November 2004 Archives

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November 30, 2004
Keep Your Distance

Master chef in training, here. Good and getting better. And just for the record: I love garlic.

You may not want to stand too close to me for the rest of the day week.

Posted by Russ at 07:02 PM | Comments (2)
Support a Marine's Family

A fellow Loyal Citizen, Spence, has two brothers serving in Iraq, one of whom was seriously wounded by mortar fire yesterday.

After the initial emergency surgery, he is being evacuated to Germany; his parents will be flying there shortly.

Please keep Lance Corporal Kyle Renehan, USMC, and his family in your prayers.

Posted by Russ at 02:54 PM
November 29, 2004
Stand Up, Get Shot Down

More evidence (or confirmation, at any rate) that John Kerry and the people around him have no business being in power.

"Abuse" only begins to describe what has happened to a man who stood up to them. Surely, we dodged a bullet.

(Via Ian S.)

Posted by Russ at 02:25 PM
November 26, 2004
Road Music

After driving through territory this week in which virtually the only music on the radio is country/western, I am now convinced I need to change the oil in a dog, play fetch with a woman and snuggle with a pickup truck.

I may have misunderstood what I was hearing.

Posted by Russ at 10:23 PM | Comments (3)
November 25, 2004

Thank you. For everything.

Posted by Russ at 11:34 AM

About a year ago, I made a promise to a friend.

Late last year, I had begun considering getting a cat or two. After all, it's a big house for me to live in all alone — I've lived alone for most of my adult life — and at times I'm bloody sick and tired of being lonely. I was unsure, however, if I would be suited to a cat or if cats would suit me, and I just wasn't sure I'd want the responsibility.

At about the same time, a good friend had a need for temporary quarters for two of her cats, Xaxu and Mycah. She convinced me that a "trial run" with her two cats would be better than adopting one only to find that I was not suited to tending animals. My friend is a very devoted lover of animals, and the fact that she considered me trustworthy enough to tend her animals is something I will always regard as a significant honor. I had never been entrusted with a charge quite like that before.

So I promised that I would look after her beloved cats and return them to her in good condition when she was ready for them.

The little furballs arrived in Raleigh as air cargo on a cold blustery January day. I had re-injured my back a week or so earlier, and was barely capable of walking, but I had made a promise to a friend, and come hell or high water, I was going to keep it. I drove to the airport to pick up the cats.

The flight was hours late; the clerk at the cargo terminal told me the flight had experienced bad weather along the route and had been delayed in Dallas. I knew the cats were having a tough and rough trip. Rather than drive home and return, I waited in my truck (SUV) at the airport — leaned the seat back and tried to relax while keeping my eyes open for the arrival of the cats' flight. Eventually — about two hours late, as I recall — the flight arrived and the cats were cleared through the cargo terminal.

Being barely able to walk, I had to carry their carrier cages one at a time through the cold to my truck. Mycah made a lot of noise, meowing constantly; I thought she'd taken the travel badly, even worse than Xaxu, who made no sound at all. I looked in to see if he was alright — he was backed into the corner, looking out at me. Not a happy cat, I thought to myself. They had had a very long, very difficult day.

I got them home and out of their cages in the bathroom where I had set up litterboxes for them. Mycah fairly danced with glee at the opportunity to use a litterbox. She settled in right away.

Xaxu was a good deal more reluctant, but he finally came out of the carrier, used the litterbox, and as I opened the door to let them both out to explore the rest of the house, he immediately hightailed it out of the bathroom.

It took me hours to find him — he had found a couch he could fit under, and hid there for the next week, coming out only to eat and use the litterbox. Every time he saw me, he dashed back to his place of refuge. After a week, he would come out from under the couch while I was in the room, but for the better part of a month it was where he spent most of his time.

Mycah had taken the travel pretty well, and had warmed up to me within hours. Xaxu, on the other hand, had obviously been traumatized by everything associated with his relocation — the awful flight, hours upon hours of confinement to a small carrier cage, having a new person looking after him. But I had made a promise to take good care of these cats, and I meant to keep it. I talked to him, I fed him treats from time to time, I petted him whenever he demanded it. In what seems now to have been a short time, he became my little buddy. He was, of course, very cattish — would only allow me to pet him for a minute or so before dashing off to play with a stuffed mouse toy, or lay in the sun shining in through a window. But at least he allowed me to get near him, and he would come to me.

Then he had a problem.

In June, I noticed what felt like a small growth, maybe a wart, on Xaxu's ribcage. It didn't get bigger, but when I took both cats in for worming, I asked the vet about the growth, just in case. She wasn't sure what it was, but considered it a possibility that it was a skin cancer, a "mast cell tumor." We scheduled a date and time for it to be surgically removed.

I had, after all, made a promise to take care of him.

