Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Year In Rearview

And that about sums up Bill Mahar's thoughts on November 2. And covers his IQ.
2010 was quite a year. By many measures, not a great one. But that's life. We've seen better; we've weathered worse.
I'm putting 2010 in my rearview mirror.
And along with that, a few other random thoughts:
- Okay, it's snowing big time in the Northeast. It's winter...duh. How's that man-made global warming workin' out fer ye?
- 2010 will go down as the third consecutive year that Brett Favre should have stuck to retirement.
- Bronco fans are all in a thither over rookie QB Tim Tebow's first two starts (he's 1-1). Small wonder; a 4-11 season had little else to get athither about. Ever the eternal pragmatist, I think next season will be a major step forward if they manage an 8-8 season.
- as for the rest of Denver's sports teams...it is what it is. Though...the Colorado Rapids (soccer) did win their league championship. *Yawn*. But good on them, especially doing it without the Vuvuzela Monotony Choir.
- I was told that I should feel guilty about getting to keep my tax rate cut (from '03) for two more years. There must be something wrong with my guilt emotifier...I don't ;-)
- once again, God Bless the US Military. Past, present, future. You guys and gals all rock. Thank you.
- I hope everyone who loves Christmas, had a Merry one. I hope everyone who labors to eliminate Christmas from public view, had a Merry nothing, and develop painful rectal itch. Yeah, I know: that may not be very Christian of me, but it beats a religion that advocates strapping on a satchel charge, and blowing up women and kids in market places. Just sayin.
- My New Year resolutions haven't changed from 2010; as I said 'afore, I didn't accomplish a one of them. So they'll still viable for the same level of (un)achievement in '11.
- Though, I did promise to not fart in an elevator, and blame the service dog that was riding with the rest of us, ever again. If I can avoid riding an elevator with another service dog, that resolution is doable.
- My pet rock, Seymour, remains 90 friends ahead of me on Facebook. What that says, requires no further elucidation...
- to a couple emailers who do NOT do their research: I am NOT the same person by that name that made the sucky movie Pearl Harbor. Stop emailing me and asking for parts in future bad movies.
- though, it was kinda fun to write back and do my impression of Simon Cowell...
- after over 10 years of scambaiting, the inflow of messages has almost run dry. *Whew*. Now I can concentrate on something else. Danged if I know what.
Okay, 2011, it's your turn. Your days are numbered, so make 'em count.
Happy New Year.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Shakespearian Interlude

...not really.
My pet rock, Seymour, is being hosted in Virginia by a very accomplished, multi-talented teacher, writer, and painter of erudition and charm. Those who know me, know why it's the rock getting that treatment, and not yours truly* ;-) But I digress.
At any rate, an email from Seymour arrived early this day, and it is apparent that, as a part of Seymour's expanding reading repertoire, my learned friend is exposing Seymour to the words of the 'Bard.
It doesn't appear to be entirely sinking into that rather routinely thick skull of Seymour's, however. Take a gander at these Shakespearian thoughts from the Hard:
What's in a name? Letters. Duh.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Crapeth, there goeth the weekend.
What a piece of work is a man? Don't asketh his ex...
My words fly up, my thoughts fly up, why can I not keepeth mine fly up?
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. My Mr. Potatohead lost his.
Eye of newt, and toe of frog. Must mean another damned GEICO commercial.
This thing of darkness is easy to stub thine toe in.
Is whispering nothing? Uh, yeahhhh, in a tornado.
O true apothecary! Don' need you, I'm already stoned.
I am dying, Egypt, dying. But I'm outlasting your stupid Sphinx. Phffft-eth.
Chance may crown me if I date her sister.
Brevity is the soul of wit; I don't find being short, funny.
Passing strange, only to be overtaken by it at a stoplight.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? *BUZZER* Fail.
The better part of valor is discretion. The better part of discretion is chickensh**.
A thousand times good night. A million times don't call me.
Chaos is come again; Skunk's in the kitchen.
Hoist with his own petard. That'll leave a mark.
If Seymour comes home in leotards, he WILL winter on the patio.
"Will NOT!"
* well, that and about a billion other reasons ;-)

