30 September 2010

Here's to 50 years...

...of The Flintstones, that modern Stone Age family!

First created and aired in 1960, The Flintstones was something of an animated version of Jackie Gleason's famous mid 1950's series, The Honeymooners, set in a Neolithic version of Middle America.  Although I'm sure the kids back then enjoyed the show, most of the humor was aimed at adults and looked at through the lens of history, was pretty topical, with many popular celebrities and institutions of the day immortalized in animation. The Flintstones paved the way for cartoon shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, and South Park. A couple of years later, Hanna-Barbera Studios would repeat the formula with The Jetsons, and set it in a future full of robots, rockets, and flying cars, which of course we're all still waiting for.

I remember watching The Flintstones when I was a kid, and I still enjoy the show. I like the original-don't give me Pebbles and Bam-Bam or The Flintstone Kids-some things you just get right the first time and can't improve on. And I like The Flintstones over The Jetsons, though it's fairly close. It might be like The Munsters vs The Addams Family. Each show, though similar in concept, probably has its loyal core of fans. Personally, I liked The Addams Family better. If you're a Munsters guy, well, we all have our flaws and failings and that's the way life is. Seriously...both were fun shows to watch.

Anyhow...Happy 50th to Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles, Bam-Bam, and Dino!

Now I happen to like the Harvey Birdman episode, The Dabba Don, with a little different spin on Fred Flintstone-a Fred Flintstone mixed with Tony Soprano- and a different intro:

Love it!


My brother picked me up a box of stuff from an auction, which ordinarily wouldn't thrill me, but when I opened it, there were a whole bunch of ThinBooks! ThinBooks are great, because you can have a whole library of them and they take up about two feet of shelf space.

Here's one. It's called After Vanuatu, by some guy named Sheffield? Manchester? Sounds like the name of an English city-whatever, I can't remember. The plot involves a mysterious Wave that causes everyone on the island of Vanuatu to disappear. How will the world react to this vacuum? Well, I'll read it to you and we'll see:


The patrol vessel Ambush circled the island of Vanuatu. Nothing alive moved on the tiny speck of land.

"They appear to all be...gone, sir."

"A shame. Well, where will we build the resort?"


I dunno. Maybe expand on it and use a bigger country and you'd have something. But that's a ThinBook.

What else have we got here...let's see...The Chicago Cubs-The Championship Years. Good, I like baseball. Your Government's Guide to Fiscal Responsibility. Like to hear how the government takes care of our tax dollars. The Swiss Navy and Sea Power. Military history-awesome. Advanced Acting Techniques by Shatner. I'd like to try acting someday. Stephen King's How to Write a Short Novel. Custer's Indian Fighting Field Manual. I Was A White Guy On The Harlem Globetrotters. Abstinence And You by Bill Clinton. A rarity here-Why We Need Religious Tolerance, printed by the Iranian Government Printing Office. The Greenland Tourist Guide. The New Jersey Tourist Guide. The Ipswich Tourist Guide. Yahoo Serious-Rising Star. A Canadian Love Poem To America. How To Take Care Of Your Dodo Bird. Great Fashions of the 1970's.

These are going to give me MINUTES of great reading! Can anyone out there suggest some ThinBook titles I should be looking for?

Do svidaniya!

yankeedog out.

28 September 2010

Imperfect Perfect

Whoda thunk it? The only undefeated team in the National Conference of the NFL is our Chicago Bears. 3-0 after beating Green Bay 20-17. Actually, the Pack beat themselves with 18 penalties-way too many for what is supposed to be a contending team.

That the Bears are 3-0 is probably more of an indictment on the NFC being not very strong this year. In fact, I haven't seen ANY team in either conference look all that dominating. This might be a bit of a down year in the NFL. Perhaps they've accomplished the goal of parity in the league-or mediocrity.

As for the Bears themselves, there are still some of the problems from last year. The offensive line can't protect Jay Cutler. Cutler himself is still prone to trying to make a play happen that got busted at the start and tossing an interception. The tackling reminds me uncomfortably of a bunch playing school intramural flag football. They wrap around and the ball carrier bulls forward another five yards after the tackle.

On the other hand, teams that have successful seasons do get their share of breaks along the way. So we'll see. I need to see another couple of weeks before I start beating the drum big time for the Orange and Blue.


Sad to hear about our Doc Yobbo having to deal with that which Lance Armstrong fought. Good luck, Doc. It's fairly easy to recover from that particular cancer, but still not great fun. First Al, then Tricia, now the Doc. No more maladies from anyone for a while! That's an order!


A minor story here involves a possible pumpkin shortage here in Illinois. The weather around here was too wet for optimum pumpkin growth this summer, so the crop isn't what it has been in past years. The pumpkin, of course, is the symbol of Autumn and Halloween. Most people just buy one to carve a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween then after October 31 give it to their kids to toss in the street. Of course, most pumpkins are grown then made into pie filling (mmmm-pumpkin pie...drool). You can bake them like a squash, with brown sugar and bacon (bacon being the universal flavor enhancer), and roast the seeds for a snack.

I'll just bet as I get to the farm stands this fall, all of them have pumpkins stacked up in a great orange wall. There never really seems to be a shortage of the things, so I'll believe there's a shortage when I see it-or don't, as the case may be. It does seem to have been a good year for apples, at least so far. The orchards look to be full.


