Friday, September 28, 2007

The Family Vacation

The Family Vacation... What memories! What togetherness! What fun?

Even now, I can see your eyes going out of focus as you look into the mists of your own memories. Memories of vacations past, where you were tortured beyond belief by long boring rides in your parent's car, or by your own children's predilection for projectile vomiting.

OK, that's enough remembering.

The family vacation is something that I didn't have as a kid, so all of my memories of the family road-trip have been created by the adult me (and Mrs Gunfighter, of course).

It has been our great good fortune to have had incredibly fun family vacations, and today, I am going to share our secret for vacation success.

For us, going on vacation means alot. Going on vacation means changing our location... going some place that we enjoy, and spending some concentrated family time. Some time away from our jobs, our work in the church, Scouting, coaching and attending soccer games, commuting, occasional travel for work, local politics, volunteering on County committees, and on and on. We are a busy family, but we love to be together, and while we enjoy our time together as a family unit, that can be in short supply at times.

Clan Gunfighter is made up of creatures of habit. On vacation, we like to do most of the things we do at home... eating home-cooked meals, watching our usual television shows, and spending time together. Whether we do this in Williamsburg, Virginia, where we spend spring breaks, or in Orlando, Florida, where we go in the summer, we enjoy the "home away from home" experience. Because we like to do "home away from home", we became owners in the Hilton Grand Vacation Club a few years ago, so when we go on vacation, we are in a beautiful, large apartment unit, with all of the amenities, as well as a full kitchen and laundry machines.

So: The secret. I suppose I should make that plural, because our secret has multiple parts... the first part being this: The journey is part of the vacation, too. For us, the drive is every bit as much a part of the fun as going to Disney World. Because we tend to take a lot of things with us, like Soccergirl's stuffed "friends", we normally will rent a minivan for the trip. Oh go ahead, scoff if you like.

Decorating the Minivan the night before departure has become a ritual. We use window chalk that we get in the automotive section at the local Wal-Mart.

Everyone in the family is listed (and has their picture drawn on the window)

(The creature that you see there is one of my own renditions of our late, lamented greyhounds: Duncan and Zoom.

Once we have the van decorated and packed, and all of the sundry electronics (phone chargers, XM radio, iPod, DVD player, etc... ) installed. It's time to go!

We head out listening to our traditional music: 500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be), by the Proclaimers. During the ride, Mrs GF and I get lots of time to talk while Soccergirl watches a movie or reads, which is quite nice.

We always make good mileage, but we are never in such a hurry that it is a problem if someone needs to make a restroom stop, before the next "scheduled" stop.

When we arrive at our destination, we unload the van and set up our "new home" and proceed to enjoy each other's company. One central theme of our vacations is that, more often than not, I will cook our evening meals. We do this, not as a money saver, but because we want to enjoy a meal in a home-like environment.

Having arrived, it is time to tell you the next part of our secret, and here it is: Only do what you WANT to do on vacation. I know that Disney World is an expensive vacation... it is the main focus of all of my overtime efforts, but we resist the need to "do everything" while we are there. I can't tell you how many times that we have seen families in complete misery because mom or dad is so determined to do it all, that no one in the family is having any fun. So, we get up late, we swim, we take our time about getting to the theme parks, and we R-E-L-A-X. So what if we planned on going to the Magic Kingdom in the morning and Epcot in the evening, and only made it the Magic Kingdom? Who cares? Don't want to ride the big rollercoater everyone is talking about? Don't! Vacations are supposed to be fun, so we never worry about what we are "supposed" to be doing... we just do what we want. In our normal lives, we spend so much time regulated by the clock, we really have a good time when we only have make sure that we get a certain little girl into bed at a reasonable hour.

The next part of the secret is the most important part, and that is: Have a high threshold for failure. While you are on vacation, don't make any one thing so central to your success, that if idoesn't happen the way you want it, your whole trip is ruined. We have seen people who, while on vacation, must do everything... and not just do everything, but do it in a certain order, and get a certain feeling from having done it, and scheduled every last thing that they are going to do, down to the minute, that if it doesn't happen perfectly, their vacation is ruined. God knows that living within boundaries like that is difficult enough in our day to day lives, imagine trying that while factoring in the vagaries of the weather in Central Florida!

Here is an example of doing it right:

In 2001, the 9/11 attacks took place on our last workday before our vacation. My boss released me from duty early that day, because the chief was about to cancel all leave... Mrs GF and I determined that we should still go on vacation as sort of a metaphorical middle finger to those who think that they can keep Americans down.

We drove to Orlando, and arrived there the same day that tropical storm Danielle made HER appearance. No big deal right? It's only water. Well, we did our best and continued our fun in the (almost) completely deserted parks, enjoying the fact that Soccergirl could ride the Winnie The Pooh ride, Dumbo, and The Carousel as many times as she wanted, with no waiting in line.