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Bittle Lit More Randomness

It's December, the year is on the wane, and I am confronted by writer's block of mondo proportions. Even my online scammers have slowed to a trickle, and that trickle is lame beyond belief.
So as the picture suggests, I'm just gonna go with what comes to mind, and watch it totally derail. The comments to follow will most certainly bear witness thus ;-)
1. Weather sucks in the Midwest right now. Glad I ain't there.
2. It's 60 degrees here today. Good thing it's hard for a Minnesotan or Kentuckian to throw snowballs uphill at me.
3. I get it that some in society are unhappy that Congress may extend tax rate cuts for a couple years. For those unhappy widdit, what's stopping YOU from paying more taxes to feel better about yourself? You want to pay more? Just do it and stay out of what's left of my wallet.
4. The Denver Broncos have found a level beneath suck this season.
4a. Now, if only the Carolina Panthers could win their last three games, Denver could suck themselves into a number 1 draft pick. But they suck too bad to be that lucky.
5. I'm no fan of the NCAA's South Eastern Conference, but dang, they shore do win a lot of national championships outta there. Including this season, it looks like.
6. Ergonomic snow shovels are kick-ass. Even moreso, when there's no need of 'em. Like around here right now *ducking more of those uphill-throwd Minnesotan/Kentuckian snowballs*
7. Elizabeth Edwards, RIP. John Edwards, rot in heathen obscurity Hell.
7a. Westboro Baptist Church, feel more than free to join John.
8. Keith Olbermann remains a moron. No Christmas gift nor 'miracle on 34th Street' will change it.
9. Dear Santa: yes, I was bad this year. No, I don't care. So deliver the lump of coal to some incapable-of-throwing-snowballs-uphill Minnesotan/Kentuckian. They need it more right now.
10. My pet rock, Seymour, is getting all sorts of cultured in Virginia: reading, painting, edu-ma-cating. Before long, I'm gonna be the door stop around here...
11. I got a quote on my auto insurance from Geico to save me money. The gecko lied; they didn't save me sh**.
11a. I need more coffee to go with my gecko sandwich.
12. I tried to invent a 'smokeless stove top' device, akin to the one Hoyt Axton was hawking in the movie Gremlins. Mine didn't work, either.
13. Painful ear canal rectal itch sucks. Glad I don't have it.
14. Okay, so I'll admit it: that YouTube of the fourth grader whose soldier father surprised her with an in-class visit, made me tear up, too.
15. I'm still not renewing my Comcast cable after football season's over.
16. I remembered Pearl Harbor, as I do every year.
17. I attended my 35th high school class reunion in July. I was depressed, in that some have worn better.
17a. I was re-assured, in that not all of them have.
18. My sister-in-law (younger brother's wife) makes awesome pecan-caramel brownies.
18a. I am carrying five extra pounds thanks to those brownies.
19. I have assessed the goals I set for 2010. I didn't meet a one of them.
19a. I have set the same goals for 2011, with the intention of doing at least as well.
20. My watch died. I tried CPR on it.
20a. I broke it. Now it's really dead.
20b. So I am now officially a time-killer. My boss has known that about me for some time.
21. I can wiggle my ears. I can't find evidence of one work-place pay raise that resulted from that inane talent.
21a. I will not be using that inane talent to audition for American Idol.
22. I was asked to apologize to door knobs for comparing their intellect to Joy Behar's.
22a. I've pencilled it in for consideration in November, 2033.
23. I found a song online that is 100% composed of audible flatulence.
23a. I'm sure the rest of you consider that TMI.
24. My chiropractor adjusted me today. None of you will see any improvement.
24a. It wasn't that kind of adjustment.
25. Gecko sandwiches suck, with and without coffee. Just sayin'...
26. To one and all who appreciate it, Merry Christmas.
26a. To those this message offends, Merry Nothing.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

69 Years Ago Today

0755 Hawaii time, 69 years ago. "A day that will live in infamy". One day later, it would inaugurate America's official entry into World War II.
Not long after the attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamato, was asked about Japan's prospects in a war against America: "I can run wild for six months...after that, I have no expectations of success".
About six months later -- and the Battle of Midway -- Yamamoto would know how right he was. But would not live to see the disastrous end for Japan: he was shot out of the sky in an aerial ambush, in 1943.
But on this day, 69 years ago, dusk would see 2403 Americans dead, five battleships and numerous other ships sunk, almost two hundred planes destroyed.
A sleeping giant had indeed, been awakened, and filled with a terrible resolve. What it would cost, counted in the millions, ended with a terrible inauguration into the Atomic Age.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Telephone Conversations From The Edge