Finally, we finish with another episode of 'Pimp My Military Vehicle'.

This week, it's the BRDM-2, classic 4-wheel-drive Soviet built recon vehicle. It serves in a lot of the armies of the world as a scout car, anti-aircraft missile carrier, anti-tank vehicle, and (in incompetent hands) as a mobile target for your A-10 and helo jockies. For those of you not familiar, it looks like this:

Take one, strip it down to zero, give it a snappy repaint, some chrome, lights, and some tender loving funky, and you get this:

Sweet! The perfect vehicle to cruise the main drag, drive to the store or out on the town, and still robust enough to take up to Wisconsin to deer camp come hunting season! I'd have chromed the wheels as well. Maybe put in a kit to make it bounce, too.

But what about the interior, YD? Everyone knows Soviet vehicles aren't built for comfort!

Oh, yes, the inside has been redone as well.

The stock version, right out of the showroom:

You can't be representin' with some shit milspec interior! Little more chrome, some rewiring, and a DEE-luxe bucket seat-and it ends up like this:

Awesometown! We'd look great cruising around in in our whack BRDM! The owner probably put in a kickass sound system as well, with big speakers so the bass reverbs in your gut as you wheel around town-something like this blaring:

And the people in the next car over saying "I'll thump your bass, you bastard!"

yankeedog out.

25 September 2010

Alright then...

...I see the last post went over poorly. Ah well-can't win 'em all.

Today, went to work in the morning, then spent the afternoon doing some demolishing and cleaning. Some people are good with a surgical laser, others with a watchmaker's set of screwdrivers. Me? I'm quite good with a recip saw. Not too bad for a Saturday.

Was a bit of a long day, so we grabbed a pizza to bring home. We stopped by the local Godfather's, which for a change actually had some people in it. The management was so happy by this turn of events that they didn't charge me for the Coors I had while I waited. Sometimes timing is everything.

I don't know why this Godfather's never has anyone patronizing them, because they make a pretty good pizza, for a chain place. Which brings me to the 'audience participation' part of the show.

I come to the place where you live. I want the best local pizza. Where do I go? It could be a franchise, or a locally owned establishment, or your own homemade. What's the 'best around'? Mind that I'm not really a pizza connoiseur-it's got to be truly awful before I'll turn it down.

A couple of places that are 'the pizza place of renown' around my stomping grounds aren't necessarily my favorites. They aren't 'bad', but they just aren't my favorites. In the QC's, Harris Pizza is consistently voted 'best in the area'. I can take it or leave it-every one I've ever had has been a bit lacking. I find it too conventional to be a signature effort. Again-I won't turn it down. But I won't make a trip to buy one, either.

The place back in Savanna, where I grew up, was Manny's. He makes a thin crust, which I like. It has enough grease in it to lube a car or fuel an oil lamp, which I can do without. Manny's is, hmm, renowned? for their speed. Most of you readers are Australian. If you called Manny's, ordered up, got on the plane, took the 19 hour flight to Chicago, then drove the three hours to Savanna, you'd probably only have to wait about an hour and a half after that to get your pizza. Fast ain't their strong suit. I believe the strategy is 'Come on in and order up. While you're here, have a pitcher of beer.' Nothing wrong with that. Just don't be particularly hungry.

That's our local pizza joints of note. What's yours?

Hmm. Didn't like the previous music? Well, that's all right. Maybe this tune from the summer of 1966 will sit better in your ears. I love the original, but a Boston band should be singing a song about that Dirty Water along the banks of the River Charles:

Better? Lovely.

Finally, a few vehicle pics that caught my eye:

All this juice tanker needs is an escort by Mad Max's customized Falcon. This semi is in Russia, but it'd look good cruising the interstate in Montana or out in the open spaces of New South Wales.

Speaking of Russia, this is a reproduction of a Lebednovo Tank from the WWI era. The thought was that the giant front wheels would allow the tank to easily cross trenches. What actually happened was that the powered rear wheel got stuck and the powertrain wasn't powerful enough to lift it out. Not to mention that said wheels are exposed for everyone with a rifle, grenade, or howitzer to take a shot at. It would look mighty damn cool fighting a Martian tripod, though!

I've heard it said that guns, artillery, rockets, and the like, are some sort of phallic symbol in the recesses of our psyches. If that's true, then some Soviet designer back in the 1950s had some serious issues going on. These self propelled pieces are mounting 420mm guns-or around 16 inches (!). That's the size of a battleship's main gun! A damn big piece of artillery to be trying to drive around. Story is that the nuclear weapons designers in the USSR were having a hard time trying to build a warhead small enough to fit a rocket. Hence putting a monster gun on an overloaded chassis. The vehicle would have had terrible mobility over anything other than a flat paved road, and one would think that the recoil would knock it over on its side. I believe these were later sold to Japan, where they were used in the Godzilla Campaign of 1957.

This car looks like the perfect vehicle to ride around the streets of the Manhattan Island prison, or drive headlong into a horde of zombies with, or scrounge a post-apocalyptic desert for a quart of gas, a few cans of beans, and that last issue of Playboy.

It's a tank! It's a motorcycle! It's a Kettenkrad tracked motorcycle from World War II, used by the Germans on all fronts. It has decent cross-country capability, thanks to its tracks. I'd like to ride one of these someday.

