May 2008 Archives

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May 30, 2008

Exciting times here for the new guys.

I acquired — and managed to get up the stairs — a cat tree. The lads are all over it.

That thing is heavy. I hope the boys appreciate just how difficult it was for me to get it upstairs.

Board the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

The Carnival of the Cats this week is at Kashim & Othello's place.

Every day, there is the Cat Blogosphere. Make it a regular stop for all things feline.

Posted by Russ at 12:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 29, 2008
Another perfectly good word I've never before used here, and at some point might have used, but. . .

. . . Mike at Cold Fury has used it well enough that I don't have to: "risible."

(Language alert is in effect.)

Posted by Russ at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Proof of life

Via Instapundit: Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter Captures Images of Phoenix Lander's Descent. Follow the link, and check out that photo.

Way, way cool.

But as I was looking at the full-sized photo, I noticed something else the MRO had caught in the frame. If you look very closely at about the two o'clock position near the center of the crater, you'll be as stunned as I was. You should be able to just make out my startling discovery below the fold.

Posted by Russ at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Death in the "family"

Korean linguists in the US Army are an extremely rare breed. It's hard just to qualify for the training; even harder to make it through. There were and are very few of us in the service at any given time, and when I was in, we all knew (or knew of) each other.

One of the things I've most regretted since I left the Army all those years ago is that I didn't keep in touch with the others in our small, select fraternity. Recently, however, thanks to the Internet, I've gotten back in contact with a number of my former colleagues.

It's been good, rebuilding those links, and catching up with the news of who is doing what these days, as well as hearing from those who came before and those who followed my time in the service.

Unfortunately, bad news comes along from time to time, too.

I recently learned that one of my fellow squad leaders from Fort Ord days, while serving another tour in Korea, had collapsed and died after a morning PT run. He was a month younger than me. He was a heck of a soldier, and highly regarded by all who served with him.

And this past weekend, one of my former platoon sergeants died suddenly of a heart attack. He'd just gotten married, and was getting ready to go on his honeymoon trip this week. He was only a few years older than I am. I remember him as a smart and steady leader, and a nice guy, as well. I've been thinking about him a lot this week.

Both these men dedicated their lives to our country, and though neither faced combat, both were dedicated and skilled, and served willingly and with good cheer. Both are missed.

A friend recently noted that though we in the Korean linguist community never had our careers "highlighted" by a shooting war, we stood there at the very threshold of war for all the time we spent in "The Land of the Morning Calm." Very few others can truly appreciate the full time "pucker factor" induced by incidents such as Kim Il Sung's death, the Tree Chopping Incident or the many other tension-raising events that shaped our service.

Posted by Russ at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
May 28, 2008
Why is blogging so slow around here?

Because I suck, that's why. And I'm rather busy today.

More later.

Or perhaps, maybe more, eventually.

Posted by Russ at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
May 25, 2008
Ten perfectly good words and phrases I have never before used here, but perhaps ought to, given the right circumstances
  1. askance
  2. resentment
  3. raconteur
  4. hemorrhage
  5. nozzle
  6. knucklehead
  7. omelette du fromage
  8. blockbuster
  9. apotheosis
  10. spud
Posted by Russ at 04:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
May 24, 2008

There is an age after which birthdays should cease to matter as occasions for anticipation and celebration.

That age is twelve.

Sure, there are noteworthy exceptions — landmarks, if you will. 16, 18, 21, 40 (maybe), 65 (or whatever retirement age is these days) and 100.

I suppose that in my case, attaining 46 was perhaps the littlest teeniest tiniest bit in doubt a year ago. Well, I made it. I think I'll celebrate by having a steak, or maybe pizza... if I can squeeze in a break from work. It's just another work day (second shift) for me, though it is also another a chance to again thank Mom for everything.

I'll skip the cake and ice cream, though.

Posted by Russ at 10:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 23, 2008
Packet the TV connoisseur

Packet has become a TV junkie. Cat Sitter is his favorite DVD so far.

Rodents and birds are not the only things he likes to watch. He seems to enjoy Good Eats as much as I do, and he's a regular Red Eye viewer. He's a big fan of ombudsman Andy Levy.

