Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kinda Sad Observation

4 December 2016

I have some long-time friends that are nice to have around, most of the time.

Then there are the times they are just jerks.

It used to be for very short times, but the durations are getting longer.

Sigh.

I actually feel sorry for them.

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Looking Ahead To Post-Election

3 November 2016

I posted this as my Facebook status a while ago:

Oklahoma voting starts today!

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. She has policies that I like across the board. She will appoint progressive Supreme Court justices that are pro-people instead of pro-business. She has the proven ability to work in a bipartisan way. She lets science guide policy. She is inclusive to people of all walks of life, including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. She has the experience to keep our military strong. She is a champion of women and children. She will not work to keep our brothers and sisters of color from participating in the country and having their voices heard. She is not obnoxious. does not fear monger, and lives in a world that is reality-based. In spite of the avalanche of BS constantly thrown her way, she has kept to the high road with grace and dignity. She is uniquely qualified, and will do a fine job as President for all Americans.

There were some comments, pro and anti, not unexpected.  You will note that what I wrote above is all pretty much pro-Clinton, as opposed to anti-Trump, and that’s quite deliberate (I could write at least as much anti-Trump, if I wanted to).

One of my friends posted this as a response, both to my post and another friends comment:

America will survive whoever gets elected. The landscape may change, but we will survive and hopefully do a better job in selecting candidates next election.

I generally agree with this, in particular the first sentence and most of the second.  But I’m less sanguine about what the state of the country will be in the (hoped-for!) Clinton Administration.

In the past couple months, and weeks, I’ve seen a level of vitriol directed against Clinton that I would never have imagined.  One of the worst things I’ve seen is playing up that Bill Clinton has an african-american child by a mistress.  Another is the claim that the election of Clinton is a coup d’etat.  Another claimed that a list of ISIS members who donated to the Clinton campaign was found.  So many small facts have been overblown into supposed major crimes (think the after-the-fact classification of a few emails).  And all of this is on top of many, many made-up posts released for the low-information types to pass around.  A few lawmakers have been talking impeachment already (of course, no grounds for anything like that have been discussed).  And other people in Congress have already started talking about endless investigations, never confirming any SCOTUS appointments, and more obstructive inaction.

All of this I find really bothersome.  It’s a rejection of the Constitution by conservatives. It is continued attempts to de-legitimize any Democrat office holder. It’s cowardly.

I am generally all for a multi-party system of government.  But right now, I hope that not only does Clinton win the White House, but at least Democrats take the Senate, and for good measure, the House as well. Getting the do-nothing Republicans out of there will at least let some progress be made on solving or mitigating the problems this country has, which the Republicans have no plan to even address, much less solve.

I’m Tired Of Hearing About Clinton’s Emails, Also

29 October 2016

So that’s something else I share with Bernie Sanders.

As I’ve said many times, the Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, had no policy to compete against Hillary Clinton.  They have been desperately searching for something that looks like dirt on her to try to salvage the Presidential election.

So she ran a private email server, while she was SecState.  Various investigations show no violation of the law.

At some point, the FBI found more emails on a computer used by one of her aides.

That set off howls of outrage among the low-information set that is devoted to Trump and the sickly remains of the Republican Party.  In less than a couple hours, I’ve seen memes fed to those low-info types that howl that the “missing 30,000 emails were found” and “there was classified information that is a danger to the country”.  Pence got on Chris Matthews show and was allowed to run at the mouth for almost five minutes, bitching about how bad the emails were, and being given the opportunity to spout mindless talking points.  The same on CNN and Fox, a bunch of free advertising.

But little intelligent discussion about the actual effect.  What is most likely is that the emails in question are copies of some or most of the emails already looked at, since the computer in question has already been identified at getting messages from the server in questions.

The FBI (the Director, I would guess) seriously screwed up by stirring up the situation without having any indication of any new information.

Regardless, it all comes down to the fact that Trump and the Republicans still don’t have policy to run on.  Unless one of the magic emails is found to have a true national security impact, Clinton will be elected.

Republicans need to grow up to be a real party again, or they will be gone in a couple years.

Emily’s Restaurant, Pinellas Park, FL

9 September 2016

Emily's Family Restaurant III Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had breakfast at Emily’s this morning. Again, I got there about 0720 and it was empty.

I thought I would have another skillet. This one was PERFECT. Again, ham and sausage and cheese (grated, this time). The potatoes were thin sliced (like I would get in a potato casserole in Omaha), and they were cooked up just right. This one had a layer of sausage gravy between the meats and the eggs, and the combination of flavors was fantastic! This thing was right on the edge of eat-it-until-I-explode territory, it was that good.

The meal came with an excellent biscuit that hosted strawberry jam. The iced tea was great, service was extraordinarily friendly, and my check was $10.60. That may have been the best skillet meal I’ve had, anywhere. Great stuff, highly recommended.

Fuze, Oklahoma City, OK

7 June 2016

Fuze Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Don’t bother.

Raegan and I had dinner at Fuze last evening with our Girl Scout Service Unit. The good news, we didn’t get sick.

I had some pot roast, a mongolian bbq (with chicken for my meat and fried rice for the starch), some wings, some curried chicken, a couple other things I can’t remember, some veg, and finally some tapioca. Raegan has some salad, sushi, turkey, and a couple other things.

None of this was bad. It also was not good. I don’t think a single thing that I had, to include the tapioca, had any real flavor. It was bland. Even the curried chicken didn’t have curry flavor. Some of the stuff was quite tough. I’m pretty sure the “brisket” was the same meat as the pot roast, but shredded with some red sauce on it (it wasn’t BBQ sauce). My comment to Raegan is that maybe all the stuff was made from the same protein stuff just extruded through different equipment.

The iced tea was not good, I switched to Dr. Pepper, which was not particularly good (it was watered down).

Service was pretty good. The music playing in the room we were in was way too loud, and after one request to the server, a manager came in within a minute and turned it down. Drinks were kept refilled.

I suppose this place would be an option if you have multiple “tastes” that need to be satisfied in a group of people. But don’t go here expecting decent flavor. I make a final comment, about the mongolian bbq: I added a number of sauces to mine, including one that was quite hot. It made not one difference.

Brock Turner Is A Symptom of A Larger Problem

7 June 2016

Turner was convicted of several counts relating to his rape of an unconscious woman in California.  For multiple felonies, he was sentenced to a very light six months.  The “judge” was concerned for the poor boys well-being, it seems.  His father was also concerned that his son getting so much bad vibe for his “20 minutes of action”.

I have no idea what the political leanings of that pair of twisted idiots, or the judge, are. But it is clear that all three of them value the well-being and mental health of the victim far less than the perpetrator. (Late note, I read over lunch that the judge is a former Stanford athlete, like Turner. I don’t know if that’s true.)

I don’t know what kind of sexual urge or drive or need or want drives a guy to rape an unconscious woman.  It is wrong on any number of levels.  The attacker rapist should have a greater punishment.  I understand a father wanting to support his son, but the father dismisses the victim (“20 minutes of action”) and bemoans the effect on the son. Too effing bad, your son is a rapist.

The fact that the victim was drinking is not relevant, once she was unconscious (and for all we know, she could have had “help” in that respect from the rapist) she can’t consent, and at that point, the only honorable thing to do was to help her back to a place of safety.

But these three clueless people, the rapist, his father, and the judge, are symptoms of larger issues that demean and degrade women who are victims of various forms of assault by men.  Whether catcalls, or groping, being drugged, or being raped, there are a significant number of abusers of women around.  Just as bad, there are people who protect those abusers, even if they don’t participate in the abuse.

In the past couple political cycles, a number of people, all men as far as I know, and all conservative as far as I know, have talked about rape in terms of blaming the victim.

If you don’t condemn rape without condition, then STFU, crawl back under a rock, and remove yourself from society.  We don’t need you, and we don’t want you in a position of trust if you can’t support half of our population.

Star Wars: The Force Is Sleepy

22 January 2016

The best part about the new Star Wars movie is that the popcorn and Dr. Pepper was very good.  In fact, they had unlimited butteroid to put on the popcorn, and you could salt it yourself.

Seriously.  I saw A New Hope (although it wasn’t called that) in the drive-in theater on the north side of Muskogee, OK the week the movie was released, and was blown away.  To the point my buddies and I saw it the next evening, and the next.  When the Empire Struck Back, we yelled “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO keep going!!!!!!” from the darkness of the theater in Stillwater, OK, and then we went back several times.  And when the Jedi Returned, it was awesome, and we went back several times.

There is nothing to say about the “prequels”.  Except they are crap.

My Facebook review of TFA was, drum roll, please:  “Meh”.  After reflection, less then meh, even.  The movie was a single continuous take of one almost-didn’t-escape-that-[whatever certain death] after another almost-didn’t-escape-that-[whatever certain death], along with one-dimensional characters I don’t give a rip about.

OK, so they have FTL travel and blasters and light sabres and the Force; that’s all neat.  And it’s fantasy, I get that.  But having none other than Solo and the Wookie find the Falcon 16 and a half seconds after it was stolen from the planet, and then having bad guys find Solo three minutes later, and people being chased and eaten by monsters 18 seconds after that, and then having Lea find everyone after a battle, and all the other coincidences, it was beyond fantasy and into the realm of no frickin’ way.

I would have understood if Republic Mark II was in place, and fighting against the First Order, which objected to having their Emperor blown up.  But I do not understand how the First Order is still in charge, and why the ragtag, fugitive fleet (wait, strike that) Rebel Alliance Rev 1.1 is still on secret bases.

Related to that, why didn’t the Republic Mark II freeze the bank accounts of the Empire, preventing the First Order from building an Even Bigger Death Star.  Never mind that the EBDS sucks energy from a star to power it’s weapon to destroy every planet in a solar system at once?  W…T…F…?  If you know how to suck all the life Force from a star (yes, pun intended) then you really don’t have to be mucking around with the same TIE fighters you used 30 years earlier.  Do not get me started on the giant star map to Luke.  Ludicrous.

If I sound disappointed, well, check yourself out a new degree in Empathy.  I will not see the movie again, even when it gets replayed on the Disney Channel six times a day.  And I don’t even now if I will see the next installment.

I am afraid that I am going to end up relegating these Star Wars movies, like the prequels, into the same basket I place the film adaptations of my beloved The Hobbit, which is to say I skip right over them when I see them on TV, and I will not own them on DVD.  Sad to say, but TFA is really no better then the prequels, and which does a grave misservice to the grand saga of the original, and really only, Star Wars trilogy.