Finally, someone built this electric-powered replica of Luke Skywalker's landspeeder from Star Wars. Call me a nerd, but this would be awesome to drive around in! Think how much fun this would be if you got pulled over or stopped at a roadblock:

Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?

Driver (performs a peculiar motion with his fingers): I'm not the speeder you're looking for.

Officer (perplexed): You're not the speeder we were looking for.

Driver: We can go about our business now.

Officer: You can go about your business.

Driver: Move along.

Officer: Move along! Move along!

I bet you could get out of a lot of tickets if you had your own landspeeder.

yankeedog out.

23 September 2010

A load of crap for a Thursday

I'm tired tonight. Had a late night taking care of family stuff back in the old hometown (100km away). Didn't get home until 10:30ish, then up at 4:45am. I've been on the go since last Monday with various and sundry items. This weekend promises to be more of the same. Still, I think I'm going to bed early tonight.

I'm sort of wondering where the summer went. The Better Half planned and ran several church events for the children, which generally means that the Yankeedog Glorious Proletariat Labor Battalion gets drafted as well. Her aunt died in July and there was the cleanup (bureaucratic and furniture) involved with that, in addition to all the other stuff that goes along with having a passel of elderly relations. Oh, and business has picked up at work, so overtime, which I hate to pass up since it's paid OT.

It wasn't until driving up to Savanna a week or so ago and seeing the rapidly drying cornfields that it struck me-summer's over! Fall is here. The NFL will be starting Week 3. Modern Woodmen Park is all closed up, the 2010 Midwest League season ending. The trees are showing a twinge of color. There are combines in those cornfields. The apple orchards are opening for the season. Soon there'll be pumpkins for Halloween. The current crop of scoundrels are airing ads for the midterm and state elections.

But the summer just got here! What the hell?!?  Time flies, and way too fast.

Now...time for YD's Musical Confession. I was listening to the radio driving down Route 84, late, when I heard John Denver's Rocky Mountain High. You know, he gets a bit of a bad rap, but I have to say I liked most of his music. He wasn't a guy you'd 'rock out' to, but he wasn't a rocker anyway. He was country/folk/regional, something of the Rockies version of Jimmy Buffett. I imagine he had that 'aw, shucks' squeaky-clean image that didn't really match his personality (he was on the fringes of the 60s rock scene, with all that entailed), and by today's standards his act is considered 'cheesy'. He WAS one of the biggest selling acts of the 1970's, though. He didn't buy up all of his own albums, so somebody out there is lying when they say 'John Denver. Hated him.'

Ah, well. You can laugh it up-but here's some music to pull up a chair by the fire and have a beer to:

To finish the trifecta, finally:

The USS Gallipoli is finished and ready for my project. Those microscopic decals are a pain but the final product looks good, in my own slightly humble opinion.

Now we're going to play 'Name My Other Models', cyberspace's favorite gameshow.

These two ships were some of the first ships created in Trek fandom, from 1975's Star Fleet Technical Manual. They were never seen in any of the series or the movies, but they're 'plausible'. I expect our Mr. Barnes will recognize these.

The three-nacelled ship on the left is a dreadnought, the heavy 'punch' ship of the Fleet. The ship on the right is a transport/tug, with two modular cargo containers. Actually makes sense-in space there's no need for streamlining.

I need names for the two. Y'all pick one for each ship. Majority wins.

Dreadnought: Federation NCC-2100, Commonwealth NCC-2117, Dominion NCC-2115

Transport/Tug: Ptolemy NCC-3801, Al Rashid NCC-3802, Hawking NCC-3805

I know. 'YD. Your geek is showing.' Like I said, tired. I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT ISN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!!

yankeedog out.

21 September 2010

A topic I'm tired of...

...what to do with our homosexuals that want to serve in our armed forces.

The 'don't ask, don't tell' policy will stand for a while after a proposal to drop the policy (which was attached to this year's defense appropriation bill) got quashed in Congress.

I find most of the arguments against having gays openly serve in the military wearily familiar to a similar argument that raged in the defense establishment in the late 1940's, when President Truman signed the order to racially integrate the armed forces. Then, it was 'Blacks will degrade the ability of our armed forces to fight'. Now, it's 'Gays will degrade the ability of our armed forces to fight.'

Really? Based on what data?

Some of the things I hear asked or announced:

I never served with any gays and wouldn't want to!

I suspect many of our veterans have served with homosexuals and didn't know it. Not declaring your preference doesn't make it go away, it just makes it not a big topic of conversation around the barracks. Recently, the old hometown paper had an announcement of two guys who entered a 'civil union'. Both of them were Vietnam-era vets. Evidently they gave up their sexuality when they did their time and picked it up after they got out. They served with a lot of other guys and I doubt anyone they served with caught the gay from being in the same latrines or eating in the same mess hall. More power to them.

Having gays in the service will be detrimental to morale and fighting ability!

The Israeli Defense Force is regarded as pretty good, right? They've had to be, given that they're surrounded by a lot of people that don't like them. The Israelis have been very resourceful in using the abilities and talents of everyone in the country, which is why they allow gays to openly serve. Everything I've ever seen indicates that most of their troops don't think it's a big deal. I always figured that getting shot at or a missile lobbed your way kind of focused your attention toward surviving and taking care of your squadmates.