He's probably hoping to get an autographed picture of Andy's cats, Pixel and Stormy.

Start your weekend at The Modulator's Friday Ark.

The Carnival of the Cats this week is hosted at the M-cats Club.

And as always, for your every day cat needs, a visit to the Cat Blogosphere is recommended.

Posted by Russ at 02:42 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
May 20, 2008
More brains

Ted Kennedy Diagnosed With Brain Tumor.

As much as I oppose pretty much every thing he stands for, I can't help but wish him and his family well in this time of trouble. This goes way beyond politics.

I know it entirely too well from my own recent experience: brain problems purely suck.

Posted by Russ at 03:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Fearfully and wonderfully made

Another one from Hot Air (the headlines, this time):

Six-Year-Old to Have Half Her Brain Removed Next Month Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A 6-year-old girl suffering from a rare disorder will have half her brain removed next month at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

. . .

She suffers from Rasmussen's encephalitis, a rare illness that eats away at the brain and plagues its sufferers with seizures and reduced mobility.

Having been in the reduced-mobility camp, I can sympathize. In my own case I was prepared, a year ago, for any number of possible diagnoses, but I never imagined anything as horrible as this.

In most cases, he said, the healthy side of the brain will take over the tasks of the missing side of the brain. Some paralysis and other side effects are expected, but the seizures will stop, the Web site reported. Johns Hopkins does about a dozen of these surgeries a year. [Emphasis mine.]

I guess now we know why we only use that often-cited 15% of our brain. "Fearfully and wonderfully made," indeed.

Posted by Russ at 02:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Equality of Misery

At Hot Air yesterday, Allahpundit noted:

A winning campaign slogan if ever there was one: You're going on a diet.
Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

Obama wants us to tighten our belts, and overlooks the fact that the U.S. already leads by example, already develops new technologies. Only prosperous societies such as ours have the extra energy to spend on worrying about the environment. Subsistence-level farmers in, for instance, sub-Saharan Africa can't be bothered, when their main motivation is simply to avoid starving.

My question, however, is: who cares what other countries say? Since when do they get a veto over our lifestyle?

Obama apparently wishes that our way of life was more like that of other (read: poorer) countries. If he's given the reins of power, I've no doubt we'll get that opportunity.

In the meantime, I think today I'll go for a drive in my big-ass pickup truck, stop at Hardee's — it's only about 10 miles out of my way — for a monster burger, and when I get home I'll turn my thermostat down from 74 to 72, just to irk some other country. It's my patriotic duty.

Posted by Russ at 01:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
May 16, 2008

Kismet says a very quick hello.

I really need to get a longer vid of him at his most talkative, but when the camera comes out, he goes quiet. Uncooperative little cuss.

Check out the neat goodies that are being raffled off at Cat Friends Helping Friends.

Don't miss the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

The Carnival of the Cats this week is hosted by our friends at Artsy Catsy.

And as always, for your every day cat needs, a visit to the Cat Blogosphere is recommended.

Posted by Russ at 06:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
May 15, 2008
Not surprising

It is California, after all.

In other decisions released today, the California Supreme Court has ruled that π (pi) is equal to exactly 3.00, and that God (a.k.a. "Jehovah") can be sued by European Americans for damages suffered by their ancestors during the Black Death plague of the 14th century.

Posted by Russ at 03:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 14, 2008
Ups and downs

The upside to my recovery: I can feel my feet again.

The downside: I can feel the gout again.


Posted by Russ at 03:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 12, 2008
Quick Movie Review

Urgh: A Music War (1981)
(Directed by Derek Burbidge)

Some "music war." If only there had been some casualties. I was hoping for an airstrike.

"Codswallop" might be too polite a term for this collection of mostly awful tripe.

½ star

The "film" consists of live New Wave and Punk performances by various — and I use this term in its broadest possible sense — "artists."

This isn't film, it's the early-80s equivalent of a modern concert-goer with a cell-phone video camera posting a low-res video to YouTube.