Starbucks Cups and Christmas. Seriously?

9 November 2015

If you think that Starbucks is participating in some fantasy war on Christmas, please:

SUCK IT UP

AND

DEAL WITH IT.

 
 
 
When Christians are kept from going to church, or the Government closes Christian churches but none of the others, or any of the billion references to the Christmas holiday are censored over the next two months, or the Government shuts down any of the radio stations that play Christmas music, etc. etc. etc., then come back and complain. Otherwise, why don’t you adopt a homeless family, or donate presents or money to help abandoned children, or something similar.

Cheesh.

The Sad Case Of The Kentucky Court Clerk

1 September 2015

So the lady in Kentucky who is supposed to issue marriage licenses does not want to issue any to gay people, and she has also denied licenses to straight couples as well.  She apparently does not want to discriminate.

So quit.  You were hired to do a job, and if your religious beliefs are not in line with the law and the Constitution, you have an obligation to quit.  It’s no different than not wanting to issue marriage licenses to mixed-race couples.  You do NOT get to stand there and tell everyone no.

You keep using that phrase “does not want to discriminate”.  I do not think that means what you think that means.  You are discriminating, period.  Denying licenses to straight couples does not relieve you of your discrimination.

It’s just silly.  If her objection is Bible-based, she should have stopped issuing licenses to divorced people long ago.

02 September 2015 Update:

A huge irony occurred to me regarding this clerk.  She claims to be following “God’s law” in denying marriage licenses to gay couples.  She has four marriages, and reportedly has had a child with another man while married.  I wonder if anyone has pointed out to her that God’s law, while quite ambiguous with respect to gays, is quite explicit in requiring both people in an adulterous relationship to be put to death.  This goes back to her practice of Cafeteria Christianity, picking and choosing what she wants to be important.  Sad, and pathetic, and quite unthinking.

Backpacking Stove Fuel Use, Part 2

31 July 2015

After my Grand Canyon trip, I took a somewhat-controlled look at how much fuel is used for a typical alcohol stove. The post is here.

After Troop 15 got back from our trip to Colorado, I collected all of the leftover fuel canisters except for one, and weighed them.

For scale, I am talking about these size alcohol/propane fuel canisters:

primus_8oz

First, I had one truly empty can. I had thought an empty canister would be around 130 grams, turns out the actual functional weight is around 160.

When I tested these in my kitchen, I found that taking a pot (five cups) of water from tap to boiling consumed about 10 grams of fuel.  I derated this for altitude and slightly colder stream water to 15 grams on the trail.  Of course, I couldn’t control for the amount of water boiled up there.  We were on the trail for six days, which means that we had 10 opportunities to boil water for breakfast and/or dinner, for a total of 17 people.  One confounding factor is that some people (I think about five) brought their own stoves and fuel.  Regardless, here are the results.

For seven brand new canisters (using 15 grams of fuel per pot), three of the canisters showed a total of 10 meals were cooked, which is right on what was predicted; each of those still had five meals left.  The other four showed a total of five meals cooked, which looks a lot like just dinner or just breakfast, so that’s pretty good as well.

I had also brought four partially used canisters.  My thought had been that just in case all eight of the brand new canisters were used up, we could use the partials to complete the trip.  Two of the canisters had 300 and 260 grams of fuel, and were completely empty, so they had prepared 20 and 17 or so meals each, which seems a little high.  The other two were… completely unused for this trip.

I mentioned about that several of the crew had brought their own stove and fuel, mainly JetBoils.  That lessened the impact on the larger canisters somewhat.

What does all this mean?  Well, the first thing is that I brought too much fuel, again, but it’s getting better.  Four of the canisters (out of 12) were essentially unused.  Even accounting for personal stoves and fuel, that’s a lot of extra weight to carry.

Another Step Forward For The BSA

29 July 2015

I applaud the BSA for getting rid of the national-level ban on gay Scout leaders.  There is NOTHING in being gay that makes any adult less capable of being a good Scout leader.  There is also nothing in being gay that makes a Scout any less capable of getting the most out of Scouting.

I do wish that BSA had followed through with full removal of the ban, instead of dropping back to the “local option”.  One of the arguments made in the Dale case was that Scouting could have their consistent membership standards, and now they have Balkanized the process to appease some church groups.

The whole anti-gay issue is still so silly. The focus by so-called conservatives on gays, to the exclusion of all the other sins, is just ridiculous.

So good for BSA President Gates for having the vision and wisdom to make this needed change. Those who want to quit will miss out on a fine program that should be available to ALL, not just some.

Replacing My Phone Email App

28 July 2015

I used the stock email app for my phone email use since I got my first Android phone, the Galaxy S3. The icon looked like this:

Stock Email App Icon

The app worked with using POP3 with my mail personal email, which is on Earthlink.  But a couple major updates ago, it started acting very sluggish.  Virtually any activity would result in a long (anywhere from 15-30 seconds) of ZERO responsiveness from the phone.  An example, a notification of new mail would show up.  I would tap on the notification, the screen would go completely black for up to 30 seconds, and then the inbox would show up.  Opening up a message, closing or deleting a message, or similar activities would result in the same delay effect.  This just compounded the other, lesser issues I had with the email app.

These were adding up to more frustration.  There was a very small limit on what the app would download for the message (it seemed to be around 10KB).  So if I got a longish email (and those with embedded HTML can go long), I would get a flash of a “LOAD MORE” button at the bottom; if I didn’t push it in about five seconds, it would go away, and no amount of upswiping would bring it back.  I would have to close the message and open it again, with the long delays, and then hit LOAD MORE as soon as it appeared.  Attachments were frustrating in that you had to go from the attachment page back to the main page, go through the LOAD MORE sequence, and then be able to view the attachment (it seems to make a lot more sense to just download the darn attachment when the user taps it).

The app also had a hard time with anything other than small inboxes.

So I talked to people and researched online, and a couple weeks ago installed Typemail, which is an IMap-based app.  It scarfed the several thousand messages in my inbox quite happily, very quickly, and without problemsl  So far, it seems to be working well.  The only gripe I have is that when I delete an email, it stays in the deleted items folder on the server.  I’ve looked for a fix online, but none yet.  So I log into my Earthlink via webmail every once in a while and zorch the deleted items folder.

I will report back again at some point, but so far Typemail looks pretty good.

Girl Scout HAT Durango Camp Adventure, 18-25 July 2015

27 July 2015

This last week, the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma (GS-WEST) High Adventure Team (HAT) took an amazing trip to Colorado, and had several adventures on the way there and back.

My photos from the trip are on my Google+ site here.

We headed out bright and early from OKC on Saturday. We drove steadily to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area in NM and made camp. One cool thing, we drove through Philmont Scout Ranch on the way. Wild Rivers was pretty cool, I had no idea it existed. Two canyons, one for Rio Bravo, and the other for Rio Grande, both hundreds of feet deep, meet into one river, the Grande. An amazing area.

Sunday we left the Wild Rivers area and drove all the way to Mesa Verde, touring the cliff dwellings there. We camped at Morefield, and were near enough to the store there to get WiFi. We saw a bear and cub on the road. The campsite was a little bit of a pain, you had to sleep on gravel filled areas that were pretty small, and with a two-tent limit.

Monday we drove to Durango and rafted the Animas River. The girls (and staff!) had a blast. Afterward we visited the Durango Community Center for the pool, climbing wall, gym, and SHOWERS! Camp for the evening was at Junction Creek campground (same place I camped with our Troop 15 guys a couple weeks ago). We were in the group camp, and it was a great campsite. For dinner, we went to the Bar D Ranch for their chuckwagon dinner and cowboy/western music show.

Tuesday we drove up to Silverton to tour the Old One Hundred gold mine, then back to Silverton to wander the town. Camp for the next two nights was Molas Lake, a private campground near Molas Pass.

Comments about Molas Lake camp. It was a very pretty area; both the lake and the mountains around the lake. They needed more toilets (there was one two-hole for pretty much the entire north side). The nearest water was all the way back to the main building, quite a walk. We had a cart, which helped. Most of our people were forced to sleep on gravel again, while two of the sites were dirt. Another two-tent per site limit.

Wednesday we took a hike. Our group walked around the lake, found the Colorado Trail, and headed up and over and above Molas Pass to Little Molas Lake, a NFS campground. The lake and surrounding area was beautiful. We had lunch on an unused campsite. There aren’t any picnic tables on the sites, nor is there any water unless you filter it from the lake. The usual vault toilets.

After lunch, most of our group headed back down to camp, for a 7.5 mile hike and roughly 600 ft of altitude gain. A smaller group kept going on the trail, and got up to 11,500 ft on a ridge for a stunning view of the mountains on both sides of us. One thing really special to me was seeing the Elk Creek drainage to the east, where I backpacked with our boys a couple weeks ago. Eventually, we headed back, for an 11.2 mile day with 1,100 ft of altitude gain.

Thursday we packed up and headed back into Durango, for ziplining, a new experience for most of us. Afterward, I texted Raegan “Slightly terrifying”. It was enjoyable, and I think I would do it again. After another run to the Community Center, we got to Junction Creek (the group camp again), and had our last camp night.

Friday was a travel day, to a motel in Clayton, NM, and Saturday we came back into OKC.

It was a very enjoyable trip, with many exciting activities. No one got hurt, the girls and adults got along well with no fussies, and no one was bored. The food was very good and varied. Our schedule was full, and there were a number of things I think we all would have liked to do, but annual leave is a limiting factor.

We also had a number of great ideas for things to do next time!

Cool Things From The Air, OKC-SAT-SLC-OKC, 13, 15, and 17 April 2015

16 July 2015

This is a little late, but I was trying to find some features using Google Maps.

This was a trip from OKC to SAT, then SAT to SLC, then SLC back to OKC, back in mid-April.

The pictures are on my Google+ site here.

Enjoy!

Backpacking Weminuche Wilderness, 26 June – 05 July 2015

16 July 2015

The photos from this expedition are on my Google+ site here.

We headed out Friday afternoon and drove to Springer, NM, spending the night in the National Guard Armory. Saturday morning we were up and out in good time, drove to nearby Philmont Scout Ranch for breakfast in the dining hall there, and visited the Philmont Museum and Trading Post.

We had planning on driving to Durango via US 64, which cuts through the Ranch, but severe storms there had caused flash flooding, including sweeping away several Scouts camping in Ponil Canyon, and closing US 64. After consulting maps, we headed for Raton, had lunch in Walsenberg, and took US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass to Durango.