We'll have all kinds of sexual issues!

Please. I'm hetero. Not all women turn me on. Why should it be any different for gays/lesbians? Sorry, I just don't see that as an issue. Now, if we catch one of our troops raping children (homo or hetero), that is and should be grounds for a dishonorable discharge and a few years at the military Graybar Hotel. I've not seen a lot to indicate that the percentage of  'deviant' behavior is higher among homosexuals over heterosexuals.

Would you want to serve with a homosexual?

Can he/she hit center of mass with an M16? Can he/she lob the grenade where it needs to be? Can he/she call in an airstrike of get a track put back together under fire or get a hull patch welded into place or drop bombs on target? Yes? Then I'm good serving with him or her. I don't much care what they do on leave or after hours. 'Nuff said.

On the minus side, the Democrats in Congress shouldn't have thrown what is in most facets a social issue into a defense appropriation bill. Holding up funding for operations for this issue isn't the right thing to do. There will be a lot of time and place to debate this. If the Congress is serious about getting this pushed through, they should put it in the bill authorizing their OWN pay raises (overpaid as they are).

The possibility exists that I'm all wrong about this. I'm not a veteran. Maybe the dynamics really ARE different in the military. But the Armed Forces survived racial integration and performed well on numerous occasions since then. I think it would do just as well after sexual integration. Might be, 20 or 30 years from now, the military looks back and collectively says 'What the hell. That wasn't as bad as we thought.' We'll see.

yankeedog out.

20 September 2010

There's danger in them thar sports...

Couple of sports-related items for this post:

On Sunday, Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin got speared with a splinter from a bat that shattered. He's out for the season. Currently he's in the hospital with a chest tube since the splinter punctured his lung. He'll live-but it'll be next year before he's playing.

The bat in question was made of maple instead of the traditional ash. Maple is a hardwood, but not as much as ash. I don't remember seeing bats shatter this much back even twenty years ago. MLB says that there is a shortage of ash for bat production, so we're stuck with maple. One wonders if it's time to look at the shape of the bat. As we all know, a baseball bat has a large contact area and a rather severe taper toward the hilt to save weight and allow the hitter to get around on the ball. There's obviously a lot of stress transmitted through that narrow handle which is contributing to all of the shattered and splintered bats. The older models of bat had a smaller 'sweet spot' and a much more gentle taper. It might be time to go back to that style for safety. We could go with aluminum bats-if one of those explodes the batter's taking TOO many 'roids-but the speed of the ball coming off an aluminum bat is faster than from a wooden one.

I've seen a lot of bats splinter, and the head of the bat go whizzing off into the stands, spinning like a helicopter blade. That more people haven't been hurt is a surprise. Hazard of the game, I suppose.

The second issue making the rounds of sport is the study of repeated concussions in football players. There appears to be a definite correlation between repeated head trauma and the occurrence of early onset Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and loss of motor skills in ex-players.  The average NFL player's life expectancy is several years less than that of the rest of the population. The NFL and the major colleges are beginning to note this and being really careful about having players with concussions go back into the game after getting the hit.

I wonder if the NFL has studied similar games like rugby and Australian rules football to see what the incidence of head trauma is in the average season, and how players fare after their careers. My theory is that those sports have smaller players and a lot less padding and armor, therefore there is less mass in a collision. Rugby and Aussie rules players don't weigh 325 lbs plus 25 pounds of armor and helmet. Not that you can't get a concussion in a rugby scrum-or a finger in the rectal socket if you have the ball-but one might think that the frequency of head injuries should be about the same for all of the ball/contact sports. Thoughts/links, anyone?

yankeedog out.

17 September 2010

Carnival post-mortem


That's done.

My church's children's carnival went off...if not without a hitch, certainly with a lot less strife than last year. We were better prepared compared to last year-but we've identified a definite problem, which should be obvious to anyone who's studied the military arts, pro sports, or started a company.

We get to a certain point in time-about two hours before the event-and volunteers start rolling in to get their orders. The person in charge (The Better Half again this year) gets swamped with people wanting to know what to do, where stuff is to be located, how to lay out the food area, etc. We Americans are good at logistics...but one person can't be in twelve places at once, trying to direct thirty people, many of which are there for the first time. Even explanatory emails don't always do the trick.

The answer, of course, is for there to be a director, a second-in-command, and leaders/coordinators for each group of the event-in this case, games, food, prizes, and grounds. Each person takes a small chunk of the event and runs with it. The group leaders could be where they need to be 'in the field', answering questions and directing people, and not relying on the director to answer basic questions.

Makes sense, right? Eisenhower didn't personally plan the Normandy invasion, clothe the troops, take a turn in the mess hall, build the ships, and make sure the mountain of beans and bullets got to the field. He had a staff of experts to do all that for him. A college or pro football head coach has offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators, in addition to equipment managers and groundskeepers, to make sure everything runs well on game day. I've not seen Bears head coach Lovie Smith painting yard lines on the field or repairing shoulder pads.

Well, same deal applies here. The bad part was that we knew this would be a problem last year. TBH asked the Children's Council three times for subdirectors. The lack of sound was people not volunteering to step up to the middle management echelon. If the Council is lukewarm on having an undertaking like this, then that should have been brought up and we'd have scrubbed the event. We could desperately have used the time for other things.

