused Harlem Six, who was severely injured by police. The survivor, who had been beaten, punctured a bruise on his own body to convince police about his beating. The spoken line includes the phrase "to let the bruise’s blood come out to show them." Reich rerecorded the fragment "come out to show them" on two channels, which are initially played in unison. They quickly slip out of sync; gradually the discrepancy widens and becomes a reverberation. The two voices then split into four, looped continuously, then eight, and continues splitting until the actual words are unintelligible, leaving the listener with only the speech's rhythmic and tonal patterns.
I was introduced to this piece back in 1967 while smoking pot with fraternity brother Bill Broadstreet in his Indianapolis apartment. Listening to it today, without the benefit of recreational chemistry, I still get a buzz.