Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Should old aquaintance be forgotten?

Updated and reposted (isn't that sort of redudent?)

"What does this song mean?" wonders Harry Burns to Sally Albright in that ballroom moment from the 1989 movie "When Harry Met Sally."
"My whole life, I have never known what this song means. I mean, Should old acquaintance be forgot? Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?"
Sally can't help. But whatever the nuances, no one seems capable of forgetting this song.
The original post, now 4 years old, has been frequently sought after on my blog - all year long - and as since the original post has outdated links, I thought it should be refreshed.

Wikipedia traces it back to Robert Burns in 1788, and notes that while the famous band leader Guy Lombardo used it his New Years Eve broadcasts on radio and then TV, the song can traced back as far 1896.   The various translations of the song are found there, and HowStuffWorks breaks down the meanings of the verses.

This is the time people start creating their New Year's Resolutions but I've long since provided my reasoning why doing so is silly (here and here).  Of course, if making a resolution Wednesday night works for, be my guest.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen When Harry Met Sally you have no clue what you're missing.   The trailer has several lines that are indescribably funny ("...and I'm going to be 40!"), and is well worth your watching.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Time is here

One of the doubled-edge swords of having a blog is that you can look back at posts from previous years.

Sometimes you can relish in seeing how far you've come.  Other times, you find yourself typing the same ole' same old again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, so goes the old saying.  I find myself in a repeated funk this time of year.   And like last year, I know I'll get out of it, but it seems even harder to do so this year than last. 

This year I can blame my shopping procrastination in part on my study of taekwondo.  Our dojang is open Monday - Thursday, but is closed tonight and tomorrow, and again next week.  So I tried to get extra work outs to make my average of 2 nights per week.   Lame excuse, I realize, but after the summer gas prices costing me upwards of $32 per day to get to work, my MBH and I agreed to go light with each other this year.

On the upside, she did secure a purchase of most-valued Wii, and I must brag that I have shown quite a bit of restraint in not testing the unit yet.  So we have a definite anchor gift for the boys this year, and plenty of other wonders for them to open.   Then this weekend it's our annual romp to my parents and my in-laws....

...with that in mind, I'll be stopping at my local State Store to load up on a sufficient quantity of libations... heaven knows I'll need it!

And on that note, to those who still bother to stop and read my missives, a very Merry Christmas to you all!

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Army Christmas Operations Order: 12-24-08

Army Christmas Operations Order: 12-24-08

Subject: Christmas

1. An official visit by MG Santa (NMI) Claus is expected at this headquarters 25 December 2008. The following instructions will be in effect and govern the activities of all personnel during the visit.

a. Not a creature will stir without official permission. This will include indigenous mice. Special stirring permits for necessary administrative actions will be obtained through normal channels. Mice stirring permits will be obtained through the Office of the Surgeon General, Veterinary Services.

b. Personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap prior to 2200 hours, 24 December 2008. Uniform for the nap will be: Pajamas, cotton, light, drowsing, with kerchief, general purpose, camouflage; and Cap, camouflage w/ear flaps. Equipment will be drawn from CIF prior to 1900 hours, 24 December 2008.

c. Personnel will utilize standard field ration sugar plums for visions to dance through their heads. Artificially sweetened plums are authorized for those in their unit weight control program. Specifications for this item will be provided by the servicing dining facility.

d. Stockings, wool, cushion sole, will be hung by the chimney with care. Necessary safety precautions will be taken to avoid fire hazards caused by carelessly hung stockings. Unit safety Officers will submit stocking hanging plans to this headquarters prior to 0800 hours, 24 December 2008, ATTN: DCSLOG, for approval.

e. At the first sign of clatter from the lawn, all troops will spring from their beds to evaluate noise and cause. Immediate action will be taken to tear open the shutters and throw open the window sashes. DCSOPS Plan (Saint Nick), Reference LO No. 3, paragraph 6c, this headquarters, 2 February 2008, will be in effect to facilitate shutter tearing and sash throwing. Division chiefs will familiarize all personnel with procedures and are responsible for ensuring that no shutters are torn open nor window sashes thrown open prior to start of official clatter.

f. Prior to 2400, 24 December 2008, all personnel will be assigned "Wondering Eye" stations. After shutters are thrown open and sashes are torn, these stations will be manned.

g. The ODCSLOG will assign one each Sleigh, miniature, M-66, and eight
(8) deer, rein, tiny, for use of MG Claus' driver who, IAW current directives and other applicable regulations, must have a valid SF 56 properly annotated by Driver Testing; be authorized rooftop parking and be able to shout "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, up Comet, up Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen".