You have a better chance of making a good film if a random person in the street bumps into you, says "here, hold this camera," and proceeds to do a song and dance number. In fact, a much better chance.

The first number, The Police performing "Driven to Tears," is pretty good. It goes pretty steadily downhill from there, with one or two bumps, until the two closing numbers, "Roxanne" and "So Lonely," also by The Police.

The half-star rating is solely for the presence of The Police... but even they aren't good enough to salvage this train wreck and pull the rating higher.

Posted by Russ at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
May 11, 2008
Mothers Day

A year ago, I was losing the ability to walk, and had resigned myself to having — at the minimum — an incurable disease (MS), and was trying to come to terms with possibly having one that would have been terminal (ALS).

I was rapidly becoming unable to take care of my home, my cat, and of myself. I could not drive, I couldn't do simple household chores, I could barely prepare meals for myself. I was on a medication regime that was having only the slightest positive effect, while the side effects were making life fairly miserable. (Maybe you've seen that asthma medication ad where the guy says "I couldn't take the steroids any more." Preach it, brother.)

I was facing the probable loss of home, career... everything. Into this breach stepped Mom.

Though my diagnosis ultimately shifted to something rather less severe than originally expected, I was nonetheless in a steep decline. But where I was unable to take care of myself, she gamely managed it all.

She drove me to doctor appointments.

She did the cooking. I've never in my life eaten so healthily.

She did the household chores.

She fed the cat.

She kept up with the neighborhood friends with whom I was unable to go out to chat.

When I was cranky and crabby after tests and surgery (just try not being a grouch after a spinal tap or having a hole drilled in your head) (on second thought, just take my word for it) she was understanding and patient.

When I fell, she was there to help me up.

In every sense including the literal, Mom was a life saver. No 45-year-old adult wants to be "taken care of by Mommy," but without her I probably wouldn't be able to tell the tale, or any tale.

Words are inadequate to tell how thankful I am for her.

Love ya, Mom.

Posted by Russ at 01:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
May 09, 2008
Another day...

... another trip to the vet.

Today is Mycah's turn. She's a good deal harder to wrangle than are the lads, if for no other reason than she's on to me.

She can tell when I'm trying to get her set to go to the vet. She can tell when the Prisoner Transport Unit is intended for actual transportation.

The fact that the Nice Lady Doctor always treats her very well means nothing to her. She simply doesn't want to go.

Her appointment is for 2pm... I'd better start herding her now if I plan on getting her there on time.

"You want me to go where?!?!?

"Certainly you jest."

Don't miss the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

The Carnival of the Cats this week will be hosted by a pack of Bad Kitty Cats.

And as always, for your every day cat needs, a visit to the Cat Blogosphere is recommended.

Posted by Russ at 12:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
May 07, 2008
Over... for now

The best thing about yesterday's NC primary elections?

No more Obamessiah or Hillary! ads.

At least, no more until October, I figure.

Posted by Russ at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sick lad

Kismet had his followup at the vet yesterday. As you may recall, he developed an upper respiratory infection, with what appeared to be a swollen lymph node under his armpit.

Though he's still a tiny bit wheezy, the antibiotics seem to be doing their job. Kismet struggles against being pilled, like every cat I've ever tried it with, but once the pill is in he swallows it right down, accompanied by a round of tummy rubbing and repeated "good boy."

The vet did not, however, like the armpit lump, which appears to have expanded. It looks like it's within the loose skin, and doesn't seem to be causing the lad any discomfort, but it's grown rather a lot in the past week.

We have another followup on Monday next. The vet will perform a biopsy to try to figure out just what we're dealing with here.

I knew that taking on two new cats would inevitably lead to veterinary issues. I just wasn't expecting them quite so soon.

He's such a sweet little cat; always poking his nose into everything, playing with Packet, curious about Mycah (who is still a bit stand-offish), chatting constantly, and very affectionate. I sure hope that whatever it is under his arm isn't too serious.

Posted by Russ at 04:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
May 06, 2008
Quick Movie Review

Iron Man
(Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard)

Wait... terrorists and their enablers, and not the US military, are the bad guys? I can't imagine why anyone would like this.