In the town of Bayfield outside of Durango, a deer ran out in front of the car in front of us, got hit, and looked to me like the car was totaled. Very sad for all concerned.

That evening we camped at the Forest Service Junction Creek campground. Very nice camp. No showers, but toilets and good water, lots of trees, just beautiful. No cell service for most of us, but there was some Verizon voice.

Sunday morning we got up in a very leisurely fashion, had breakfast, and then took the guys back into Durango for a half day of whitewater rafting, which they loved! While they rafted, I did a grocery run to buy the lunches for the backpacking part of the trip.

Once back in camp, while dinner was being cooked, I laid out the troop gear and food for everyone. It was a heck of a lot of stuff as a pile, but much more manageable for each person. We packed up as much of camp as possible for departure the next morning.

We were taking the Durango and Silverton Railroad up to our trailhead Monday morning. The train departs at 0800, and we got there about 0715. Packs were loaded, the van was parked, and eventually the train headed out. We had bought a bunch of breakfast biscuits at the McD next door to speed the process.

We got to the trailhead in Elk Park a couple minutes late at 1115. Lunch was premade ham and turkey sandwiches next to the tracks, then we headed up Elk Creek Trail.

We had some intel from the train folks that our intended route, up to the Continental Divide Trail, then south over Hunchback Pass, was impassable due to snow. This was annoying, and I started looking at the map on the train ride to come up with an alternative.

We headed up the Elk Creek/Colorado Trail about noon, in beautiful weather. It was pretty steep headed up. We had one boots-off creek crossing in less than a mile. We hiked steadily up until we got to about 10,200 ft, where we found a very nice camp. We had a planning meeting and decided that due to the impassable trail, we would dayhike using our camp as a basecamp.

While we were breakfasting the next morning, Seana talked to a guy who had come down from the pass, who reported the snow up to his armpits, and barely passable with great effort for him.

The next morning, we got up and headed towards the Continental Divide with daypacks. We had decided to go up as far was we could. It was a stunning hike. Several water crossings, both boots on and off. Steadily up.

While we hiked, we passed a guy and his very happy Golden who reported having hiked through the “impassible” area. He said the snow was knee-deep in places, but pre-postholed, so we could make it. This was VERY annoying.

When we got to the top, I walked almost all the way to the Pass, and I think it was quite passable. I talked it over with the rest of the team, and we decided to stick with our basecamping plan. We got back into camp near dark.

The next day we took as the scheduled layover day. Most of the boys dayhiked, and all of us explored the area around camp. We were right between two fields of HUGE boulders.

Thursday we took a hike up to the Vestal Basin area. There wasn’t any trail on the map, but there was a trail up into the basin. This was a steep hike, occasionally 45deg+, and probably the most dangerous hike we had done. As we got to the top of the hike, storms were going on, and lightning, and we walked down in occasional showerlets. The area up there was just stunning.

By the time we were at the bottom again, we had a steady rain and frequent lightning. Since we were rather exposed, we went to 50 ft separation each time we got out into the open.

Friday we packed up and headed back down. We camped in a campground that was about 0.8 miles north of the train pickup. While we were there, we saw several of the D&S trains roll by. One thing that was interesting, we got word that the train tracks were covered with a mudslide from the rain. Apparently several trainload of people were stuck in Silverton and had to be bussed back to Durango. We watched several pieces of heavy equipment, including a train-truck-mounted backhoe, pass by to clean the mud from the tracks. We also had a heavy downpour for over an hour, including a bunch of pea-sided hail, which was probably the same storm that caused the mudslide. I had a first here, I saw a significant rockfall just NE of the camp; a rock half the size of a VW came down, taking a bunch of other stuff with it. It made me look at the bluff to our west somewhat nervously.

Saturday morning we got up and dried everything up, and headed to the 1400 pickup around 1215. The train ride was beautiful but otherwise uneventful. We got into Durango with storm clouds and grey skies around 1715.

Dinner for the evening was pizza. Seven large pizzas, gone in about 10 min flat. Whoa.

While we were eating, a couple of us were watching the weather approach. It was a large, heavy rain shield that extended all the back into Utah. After some discussion of taking our dry tents, putting them up in heavy rain in the dark, and then taking them down tomorrow morning in heavy rain in the dark, we decided to just drive back.

We left Durango in heavy rain at 2000, and showed up in OKC around 0930 the next morning, with no problem.

Things That Worked

Food was pretty good, and fuel was also (we were short on food but recovered, and long on fuel, see below).

I love my tent. The REI Quarter Dome 2 was great from the weight standpoint, stood up to wind, water, and hail, and was plenty roomy.

I was happy with my loading. My dry pack weight was 32 lbs, and food and water kicked it to probably 37. It was easy to handle. My food was nearly empty at the end of the trip, I probably had enough for one more dinner.

The crew worked together well on this trip.

My new hiking clothing was great! I used two mid-sleeve shirts, one pair of convertible Columbia pants, a floppy hat (no sunburned neck or ears), and two pair Wigwam socks. I need to replace the cotton underwear next, and that’ll be that. The shirts and socks got rinsed but dried out very quickly. I was amazed in that I sweated mightily while hiking, but never got a soaked shirt (damp, yes).

Things That Could’ve Worked Better

This was a large group, the largest I’ve had out, at 17 total. There were several areas of better coordination that could have been worked, to include personal gear vs. troop gear. We provided four stoves intending for three teams of four and one team of five, but we ended up with a total of eight or nine stoves (with the attending extra fuel canisters). Same with pots, we provided four, we had nine, I think.

We had one instance where a Scout had neglected to pack his food/troop gear, leaving us with a pretty good hole to fill (his stomach 🙂 ) on the trail. Fortunately, significant overpacking by other Scouts helped alleviate this.

Several of the crew didn’t have basic stuff (a day pack, for example). Several of the guys confused a day pack to be taken on the trail with a bag of non-backpacking stuff to be left in the van.

My 2.5 year old Merrell boots failed. I noticed on Day 3 the sole of my right boot had separated from the upper about a one inch on the left, and about two inches on the right. These had increased to two inches and five by the time we were off the trail. I have a new pair of boots now.

I am of a couple minds about the intel we got on the impassibility of the pass. I think we would have been just fine if we had pressed on in blissful ignorance.

As usual, we could have been a bit more in shape overall. I’m including me in this, I needed to run more before the trip. Remember, Bill.

Summary

We ended up with over 31.2 miles of hiking and backpacking for this trip, with in excess of 4000 ft of altitude gain. The weather was perfect, probably in the 70s for highs and high 40s for lows.

We had a couple teachable moments that went well, and little interpersonal crappiness to deal with.

All in all, this was a wonderful trip. I think that this area is even more beautiful than Pecos or Lost Creek Wildernesses. It is certainly steeper.

I do want to go back and do the loop we had originally planned. One of more week of leave to figure out… 🙂

Scouting Moving Ahead Slowly

16 July 2015

When I was made aware of the BSA Executive Committee vote recommending elimination of the ban on gay Scouters, I was happy. There is nothing in being gay that makes a person less qualified to serve youth as a leader in Scouting. I hope that the full Board will vote in a like manner next week.

I understand, sort of, why they took the two steps of ending the ban on gay youth first (there are lots more youth), but even with the lifting of the ban on gay adults, it’s more of a squishy decision that I wish was more concrete.

In previous cases, in particular with the ban on atheist Scouts, BSA claimed that as a national organization, they could set their membership standards and they would apply across the board. But with this (assuming it is approved), they left a caveat in place that would allow local charting organizations to continue to enforce a ban. I know that is being done as a sop to churches that want to discriminate, but that does not make it right.

Banning membership in an organization based on a perceived sin is shortsighted. Calling out one particular perceived sin while other equally bad sins do not trigger a ban is stupid.

So The Confederate Flag Was Taken Down in Alabama…

24 June 2015

The Governor of that state ordered the Confederate Battle Flag to be removed from the grounds of the statehouse there.

So what? As with many things, in particular with conservatives, the symbology involved is to cover up the real problem. And that problem is that so many people in the United States, while perhaps claiming otherwise, do not actually support these core principles for black or brown people:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Needless to say, this also applies to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, and the overall tone of the Constitution.

Slavery is just part of the problem that still exists today. Jim Crow laws, laws to keep blacks from voting, white control over black majority, and even law and policy to divert wealth to the upper classes, is essentially legislated racism.

Even the language is biased. Think about how often “thug” is used a code word. With the advent of the Civil Rights movement, several states responded by incorporating the Confederate flag into their state flags; that’s just shooting the finger at a large proportion of their population. In the past several years, several states have enacted voting suppression laws aimed largely at less affluent populations, including black and brown people, which of course is inherently incompatible with freedom and equality.

The people who fought for the Confederacy were traitors, plain and simple. They wanted to build their economy on the backs of slaves. No rationalizations now can change that.

25 June Addendum:

There has a been an explosion of memes over the past day or so, with conservatives trying to tie support for the Confederacy back to various liberals (or those perceived as such 🙂 ). One in particular that I’ve seen at least a dozen postings of is a Confederate flag campaign button or sticker with “Clinton-Gore 1992” on it. If you Google something like “Clinton Gore Confederate Flag” you will get a whole raft of hits, that are mostly conservative web sites like theblaze.com. On Facebook today I saw a post from a person just claimed “Do you know who else supported the rebel flag? Clintons” (it was missing the ending period). It would be easy to claim the poster as yet another easily led unthinking conservative or something like that, but the intent is to justify support for the Confederate flag, and therefore the Confederacy, by trying to paint others as supporters. This is logically flawed, but it also shows the weakness of the position in that it can’t stand on it’s own. The plethora of conservative sites trying to get traction by echoing the meme is just trying to deflect attention from the inherent racism (and basic antipathy to American ideals as expressed in the Declaration, Constitution, and history) of conservatives of the past several years.

Visiting the OKC Bombing Memorial

2 April 2015

Today I was having my car worked on in downtown OKC, so I walked over to the OKC National Memorial.  I have been there just once before, on the south upper level, back in 2006.  It was so powerful then, I didn’t want to walk down to the main level.

But today I did.  It’s difficult to be there and not be overwhelmed with emotion.  I didn’t personally know any of the victims well.  A boy at St. John’s in Pre-K lost his grandparents in the bombing, and another student came in a bit later who had lost her mother.  The janitor in our building at the time was forced out of his apartment for quite some time due to damage from the blast, and we gathered a lot of stuff and money to help him get going again.