We were having a good time until a few days into the vacation. One day, we were in Gooding's grocery store and Soccergirl abruptly puked all over the floor. The staff, knowing how vacationing tummies can be (especially since they were directly across the street from Disney property,), took it in stride. We didn't think much of it until later when she puked again. Hm. The next day, she rallied and we thought we were out of the woods, when we were about to get on The Pooh ride, and she erupted, like Mount Vesuvius all over the front of Mrs GF's shirt. Soccergirl started to cry, Mrs GF was COVERED in vomit, and I was starting to freak out. We all went to the child care center, where Mrs GF change SG's clothes, while I went to one of the shops and bought my poor wife a new Minnie Mouse t-shirt (which she has to this day)

My poor child was sick. We went to the emergency room of a local hospital, and were seen by the nice nurses and doctors, who administered some medication and gave SG some Popsicles (a fun way to re-hydrate). We missed a few days in the parks, but no real harm was done. Once SG was back on her feet, we continued with out family fun, none to worse for the wear. We even stayed an extra day.

We still count that vacation as our benchmark. If you can go through a major terrorist attack, shrug off the forces of nature, and deal with a sick child all in the same vacation, and still have fun, that's when you know that you're doing it right. Any one of those things could have ruined our trip, but we refused to let it.

There you have it... Clan Gunfighter's secrets for the perfect vacation.

NOTE: A couple of years later, we were there for Hurricane Charlie... I'll tell you about that one at a later date.


Today's post for the Parent Blogger Network Family Vacation blogblast, was sponsored by the fine folks at PickPackGo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

45 Minutes At Border's

Last night was Soccergirl’s Brownie Scout meeting. Nothing unusual in that, other that a slight change of routine. After her dinner of leftover Spaghetti, we headed to the designated meeting place, where the ever efficient troop leader said hello, and “check your email. I sent you something this afternoon”. With that, I was dismissed from the world of women and girls. I would have ninety whole minutes to myself!


I decided to go over to the café at our local Border's book store and read... and people watch. I toke notes, of course, because, hey!... I'm a blogger, and I’m weird like that.

Upon arrival at Border’s, I took a quick spin through the Science Fiction section to see if there was anything new on the shelves since Saturday. There wasn’t, so I proceeded straight to the café with my book. I made camp at one of the tables in the recently renovated seating area, and took stock of the people sitting in my immediate area: There were two guys playing chess, who were taking it awfully seriously (they had a clock and everything). These guys didn’t look like they date much, but what do I know? There was a guy in his mid-thirties who was with a young girl of about 4; they were looking at a children’s magazine together. There were a couple of uncouth young men who didn’t have the decency to take off their hats indoors (which really bugs me), one of who was reading a sports magazine, while the other was reading PC Utilities magazine. There was a man in his 40’s who was reading a fishing magazine… and taking copious notes from it. There was a woman in her mid-thirties who was copying recipes from several cookbooks.

NOTE: Does anyone else think that this is a poor practice? It irritates me when people treat bookstores like libraries, taking books from the shelves, using them for homework, or research, with absolutely no intention of buying anything. Worse, these thrice-damned clods don’t even have the grace to put the books back on the shelves.

Anyway, there is a young woman, of about 21 years, sitting at the table directly in front of me, who is eating a huge burrito. The burrito is so large, the young woman is sort of planting it on the table, holding it with both hands, and instead of picking it up, she is bringing her face to burrito-level to take bites from it. She also has a tattoo in the small of her back, which her ill-fitting shirt doesn’t cover. She pulled her shirt down at least six times in the last 15 minutes. Take note, sweetheart: If you don’t want to bare your midriff, wear clothes that fit!

There are two people sitting behind me who have met here in order for the man to talk to the woman about her resume. He is some sort of resume wizard and she is an educated woman whose English isn’t as good as it might be, and he is helping her with her job search and CV.

Other patrons of the café include a couple of people hunched over their laptops and talking earnestly into their cell phones.

An aside, I realize that the purpose of the chairs here in the café is the comfort of the patrons, but I really don’t think that the people who came up with the whole comfort scheme meant that the earnest young fellow reading the computer magazine should have his bare feet tucked under him in the chair.

OK, the young woman with the burrito called it quits after eating only half of it. A good thing, too, because her boyfriend/study partner has arrived and gotten his lap top all set up for something. Not that this matters, because since his arrival, the young woman has received a steady stream of visitors, including one woman who I think was her mother… all while the guy sat there, ignored.

One thing is certain; the Border’s café is a fun place to watch people… even if it is a bit too noisy for my tastes.

