28 March 2011

All the news no one cares about

A good weekend, all in all. TBH and I went to Indianapolis for the state Masters short course yards swim meet. She took first in her age group in 6 of 8 events, and 2nd in the other 2. She swum the 1650 free, 1000 free, and 500 free, in addition to short events in the backstroke. Two good days' work done there.

Next stop, the home state Illinois meet in a couple of weeks. Illinois usually has a big meet, since the Chicago area has a lot of swimmers and teams. I expect Evanston Wild Catfish and Naperville Waves will be the big squads in the meet. We'll see how the Western Illinois Masters Program Swimming (yes, the acronym is WIMPS) does. They probably won't have enough people to win high points in individuals or relays, but they'll make a good showing for their size. Looking forward to the meet (except possibly for several heats of 70+ years old swimmers doing 400 individual medley or 1650 free-those events can take a while. A looo-ooong while).

While in Indy, we did up a dinner at the local Benihana. I do like the cutting and dicing show that the chefs put on in front of the hibachi. Makse one wonder how those guys do it-and who washes out. People like 'Stump' Kobayashi, or 'Three-Fingers' Ito would I suppose not inspire great confidence for the diner. Though if I had a Japanese restaurant, I'd hire a hibachi chef that was missing a digit or two just for the hell of it.
Anyhow, a huge and delicious dinner was served up for us.

When we take a long trip, we tend to rent vehicles. With the right coupons and offers, one can get a vehicle fairly reasonably. Besides, a person has to splurge once in a while. I drove my first Holden. Well, a Cadillac CTS, on a Holden Sigma II platform. Heavy beast of a car for its size, not a terrible drive, but really not my style. It has some ergonomic issues in the interior as far as control placement, especially in the doors and the seats. Those are on the designers up in Detroit, though.

Finally, we got ourselves a new boss in the Design Lair. No more Team Rimmer, alas. The new guy is a degreed mech engineer, which is good. In this litigious society it's good to have calculations run by someone who's supposed to know his stuff. It's hard to get a fix on someone on his first day, but...
...you know in the war movies, when the platoon gets the replacement leader, all squeaky clean and full of book learnin', but not wise to the ways of people in the platoon or in the art of actual combat? I feel like that's what we've got. We'll see how he does when the fecal matter impacts the rotary-blade air mover and Rimmer starts telling us how to design something.

Ah, good times coming up! Ought to be fun.

yankeedog out.

24 March 2011

One more before I go...

The sports talk station I listen to has a feature (670AM- The Score, Chicago) on Thursday afternoons has a segment called 'Who Ya Crappin'?', where listeners can call/email in odd things that someone said (not something someone did). You'd be surprised at some of the gems people dig up, which point out someone's verbal gaffe, lie, or outright hypocrisy. This week had a few winners to pass along. I'll abridge them since I'm doing them from memory. Here goes:

-This week on ESPN, analyst Dick Vitale was expounding the praises of embattled University of Tennessee basketball head coach Bruce Pearl. Vitale said of Pearl "He does things the right way!".

Pearl was fired by the university after lying to an NCAA committee investigating recruiting violations and receiving a five game suspension for same earlier this year.

Dick Vitale-who ya crappin'?

(YD's note: Pearl is a piece of hypocritical garbage. He needs to go away.)

And one for Newt Gingrich, who a couple of weeks ago said on a TV show: "We're the United States. We can go in and set-up a no-fly zone in Libya to aid the rebels, and we should."

In a recent interview after the Libya no-fly operations began, Gingrich said, "I wouldn't have gotten involved in this."

Newt, you windsock. Take a stand. Who ya crappin'?

(YD's note: Newt Gingrich is, in fact, a windsock. Sorry, conservatives, but there it is.)

Vladimir Putin, Tsar of Some of the Russias, also got caught this week. In his protest of the Libya no-fly zone, he stated his concern over nations interfering in the affairs of a sovereign state that was fighting separatist rebels.

This didn't bother him in 2008, when he was rolling Russian tanks through the Republic of Georgia, a...you guessed it...sovereign state that was fighting seperatist rebels!

Vladimr Putin, you unsmiling bastard-Кто ты шутишь?

(YD's note: Tsar Vladimir is a unsmiling bastidge-but he still has more integrity than Bruce Pearl. And possibly Newt Gingrich.)


