"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving pizza...

...will have to wait 'til Friday.

You see, Pizza Hut will be closed on Thanksgiving day (the one convenient to me at least).   For some time now, I've favored them over others; having long considered grease an essential ingredient of a good pizza. :-)

Wasn't always so; when I first came to Houston in the mid '60s, the absolute best pizzas, bar none, were served by Shakey's, but they became history here when Hunt International bought them out in the mid '70s and closed the local restaurants (Domino's taking over most of them).

A lot of other buyouts followed, with the results that an outfit once having hundreds of locations all over the country has now been reduced to a few dozen, mostly in their home state of California.

Second best (also now history) was the Post Oak Drive-In Theater.  Instead of pulling out a frozen pizza and shoving it into the oven, they made theirs from scratch, just like a real pizzeria.

One of their toppings  was chili.  When washed down with the beer I had snuck into the the drive-in, it was fantastic. (Just had to be sure to also bring along a trash bag, a roll of paper towels, and some wipes; messy doesn't begin to describe it. :-)

Once in a while I try to duplicate that experience by adding chili to a frozen one.  Close, but somehow just ain't the same.

By now, instead of asking "What about turkey?!!!", you've probably deduced that I'm not a big turkey fan.  Give me pizza and beer, and throw in a DVD to watch (there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day), and I'm all set.

Did I just commit blasphemy with that "there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day" above?

Well, I've never been much of a football fan either, except for a brief shining moment in the late '70s when coach O. A. "Bum" Phillips raised what was then the Houston Oilers to superbowl material, twice actually making it to the playoffs (only to run into that steel wall called Pittsburgh).

Something I'll always remember was the wonderful welcome the team got from cheering crowds that greeted them when they came home. They had to be feeling pretty low from those defeats, and for those fans to give that kind of "Welcome Home" made me proud beyond description.

(For a while, before those playoffs, I'd considered the Oilers as mostly just their two prima donnas (Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell). But, while on vacation with friends in New Mexico, I saw a game (don't remember who they were playing), where both of them were benched and the remaining players went out there, just like a real team, and WON!)

Unfortunately, Phillips was getting more publicity than team owner Bud Adams (worthy of his own story) and many of us felt his days were numbered.

Sure, enough, Phillips was eventually fired and went to New Orleans to coach the New Orleans Saints (at that time owned by River Oaks native (and neighbor of Bud Adams) John Mecom.  I think there was a rivalry between them worthy of a TV movie, if it hasn't already been done.)

So many Oilers' players (Campbell, Pastorini, others) followed him there, our secretary began referring to the team as the Houston Saints.

Well, I've managed to wander all over the map this time, even including one of my least favorite subjects. So, I think it's time to close this one.

Hope you have a really wonderful thanksgiving. I'm gonna give it a shot. :-)

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Anvil of Life

To be smart as Hell and to not have a lick of sense are not mutually exclusive.

In my previous post Ready for a firestorm? :-)  (about an Ann Coulter article on the insanity of letting young people vote) a commenter noted...

"After reading Ann's full article, if it's true that 18-24 yr. olds broke for Obama by 19 points (I still question who's polling them and where because I don't recall any pollsters anywhere in my neighborhood) but if that's true, with a military service exemption, I would be for. Sigh. There really are millions of stupid Americans.

I replied in a comment of my own, and after further reflection, decided to tweak and expand the comment into the post you are now reading.

There really are millions of stupid Americans.

Yup!

But, in the 18-24 range, I suspect it is ignorance more than stupidity.

I've always viewed ignorance as simply lack of information, whereas stupidity consists of going ahead and doing something when you damned well (or should) know better.

In 1962, I was in the USAF, newly stationed at Goodfellow AFB outside of San Angelo, Texas. One weekend, I went with three other Airmen down to Del Rio and across the border into Villa Acuña (now Ciudad Acuña) to check out "boystown" (the local red light district) and to buy and bring back cheap duty-free booze.

A little background necessary for what follows:

We were in the United States Air Force Security Service (now the Electronic Security Arm, I think).  (See update below)

When you enlist in the service, you are given a battery of tests on almost anything imaginable (of course, to see just what, if anything, you're good for).

The spook shops have the privilege of being the first to troll through the results and they pick from the top 2%. If they're interested in you, background checks will be performed while you are still in basic training ("Some people from the government were asking about you, but we lied and said you were Ok." :-) but they'll likely wait until they're sure you aren't going to flunk out of basic training before informing you.

In my case, about 2/3 of the way through basic, after being marched to a class one morning, and standing at parade rest waiting to go in, my drill instructor comes up to me and quietly tells me that, "at 1300, you will report to Bldg. ####, Room ###, in the Uniform of the Day. That is all."

The strangest thing is that, for the first time in 8 or 9 weeks, he's not looking at me as if I scuttled out from under a rock, but has a quiet smile, as if he's proud or something. Also, I'm the only one in my flight (40+ Airmen, the USAF equivalent to a platoon) to receive that attention.