I regret that I didn't get any pictures of the event. I was busy with the prize table. I now know how a farmer feels when a plague of locusts overtakes his field. What a bloody zoo!!

I've made it clear that I don't want any part of Carnival 3: Electric Boogaloo. The neighborhood kids, though, had a good time. Most of the people behaved decently, though the area around the church is full of, hmm-how do I say this...people that think the world owes them, and owes them NOW! I think most of you get the picture there.

Pluses and minuses:

Plus: The volunteers that came in did a great job! Yeoman work by a lot of people.

Minus: Needed people to step up to staff level. This might be a bit much for one person to do if they have a full-time job and other commitments on top of planning this event.

Plus: Boy Scout troop ran the food area, freeing up our people. Might be a merit badge in it for some of the Scouts.

Minus: Our menu was too extensive-walking tacos, sloppy joes, and hot dogs, in addition to salads, cake, and ice cream. I'd go with two entrees. We had a lot of stuff left over. Good thing I like Sloppy Joes!

Plus: The kids loved the prizes.

Minus: We may have gone too 'high-end' on same. We used a ticket system: win tickets at the games, then redeem the tickets for prizes. That's a pain. Maybe just have a big bucket by each game full of trinkets, candy, and maybe one or two 'big' prizes-say, a gift card, and hand out smaller prizes there. Little kids don't care what they get for loot.

Regarding the prizes-the two items that went quickest were basketballs (perhaps not a surprise, given the demographics of the immediate area), and paddleballs. You know, the wooden paddle with a ball connected to it by an elastic string. I got a chuckle out of that. My mom kept one of those paddleballs around, except that she took the the ball and string off and used it as a swatter. I felt the sting of that enough to know not to do that which would make her deploy that particular weapon! Obviously these kids don't know this can be a dual-purpose instrument, otherwise they'd not have been in such a hurry to snap them up!

Plus: A good sized crowd for a midweek event.

Minus: Having the event in midweek. Next year the carnival needs to be done on a Saturday afternoon. The carnival on Wednesday vs. Saturday became a political football this year. In the past, there were children's activities on Wednesday nights at church and the thought was that having the carnival as a kickoff would remind them that Wednesday night was for Gospel Games. It'd be much easier to get adult volunteers on the weekend as opposed to having them take time off of work. Plus having the event in the afternoon would mean we'd all be packed up and squared away at a decent hour-and we'd have Sunday to rest up afterward.

The big thing, I suppose, is that the kids had a good time as kids are wont to do when they get to play simple games and get to take home something 'cool'.

Still, this has been a hell of a lot of work and time expended, doing something I don't feel 'called' to do. I'm not good with most children, but even I have to say when you hear thanks from some of the kids, or their parents, it kind of makes the effort worthwhile.

At any rate, it's over for another year. Will there be another? Not if I have to run it.

I'm going to relax with the old but smooth sounds of this quartet from Melbourne:

Though I like the original just as well, the song about the rebel of the Don Cossacks, Stepan (Stenka) Razin:

Must see the Red Army Chorus sometime. The British have the skirling pipes of the Black Watch, we have the spit, polish, and brass of the US Marine Band, but the Russians have the best vocals.

yankeedog out.

13 September 2010

YD finds his new sled

I was reading Car and Driver (the completely impartial house organ of BMW) the other day while on the elliptical at the Y, and read about these way cool rides. Me want! Me want!

This bad boy that looks like a self-propelled grain wagon is a Critter Gitter. They're custom-made by a company in Texas for use on some of the big game ranches in the Lone Star State, places that are about the size of Rhode Island. I could see these being used by anyone who has a spread of miles and miles of miles and miles in places like Montana, Wyoming, Canada, Africa, or Australia. They appear to be able to carry about a dozen or so people to where the game is. Despite its size, the company says they won't bog down all that easily (big tires and a fairly light body). It looks like the perfect vehicle for the upcoming zombie apocalypse or post-collapse road rally!

The Critter Gitter makes vehicles like our Caiman Mine Resistant Vehicle-

-look positively wimpy by comparison. Oh, I know. The MRAP would laugh at explosives that would make the Critter Gitter so much scrap metal.-But it looks impressive!

The Critter Gitter reminds me of one of the great sci-fi movie vehicles: the Landmaster from 1977's Damnation Alley.

Did you know that Damnation Alley was supposed to be 20th Century Fox's big summer sci-fi blockbuster of '77? But some upstart from Modesto, California, named Lucas came out with some film or other that no one remembers. Oops! That's show business...

Anyway, back to the vehicles at hand:

This vehicle has a balcony up front (the 'quail seats'), which might be fine to use when the vehicle is stationary, but I wouldn't want to ride there. Guaranteed that platform will catch if you hit a ditch or you get a mud bath if the driver decides to barrel across a large puddle or pothole. Actually, I can't imagine the ride on one of these is all that great-any bounce or bump is going to get magnified due to the vehicle's height, no matter how robust the suspension.

The previous vehicle parked next to a more conventional safari-style Jeep. The Critter Gitter Company appears to be able to customize about any truck/van/SUV in addition to the big homebuilt jobs. The factory and lot has to look like Delta Force's garage or some road gang hideout from a Mad Max movie. I'd put the place on a 'must see' list if I were headed down to Texas.

