27 December 2007

New Toys

Blogging live from Florida on my wife's laptop, using her new wireless satellite internet connection thingy (technical term).

Man, technology is GREAT!

My bestest gift was a new air compressor, and the tools to go with it. Now I just have to keep my eldest son's greasy paws off of them. Wish me luck with that, so far he's gotten into all the rest of my tools.

The trip went well, although it took 12 hours instead of the expected 10. Congestion on I-95, for reasons unknown. After crawling along at 5-10 MPH for an hour or so the speeds would hike back up to 70, and there was no indication of why the slowdown occurred in the first place. I made better time on secondary roads at times. I really hate I-95.

Hope Sandy Claws was good to you and yours.

24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's been a busy year at the Refuge.

Last year at this time I worked for a different company, so this year brings a new (and in many respects, better) job.

Last year I had one grandson I had never met. This year he and his brother came to stay with us for a month.

My younger sister and her husband came to visit, and a good time was had by all.

My older sister moved to Virginia, a couple of hundred miles away. Big changes this year for her as well.

And finally, my wife of 14 years has been diagnosed with cancer, a potentially life threatening condition. I am hopeful, but more to the point, I have taken to heart the lesson that we must cherish every moment as if it were our last, because one day it will be.

Thanks to all of you for dropping by, have a very Merry Christmas and a glorious New Year!

God bless us all, every one.

Good And Bad

The good news is I won't have to work Christmas Eve or Christmas night.

That means I get to spend Christmas day with the grandkids as they rip and tear their way through miles of wrapping and tape.

That also means I'll be able to sleep all night Christmas night instead of being up. So instead of leaving work at 4:30 to put the wife on the plane, we will get up early and I'll load her and the boys in the car and leave the house around 5:30. We will drop her off at the airport and continue to head south from there.

The bad news is now I get to drive the day after Christmas during the daytime, while the boys are awake.

And since I'll be the only adult in the car, I get to handle any problems as well.

At least it's only 500 miles or so, it should only take me about...


19 December 2007


The radiation therapy started Monday, 15 minutes a day until it is done, estimated at 7 weeks. The chemo will start after the new year.

So many new things you learn when you are involved in the battle against cancer, many of which I hope you will never have to learn.

The chemo therapy is tailored to each individual patient, so there is a...shall we say, collection process...that has to occur. Suffice it to say if you are ever in the house with someone that has been recently diagnosed, don't drink out of the orange jug in the refrigerator.

My younger sister had a patient (both my sisters are RN's) that drank Propel sports water during her chemo and was able to keep her hair. We stocked up on it today, we will see how it works when she starts her chemo. I hope it works.

She wants to travel south for Christmas and I am worried that she will not tolerate the trip well. We will be taking our 2 grandsons back home, ages 2 and 4, as well as our youngest, age 8. We decided that she will fly down and I will drive at night while the kids sleep and she can ride back with just me and Chris on the return trip. Less stress, and she can lie down in the backseat on the way back if she wants.

The chemo will start when we get back, she will have a "port" put in, which as near as I can tell is a semi-permanently attached IV line. This will remain until the end of the treatments.

The docs hope that the masses can be cut down to a manageable size in 7 weeks, at which time they will be able to go in and "section" the lung to remove the bad parts. Her type of cancer generally responds well to the treatment regimen that is planned, and they are confident that within a couple of months she will be back to normal...or at least back to what passes for normal for her.

They are also pretty confident that the radiation will knock back the tumors enough to relieve some of the pain by the time we head south next week.

I was mulling all of this over in my mind as we drove back from the treatments today. She told me I looked worried.

I'm going to have to work harder on that.

15 December 2007

Fear in a Handful of Dust

Cancer is a scary word.

When it's used in reference to someone you know casually, it's scary.

When it's used in reference to someone you are close to, it's terrifying.

When it's used in reference to someone who carries your soul in their pocket, terrifying is too mild a word.

She went to the emergency room on Monday, December 3 because the pain in her side made it hard to breathe. They found spots on her lungs, one of them large.

Tuesday the 4th was our anniversary. I've had her for 14 years now, and I'm afraid that I may not have much more time with her.

Afraid means I've never been more scared in my life.

I will be strong. For her.
I will do anything for her.

Her doctor called her on Thursday the 6th to come in, without an appointment. I held her as she sobbed into my chest, and pushed my own helplessness and tears down where she couldn't see them, as he confirmed the diagnosis and set up the appointments with the oncologist.

I will be strong. For her.
I will do anything for her.

She went to the oncologist on Friday. He says that chemo and radiation therapy should knock the tumors right down, and that she will be back to her old self in 7 weeks. She is upbeat and happy at this news.

I think about an article I read while researching that says sometimes chemo and radiation therapy fails. I keep it to myself.

I will be strong. For her.
I will do anything for her.

Yesterday she went in to get the tumors mapped. She starts the treatments on Monday. I will take care of things around the house, work schedule permitting, and keep a happy face on.

I will cherish each and every moment with her, realizing that while I thought I was doing so before, I really wasn't.

I will suppress my fears and not let them show. I will not show any sign of hopelessness or despair. I will use my blog, which she thinks is kinda silly and doesn't read, as my outlet instead of burdening her with my insecurities.

I will be strong. For her.
I will do anything for her.

And I will pray for Mr. Fixit. Because he is riding the same roller coaster through the darkness that I am.

29 November 2007

Gotta Have It


The Stanley FUBAR!

I don't have anything to destroy (yet) but I want one of these just because it's the coolest, most descriptive name ever given to an implement of destruction.

That and the fact it has an awesome demo website.

If you don't recognize the name FUBAR, it's a military acronym. Google it!

23 November 2007

Something To Be Thankful For

Today something wonderful happened.

My Eldest Son has been having a running battle with his soon-to-be ex over his two boys. He hasn't seen them in quite some time because of it.

A couple of days ago she called and asked if my wife and I would take the kids for the month and bring them back when we went to Florida after Christmas. Of course we jumped at the chance.

We said nothing to ES because he has been disappointed in the past. Everyone else knew except him. A family conspiracy, so to speak.

The boys arrived just a while ago while their dad was away from the house. When he got home his jaw hit the floor, and for the past hour he has not let them go. I can't say I blame him.

Happy late Thanksgiving Son. I love you.

22 November 2007

11 November 2007

09 November 2007


It has come to my attention that I have now received over 1000 hits on my little corner of the world.

Sad to say, a lot of them are, in fact, your humble scribe. But, a hit is a hit!

Number 1000 came from Beachwood, Ohio on the 4th of November, 2007 to read "Peace".

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you enjoyed the stay.

Project Valor-IT

I have been remiss.

It's time again to pitch a worthy cause, that of Project Valor-IT.

Project Valor-IT is a program from Soldiers Angels that provides laptop computers with voice recognition software to our injured Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who are unable to use a computer through the regular means.

Every year the milblogs have a little fund raising contest, joining a team to raise funds in the name of their favorite services. I was involved last year but I come late to the game this year.

Here's your link. I strongly urge you to donate on behalf of Team Navy or Team Marines, but if you have the misfortune of being associated with the lesser services (coff*james*coff) you may certainly donate in the name of the Army or Air Force.

You don't have to give a fortune, every little bit helps.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

07 November 2007

Fun With Cars

The Aries is now running right, I worked on a few connectors and removed a broken radio suppression cap lead on the coil. I don't know for sure which was the problem, but the car now starts on cold mornings without a hassle like a fuel injected one should.

A little background first.

