Monday, December 20, 2010
What is funny is how you can actually track the odds of acceptance of getting rid of DADT by age groups. My Dad? Very much against it, even though it has zero affect on his life. He seems concerned about fraternization as though this is a bigger issue with gays than hetero's. It isn't. If they have an inappropriate relationship in the field it doesn't matter whether it is the same or different sex, it is still fraternization, and will be dealt with accordingly (hell, its better since it decreases the chance of the female soldiers "accidentally" getting pregnant, having to be sent home and then everyone else having to cover down on their job).
I already work in a mixed unit, where ~15% of my unit is female. 40 years ago the concept that so many of the combat support units, which are often in the line of fire (Signal units, Military Intelligence, Military Police) would be so composed of females was considered odd. Times change. I bet you 40 years from now the fact that so many gays had to hide that fact will probably sound a bit odd too...
Monday, December 06, 2010
In the end this was all about making a symbolic easy decision that will get lots of play while the country's leadership uses it as cover to avoid making the really hard decisions. Let's face it, Federal employees are great targets, in the grand scheme pounding on us will have virtually no political downside for the President or anyone who votes for it (does anyone really think that the vastly liberal government workforce is suddenly going to vote Republican?). And for the rest of the country we are one big stereotype of being overpaid and under-worked that, other than the military and a few other organizations, gets little love from either side of the aisle. I would be more accepting if this was part of a bigger plan to actually balance the budget.... Instead we are the sacrificial virgin who gets thrown in the volcano to show that the chief is trying to do something about the problem.
This solution is predicted to save 2 Billion dollars in FY11, 28 Billion over five years and maybe 60 Billion over the next 10 years. Sounds massive and impressive right? But what else are they really going to do? The federal deficit for FY09 was 1.42 Trillion dollars (1420 Billion....). The total federal debt? 13.856 Trillion dollars. So this move saved 0.15% of the current deficit (at best 0.45% if the end of ~ 6 Billion per year is realized). This isn't even what you can call a good start toward solving this problem that threatens every single American and our way of life.
Ask me how this feels when I see a plan that actually proposes to solve this crisis (and kills the crushing debt that looms over us). Until then all I can say is that the lava really hurts (though in the grand scheme this doesn't hurt me too much personally) and that the volcano is not satisfied with its latest sacrifice.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
So, you like to walk. Good. I and most of the other people who run respect you for that. You have chosen to walk a distance longer than most Americans walk in a week and that is awesome. You could be the biggest person around but there will be no mean words or glances at you because you are trying to better yourself. Everyone has to start somewhere and it is awesome you are trying. This event has been something that you have probably planned to attend and *gasp* maybe even trained for quite some time. Really, that is awesome!
I know that some races are better than others in figuring out where to start. A lot of the bigger ones use corrals, where you look at the numbers and start in the area based on your start time. And even for the ones that don't? Do you need to start in front? No. Because if you do? All you have to do is turn around and look at all those people behind you. Those people that will have dodge around you during the first mile or so. I know that it is exciting to be up in front and see the empty road ahead and actually see the people who start the race. Its an exciting thing.
But.... I want you to take a look around you. Look at the runners who are way up in front there. They look pretty fit, don't they? And even those people behind you... They look might fit as well. Heck, as far back as you can see? They probably are all able to run far faster and longer than you can right now.
Remember how I said that I respected you? Felt pretty good, right? Want to know how you destroyed that respect in an instant? Yeah.... You guessed it. You started in the wrong place. I and a whole bunch of other runners now have to dodge your clueless ass during the first mile as things. Are we thinking nice things about you as you mosey along, often 2 or 3 abreast, forcing us to dodge and weave as we start that initial shake out? Nope. All that respect you earned by trying to better yourself is killed by the fact that you are not respecting the rules of our tribe. Because a good runner (and walkers, since there are a bunch of your people way in the back of the pack) looks around, gets in the right corral (if they are there) or just gauges the crowd and picks a fairly reasonable starting place (after a decade of running I can pick really well... I often end with the same crowd that picked at the start) based on his/her ability and the people around them.
This problem really does shake out after the first mile or so, but it really is annoying and leaves me in a less than happy mood. My brothers and I often estimate that we run at least .1-.2 miles extra at the start dodging your ass. And, yes, I probably am in fact growling/muttering at you as I run around you. And most definitely I am picking on you as there are more than a fair share of runners who deliberately choose to start at the wrong place, but.... they have to dodge you as well, which further complicates my brothers and my runs.