The vehicle in the C/D article had a fairly nice interior with seats all around the bed facing in, and a big table handy for serving a field lunch or the after-hunt beer and cards session. For $350k a vehicle, I'd want a few niceties myself!

If I ordered one of these, I'd want a configuration like this. I even like the three-color desert camo scheme, even though it wouldn't be all that practical around here. I'd have a small toilet and sink built into that rear compartment and maybe a couple of fold-down bunks. Picture something like an officer's cabin on a small ship and you'd get the idea-something you could take anywhere and use as a portable hunting camp. Oh yes-I want this to be amphibious, too. Let the state figure out if they want to license me as a truck, boat, or recreational vehicle! Knowing how things work here, they'd probably want me to license it as all three.

Maybe they could build davits on it, like a yacht, and I could hang one of these SAS Jeeps off my Critter Gitter like a lifeboat.

And no wussy seatbelts or safety equipment-just the open air and clear fields of fire all the way around!

Cool, huh? Now how many of you want one? If you have $300k dollars not doing anything you can have one built. Who's in for a Critter Gitter Time Share?

If you want see more of these fine pieces of machinery, here's the company's website.

And here's a video. Somehow the banjo music seems to fit the vehicle.

yankeedog out.

10 September 2010

Weekend thoughts

'They're just using religion as an excuse to be really crappy to one another'.-Dave Lister, Red Dwarf  episode: 'Waiting for God'

It'll soon be yet another 9/11, and life goes on for most of us.

There have been a couple of things of late getting news notice here and I suppose around the world. The first, of course, is the proposed mosque/community center near the Ground Zero hole where the WTC towers wer in New York City. I wrote about this earlier, and my original thought was 'They have the right to do this. But is it the correct thing to do?' I personally don't think it needs to be there. Sure, they have the right. It's poor taste though.

A couple of days back, Imam Rauf, the central figure in the mosque controversy, was on Larry King Live. He said, in effect, 'If I'd known the mosque would have created this much trouble, I'd have deferred. But if it doesn't get built now, the Muslim world will see it as an attack on Islam, and this could become a national security issue.'

You know what, Imam? You can go pound sand. Now I definitely don't want you and your vague Mafia-style threats around that part of New York. Try doing something constructive with your time. Maybe try to drag your religion out of the 12th Century. I'm tired of having of this country having to watch its step so as not to offend 'Muslim sensibilities'. How about the Muslims over here worrying about 'Judeo-Christian sensibilities'? You want respect for your religion? Try giving some respect to other people's religions first.

The other tempest in the teapot is the pastor of the church in Gainesville, Florida, who wanted to have 'Burn A Koran' night on 9/11. He has since 'gracefully' decided not to hold the event, but he reserves the right to do so. I got a few words for you, too. You're rapidly using up your 15 minutes of fame. And you're no different then some of the fellows we're currently fighting over in Afghanistan, except for the symbol you use for your faith. You and your congregation want to burn the Koran? Have at it. Roast hot dogs over the embers for what I care. It's your right. Just don't make a national story out of it, because now you just look like some backwoods cracker.

Honestly, I don't care what faith other people practice. It doesn't matter at all to me. At the same time, grant me the right to practice my faith. If you can't or won't do that, than there's going to be a problem. I suspect the majority of Americans feel the same way I do, or at least humor me and say 'Yes, YD, you're right.' Christianity doesn't offer a recruiting bonus, so I don't feel too inclined to evangelize.

Is it too much to ask for everyone here on this mudball to worry about their own relationship (or lack of) with the Almighty and not worry about everyone else's?

Let's see: Crusades, the Great Schism, the wars of the Reformation, pogroms, the Holocaust, and religious cleansing. Yep. I guess it is too much to ask. Never mind.

yankeedog out.

08 September 2010

The machinery grinds forward...

T-minus 7 days until the church children's carnival. All over the area, mountains of cheap kids' prizes are being stacked, food is being stockpiled, and games are being prepared. It's just like the ramp-up to D-Day, except no one gets shot at. Well, given the neighborhood the church is in, I wouldn't positively swear that couldn't happen.

The games are mostly kitted out and conceived of (Thanks, Minute To Win It-got some ideas from that show), a lot of the artwork is done, the food is going to be prepared by the local Boy Scout troop (a good civic project for them to do), and now the big thing is going to be the setup. We have an outdoor and an indoor plan should it rain.

We've gotten a lot of help from a few people, and The Better Half says we're way ahead of last year in a lot of areas. I still have very little enthusiasm for this project and will be glad when it's all over. But I go where I'm told and do what I'm ordered.

Plus, our big pain from last year, Charlotte the Harlot, isn't with the church any more. That is what the great Brooklyn Dodgers general manager from the 1940s, Branch Rickey, called 'addition by subtraction'.

From what I heard last year, though, most of the kids present had a good time and none of the parents complained. I reckon in the end that's what counts.

The object of a carnival like this is a type of 'showcase' for the so-called 'family-friendliness' of a church. There isn't a lot of 'evangelism' in the classic sense. People are free to come and go and not hear a sermon or get assaulted by the, what is the term you use? God-botherers. If you were to attend, odds are good you wouldn't even know it was a church-sponsored event. It's just supposed a provide a place that families can connect and young kids can play games in a non-threatening environment.