2. MG Claus will enter quarters through standard chimneys. All units without chimneys will draw Chimney Simulator, M-6, for use during ceremonies. Chimney simulator units will be requested on Engineer Job Order Request Form submitted to the Furniture Warehouse prior to 19 December 2008, and issued on DA Form 3161, Request for Issue or Turn-in.

3. Personnel will be rehearsed on shouting "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night." This shout will be given on termination of General Claus' visit. Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of division chiefs.

Colonel, USA
OIC, Special Services

Everybody Who Still Believes


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Double Standards in politics, relationships

Poor guy, I feel for him. While I have not debated with people with whom I share intimacies with (as Jan & Damon do in the Day By Day comic strip), I have poised similar questions to people with whom I am diametrically opposed with in politics, and they get every bit bent out of shape as Jan does.

Even the ones who called me a Nazi for voting for George W. Bush.

Go figure.

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How many System Engineers does it take to open a door?

Scene: Front door of my office, Monday 06:35

I arrive to find two colleagues standing in the freezing weather, frustrated. Our door has a cipher lock on it: a rectangular box sits atop of the steel doorknob, wherein 5 numbered buttons are lined up vertically. Punch in the correct code, turn the knob, you're in.

Remember this weekend's weather. Typically, the metal buttons freeze, requiring a pair of pliers from my tool box to grip and push in, pull out. I stand there with my briefcase and coffee, and tell the two I will get my pliers.

Guy1: It's not the buttons, it's the knob that's frozen. What should we do?
I was trying to decided whether to tell this doofus to sit in his warm car instead of obviously freezing. Instead I stood little more than 3' from the door, stared at the knob for a half of a second, and landed a front kick square on the knob.
Me: Try it now.
Guy2: Hey it works, and he didn't even spill his coffee!
Guy1: Can you teach me that?

Yeah... I work with some brilliant guys.

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More troops to Afghanistan: will war critics be consistent?

Remember that NATO forces were to control , as the intelligence of US and our allies told us of the impending threats from .   With no disrespect to NATO (of which the US, obviously, is a member): they've all done an admirable job, in proportion to their strengths.  

That being said, since we've tamped down Iraq and the insurgents, it is time to focus more on Afghanistan to prevent it from falling back into Taliban (or other) hands.   The US and will be remembered for freeing the Afghanistan, but the job needs to be mopped.  You will not hear any complaints from me when the forces of good are stepping on those of evil.

In related news, however:  Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately - The Washington Times reports what a lot of people knew - that Mssrs. Bush & were far from the cold-hearted war-mongers that the MSM consistently portrayed them.
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.

Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching - balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin - that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.

"I lean on the Almighty and Laura," Mr. Bush said in the interview. "She has been very reassuring, very calming."

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.

Much to the chagrin of his critics, President Bush would never disrupt the solemn ceremony of a family funeral with the required security detail necessary for any sitting president (never mind the relentless news media!). So for all the 7 years of his critics complaining that he never once attended a funeral for a fallen soldier, he did a a lot more than any of them ever dared to suggest, nor would they've likely admitted had they known the truth.

That being said, tell me: if increases troop strength to Afghanistan, as is reported ...

if there are still insurgent attacks in Iraq, in spite of our success, that kill US servicemen ...

Will any of the critics who slammed President Bush for never attending a serviceman's funeral say the same thing to President Obama?

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A Hanukkah Menorah

I am a day late, but only due to my negligence (what can I tell you? I am goyim!).

For those who celebrate, here's a Menorah:

Courtesy of Michael S. Scherotter (MS Silverlight required)


Festival of Lights
Happy Chanukah

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy

In my parent's home, traditional performers were always given preference, and was pretty much the top of the category.   I remember watching his annual Christmas specials on TV, and can even recall his final special in 1977.

