31 October 2010

The night of sca-a-a-a-ry monsters...

Halloween here tonight. The day falling on Sunday I think puts a damper on the festivities, since tomorrow is a school and work day, football is on, and the World Series is going full swing.

We helped TBH's mom with handing out sugary goodness. 73 kids came to the door, so it was a bit below average. At least here, most cities and towns have prescribed trick or treat hours (usually on the order of 5pm-7 or 8pm) and the little urchins tricksters are only supposed to go to houses where the porch light is on. Usually the kids come in wolfpacks to the door, their parents watching from the sidewalk. That's a far cry from when we were young, when we went out by ourselves, without parents, banged at everyone's door, and went out-get this, everyone-after dark! No, really.

I saw a lot of adults out in their driveways, fire going in a burning barrel, and a big tub of treats alongside the lawn chairs. We should've done that-got a little fire going and roasted some hot dogs. It was a beautiful night out, for the end of October.

I have to say that whatever Halloween lost as a day where a youngster could go out by him-or-herself, it's gained in quality of costumes. Kids these days have a lot of great homemade costumes. We saw enough mini-zombies this year to give Barnesy the jitters! One girl had a football outfit with a Bears Jay Cutler jersey. I think the trick for her would have been to throw the football to someone in the same color jersey she was wearing. Even Cutler has trouble doing that...but I digress.

When I was really little, we had the cheap crappy nylon suits with the vacformed plastic masks. What a waste of money those were! When I got older, we could all go to the Army surplus store or sporting goods store and pick up some old ODs or camo clothes. Then we'd go out looking like a raggedy-ass bunch of militia-or child solidiers. Little, pudgy, candy-craving child soldiers. After that we discovered eggs, toilet paper, underage drinking, and the fundamentals of stealth, cover, and concealment. Now we pass the traditions along to the younger generation. Some of the traditions, anyway. As for the others...well, some things you just have to learn from your friends and peers.

So in honor of the day just passed, the anthem of Halloween, courtesy of Somerville, Massachusetts' very own...Bobby 'Boris' Pickett. You know the tune. Sing it loud.


I've had a severe earworm this weekend, courtesy of my coworker Brad, the game Fallout: New Vegas, and Kay Kyser and his Orchestra. The only thing I can do is pass it along to the rest of you.

Never played any of the Fallout series, but I have to think it'd be great fun to break people and things in a postapocalyptic retrofuturistic Las Vegas, 1952-era soundtrack going in the background! Might have to think hard about getting this one.

yankeedog out.

26 October 2010

YD for (insert office here)

Oy. Only a week until the midterm elections. Good news. We're going to get bombarded with political ads and commercials for the next week. Bad news.

In all the ads, I've yet to hear anyone come up with any ideas on how to fix anything in this, my beloved country and state. I HAVE heard a lot of mudslinging. And what a crop of candidates here. I wouldn't let any of them run the deep fryer at McDonald's because I think they'd turn the french fries into carburized stumps, let alone give them the keys to the country.

Seems to me our first priorities are to a) get some jobs here, and b) get the debt paid down before the Chinese decide to repossess us. I'm for tax breaks for companies that keep jobs here and for tariffs on imported products equal to the average cost of the same item built domestically. Compete on a level field. We've had plenty of free trade. We need fair trade. On the other side, unions have to realize that their members can't make $60,000/year to put lug nuts on wheels. Maybe some give-and-take here. The way I see it, more workers=bigger tax base=less burden on both corporations and individuals. Could be wrong, because God knows, what I know about most things you could stick in your eye and not cause too much irritation.

As for getting the national debt paid down, there's more fat in government spending than in a whole season of The Biggest Loser. My brother worked in government. I've seen it. Things like buying 1000 wire nuts where 10 are needed. Small stuff-but all that 'small stuff' would add up pretty quickly-and the government would run just as good. Likely a whole lot better.

And maybe, just maybe, we don't need to be the world's policeman. Some places, they've been fighting since the Bible was three books long, and they'll be fighting long after we've left the scene. Actually, if the Defense Department spent like the average household does (that is, with a modicum of sense), we wouldn't lose a whole lot of capability to defend ourselves.

If I were running for office, I might be inclined to put a five-year moratorium on all foreign aid and slap that money on the national debt. If there's a disaster, someone else can help, or our private sector agencies can be first responders. They'd probably do a good job. Besides, why give money and food to nations that likely as not would try to shaft us the first chance they got. We don't HAVE an obligation to help everyone else in the world. Someone else can step up and spend the cash and take the abuse for being 'meddling'.

Ahh, who'm I kidding? None of that's going to happen.