Now all we need is for the volunteers to show up in reasonable numbers and at the time they committed to. We were about eight man-hours short last year from everything running smoothly. I think we'll be in OK shape this year.

I have, however, had thoughts of flying some of you up here to be volunteers for some of the carnival activities. I have activities that some of you would be perfect for.

Bangar-Runs the "Na mate, THIS is a knoife!" knife-throwing booth.

Child: That's a sharp knife!
Bangar: Knife?!? That, crumb-cruncher, is a genuine Gurkha kukri blade, made of hand-hammered high-tensile steel. See that notch? That's the trademark of the great Nepalese smith, Getahandjob Singh. He only made 50 kukri knives....

Havock-Runs the 'I am FKN God' booth.

Child: I wonder what God looks like?
Havock: You'RE FKN looking at him. Yep. GOD is ruggedly handsome, insanely intelligent, AND a FKN stud! And I'll CAP the Muppet who says otherwise.

Natalie-Live music.

Nat: We're going to play 'In The Garden Of Eden', by I. Ron Butterfly!
(five minutes later) Wait a minute! This sounds like rock and/or roll!

(possibly my favorite Simpsons moment of all time)

Moko-The petting zoo.

We need some prize miniature goats for the kids to pet. Just don't mind the fact that I enjoy curried goat Indian style...

Child: Can I pet the goat, Mr Moko?
Moko: Sure, kid. Oh, and here-have an espresso!

Barnesy: Runs the Target the Zombie game.

Child: Can I play Target The Zombie, Mr Barnesy?
Barnes: Yep. You get three bean bags. Go for the head! That takes 'em right out every time.

Doc Yobbo: Runs the Bible Stories booth. Although I think the Doc leans atheistic (alright by me), I know he can spin a yarn.

Child: Tell us about Jesus' travels!
Doc: 'Kay. One day Jesus got together with all his mates, Petey, Jimmo, Johnno, Matto, Luko, and...all the other ones. They got a brick of Coopers and headed up the coast road to a Nazareth concert...in Nazareth! They had a old '6 BC Holden chariot with two horses in front. The '5 BC Holden Hippodrome was a better chariot, especially when the great driver Gluteus Maximus drove one in the Trans-Roman Grand Prix. Along the way they saw this chick Mary Magdalene...oh that's enough. The Doctor is OUT.

Big Bad Al:  Runs the 'Balloon Animals And Improvised Explosives' booth.

Child: Make us a balloon animal, Mr Big Bad Al!
BBA: Nah. You don't want a balloon animal. Let me show you how to make a detonator!

Well, I'm sure there's jobs that fit everyone's unique talents and skillsets. It would be interesting, wouldn't it?

yankeedog out.

06 September 2010

A landmark under assault

I saw an article on Yahoo about the sad state of the cruiser USS Olympia, moored in Philadelphia. For those of you not in the know, Olympia is an armored cruiser, built in 1892, and most known for being Admiral Dewey's flagship in the Pacific Squadron during the Spanish-American war of 1898. She was present at the Battle of Manila Bay, where the main body of the Spanish Pacific Fleet was destroyed, paving the way for the occupation of the Philippines and the American colonial 'empire'.

In addition, Olympia served in World War I. One of her final duties was bringing the body of the Unknown Soldier back to US soil in 1921 before her decommissioning in 1922. Since 1931, she has been preserved as a relic and museum ship. Olympia is the oldest steel-hulled warship still afloat-her closest contemporaries, the museum ships Mikasa in Japan and Avrora in Russia, are newer but still in that same turn-of-the-century era.

Olympia represents the period of rapid naval advancement from about 1890 to 1920, where sails were finally replaced by steam engines, iron hulls by steel plate, muzzle loading guns and ram bows by standard calibers of breech loaders, and firing over open sights by directed fire control. Electricity was used to run functions once powered by gangs of sailors. The newfangled 'wireless' would make control of individual ships by a central command possible and provide 'instant' communications. Olympia also sported the first mechanically powered water chiller (water fountain) used on a warship!

Since 1945, Olympia has been berthed in Philadelphia as a memorial vessel. She has not been drydocked for maintenance since then. Even a museum ship must enter drydock about every 20 years to have its hull checked, repaired where necessary, and cleaned and painted. The former and current management has not done this. It appears that they have only slapped paint on exposed surfaces over the years.

Now, Olympia has many places where sunlight can be seen through cracks and pitting in the hull plating, both topside and near the waterline. Years of painting isn't the same as regular scheduled maintenance. I think most groups don't realize how many man-hours are required to keep a ship, well, ship-shape. Modern ships can spend months in the dock for maintenance, and that's with an army of yard workers swarming over the ship. A group of volunteers who may not have all the mechanical skills, equipment, and time necessary to do maintenance probably just can't do the job or afford to have it done.

Olympia needs to be drydocked and probably have most of her bottom replaced-the 100-plus year old steel has about had it. The estimated cost of repairs is $10 million, and the non-profit currently operating the ship can't afford it. It seems to me that as the ship continues to corrode, it will become too dangerous for people to walk around on. Now the current managers are contemplating having Olympia towed to sea and sunk as an artificial reef. The funds simply aren't available from any source to refit the ship.