On the appointed date, Xaxu was reluctant to be put into his cage, as he had been for his first trip to the vet — a perfectly natural reaction, given his previous cage experiences. He knew that the cage meant he was going to be put through trauma of some kind. His terror was evident as I drove him to the vet for the procedure, and his piteous meows were enough to break my heart. I get misty even now remembering it. I did my best to keep him calm on the trip to the vet, but he remained terrified. I dropped him off — it was early morning — and was told to pick him up that afternoon, after the anaesthetics had worn off.

As I left the vet office to go about my business for the day, I was in a funk. What if it really was a cancer and had metastasized? What if it was inoperable? These scenarios went through my head, and all I could think was what would I tell my friend if her cat was terminally ill, on my watch? It would not have been my fault, but it would have been my responsibility. I would have failed to keep my promise to a friend. And, I realized, I would have failed my new furry little friend. I don't think I could have borne either failure lightly.

After the procedure had finished and the drugs had worn off, I was called to pick Xaxu up and take him home. The ride home — indeed, any ride — terrified him. But again, who could blame him? Every time he was stuffed into the cage, he was going to be bounced around for hours on end, or stuck with needles, or have pills forced down his throat. You would be reluctant, too.

For the return trip from the vet's office, I bought Xaxu a "comfort carrier" — a wicker basket with a cushion, and a dome-shaped cage that fit on top. Much more open than the usual carrier, and indeed I think he was more comfortable. He tried to squeeze out through the bars, but as I drove him home, I reached a finger through the bars and rubbed him, talking to him constantly, trying to offer a measure of comfort to him. He seemed to do better, but when I got him home, he disappeared under the couch for a day or two. He returned to normal quickly enough.

I was relieved to tell my friend that her cat was not going to decline and die. I had made a promise, and it looked like I might be able to keep it.

Then Xaxu got sick.

Very sick.

Perhaps two weeks after the growth was removed, he became lethargic. Almost overnight, he stopped eating, would barely drink anything at all, turned his nose up at his favorite treats. He had severe diarrhea. I was frantic. I rushed him to the vet; he complained — cried, even — all the way. It was heartbreaking. But how do you tell a cat "this is for your own good?" He was having another very bad travel experience. I think the new carrier helped — I was able to scratch him a little as I drove to the vet, talking in soothing tones the entire way.

I had the vet run every test imaginable on his blood and stool samples. I was worried that the tumor had metastasized, that he was on a terminal downward slope, but no cause was ever found for his illness. The vet gave him an IV — he was severely dehydrated [having had dysentery, I know the feeling] and I was given pills with which to medicate him and a lesson in how to give him the pills. To him, it must have seemed like torture, but how can you make a cat understand that it's for his own good? You can't, you can only try to make him comfortable.

I had to force feed him baby food and plain yogurt with a big blunt syringe, and had to give him his pills every day. I watched over him at night, not wanting to go to bed for fear I would wake to find a lifeless little body. Over the next week, he accepted my ministrations, and he slowly began to recover. He had truly been close to death, and I lavished attention on him. My mom, visiting at the time, noticed. I hope she was pleased that I treated the little guy so well.

And the whole time, every minute, I was afraid I would have to tell my friend that Xaxu had gotten sick on my watch, that he had died, and that I had failed to keep my promise to return him safe to her. To do so would have been devastating to us both. She loves the cat, and I found that in the brief time he had been with me, I had come to love him too. When he got up from his little sickbed, walked over to his dish and ate his regular food, I could have wept for joy. I think my "happy dance" scared the neighbors.

Living alone as I do, Xaxu and Mycah had become my companions. I had never before been solely responsible for the life of another creature. Sure, we had a dog when I was a kid, and we loved him dearly, but I was not the only one responsible for his health and well-being. It was different with Xaxu. It was completely and solely up to me to make sure he was healthy and happy. And after he recovered, I think he realized who had taken care of him, who had spent hours and sleepless nights watching over him; he began to truly warm up to me. He would lay on my chest when I went to bed at night while I did my customary reading; he would sometimes sleep next to me at night; he would spend time every day perched on my mousepad as I worked at the computer, getting his chin scratched. He was my little buddy, and he was happy and healthy.

I had made a promise. But I didn't count on learning anything substantial from it.

In the course of my custodianship, I learned something about myself: that I could unconditionally care about and for someone or something other than myself.

And then the time came for Xaxu to be reunited with my friend. Mycah will be staying with me for the foreseeable future, but Xaxu's time to go home had come. I think he could tell something was in the wind — he seemed to spend his every waking minute within arm's reach of me, and became insistently affectionate.

After the trip the cats had taken to get to me, I had promised that I would not put either cat on an airplane ever again. Never again would they be traumatized by being confined in a cage for hours on end with no friendly humans to comfort them. So I packed my truck, put food, water and litterbox in the back for Xaxu, and loaded up his favorite things — the blanket he likes to curl up on, the stuffed mouse toys he likes to run around with, his scratching post.