I told you about the car cutting out on me, and said that I had changed the power module. Well, that wasn't it. I ended up changing the coil on the last morning that the car started fine for me, and that's when I had the problems with the cold weather starts. I changed the coil because the car had cut off on me the night before. I was able to disconnect and reconnect the pickup coil, and the car fired back up.

Thinking back on it, I had messed around with the connectors trying to get the car to restart that night and it started just fine the next morning. So the problem was most likely with that radio suppression cap. I haven't had a problem with it since I took it off, and I have driven the car to work every day for the last week.

Today the youngest and I went to get tires. While we were there we picked out some fabric for the headliner, he picked out a gold dragon with red flames on a black background motif. It should look interesting with a tan interior. The Rampage has a blue cammo thing going, so I guess I can't say too much about dragons and flames.

We also got a set of wheel covers, so now all of the wheels have covers and all the covers match. I was only able to afford two tires, so the other two will have to wait until next payday. At least now I have a spare, and I also bought a scissors jack, so if I have a flat I can fix it.

Next on the agenda is rod and main bearings, there is a slight tapping noise that sounds like it's coming from the bottom end. Lesson learned from the Rampage, this is easiest fixed when you first hear it, otherwise a spun rod bearing will be the likely result. It's not hard to find 2.2 Dodge engines, but it's still a pain to swap motors. Especially now, since I don't have access to a shop with an engine hoist like I had before.

This shouldn't be a large job since the oil pan is easily removed from the bottom without pulling any frame components. The oil is already getting dirty after only 500 miles, so I'm guessing the rings were sticking. I'll change the transmission fluid and filter at the same time.

Now that this car is finally reliable, I can turn my attention to the Rampage. I suspect there is debris in the gas tank that is clogging the intake screen, the car idles just fine but seems to run out of gas while driving at highway speeds. The fuel pump is new, as is the filter, and the carberator has been freshly rebuilt.

First though, I'll have to replace the alternator on my wife's Pontiac. It's been trying to go out for a couple of months now, but I've been putting it off. I do need to get it done though, before it goes out completely. That would put me in hot water with SWMBO. That would be a bad thing.

Maybe by Christmas I'll be done fooling around with cars.

And maybe something to do with monkeys will happen too.

31 October 2007


Last night I drove the Aries in to work. It performed flawlessly all the way there. This morning I go out to start it to go home and the motor spins over but won't start. I have spark and I have fuel, but the motor won't start.

To add to the confusion, I don't have a power loss light any more so I can't pull the engine codes. The last time the power loss light didn't work the logic module was fried, so I'm worried that it's going to need another one.

This afternoon my eldest son and I go to fetch the car. I figure that the last time the computer went I was able to do a full throttle start and at least get the car home, so I'm going to try that again.

I try the full throttle start and to my complete amazement the power loss light flickers on and the motor tries to start. I then try a regular (no throttle) start and the motor starts, runs roughly for a few seconds, then cuts back off. Several starts later the motor finally stays running, and the longer it runs the smoother the idle gets.

I get the car home, and once more it's running beautifully. I wonder if the temp sensors are going bad, but yesterday morning the car started fine and it was colder yesterday than it was this morning.

Of course, yesterday night the car cut out on me again and I had to disconnect and reconnect everything to get it to start again. I changed the coil on it on my way home from work yesterday morning, so hopefully that problem is fixed. It probably is, since the next problem doesn't crop up until I get the current one solved. And like I said, it ran flawlessly all the way in.

What I hate most of all is an intermittant problem because they are so hard to track down. Tomorrow I'll pull all the connectors apart and check them out, that's another common Dodge problem.

I'm glad today is a day off.


I told you bad things were going to happen to me.
This morning the war wagon wouldn't start for me as I was leaving work. It looks like the computer again, at least that's what the symptoms are. That's what I get for buying a used computer, trying to go cheap.

My partner had to give me a ride home, and to make matters worse my wife was walking the dog as we drove up. So, of course, I got the whole "I told you so" from her. What a great way to start the day. Or end it, as the case may be, since I work nights and sleep days.

But, as a bonus, one of my pictures is going to be in a 2008 calender. I wish it would have been this one, but hey...I'm published now! Get yours here when they go on sale (the East Broad Top one, of course).

Now I'm tired and going to bed. I have a Dodge to fix tonight. Wish me luck.

Photo to be used in the East Broad Top calender from BHI publications.

29 October 2007

Bad Things Are Gonna Happen To Me

Lawdog reminded me of these videos, which I of course found completely hillarious.

What I also find completely hillarious is the humor of our troops, who refer to the "tail gunner" in a Humvee as a "trunk monkey".

And finally, who needs an Ambulance Driver when you have one of these?

Oh yeah. I'm going straight to Hay-ell for that one.

And while I'm at it, I finally linked AD. Find it on the sidebar, prepare to shoot coffee out of your nose. I deny any responsibility for ruined keyboards or monitors.

Mopar Or No Car (What's the Difference?)

Well, here it is the end of the month. I apologize for the light posting, it's a good thing I don't do this for a living or I would have made some editors very angry. Of course if I did this for a living I would have much more time to dedicate to it.

My time has been eaten up with work, one of my co-workers had to go away unexpectedly and we had to take up the slack. I've also been very busy with another project car, this one has been more trouble than it's worth.

When I say project car, I don't mean some exotic collectible that will be worth a fortune when finished. You see, I seem to have a knack for finding cars on the cheap that just need a bit of work. The last 3 acquisitions have been Dodge front-wheel drives, not by design but by accident. The last two are vehicles that I swore I would never own, a minivan and a station wagon.

It all started with a Chevy Cavalier. The Chevy died on me and I needed a car quick. An associate from work hooked me up with the mighty Rampage for cheap ($50 USD) because he couldn't keep it running. I was able to diagnose the problem (pickup coil, as I found out later a common problem with Dodge 2.2 and 2.5 motors) and seven years later I'm still driving it.

The next was the minivan. I got the van for free, the original idea was to pull the brakes off of it for the Rampage. However, my friend Tommy decided he wanted it and paid me to put an engine in it. I couldn't get the engine running (I literally worked on it until closing time at the auto hobby shop and had to go on cruise the next day) so I gave him his money back. When I got back a fuel injector fixed the problem. Now I had a van I didn't want, but since it was running and in decent shape I hated to do anything bad to it...like strip the brakes off. About that time my daughter called, needed a car, so I gave her the van. She drove it for two years and sold it for $400.

The latest is an Aries station wagon. Initially I paid $150 for it, my intention is to use it as a camping and fishing car. When it was just me and Christopher the mighty Rampage did fine, but now we have family closer that also enjoys the occasional camping and fishing trip so we needed something that would carry 4 adults and 2 children. It seemed the Aries would fit the bill perfectly. This one has been a nightmare.

I got the car from a consignment lot. The owner of the lot tells me that the owner of the car brought it in to use as a trade-in, but he wasn't interested in it. So, the car sat on the lot for over a year as the owner delayed coming to get it. Since I have started working on it I have no doubts as to why that is. He was trying to shaft the consignment lot owner, and hard.

Initially the car started and seemed to run great, especially considering that it sat unstarted for over a year. Now it seems to have decided that since it has an owner that fixes stuff, it's going to break as much as possible just to see what I'll put up with.

First I replaced the front rotors and pads, discovering the left side pads were untouched and the right side was down to metal. Further investigation showed the brake line had been removed on the left. The metal brake line, between the distribution block and the rubber line. No way the Previous Owner didn't know about it.