At the appointed time, I took my book and headed for the exit. I had 15 minutes to get back and pick up Soccergirl. It was a beautiful night, and I drove with the windows down, listening to the radio. I got to the school just as the meeting ended.

Soccergirl said that she had a great time. I'm glad she did. I did, too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Rant, If I may

I'm going to say something unpopular today, and as much as I am loathe to give offense, some of what I say may offend some of you. Hold on tight.

Here is the thing: I'm getting a little tired of all the, what I call "veteran worship" going on these days. Although I think that our veterans are worthy of respect simply because in a society where fewer and fewer people are willing to serve their country in uniform, credit belongs to those "in the arena".

Our veterans are (mostly) good people who have given our country the benefit of their service, usually deriving no small benefit of their own from their military/naval experience. Indeed, where I work, you'll find that 80 percent of the men are veterans.

Our veterans have served their country in war, peace, "police actions", counter insurgencies, and wars that have no names. Our veterans have done things most Americans will never have to do... or even imagine having to do.

I come from a family of military men. My dad was a career soldier, as was my brother. My father-in-law is a navy veteran of combat in the pacific during World war Two.

I am proud to be a veteran, and proud of my fellow veterans.

What I am NOT proud of is listening to a bunch of @*#&%$* politicians simpering out how American soldiers are serving in Iraq to protect our freedoms, etc...

Our military men and women are being done a disservice by our country. While they are serving our country and fighting a war at the command of our government, this should not be misconstrued as fighting to protect my freedom... or yours. They have been ill-used by rascals and scoundrels of both major parties, for political reasons, and I am disgusted by it.

Most of my male friends are veterans. Soccergirl's Godparents are vetereans. I have friends that have served in Beirut, Lebanon, the first Gulf War, the Invasion of Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and fought Philippine rebels in the jungles (didn't hear about that one, did you?... well, none of them were to wear the Purple Heart medal for their combat wounds). Some of those friends are terribly embittered. Not because our country didn't fall over itself, kissing their asses when they got home, but because they realize that their efforts were frequently for nothing.... because they were ill-used by their government.

Oh sure... the rhetoric can be downright heart-breaking, with bumper stickers like: "If you value freedom, thank a vet" which is nice, but unless you are thanking a veteran of world war two, you are probably wasting your time. Our soldiers haven't fought to physically defend America since then.

Anyway... our veterans deserve better. Our active duty servicemen and women deserve better. They deserve better than being the wounded, maimed, fucked-up, political ponies that our politicians are making out of them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It Was The Best of Times...

...It was the worst of times.

It was a time of joy, it was a time of sorrow. It was a time of sheer magnificence, it was a time of lazy indifference. It was a time of pride, and a time of disappointment.

It was a weekend of youth soccer in Suburbia.

On Saturday, soccergirls team (which I coach), The Dynamite, played a beautiful, and joyful hour of soccer, in which they defeated their opponents in a decisive 8 to 3 victory. Soccergirl had 3 goals, and she, as well as all of her teammates played with skill and verve and determination. They worked hard, and pulled together. They played as a team, they talked to each other, they passed the ball around, the took hard driving shots at the goal.

They were fearless. They were fierce.

As a coach, I was proud of their hard work, and quite pleased with the results. As a parent, I was near bursting with pride, watching my child play so well.

Saturday was a good day for the family.

Today, I was reminded of the 18th verse of the 16th chapter of Proverbs that says: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." What I mean by that scriptural reference is that I felt so good about how well we did yesterday, that I was unprepared for the ass-whooping we took today. We lost 3-0. Sure, the other team had to work for it, but to say that my girls played like CRAP wouldn't be an understatement.

They were bloody awful.

They were contact averse, they were taking their time on the field, they were kicking the ball in the WRONG DIRECTION. In short, they did everything the opposite of the way they did it the day before.

It was truly painful to watch. My goalies did a fine job. They worked hard and stopped lots of shots... unfortunately, there were just too many shots on goal allowed by the rest of the girls.

They ain't gonna be happy at practice Thursday, believe me.

Coach Gunfighter ain't havin' ANY of this crap next week!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

USMC Silent Drill Platoon

Reader Soccer Mom In Denial asked me who these guys were... so I thought I would share.

The Silent Drill platoon is an infantry platoon that is part of the battalion that makes up the bulk of the Marines at Marine Barracks, Washington, DC. For the most part, all of the troops are ceremonial. There are two companies of infantry that comprise the "marching battalion", as well as The Drum & Bugle Corps, The Marine Band, Headquarters & Service Company, etc...

During the spring and summer, the battalion puts on two parades per week, in addition to any other ceremonies (eg, White House stuff or funerals at Arlington National Cemetery). These parades are the Sunset parade, held on Tuesday evenings at the Marine Memorial in Arlington and the Evening Parade, held Friday evenings on the quadrangle of the main barracks area.