But what horrifies me above all else was that the terrorist who performed the bombing did it knowing that most of the victims were not part of his main targets in the Government, and even knowing that many victims would be children.  He and the other scumbag(s) that perpetrated this apparently actually believed that he would be able to start some sort of revolution against the Government.  Deluded, at best.

I sat for a while on one of the terraces below the Survivor Tree and reflected on why the Memorial had to be there at all.  In terms of consequences, no revolution happened.  I know that the Government started looking harder at various so-called militia groups.  I think that if things were as bad as McVey thought, the Government would have swooped in an hammered every one of the groups that it could find, but that didn’t happen.

So in the end, it wasn’t nearly as bad Government-wise as McVey thought, and a lot of those groups are still operating, playing their little dress-up games.

But there are 168 people still gone, and many others who were wounded, and all for a fantasy by a guy who really didn’t have a clear vision of reality.

And all that life and potential, that’s more than enough reason to sit on the terrace and shed more than a few tears of sorrow for people I didn’t know.

The Confederate Flag and License Plates

24 March 2015

The Confederate Flag is such a horrible symbol.  The nation had to go to war against the CSA, at the cost of thousands of lives.  All because the CSA wanted slavery.

Well, to those who want to have that symbol of hatred on your car, well, get a damn paintbrush and really show your stripes.  Whining because the State of Texas won’t let you put it on your license plate is craven.  Paint it on the hood of your car like some latter-day hick.  And get a robe and hood while you are at it.

We shouldn’t have a Nazi symbol on license plates either.  The CSA flag is just as bad.

Voting Should Be Mandatory

19 March 2015

I read an article just now in USA Today.  In a speech in Cleveland, President Obama opined that perhaps the United States should have mandatory voting.

I think that’s a great idea.  I checked a page on Wikipedia, and since 1972 voter turnout has hovered within a couple points of 50%.  The election of 2008 was the high point at 57%.  Turnout in the 2012 election was 37%.  Those are national numbers, of course.

My local voting precinct has about 25,000 eligible voters, and about 10,000 voted in the last election (2014).  That’s pretty crappy.

I would like to think that we have few obligations in order to live in this country.  We ought to all have a voice in how it it run, and mandatory voting would help get to that goal.  Maybe we could look to Oregon as an example, with voting by mail and a decent time to accomplishing voting.

Troop 15 Backpacking Shakedown Camp

9 March 2015

Troop15 had a great combined camp this past weekend. The older guys had a backpacking shakedown that included 16 miles of hiking over the weekend, and our new Scouts got to work on skills for their Tenderfoot rank.

Pictures are on my Google+ site here.

Enjoy!

The Hobbit Movie, Part 3

12 January 2015

If such things bother you, there are spoilers here!

We went to see the final Hobbit movie last evening. I was unimpressed with the second part, and less than impressed with the first part.

As a movie, it was OK. As canon for The Lord of the Rings, I just didn’t like it.

As a note, as I write this, HBO is playing the first installment right now. I am not watching it, due to indifference. If one of the LOTR movies was playing, I would likely be watching it, as those movies were well made and keep my interest.

There were a couple things I liked. The battle between Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel was pretty cool, even though it’s not canon. Or at least, it’s very liberally interpreted canon. Of course, the reason for the battle was to rescue Gandalf, which was bogus and not canon. And with another appearance by the Bunny Sleigh. *sigh*

I liked the ending as Bilbo returned home, and the Elven Kings caribou/elk/moose.

I did not like the sandworms of Arrikis coming to Middle Earth.

Major Plot Question: Why didn’t the orcs use the sandworms to come up inside the Mountain, send about 10,000 orcs to kill the dwarves, and loot all the treasure, without the need for a big battle?

The orcs were all wrong. The subplot with the Elf Babes (both male and female) added nothing to the movie except some cool CGI.

Dain and the BattlePig; really?. The Elven King saying “frack it” in the middle of the battle was not cool. In fact, the Elven King banishing the female Elf Babe was not cool either. I wish there had been some closure to that; did she get to come home? And why exactly did Legolas leave? Did the dwarves help the people of Lake Town and Dale get rebuilt?

It all comes down to the fact that there should have been two movies, not three, and that some of the plot and backstory that is canon, and so enriched the books (both TH and LOTR), should have replaced the bogus battle scenes and other filler. This movie was watchable, but it didn’t hold my interest hardly.

I will likely never look at any of these three again. I’m sticking with the book.

The Burger, Dumas, TX

24 July 2014

The Burger on Urbanspoon

We were cruising through Dumas latish last Sunday on the way home. I wanted some KFC, but their dining room closed at 2100. The Burger was right next door, and their dining room was open until 2200, so there we went.

This place was popular; there were five parties (including us) while we were there. Erin and Raegan got a grilled cheese, and Raegan got a corn dog as well. I got a double cheeseburger. We got some fries, and I got chili cheese tater tots. All of this was great! My burger was perfect, with great flavor and texture.

The iced tea was wonderful and service was very friendly. Our check was $21.69, a great value. I’d eat here again anytime.

Braum’s, Enid, OK (downtown)

30 June 2014

Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy on Urbanspoon

Erin, Christi, and I hit this Braum’s coming back from our Girl Scout adventure this weekend. We were a little hungry mid-afternoon.

Erin and I split a small cheeseburger, both of us had milkshakes. The shakes were the highlight of the food. The fries were a bit on the not-so-hot side, but OK. The burger was bland, boring, and tasteless.

Braum’s has just gone downhill burger-wise. Sad.

And Yet Another Step For Equality!

25 June 2014

Breaking news in that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the marriage equality ban in Utah.

Unfortunately, even after declaring the Utah ban un-Constitutional, the court didn’t complete the follow-through, and stayed their ruling, giving the state time to appeal. They should have kept the pressure on by allowing marriages to start.

But the rising tide of judges following the Constitution, and not bowing to fear and control, is a good thing for the country.

Some Righties Are Just Pathetic

4 June 2014

There is apparently a deliberate effort underway to denigrate the American soldier recently freed in a prisoner swap.  There are unsubstantiated accusations about the soldier.  As is usual with people like this, he isn’t just a POW, or disaffected; he is a traitor.

The conservative mouthpiece Fox also basically accused the mans father of being a Taliban sympathizer.

Naturally, they accuse Obama of various unspeakable crimes.  In their black and white view, the five traded prisoners HAVE TO BE the most dangerous terrorists on the entire planet.

I am constantly amazed at the fact the right can continue sinking to new lows of despicable behavior.

It’s clear the Republicans have no plan or platform for the country beyond opposing Obama, or anyone that is not in line with their obscene and twisted view of America.

How anyone could be so singlemindedly full of pure hatred is frightening.

Death Penalty a Black Eye For Oklahoma

1 May 2014

No matter where you stand on capital punishment, the botched execution this week is disturbing.

The thing I find most disturbing is the rush to get the execution done, with an untested drug cocktail.

Other aspects pertain to the Legislative branch of the state.  They tried to hide the composition of the drugs, and the supplier of the drugs, via law.  They apparently invoked state secrets (which in no way applies to state government, to my knowledge).

The inmates here sued to find out the ingredients, and the state Supreme Court concurred.  Good for them.  But… Oklahoma legislators filed legislation to start impeachment proceedings against at least some of the justices.

Thus is clearly extreme overreach by the Legislature.  This is the problem when fanatics take over Government.  There are no real checks and certainly no balance.  The lapdog Governor Fallin has no leadership here, and in fact appears to be going with the legislative branch on all things.

And why do these people want to push executions anyway?  They are probably posturing for the upcoming election.

These fanatics need to be voted out.

More Attempts at Gay Discrimination

26 February 2014

The Republican Robots are at it, somebody programmed them to introduce gay discrimination bills. These horrid proposed laws are reported to be introduced in Georgia, Nevada, and sadly, Oklahoma.

In every case I’ve heard, it is Republicans doing this. Small-minded Republicans, to my way of thinking.

The bill in Arizona is on the Governors desk for signature or veto. It will be interesting to see if some sanity is applied.

Why the huge numbers of Republicans think that they can ride a wave of anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-hispanic, and anti-black legislation, while ignoring job creation, income inequality, environmental issues, and other real concerns of the country, to power, is beyond me.

This is the very thing that swung me from being a longtime Republican, to an independent, to a left-leaning independent. One party wrapped their candidate in the flag, and refused to take questions. The other took positions, proposed fixes, and ran on the slogan “It’s the economy”. I looked at a do-nothing party, and a party that had ideas to fix real problems (and the solutions seemed to be valid), and the choice was easy. I hope the rest of American that currently votes Republican takes a look at this and comes to their senses.

Bobs Steak and Catfish Barn, Oklahoma City, OK

23 February 2014

Steak & Catfish Barn on Urbanspoon

This place used to be at I-35 and Waterloo Road north of Edmond, but the owners closed it down, and some new owners bought the recipes and such, and reopened in a building at I-35 and Hefner in northeast OKC.

Raegan and Erin and I had dinner here the first week they were open, on 21 January. I waited to post my review, as the listing on Urbanspoon has some errors.

I got the chicken fried steak. It’s breaded on premises, and was pretty good. I would give it an 8 out of 10. The gravy was OK. I had green beans and mashers as my sides; the green beans were OK, but the mashers were kind of bland. Erin had fish and chips for dinner. She called it average. Raegan had catfish, and liked it OK, but she was not enthusiastic about it.

Service was very friendly. The iced tea was OK. Our check was $43.41. I liked it OK, and I’m kind of glad to have a decent restaurant so close to our house. Raegan thought the experience was “meh”, which can be interpreted a number of ways.

I have read some comments about the place being dirty or service being bad. For the record, neither was the case during our visit.

In-Flight Entertainment on an AA 737-900

7 February 2014

I flew BOS-ORD Tuesday night to escape the snowstorm bearing down on New England. The airplane was a very new Boeing 737-900.

The airplane had an advanced in-flight we entertainment system. 7-in class LCDs were in each seat back.

wpid-20140204_190540.jpg

From the icons, it looks like the displays run a version of Android Linux. They are touchscreens. I played around with mine, the screens are not terribly responsive. Some if the functions didn’t work, like the reading light control.

After a while I settled into my Sudoku. Several people were using the dusplays.