Dreamer...Yankee is a dreamer...

I feel very fortunate that our local PBS is showing Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Not only are they entertaining (old, but still funny), they provide an invaluable translation guide when our political wannabes and alreadytheres speechify and run commercials.

But instead of ideas from our politicians, no matter how stupid or outlandish, we get stuff like this:


'Harlan Veeblefetzer says he has a plan to bring jobs to the 71st District. But did you know that Harlan Veeblefetzer believes in cutting pizza in squares?

I have a plan to introduce legislation that would require pizza to be cut in wedges-the way God ordained that pizza be cut-not the 'liberal' square.

Harlan Veeblefetzer claims to be a veteran. But in reality, his 'service' consisted of watching every episode of M*A*S*H. He even said he liked the preachy episodes filmed after Alan Alda took creative control of the show.

Harlan Veeblefetzer says he's in favor of family values. But did you know he once drove a car with underinflated tires?

Do we need two more years of Harlan Veeblefetzer?

I'm here to offer you an alternative to the current regime.

If I'm elected, I'll fight for the 71st District. I'll vote 'yes' on the Netherlands Rock Band Quota Act. Dutch rockers shouldn't be cluttering up American classic rock airwaves.

I'll vote for the Cryptozoologic Fair Trade Agreement. Our jackalopes and hodags will be able to better compete with imported drop bears and chupacabras.

If you believe that America needs more drop bears listening to Hocus Pocus, then vote for my opponent, even though he fancies conjugal relations with farm animals, and doesn't gargle.

If you want real change in Washington-change based on my interpretation of the Constitution-change you can believe in-then vote for me on November 2nd.'


I'm Yankeedog, and I approved this message.

yankeedog out.

24 October 2010

This post needs a title

I should've gone to work, but it's Sunday. Screw it. The work will still be there tomorrow. I'm getting an infusion of NFL. Unfortunately the Bears wasted 3 hours of my life in a piss-poor effort v. a very average Washington Redskins squad. This Bears team may quite possibly be the stupidest team that ever put on the Orange and Blue. No football sense whatsoever from the front office on down to the players. They are who I thought they were. That's a shame.

Congrats to the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants, who'll be playing in the World Series. The Rangers have never gone in their history, which goes back to 1961 and the Washington Senators Version 2. The Giants have been to the series but haven't won since I think 1954. It's good to see someone other than the Yankees in the Championship. I think ESPN SportsCenter will lead with 'Yankees finish Second to some team we've never heard of...in a place called Tex-as, out near the edge of the world.'

As for the National League representative, all I can say is:

The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win The Pennant!

This morning, The Better Half and I participated in the Pumpkin Dash, which is a 4K/8K run/walk around the perimeter of Credit Island Park in Davenport. Usually it's kind of frosty this time of year-perfect for a little morning exercise. Today felt more like early September-about 60 F and that cool, clammy humid. That's infinitely preferable to summertime oppressive muggy. TBH did the 4K run (once around the island). I, not being in a hurry and terribly out of shape, opted for the 4K walk. Now, I don't flap my arms and walk like I have a hot poker in my kiester, but I do try to get into a march-type rhythm that will eat up yards.

At the end of the day, TBH got 7th overall in the 4K and yours truly snagged the 5th of 5 male walk awards. We both got-and this makes it all worthwhile-an aluminum sports bottle! Yay. These are becoming popular for race awards. I'm not sure we need more than a couple of them floating around here, though. The big prizes go to the 8K runners-trophies and cash awards for the overall winners. Again, the post-race refreshments were good-fruit, coffee/cider/hot chocolate, cookies, water, and beer-the perfect Sunday morning drink. Any race that has beer afterwards is good in my world. Nothing like burning up a couple hundred calories in exercise and putting back 300 cals at the post-race.

At any rate. a hearty well done to TBH for her finish. Also a belated hurrah to our Nautilis/Bignaut for his finsh in the recent Melbourne Marathon. Anyone who even finishes 26 miles 385 yards is a better person than I am (at least in the running department). I believe the US Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, is coming up here in a week or so. What say we raise a 26-person relay team? A mile (1.5ishK) should be doable for everyone.

For the runners I know and love so well...you know what music is coming up.

I'll be right behind you all-far behind-in march time. Singing the quick march of 5th/RAR:

Really? Dominique? Belgian nuns march to that one. Oh well...

Dominique, inique, inique

S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu.
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu.

A l'époque où Jean Sans Terre
D'Angleterre était roi,
Dominique, notre Père,
Combattit les Albigeois.