The video below, is from a performance during a summertime Evening Parade.


Oh, the area where the Marines are marching is only about 20 yards from the sign you saw on the earlier post, that says "Marine Barracks".

Remembrance of Things Past

I had planned to start this series a few weeks ago, but life had other plans. So here we are.

This series of posts will be about places that have either meant a lot to me, or I have at least found interesting enough to tell a story about during my now-twenty one years in the Washington, DC area.

I have been here since May of 1986, when I was assigned to the Marine Barracks located at 8th & I streets, Southeast, in Washington, DC. The Day I arrived in DC was an important one, as it has shaped the rest of my life.

After being assigned to DC and learning to love the place, I put down roots here and decided to stay here after my second enlistment was up (I had plan to make a career of the Marine Corps, but coming to DC spoiled me).

After the end of my first marriage, I lived in a few different places until I ended up here, on A street, southeast. I lived in a rather small apartment in this building, but my memories of this time are very happy, on the whole. While I lived here... I call it my time in the wilderness, I learned a little more about the grown-up me... I also learned to find joy in a spartan environment (no lie, my kitchen was smaller than the closet in our current walk-in closet.

Seen from the rear of the building, in this picture, my apartment was on the top floor on the corner. Yeah... pretty small, but since the building was under rent-control, I was only paying $600 a month! It was in a great neighborhood, that had an incredible amount of police protection (there were lots of members of Congress in the neighborhood).

You know what one of the other great things was about that apartment? It had really, really hot water, and incredible water pressure! Now, as a suburbanite who lives in an area where homes are being built, I have become used to less than thrilling water pressure, but after showering in my old apartment, your skin would actually tingle!

The other great thing about is something that I already mentioned. The neighborhood. The neighborhood was only 4 blocks from the main Library of Congress building, 5 blocks from the great Capitol Hill pubs that I used to haunt, like the Hawk n Dove, or Tunnicliff's Tavern and just 2 blocks from venerable, old Eastern Market.

Although I lived in this neighborhood during what could have been a real low point in my life, sorting through the train-wreck of my post-divorce life, I wasn't miserable. While living there my love for Washington, DC deepened. My love for urban living blossomed. I started to grow.

My apartment was a short walk from the Eastern Market Metro (subway) station, which I rode to and from work (and the gym, which was my main entertainment, since I was pretty much broke... but in great shape).

Eventually, things started to turn for me. I was promoted twice, and having a little more money allowed me to I start taking a bit more joy from my surroundings. Fastpitch and I would make day trips every other weekend, to the National Zoo, or the ride the carousel on the National Mall, or ride the metro out to Pentagon City mall.

The best thing that happened to me during this period, though, was that I met and successfully wooed, the person who would become Mrs Gunfighter.

I left that neighborhood when we got married, in 1994, and headed for the Virginia suburbs. In the intervening years, I went to work for a different agency and work in the Virginia 'burbs, I still have to go into the city from time to time, and when I do, I always drive through the old neighborhood.

It makes me happy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Surgical Diary (III)

I've seen the surgeon, this morning, and he has given me a clean bill of health! He removed my stitches, and is pleased with my recovery.

The part that you just read, took about 5-10 minutes of my appointment... we spent the next twenty minutes talking about rguby. Turns out that he is as rabid about it as I am.

Even better, as I was driving up to our house, the refrigerator delivery people were parking in front!

So, it is now 10:30, and the rest of my day is clear. I could go back to work... but I'm not!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Emmy Recap

Did you watch the Emmy Awards, Sunday night? No? Well, I did, so you didn't have to.

If you have been reading for awhile, you know that TV-wise, I love nothing so much as an award show... unless it is watching some skull-busting, hard-hitting rugby. So, last night, I got prepared, and settled in to watch the prime-time Emmy awards.

I'd like to state for the record that as much as I dislike Ryan Secrest, I give him credit for doing not only his radio show and American Idol, but this guy actually worked the Red Carpet for the pre-Emmy show. He might be an irritationg girly-man, but he gets full credit for the work ethic.

So Secrest starts the show right in time with some really stupid animated bit from some show I never watch... a little kid that talks like a sophisticated adult, and a talking dog. It was wasted on me.

The show is being presented in the round... it seems a little strange to me, but what the hell, right? It's television...

Secrest launches right into girly-man territory by talking fashion with Eva Longoria & Terry Hatcher... she of the phony relationship, and made-for-papparazzi kiss. They gush about designers in a weird way, before Secrest gets William Shatner in on the act. Mildly amusing, but let's move on.

Ryan introduces Ray Romano only four minutes into the show, as a presenter, but then Romano launches into some weird stand-up routine... 10 seconds of which is blanked out... dead air. It turns out he used the word "screw" while he was talking about his former costar, Patty Heaton's new show... geez.