A full tune up and fluid/filter change was next. I found the radiator drain cock fully sealed with bathtub sealant, the rubber gasket had fallen off somewhere and apparently the PO couldn't be bothered to just go to the parts store and buy a new $3.00 plug. But I did.

Next I replaced parking brake cables, both the front and intermediate. In the process I have found much cancer in the floorboards, and during the latest rainstorm have discovered the windshield, doors and the tailgate all leak. Additionally, the water standing in the spare tire well gives off an interesting stench, no doubt due to the mouse nest I found under the spare tire as I was cleaning out the car. Soap, water and Febreeze have done wonders to eliminate the odor, but the parking brake still doesn't work. I'll have to pull the brake drums to find out why.

So why haven't I done that, you ask? Well, it was about this time the true nature of the car showed itself. I was taking it to get tires, ten miles from the house, when at the halfway point it started belching black smoke. The check-engine (actually a power loss light on this particular car) never did work, so I couldn't pull the codes. Added to this, the radiator fan always came on with the key, something I found interesting but not worth chasing down at the time. I should have.

I tried an O2 sensor and a fuel injector before finally biting the bullet and checking the logic module out. It had been water intruded and fried, also something that the PO had to have known about since it was old damage. Apparently sitting as long as it did allowed the computer to reset itself (dead battery) just long enough to lull me into a false sense of security. Changing it out fixed the problem with the running, gave me back a power-loss light, and fixed the radiator fan issue.

(It was about this time that I had to go on extended shifts, and of course that same day the Rampage's carberator went all to pieces. I was hoping to drive the War Wagon, but of course it had other ideas. It's a good thing the wife works opposite shifts.)

The next thing to go was the power module, which is the other half of the engine computer suite. Fortunately since I had a power loss light now I was able to troubleshoot and repair this using the engine codes. At the present time the car now runs, I was able to drive it around the house for an hour today with no problems, and the smell has been washed out. The headliner has been removed and the foam remnants vacuumed off the headliner shell. The rotting cloth has also been removed from the sun visors. All this will be repaired when the water leaking problems have been resolved.

I'm going to tear into the rear brakes next week and fix the parking brake problems, then finally the car should pass inspection. I'll get a jack and a spare tire for it and just drive it for a couple of months to work out any more bugs, then I'll work on the water intrusion problems before doing any interior work. Maybe I'll even get the air conditioning fixed before next summer.

Of course my co-workers find this saga highly amusing, especially the part where the mighty Rampage let me down the very day I had to start working extra days and the war wagon kicked out it's power module that night as I was driving in.

You would think I would be over my recent Dodge fetish.

You would be wrong. I want one of these. And I'll wait for this one.

This Rampage was formerly owned by SGT R. Kennedy, USMC. I wish mine looked like that.

15 October 2007

Playing Catch-Up

Several things since my last posting, over a month ago.

Most important, and so first, is the news that the first Medal of Honor given for Operation Enduring Freedom will be awarded posthumously to Navy SEAL LT Michael Murphy of Patchogue, NY. Teammate HM2 Marcus Luttrell, known in the SEAL community as "The ONE", tells the story in his new book "Lone Survivor".

The award will be presented to LT Murphy's family at the White House on October 22, 2007.

LT Murphy joins fellow MOH awardees Army Sgt 1st Class Paul R. Smith and Marine CPL Jason Dunham in the honors, and will be commanding the Valhalla Detachment of the US Navy SEALs, a unit which includes fellow SEALs AO2 Marc Lee and MA2 Michael Monsoor among others.

One New York paper apparently decided this was not news fit to print and failed to report the story at all.

Next, James Rigney, better known as Robert Jordan, has passed on. Fellow author Stephen King used to say about his Dark Tower series that he would finish it as long as the reader retained interest and the author retained breath. Happily, both occurred with the release of The Dark Tower, which was the last book of the series. Sadly, fans of the Wheel of Time are not as fortunate. Rest in peace Mr. Rigney, and thanks for everything.

Another milestone in the literary world was the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Atlas Shrugged. Not a book for everyone, a bit wordy in places, but a compelling story nonetheless.

In other news, some dolt got some prize for doing something doltish that other dolts were very impressed with, the end result is that now everyone who uses their brain for something more than making excuses now is fully aware that the Nobel Peace Prize is worth exactly squat. Of course, anyone with half a brain realized that when it was given to a terrorist.

Finally, Jeff Gordon wins his second race in a row at Lowes Motor Speedway to retain his spot at the top of the Nextel Cup standings; this feat was witnessed by freshly inoculated house staffers. I can see influenza, but hepatitis? I mean, really! Just what were they intending to do there?

No house staffers were injured in the writing of this blog post, although the temptation was great.

Photo from the US Navy

06 September 2007


Notice the addition to the sidebar.

Moving Day

Ahab, from What Would John Wayne Do, has moved.

Accordingly, his information on the sidebar has been updated.

Check out his new digs.

31 August 2007

Linky Linky

One of my oldest daughter's friends, when she was still young enough to be at home, told me "I wish I had a Dad like you."

This statement was made by a sixteen year old girl who was raised by a single mom. It was made without sarcasm, just a simple wistful statement of what she wished could be.

What could I say? I just hugged her and said "I wish you did, too. But if you need to borrow me, I'll be here."

Ten years later she still calls me Dad.

I have added Kim du Toit to my links just because of this essay.

I have further decided that he is among the luckiest men alive just because of his wife's attitude towards his essay. I am likewise blessed.

Thanks to Emperor Misha I for bringing this post to my attention.


Richard Bach wrote about the light in the toolbox in his book "One" that I read way back in high school.

He spoke of how machines have a soul, how they have a life and personality all their own. Not life as defined by scientists, but any mechanic will tell you that each machine has it's own quirks.

Richard Bach is a pilot and writer; his passion is flying. I do my flying a little closer to the ground. My passion is motorcycles.

We departed on a Sunday, the sun felt good after days of badly needed rain. The road hummed beneath her tires as she took her bearings from the rising sun and headed north.

My son and I have been riding her now for a couple of weeks, letting her stretch her legs and letting her and I get used to each other. Now it's time for us to go see the Man.

US1 north from Franklinton is a four lane highway, but where it joins with Interstate 85 in Henderson it turns back into a two-lane road that winds through the small towns. We are not in a big hurry so we take the back roads, ignoring the ease of the interstate in favor of the more challenging twists and turns of the two-lane.

Halfway between South Hill and Kenbridge VA we turn off onto Bacon Fork Road. Our journey is almost through.

We roll into the yard, the sun sparkling off her fresh coat of blue paint. He looks out the window. She shows off her new gold pinstriping for him.

"Damn", he says. "She looks great!"

She hears him.

We spend the day there, he takes his powered wheelchair for a lap around her to see her up close. We talk of days past, of rides taken and sights seen. We enjoy the day, my friend and I.

All too soon the sun starts to sink in the western sky. I turn the key and push the starter button.

We once again take the back roads home. It's a day for riding, and remembrance, something that is difficult to do on the mindless expanse of asphalt that is the interstate highway system.

The sky is purple as we arrive back at the Refuge. I leave her in her shed, along with the Harley that eyes me balefully. Lucille is jealous, but like most redheads making up with her will be the most fun.

This ride is done, but there are many more ahead.

For both of us.

Note from the Scoundrel: "This post was originally written as the third part of a triligy. Parts one and two are here. This part has been a long time coming. I thank you for your patience."

Lest We Forget

My sister has moved to Roanoke VA and will be visiting this weekend. Her daughter has the misfortune of sharing a birthday with a terrible event.

