September 2006 Archives

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September 29, 2006

Unlike many siblings, my sister's cats, Lou and Bubba, always enjoy hanging out together. . .

. . . sometimes in unusual places.

It's Friday — go visit the Friday Ark.

And of course, we have the Carnival of the Cats, this week at Pets Garden Blog.

Posted by Russ at 02:46 PM

How did I go all week without posting anything?

Oh, yeah. I've been working on a project that has turned into something more difficult than I had anticipated. Well, I hope to be done with it within 4 or 5 days.

At which point, I'll have no more excuses for not posting.

Posted by Russ at 02:13 PM
September 25, 2006

I'm normally a heavy sleeper. Minor things — light, noise, and so on — can keep me awake, but once I'm asleep, a grenade under the bed wouldn't be enough to wake me up.

Certainly, a house exploding half a mile away didn't wake me.

When I was sick last week, one of the reasons I felt like complete crap was a lack of sleep. I'd woken up in the predawn hours last week Thursday to stagger to the little sergeant's room, but was unable to get back to sleep due to the noise of a number of helicopters which were flying around the neighborhood.

I thought it was the Marines, who often fly through the area, though I'd never noted them to do so at such hours. Usually, though, they just fly past on their way to or from Cherry Point, but these birds were loitering in the area.

I finally managed to fall asleep again an hour or so later; the sun was coming up. [I have blackout shades, so the sunlight wasn't a problem.] I don't remember, but I presume the choppers had left. When I finally awoke later in the day, I felt like warmed-over dog crap, so I called in sick and went back to bed for the day.

I gave no more thought to the helicopters which had kept me awake. This weekend, though, a co-worker and I started chatting. He lives just down the road from me, and asked me what I thought about the explosion.


Yes, explosion.

I never heard it, but it explained why the helicopters were pestering me.

Posted by Russ at 09:01 PM | Comments (2)
September 22, 2006

It's taken her two and a half years of living here, but Mycah has finally discovered a use for the recliner other than as a scratching post.

Perhaps she heard what curiosity is reputed to do to cats. More likely, she was just too lazy to hop up and find out.

[Click for larger.]

Now I'll have to get another one for me to use.

It's Friday, so go see the Friday Ark.

And on Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats will be at House of Chaos.

Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (3)
September 21, 2006
The Malady of the Beast

Sick. Sick. Sick.

That's all. I'm going back to bed.

Posted by Russ at 01:46 PM | Comments (2)
September 18, 2006
Some Of Us Don't Need A Soapbox To Stand On

"Don't believe everything you read." We've all heard that.

OK, so don't believe everything... but maybe you can believe this, from a few weeks ago:

Taller people are smarter: study

Aug 25, 2006 — NEW YORK (Reuters) - While researchers have long shown that tall people earn more than their shorter counterparts, it's not only social discrimination that accounts for this inequality — tall people are just smarter than their height-challenged peers, a new study finds.

I think it absolutely imperative that people pay attention to these researchers.

That I say so has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I'm 6'8" tall. Nothing at all.

And how tall are the researchers?

They are both 5 feet 8 inches tall, well above the average height of 5 feet 4 inches for American women.

No, nothing at all.

Update: Not at all related. Not a bit.

Posted by Russ at 03:24 PM | Comments (3)

Just a test... nothing to see here.

Posted by Russ at 03:03 PM | Comments (1)
September 15, 2006
Lethal Vegetables

Guess what I was going to have for dinner last night?

Yep — a big spinach salad.

I settled for coldcuts and cheese.

Posted by Russ at 01:40 PM | Comments (5)
September 12, 2006

I've done some work under the hood here, and I think I might have broken something.

If you have a blog, could you please try sending a trackback to this post? (Or to any post, it doesn't matter.)

And, if it's not asking too much, if you do send a TB and it fails, could you let me know in the comments?

Thanks much.

Posted by Russ at 07:20 PM | Comments (6)
September 11, 2006
Five Years

[This is a re-post, modified, from 9/11/2004]

One morning while working from home I turned on the TV in time to see one of the World Trade Towers burning. As I watched, an airliner slammed into the second tower; in that second, the world changed.

No, that's not right. The world didn't change — we all woke up.

As events unfolded, I could only think of the people trapped by the fire, and I wondered how the authorities would evacuate so many people. Helicopters on the roof, I figured.

Then the towers fell. A plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and everyone expected there would be more attacks.

Our "vacation from history" was over, and we were at war. Against whom didn't quite matter at that moment.

Remember the preliminary casualty estimates? Numbers upwards of 30,000 were cited that morning. The shock I felt could only have been the merest shade of the horror and despair felt by the families of the victims watching on TV, wondering if their loved ones had escaped... or wondering if the body falling from the tower was their family member.

Five years later, we count ourselves fortunate that "only" 3,000 died on 9/11.

From that day and in the years since, we have learned of acts of incredible courage and steadfastness, starting with Todd Beemer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93, continued by the people who stopped Richard Reid's potentially deadly shoe-bomb plot, carried on by men leaping into the darkness over Afghanistan, with leaders like GEN Tommy Franks, and continuing today with all our armed forces.