He got into his new carrier almost without resistance. As I drove west, he cried, thinking no doubt he was going to the vet again. But as the miles and hours passed, I think he realized that it wasn't the vet to whom he was going, but he of course didn't know where he was going, and that scared him. I talked soothingly to him, and let him out of his carrier, being certain that he would not interfere with my driving. We made frequent stops at rest areas. Eventually, he perched on the console between the front seats of the truck, and I petted and scratched him, and talked to him in an effort to keep him calm and comforted. As darkness fell, he lay on the center console, put his front paws on my lap, and dozed off.

I arrived at my sister's house after the first day's drive, and he retreated underneath the rear seat — he knew he would have to get out of the truck, but his past experiences had taught him well, and he was reluctant to do so. But I got him out, and brought him (and his food, water, and litter) into the room in which I would be staying. He made himself right at home, but he made absolutely certain to sleep right next to me that night.

The next morning, we again loaded up the truck and began driving. The first day had been about six hours on the road; day two was going to be 14 hours — a long stretch for a person, but an interminable hell for a small cat who doesn't like to travel.

But he did well during the trip, mostly. He curled up on the back seat and dozed on his favorite blanket, he used his litterbox, he curled up on the center console. And again, I spent most of the day talking to him and petting him when he was close enough. Frequent stops for bathroom breaks (for me) and petting (for him) probably didn't hurt, either

As the sun set, I still had hours to go, and I was getting tired. But even more than that, I knew the hour was rapidly approaching when I would return my little friend to his home. It was hard. And as it got dark, Xaxu wrapped himself around my forearm, refusing to let go, tucked his head into the crook of my elbow, and dozed. It was as if he had placed his complete trust in me.

34 hours and 1300 miles after leaving home I handed Xaxu — tired, scared and confused by the whole ordeal — to my friend.

Promise kept.

Why did I do it? Why did I spend the last ten or so months caring for a cat, taking him to the vet, making sure he was well, and then driving halfway across the country to bring him home again? Because I made a promise to a friend, a friend for whom I care. I was never before sure that I could unhesitatingly give or do as much for another person's happiness.

"Let her meet you halfway," some said. No. I made a promise.

"Just put him on an airplane — it'll be cheaper and faster." No. I made a promise.

"Just keep the cat." No. I made a promise.

A few days later, as I rolled down the highway on the way home and darkness fell, I reached down to pet Xaxu. He wasn't there....

My little furry friend has gone home, and I miss him. And yet I'm sure the loss I feel is only the smallest fraction of what my friend had felt over the past year, being without the creature she loves so much. I love the little guy too, and miss him terribly already, but I take comfort in the knowledge that he is with the only person on the planet who cares for him more than I do.

Some people make promises with no intent of keeping them. Others make promises conditionally, keeping them only if it is convenient to do so. I have, at times in the past, been that way.

No more. A promise is an oath, a contract, a covenant: not to be made lightly. If you don't intend to keep the promise, say so up front. If there are foreseeable conditions under which you might not be able to keep the promise, say so at the outset. Or don't make the promise.

It's important to consider not only the promise one makes, but to whom the promise is made. In this case, I gave my word to a good friend. There is no condition short of my incapacitation which would have kept me from keeping my word. Had it been a promise to someone else, I might have attached conditions. But to this friend, my promise was unconditional. Period. That is why I drove 1300 miles there, and then back, over the course of a week.

I discovered something else along the way. I had made a promise to my friend, but by the time I kept it, I found that I had made that same promise to a little black cat, too — that I would take care of him to the best of my ability.

Promise kept.

I'd do it all again for my friend. And since I still have Mycah — perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently — I may someday be called upon to do it again. Until that day comes, I'll be doing my utmost to keep her healthy and happy.

I promise.

Posted by Russ at 12:33 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (4)
November 24, 2004
Home Again

Well. That was a journey and a half. More later.

Posted by Russ at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)
November 22, 2004
On the Road Again

Did I say "intermittent?" Try nonexistent.

I'll probably be back on Wednesday.

Posted by Russ at 11:58 PM
November 17, 2004
The Legend of Me

If I were the scion of a late 18th/early 19th century Spanish Don in old California, wearing a mask, buckling my swash and protecting the péons from the depredations of the ruling elite with the skill of my blade, but all the while feeling as sick as I do today, I'd be known in myth and legend as El Crappo.

Today, laptop and digital camera in hand, El Crappo rides.

I'll be back in a week. Blogging from the road may be intermittent.

Posted by Russ at 08:35 AM | Comments (3)
November 16, 2004
The Road to Wellville

My week-long road trip starts tomorrow, and I still feel like slightly warmed-up dog crap. At least, I presume this is how canine excrement would feel if it were briefly held over an open flame.

Someone please medicate me.