So please stop and engage that all too often turned off feature (at least in modern day society), show some courtesy to the people around you. Start in the right place and you will make a lot of runners out there a lot happier.
Monday, October 18, 2010
- Obstacle 1: The concrete beam - not even a challenge. The Big tire - oomph. First try had me "wiley e. coyote"-ing down the side. After stepping back and figuring out I slammed myself up and then crawled over (losing one of my pins holding my number on). The little tires - not even an issue.
- Obstacle 2 - jersey barriers to go over, police barriers to crawl under. This was an apparently endless set of 3 of each. It was quite an endurance exercise, since you had already run 4+ miles at that point. I cut my finger at this point.
- Obstacle 3 - Crawl over cars - aborted because it was unsafe per race officials. Marine High Hurdles - whoah... There we 6 of these. I think everyone knew I was going over them (based on my war cries). A very ouchy process of hurling yourself at the target and hauling yourself over. Very proud I did these right.
- Obstacle 4 - Some sort of high/bear crawl under net - too easy for a guy who has done military low crawls for 1-200 meters. Monkey bars - Short and quick. Only holdup was some chick who froze on the last bar in front of me.
And then my left hamstring locked on me and I lurched .5 mile, stopped to pee and then moved onward.
- Obstacle 5 - Lots of stairs. Lots!!! Another holdup due to poor traffic control and obsticle management. lots of standing around in crowds moving very slowly.
- Obstacle 6 - The final obstacle. Car - Half stomped over one. Then tried to be all police show-y and slide across the next, failed and got stuck, so more clomping. Bus - Climb over net then back down. *Yawn* to anyone who has been in the military (and by that I mean Army and Marine). Wall - I did fail on the first attempt and was not too proud to accept a hand from a neighbor to get over.
I wore my Vibram Five Fingers for the race. There were about 20 people also wearing them (apparently our secret club acknowledgement is to say "nice shoes" to someone else wearing them. I learned this by the repeated call of that from the people who passed me). My feet are somewhat beat up even on Monday but in more of a just overstretched/tight perspective.
This was the first race that I have ever personally traveled for (since DC has so many great races nearby). Not sure I will do this again in the near future, but it was a lot of fun and a great way to hang with the family (3 of my 4 brothers ran it (see above pic) and the respective wives and GF's (including my GF H) came in addition to our parents.). We ate our way across the city (pizza and other assorted foods) in celebration.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
I blame Twitter and Facebook. Those sites make it so easy to post little vignettes that it seems to disturb writing in a larger terms.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Wow, I think I am in diabetic shock. My Girlfriend (above), who I often refer to as CupCake Girl, decided that she really wanted to attend this event. She even signed me up and we both got to attend.
Friday, September 17, 2010
It was a SPENDEX scenario (expend the ammo exercise) which is part of the joy/quirk of the Army procurement/logistics system where you get penalized if you do not expend all the ammo they gave you), and on top of that I had promised the firefighters (who we had to call in twice already that evening) that if they just hung around for a bit I would ensure we wouldn't have to call them again. So out went most everyone onto the range, 12 firing positions for rifles and 2 for the grenade launched flares. I kind of wish I had pictures but I couldn't resist the temptation of shooting off 150 rounds of ammo, mostly tracer (my true hint that my people like me? There was never any doubt that they put away ammo because they know I love to shoot). It was awesome, people went into burst fire, flares were drifting (at one point we had some 8-9 flares in the air at the same time... I may have shot at them, and everyone knew because I had the tracers).
I would have never guessed 9 years from the those tragic events (where I felt helpless in my parents house watching those terrible events) that I would be out here, wearing our country's uniform with 1LT rank running a range, helping to train some people who, in a scant few months will be on their way to Afganistan.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
My main regret is that I didn't lose control of my stomach on the aptly named "Hurler" but on the more pedestrian named "Anaconda." (that would have made the story far cooler....)