Like Bing, neither of my parents had any familiarity with (my older brother had a bunch of his albums, but my folks never cared much for the music of their kids - not a big surprise there), but my father had remarked that Bowie could sing well, and I also recall him saying If he would just continue to do songs like this, he'd have a long and successful career.   Well, Pop, he did anyway.

The duet performed by Bing & Bowie stands out in my mind as a classic Christmas song, and I was surprised to learn a few folks in my office had never heard it before. Whether you're new to it or not, enjoy:

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's getting ready...

Watch as the big guy takes some warm-up laps....

Courtesy of ... find out the history of the DoD website here.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick Hits

Having  posted so very little new content of late, it's time for another installment of Quick Hits:

  • (D-Il) - OK, so this is an old story already.   First off, while there's every reason to assume the tapes mentioned in the indictment are true, there's no reason to be certain that he will be convicted.   Even if we allow for every tape and and ever incriminating statement makes it to trial, this is Chicago we're talking about.  That being said, this will have a negative impact on 's administration; I am not suggesting it will take him down, but it is already causing his team to spend a lot of cycles to deflect the blast.  And since there's already a cloud due to 's statement that Mr. Obama had met with the governor about his successor contradicting the President-elects own claim he never met with the governor, this isn't a dead issue.   The worse-case-scenario for President Obama, I believe, is that this issue will be a constant gnat throughout much of his first year in office.   By the beginning of 2010, all eyes will begin to focus on the House elections, which could forestall Mr. Obama's more Liberal policies.   I can only hope!
  • In a Tweet I suggested the best possible successor for Mr. Obama's seat - one that could be (likely) certain was free from Gov. Blagojevich's corruption - would be most any GOP'er.    Alex Charyna ran with my idea, with a very interesting suggestion.
  • My office has officially eliminated the working from home option.  For much of the last 4 years I've enjoyed an undocumented perk of working from home, on average, one day per week.   That privilege was suspended in June (just before $4/gal gas!) and was completely shot-down on Monday.  The number of reasons I have to stay at this job are beginning to dwindle.   Oh sure, I was ready to walk out the door in July, at the $4/gal prices when I was prevented from working at home, wherein I was virtually losing money every day I came to work (net/net that is).  Now I realize: there are a lot of people hurting a lot more than I am by losing this perk.  Still, it affects me and the topic of me is what much of this blog is about.    Twice a year - in January and July - I revise my curricula vita (that's résumé for those under 30), whether I am looking for a job or not.   This year may be different...  I may shop it around to see whats-what in the market.  You never know.
  • HEY you lazy bastard, what about them push-ups?  Over this summer I participated in a one-hundred push-up challenge at the encouragement of Derek Semmler. In September, so the story went, I was expected to be able to churn out 100 proper push-ups in a sequential fashion (not in any specific time frame, like 60 seconds, but not with any breaks either).      In a post I made recounting the prior weeks accomplishment, I noted that I had failed to hit the prescribed number of push-ups, and that I would consider redoing the final two weeks of the 6 week program.   As is all too common with me, inertia set in and I never revisited the program.      At the  height of my training, I was able to routinely hit about 45 consecutive push-ups (tripod stance, on fists).  By the end of the six-week program, however, I was having trouble breaking 35, so I clearly lost my motivation.  Well I am girding myself to revisit the program again, and will invite any and all comers to visit one hundred push-ups and join me. I will retake the initial test and start the 6 week program next week. Unlike Derek's generosity, I am unable to offer any swag to others who join me in this quest, but hey! I'll say some nice words about you if you do!   (and for those thinking 100 push-ups is an incredible amount, I am regularly grinding out 3 sets of 35 inclined push-ups as part of my TKD training.... so I ought to be able to reach the 100 goal).

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Oh Santa!

Whether you have kids or not, this is worth a few minutes...

are the creation of BigIdea.com, which produce animated Biblical-based toons (both Old and New Testaments) with enough side-jokes to keep any adult smiling.  I especially enjoy the crude 'stage' effects (notice the snow) and sight gags.

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Holiday Chestnuts

Appearing at the top of this blog, throughout Christmas, is my annual list of my favorite Holiday Chestnuts.  If you have any suggestions to be added, leave a comment.  I hope to add more this year:

It's OK to say
Merry Christmas!