So... stand-up routine finished they get to the first award at 8:11, with the award for Supporting actor in a comedy, which is won by Jeremy Piven, for Entourage. Good for him, but, to tell you the truth, I don't watch his show, nor do I watch the shows of the other nominees... so, whoopee!

Next, America Ferrera and Vanessa Williams present Best Supporting Actor in a drama. I care a bit more about this category, as William Shatner is nominated for his role of Denny Crane in Boston Legal... which is odd, because I never thought of that show as a drama... I mean, how could you? Anyway, Terry O'Quinn, from Lost gets the award. While O'Quinn gave his speech, the cameras cut to his wife at least three times... which worked well for me, because, while Terry O'Quinn might be a fine actor (and I wouldn't know since I have never seen Lost, his wife had spectacular rackage. Really! I need to throw in another aside here: America Ferrera looked great. I don't mean that in a "Oh-I-Loved-Her-Dress" kind of way. No, no. America was HOT!

Next up were Julia Louis Dreyfuss and Tina Fey presented Jamie Pressly with the Best Supporting Actress in a comedy for My Name Is Earl (Nope, I haven't seen that one, either... um, are you noticing a trend?)

By this time, things are moving quite well, it was 8:25, and things are moving right along. Kyle Chandler (whoever the hell he is) and Kathrine Heigl, presented the Best Supporting Actor in a movie or minisereis award to Thomas Hayden Church for Broken Trail... a western, which was apparently, really good. Nothing much to say here, except for the fact that the announcer mispronounced Heigl's name as "Hey-jel". Kathrine corrected the announcer ("actually, it's high-gull"), as soon as she got to the microphone.

Next was a commercial for Audi. Some crap trying to convince me that buying an Audi is smart because they are safe. NEWSFLASH: THERE ARE NO SAFE CARS. NONE.


Next, Ellen DeGeneres (whom I love) introduced a montage of political one-liners. Funny enough, but let's move on, shall we?

It's time for the Best Supporting Actress in a drama. Presenting the award to Kathrine Heigl (the chastened announcer pronounced it right, this time) are Eva Longoria and the cast of Entourage.

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jon Cryer present the Best Writing for a comedy to the Conan O'Brien Show, before Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett do an unlikely duet, singing "Steppin' Out" Now, you know me, folks: I'm not afraid to say something hurtful when I need to, and this is one of those times. You see, as much as I enjoy Tony Bennet's music, and I truly do, it is time for Mr Bennett to go away gracefully. He is 80 years old, and, God Bless him, he can't sing like he used to. No, I don't expect him to, since he is 80 years old... but some of last night's notes made it a little difficult for me to feel good about the performance. Take a bow, Tony, and bow out!

In a not very subtle segue, Tony Bennett, An American Classic won the next award (it was a big night for him). Alec Baldwin, wearing a white Dinner Jacket, presented the award for Best Director for a music or variety, to the assembled directors of Bennett's music special. Bennett's son made a speech, and when Tony started to ramble like a consufsed old man, they started the music and off they went.

Next up were Kiefer Sutherland and Ali Larter (who, like Debra Messing, is spectactularly flat-chested), with the award for Best Lead Actor in a miniseries or movie, which went to Robert Duvall, for Broken Trail. Duvall is one of my favorite actors, going all the way back to his great role as Colonel Kilgore, in Apocalypse Now, in 1979. Unfortunately, Mr. Duvall got a little long-winded while he talked about westerns and he got themusic, too. Bye Robert!

By now it is 10 minutes after 9, and I have to take another pause to fold laundry, while Ryan Secrest makes a Vanessa Hudgens joke.

Next, Queen Latifah introduces several members of the cast of the miniseries Roots, which is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this year. The cast will be presenting the award for Best Miniseries, but before they do, the cast members each speak briefly about what the show meant to them, or others... with the original music from the miniseries playing in the background. Louis Gossett, Jr. said that the whole experience of the miniseries was still moving for him. I have to report that seeing those film clips from Roots, along with the music was moving for me, too. Not as much for the subject matter but for the memories they evoked of a certain thirteen year old boy in Union, New Jersey, and how the miniseries made him feel, then.

I was in jr high school at the time, and for that entire week, all of the black kids in school were practically numb. I don't think I can adequately explain it right now. Someone remind me to revisit this soon, ok?

OK, so the cast of Roots presented the Best Miniseries award to Broken Trail... and Duvall got the music again.

After this, it was time for Neil Patrick Harris and Hayden Panitierre to give and award for something... I don't really remember what it was, to tell you the truth, my notes are handwritten, and a little less than neat. Anyway, the young Ms Panitierre is a beautiful child... but if you think I am going to use words like sexy or hot, in connection with her name, you are wrong. Why? because she is the same age as my oldest child. Your pal Gunfighter may be a little odd to some, but I don't perv like that!