On the plus side, if I'm sick today, I might be well again by the time I get to where I'm going.

Ya, right. As long as I'm wishing, I'd kind of like a million dollars, too.

Posted by Russ at 10:16 AM
November 15, 2004
Monday, Bloody Monday II

North Carolina is a wonderful place to live. Today in the mail, I received a "Notice of Individual Income Tax Assessment" from the N.C. Dept. of Revenue for unpaid taxes from 1999.

One slight hitch, though. I moved here in 2000.

There isn't a big enough capital "F" to spell the kind of fun I'm going to have with this.

Posted by Russ at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)
Monday, Bloody Monday

A road trip looms on my horizon, and I have a ton of things to get done before I go.

Naturally, I'm sick today. I'd suspect it to be something I ate, if I'd eaten anything substantial in the last 24 hours.

As long as I stay within five seconds of a commode, bucket, or trash can I should be just fine. Too bad some of the things I have to do today involve leaving the house.

Is puke good winter lawn fertilizer?

Sorry... that was just gross.

Posted by Russ at 11:30 AM
November 14, 2004
My Green-Eyed Monster Rears Its Ugly Head

Spoons is on a cruise. His shipmates? Michelle Malkin. Victor Davis Hanson. The NRO crowd.

I am seething with jealousy.

I wanted to go... I would have, but it's a bit rich for my blood these days. Maybe next year.

Posted by Russ at 03:40 PM | Comments (1)
Men in Skirts II

[The following is NOT a paid presentation.]

Once in a while during my daily browsing I just start clicking other peoples' blogads to see where they lead. Not that I'm actually doing any shopping, but I find myself interested and, alternately, amused or appalled by the things people will sell.

Today's find, via Powerline, has a tagline that caught my eye: "Still Bloggin' in your PJ's?"

The advertiser was Sport Kilt. Interesting enough on its own; I think kilts are pretty darn comfortable, and I keep expecting them to "catch on" here in the US. I'd wear one [not commando style.]

It would be much more acceptable nowadays for a fellow to wear a kilt in the course of a normal day than it would have been, say, twenty or thirty years ago... but I bet a guy would still get some funny looks.

As I looked around the Sport Kilt site, something in their "Wall of Fame" really caught my eye: photos of US servicemen, some in Iraq, in kilts.

The only fiddly little objection I have is that many people wear tartans of clans or other groups of which they aren't members. I'd never wear a Campbell tartan, for instance; I'm not a Campbell.

Fortunately, there is a tartan I'm entitled to wear. Otherwise, I might have to settle for Woodland Camo. Maybe I'll do something about it in time for next year's Tartan Day.

Posted by Russ at 12:25 PM
November 13, 2004

Fox News: Vice President Cheney Headed to Hospital With Shortness of Breath

No specific link yet.

Link here. [He's OK.]

This does bring up [again] the question — if Cheney were to resign for health reasons, who would be his replacement?

I like Condoleeza Rice.

Posted by Russ at 01:39 PM
November 12, 2004

There appears to be a verdict in the Peterson murder trial. They're announcing the verdict in less than an hour.

In the words of Kyle Broflavski, "Don't care, don't care, don't care."

I wonder what's on the History Channel?

Update: "Battlefield Detectives: Agincourt's Dark Secrets" — if there's anything that'll suck my attention away from what I'm supposed to be doing, that's it.

Posted by Russ at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)
Quote of the Day

Bill, of INDC Journal, on combat journalism:

If an insurgent wets his pants in the desert and no one is around to snap a picture, does it make a puddle?

[Via e-mail from an old friend who really ought to be blogging.]

[John, I'm talking to you.]

Posted by Russ at 01:19 PM
November 11, 2004
Veterans Day 2004
Posted by Russ at 10:25 AM
November 10, 2004
Stylesheet Experiment

Does this thing look better with a light background for the main text and the khaki background for quoted text? Is it more readable?

Like this?

Or is it better with the main text on khaki with the quote on a light background?

I'm contemplating yet another style overhaul. Camoflage may have been done to death. I dunno.


Update: The people have spoken. Back to the previous style.

Posted by Russ at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)
They Don't Look A Day Over 220

Although I'm an Army veteran — and proud of it! — sometimes I wish I'd been a Marine.

"Happy Birthday, Marines. Semper Fidelis, and Keep Attacking!"

Posted by Russ at 08:07 AM
Product of a Fevered Imagination

Attempting to stanch the flow of blood from the 1,000 cuts received last week, the Democrats apply a tourniquet... to their party's neck.

The lack of oxygen to their collective brain shows more than usual.

[All emphasis in the quoted text is mine.]

Democrats Vow to Hold Bush Accountable

From the Washington Post... so you know it has to be good. Well, it's not the NY Times, so at least it's got that going for it.

[Actually, this does indeed look like a straightforward piece of reportage. Now that the election is over, the WaPo can afford to be magnanimous in defeat.]