Through some combination of breakfast, snack and soda, combined with the intensely hot and humid weather I created a virtual storm that set me up for my momentary loss. It didn't help that the park was virtually deserted. There were basically no lines, the only inhibiting factor was however long it would take you to walk around and re-board the coaster. This also was probably a factor in my loss. In short order we were able to walk up to The Dominator (very cool new coaster with lots of loops), the Intimidator 305 (305 foot drop, 85% downward angle and a top speed of 92mph. I think I saw my vision greying at the bottom) which we rode twice, then the classic indoors ride Flight of Fear. At that point I needed a short break (as I was profusely sweating, which should have presaged what happened) before pressing on to the Anaconda.
Which was a mistake, as about halfway through I knew I needed this ride to be over as soon as possible. Perhaps one of the worst waits I have had in a while was sitting waiting to head into the loading area, desperately thinking and hoping that I could hold it in (the best hint to my brother was that I had turned monosyllabic, answering most questions statements with a simple yes or now). Finally the train rolled into the station, I bolted (as fast as my then rubber legs could take me) to a point where I vomit off the edge. And then after barfing twice I felt so good it was beyond description. Some soda, a little bit of walking and I felt a million times better.
Throughout the rest of the day I avoided coasters (just hanging around and looking at the crowds). My brother did hit all the other major coasters (The wooden ones, Rebel Yell, Grizzly and Hurler as well as the Shockwave) and together we also hit the water park for a couple of fun rides (Tornado is by far my favorite. The big funnel is just plain fun to be deposited into).).
We finished things off at the park with one final coaster, the singularly awesome Volcano. I think it took more time to walk to the loading area than it took to ride the ride, but it is such a blast of a ride that it was hard to resist, though I did sit out my brothers second trip on that ride and the Dominator.
All in all a great day (even with the vomit interlude). There is something cool about being at an amusement park and having the run of the land, not having to wait for anything.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
But I think if I had been around I would have stopped by (good incentive to go for a walk and see some entertaining people). I kind of like Glenn Beck (and now that any liberal has stopped reading this let me continue).
He is entertaining. And likable. Does he go off on rant's that feel like they should be accompanied by full rolls of aluminum foil? Hell yes.... But.... He also doesn't tell people to simply take his word for things, he tells his viewers and listeners to go off and do their own research. This is a really great message that you do not see from a lot of talking heads, and ironically borrows from the classic Hippie theme of questioning the man. Are there people that simply take him at his word (and probably misinterpret it?)? Of course. You find those people in pretty much every movement/following that you find (look how many drank the Obama kool-aid in 2008).
Oh well, onward and upward to November. Maybe we will even finally be able at to "Retire Moran" here in NoVa.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Overall? A great ride. Not awesome like the first (since the first was so novel that I, as well as many gamers were fascinated by it). They did add some things to the system, notable multi-user play, but for me this was a one man (or Big Daddy) adventure. I finished the game after about 20 hours of gameplay. I did it the nice way, by not "harvesting" the Little Sisters (comes back to my morality, I have a hard time tolerating, even in gameplay, the killing of little girls, even if the Little Sisters are some of the most creepy girls you will ever encounter).
Mainly? It felt like more of the same. The only real differences were the fact that you played as the Big Daddy (which meant you started out with the honking huge drill on your arm), the very novel bit where you got to play as a Little Sister (the whole world is clouded and unreal. I did like how they play off the Angel thing was pretty cool), and the novel new opponent of the Big Sisters.
Did I enjoy my return to Rapture? Yes, as evidenced by the some 20 hours of gameplay I devoted to this game. Was it as good as the original? Probably, but somewhat less novel, so in the end the original probably comes out ahead.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Fast forward to today. Some of the most interesting show no longer follow the network's traditional format. The networks themselves continue to put out shows (though they are often fairly weak shows, burn-offs of failed shows or (occasionally) novel shows like Wipeout) but almost all of the excitement is on the Cable side of the house.
SyFy (shudder, how I hate that name) and USA are the main powerhouses. Though AMC and others are nipping at the heels of those networks. I seriously love the SyFy shows. Eureka and Warehouse 13 are just plain fun. I personally think that WH13 is probably one of the best shows I have seen, the show has a huge backstory and overarching storyline, but they really do a good job at making most of the episodes something that anyone can jump into. I am also looking forward to discovering more about Haven. I tried to jump into Sanctuary but it just isn't clicking.... I have all the shows stored up and at a truly bored moment I will give it another shot.
USA continues to deliver with a really good shows like Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and Pysch. I plan to give Royal Pains a try and I am definitely interested to give Covert Affairs a try as well.
Then you add in all the other shows, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Entourage?