Where was I?

Oh. Allen Taylor and David Chase won the awards for Best Director for a drama and Best Writing for a drama, respectively, for The Sopranos

Steve Carrel was next, presenting the award to The Daily Show, for best musical or variety show. Can I just take a moment to tell you that I don't theink he is funny? Thank you.

Ghostly pale Marcia Cross and Mark Harmon presented the Best Supporting Actress in a movie or miniseries award to Judy Davis for The Starter Wife.

I took another break to fold laundry, here... because some creep was on, talking about how television helps the world.

Glen Close, Mary Louise Parker and Kyra Sedgewick, presented another award to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Great. Didn't see THAT either

Ok, it got a little interesting for a few minutes here, as Joe Mantegna introduced The Jersey Boys... a tribute group to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (who I have always enjoyed), as a prelude to the Emmy Award triubute to The Sopranos. I enjoyed the music... I would go see this show if it ever came through DC.

OK, then we get the cast of The Sopranos for great big audience blowjob that they are supposed to get for being so good... personally, I never saw the appeal. Bye, Tony... don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass.

Now we get to Best Actress in a movie or miniseries, presented by Sally "The Flying Nun" Field and Patrick Dempsey.

Ahem. So, the lovely Helen Mirren wins the award. I love Helen Mirren, I do. I bet she would be a shag and a half.... but I digress. Ms. Mirren said that she was going to talk until they plaed the music on her, and proceeded to go on at length at her admiration for Americans (thank you, Helen, we love you Brits, too). She continued to talk, but the music didn't play. I suppose that just goes to show you, iconic American performers like Robert Duvall and Tony Bennett get played off, and as soon as the flag-waving mutual admiration society starts a metaphorical USA-USA chant, they won't make her shut up. Hmm. No matter, I still love you, Helen... I just wonder about some things.

It's 10 P.M. now, and Masi Oka, from Heroes introduces a new category: Creative Achievement in Interactive Televison. Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, of Current TV, accept the award.

Does anyone here know who Brad Garrett is? I have never heard of him, which is no great surprise... but he was the guy who came out next with Joely Fisher's breasts... er, with Joely Fisher. Ms Fisher, resplendent (isn't that a great word?) in a yellow cleavage baring dress, proceeded to make nipple jokes and a Senator Craig joke, before she and her co-presenter gave the Best Individual Performance in a variety or musical award to .... Tony "I wonder if they'll play the music on me again" Bennett (they did).

This is getting long... so I am skipping some dull bits and moving on to Ryan Secrest, who then came out in some weird Henry The VIII costume, and made a joke about how gay it looked. The joke fell flat, Ryan.

O Lord! Please make this end! As much as I love award shoews, they tend to get really dull in the last hour... this one was no different. I think I'll have a drink, now. I was gratified that James Gandolfini didn't get an award for his work as Tony Soprano. Not that I have anything against Gandolfini, but I'm a little tired of the hooplah surrounding this show. Having said that, I am particularly pleased that James Spader did get the award for Best Actor in a drama, for his work as quirky, kinda pervy, but brilliant lawyer, Alan Shore on Boston Legal (Yay! A show I watch!). Spader accepted the award from Kate Walsh, who looked quite splendid in her slinky red dress.

In a stunning upset, 30 Rock won the award for Best Comedy Series! Let's hear it for the little guy!

Next, Sally Field recieved the award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, from Hugh Laurie and Felicity Huffman. During her acceptance, she uttered these words, which were bleeped by FOX: "Let’s face it: If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place."

EDITORIAL NOTE: You know something? We're grownups. If we can casusally talk about people being murdered here at home, or killed in an immoral war, every night on the night on the fucking news..., hearing to ocassional vulgar word that slips out on an award show shouldn't really scorch anyone's ears. I can't tell you how glad I will be when this current crop of dirtbags leaves Washington. Censorship has become the only real function of the FCC.

Helen Mirren presented the final award for Best Drama Series to The Sopranos, in a complete anit-climax. OK, Sopranos people, get your asses up on stage, get your award and get out of my badda-bing sight!

So there it is, folks... my Emmy recap.

I wish this show was as much fun as award shows can sometimes be, but it was fairly dull. I suppose that is my own fault. I might have found the show to be a little less tedious if I had any attachment to more than one of these shows, but there you have it.



Gunfighter Dreams (Follow-Up)

So.... Saturday night, what did I dream about?

Going to a different church.