Congressional Democrats returned to Washington in a defiant mood yesterday, making no apologies for the campaign in which they lost congressional seats and the presidential race and vowing to hold President Bush accountable for his handling of the deficit, the Iraq war and other issues.

We the people already held President Bush accountable once this month. Last week's election must be such a painful memory that it's already been buried in their subconscious.

In years hence, there will undoubtedly be "recovered memory" psychotherapists of dubious reputation holding up little donkey-shaped dolls to traumatized Democrats and asking "where did the nasty Republicans touch you?"

Hint: it wasn't a touch, it was a kick... you know where.

In his first public comments since conceding defeat to Bush, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) did not rule out a bid in 2008 and promised to keep pushing the issues he championed this year.

Issues like personal aggrandizement, good hair, lying about his opponents' records, Botox-abuse, cussing at underlings, stabbing our military in the back.... You know — the usual.

"Let me tell you one thing that I want to make clear," Kerry said in a brief meeting with reporters in the Capitol. "Fifty-four-plus-million Americans voted for health care, they voted for energy independence, they voted for unity in America, they voted for stem cell research, they voted for protecting Social Security.

At least he knows they weren't voting for him.

"We need to be unified, and we have a very clear agenda. And I'm going to be fighting for that agenda with all of the energy that I have and all the passion I brought to the campaign."

Mr. Passion. Oh. Yeah. I know everyone was excited by his [**yawn**] passion.

Maybe a guy who's had his prostate, er, "dealt with" ought not to be touting his ability to generate, er, "passion." On the other hand, that might explain Teh-ray-zah's odd behavior of late.

Asked about his brother Cameron's comment, published in yesterday's Boston Globe, that it was "conceivable" Kerry would run for president again, the senator quipped: "I was intrigued by it. I called him up and said, 'Where did you get that?' " He added: "It's inconceivable to me that anybody is even talking about that stuff right now."

Smart Democrats know that running Kerry again would sound the death-knell for their party. For better or for worse, the smart Democrats are outnumbered by about 50 to 1.

Returning to the Capitol, where he will resume serving his fourth Senate term, Kerry met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who will succeed Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) as Senate minority leader.

Modern political giants, all. [You have no idea how hard it was to type that and keep a straight face.]

Oh, yes: adios, Tommy boy. I'll bet there's a dog-catcher job open on one of your state's Indian reservations.

Pelosi, addressing reporters after lunching with about 100 House Democrats, said her party will speak out when it believes Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress are mismanaging Iraq, tax policies or the deficit.

They'll also speak out when they believe the Republicans are mismanaging restaurant menus on the Left Bank, the life cycle of the cicada, the weather (in both the northern and southern hemispheres), the orbits of the planets, and the 2005 NFL football schedule.

Keep talking, Nancy. Every time you flap your gums, a coal miner in Pennsylvania asks himself "why is it that I vote for Democrats? Why are her people getting my vote?"

"The president won't be able to blame anyone, because the Republicans have full control," Pelosi said. Although Republicans have controlled the White House, Senate and House for two years, she said, "the American people did not know that. And now they do."

"The American people did not know" the Republicans have been running things? Didn't know? Note to Nancy: calling your potential supporters ignorant is one of the reasons they are only potential supporters instead of actual supporters.

The American people had their chance to blame the Republicans last week. Instead, the Donks had their asses handed to them.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) rejected arguments that Republicans care more than Democrats do about traditional values. "We are the party of moral values," he said.

Killing babies = moral. Taking half of a family's assets when the breadwinner dies = moral. Taking half a person's income before they ever see it in their bank account = moral. Keeping felons out of prison = moral. Right.

Cutting taxes "for the very rich" increases the deficit and forces spending cuts in education, health care and housing, he said. "And so throughout the next two years, you're going to hear a lot [from Democrats] about moral values."

The Laffer curve is just abstract geometry to the likes of Charlie Rangel.

Meanwhile, the Democrats' post-election self-examination continued at a forum hosted by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

I wonder if they found a lump?

DLC founder Al From said the 2004 election continued a "40-year slide" for the party, interrupted only by the elections of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Two lumps!

Democrats must close the security, reform and culture gaps, he said, adding: "You can't have everybody who goes to church voting Republican."

No, you can't... except for the ones who take their religion seriously.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who won reelection, said Democrats must trust voters' instincts and intelligence. "We can only lead people that we trust, and they'll only follow if they trust us," she said.

Then they'll never lead. Elitists do not, cannot, trust the people. It's against their nature. If they did, their entire platform of "we know what's best for you better than you do" would collapse.

Some congressional Democrats also say the party needs to do more soul-searching, but most are lying low. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the party's second-ranking House leader, did not join Pelosi, Rangel and others who addressed reporters. Hoyer "wants to think things through" but will not challenge Pelosi or surrender his post as party whip, said a source close to him.