Kids today will never quite get it why they have it so good.....
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
Hopefully I will have some time to post on something interesting, assuming that I am not too busy.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
I proudly serve in the Army National Guard. I joined over 5 years ago, commissioned 3 years ago, and have never been deployed. The left side of my chest has only 3 items on (that is where citations are on Army uniforms) and I only wear one badge, all of which I have earned. I can think of nothing more disrespectful to both myself and to my fellow Soldiers than to wear anything on my uniform that I did not earn and was entitled to. To do anything less is a stain on your honor.
I actually have more tolerance of people who have never served claiming honors, rank and experience that is not due to them. They do not know better. They do not know the sacrifice of time, blood and, in some cases, life that are the price people wearing the uniform pay. It pains me enormously when it is someone who has in fact served and claims any experience or honors that are not their own.
So AG Blumenthal strikes me as the lowest form of scum, who took something that he should be proud of, his military service (even with his deferments he did in fact serve) of this country at a time where it was not a popular thing. (I talk with my Dad on occasion of his service, and of his time when he was in NYC working for the Navy, where the sailors had to keep their uniforms at work for pure force protection purposes.) This was something he should have been proud of, a bond into a brotherhood of military men, a body of men and women who do in fact stand above those who have not served.
But that was all shattered with his claims of serving in Vietnam. It is ironic that now that it is socially palatable to be a Vietnam Vet, people who have not served there find it acceptable to steal some of that shine for themselves.
I must be somewhat old fashioned in that I expect leaders to be striving for the ideal and be held to greater standard than the rest of us. I truly hope that the people of Connecticut hold their own leadership to that standard, by repudiating and not electing this "man" who stole valor from his military brothers.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Overall this was a pretty great race, relatively flat, attractive view and of course my GF, H, was there to cheer me on. My only issues were that this course is not the most accessible supporters and that they really could have used another couple of porta-potties.
Final time? 2:24. Basically 11:00/mi. And that included a 2-3 minute visit to one of those scarce porta-potties on the second loop.
Not my personal best, for 2 factors. One was that I made a critical fail and went one scone too far in my pre-race breakfast/snack. Normally I do some toast and tea, but today was tea and scones (3 large ones). And I paid for that indulgence for 3/4 of the race, where I did not make my best time since I had to stop more frequently to prevent myself from vomiting. Additionally this race I was about the heaviest I have been in for quite a while and I could feel that as well.
Now off to celebrate Mothers Day with my Mom!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
And every day that it happens the same thought runs through my head....
"Holy crap, that guy sucks at his job. He is doing the sort of job I would expect myself to do, and I am a introverted computer guy."
followed almost immediately by....
"Whatever piece of blackmail he has on Obama must be fricking impressive for him to keep his job (and this is on a President who admitted to doing marijuana and coke)."
Defense Grid is another "tower defense" games, where you earn credits by killing the bad guys which allows you to build or upgrade more towers. The best of breed of these tower defense games has to be Toy Soldiers, but this one comes in a close second. DG throws in the kicker of periodically allowing you to you use a GDI Laser (or whatever you want to call it, basically a evil laser from the sky that requires time to recharge). Sounds simple, right?
About a dozen hours of gaming later I can assure it is not. I think I went to bed dreaming of this stuff until I got it right. Overall? 4/5 stars. Definitely a good way to spend some time.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Being the frugal individual that I am, and finding that I have to spend yet another night down in Hampton, VA for Army duty (I am not a morning person... yes, I know.. Some would think that to be a job requirement for the Army) as I often drive down at night and get a good nights sleep. And just for grins I look and see if I can get a better hotel than what I can see price-wise at Hotels.com. So off to Priceline. And lo and behold, I get a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hampton (Coliseum) for the same price as La Quinta or Days Inn.
After driving down on Friday to avoid the traffic I get in at ~2315. I am dog tired from a long week of work as well as getting some work done for my graduate classes, I just wanted to sleep. Check in, get my card and head to my room. I open the door enough to see the bathroom open with someones stuff and a query of who was there. Stormed back to the front desk, informed them that the room was unoccupied. After a little time a new key was issued, and off I went again.