'Tis time for the annual trip to Indianapolis for a Masters swim meet for TBH. I will of course be chauffeur, lap counter, and equipment manager. Looking forward to getting out of here for the weekend. You kids behave yourselves.
Since all who visit here have a huge fondness for 1980s music, I thought I'd pull up some faves from the Decade of Excess. Like to hear 'em? Here goes:


And a couple for our guy Moko, who is going to start getting behind the wheels of a truck. Look out, everyone!

Ah yes, that tune was written by an Australian, wasn't it-where they have strange place names like Oodnalatta, Moorooka, and Wagga Wagga. Not good American names like Winnemucca, Oskaloosa, or Walla Walla.
Very well, then. The original Oz version for your listening pleasure!

yankeedog out.

21 March 2011

The sounds of silence

Ah. Spring is here. The snow is gone. Spring training games are happening. Another Arab country is getting a cruise missile barrage.

This time it's Libya. I tell you, I'm getting weary of George W. Bush, Cheney, et al. interfering in the affairs of other nations.

Oh, wait. Bush and Cheney aren't in power anymore. Haven't been in two years. I thought the election of Barack Obama was going to eliminate the need for foreign adventures like this. Hmm. Amazing that the usual suspects around the world aren't raising a hue and cry that President Obama should be impeached, or sent to the Netherlands to be charged with war crimes.

It appears that France and the UK pushed the UN for a no-fly zone and possible air combat operations over Libya. So I expect that soon I'll be hearing the call for Prime Minister Cameron and Premier Sarkozy to be removed from power and charged with war crimes. Killing civilians mercilessly, interfering with the affairs of a sovereign nation, and all that.

What, nothing? Anybody?

What about the humanitarian crises that will arise with the disruption of normal life in Libya? Surely that rates a impassioned denunciation of France, Britain, Denmark, Canada, and Norway?

No? Still quiet?

Well, I expect there have been massive antiwar demonstrations in Paris, London, and the other European capitals, with plenty of anti-government slogans and signs, to show to the world how bad their nations and leaders are. After all, Libya has proven not to be a threat to the rest of the world.

Nup. Not a sausage.

Of course! Someone will bring it up for debate somewhere in cyberspace. Boy howdy, we'll see some verbal beatdowns and anti-European rhetoric flying then!

(crickets chirping)

I know! Someone will point out that France and Britain are pushing for a regime change in Libya so they can gain control of Libya's oil! Clever!

Nadie. Nol.

C'mon, people. Where are you? It's awful quiet.

Kind of what I thought. Wasn't a United States-instigated affair, and not a Republican president authorizing the action. So it's OK.

Of the rest of the world, I ask only one thing from now on.

Shut. Fuck. Up.

There's a lot of hypocrisy going on here. If Bush had been president during this recent action, there'd be hell raised from here to Zamboanga (that's in the Philippines, for those curious). We'd be treated to the same old tired anti-American rhetoric, the same old tired calls for trials for crimes against humanity, and the same old tired hippies out in the streets.

Keep it. Nobody wants to hear you anymore. You've been exposed not as people who want to make the world better, just hateful old relics who haven't had an original thought since Vietnam was in full bloom and the worker's paradise that was the Soviet Union was still in business. Not worth paying attention to.

I personally have no great love for Colonel Qaddafi. The sooner he breathes his last, the better. However, I was in no great hurry to get in another adventure in that part of the world. I figure if France, Britain, and Italy want to play at power projection, have at it. Leave us out of this one. I happen to think that President Obama handled events over there correctly-stay out of their internal affairs, since we can't win no matter what we do-until he let himself get talked into dipping into our stock of cruise missiles by the powers-that-be in Western Europe. The best thing we can do now is bring our fleet home or deploy them to where they were headed before all of this blew up, and let Europe do the heavy work.

There. 'Nuff said.

Oh, and as for those of you who picked NCAA bracket teams in the last post:

Bangar-I don't know how you manage to pick that one team every year. Richmond is in the Sweet Sixteen! Pitt was a good pick. The Pitt/Butler game was the biggest upset so far in the tournament, with Butler pulling off the one-point win. Washington left early. Cincinnati got past the first round to lose to UConn. Not surprised.

Therbs-Uh, Radar's home state was Iowa, which wasn't in the tournament. If you're taking Ohio State, you're still in. The Jayhawks of Kansas beat Illinois to make the Sweet Sixteen. All the Texas teams went home this weekend. Memphis is usually a good pick come March-except for this year.

DocY-I think just pulling for the winner. And for a Guinness. OK in my book.

yankeedog out.