Upon reporting to that room, I find a couple of dozen other Airmen, NCOs and Officers also there to see what the Hell this is about. We're told that they are seeking linguists to attend a one-year intensive language course at the Institute of Far Eastern Languages at Yale University (this was 1961 - The USAF departed Yale in the mid 70's and now uses the Defense Language Institute or whatever at Monterey, California).

The afternoon is spent on testing our aptitude on learning Mandarin Chinese, although some will be selected for other languages (Korean in my case).

I manage to do Ok, and am selected. I had to drop out of school after the 9th grade, and here I am chosen to go to Yale!  (Well, I did know how to read (see On Reading... for how lucky I've been in this area)). I suspect that I really needed a cap a couple of sizes larger at that point.

I spent a solid year at Yale, with some of the brightest people I have ever met, and that was the greatest thing in the world for me.

After graduation, we were then sent down to Goodfellow for the next phase of our training. Whereupon, the four of us embarked upon the great Villa Acuña sex and booze adventure noted way up yonder.

What I'm trying to convey is that our little bunch was absolutely as sharp as they come (including, modestly, yours truly :-).

And, just how was all that brilliance used?  Stay tuned...

To bring that booze back over the border, you had to be 21, and not one of us had reached that exalted age. So, we cleverly shoved the bottles under the seats as we approached the border crossing.

We had noticed that the Customs guards and Border Patrolmen were just waving through car after car of families that had come over to watch the bullfights and indulge in some very cheap shopping.

So, this bunch of super-smart Airmen (including myself) would later actually conjure up conspiracy theories, about informants in the liquor stores, to explain the mystery of why a Patrolman takes one look at this old Mercury pulling up with a Goodfellow AFB sticker on the windshield, occupied by four young punks sporting military haircuts, and waves us right over.

   "Do you gentlemen have anything to declare?"
   "No Sir."
   "Right!  Step out of the car please."


And they go straight to our hiding place and pull it out.

Not having enough to pay the fine, so help me, I actually asked, "Can I just leave it?"

To which one of the Patrolmen (probably really straining to keep a straight face) replied, "I've got news for you son; you are going to leave it."

Thankfully, one of the others was able to loan me enough to handle the fine.

As I said, being smart as Hell, and not having a lick of sense, are not mutually exclusive.

The missing ingredient, of course, was experience; the hammer with which we're forged on the anvil of life.

Update 12 Dec 2010 - "(now the Electronic Security Arm, I think)" Slightly off, and way out of date.  Its name often changed along with what was covered in its mission.

The various incarnations were...
  United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) 1948-1979.
  Electronic Security Command (ESC) 1979-1991.
  Air Force Intelligence Command (AFIC) 1991-1993.
  Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) 1993-2007.
  Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA) 2007-Present.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ready for a firestorm? :-)

Then check out Ann Coulter's latest: REPEAL THE 26TH AMENDMENT!... (Updated below)
   ...
Adopted in 1971 at the tail end of the Worst Generation's anti-war protests, the argument for allowing children to vote was that 18-year-olds could drink and be conscripted into the military, so they ought to be allowed to vote.

But 18-year-olds aren't allowed to drink anymore. We no longer have a draft.

   ...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dr. Sanity nails it!

One reason I'm a Republican is that, while we may be cursed with a few of those she describes, the Democrats seem absolutely infested with them.

This lady is well worth bookmarking and reading.

Her latest post (at Dr. Sanity ) ...
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WHAT 'PROGRESSIVES' STAND FOR
Let's get down to the nitty gritty of what "progressivism" is all about, shall we? And, it's all about controlling other people's lives, down to determining the food you and your kids will be able to eat ( because, you know, you are far too stupid to decide that yourself).

For all their happy talk and utopian fantasies, that is the essence of progressivism. Oh, they say it is for your own good...they insist that they are protecting you from the "greed" of those evil capitalists who desire not only your money, but your death--but make no mistake, what they really want is to control your life.

--------------------------------------------------------

That last emphasis is mine. She has a lot more to say, but she really nails it right there.

Update - 05 Dec 2010 - Dr. Sanity does not permalink her individual articles, and this one no longer appears on her main page. To find the full article, look in the sidebar at the left of her page, go down to Archives, and click on November 2010,  Once that page finishes loading, look for Thursday, November 04, 2010 (near the bottom). The full article WHAT 'PROGRESSIVES' STAND FOR begins there.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election 2010 - So, where are we now?

...Not nearly as far as I'd hoped we'd be.

As I write this (Wednesday afternoon, 03 Nov 2010) the House appears to be 239 Republicans (for a gain of 60, so far), 185 Democrats, and 11 undecided.

That ain't chopped liver; legislation originates in the House, before being passed along to the Senate and eventually to the President's desk for signing. At the very least, after the new congress is seated in January, there will be enough Republicans to stop any new atrocities from being passed in the House.

Further, Republicans will now chair House committees. As this includes the House Ways and Means Committee, Republicans will now have a very big say on how much (or even if) certain legislation will be funded.

The Joker in this deck is, Will the Republicans actually exercise this power they have won?

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