On her birthday she experienced the horror of watching, along with the rest of America, the twin towers fall in New York City. Tearfully she turned to her mom and asked "How could they do this? And on my BIRTHDAY!!!!!"

She will never forget.

And neither will I.

Photo from http://www.janknepper.com

19 August 2007

So whaddaya want fer nothin?

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been over two months since my last post.
No, nothing wrong, I just haven't taken the time to write.
I have been busy, what with the new job and all, but not so busy I couldn't sit down and jot a line or two. I just haven't found anything that captures my interest enough to write about it.
I also have not been reading my normal selection of blogs, nor have I been paying much attention to the news. This probably explains why I haven't found anything worth writing about.
I wish I could tell my loyal readership (there are still one or two of you that check in regularly, I offer my baffled thanks) that I have been working on a project of stupendous achievement that will be well worth the long wait.
Sorry, not the case. So sue me, it's not like you are paying me to do this.
But as long as you are here, I hope you enjoyed the links.
Photo courtesy of Blues Brothers Central.

10 June 2007


Before you can go, you must be able to stop.

The left front brake caliper is long gone. It was removed when it detached itself from it's mount one day and threatened to catch in the front wheel. The through-bolt from the removed brake hose was retained and the hole sealed with a combination of RTV and rubber tape. The brake reservoir is cracked and the reservoir itself is full of water. The front brakes are, in simple terms, shot.

Ebay is your friend when you are dealing with older motorcycles. A complete front brake system is purchased and installed. I carefully apply LocTite to the bolts to prevent a future repeat of the event that caused the removal of the original left caliper.

The rear brake has the opposite problem, where the front brakes would not engage the rear brakes will not release. The pins that retain the brake pads are badly rusted, the pads are not able to slide away from the disk. I clean the pins thoroughly and the problem is resolved. I notice however that the brake pistons do not retract very far. They do retract far enough for the pads to go back in, however, so this is a problem for another day.

The tank is sealed with a polymer sealant kit obtained from JC Whitney. A coat of blue paint goes on the tank, more to combat further decay than anything else, but gold pinstriping is added for effect. A new seat cover is installed to replace the old, torn one.

A new set of handlebars are installed; her old ones were bent during her long decline when somehow she was knocked off her side stand into the Harley that she shared a space with. They have not been likewise abused since I brought them home to the shelter they now share.

She has had charging problems in the past; I remove the extra switches and wiring that were installed when I change the handlebars. The charging problems have been fixed and the extras are no longer needed.

The carberators are likewise trashed from all the water. They are also replaced with a set from Ebay.

I look down into the intakes when I remove the old carberators and I don't like what I see. Corrosion has had it's way with her intake runners, but it seems to buff out with Scotch Brite and WD-40. Fortunately the valves were closed on the corroded runners, so it doesn't appear that any water got into the cylinders. I shoot some WD into the spark plug holes just in case.

A new battery goes in and the moment of truth has arrived. A punch of the starter button gets the motor going, but badly. She will not idle, nor will she rev past halfway to the redline marked on her tachometer. A feel of her exhaust pipes shows that there are only three of the four cylinders firing, at best. The new carberators may be in better shape, but only marginally.

Both sets of carberators are pulled apart and I keep the best looking parts from the two sets. I need gaskets and a pilot jet; I find them online.

A fresh oil filter and oil are put in, both gas and oil are treated with SeaFoam. The freshly rebuilt carbs are ready for action. New spark plugs are gapped and installed. This time the starter button produces a roar that brings back echoes of times past.

We slowly leave the driveway and make our way out to the main road. As I pull the throttle farther open she begins to sing. She sings to me of pain and loss, of loneliness and despair.

This is not the happy song she once sang, but it is a song and I can hear it. The song hesitates as the tachometer climbs, but smooths out as the engine warms. As she sings, her soul frees itself; the longer she sings the sweeter the song becomes. Soon the song is of redemption and renewal; the pain remains in the background but becomes more muted as she feels her way back to the roads she once loved so well.

She has now sung her song for three weeks. As her rings unstick and reseat and the deposits are removed from her pistons and valves, her song becomes pain-free. A bit of exhaust work is needed to refine her tone, but she once more sings sweetly. Still, there is something missing; an echo of loneliness and loss still rings in her voice.

Next week we will journey to see the man. I have kept him informed of her progress and he is eager to see her again. I think she is eager to see him as well.

I think she is ready.

06 June 2007


She has been silent now for over five years.

She lost her voice when her constant companion contracted multiple sclerosis and was no longer able to ride. He was afraid that if he tried he would end up killing himself, or worse, someone else.

She sat silent, bereft of shelter or companionship, for over three years. Silent tears of fuel wept from the holes that ate through her gas tank, her throats clogged with water.

One day he asked me to take her away. I loaded her up in the back of the truck and took her home. Finally she had shelter, but still she sat silently.

She has been silent since I last touched her start button for a short trip, a chance to stretch her wheels and feel the asphalt beneath her tires. That was a little over five years ago.

She and I have both wept silent tears for the man, her constant companion and a man that I have grown to love as a second father. We have watched, and wept silent tears of rage as his disease has run it's course, transforming him from an active soul to a helpless invalid, tied now to a wheelchair and hospital bed.

I do not know what she has thought; she sits silently, and if she has a voice to speak I cannot hear it. I myself have suffered in disbelief, but the truth is clear. This terrible disease will not relent; remorsefully it has robbed the man of his motion, of his dignity, and it will finally claim his life one day.

This disease has robbed her of her constant companion, it will rob me of a man who has been as close as family to me.

I wheel her out of the shed where she has lain for a little more than two years. She once spoke for me, perhaps she will speak again.

I pick up my tools.

30 May 2007

Who Does What?

Today we had a little discussion where I work about President Bush and the job he is doing.

Unfortunately, half of the discussion was conducted by those who blame the President for everything and does not realize that he is not responsible for 90% of the things they are complaining about.

Who declares war? The congress.

Who passes the budget? The congress.

Who collects taxes? The congress.

Unless you live in Washington DC, you have two Senators and one Congressman. Can you name two of them?

If not, you are part of the problem.

There are plenty of things the President should catch heat for, things that he is directly responsible for doing that he has not done.

The borders, national defense, is the President's responsibility. He has not secured them.

The Executive is responsible for enforcing the laws, including the immigration laws. He has not done so.

This President has not vetoed bills that desperately deserved it, among them being McCain-Feingold campaign reform.

This President has plenty to answer for, but if you are going to complain about something, at least be informed enough to know who is responsible for what.

28 May 2007

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank a veteran.

20 May 2007

Follow Up

My "vacation" is about at an end. Tomorrow I rejoin the workforce.

I did get the Suzuki up and running, but it will need a few miles under her wheels to be right again. It hasn't run for about 5 years now and is a bit stiff.

Sister and Brother in law are on their way back home, it was good to see them and we had a good visit.

14 May 2007

Between Jobs

My last day at the old job was Wednesday, I don't start at the new job until a week from Monday, so for these ten days or so I'm officially between jobs.

Being unemployed doesn't mean I have had nothing to do though. My sister and brother in law are in from Iowa, I haven't seen them for going on nine years.

My brother in law wanted to see the aircraft carriers, so Friday we went to Norfolk. Thanks to my retired ID card we were able to get on the pier to see the USS Harry S Truman up close. I was once again amazed by the size of the Nimitz class carriers, and of course Brother in law was thrilled. Wife and sister had a good shopping day at the Navy Exchange as well.