14 March 2011

Buckets time again

It's March, and we all know what that means, at least here. NCAA college basketball tournament time!

Or you can go here for a readable bracket.

You know the drill. Pick the Final Four. I think Bangar is the reigning champion, as he spends minutes poring over strength of schedule, player matchups, and statistics for each of the 68 teams going into the tournament.

Don't know much about college basketball? No worries! Just pick a team out of each region and run with it.

YD's Final Four: Ohio State out of the East Region, Duke from the West, Purdue out of the Southwest, and Kansas State as a surprise from the Southeast Region. Ohio State beats Duke, K-State over Purdue. Ohio State over K-State for the National Championship.

There you are. You heard it here first. Bet everything you and your children own!!!

Good luck!

yankeedog out.

10 March 2011


Tonight I thought I might write about the likelihood of a lockout and a possible abbreviated National Football League season in 2011 due to a lack of a collective bargaining agreement. But I can't get myself too worked up over the squabbles between a clique of millionaire team owners and a few hundred lesser millionaire players. If they come up with a labor deal, great. If they don't, well, so be it.

I might have a bit more to say about major college athletics sometime, but it's kind of late and I don't want to get into the topic right now.

I'm heartily sick of Charlie Sheen. Isn't he fourteen minutes and thirty seconds into his fifteen minutes of fame? The only reason Two and a Half Men was watchable was that Charlie Sheen was playing a character which basically required him to be himself.

Same with Lindsay Lohan. She needs to go away.

I guess I'm not too interested in celebrities. They do provide an object lesson, though. Fame and fortune don't always bring happiness or contentment or, for that matter, normalcy.

I finished up Robert Conroy's 1901. The book was written in 1995, so anything I have to say about it has probably been said already, but I'll say it anyway.

The premise is based on a diplomatic row with Germany back in 1901 that really happened. Seems Germany wanted to acquire the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and a lot of other places that we'd just taken from Spain. President McKinley evidently told the Kaiser to get bent, and Germany went away to other adventures. In the novel, Germany planned and executed an incursion on the Greater New York City area and fought a war with the US.

Yeah, right. The German Navy was a short-legged force designed to fight the British in the North Sea. It was in no way a real oceangoing force ala the Royal Navy. To have the German fleet escorting a huge fleet of transports across the Atlantic, leaving the German coast relatively uncovered, is unrealistic.

Also, Kaiser Wilhelm was portrayed as more of a megalomaniac than I think he was. He was petulant and possibly no genius, but he wasn't a Hitler type.

A lot of flaws, but it was Conroy's first effort. I had read his book Red Inferno:1945, his latest. Not nearly as bad.

The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, however, was an infinitely better read. This volume contains most of his short stories and novellas, and well worth purchasing. There are a lot of sci-fi writers out there these days, few of whom are close to Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, or Bradbury as far as writing talent goes.

And that. citizens, about wraps up my thoughts for this post. Later!

yankeedog out.

03 March 2011

Great drives

The other day, I picked up the latest issue of Motor Trend, and read the article 'Outback Through The Outback', where the author took a Subaru Outback from Adelaide to Darwin along the Stuart Highway (that's Highway 87 to you) right through the hot, dusty middle of Australia. Evidently he found several spots to detour off the paved road and go to some truly remote places in the center of the country, also providing an offroad test for his Subaru. His parents made the same trek back in the middle of the last century in an old Dodge-and this was when one evidently followed the wagon ruts to Alice Springs and points north.

It looks like there are several places along the Stuart Highway where the gas stations are few and far between and the authorities ask motorists to carry spare water, a first aid kit, and enough gear to camp in your car for a day or so. That's when you know you're heading for the middle of nowhere!

Of course, the article had some outstanding photographs. There are some truly awesome places to see in the Land of the Southern Cross.

Since the vast majority of you readers are from Oz, you'll probably read this and say 'Meh. It's a long boring drive with nothing to see-vastly overrated.' But I'd like to do that drive sometime, because there really isn't anything like it here in the lower 48 states. I would say that the closest thing we have in the US is the Alaska and Dalton Highways through the Yukon and central and northern Alaska. The climate is vastly different, especially in winter! but you have the same population density (roughly), sense of isolation, and scenic wonders. That's also a drive that would be worth doing someday.

I've been on a few of the routes that rank among the best America has to offer. The drives aren't of epic length, but there are some great things to see along the way. I have a few here that I'll talk up.

-Minnesota Route 61: The North Shore of Lake Superior.