I noticed the guy in a seat ahead of me was watching a video that featured a woman with full frontal nudityy. Shortly thereafter a naked man showed up. The program was an episode of the HBO series Girls. I checked my display, and sure enough that episode was there.

I’m surprised that AA would allow a video with nudity on the close confines of an airplane, what with the easily offended sensibilities of many people.

I hope that as WiFi on airplanes becomes more ubiquitous and cheap/free, a web browser will be added so we can check stuff like flight status.

Groundhogs Do NOT Forecast Weather!

2 February 2014

From the KFOR news here in OKC just now: “More winter weather is on the way, and a groundhog may be to blame”.

REALLY? Whoever wrote that should be clubbed immediately.

“News” people, I have a hot flash for you: A GROUNDHOG, OR WHETHER OR NOT A SHADOW IS INVOLVED, DOES NOT PREDICT WEATHER. Winter or otherwise. Every 02 February, every “news” show it seems runs a “story” about the groundhog that predicts the next six weeks of winter weather.

Why this stupid superstition persists is beyond me.

Nelson Mandela

6 December 2013

The story of Nelson Mandela, who passed away today, is compelling enough on its own. I am amazed at how he helped turn a great evil into a chance for equality in his country. He stressed reconciliation with people who manifestly did not deserve it.

I knew about the apartheid policy in South Africa while I was in college, and felt it was an inhumane policy. I knew it was closely related to the law in some parts of the United States during the by-law segregation era. During a trip to France in 1984, I had the opportunity to talk extensively with a South African woman I met there, and those conversations gave me a great deal of insight into the apartheid policy, all of it negative insight. I also learned about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States when I visited a church in North Carolina with a college friend, and heard the preacher go on at length about the church and its efforts to raise anti-apartheid awareness. I wrote several letters to my national representatives, and to my 401(K) administrator, urging divestment from South Africa in order to oppose apartheid.

A great deal of the story of apartheid and the quest for equality in South Africa parallel the civil rights struggle in the United States. I don’t know how the equality movement in South Africa is working today, but I know that we still have a ways to go here.

Nelson Mandela and Dr. King were both fighting for the same thing, in different countries. Their methods of getting there were somewhat different. Mandela served significant time info prison for his methods. Dr. King served time for his methods as well, and lost his life before the work was done. But both were fighting the good fight, for the equality deserved by all their fellow citizens.

Mandela stands out for his actions after he was released. He acted as a true, and truly gifted, leader, of all South Africans, in spite of the high tension that accompanied the end of apartheid.

Leo’s Diner, Omaha, NE

2 October 2013

Leo's Diner on Urbanspoon

Had lunch here today, or rather, breakfast at lunch.

I got The Island.  This is hash browns, topped with a split biscuit, topped with gravy, topped with a couple eggs.  Yummy!

The eggs were more over hard than over easy.  But the gravy was excellent!  Outstanding!  Wow!  The hash browns were perfect. I think the biscuit was also (it was buried in gravy…).

Service was fast and very friendly.  The iced tea was pretty good.  My check was $12.35.  Great place!

Shutdown: Obamacare Is Just An Excuse

1 October 2013

So the Republican Party based getting a Continuing Resolution passed on defunding or delaying Obamacare.  There is lots of video showing various Republicans saying they are “following the will of the people”, as in polls that say that Americans do not approve of Obamacare.

So polls that ask if people like Obamacare are much lower than polls that ask about the components of Obamacare.  That tells me that people are not educated (and it follows that Congresspeople citing the polls are not educated either, or they are exploiting the polls).

If Congress in so interested in polls, why didn’t they listen when polls showed overwhelming support for universal background checks?

Most importantly, how does the fairly fanatic opinions of a small part of Tea Party people drive the larger Republican Party?

Call Republican Obstruction What It Is, Please

27 September 2013

Coming to work this morning, I heard several examples of the media not doing the job they are supposed to do.

In short, call Republican obstruction out.

The typical example was on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. A guy called in, and griped that Obamacare had been rammed through Congress on pretty much a party-line vote. If you look at this as a binary, it’s true that the vote was party line (rammed, maybe not so much). The panel on the show talked about how nice it was to have major legislation like the Civil Rights Act more bipartisan, while Obamacare was not.

But why? We have to go back to the statements by McConnell and other Republicans that they would refuse to work with Obama on anything. Even, it turns out, stuff they supported before Obama was elected. Much of Obamacare came from Mitt Romney (Mr. Severe Conservative). Much came from the Heritage Foundation (no liberal bastion). But, because it was now supported by Obama, utterly rejected by Republicans.

So play the blame game. Republicans refused to govern since 2008. Tea Party types make it worse.

Media people like on the Diane Rehm Show should be calling out the Republicans on what they are doing.

C.B. Potts, Fort Collins, CO (Horsetooth)

11 September 2013

C.B. & Potts Restaurant & Brewery on Urbanspoon

I had dinner with my hike crew here last Friday evening.  I got a steak with fries.  It wasn’t a bad steak, either. 

Service was spotty.  The iced tea was not very good.  I don’t know that I would go back.

Sad Commentary By Some Republican

6 September 2013

I was listening to MSNBC around 0835 this morning on my Sirius/XM radio.  The subject was Syria, and a Republican was being interviewed; I didn’t catch his name.  He kept making the point that calls to his office were running “100 to 1” against any United States involvement in Syria, so we shouldn’t do anything.

My mind kept going back to the “debate” over any legislation for improving background checks.  Many politians repeatedly cited polls and calls to Congressional reps that were 90%+ for enhanced background checks.  Yet Congress did nothing.

It’s pretty amazing to me in that these inactions by Congress are in spite of public opinion.  I already know that many polits are not loyal to the American people.  Many place their loyalty to ideology first, party second, money third, and the people they are supposed to represent way last.

Public opinion is just part time of it, of course.  Trying the President of Syria as a war criminal (even in absentia) is another course.

But we have a huge problem with Congress that clearly needs to he solved, and soon.

Hooray For The Judicial Branch

19 August 2013

The news is reporting that a judge blocked a law passed by the Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature and signed by the Republican Governor, which restricted access to the so-called morning after pill, has been blocked by a judge after being challenged by a womans advocacy group.

This is the way it is supposed to work.  When laws are passed based on fanaticism, the judicial branch is the brake.

Numerous Republican outrages across the nation that seek to control and subjugate women based on legislators religious beliefs (for the most part) have been blocked by judges on many levels.

Hooray for the framers of the Constitution for having the foresight to implement our government in this way.

Chuck House, Midwest City, OK

19 June 2013

Chuck House on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here today, and it was a great CFS sandwich, a good Dr. Pepper, and fast service.  I forgot to ask for the combo,  and so missed my fries.  The CFS was just a little tough in places, but overall tasty.

My check was $8.02.  Very good value.

GS HAT Beginner Backpacking, 27-28 April 2013

15 June 2013

Hike(s) summary: 7 miles (5.6 and 1.4), and about 1200 ft in altitude gain, in fairly warm and sunny conditions.

A group of four leaders took a group of eight Girl Scout High Adventure Team (HAT) members on a beginning backpacking camp in late April. We went down to Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) on Friday evening. After getting camp set up, we had a get-to-know-you session, and some “classroom” training about the backpacking processes, including Use Of The Trowel :). We were a little worried that the approaching thunderstorm would pelt us with large hail, but it swung a bit north and we just got spits of rain.

As usual, these HAT members did an outstanding job of getting stuff done. Breakfast just rolled along. We had a gear check and a pack fit check, got everyone saddled up, and headed out. We were aimed at Trail 1, and the best way to get there was to walk generally along Rock Creek along the roads through the campsites. We ended up near Veterans Lake, and walked the road under the earth dam to the trailhead for Trail 1. This trail continues to follow Rock Creek, and is very pretty. We had lunch next to the Creek, going up the hill on the east side of the trail to make sure we weren’t blocking. Shortly after lunch, the trail diverged from Rock Creek, and got out from under trees and in the open. We ended up ascending a fairly steep hill, got a great view back towards the town of Sulpher, and took another break. Then we decided to not walk the loop back, but just backtrack. We got back into the camp around 1600, and started on dinner shortly thereafter. This hike was 5.4 miles.

There are some very nice rock formations along Rock Creek.

Dinner was great. Christi had come up with a variety of backpacking foods, and the girls rehydrated stuff and seasoned it, and then we scarfed it down.

After dinner, we had a talk about Leave No Trace (LNT), then campfire and ghost stories and weird stories.

After breakfast the next morning, we had some more discussion about packs and gear, and loaded up our day packs and headed up Bromide Hill. This short hike had some great views.

Afterward, we headed back to Oklahoma City. It’s taken a while, but the pictures from this hike, including the topo and altitude plots are on my Google Plus site.

Luigi’s, Mt. Pleasant, TX

3 June 2013

Luigi's Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

We stopped here for dinner inbound to the Dallas area. It was a good stop.

First of all, there are a significant number of supposedly unconnected restaurants that we have been to in Oklahoma and Kansas that share common menu items. Napoli’s (several places), Geno’s (Muskogee), and Roma’s (Guthrie) all share, even though they don’t have the same names. Regardless, it is excellent food.

Erin had fettuccine al fredo: perfect. I had spaghetti “The Works”: perfect. Raegan had manicotti: perfect.

The iced tea was great, service was fast. Our check was $33.31. Great meal.

It’s weird how these restaurants must be related. The owner said he had a son in Durant. There is a Roma’s there with a “The Works”. Hmmm….

Sonic, Prairie Grove, AR

1 June 2013

Sonic Drive-in on Urbanspoon

We stopped here to grab some fast dinner so we could get to our cabin and checked in before the office closed.

It was a typical Sonic.  My foot long chili dog wasn’t bad, but the tots were soggy.  The Coke was really good.  Raegan and Erin had popcorn chicken that were overcooked.  They didn’t bring Erins drink, but we didn’t notice until we were far away.

If you are in a hurry, you could do worse.

Republicans and Refusal To Govern

21 May 2013

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has an interesting article here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/05/21/hatred-of-obama-could-lead-to-gop-overreach/?hpid=z2

The article examines whether the Republicans will have any consequences for their scandal hopes as pertains to President Obama.

The article touches on a couple topics I’ve noted here before. First, there are parallels between the Republican attempts to tear down Obama and the Republican attempts to tear down Clinton. In both cases, the Democrat defeated a Republican in the Presidential election, the Democrat was somewhat charismatic while the Republican wasn’t, and the Republican had far more platitudes to run on than programs. Also in both cases, the Democrat won handily. And in both cases, the Republican establishment became infuriated enough to overtly try, try, try to take the Democrat out post-election.