We went down to Darlington for the Dodge Charger 500 on Saturday, got rained out and went back Sunday. A good time was had by all. Sister says she's glad she went, but she won't be disappointed to never go to another one because she can see more and hear the announcers on the TV. Brother in law would rather see the races at the track, and by the time we were heading home on Sunday sister was already talking about "next time".

On the agenda today is a(nother) new starter for the mighty Rampage and the possibility of the Suzuki being re-assembled and fired up. I really hope these carberators work, they have been freshly rebuilt and the battery has been on charge all night. I'll know by the end of the day. If it does fire, tomorrow will be registration and license day and I will once again be on two wheels.

That's about it, a busy couple of days at the Refuge but a good couple of days at that.

Photo of Dodge Charger 500, 2006, at Darlington Raceway by Randall Stewart

08 May 2007

Young America

We have heard it all our lives, about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket and that young people just don't have what it takes anymore.

Our folks were wrong about us, and we are wrong about our kids.

For every car stealing punk, there is a Marine who patrols.

For every rapist, a Navy corpsman who treats the wounded.

For every gang banger, an Airman that fixes jet motors.

For every drug pusher, a Soldier who drives a tank.

For every bitcher, whiner, and complainer there is a college student that marches, not in protest, but in the ROTC.

Meet a young lady who gets it.

Good luck with your dreams Holly, you are going to do great.

DOD photograph, elements of the 22nd MEU in training at Fort Pickett, VA

03 May 2007

National Day of Prayer -May 3, 2007

I got this from Sketch, who had forwarded it via email. I should have posted it sooner, but I didn't check my email until late. One of the things that goes along with a night job.

Scripture: “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” -Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)

Prayer: God of power and might, Lord of mercy and grace. You are creator of heaven and earth, and You reign and rule forever and ever. Your name is high above every other name, and there is no one who can challenge Your power.

Lord, You have compassion for the weak and You preserve those who defend the powerless. As our troops defend the powerless today in troubled places all around the world, let Your mighty hand of protection cover them, and preserve their lives.

Lord we ask that today would be a day of divine intervention and deliverances from death for our troops around the world. Surround them with Your favor as a shield, and guard their lives today as they guard the lives of others. Bless them Lord in the Land where they serve, and do not surrender them to the desire of their foes. Consider their lives precious in Your sight, and extend Your hand of grace, mercy and protection to them.

Make a testimony for Yourself today Lord, as You stand between those who seek to destroy, and those who serve to protect. Honor the brave hearts of our soldiers, and the heartfelt prayers of those who love them. May Your name be glorified by the testimonies of protection and deliverance that come forth from this day. For it is in God we trust. Amen.

I don't have an artist for the photo, it's labeled Sunset Soldier but no photographer information. If anyone can supply it, I will give credit where credit is due.

02 May 2007

Hammer's Meme

I found this at Hammer's blog (address below) and thought I'd give it a whirl.

Hammer's 500 meme

1. What is the stupidest mistake you have ever made with money?
Getting married. Twice. Just kidding Honey!

2. Do you think taxes are unfair or do you think it's your civic duty?
Taxes are a civic duty to pay for the essential things that government is responsible for, such as the courts, law enforcement and the military. However, all governments go overboard when the common citizenry discovers that they can vote themselves money from the government's coffers. That's why I am a fan of the Fair Tax.

3. Do you take risks and possibly turn your life upside down for new opportunity?
I don't take as many risks as I probably should, it's safe but it's not very profitable at times.

4. Are you the alpha in your household? (Include pets)
Ha! I'm married. Next question.

5. Do you compromise with your significant other or does someone always get their way? Compromise is essential.

6. What curse word do you use most often?
Thanks to my Navy training, I am proficient with the F bomb.

7. Do you easily change your mind or are you dead set on most issues?
I know what I know, but one of the things I know is that I don't know everything. Show me a better way and I'm all for trying it out.

8. What famous person would you like to trade places with for one week?
Hugh Heffner.

9. If you could go back in time and tell one person off, who would it be and what would you say?
I can't think of one.

10. Were you a good student or did you do just enough to get by?
I have the ability to remember most everything I read, so I was a good student with minimum effort. I could have been on the honor roll if I had put forth a bit more effort. I wasn't good at math, though, which is funny given my occupation (electronics tech).

11. If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out on their own, what would you tell them?
You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them. Better yet, learn from the mistakes of others. It's a lot less painful that way.

12. Are people basically good and honest or are most people opportunistic and predatory?
I think that most people want to do the right thing, but the ones that get the press are the ones that don't.

13. Is there somebody you wish you could go back and apologize to?
There's a whole list of them.

I'm Still Here

I have several things percolating in my brain right now, none of them have pushed their way to the front yet. Some of the things I have been thinking about lately are the culture of passivity that we have created, gun control, and soldiers and their philosophy of war.

My bare thoughts of the above are as follows, hopefully something fully fleshed out will appear sometime in the near future.

We teach our kids that it is never right to use violence, but when we do so we encourage them to become victims. We don't want our kids to be violent bullies, but on the other hand we don't want them to meekly submit to wrong either. Remember the quote about evil triumphing because good men do nothing.

Gun control means being able to hit your target. I don't understand why weapons training is not a part of the counseling that abused women get. I think it should be. Paper shields (restraining orders) are notoriously flimsy.

Most soldiers that I talk to would rather train than fight. Politicians start wars, not soldiers. No one I know hates war more than soldiers, I think that it is because they understand war in a way that those who have never served in one will ever know. I include myself in that category because, even though I spent 20 years in the Navy, I have never seen a shot fired in anger. Yes I was on carriers, but every time there was trouble in the wind I was either in school or on the turnaround cycle between cruises.

In other news, I start a new job around the middle of the month, so there are some changes in the wind at the Refuge. My old company is downsizing and I was among those who got the axe. But rather than think of it as a setback, I think that opportunity knocks. I ended up with another company that is in the same industry, with a more stable outlook, and best of all more money! Of course the wife has plans for it.

Stay safe, thanks for visiting.

24 April 2007

Show Me A Hero

ABC News has an article today in Google News about Pat Tillman. Pat Tillman, you may remember, was a professional football player with the Arizona Cardinals who left his lucrative football career to join the Army after 9-11 and was killed in action in Afghanistan.

It seems as if the government was trying to play his death up as heroic, fighting against a numerically superior enemy and exhorting his men to take the fight to them. In fact, CPL Tillman was killed by "friendly fire" and not by enemy fighters.

The Tillman family speculates that the warrior hero image was conjured up to shift attention from the building scandal that was Abu Ghraib. They claim that Pat did not die a hero, but as a victim of circumstance.

Jessica Lynch, girl soldier, also testified that stories told about her heroics were likewise exaggerated. Contrary to reports that she went down fighting, she said, her weapon jammed and she prayed for help.

"I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary," Lynch said in her testimony. "The American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes, and they don't need to be told elaborate tales."

The article goes on to question if the White House knew about the false story, and concludes by noting that the Pentagon has not punished anyone for the falsehoods.

Here's my take on the whole thing. Pat Tillman gave up personal wealth and fame to serve his country in Afghanistan. Jessica Lynch, when captured, conducted herself in a manner befitting her status as United States Soldier, and identified herself as such to the rescue team. Both are heroes, not because of what happened to them, but because of how they reacted to it.

If CPL Tillman, for instance, had mocked those who gave up promising futures in order to enlist, and possibly die, in the War on Terror instead of answering the call to duty himself, my opinion of him would be far different. He was mocked instead, but unhesitatingly gave up his position with Arizona to go to a different sort of desert. That makes him a hero.