All in a day, I reckon.
Fortunately, not every day is remotely close to this 'un.
I was subjected to two phone calls a few days ago. The background behind the two calls need not be discussed; indeed, having knowledge of the background that contributed to the two calls, will only serve to obfuscate the reasoning and philosophical consequences of global bovine-caused flatulence on the atmosphere in confined elevators, if such can be judged sequitur to what follows herein.
On this point I am ambivalent, and my dictionary cautiously agrees, it thinks.
I was telephonically introduced, a few days back, to a granddaughter of a living queen. Which queen is not important, especially since the caller, later on, related that she was married to one of the queen's sons, if you believe in such things. Having driven through Arkansas once, I can accept this as a possibility. I am even willing to grant such outlandish possibilities as space aliens who look like Conan O'Brien, or that Wile E. Coyote's indestructible carcass is made of kevlar.
What truly mattered about the call -- the first call -- was that the caller, who also claimed that the current president is her half-brother, demanded that I contact the Feds ASAP, and have them secure something for her that certain royalty, politicians (including a polarizing conservative politician of Northern Exposure roots), and evil persons of dubious antecedence, were using and abusing to aid terrorists and certain TV re-runs on TVLand to create wars world-wide.
Yawp. This, I was told.
This 'thing' that was to be secured had been given her by five presidents and two kings; when I dared ask the caller to name the presidents and kings -- my incredulity was not so incredded asto not want to know which elected officials might be a part of this phone prank, so I'd know who to vote for and against in '12 -- the presidents were identified by the caller as Roosevelt (which one was not specified), Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Campbell and Coolidge.
If you're a student of history as I sometimes am, you noted that the caller only got three out of five presidents right; then again, her half-brother said there were 57 states. Eh...shared genealogical discrepancies. It happens, and I digress.
As for the two kings, she quickly identified them as 'King' Faulkner and Rockefeller; kings of what and where, were not revealed. I was quick to note that the hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds and Ralph, didn't make the cut.
Fervently, the caller urged me to "get right on this for the sake of the world"; I was also repeatedly admonished that "this is not a joke".
Yawp. This, I was told.
At the conclusion of the first call -- which I managed to take with an absolute straight face, having been thrice-concussed and being able to marginally rationalize some of this hooey as worthy of a reality TV show one day -- I pledged to "look right into this and see what I could do".
Yawp. This, I responded.
With receipt of the second call -- when the caller checked back to see what I had done and accomplished -- my enthusiasm regulator was straining to squeeze what little was left from my daily reservoir of same. I expressed to the caller that I had certain reservations about the caller's credibility, and that I was reluctant to take further actions demanded by the caller, in view of my aforementioned conclusion to the caller's veracity (as determined by myself, thrice-concussed and all).
Thus, as I was finding that the caller's veracity was beneath dung beetle spit, I was not inclined -- or from any other posturepedic position -- to take further action as demanded by the caller.
That got me promptly hung up on. I wasn't sure if I was disappointed or relieved to have had my connection to The Twilight Zone ended.
But I had learned much; most of it as useful as a petrified tree in termite Hell. But that's okay; after checking my social calendar, I find that disapproval from dead termites is not on the first 750 pages of my "to be concerned about" list.
In the end, I drew the logical conclusion that full moons near holidays, and/or the presence of online email scammers, are not necessarily required for *WTF was that?* moments in life. All you need is a telephone. Any kind will do.
Oh, and lest I forget one other thing needed...to be fool enough to answer it, when you receive phone calls from the edge.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sixty Years Later -- Chosin