One difference: even in the midst of trying to destroy Clinton, the Republicans worked with Democrats to govern. After Obama, there was zero cooperation; the Republicans became the disloyal opposition.

Sargent notes that polling seems to indicate that Obama is not being terribly affected by the constant attempts by the Republicans to drum up scandals.

I am guessing that the only “weapon” they have is trying to bring Obama down via scandal. If they clearly stated what seem to be their policy goals, the public reaction would be very negative.

I hope that Democrats are able to use the Republican disloyalty, combined with their failure to govern, and their kowtowing to business, to take back the House in 2014, and get the country moving forward again.

Obama and his policies have managed to reverse the ecomonic downturn caused by Bush and Republican policies, in spite of Republican refusal to cooperate.

Wendy’s, Clarksville, AR

24 March 2013

Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

I’ve just about given up on the major chains, especially where cheeseburgers are concerned. After getting of the trail late in the evening yesterday, and doing the car shuffle so we could drive the crew into town, it was getting close to 2100, so we decided to get Q&D. I suggested Wendy’s, and the rest of the crew agreed. We arrived right at 2100.

Erin and I got cheeseburgers and fries, and tea; she also got a Frosty. Wendy’s is about the best of the major chains, but the bar isn’t high, and it wasn’t here, either. The burger was cooked just fine, but it had little flavor (this is the major plus over McD, Sonic, Braum’s, which have NO flavor). The tea was pretty good, and the fries were OK.

I think that the beef quality for these places has drastically declined. I would rather pay an extra 10% or whatever, and get a decent burger.

Hiking Lake Thunderbird Gold Trail, 23 Feb 2013

24 February 2013

I led some members of Girl Scout Troop 756 and Boy Scout Troop 15 in a 10-mile hike at Lake Thunderbird yesterday. It was beautiful!

The pictures are on Google Plus/Picasa here.

Fun!

Joe’s American Bar and Grill, Dedham, MA

5 February 2013

Joe's American Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Ron and I had a late lunch here this afternoon. I got a bacon cheeseburger and fries, with a starter of a cup of clam chowder. The chowder – excellent. The burger was medium well, with a couple places of charring. I had asked for some mayo, but it took another request to get it after the meal was delivered. The burger was pretty darn good, with good beef flavor, and excellent texture. The fries came with four onion rings that were very good. I was not impressed with the fries – they seemed a bit tough.

The iced tea was good. Service was uneven. We had our initial order taken quickly enough, but I ran out of tea three times. In each case, our server passed the table without a glance at us. The restaurant was almost empty, and it seemed to me that there was no reason for the lack of attention.

My check was $17.78. It wasn’t bad food at all, I think I would go back again.

Pelican’s, Midwest City, OK

28 January 2013

Pelican's on Urbanspoon

Pelican’s has been in MWC I think ever since I started working at Tinker in 1984. I went there several times in the 80s, but haven’t been there since I had a business meeting there in 1995.

A week ago Thursday (17 Jan) I worked a bit late, and Raegan and the kids drove to MWC to meet me for dinner. We were going to eat at Murphy’s on Air Depot, but I hadn’t realized they close at 1400, so instead I suggested Pelican’s. We got there around 1845.

Raegan started with French Onion Soup. She said it was good, but too much black pepper in it. She also got a shrimp cocktail, and liked it.

She and I visited the salad bar. It was smallish. The chilled plate holder had just been filled up with freshly washed, and HOT, salad plates. I really liked the ranch dressing.

Ian and I got CFS, Raegan got crab fettuccine with clam chowder on the side, and Erin got a baker. I liked my CFS (gave it an 8.5/10), but Ian didn’t. Raegan thought her crab fettuccine tasted overly fishy, and her chowder was bland but overly peppered. Erin ate all of her baked potato, between texts.

So a mixed bag. I liked my meal just fine, but the other entree-eaters didn’t so much. Service was really good. The iced tea was excellent. Our check was $58.95. I wouldn’t mind going back.

Hiking Lake Stanley Draper Multi-Use Trails

25 November 2012

We had a nice 10-mile hike today at the trails run by the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship. The photos and trail information is here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/105156699699052376728/albums/5814531675979794769

Enjoy!

Good News For Marriage Equality

20 October 2012

The news that a Federal Appeals Court struck down the discriminatory so-called Defense of Marriage Act is good.  Analysis I have heard on several news outlets credits the appeals court rationale as being very sound and reasoned based on the Constitution.

This is another step towards marriage, and general equality, for all.

Android and Location Funny

22 September 2012

I got a Google Nexus tablet Friday. This is my first time playing with It for an extended time. I’m on the way to Yosemite via Fresno for a week of backpacking and hiking.

The tablet location service can’t decide whether the device GPS is correct, or whatever location information is coming from the airplane WiFi. It alternately shows the location as New Mexico or LaGGuardia field in New York.

What The Hell Is Romney Thinking? And Anti-Islam Nuts?

12 September 2012

The death of the American Ambassador in Libya, along with several other Embassy staffers, is horrible. Whether the attack on the embassy was a pre-planned attack, or a spontaneous attack by a mob, does nothing to lessen the wrongness of the violence.

There are a couple things that are wrong about this. The moron who made the Anti-Islam film, for example. Why does he feel the need to make such a film? The excuse usually given is that Islam is an enemy of America. I just do not buy that. Religious-motivated violence has been done probably since the first religion was invented. Remember the Crusades? Our misguided ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are both prime examples of us sticking our noses where we were neither needed or wanted. I have written before about the “pastor” in Florida, who was apparently promoting the film by showing parts of it in his “church”. C’mon, folks, practice your religion, and quit throwing stones as others until you get yourself a little more perfect. How about starting by losing your hatred?

Now for Romney. He issued a statement, and “doubled down” on it this morning:

Im outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. Its disgraceful that the Obama Administrations first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

I’m glad he is outraged; he should be. I am also. But starting with the “It’s disgraceful…” part. This is a statement from the American Embassy in Egypt, that was issued the about six hours before the attack in Libya:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

The Republican nominee for president uses this statement to claim that the current President of the United sympathizes with the murderers of American consular workers. How despicable can he get? No person with a brain and a modicum of reason could possibly interpret the statement from the Ameican Embassy in Egypt as sympathy with the attackers in Libya?

I know, I know, Romney has pretty much no positions on topics except “Obama sucks”. And I’m sure that when he heard about the attacks and the death of the Americans, he immediately thought “hot damn, another attack on the President!”. Why else did he not come out with just a condemnation of the attacks and the killing of our people, and not try to blame it on the President?

Are conservatives such sheep they accept these statements just because they hate Obama so much?

Companies and Monitoring and Recording

21 August 2012

I’ve just about had my fill of companies and the “this call may be monitored or recorded”. The excuse given is usually for “quality” or “training”. In reality, it has to be for legal protection of the company.

This is another example of the various government agencies giving power to business that we as people do not have. And companies are not people.

I’ve made several calls today to businesses ranging from car dealerships to hotels. The last one, I was asked if I would listen to a sales pitch after I finished the reservation change, then I was transferred without even a chance to say no. This one informed me that the call would be monitored, and I immediately heard the beep that indicates that recording is taking place. I hung up before saying anything. Pretty crappy of the company.

I will be glad when we as a people get corporation stripped of the power they have. Tyranny can come from business, and in fact is far closer to us than tyranny from government. At least the Constitution protects us from government excess.

Republicans and National-Level Bait and Switch

17 August 2012

I believe that during the 2010 election, many Republicans running for office acted in a bait-and-switch manner. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a perfect example. He got himself elected, then went after the dismantling of organizations he disapproves of, like public-sector labor unions. A great many other Republican-controlled states followed suit. He never made that a campaign pledge. If he had I am certain he would have lost many union votes as a result.

I think that’s what we are seeing in the Republican Presidential ticket as well. Romney and Ryan won’t talk about (for example) how their “plans” to balance the budget won’t balance until 20 years from now, even assuming drastically increased growth. They also don’t want to talk about how their tax cuts would be paid for. There is a lot of vague in their campaign. If they get elected, and especially of the Senate and House are Republican, we are bound to see a great deal of hidden agenda legislation come out in the open.

And given that Republicans have been trying very hard to take more money from the rest of the country and give it to the rich, and business, and take away more rights, including from women, most of the bait and switch will be disastrous for the country.

Republicans cannot be trusted to govern.

A Google Maps Funny

1 August 2012

Raegan found a clip from Saturday about a tornado at high altitude in the Rockie Mountains. This storm was at 11,900 ft, and was the second-highest tornado every documented (interestingly enough, the highest was in the Sierra, and I just happened to take a photo of that storm while we were near Lone Pine, CA on the way to Death Valley; the photo made it into the NWS report of the storm). She sent me a link to the clip to check out.

I watched the clip, and then Googled the mountain where the storm happened. Turned out it was south of our route, but I noticed the name of I-70 on the Google map:

I wonder how it got that name? It was a LOL moment for me.

Michael’s Kitchen, Taos, NM

24 July 2012

Michael's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

After Raegan and Erin picked Ian and I up from summer camp at Tres Ritos, we continued on to Taos, looking for dinner for two hungry Scouts. We got into Taos around 1900 and left the restaurant around 2030.

Raegan got chicken enchiladas ranchero, excellent. Ian got chicken quesadillas, excellent. Erin got taco salad with ground beef, excellent. I got a “belly buster”, which was a double bacon cheeseburger with green chilis, excellent (except the bun fell apart and I ended up finishing the thing off with a fork). The salsa was really, really good, hot enough to get your attention but not so hot as to kill your sense of taste.

This place was good. Service was friendly and right on time. The iced tea was muchly looked forward to after five days on the trail, and seven days without ice or tea. Our check was $49.56. Since we have an excellent chance of going to Taos again, I look forward to eating here again.

Tucker’s Onion Burgers, Oklahoma City, OK

16 June 2012

Tucker's Onion Burgers on Urbanspoon

Since Raegan is not a big fan of cheeseburgers, Ian and I went here for dinner while she and Erin were at a dinner function.

We both got double onion burgers with cheese. Ian got fries which we shared, and he also got a chocolate shake. I had tea. The burgers were very good. I don’t get onion burgers often, but the onions on these were cooked perfectly. The onion didn’t override the beef flavor. The beef was great, with a nice crust, and a crumbly texture. A funny note: Ian started pulling a long onion off, then scraped the rest off. When I asked why, he said that he didn’t expect onions on his… onion burger. Heh heh.