And The Saints Go Marching In? I'd guess the lyric was changed to 'When The 5th/Goes Marching In...'.
The RAR band does a good rendition. I'll bet the RAR doesn't have the likes of ol' Satchmo The Great to sing and play the trumpet, though.

And that, kids, is how you start with work and end up with Dixieland jazz.

yankeedog out.

21 October 2010

Aw, bitch, bitch, bitch...

I drink a lot less water than I should. This may be a good thing, since it seems like someone put stupid chemical in it-and not just here. It's all over the country.

Fer example:

We have 5 bridges over the Mississippi River here in the area, and it seems like two of them are being repaired at any one time. One of the other three has a breakdown sitting on it on the afternoon rush. Usually it's a 1980's vintage minivan with a tie rod that snapped and a large woman calling for help on a cell phone. It isn't the same vehicle, of course, but the preceding description always seems to fit. Add to that several road blockages with bits of pavement in various stages of completion.

Maybe, and I know this is a radical idea-start a project and FINISH it, then move on to the next one! Don't tear up a piece of road and leave it for a month. Same with the bridges. And maybe do some of the work at night when you're not backing up traffic for a mile or more.

Some of the drivers here having been drinking the eau de stupid as well. There's a right lane closure coming up. Everyone is trying to merge, except for one nimrod in a pickup two cars in front of me who's driving down the middle, clogging both lanes. Oh, for a roof-mounted 40mm grenade launcher...

The genius who designed the approaches to the I-74 bridge put two on-ramps within 200 feet of each other right before gettinng onto the bridge. This set-up is the same on both the Illinois and Iowa side of the river. About 3:30, the traffic clogs up with all of the after-work people trying to merge. It slows to a crawl for an hour or so until things clear up. Things go good if the merging traffic alternates with the traffic on the interstate.  Unfortunately, there are very few people who seem to have mastered this. One guy merges and two others try to sneak in. Somebody's going to get into a sideswipe sometime. And they'll both probably hit the minivan stuck on the bridge anyway.

Finally, my last driving hint. You don't HAVE to come to a complete stop to make a right turn onto a side street or driveway, just slow down enough to do the turn safely. It's not steering an aircraft carrier through the locks of the Panama Canal. You're holding up the traffic. Let's go-while we're young!

We also have the midterm elections coming up-all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate. There's been a barrage of commercials for the various candidates, all saying the other guy's going to raise taxes, he buggers horses, and voting for him will cause the demise of the Republic. All they're proving is if you're an absolute failure at doing anything out here in the world, you maybe should consider running for an elected office. Shrill bunch on both sides. Somebody humor me and tell me it's the same where you're at. One of the things on the ballot this year that will get my vote is the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would allow the people to recall a governor should it become necessary. Not yes but hell yes on that. Our governors on both sides have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. I'd be in favor of recalling ANY elected official that isn't doing his or her job.

Oh, yes, almost forgot. A while back I wrote about the prospect for Amtrak passenger rail service coming through here. Today we got $10 million to go ahead and build a depot. The pollies are all gaga because that'll provide 750 jobs building the station.

Problem is, I haven't seen where anything has come through to actually FUND the line. Why do I have a vision of a shiny new Amtrak station alongside the Iowa Interstate Railroad, waiting for a train that wasn't funded? What is it that I smell?  Oh, yes...the smell of pork. This has all the characteristics of a classic Boondoggle (Boondoggilus politicus maximus).

Oh, piss on it. Reckon I've bitched enough for one night.

We're going to play YD's Wheel of Fortune now. The theme is "Australian Musicians Named 'Young'".

Who will come up on the Big Wheel? Will it be George Young? Angus? Malcolm? Someone step up and give it a spin!


Awww! You hit the one spot with the Disco Young...John Paul!

No, you don't get to spin again. Nothing to be done for it except dust off the platform shoes and practice your basic hustle, samba, or merengue.

Better luck next time!

yankeedog out.

17 October 2010

Communications restored

Last Tuesday, I went to fire up the old laptop and got a black screen and nothing else.

Uh oh. Fortunately I don't keep of lot of anything valuable on the machine. I'm old and don't believe in just having all of my records on computer, and I pay bills the old-fashioned way-barter. Trading chickens for access to electric power and all that.

I'm typing this on a brand new Dell Inspiron with Windows 7 and 4 glorious gigabytes on the hard drive. I'll bet these words even smell new! Might have to get my coworkers' version of World In Conflict, where the Soviets invade the US. Should run on this beast right nicely.