We are also fortunate that the man in the White House is a man of moral courage and intestinal fortitude, who knows that doing the right thing should not be subject to an opinion poll.

Since 9/11, the war on terrorists and terrorist states has gone very well overall, with few mistakes and a blessedly low casualty rate for our soldiers. We have also been lucky enough — and good enough — not to have suffered another attack approaching the magnitude of 9/11.

The lesson I take from all this is that we can never again allow ourselves to nap through history; it has a way of catching up with us, and when it does, it will take all our skill, intelligence and courage to face it down. The bad guys, present and future, may get lucky again some day, but real Americans are made of stern stuff. No matter the setbacks we may face in the future, we will ultimately win.

Posted by Russ at 03:05 PM | Comments (3)
September 10, 2006
Object Lesson

Part 1 of ABC's docudrama The Path to 9/11 airs tonight and, as Tigerhawk points out (h/t: Prof R) due to the Democrats' incessant blathering in every available media outlet about the unfairness of it all, it'll likely have a significantly larger audience than it would have, had the community of Clinton defenders simply pretended the miniseries didn't exist.

No one I know of is claiming that the miniseries is completely accurate, any more than The Longest Day was a 100% completely faithful account of the D-Day landings — but that movie is still a good way to learn about the Normandy invasion.

Perhaps this can be an object lesson for the Left on the difference between "reality" and "reality-based."

Posted by Russ at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)
September 08, 2006
Friday Face Time

It's rare that I can get a decent close-up photo of Mycah without using a flash. The flash, of course, leads to green-eye, which just looks weird. Plus, I'm fairly sure it bugs the heck out of the cat.

On those rare occasions when opportunity (e.g., the combination of feline proximity, camera availability and almost-decent natural lighting) knocks, it would be remiss of me to not take advantage.

[Click for larger.]

When she's this up close and personal, she's often asking for a skritch or demanding a kitty treat, but usually she's just hanging out with her human.

It being Friday, I recommend a visit to the Friday Ark.

And don't forget the Carnival of the Cats, this week at Begin Each Day.

Posted by Russ at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)
September 07, 2006
Recent Reading

Lately, my nightly reading has been a 6-book series, A Naval History of Great Britain: During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Written and published in the 1820s, the six volumes are a chronological record of every significant (and perhaps not so significant) action and expedition in which the Royal Navy participated. Gleaned by the author, William M. James, from Admiralty records and the after-action reports of the participants, these volumes are as close to "source material" as one could get without visiting the Admiralty's archives oneself.

For anyone interested in the period and the facts that underlay such historical fiction as C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series*, or the Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian (the source material for the film Master and Commander - the Far Side of the World, which I reviewed here), this series of books is invaluable.

The author was British, and was initially motivated to write the histories by what he thought were overblown American press accounts of US naval victories in the War of 1812. Seeking to put the best face on British losses — it was stunning, virtually unthinkable at the time, that ships of the Royal Navy could lose battles to the upstart Americans (but lose them they did) — there is undeniably pro-British spin, but on the whole the books do a good job of telling what happened in a straightforward way.

Sometimes, however, the author's take on matters is hard to ignore... nor would one want to, in passages such as this from Volume 2:

On the 22nd of February [1797], in the evening the French 40-gun frigates Résistance and Vengeance, 22-gun ship-corvette Constance, and lugger Vautour, anchored in Fisgard Bay on the coast of Wales. During the night, they landed 1200 galley-slaves, dressed and accoutered as soldiers, but without any cannon or camp equipage.

The alarm soon spread, and it was not long before a strong body of militia, under the command of Lord Cawdor, assembled near the spot. The Frenchmen, whose intentions were rather predatory than warlike, immediately surrendered, and were marched as prisoners to Haversfordwest. Meanwhile the vessels that had brought them weighed, and soon disappeared from the coast.

What was the object of this silly expedition, no one, not even among the French, seems rightly to have understood.

How often does one get the opportunity to laugh out loud while reading history?

This series of books, six volumes in all, is not always available new, but nevertheless belongs in the collection of anyone interested in naval history.

* Those who enjoyed the Hornblower films might be interested to note that there really was an Indefatigable, and it really was captained by Sir Edward Pellew.

Posted by Russ at 01:51 PM
If I knew anything about Zen Buddhism, I'd have called this post "A moment of Fruit Zen." But I don't, so I didn't.

Mmmmmm... watermelon.

Posted by Russ at 12:23 AM | Comments (1)
September 04, 2006
Burned Out, Not Faded Away

You've heard about the death of Australian zoologist Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin by now, no doubt.

When those who willingly engage in inherently risky activities die, one often hears sentiments along the line of, "he went out the way he wanted to, doing what he loved." I suppose that might apply here, too, though I doubt Mr. Irwin meant it to happen while he was quite so young, with two young children.

Perhaps he ought to have placed the welfare of his family ahead of his own desire to get close to nature and to educate. No doubt his children will be well provided for... but I bet they would rather have a Dad.

Related: Jack M., guest-posting at Ace of Spades, has additional thoughts worth reading.

Posted by Russ at 04:33 PM | Comments (2)