The fries were not very good. They were thin cut and didn’t have a lot of flavor. The tea was excellent, and Ian liked his malt.

Our check was $28.44. A big expensive for burgers, so we won’t be making that many trips there, but I would go back.

The SpaceX Launch

22 May 2012

I think it is super cool that the SpaceX launch yesterday went so well. Being able to put a payload into orbit is a significant accomplishment.

This is a good example of partnership between the Government and industry. Industry is building on the research and development we funded for many years, and extending it. NASA is getting a resupply path for the ISS in return. This is the way a good partnership is supposed to work.

I’m looking forward to the docking phase over the next couple days. Great stuff; we need to be in space more.

Jimmy’s Egg, Edmond, OK (Broadway)

12 April 2012

Jimmy's Egg on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I ate at a Jimmy’s Egg on Britton and Penn a long time ago (probably five+ years ago). I thought it was OK, she thought it was OK, but we haven’t been back to another one.

Sunday, we were meeting for breakfast/lunch around noon, and I proposed the location on Broadway in Edmond, since it was near our travel path and close to a Lowe’s. We got there around 1230 and left about 1400.

Raegan got an omelet, enhanced just for her. Even though she had it downsized from three eggs to two, it was right at the limit of what she could eat. I don’t remember what Erin got, but she ate all of it. Ian got chicken fried steak lunch style. He loved it, ate every scrap. I tried the CFS, I would give it and the gravy an 8. The green beans were outstanding! I got Jimmy’s Garbage Breakfast, which is basically hashbrowns covered with fried onions, sausage, and a couple eggs (got my sunny side up). I further dumped gravy on. This was really, really, really good. The meal came with toast or biscuits and gravy (I got the B&G, but dumped the gravy on the main meal, and had the biscuits with butter and strawberry jam.

The tea was strong and kept refilled. Service was pretty good in spite of how crowded the restaurant was. Our check was about $32, which I think was really good value for the four of us. I would gladly go back.

Lola’s Family Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

18 March 2012

Lola's Family on Urbanspoon

Raegan and the kids ate here a month or so ago and liked it. Since she and I were childless today, and in NW OKC, we decided to try it out.

Raegan got a BLT and a slice of some kind of pie (we think it was banana), and ate every bit of it. I got a chicken fried steak, with mashers and green beans. I ate every scrap. The cfs was clearly breaded and cooked up right there; there was a touch of burned-oil flavor in it. But it also had a good flavor, and was tender all the way through. The mashers and beans were also quite edible. So overall, I would have another CFS there anytime. The tea was good, and kept refilled.

We got there about 1330 and left shortly after 1400 (they close at 1400 on weekends). Service was quick and accurate. Our check was $18.06. Good value, good food.

Ubuntu 10, Guest Accounts, and Persistence

27 February 2012

So Ian, after hearing Dad talk incessantly about the virtues and sheer coolness of Linux over the years, had me install a dual-boot of Ubuntu with his XP. However, he judged that it was a PITA to switch between the two, and he decided to go Windows-free. He first installed Ubuntu into his XP installation, but it was awkward. After some thought, he backed up all his files and did a from-scratch reformat-the-disk install of Ubuntu 10. After one hiccup that caused him to re-install Ubuntu (something crashed and really hosed up the machine), he was running happily along.

Yesterday, Erin needed to type up a book report, and she decided to give Ians Ubuntu a try. It has LibreOffice, which is essentially Open Office, and she is fully checked out on that.

She started the machine up, selected the Guest account, and after she got the desktop fired up LibreOffice Writer, and started writing. She wrote for a couple hours on the book report. At some point, she did a save, giving the file a name like “Erins Book Report for February”. LibreOffice changed the title bar from Untitled to the name she had given it.

Then she took a break and logged off. When she logged back on, the book report had disappeared. Ian and I were in Muskogee cleaning out a storage locker, so a tech support call ensued. We told the home crew places to look and such, but the report was not visible.

When Ian and I got home, we ran a series of disk checks looking for the file. I also ran a check showing all files changed, then created for the past 24 hours. Nothing.

I also ran a controlled test, at Ians suggestion. I fired up LibreOffice, created and saved a file, verified the file was there in File Manager, and then logged off. After logging back on, the saved file was consistently not persistent. Hmmm, thought I, that’s too big an issue to be an accident.

I did a quick Google search of something like “Ubuntu 10 guest account files lost”, and got a number of hits back. One posted by a Canonical Ubuntu support guru, told the sad tale: When a guest user logs in, a virtual file system is created in /tmp, and when the guest logs off, the virtual file system is wiped. No chance to recover the files.

So Erins three hours of work was lost. If she had saved the files to a thumb drive, she would have been OK. I didn’t look to see if she could have saved them to the master filesystem.

I would have liked it if there was a login notice to the effect of “Before you log off, Guest, save your date to something external ’cause we are wiping it otherwise!!!!”. A logout notice with an option to retreat would have been a bonus.

Ian is going to create an account on his Ubuntu for Erin. But it would have been nice for her to not have lost that three hours.

This is definitely a Ubuntu “Fail”.

Book Read: Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book

7 February 2012

We got this book for Erin for Christmas this year, as she is getting more interested in the outdoors (and she has already been on a backpacking trip in the Ozarks).

The book was written by Allen O’Bannon and illustrated by Mike Clelland. It’s about 150 pages long, so it’s a fast read. The illustrations are occasionally hilarious!

I have hundreds of backpacking miles under my various boots, and even more hiking. This book covers preparation for the entire backpacking experience in a comprehensive manner, especially weather situations.

I picked up a couple tips for packing (like most tips along this line, when you read it, you want to smack your forehead and say “Duh…”). In particular, I like the idea of using my closed cell pad to line the inside of my pack. This provides a couple benefits: first, it helps the pack stay “up” during packing. It also provides a water barrier for the inside of the pack, and a bit of soft armor for the contents of the pack.

Another one I liked, and related to using the pad in the pack, is to not wad my sleeping bag up, compress it, and then stuff it in. Rather, the book suggests (and it makes a lot of sense) to line a trash bag into the bottom of the pack, and cram the sleeping bag directly into it. This makes sure that the space in the pack is used fully.

One thing that bothered me a little bit on my summer Yosemite trip was getting my first blisters on a hike. The book has an explanation that getting dirt into your boots increases your blister potential to near 100% (this makes sense to me; dirt in general, and the granite dust that characterizes the trails of Yosemite in particular, is an abrasive). The use of gaiters (which I have never used) to keep both water and dust out of hiking boots makes a lot of sense, so I’m going to investigate getting a pair (of GAITERS!).

I’m always on the lookout for different food that can be cooked on the trail, especially without requiring a lot of prep time. There was some discussion of that in this book; there probably could have been a bit more.

So this book is an excellent introduction to backpacking. I recommend it for Scouts, kids just getting started in the outdoors, or adults.

California’s Proposition 8 Struck Down

7 February 2012

The decision by a part of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California to strike down the ban on marriage equality is the right decision. Any unbiased court sees that immediately.

I hope that the case is not appealed, but it probably will be. I do fear that if it goes to the Supreme Court, the Roberts-led court will rule against the Constitution (again) in favor of Proposition 8.

But this is another victory in the slow march of progress towards full equality for all Americans. I hope our gay citizens in California (and elsewhere) take full advantage of their rights.

Some Good ACA News

6 December 2011

In an article in USA Today
(http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2011-12-05/Medicare-prescription-drugs-health-care-law/51663580/1?loc=interstitialskip), we get some of the first concrete results pertaining to the Affordable Care Act (which some have derided as “Obamacare”).

One of the worst parts of the previous attempt at reforming Medicare was the “donut hole” for prescriptions. The ACA largely closed this hole.

The closure of the “donut hole” resulted in a savings of $1.5B for prescription drugs. There was no increase in premiums.

So consumers win and insurance companies win and drug makers win. How is this a bad thing?

Rooster’s Chicken and Beer, Oklahoma City, OK

3 June 2011

Last night, my very cute and occasionally cooking-averse roommate announced via text message “meh to cooking”, so we went out. I suggested Chicken and Beer since (1) we like fried chicken and (2) the online menu looked reasonable price-wise. The place is in Bricktown, which we do not visit often, so that was also a good thing.

We got there around 1800 and left around 1900. The place was mostly empty the entire time.

The menu is: fried chicken on the bone, fried chicken strips, french fries, and fried okra, and fried iced tea (no, skip that last). There is iced tea, beer, soda, and mixed drinks to wash this all down.

It took a while for the chicken to get there. I think that is because they overcooked it just for us. One piece in particular was way too brown. The chickens were not overly plump (read: small), and the thicker pieces were dried out in the middle. I think now that I should have sent the lot back. The flavor was OK. We ordered one basket of fries and one of okra; both were pretty good. We also got several tubs of BBQ sauce (*very* good) and ranch dressing (not good) to dip the stuff in.

The iced tea was OK. Service (except for the long cooking time) was good.

Our check was $45.96, which was higher than I expected (after all, a whole fried chicken was $15). The baskets we got were $5 each, and each drink was $2. We actually ordered 1 1/2 chickens, and the half chicken was $9.

So $45 is a bit high for overcooked bird, no plates, and plastic forks. I do not think this place is a good value. I might go back if I was invited by someone, but I don’t think Chicken and Beer is a voluntary repeat. I would drive out to Chicken and Chops in Piedmont first.

Severe Weather, But Maybe A Bit Overboard

24 May 2011

Today we have a pretty significant severe weather risk for a large part of central Oklahoma; the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued a High Risk for thunderstorms, “significant, long-track, violent” tornados, and “giant” hail. This is good; it’s what the Government is uniquely qualified to do. The High Risk designation is rare; we had a High Risk during the 03 May 1999 storm here in the OKC Metro area.

So I believe that people should be more weather aware than usual during events like this. We get help where I work (Tinker AFB) by an on-line warning system that let’s us know when watches and warnings for Tinker are issued. I also subscribe to an email-based list from the National Weather Service (NWS) for watches and warnings.

News reports indicate that the following has happened due to the weather threat: Governor Fallin has closed all state offices; numerous schools have canceled evening activities, including postponing two graduations; UCO in Edmond is shutting down for the evening; lots of churches are canceling activities. There are many more things being canceled.