This particular church is located near where I work... it is a Lutheran Church, and in my dream, I was passing by when I heard the most moving Gospel music. I knew something was strange, because, well, we Lutherans aren't always the most... er... moving of religious musical stylists. Anyway, I went inside, and I was clearly a stranger there, and all the nice Lutherans (we CAN be a friendly bunch) were waving to me to sit with them.

There wasn't much more to it than that, really.

Sunday night... I was too exhausted from watching the Emmy awards to dream.

I guess I have been off of the Vicodin long enough to be free of it, eh?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gunfighter Dreams

I'm not posting about anything other than this today:

My blog is becoming unhealthy.

I didn't sleep well last night. I'm not sure if it was because I was concerned about today's (cancelled because of the weather) soccer game, or something else.

I tossed and turned and woke up nearly every hour... and I had weird dreams.

Weird dreams about blogging.

There is a Barnes and Noble bookstore in downtown Washington, DC at the corner of 12th and E street, that I go to sometimes... it has two floors, and at the top of the escalator is the information desk. Well, in my dream, the info desk was a coffee bar instead.

For some strange reason, I was talking about my blog with the two baristas, one, a young black man, the other, a young white woman. They asked questions about my blog while they got my coffee for me... and before I left, they asked me for my blog address. I tried to write it down, but I was having difficulty. I tried six or seven times, but couldn't do it. The guy thought it was funny, but the girl too the pen and said that I should repeat the address to her and she would write it down. I was relieved... but found I could no longer speak.

It was a weird dream.

I had another dream this morning.... maybe it was part of the same dream, but I can't remember much about that, other than there was a roller coaster involved.

Hmmm. Best not to dwell on this, perhaps.

I'm going to go make soccergirl's breakfast.


Friday, September 14, 2007

My Surgical Diary (II)

Fast forward a couple of days...

I am nearly done with the crutches, sports fans! I used them to hobble around most of the day, yesterday, then ran Soccergirl's practice for an hour (ably assisted by the 16 year old sister of one of her teammates, thank you, Jessica!).

Additionally, I have been off of my pain medication (special shoutout to the producers of Vicodin)for almost 48 hours! Woo hoo!

Today, Mrs GF went out and picked out a new refrigerator, went to the mall, Lowe's, and the supermarket together... I even drove.

As I am sure that you have figured out, my point in telling you all of this, is that your faithful correspondent is truly on the mend.

Once again, thanks for the prayers and well-wishes... clearly, they worked!

Big hugs, high fives, kisses, and slaps on the ass to all, as appropriate (you get to pick which one you get!)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Surgical Diary

First things first, my friends: Many heartfelt thanks to for your prayers/well-wishes. It meant/means a lot to me.

Shall I bore you about my surgery now?

I was fortunate enough to be the first patient on the roster at the local surgical center... which is only about three miles from our house, by the way. Being first meant that I had to be there no later than 6 a.m., which is no big deal as I am usually at work by 5:30, right? The difference on this fine morning was that Mrs GF and Soccergirl were with me so they could drop me off. The plan was that Mrs GF would go back home with Soccergirl, get her ready, and take her to school and then return to the surgical center.

Once I got in the doors, the receptionist checked me in moments... and noted that I had my crutches with me. We had a brief conversation about the weather, and what it was like to live on St. Simons Island, Georgia... as it turns out, she and her husband lived very near where my family stays when we visit the island.

A very few minutes later, Rachel, my nurse, collected me from the lobby and took me to the pre-op room, where I got my laces-in-the-back surgical gown. Once I did that, she collected my clothes and left me, with the TV news on. All the news was about 9/11, and truthfully, I wasn't interested in depressing news when I was about to go into surgery.

Since I anticipated some waiting, I took out the novel that I had broguht with me. The book is titled "The Religion", by Tom Willocks. The story is about the invasion of Malta, by Suleiman The Magnificent, in order to rid the island of the Knights of St. John, also known as the Knights Hospitaller, or the Knights of Malta. One hundred and eighty pages into it, I am enjoying it.

So, I take out my book and start reading... ten minutes later, and ancient chap comes into the room to prepare me for anesthesia. His name was Dr. Thomas. He set up my IV port while talking incessantly. Nurse Ratched, er... Rachel came back in to ask me more of the same questions that she had asked earlier and then gave me a pill "to relax you" for the anesthetist. I asked her what the pill was... it turned out to be Oxycontin... that stuff you hear about so much in the news.

Once Rachel and Dr. Thomas were done, in comes Dr. Andriotti, a very handsome woman of about 50. She is the anesthetist, and she and Nurse Rachel are going to wheel me into the operating room... but before we get there, she says: I hear that you are a police officer, is that right?" I said that it was. She then asked if it bothered me that I was being wheeled around and being told what to do by women. I said that it wasn't a problem. She laughed and told me that cops tend to make bad patients because they don't like being told what to do. I told her that speaking just for me, I didn't have a problem bowing to her knowledge in her field... "just don't try to tell me anything about my guns, deal?" We had a brief laugh, before they stuck the mask over my face.