In the interim, I read a copy of Judith Heimann's The Airmen and the Headhunters, a nonfiction work about a B-24 crew shot down in late 1944 over Dutch Borneo and crash landing in the heart of what was at that time a largely unexplored island. They managed to survive for several months with the help of a sympathetic District Officer and several groups of the native people, the Lun Dayeh, who hid and fed them and taught the airmen the ways of their own people. Eventually the American flyers were rescued by a group of Australian special forces who were paving the way for their army's landings on Borneo in mid 1945.

Somewhat reminiscent of Peter Ryan's Fear Drive My Feet, I thought it was an interesting read. Worth a look if you find it in a bargain bin or at the local library.

Time to get some of my programs and Twitter back online. Later.

yankeedog out.

12 October 2010

The Personals Translation Guide

...courtesy of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

We've all read personal ads or at least seen a dating website. Personally, I'd rather be by myself than get into the blind meat market. Your mileage may vary. Maybe you had a good experience on a dating site! At any rate, the staff at UJBR put together this handy guide for translating those personal ads. I'm posting it here as a Public Service.


When they say-What they mean is

Exotic Beauty-Will frighten your dog
Free Spirit-Substance abuser
Loves animals-Cat lady
New Age-Loaded with body hair
Spiritual-Involved in a cult
Seeking A Soul Mate-Stalker

Don't yuk it up too much, gentlemen. We have our own codewords. Read on:


When they say-What they mean is

Athletic-Sits on the couch and watches ESPN
Average-looking-Over-average hair growth on ears and back
Educated-Will treat you like an idiot
Employed-On management track at Radio Shack
Free spirit-Will sleep with your sister
Huggable-Overweight and hairy (Oops!)
Professional-Owns a white button-down shirt
Stable-Stalker, but never convicted
Thoughtful-Says 'please' when demanding a beer

Upon reviewing these last ten, I guess I have to say....

....Yeah. They're probably right.

yankeedog out.

11 October 2010

Wild birthday celebration

This weekend saw The Better Half's mom's 92nd birthday. The big present was that she passed her driver's test (after 87, Illinois drivers have to take the actual driving exam with an instructor. Makes good sense to me.). She doesn't have the best eyesight, but she only drives to church and a couple of other civic functions that she knows how to get to. We drive her for shopping and any big trips out of town.

The 'wild celebration' consisted of dinner out at a local family-style place with just me, TBH, her mom, and her mom's boyfriend/companion, Bob. He's a relative youngster at 88 (bloody cougars!) and in many ways he's a bit more frail than she is. They still go to senior citizens' dances and functions. Bob got off the music train about 1946 and is not a big fan of recorded music and music with them noisy, newfangled guitars, so it's getting harder for them to find functions to go to. The people in their 60's these days cut their teeth on the first acts of rock n' roll on 45rpm platters, so the music and atmosphere at a lot of the places they go to are changing.

See what we all have to look forward to?

Bob is one of those types who pretty much tells the same stories every time we see him. Most of you know the type because most of you probably know someone like that or, even better, have somebody like that in the family. He's done an arseload of interesting stuff and been a lot of places in this world. The problem is that I've heard all of these stories at least half a dozen times, so it doesn't really catch my interest any more. TBH is really good at acting like it's the first time she's heard a particular story.

But what to do with someone like that? Really, the only thing you can do is let them go on. Again, we're all going where they're at, and we'll want the respect from our youngers.

He does delight in telling us that he's never applied for a job. He grew up in a time when a person could get a good job right out of high school, and he managed to become the youngest apprentice machinist at Rock Island Arsenal when the Arsenal was gearing up for WWII. He got drafted into the Navy, showed better aptitude at math and basic electronics than his instructor, and when most of his class headed off to the Fleet, he and a cadre were sent to Texas A&M University for advanced training, then he made the big time.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Radiation Laboratory, the birthplace of American radar, where projects like radar-controlled guns and proximity fuses were being developed. Big stuff. When in Boston, his group was shunted away to a nondescript downtown location. Real spy-type stuff, with secret entrances, a guard, and a warning to Keep His Mouth Shut-in the days when talking too much could earn a person a comabt assignment of the court-martial board was feeling generous, or a stretch at Leavenworth or Yerba Buena if they weren't. When there, these guys developed, built, and did manuals for the first Airborne Early Warning aircraft-Project Cadillac and Cadillac II. These were Avengers and B-17 Flying Fortresses with big, tempermental, cumbersome long-range radar sets, used to detect large kamikaze formations heading for our and our allies' ships. Those first planes were the ancestors of today's E-3 and Hawkeye AWACS craft used by our armed forces and those of our allies today.