If PVT Lynch had, for instance, allowed herself to be paraded about on television cameras while making demeaning statements about her country or her government after being captured by the Iranian bumper boat squad, my opinion of her would be far different. But, by all accounts, she conducted herself honorably, and that makes her a heroine.

To Jessica Lynch and to the family of Pat Tillman, I have this to say. Being a hero isn't about how you die.

It's about how you live.

Sir Galahad, detail of a painting by George Frederic Watts, 1864

20 April 2007

Guest Commentary

I got this in an email from an old Navy buddy of mine, and with his permission I am posting it entirely. The only changes to the original post have been in formatting to make it easier to read. My comments are inserted wherever I saw fit.

Hey, it's my blog!

So, without further ado, take it away Dex!

"I have had a lot of time to think about and have formed my opinion on immigration.

I`m not bothered by immigrants coming here. That is the foundation of this country. But what I do have a problem with is accountability on the part of Illegals within our laws.

Every year we have legal immigrants come to this country who desire to become citizens of the United States. They work very hard acclimating themselves to our society. They also go through the proper channels. The process takes a long time - I believe seven or ten years going through the the naturalization process.

(Note from the Scoundrel - friend James can attest to the length and expense of the naturalization process. His wife is Russian and is going through it right now.)

Their rights have been trampled on because they have had desire and all they see is people who have no business being here getting the rights and privileges that they worked so hard for!

I also have a problem with pouring tax dollars in to programs that are not designed to help citizens but to accommodate people who not supposed to be here. I have a big, big problem with politicians trying to circumvent the power of my vote by granting that right to people who did not properly become citizens by legal means nor served in the armed services to secure that right for themselves.

I also have a problem with a wave of people working in this country, who by their mere presence here allow employers to keep their wages artificially low for those Americans whose circumstances are not allowed to attain their true value in the market place. If you are a small business owner with working students or young adults on your staff, you are in direct competition with another small business who actively works illegals. That business owner playing by the rules is going to lose in the market place because he will be outbid on every job.

Now lets look at Illegal immigration from the point of view of the illegal. If a person is not here legally, he or she will be exploited from the time they step in this country. They have no legal recourse in this country.

(Note from the Scoundrel - the following points would be valid for illegals in Mexico, but here illegals are treated pretty well. A bevy of taxpayer-funded attorneys see to that. However, many illegals are indeed exploited in just such a manner, and threatened by their employers with these actions, because they believe that they will be treated this way if they seek legal recourse. End note.)

They are not citizens - they are illegal. They can be arrested and detained without just cause - they can be searched without Miranda having been read to them - they are not entitled to legal counsel - they are illegal.

They are not entitled to one single right - they are illegal. They are bought and sold into slavery - indentured servitude - they have no rights or legal recourse because they are illegal. They cannot report crimes to law enforcement for fear of being deported - because they are illegal.

They are forced to live twenty or thirty people in a townhouse. They cannot qualify for loans for homes because you have to have legal documents to purchase a home.

(Note from the Scoundrel - unless you go to Bank of America! Seriously, this is true, which is why most illegals have documents that are forged. This is also one of the reasons identity theft is such a problem. End note.)

They are transported by coyotes who force them into prostitution, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities to pay for their passage into this country. In some instances, they are left to die in the desert in trailers left by the coyotes. They are treated like cattle because they have no rights - they are illegal.

The solution is simple. It has to start with enforcement of the laws of this country and respect of our borders. Work visas are not difficult to get and to maintain it is just like getting a drivers license and keeping it up to date. But as of right now, our politicians want to use them just like everyone else wants to exploit the illegal.

We need to know what the character of the person is. Does he have a criminal record? Does he have any communicable diseases that can expose the general population to? Can he read and write?

The politicians (both lefties and righties) in this country have forgotten that we have an enemy that is looking for any weaknesses in our defenses. Our borders are wide open, because we lack the will to properly secure them.

If it sounds like I'm fearful, I am. I have seen the damage done at the Pentagon first-hand by people who were not supposed to be here. I and my children live in the flight path of more than a hundred planes flying overhead every day into Dulles, Reagan National, and Thurgood Marshall (BWI) airports.

I have formed my opinion. I hope I have exposed the politician's for being short-sighted and reckless.

Northern Virginia"

19 April 2007

Fight For Me


He Knew The Face Of Evil

Liviu Librescu first saw the face of evil when he was 10 years old.

Born in 1930 to a Jewish family in Romania, his homeland was overrun by Nazi Germany in 1940 and soon became a part of the Axis powers. Romanian Jews, already suffering under harsh anti-Semitic laws in place, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. His father was one of those swept up, but he and his mother managed to escape this fate. Fortunately, his father survived the concentration camp.

Between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were killed in Romania during the dark days of World War Two.

Liviu Librescu was fourteen years old when the war ended. But the end of the war did not bring an end to the evil.

Romania suffered under the Communist yoke for 45 more years until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Liviu Librescu was able to secure freedom for himself and his family in 1978 after appealing directly to the Israeli government. In 1985 he moved to Virginia to teach engineering classes at Virginia Tech.

Liviu Librescu taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and had an international reputation for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

On April 16, 2007 Liviu Librescu once more saw the familiar face of evil. That was the day a crazed killer went on a rampage and ended the lives of 32 innocent people before killing himself as well.

Liviu Librescu did not run from the face of evil. He ran towards it.

Librescu's son, Joe, tells of his father's actions as described in emails sent by his students, describing how the professor saved their lives by barricading the classroom door against the approaching gunman.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Liviu Librescu made his escape upon angel's wings.

Liviu Librescue was one of the 32 victims. He gave his life so that others might live.

Yit-gadal v'yit-kadash sh'mey raba, b'alma di v'ra hirutey, vyam-lih mal-hutey b'ha-yey-hon uv'yomey-hon uv'ha-yey d'hol beyt yisrael ba-agala u-vizman kariv, v'imru amen.

Y'hey sh'mey raba m'varah l'alam ul'almey alma-ya.

Yit-barah v'yish-tabah v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-romam v'yit-na-sey v'yit-hadar v'yit-aleh v'yit-halal sh'mey d'kud-sha, b'rih hu, leyla* min kol bir-hata v'shi-rata tush-b'hata v'ne-hemata da-amiran b'alma, v imru amen.

Y'hey sh'lama raba min sh'ma-ya, v'ha-yim aleynu v'al kol yisrael, vimru amen.

Oseh shalom bim-romav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleynu v'al kol yisrael, v'imru amen.

(The Kaddish is an old Jewish hymn of praise to God. It is recited at funerals and in memory of the departed.)

Rest in peace, Liviu Librescu. Your name will always be remembered here. The world is a better place because of you. The world is a poorer place at your passing.

Staff Photo, Virginia Tech

Second Verse, Same As The First

I am a big fan of Bill Whittle's writing, and I have recently linked his blog EjectEjectEject. Look for it on the sidebar.

I also signed up for a mailing list that discusses his writing on the aforementioned blog.

One of the most recent posts, in response to the latest entry on the blog, said in part "In conclusion I will be so bold as to venture our way of life is not worth defending if others want to kill us for it."

Un - freaking - believable.

I forget who said - and I'm feeling too lazy to look it up - that a society that refuses to defend itself does not deserve to exist, but the statement is dead on. I hope and pray that the statement quoted in paragraph two is not the belief held by a majority in this country.

Considering this, the recent shooting at Virginia Tech seems to be a natural extension of our society's effort to self destruct.

From what I understand, the young man who wielded the firearms was mentally unstable. Yet he was able to purchase two firearms and walk onto the campus, where firearms are not permitted (so much for that safe zone), and kill 32 people who were not allowed to have the instruments that may have prevented their own deaths.