I know little or nothing about Hoyer. Maybe he's one of the smart and honest Democrats... which would make his rise to the position of Minority Whip [which, much to my surprise, is a floor wax and a dessert topping! - ed.] a truly miraculous occurrence.

Pelosi must choose a successor to Rep. Robert T. Matsui (Calif.) as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Those interested include Reps. Mike Thompson (Calif.), Janice D. Schakowsy (Ill.) and Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), Capitol insiders said.


Posted by Russ at 07:16 AM | Comments (1)

Headache. Fever.

Can't be the flu. You have to have human contact to get the flu... don't you?

Posted by Russ at 04:57 AM
November 09, 2004
"Now What?" They Asked

Has it already been a week since Election Day? It hardly feels like it. It's finally over.

Now what am I supposed to do?

OK, OK, I was not an "election blogger," as such, despite my involvement with Blogs For Bush. I mainly did (and still do) the behind-the-scenes techy geeky stuff; I wrote very little over there. So it's not like I have to change gears and come up with a new schtick here.

Similarly, I've not been a "warblogger," per se. Yes, I'm a Milblogger and yes, I support the war; I'll even write something about it occasionally. I was indeed inspired (to some degree) to start blogging by the then-impending conflict in Iraq. But it's not my biggest reason for being here.

At least, I think not. I'll save the introspection for another time. Live-blogging my thought processes is bound to make me look like an idiot.

Since I consider myself dependant neither on the war nor on the election for my daily bloggery, I can continue with my little band of blog-friends and readers... I think. Writing about barbecue, for instance, will never get old for me, but reading about it...? Y'all would have to be pretty dedicated. Or committed.

I will, however, remain involved with B4B as it evolves.

The Commissar has a few thoughts on the post-election self-cleansing of the blogosphere — definitely worth reading.

Posted by Russ at 01:02 PM | Comments (2)
November 08, 2004
Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg:

Look, I understand that the entire Popular Front of the Left lost — and big — last week. I understand they thought they were going to win. I understand that many of them believed all of the nonsense about Bush's being a fascist crusader and I understand that some actually believed P. Diddy's axiom that you should vote (Democratic) or die. (Although it should be self-evident that a man who chooses the name P. Diddy is not a man to take very seriously. Last time I checked, Henry Kissinger never contemplated calling himself "Special K.")
Posted by Russ at 11:02 PM
Sleepy Weasel

I always thought the naming of military operations was something of a minor art form. Once upon a time, names were made up on the spot by a commander or one of his staff officers.

  • "Overlord" — the D-Day invasion of France. The all-time classic name.
  • "Torch" — the invasion of North Africa in 1943 (during which many Vichy French soldiers surrendered or assumed room temperature) which ultimately helped defeat Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps.
  • "Market-Garden" — the airborne invasion of Holland depicted in the film A Bridge Too Far.
  • "Urgent Fury" — the invasion of Grenada.
  • "Tidal Wave" — the bombing of oil refineries in and around Ploesti, Romania in August of 1943.

["Tidal Wave" is my all-time favorite-to-study combat mission in all of history. 178 B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers flew at tree-top level, right into the muzzles of the flak cannons, in an attempt to destroy a portion of Germany's oil-refining capability. Such courage is hard to fathom. 30% of the aircraft were lost, and the aircrews suffered 55% casualties. Five Medals of Honor were awarded for the mission, three posthumously. And I'll bet a dollar that you never even heard of it before now.]

Later, names were made by pulling two random words from a sort of operation name generator book. Now I suppose they're generated by a computer.

The point of an operation name wasn't to have something catchy for the press release. OPSEC — Operations Security — was not something to be taken lightly. The name of an operation was thus supposed to be a reference term that would not give away the objective of the operation. A hypothetical German agent in 1944 London overhearing the phrase "Operation Overlord" would have had no idea to what it referred.

Then came the era of Pentagon press awareness. Suddenly, the name of an operation was not a trivia item to be memorized by bored high school history students 30 years later, it became the chapter name for textbooks yet to be written.

  • "Just Cause" — Panama.
  • "Desert Shield / Desert Storm" — duh.
  • "Iraqi Freedom" — biggest duh of them all.

The Pentagon really needs to fire the staffer who came up with "Operation Iraqi Freedom." "Operation Sleepy Weasel" would have been a more OPSEC-conscious name.

And today begins "Phantom Fury," the taking of Fallujah. Sanity appears to have returned to the Operations staff, as far as naming operations goes. It sure beats "Operation Urban Brawl" or "Operation Take Fallujah." And three or four months ago, when planning for Phantom Fury began, the name would have given no indication of intent to any possible eavesdroppers.

As a side note: a number of years ago the Pentagon decided that frivolous or non-serious names were inappropriate. Indeed. Good men were and are killed on these operations. No one wants to hear that their son has died in action, and it would be an outrage to tell parents that their son had died in "Operation Fluffy Bunny."