That seems a shame. This ship is a monument to the rise of American industrial and military power after the Civil War. It deserves to remain a museum ship. I understand that $10 million could take care of more than a few people in need. I also know that the government wastes a hell of a lot more than $10 million in the course of a fiscal year.

I think we need to examine what ships we should keep as museums. Obviously, there isn't enough revenue from any source to keep our fleet of museum ships (which is bigger than many of the world's battle fleets) in a good condition. We appear not to be able to afford them all.

There should be a list of criteria before approving transfer of Naval ships to non-profits, based on historical impact and/or importance to the naval arts. We don't need two dozen WWII-era fleet submarines and resources going to them when we have a unique example of an armored cruiser from the pre-Dreadnought era slowly rotting away.

I don't know what will happen to Olympia. But it seems to me like towing it to sea and disposing of it isn't quite right, either. It's like this country's declining and we can't afford to maintain the icons of our history any more. Maybe that's the case.

I reckon I'll be reading more in the future about the ship and its final disposition. If you want to see some pictures, go here.

yankeedog out.

05 September 2010

Now hear this! Uniform of the day is...

...I'm not sure. I did read a bit in the local paper that the current style of plunging necklines is making it tough for some women to find appropriate clothing for a professional workplace.

The 'guy' part of me says 'So? What's the problem?'. But I do know that there are women who aren't entirely comfortable wearing something at the office that shows a lot of cleavage. The Better Half wears a lot of turtleneck blouses to work, so I know at least one woman who's bucking the fashion trend.

I know there are a few things that I am tired of seeing on people. I think I'll sound like an old man. So be it.

-I'm tired of seeing big, massive tattoos on everyone. Used to be, people got inked as a sign of their individuality. If everyone goes and gets tattooed, then where's the individuality? Aren't you just following the herd at that point? Used to be that women got a rather small and dainty tattoo somewhere. Now they get the stuff like a map of Pennsylvania, the Japanese characters for 'Fire Exit', or a schematic for a dishwasher done up someplace on them. I'm just not sure that's a good look. Veterans of either gender get a pass-tattoos are part of the culture.

-Ditto the people with earlobes stretched out with holes the size of dinner plates. I know-you're making a statement. That statement, however, is 'I look like a Ubangi or some dude from New Guinea'. What makes a person think this a) looks good, or b) will enhance their chances of getting that district manager job?

-The goth look. I've seen enough girls with hair dyed jet-black, clad in black, eyes lined in black, and a permanent pout. If you don't like your life now, just wait. It gets worse.

I'm sure there's more, but right now ideas aren't coming into my head. Like I said, perhaps I'm simply becoming old. So maybe design something with a little higher neckline for the ladies. And you kids get out of my yard!

yankeedog out.

03 September 2010

Need some help, Blogger users...

Anybody know how to block a person from a Blogger blog?

I seem to have found some unwanted company here, who is good at spreading gossip and putting herself in everybody's affairs. She's local. I hate to make the blog 'friends only' or skip to another address, but I may not have much choice. If there's a simple way to block her, I'd prefer to go that route.

Need some technical genius, people. Failure is not an option. Any tips or tricks would be appreciated.


(EDIT-Looks like our guy Moko found a solution for me-but I'll entertain any and all solutions.)

yankeedog out.

01 September 2010

My old pal Pix

The company upgraded my version of Pro/E to 4.0 on Monday. As I was looking through the program, I found my old pal Pix:

Pix and I go back a long way. Nowadays Pix gets put in 3D models of equipment to see how the ergonomics of said drawn equipment will work out. Good work if you can get it.

Like I said, Pix and me, we go back a few years, probably right around thirty years ago. I remember meeting Pix when he was a simple collection of four-bit sprites. I think one of the first things I saw Pix in was the game Berzerk:

Back then, Pix, like me, was young, simple, and not as rounded off. He and I spent a lot of time together back in the early '80's, until Pix caught his big break back in 1985, and he got work in the famous Dire Straits video 'Money for Nothing'.

That's Pix in the background, the skinny mover. They made him up a lot for the video-added a few more bits of resolution and a lot more color. The crew, I think, enhanced a lot of his features.

After Money For Nothing, Pix found himself with plenty of work. I remember next seeing Pix playing a batter in Accolade's Hard Ball, a game I played a lot of on the old C64.

Well, I was surprised at how Pix had changed! He got a bit rounder, and somehow seemed to move more smoothly in his environment. His whole world seemed to acquire more depth and detail as he got older. I suppose that happens to all of us, though.

Time marches on. A few years passed. I surprisingly ran across Pix playing a part in Activision's fun automotive shoot-'em-up and homeage to 1970s Detroit, Interstate '76.

That's Pix on the left. I could see he'd been working out-he'd gotten all angular and full of polygons. He could move and shoot and drive at least as well as I was able to. I told him it was good to see him, and gave him some crap about the tan he was sporting. He told me that color palettes and shape renderings had come a way since his Berzerk days. I could see that technology was good for him and I was glad to see him still working.

Life happens, and somehow I lost touch with Pix until this week. As you can see from the very first pic, Pix has matured-all animated and much more flexible then when he was younger. Must be yoga and increased computer capabilities.

Pix says his next big ambition is to be portrayed as a three-dimensional hologram. I told him I wouldn't be surprised if someday he managed to do that. I wished him the best right before I powered down for the night.

Always good to see your friends hit the big time.

yankeedog out.