Naively I assumed that there was no way that this could happen twice. I have spent hundreds of days in hotels in my life and this was the first time this had ever happened. But as you can see, I was proven wrong.... Door number 2 opened up to a young woman at the far side of the room, apparently getting ready for bed (dressed in sleeping clothes, not naked). I immediately started cursing, slammed the door and tromped back to the Front Desk. Key number 3 didn't work on the door and there was room service items outside the door, so I aborted back to the front desk yet again. My irritation was at a peak.
Finally I was escorted by a manager (who had been called in as I was not the only person playing the mystery door game) who, ironically, was the mom of the girl I walked in on. Who validated that the room was, in fact, empty. And of course? The TV didn't work. 45 minutes after I first checked in I finally had a room that I immediately passed out in (after setting the lock and the door stop).
I only now have the time to deal with this... Though I am disappointed that at no time since then did Hilton contact me....
Monday, April 05, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wow, did this race not look good when I woke up this morning.... It was POURING and didn't let up until around 3-4 minutes before the race start. But the secret that people who don't know? That as long as you dress right (little things like hats make life tolerable) and plan for temperature, you will be fine and not even notice it as you are running.
Friday, March 12, 2010
The off to a Black Tie Oscar Party at the St. Regis. And I started 2 new graduate courses in stuff that I know nothing about. Oh yeah, its been some frightfully busy times. And now I have to go off to an 8 day field exercise for the Army...
Sunday, February 07, 2010
- Mass Effect 2 - When I leave this game? I feel the urge to turn it on again and ignore real life. Really, games are getting so good nowadays they create borderline addiction (I guess there are far worse things to have an mild addiction to.... Drugs, alcohol, etc)
- Borderlands - Same as ME2 above... I addicted my roommate to it.. He has lost several afternoons to someone who I have only seen pick up the controller 4 times in the past 1.5 years.
- Life Unexpected - I knew I would like this. And damn if I didn't.... I am afraid that my like will doom it like so many other cool shows...
- Lost - So addicted. Can't wait until the next episode!
- Chuck - They say it is an all new Chuck. But I think it is only slightly different (and that is a good thing)
- Amazing Race (yes, one more week..... can't wait. Best reality show ever!)
- Up - It's cute. Bittersweet but an uplifting story.
- Angels & Demons - Meh... it was ok.
Monday, February 01, 2010
And then the authors get involved....
Now I get it, the traditional contract for authors is based on gross sales (yes, I know it is more complicated than that). But ebooks simply cost a lot less to produce and distribute.
Of course I find myself torn to be on the side of a retailor that is incorporating DRM into everything they sell (ebook-wise.... oddly I choose Amazon for MP3's since those are not DRM'd). But really? $15 for an ebook? That I cannot lend to a friend, prop in my bookcase, resell or even technically own (and what if the retailer goes away? DRM pisses me off). I like the authors and I kind of sympathize with them, but there is a world of distance between and ebook (now, DRM'd and all) and a physical book.
Now I feel the urge to go buy some non-DRM'd books. Thank god Baen (my favorite SF publisher) sells them direct to me at a really reasonable price.
Full disclosure? I own a Kindle 2 and if I ever do by an iPad, it will not be a first gen one....
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
Overall? Very pretty movie. I saw it in 3D (really no other option) and was really impressed with the effects and the animation. The 3D leant to the realism and helped immerse you in the movie.
If it wasn't so damn ham-handed in the politics I might have even given it 5 stars (out of 5). But...
Let's start with the Na'vi. I will leave out some of the complaints from the SF realm about our inability to create truly alien aliens, that's just hard to do. But overall it's like they rolled up all the "noble savage" bits and pieces put together from Indian and African belief systems and made them blue. Couldn't be more contrived to draw the sympathy's of the audience if they tried...
But my true ire? The one character that is supposed to be portraid as the noble warrior who rose above his class? The one that I left the movie with an intense desire to kill or see die in the movie? Jake Sully (the other human race traitors as well, but he is the main orchestrator). Oh, words cannot describe the ire I feel at this character who betrays humanity (in the end basically telling them to leave, go home and die). The whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth, too see a human choose to side with aliens to kill other humans. Were the humans the best people in the world? No. But it appears from the commentary at the end that the Unobtainium was necessary for the continuation of the human race (they never it clear what Unobtainium provides, but the ending implies that humanity is being kicked off the planet to the death of Earth... They just imply that it is corporate greed (forgetting that often these corporations are providing key and important services)). Would I bulldoze over a tree to protect humanity (even if it was full of these idealized creatures)? In a heartbeat....