61 runs along the north shore of the largest of the Great Lakes from Duluth, Minnesota, to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakeshore cliffs, the swaths of birch and pine of the boreal forest; access to the great iron mines of the Mesabi Range, the myriad lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and the tourist lodges and camps along the US/Canadian border. Truly breathtaking! The Arrowhead Country of Minnesota is very close culturally to our Canadian friends to the north. When you drive through a town and they have a rink for curling and hockey, you know you aren't in Kansas anymore (or Illinois, for that matter).

-US 1: The Florida Keys

Henry Flagler originally built a series of bridges along the chain of keys from south of Homestead, Florida, to Key West, some 125 miles, for his Florida East Coast Railroad. The 1935 hurricanes wrecked much of the line, but the bridges were rebuilt and opened to auto traffic as the Overseas Highway. This might be one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the world. The Keys are full of little tourist shops, motels, and fishing charters. The ocean around the Keys is a beautiful, clear azure, and I have to think that the fishing around the bridge piers would be fantastic! It was quite an experience for this Midwest flatlander to drive over essentially a 125 mile long bridge. A recommended experience for anyone going to south Florida. Oh, and pack your Jimmy Buffett music to listen to while driving-this IS what he's singing about, after all...

-US 61: the land of the Delta blues

I'd have to say that US 61 along the western border of the State of Mississippi hasn't got a lot of scenery-it's mostly flat with cotton fields and ramshackle, whistle stop hamlets whose best days never arrived. What it does have is history. US 61 and the parallel Illinois Central railroad were two of the main routes north for the blacks of the Deep South who were looking for opportunities in the great industrial cities like Chicago and Detroit during the first half of the 20th Century. It's the land where the blues were born, and one can see why-the area is one of the poorest in the nation. The city of Vicksburg is the main city in the area, as it was in 1863 when the Union won its great victory over the Confederates, cutting the South in two. The battlefields are still there as a memorial. One can still walk along the faint traces of trench lines, and it's an eerie place to visit. I remember seeing markers where the various US and CS units fought. At one spot, a Union regiment from Missouri was opposite a Confederate unit from the same state. One wonders if soldiers in those two units might been neighbors back home-or kinfolk. Very sad.

When driving along 61, going through Clarksdale and Tunica, perhaps you'd want some blues on the radio.

-The Great River Road

The Great River Road is actually a series of roads from New Orleans to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, following both shores of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is sort of two rivers. Below Cairo, Illinois, the river meanders through a flat alluvial plain in a long series of oxbows and bends-a challenge for navigators and helmsmen and pilots on riverboats since Mr. Clemens was plying the trade 150 or so years ago, visiting places like Natchez, Memphis, and New Orleans.

The Upper Mississippi plies a straighter course between bluffs and palisades, reminding many tourists of the Rhine and Hudson river valleys. There are a lot of little towns along the course of the river, and some fantastic vistas. Personally, I prefer the Upper River-but then, I might be a bit prejudiced!

When cruising along the Great River Road, maybe you'd find this song to your liking.

Interstate 86-The Southern Tier of New York

When most people think of New York, they think of the Big Apple. It might surprise some people that much of New York State is quite rural, full of quaint small towns, wooded river valleys, and nestled among the Allegheny Mountains, the northernmost range of the Appalachian chain. I had the opportunity a few years back to travel through the Southern Tier-those counties just north of the NY/Pennsylvania border. There are places along I-86 that look little changed since the first settlers pushed through, oh, back in the late 1600s/early 1700s. This part of New York has a lot of farming and is quite non-cosmopolitan. But I'd like to go back sometime and stop in a few places along the way.

And a couple of highways I'd like to drive before I die:

-The Pacific Coast Highway

California Route 1 follows the Pacific shoreline from Los Angeles to San Francisco and points north. It looks like there are spectacular ocean views along the route. And it takes a traveler out of Los Angeles. Win.

-US 50: America's Loneliest Road, Nevada

US 50 cuts through the wide, sparsely populated, desolate part of Nevada. While not as remote as Australia's Stuart Highway, travelers would do well make sure their car is in good order and they're equipped for emergencies, because it looks like facilities are few and far between. One half-expects to see a roadrunner being chased by a coyote (complete with high-tech gear from Acme!) running along 50. Give me a old early '70s Challenger and this stretch of highway to put it through its paces!

A few of our highways and byways. Got a favorite or 'must-do' route on your list? Sound off!

yankeedog out.