Late, late update – 12Aug2005: John at Castle Argghhh! goes into much greater detail on the topic. Definitely recommended reading.

Posted by Russ at 12:30 PM | Comments (4)

What does a French rooster say?


Update: No, it's not supposed to make sense. So don't think about it. Just let it roll over and flow through you.

Posted by Russ at 08:41 AM
Just Keep Going

As a native-born Californian, now over four years on the lam since I departed, I see things like this and think how glad I am to have gotten out, how glad I am not to have to put up with all the idiots who thought California would be a good place to settle down.

I have long had a mental image of the Great Moonbat Migration of the latter half of the 20th century. It is as if the Atlantic coast of the country had been grasped by a giant hand, lifted, and shaken like a rug. All the human debris and detritus then slid down to the west coast and stopped when it hit the coast.

"Go west, young man," used to be the catchphrase for those who sought opportunity in a young and vital country; now it's just directions on where to go to get high.

My advice to the hippies, druggies, socialists, and other assorted idiots who came from around the country and ruined California: don't stop at the coast, just keep going west. About 500 miles further west.

Y'all could use a bath.

Posted by Russ at 07:26 AM

Wow. A whole weekend away from the internet.

Last week sure was fun, no? I think I read a novel's worth of blog entries over the course of the week. I probably could have written a chapter or two of commentary myself. Not that it would have been particularly insightful commentary....

It does lead me to believe that the more successful bloggers don't read quite as much — they just have the art, skill and/or magical ability to find the good stuff to read before they write.

I wonder if I ought to spend more of my internet time doing analysis and commentary on two or three things, rather than reading everything that crosses my path every day and commenting on none or one.

If there was an online version of the local weekly paper, then I might be a thorn in their side their unofficial ombudsman, but the Apex Herald isn't... oh, wait.

Talk about a niche blogging market.

Posted by Russ at 07:03 AM
November 06, 2004
Stewardship, Again

[Updated] [Bumped]

Anyone who's been visiting this site for the past six months or so might remember this item about stewardship I wrote back in June. Take a few minutes to go read it, then come back. I'll wait.

OK, I don't like being angry... but, now go here and read Kelly's story. While you're there, you can spare a few bucks to help Kelly with the medical expenses.

If such deliberate cruelty doesn't boil your blood, I can't imagine what will.

I think the right thing to do to the perpetrators of such foul deeds would be to inflict the exact same treatment upon them, and ask them how they like it. An eye for an eye.

Me? Bloodthirsty? You bet I am, towards the kind of person who would willingly surrender their humanity.

Update: Yes, I think this is important. Hence the bump up to the top.

Posted by Russ at 12:00 AM
November 05, 2004
Link Me Hard, Baby

I hadn't looked anytime recently, so I clicked over to NZ Bear's Blogosphere Ecosystem for the same reason the bear went over the mountain — to see what I could see.

Holy moley. On 10/25, I seem to have been subject to a comparatively massive bout of de-linking.


What happened here on the 25th? Nothing of note... but on the 24th, a Sunday, I published my "Re-elect Bush" endorsement.

Would over one-third of people linking to this site de-link me because of that? I doubt it, especially given the rather precipitous climb in inbound links in the previous ten days, according to the same graph. Looks like a statistical anomaly of some sort. Could there be a problem in the Ecosystem algorithm?

If people really did de-link me because of my endorsement, maybe they never realized where I stand on matters, which would be my fault for not being sufficiently interestingly or vehement.

On the other hand, if people link to me only until they figure out I disagree with them, I don't really need or want their links.

On the gripping hand, I think I'll have a nice bowl of tomato soup for lunch today.

Posted by Russ at 11:29 AM | Comments (4)
November 04, 2004
Putting The "Anal" In Analysis

Eric Alterman, who leans so far to the left he requires a complex system of bracing to keep himself from falling over, attempts psychoanalysis to explain Kerry's loss:

Let's face it. It's not Kerry's fault. It's not Nader's fault (this time). It's not the media's fault (though they do bear a heavy responsibility for much of what ails our political system). It's not "our" fault either. The problem is just this: Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the "reality-based community" say or believe about anything.

Short form: "The people have spoken — the bastards."

(Via Best of the Web)

Posted by Russ at 07:49 PM | Comments (1)
Doing the Job

James Lileks, recounting a chat with his young daughter:

We’re in the car after voting.

“If John Kerry wins he won’t be our president,” Gnat said.

Ah, a teachable moment. No, honey. He will be our president. He will be the new president, and we will respect him.

“What does respek mean?”

Man, that is a good question. It means we treat him like a teacher or the pastor or a doctor. Someone we should listen to when they talk and someone who is important to everyone. Because he’s the president, and we have to respect the job of president.