(Hollywood lefties, are you taking notes?)

4½ stars

So, yesterday I did something I haven't been able to do in over a year: I went and sat in a theater to watch a movie.

It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that I wished hadn't ended so soon. I could have sat through two more hours.

If all of Downey's past problems had happened for the sole purpose of bringing him to the point of making this movie, then they were worth it. He's absolutely superb in the role.

Paltrow is gorgeous, in a smokin' hot librarian sort of way.

Be sure to sit all the way through the credits.

I'm glad I went, and though there are few things as pathetic as going to the movies alone, I'll continue doing so, as long as there's decent fare... which, given the tidal wave of sheer crap coming out of the movie studios these days, it might be another two years before I'm willing to sit in a theater again. I hope not, though — it's good to get out of the house.

Posted by Russ at 01:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 05, 2008
"Qualified," indeed

In theory — not my theory, but that of the gun control crowd — firearms are best left in the hands of the professionals.

Oh, really?

Posted by Russ at 11:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday Miscellany

I expected that last post to generate a bit more by way of discussion. Perhaps I should have held it for a weekday instead of posting it on Saturday.

If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that if you want a lot of visits and comments, put up a picture of a cat. Fortunately, I now have three of the furballs to photograph, and they are photogenic... but not every day is Cat Day here.

Oddly, however, this week is Cat Week for me, as all three are making trips to the vet, on three separate days. Mycah has followup blood work to be done, Packet has his first checkup with our vet (the amazing Dr. Jennifer Hodge of the Cat Clinic of Cary — if you're in the area, I recommend them highly), and Kismet, who went in for his checkup last week, has a followup for his upper respiratory infection.

Kismet had weepy eyes and was a bit sneezy last week; when he emptied his snotlocker on my shirt one afternoon, I decided to get him checked out a bit earlier than originally scheduled. Along with the respiratory symptoms, what appeared to be a swollen (perhaps infected) lymph node was found in his armpit. As a result, he's been on a twice-daily regimen of a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Further, blood was taken for lab work, and the results show that he's got antibodies for corona virus, but it doesn't look like an active infection, but rather a past exposure. I informed the folks at the adoption center, just in case.

In any event, he seems pretty well. He's less sneezy, but the lump in his armpit hasn't gone away. We'll be getting that checked out at the followup visit tomorrow.

All that said, here's your daily dose of cat: Mycah taking her turn on the Gizzy quilt.

Posted by Russ at 01:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 03, 2008
Go Fight Win

While covering the news last night on FNC's Red Eye (you are DVRing it nightly, are you not?) Fox Business Network reporter Tracy Byrnes defended cheerleading as a "sport."

Utter nonsense.

Cheerleading, Ice Dancing, and Synchronized Swimming may all be competitive endeavours requiring athletic ability, but they aren't sports.

Here are two simple rules of thumb by which you can tell if the activity in which you are engaged is a sport, when victory is determined by your score:

  • If a score is awarded based on judges' arbitrary opinion of the quality of your performance, it's not a sport.
  • If the score is determined solely by the completion of a specific task, it is a sport.


Posted by Russ at 03:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
May 02, 2008
Comfy Cat

Having recently won the Cat Friends Helping Friends raffle for a "Gizzy" quilt, I was eager to see how any or all of the cats would like it.

It arrived in the mail on Wednesday; Kismet wasted no time making himself comfortable.

I'll try to find a sunnier spot for it. The upstairs hallway at the top of the stairs may not be quite the best place. Can you say "trip hazard?"

Don't miss the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

The Carnival of the Cats this week is hosted by Grace and Kittens.

And for your every day cat needs, a visit to the Cat Blogosphere is always recommended.

Posted by Russ at 12:01 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
May 01, 2008
Six Word Memoir

I recently got tagged by my long-time friend Beth, but sadly the "tag" was buried under an avalanche of recent comments. Anyway, here goes:

The Rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Six words? Hmm....

Disabled, nerdy veteran, hermit. Blessed, nonetheless.

(I'll take a pass on the followup tagging, though.)

Posted by Russ at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)