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Monday, December 01, 2008

The more things CHANGE ... you know the rest...

We're now certain who the nominees for key positions in 's administration will be, including an Economic and National Security team that is straight out of the pages of 's cabinet.

So it begs the question: where's the change?  Does anyone really believe a President 's administration would look dramatically different?   We were told by Candidate Obama that things would be done differently under his watch, but so far we're getting more of the same, even with the nomination of to head Defense, in a roll where his positions on the Surge and - indeed - Iraq itself would likely be counter to Mr. Obama's.  

So either Mr. Obama is desiring heated debates in his Cabinet, or he's going to backtrack on a lot of the core positions of his campaign. 

In my office, when I raise these points to a couple of the die-hard Obama fans - ones who never supported Sen. Clinton - their response is short, cold, it doesn't matter, almost as if they're dismayed at these choices.

I have to wonder how long the honeymoon Mr. Obama rightly deserves will last.... and I am not speaking of his critics, but of his supporters.   It is looking more and more likely that he'll abandon more and more of his campaign pledges - not unlike I and others predicted - and shape his administration and policy in ways that will surprise even some of his stauncher supporters.  It may be surprised at how hard it will be to believe in the kinds of change President Obama brings to the table. 

And believe me: I genuinely fear my predictions will come true.

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Discussions of life and death with a 5 year old

One of the benefits to cyber schooling is having the opportunity to be directly involved in a child's education.  Indeed, in the younger grades, it is essential to be the teacher (small 't') whereas the Teacher is a person whom the student converses with online, by phone, and at sees at the monthly field trips.

Our kindergartner has taken very well to the cyber classes, and my much-better-half has the dominant role as teacher, with me filling in as needed.  Last week the 5 year old asked me to help him with his science class (note: to the best of my memory, I didn't have Science in kindergarten.  In fact, short of snack time and frying pumpkin seeds in oil, I have no recollection of kindergarten). We read the book Things that are alive, things that are not  (the title may be incorrect; will update if I am wrong), which was helping kids understand that inanimate objects aren't alive, and so forth.   

One page of the book described if you walk in the park and see a bird lying on the ground, not moving, and not doing anything a bird usually does, it's dead.   Obviously, the author needed a good example of a dead animal, but never considered the amount of road-kill seen on rural roads.   That said, the drawing of a bird lying on its back on a field of green elicited a case of the giggles from my son.  But, remember, he is 5.

A few days later, however, this topic apparently began to ferment in his head.  Daddy, why is it that dogs and cats can get old and die, but people can't?   Ohhhhh-kay.   He's beginning to piece things together, albeit with a few holes.  I explained to him simply that people can die just like dogs and cats, and in fact anything alive can die. He seemed satisfied with this, and then changed the subject to what was on TV.  I later learned that he asked my much-better-half if birds could die could our cat die, too?   So the progression was logical.

A day later he asked me if people can die when they get old, how come Pop is still alive?   Wow, now he's shoving my father into the ground!!  Won't Pop be pleased??

I know this type of discussion hadn't come up when our 13 year old was a similar age, but then he had the mixed blessing of experiencing the passing of my much-better-half's parents over a few short years (and he didn't start cyber school until the 2nd grade, if that matters).  I reassured our youngest that while Pop was old, there's no reason to think that he's going to die tomorrow, which again satisfied him (at least for then and there).    My father is 78, and in overall good health, so there's no reason to think he's going anytime soon, but statistically speaking, he's entering the home stretch (the SSA predicts he's got another 9 years or so).

Since my youngest has accepted that people can (and do) die, I am going to wait for another question before I approach the topic further.   He's exhibited a healthy level of inquisitiveness for this topic, I think, and isn't apparently bothered by the topic.    My father has 2 older brothers still living (and 2 younger sisters, the husband of one sadly is struggling with cancer),  so it a stretch to imagine that a funeral may be in the cards over the next few years (believe me: I have no wish to hurry such an event).  So sooner or later, this will be discussed again.

In the meantime, I await the next question to come to mind of my youngest.   It is more than a little interesting to witness the thought process taking shape in his young mind.

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