Pretty cool, huh? Actually, it's a fascinating tale and should be put in a book. That bunch contributed in no small way to our winning WWII and are responsible for an important, no, vital, part of our air defenses today.

After the seventh or eighth time hearing this, though....well, not so interesting to me. And if I were you, gentle reader, I wouldn't laugh-for I might trundle this post out as a repeat a few dozen times. I have to hear the story, so do you! But I suspect many of you could relate a story you've heard from some older friend or relative, and relate it by heart because you've heard at every holiday or get-together. It's one of those things-you get tired of hearing those same tales, then the person dies and you say 'Remember when Uncle Dave (Aunt Sue, Grandpa Tom, whoever) used to talk about...'. I suppose out of such things mythologies are created.

And that, kids, was my weekend. Got a story you hear at every family event? Bring it on!

yankeedog out.

04 October 2010

The Great Ride of '89

One of the great autumn events to be in on is the hayride-you know, get a hayrack, throw a few bales of hay on it, get your friends together, and find yourself a nice stretch of country road where you won't be in the way of traffic (and the traffic won't be in the way of you). Add a cool, crisp, clear night-and possibly some liquids to offset cool, crisp, and clear-and you have a recipe for a great evening!

In about a week, various organizations will start doing haunted hayrides, where the passengers are driven through a dark field or patch of woods and various ghosts, ghouls, maniacs, and zombies will endeavor to scare the crap out of them-or drive that girl into her date's arms, because that's one of the reasons for couples of any age to go out in that thar haunted woodlot-where people go in....but they don't come out! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Great fun.

Some places offer a more family-friendly ride, where the main attraction is simply to go out for that rustic, 'country' experience, take the kids to see some farm animals, and maybe pick up some apples, honey, and a pumpkin to carve up into a jack-o'-lantern. Those are enjoyable as well, if a bit tame.

The hayrides I've been on leaned a bit toward debauchery, such as in the Great Ride of '89.

A coworker of mine at the time lived on a farm out in the deepest reaches of Lee County, Illinois. His folks farmed nearby, so he had access to a hay wagon, no close-by neighbors, and plenty of space. I remember that it was a perfect night to be out. We loaded the guest of honor on the wagon-the keg-and then we found places among the bales and under blankets as we took off. I'd like to tell you great detail about the things we saw and about how beautiful the evening was. Truth be told, a good portion of the night was a blur. I remember belting out 'You Shook Me All Night Long', possibly better than Brian Johnson ever did in all his years with the boys from Down Under. (And, really, who DOESN'T have Back In Black in their collection of albums to party to?) We stopped at one of the two bars in the nearest town, Sublette. I believe someone was buying shots of tequila. Now, tequila is a fine fluid. You can use it to thin paint, or remove grease stains, or run a lawnmower. If it were drinkable, it would be perfect. What to do if someone's buying the shots, though? You have to drink up and pretend to like it. Several times. Fair enough. I'd consumed most of a bottle of cinnamon schnapps and apple cider before we left.

Somewhere along the way, my buddy Dave lost his glasses at one of the pee stops we made on the way back to Chuck's digs. As far as I know, those glasses are still there, lying along a gravel road or fencerow somewher between Sublette and Amboy.

Of course, men are lucky when it comes to stopping along the road to take a leak-just stand there and let fly. The ladies were forced to find cover and squat. Calls for some measure of markswomanship not to pee all over clothes and such.

By and by we got back to Chuck's. All that beer, schnapps, and tequila didn't mix well-never mix your alcohols, kids-and I think I vomited in Chuck's yard. He and his wife, Kelli, were kind enough to pour me onto a foldaway bed in the living room.

The next day, those of us that stayed all night went to a pancake breakfast at a church. I'm sure we made a good impression-hay in our clothes and hair, breath like jet fuel fumes, and headaches in the kiloton range. But the people there took our money, and we chowed down pancakes, homemade sausage, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

That's about what I remember from that hayride. We did Hayride 2: Electric Boogaloo the next year, but somehow it wasn't quite as much fun. I do remember our guy TC and one of the young ladies from the office ended up in the hayloft. Well, what happens in the hayloft stays in the hayloft. TC was in the Navy at the time. A good guy he was, but no genius, and I wouldn't have let him run a toy boat in a bathtub. The Navy made him a member of the Presidential Honor Guard, so at least he cut a fine figure in dress whites, and he couldn't hurt himself or anybody else in the middle of Washington, DC.

So when October rolls around, I think back to the simpler times back then and smile. I'm told I had a good time, so I'll take everyone's word for it.

I'll end this post with-well, you know the song we HAVE to end with!

yankeedog out.