There are many people that can be directly blamed for this tragedy.

He was declared to be mentally unstable, but not deemed an iminent danger to himself or others. Because of this, there was never an order for involuntary hospitalization to treat his mental instability.

Because he was never involuntarily hospitalized for his mental instability, he was not prohibited from purchasing firearms.

Because of laws passed in the last year, the school administration was not able to expell him based upon his mental instability, even though they were well aware of it.

Because the Virginia legislature allowed House Bill 1572 to die in subcommittee, the Virginia Legislature also allowed 32 innocents to die at Virginia Tech.

Because we have taught our children that "violence never solves anything," and because we deplore the use of violence even in the defense of self and others, the students were unprepared to defend themselves against violence.

HB1572 would have allowed the carry of firearms on campus.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

This irony will likely be lost on the anti-gunners.

There are some heroes in this tragedy. Meet Professor Liviu Librescu. He gave his life, blocking the door to his classroom as bullets pumped into his body, so that his students could escape through the windows and get away from the carnage.

Derek O'Dell was one of the students that barricaded the door to Room 206, where the shooting started, after the gunman had left the room. Wounded in the attack, his actions prevented the gunman from re-entering the room to continue his rampage.

If there had been one - just one - professor or student that had been allowed to carry his or her own firearm on campus, the death toll would have likely been smaller. Perhaps as small as one.

If we, as a nation, were conditioned to attack instead of surrender, the death toll may have been smaller.

In a related story, Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funerals. No, I'm not linking it. Don't feed the trolls.

If we, as a society, refuse to defend ourselves, we deserve to die.

Photo by Manny Garcia, AFP, Getty Images
Post updated on April 19, 2007

16 April 2007

My Mother Was Right

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Third Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test

I'm doomed, I tell you. Doomed.
But at least there won't be any lawyers there. Just us lustful gluttonous avaricious wrathful violent slobs.

Friend James tells me I'm a wimp. He would.

15 April 2007

All's Well That Ends Well

The world breathes a sigh of relief as militant Lutherans in the Midwest's notorious Manure Triangle suddenly and unexpectedly released 38 British Royal Marines that they had been holding since their April 10th capture on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.

After three horror-filled days that included forced ingestion of pickled eggs and ice cold beer (a move that was deemed "inhuman" by room-temperature brew swilling occupants of The Dolphin Pub in Portsmouth, England), the crew of the ill-fated HMS Chamberlain were released in a show of goodwill from Pastor Duane Gunderson, leader of the Decorah insurgents.

Iowahawk has the full story here. Hopefully this act of charity by Pastor Gunderson will serve to ease the long-standing tensions between the war-torn Midwest and their British oppressors.

That guy just ain't right.

Another Good Cause

I love motorcycles. I have a passion for anything on two wheels.

My first was a 1972 Honda CL-350, a solid and dependable workhorse that had a solid mounted engine and would vibrate your hands to sleep in a half-hour or less.

My second (and third) were Suzuki GT-550's, two stroke triples that I had in full-dress garb. I logged a lot of miles on those two bikes.

My divorce present to myself was a 1988 Harley-Davidson FXRS-Sp, pictured here with her traveling clothes on. Many miles were also logged on this bike, and she is presently awaiting a well-deserved rebuild after almost 200K miles and just as many memories - good and otherwise.

The most recent acquisition has a bit of a story behind it. When I got the Harley, I also convinced a good friend of mine that it was time for him to get back into two-wheeling himself. In fact, I started him off with a Suzuki GR-650 Tempter like the one pictured here that I picked up for a song from one of my Navy co-workers. Over time he upgraded to a Suzuki GS-850G, which he owned until multiple sclerosis ended his riding days forever.

I was sitting at his kitchen table with him over a cold beer when I had the saddest conversation in my life. He asked me if I thought he would ever get over wanting to ride. I responded that I didn't think it was the sort of thing one got over. He said "That's what I thought. You had better take that Suzuki on away from here then before I try to get on it and hurt somebody."

My plans for the Suzuki are to get it dolled up and sell it at auction, donating the proceeds to MS research. After the Harley gets her much needed rebuild and her PGR duds, that is. I can't think of a more fitting use for it.

And speaking of fitting, SGT Eric "Sketch" Hanley has a vision of a motorcycle that will honor his fallen comrades. Stop by to his site, won't you, and throw a few pennies his way? He has big dreams for this bike, and a Soldier's pay won't do it all. This bike will be a rolling memorial to those who understood that there are things worth fighting and dying for, in this war and in the ones that came before.

I can't think of a better tribute than that.

14 April 2007

Listen To Your Pappy

"Never miss a chance to shut the hell up."
Tad "Pappy" Cage

OK, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. I'll admit, I've never read Kat Cobble's blog until now. I've seen her name in comment posts, I've seen her posts linked, but haven't ever really been interested enough to follow them.

In this instance my employer has decided to "rightsize", so I too am in the job market. That's why this post interested me.

The bare bones of the story is this, a recruiting company (also known as headhunters) contacted this woman's husband to set him up for job interviews and such, as headhunters are wont to do. They then had him bring in his wife for the high pressure sales pitch, just before telling him the fee was going to be almost 5 grand.

Headhunters usually get their fees from the companies that they are recruiting for, if not chances are they are scam artists of one vein or another. The aforementioned couple declined the offer to be ripped off, and the wife blogged about it. Hilarity then ensued.

First, from His Imperial Majesty: "Company (JL Kirk & Associates) and law firm (King & Ballow) are about to get an unpleasant lesson in the wisdom of letting sleeping dogs lie."

Second, from Say Uncle: "In other news, don’t send bloggers stuff that makes you look like an asshat. They tend to blog about it."

And finally, the post that started it all from Katherine Cobble.

Fight's on!

Non Sequitur, 9/13/04

12 April 2007

First, The Hanging, Then The Trial

In a move that was surely a surprise to no one that was paying attention, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed all charges against the Duke Three. What was surprising is how he did it.

In an announcement to the press this afternoon, Roy Cooper said there was "insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges." No surprise there. But what he said afterwards certainly raised eyebrows.

"We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges."

Pay attention to the last 10 words of the above statement. "...we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges." Not simply "insufficient evidence to proceed", but "we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges."

I can't remember any case before this where the accused was not only released due to insufficient evidence to proceed but was also declared INNOCENT of all charges. At the same time, Mr. Cooper catapulted Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong deep under the bus.

Mr. Nifong surely faces serious times ahead in his ethics case in front of the Bar Association, and the statements from the North Carolina Attorney General certainly didn't help.

"I think a lot of people owe a lot of apologies to other people. I think that those people ought to consider doing that," Mr. Cooper said during the question and answer period following his statement. He went on to say that he thought it was appropriate that the North Carolina Bar Association was investigating the matter, but would not say if North Carolina would cover Mr. Nifong's legal bills or if any civil charges were expected.

It's good that these three young men have now been cleared of any wrongdoing, but that is simply not enough now. The woman that made the charges must be destroyed absolutely, along with the DA that pursued the charges for his own political gain. Otherwise the cloud will hang over them for the rest of their lives.

Added to that, the Duke University professors that signed the condemning statement owe at least an apology.

Race hustlers Jackson and Sharpton owe an apology in front of news cameras.

Durham Police owe an apology for the lineup and other procedural errors, and the officers and detectives that engaged in these questionable practices need to be fired.

Duke University's dean needs to offer an apology for statements he made, and compensation needs to be paid to the lacrosse coach that lost his job.