I don’t know that this is warranted. The most devastating tornado in OK was the 03 May 1999 event, and as bad as that was, it affected less than 1% of the surface area of OKC. That’s pretty good odds for continuing to hold events around other parts of town. An event like the snowstorms that hit over the past two years affect a far larger area with paralyzing snowfall, and warrants closing public buildings and activities.

Yes, yes, I know, it’s nice to let people go when their safety is threatened. On the other hand, the storms, right now, are all off the west and northwest of OKC, and are moving NNE, away from the metro area. I’m just saying that a little “nowcasting” would probably have been better.

College Park Diner, College Park, MD

14 May 2011

Thursday, after a meeting got out way earlier than I thought, I needed lunch. I did a search for “diner”, and this place popped up on my Blackberry. It was less than 10 miles away, so over there I headed. I got there about 1230, and left about 1330. I was seated immediately.

I got iced tea, a double cheeseburger, and fries. The iced tea was sweet tea, and was so sweet it about knocked the teeth right out of my head! It was good, but maybe a touch too sweet. I did get some to go when I left! The cheeseburger was pretty good, but lacked a couple things. The flavor was decent, but the beef was mushy. It wasn’t greasy or anything like that, though. It made me wonder if they needed to turn the grill up just a bit. The fries were pretty standard.

Service was curt but things were kept moving. My check was $11.02. Good place to eat, I would go there again if I were in there area.

More Elections Have Consequences

19 April 2011

I just got a news alert from News9 Oklahoma City.

Seems the Oklahoma Senate, along party lines, voted to approve a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from public employee unions in the state of Oklahoma. The bill has already been passed by the Oklahoma House, and so goes to Gov. Fallin, who will no doubt sign it.

This is another example of consequences. The people of Oklahoma, who largely support unions for all people, including those who happen to work for public entities, gave the House and Senate, and the governorship, to the Republicans. The Republicans are now running wild. I doubt any of them ran on a promise to bust public employee unions (I would be glad to be proved wrong here…). So they are not really doing a bait and switch, but are more running their stealthy agenda to take apart stuff that their business overlords don’t like, even to the point of dismantling the unions for public employees.

So how will this help any budget problems? It will NOT. How will it create jobs? It will NOT. The Republicans are not interested in doing any of that. They *say* they are, but their actions demonstrate otherwise.

The voters of Oklahoma ought to wise up; you are getting screwed by those you sent to Oklahoma City to represent you.

Perception, or Talking Points

19 April 2011

I’m in the Washington, DC area at the moment. Yesterday, after the announcement that Standards and Poors had commented on the financial stability of the United States, I had an opportunity to see spin and talking points in action.

The S&P report didn’t actually lower the rating of the United States bonds. The issue is in the commentary of the report, and that was identified that if the US couldn’t get the debt ceiling raised, and then if bond payments were not made, then the rating of the quality of the bonds might be dropped from AAA to something lower. So their outlook is negative.

The response was binary.

For lefties and legitimate news organizations, the reporting of the S&P action was pretty factual, and the commentary associated with the reports was that the potential impact would be very high. There was a lot of discussion about whether the President, the Senate, and the House could come together.

For righties, there was a single theme: S&P fired a shot at the President. For supposed lack of leadership, for not being in touch with the American people. There was commentary that the President needed to realize that Medicare was broke and can’t exist in the form it is now. Social Security was occasionally mentioned in the same tone.

So the talking points on the right got distributed very quickly. I wonder if someone as S&P put the word out early? Certainly, the right was ready to go with the consistent criticism of the President.

President Obama, 9/11 Trials, and Gitmo

17 April 2011

I’ve written before about my thought that all terrorism suspects should be tried in regular criminal courts. The accused 9/11 plotters included. I am disappointed that the President (or the Attorney General, I guess) gave in to the howling cowardice of the Republicans (mainly) to have the trials in secret in the unconstitutional prison at Gitmo in Cuba.

The President was interviewed by AP yesterday, and the interview was reported in USA Today.

So he says that he still thinks that the trials should have been held in New York. I’m glad he thinks that, but I wish he had been a bit more forceful about it about three months ago.

I’ve said it before: nothing the President does will satisfy the Republicans. He needs to stop reacting to their constant howling outrage about anything he does, and just do what’s right for the country. The trials should be held in New York, and the hateful prison at Gitmo needs to be closed. Period.

“Celebrating” the Civil War

29 March 2011

I’ve run across a number of references in the news during the past couple weeks of how organizations and some states are marking the
sesquicentennial of the Civil War. In particular, I read an article in The Washington Post, “Five myths about why the South seceded”, by James W. Loewen, Saturday, published February 26 2011 (the article is at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths-about-why-the-south-seceded/2011/01/03/ABHr6jD_story.html).

I think that the practice of slavery is the worst thing that America has done. It was an abhorrent practice with no redeeming value, and is immoral on it’s face. It is Unconstitutional and in violation of the Declaration of Independence.

So when people want to “commemorate” the Civil War, especially in terms that are even slightly favorable, I find that to be offensive, bigoted, and racist.

It’s not about “heritage”. The “heritage” of slavery should cause people to feel shameful. It’s not about “states rights”. No state has the right to build its economy on the backs of humans.

The only way to mark the Civil War is with a national day of reflection and mourning.

Sometimes…

14 March 2011

… like today, I just do not think I am cut out for this parenting gig.

President Obama Is Wrong On Military Tribunals

7 March 2011

I just received a New York Times news alert that said that the President issued an order today approving the resumption of military trials for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

I know that the conservatives howl in fear that terrorism suspects are so dangerous that no police agency in the continental United States can handle a trial. This is craven cowardice on their part.

If people were captured on a battlefield in Iraq, they should be treated as prisoners of war, and released now that the illegal war there is over.

If people were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, they should also be treated as prisoners of war, and released as soon as we leave there. The sooner, the better. We have no national interest there.

If people were captured committing acts of terrorism, then they should be tried as criminals, in the criminal courts.

Anything otherwise is an abrogation of United States law and precedent. The President should show some backbone to the howling conservatives, who will not agree with anything he does anyway, and follow the law and custom. Anything else looks like, and has the potential to be, a kangaroo court of secret “evidence”, trumped-up charges, and overblown “links to terrorist groups”.

I am very disappointed that Barack Obama is acting no better in this case than George W. Bush.

Solar At The White House

6 October 2010

I heard on the news last evening that the White House is having solar panels installed on the roof. It was reported that the panels will provide hot water and some electricity.

Right on! I hope this helps push the idea that *every* home and business in the country needs to have some sort of green energy installed.

I have said before that it only makes sense for the oil companies to have us import so much oil. Every KW of power produced with green, renewable sources helps reduce this oil use, especially from foreign sources.

That helps everyone’s bottom line, and supports our national security.

Index: Family Trip, 30 May-07 Jun 2010

15 June 2010

Driving and Destinations

  • Albuquerque to Phoenix
  • Phoenix to Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Bryce Canyon to Grand Junction
  • Grand Junction to Colorado Springs, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Hikes

  • El Malpais National Monument
  • Bryce Canyon NP
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
  • Capulin Volcano NM
  • I’m Kind Of Unhappy Today

    27 October 2009

    I intend this blog to be a way for me to comment on issues of the day that interest me, and to be able to share some of the places I go with friends. I really do not want it to become a Twitter-like listing of my moods of the day (which in general is fairly sunny).

    But today something happened that has not happened before. I got demoted. My boss describes it as a way for me to put all my energy into engineering and testing. But the fact is I got demoted. I have not screwed anything up. This is personality and politics.

    I work for a large contractor, who is in this case a subcontractor to a small business. The prime has a lead program guy, and I was the technical lead for the team, and the supervisor of the employees of the sub. I note for the record that said program lead guy does not work any aircraft modification program. He “monitors” them. The rest of the team, both the prime and us subs, we all work multiple programs with our Air Force customers. The AF guys like all of us subs just fine. The prime guys and the sub guys work well together (those prime guys that have real (not “monitor”) jobs, that is).

    But the lead program guy, the one who does not have a real job, wants to know everything the rest of us do (those who can, do, the rest, monitor). He does not understand it. He gets mad when he is “surprised”, it does not matter if he was included from the start and just forgot, or if something cropped up in the past day. He gripes straight to my boss directly (in almost two years, he has NEVER once come to me with an issue).

    So prime lead guy (who does not have a real job) apparently griped enough directly to my boss that my boss decided to demote me. I asked for reconsideration and got none. No support at all. This is the part I really don’t like. The prime lead guy – well, sometimes people just act like that; they don’t produce anything useful, but get all bent out of shape when they are not treated like the King Of All Things. But I’ve known my boss for more than 25 years and I expected better.

    Some might argue that I got what I deserved. If I had emailed the prime lead guy everything that I got then he would not have been able to gripe (maybe that’s true, but he also griped about plenty that he was kept up about). I should have gone by his desk every day or so and given him a personal briefing (maybe, but I don’t expect people I work with to spoon feed me, that’s not being professional).

    Besides, the really important thing is that the ultimate customers – the Air Force guys we work directly with, the guys who fly the airplane, the other support organizations, THEY are all quite pleased. So it really comes down to one guy, who doesn’t run any programs, griping about me, a guy who routinely works most of the programs in the office and with most of the people in the office (why not ALL of the people in the office? Some work on stuff I have nothing to do with, like engines and spare parts).

    So now, to my great surprise, I am going to start looking for another job. I had really hoped to be able to finish my career out with this tremendous Air Force asset, but I frankly just do not feel any support for doing this. It won’t happen in the next month, because someone has to remain professional in all this, and it will be me, and I will not walk out on things I started. But I am afraid my days in this most wonderful of jobs are numbered.

    Something cool to watch

    30 March 2009

    Today I went down to a Girl Scout camp to fetch Raegan from a weekend of training. I took Erin as she is also a GS, and wanted to see this campsite.

    Between Blanchard and Lindsey, OK, we happened across a newborn calf and it’s mother cow. The cow still was trailing placenta components. Erin and I spent about 15 min of quality time watching from about 30 yards away. The calf was trying to learn to get up. It really worked at it, and in the end, it was up with all four legs sticking out in different directions, but it was enough for the calf to start getting some milk right from the tap(s).

    During this process, the cow checked Erin and I out a couple times (protective, I would imagine), and several of the other cows looked at us as well.

    This was a really neat learning experience for Erin, and I really enjoyed watching it with her. I have seen a couple of calfs born over the years, but I’m guessing that most kids don’t get the experience. I’m glad she did.