While the North Koreans play the silly little game they've played for the past 57 years -- feeling ignored on the world stage, they do something stupidly provocative, and threaten the whole world if they're ignored, in order to win something for an empty promise to behave -- it's a good time to remember an epic that played out at this time of year, in the frozen wastes of North Korea, between the northern end of the Chosin Reservoir, and all the way to a place called Funchilin Pass, on the road back to Hungnam, on the east coast of North Korea, 60 years ago.
North Korea's attempt to militarily overrun the South -- in the summer of 1950 -- had been defeated and thrown back by South Korean and UN military force, a significant amount of which was American. With North Korean forces shattered and in full retreat by mid-September, a fateful decision was made to finish the job, and attempt to reunify the Korean peninsula, this time from south to north. With approval from the Truman administration, General MacArthur sent UN forces north of the 38th Parallel (South Korean military units had already moved north) in October.
While the US Eighth Army and two corps of the South Korean (ROK) Army moved up the central and west side of the peninsula, South Korean units and the US X Corps (US Army's 3rd and 7th Divisions; US Marine 1st Division, and supporting units), landed at Wonsan and moved north/northwest along the east coast, toward the Yalu River.
MacArthur knew that the Chinese had threatened to enter the game if UN forces moved north; he assured Truman that it was little more than "diplomatic blackmail".
It wasn't.
While the Eighth Army, X Corps, and other South Korean/UN units advanced and spread out, 300,000 Chinese, comprising two army groups, poured across the Yalu and took up positions in rugged and formidable terrain. Despite warnings of their presence (elements of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, US 1st Cavalry Division, were savaged in a meeting engagement near the Chongchon River in the west in early November; in the east, the 7th Regiment, First Marine Division, met and repulsed two regiments of the Chinese 124th Division well short of Funchilin Pass), MacArthur urged the twin offenses, west and east, on. He wanted to "bring the boys home for Christmas".
It wasn't to be.
In the early hours of November 26, the Chinese Thirteenth Army Group, comprising 18 divisions and approximately 180,000 men, began attacking advanced elements of the US Eighth Army; the South Korean ROK II Corps was shattered; the Turkish Brigade, 5,000 strong, moving north toward a junction with the US 2nd Division, ran into a Chinese buzzsaw; and two regiments of the US 2nd Division were hit hard, losing 4,000 men and a good deal of the division's equipment, running a several mile-long 'gauntlet of fire' back from Kunu-ri.
On the evening of November 27, it was X Corps' turn: the Chinese Ninth Army Group, comprising 12 divisions and roughly 120,000 men, having surrounded the spread-out Marines and elements of the Army's 7th Division, began attacking the Marines west of Chosin Reservoir near Yudam-ni, and a task force of the 7th Division (Task Force Maclean, later Task Force Faith), on the east side of the reservoir. Before the night was over, the Marine 1st Division -- spread out between Yudam-ni and Funchilin Pass -- was up to its eyeballs in Chinese, as was Task Force Maclean/Faith.
Surrounded and vastly outnumbered, Task Force Maclean/Faith tried to cut through back to Hagaru-ri, but was cut to pieces, losing perhaps 2/3s of the task force's effective strength.
The Marines -- the 5th and 7th Regiments in Yudam-ni; a reinforced company at Toktong Pass; a battalion and support units in Hagaru-ri; and another battalion and support units in Koto-ri -- fought back furiously, holding their ground against seemingly overwhelming hordes of Chinese.
Then, and before X Corps realized the scope of the disaster at hand, the Marines began "attacking in another direction", and fought their way out of Yudam-ni, and back down the road through Toktong Pass, then Hagaru-ri, then Koto-ri, and finally down through Funchilin Pass, where an engineering miracle was needed to bridge a deep gorge the Chinese had blown the only passage across. The Marines -- with support of bridging supplies dropped by the USAF, and a bridging unit from the US Army -- pulled off that miracle, and fought their way out of a trap that the Chinese Ninth Army Group had laid for them.
While the news media was reporting on what they called the worst disaster to American arms since Bataan, and officials in Washington were quoted as saying "only diplomacy can save MacArthur's right flank", the 1st Marine Division was orchestrating their own miracle, and destroying significant formations of the Chinese Ninth Army Group (over 25,000 by some estimates).
Sixty years ago during this time -- late November through early December -- the 1st Marine Division, and elements of the Army's 7th Division, fought their way out of a trap, that the springing of, had found them surrounded and outnumbered 8 to 1. Yet they fought their way out, back to the sea, and were successfully embarked and returned to South Korea, where much bloody campaigning remained to be done before the armistice brought an end to active combat operations in Korea in July, 1953.
The Chosin Reservoir campaign -- the Frozen Chosin -- remains one of the most intrepid and epic moments in the history of the USMC and US Military.
Remembered here, as it happened, sixty years ago.

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