The entire city and county of Durham owes these men and their coach an apology for the way they were shunned and treated by the community, including the flyers that were posted on public streets and death threats that were made to the entire team.

The media owes an apology for the three ring circus they turned Durham into.

I wouldn't hold my breath though. And neither should Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans.

Duke doesn't deserve to have them look blue.

AP photo, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

10 April 2007

A Little Better

From Michelle Malkin's blog comes a story that makes me feel a little better about our Limey cohorts. It also gives the impression that their media is even worse about reporting the good news than our media is.

British Private Johnson Gideon Beharry of 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, has been awarded the Victoria Cross for services set forth in two separate incidents. Pvt Beharry is the first Soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross since 1982, and is the first living recipient since 1965. Not for lack of trying though, Pvt Beharry managed to place himself squarely in harm's way not once but twice. Men of this caliber are rightly honored (or perhaps that should be honoured).

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration that can be awarded to British armed forces, equivalent to the Congressional Medal of Honor in the United States.

The first incident came about on 1 May 2004 when Pvt Beharry drove his damaged Warrior vehicle through an ambush, relying on guts and instinct after his platoon commander (riding in his vehicle) and his gunner were both injured and taken out of the fight. He led 5 other Warrior vehicles through the ambush site, then rescued both his commander and gunner before submitting to medical treatment himself.

The second incident happened on 11 June 2004 when, once again at the helm of the lead Warrior, he encountered yet another ambush and was seriously injured when an RPG detonated on the front armor of his vehicle, mere inches from his head. He once again maneuvered his vehicle clear of the ambush zone before losing consciousness, enabling the occupants of his vehicle to be extracted away from enemy gunfire.

Members of the British Royal Navy and Marines should pay attention. This is how a warrior conducts himself in the face of the enemy.

Photo (amazingly enough) from the AP

05 April 2007

April Fools

This seems to be the year for internet pranks. Emperor Misha I put one over on his Loyal Citizenry (I'll admit it, I was taken in) that blew up on him. And now by way of Michelle Malkin I see that a company called Coptix has apparently pulled a fast one on the moonbats.

Meanwhile Iran has agreed to let the British servicemembers go, due to President Ahmadinejad's magnanimity during the Easter season. He calls it a gift to the British people. He also questioned the morality of a nation that could deploy women away from their children, and pinned a medal on the Coast Guard commander that intercepted and captured the 15 servicemembers.


OK, let me get this right. An Iranian Coast Guard glass bottomed rowboat intercepted and captured 15 sailors and marines on an away team from a British destroyer?

It was bad enough when I thought it was an Iranian gunboat or destroyer that made the grab, but COAST GUARD!?!?!?!?

If I were a retired British Navy squid, I would drown myself in shame. Preferably in a tall glass of ale.

I have two questions. First question, how does any vessel from a hostile nation enter a destroyer's battlespace unopposed?

Second question, how does said enemy vessel, once it has entered the battlespace of a destroyer, manage to snatch and grab 15 sailors and Marines - MARINES, fer godsake - ROYAL F'n MARINES! - and get away unopposed?

Lord Admiral Nelson's bones must have exploded in his grave.

It would have been bad enough if it had been destroyer vs. destroyer, but even then the odds tip towards the British. They have, after all, a long history of combat on the high seas. Not to mention that there was a US carrier battlegroup in the area, and airplanes are damnably fast.

One flight of two F/A-18's loaded with 500 pounders and 20mm Vulcan cannons is enough to deter the most determined destroyer skipper, especially when that flight's friends are surely not far behind. Add to that the fact that the Hornets can also carry air-to-ground missiles, and when I was in the Gulf we often did, and you have a formidable airborne deterrence force only a quick radio call away.

But to find out it was a COAST GUARD vessel...

Britannica, Mistress of the Seas, I weep for thee.
Photo of Iranian Coast Guard boat 1608 from DBL Imaging

01 April 2007

Cabbages and Kings

At the end of WWII American manufacturing entered it's golden age. We were virtually the only country left on the face of the earth that had it's manufacturing capabilites intact. Europe and Asia would take decades to dig out from the rubble of the global conflict while we were able to immediately switch over from "arsenal of democracy" production to civilian useage.

American manufacturing in general, and the automobile industry in particular, enjoyed spectacular growth and almost no competition. American car manufacturers grew fat and lazy, without competition they lost their edge and forgot how to compete in a global market.

Like the song says, those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end.

But end they did. Faced with stiff competition from emerging Japanese automakers, American auto production hit a slump in the mid 70s from which we have not quite yet recovered. General Motors has axed Oldsmobile, the Plymouth moniker is likewise a relic of the past, and Chrysler is owned by a foreign company.

Twenty years ago we were focused like a laser beam on the Soviet Union. We stood four-square against Communist expansion, and the USSR was the nexus on which that expansion centered. With the collapse of the Evil Empire we were suddenly without purpose. Our military was curtailed when it was not cut outright, their reward for their steadfast opposition to Soviet aggression was to be downsized.

No good deed goes unpunished.

I have been following the saga of the 15 British sailors and Marines who have been illegally detained by the Iranians. This is not the first offense, indeed this is just the latest play in the Iranian hostage game.

The British are responding with strongly worded missives, with promises of even more strongly worded missives to follow. The Iranians are, for the most part, ignoring the empty threats of the toothless lion.

Maggie Thatcher took her country to war over a sheep infested rock off the Argentinian coast called Falklands. One can only wonder what she would do about having 15 of her servicemembers snatched from a Royal Navy vessel in Iraqi waters. I think her response would have involved multiple applications of high explosives with a "strongly worded" missive that said "Cease and desist, and let our people go, lest we become extremely annoyed at you."

Why are the Iranians engaging in this tomfoolery you might wonder, the simple reason is that they can. They are trying to make the point that Western civilization has become so deseased that they are no longer willing to stand up for themselves. And, a civilization that will no longer stand up for itself will deservedly cease to exist.

I sometimes wonder at those who will advocate peace at any cost. I don't think those who would mouth that empty platitude really understands what the cost may be. Europe for the most part has seemingly surrendered to dhimmitude. I would still place bets on Eastern Europe, only because it's citizenery have recently emerged from forced servitude under the Soviet state. However, one must remember that that era, too, is passing from the collective memory.

Islamic Jihad has vowed to bring the entire world under the crescent banner, and the peace at any cost crowd has refused to stand in their way. Citing the cause of multiculturism they refuse to see evil. The cost, before it is done, will be bloodshed, slavery and death.

What does this have to do with the American automobile industry and the fall of the Soviet Union? Only this; left without purpose or competition entrophy has done it's damage on our national psyche. We have reached the tunnel at the end of the light, and the dark has blinded us. Our enemies, and make no mistake they are our enemies, are not likewise handicapped.

The loyal opposition is solely concerned with gaining and holding power at home, damn the consequences. Who cares if the world burns, as long as we are on top of it. They not only dismiss the danger, they refuse to admit the danger exists; as if denying it's very existence will make it go away.

It won't. No more than Japanese competition went away because domestic automakers refused to acknowledge it. It won't go away, it will only grow stronger. We ignore it at our peril. This is not George Bush's war, it's not the Republican's war. It's our war, and if we refuse to acknowledge it it will still exist, and if we refuse to fight it we only ensure our own defeat.

At the end of World War Two we had Churchill and Truman to keep us focused on Communist aggression. At the end of the cold war we had nothing, and it shows. If we don't get focused now on Islamic Jihad we will lose to it before we even realize it's there.

"For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." Job 3:25