Because it’s hard and very important.

She looked out the window with the expression that either means she was processing my remarks or thinking about My Little Ponys. Since she said nothing else, I’ll never know.

I only wish I could write so well.

It’s a great & rare idea: one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. I think we can hammer out the particulars in a spirit of good will, eh? Or not. Our choice.

“Who is the father of George W. Bush?” Gnat asked on the way to school today. Oh boy.

“You’re not going to believe this, but his name is George Bush, too.”

“Oh, daddee.”

“True.” Pause. Should I? Might as well. “And he was the president once, too.”

“George Bush’s daddy was president too? You’re joking me. That’s silly.”

And so it begins. But if all goes as it usually does, in 14 years she’ll vote for someone I don’t like; he’ll win, and she’ll remind me: you taught me to respect the President.

If I can give her that much, I’ve done my job.

Lovely — and to my own surprise, it makes me wish I were a dad.

Posted by Russ at 11:11 AM
No sir, Yassir

Murderous scumbag über-terrorist Yasser Arafat is a bit farther under the weather today than he was just a couple days ago:

Arafat's condition deteriorated sharply on Wednesday and he was rushed into intensive care at the French military hospital where he has been undergoing treatment for a week.

Under the weather... I'll be happier when he's under the dirt... six feet under, in fact.

Whatever is physically wrong with him, I hope it hurts. I hope he feels the pain of every life he has stolen, of every life he has ruined.

Posted by Russ at 06:23 AM
November 03, 2004
W = Winner
There's an old saying, "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks." In four historic years, America has been given great tasks, and faced them with strength and courage. Our people have restored the vigor of this economy, and shown resolve and patience in a new kind of war. Our military has brought justice to the enemy, and honor to America. Our nation has defended itself, and served the freedom of all mankind. I'm proud to lead such an amazing country, and I'm proud to lead it forward.
Posted by Russ at 05:05 PM
Post-election Chat

My first conversation this morning, with a buddy who goes by "darth" on IM:

darth: Kerry is supposed to give his concession speech after lunch...
Me: so I have read
Me: he can do basic math
darth: yeah...but for some reason, he can't seem to get past the "60s"

That may well sum up the entire campaign.

Posted by Russ at 10:46 AM | Comments (4)
November 02, 2004
Post-electoral Shindig

Voting is done here in the east, so now all I have to do is tend the under-the-covers stuff at Blogs For Bush (where, amazingly enough, I happen to be the webmaster.) (And where, amazingly, the server has not completely melted, despite record traffic volume.)

Whether it's a win, lose, or draw for Bush, I'm going to begin celebrating the freedom we all enjoy to choose our leaders.


That's a 10-year-old Isle of Jura single malt Scotch whisky, about which I have previously written. Short version: gooooooood stuff. I wish I could find their 21-year-old. Maybe next time.

If I remember, I'll take another picture of the bottle later — just to see how much I've drained.

Update: I like the way this man thinks.

Update 2: No, I have no idea what time the polls in Scotland closed, nor how they voted.

Posted by Russ at 08:24 PM | Comments (6)
Exit Poll

Exit poll here in North Carolina:

US President:
Bush: 100%
Kerry: 0%

US Senate:
Burr: 100%
Bowles: 0%

[Number of voters sampled: 1 (one.) No statistical adjustments have been made for race, age (dang!), or gender (whew!) No shifting of these numbers is expected for the remainder of the day.]

Posted by Russ at 05:21 PM | Comments (1)
Voting in NC

A few observations...

I got to my polling place at 11:20 this morning. I had expected it to be a bit busier than usual, but this really surprised me.


[The cars are those of physically disabled voters, who are allowed to vote at the curbside.]

The last time I voted, I had a waiting time of zero minutes. Today, the wait was about 35 minutes. The line was much longer at 11:20 than it was at noon, when I took the picture.

The poll workers — the same batch as always — were their usual polite helpful selves.

Though there were campaigners from both parties present, they strictly observed the 100-foot rule we have here. I observed no misbehavior of any sort at the polling place. As in the past, no ID was required to vote — just state your name and address, sign the form, and take your ballot. We need to change that.

North Carolina is about as safe a state for President Bush as there is, yet the turnout is rather heavy — prompted, no doubt, by the down-ballot races, the US Senate and NC governor races particularly.

It's a great day to be an American.

Posted by Russ at 12:59 PM | Comments (3)
November 01, 2004
Endorsement Redux

I perhaps ought to have waited to publish my endorsement for this election. In case you missed it, it's right here.

The best line (in my ever so humble opinion):

Kerry has already told us how he would approach the international community: on bended knee.

I impress myself sometimes.

Now get out there tomorrow and vote Bush!

Posted by Russ at 07:16 PM


Sgt. Hook is soon to be Sergeant Major Hook. Good things do happen to good men.

Posted by Russ at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)