"Hey! How did I get back in here?", I thought when I woke up in the post-op room. There was Rachel, my newest and bestest pal, who told me that I was all done.

It was ten minutes past eight.

"Is your wife here?" Rachael asked. I told her that I had been sleeping so I didn't know. I then told her that she should be here shortly, as Soccergirl couldn't go into the school until 8:20. Moments later, Mrs GF arrived and we were headed home by 9.

My dear ladies took good care of me yesterday, and I was feeling fine. Of course, I had completely forgotten that I still had the anesthesia in me... which caused me to vomit powerfully after I ate my lunch. That was fun.

The rest of the day was spent just bumping around the house and napping.

I was aided by my youngest nurse, nurse soccergirl, by having several of her favorite stuffed friends tucked into bed with me.

I tried eating dinner around 6 p.m. a spoon full of rice and peas... which made me puke again.


It was a long night... especially after all of the drugs wore off.

Today, the pain is real... but no matter, I will be better for this. In a few weeks, I can start working out again, and shed some of this poundage.


Check out the surgical, anti-blood clot stockings! Sexy, right?

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Oddities In Health Care

As most of you know, I am having surgery tomorrow. Just a wee bit of orthoscopic slice and dice on my knee... nothing to worry about... I plan to shoot an expert score with my pistol and shotgun before the next seven days are up, but I digresss. I am having surgery tomorrow and when I scheduled the procedure, I was given a detailed set of instructions of things that I needed to do... or not do before the operation.

The instructions told me not to eat after midnight on the night before I report to the hospital (I have to be there at 0600), I am also to refrain from using cologne etc... before the surgery. I am allowed to brush my teeth in the morning, as long as I spit out all of the water (as if I'd swallow that stuff). I have all sorts of instructions, and as a matter of fact, because of my employment by the federal government, I have some seriously boss heaelth insurance.

One of the odd things about my particular plan is this: My surgery is only going to set me back a hundred dollars. Hooray! My prescriptions, for the Vicadin I have now, and the percoset I'll be getting tomorrow, only costs $10 dollars. Not too shabby, eh? Here is the kicker: I have to buy my own crutches.


I can't be released from the hospital without them, but I'll likely only need them for part of a day after the surgery.

Go figure... Am I the only person that finds this strange?


Look, can there really be any doubt about what nation is the most militarily powerful on earth?

It isn't the Russians, it isn't the Chinese, it isn't any possible combination of European or African nations, and it isn't close to being any nation in South America.

The most powerful military force on earth belongs to The United States of America, and anyone that doesn't believe that, is delusional.

OK. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's get to a few other facts.

Fact: Many Americans want The United States to achieve a military victory in Iraq.

Fact: Any conceivable combination of Iraqi militias/foreign fighters/insurgent groups couldn't hope to defeat an American infantry unit in combat... it just. isn't. possible.

Fact: American soldiers, and their officers are aware of their abilities to fight and win against just about anyone they come in contact with. This knowledge leads to confidence.

Fact: Confidence, poorly placed, can lead to rash military decision making.

Fact: The American armed forces are much smaller than they were during the second world war.

Fact: The American armed forces are not large enough to sustain large-scale combat operations indefinitely.

Fact: History can be a more terrible foe than an enemy army.

Fact: The evidence of history tells us that a military victory against the Iraqi insurgency is exceptionally unlikely, regardless of the combat power arrayed against it.

Whats my point?

My point is this: Two very capable military men from my Commonwealth of Virginia wrote the books on both winning and losing in an insurgency centuries ago. Sure, many people believe that Vo Nguyen Giap, or Ernesto "Che" Guevara, or even Mao Zedong were the masters of insurgency, but it isn't really so.

No, these two Virginians were George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

You heard me.

You see, George Washington wasn't the most able battlefield commander, but he was a really smart guy. He used the ragtag army that he was able to cobble together to defeat one of the most powerful armies on earth.

How was he able to do this?

Well in his case, as it is in the case of all militarily weaker armies, the key to victory was simply not to lose. Now, you are probably saying to yourself, "Sure, GF. Don't lose. What army wins by "not losing"?

By keeping his armies relatively intact, Washington was able to keep the British chasing him about the countryside. The British would occasionally force a battle, and when that happened, the American armies usually lost, but Washington was always able to keep the army in the field as a viable force. With Washington not defeated, General Sir Henry Clinton and other commanders, such as Major General Lord Cornwallis, were obliged to keep going after him, taking casualties and incurring great expense.

Eventually, the British Parliament and the British people, got tired of war, and after the disastrous ending of the southern campaign, in which Cornwallis was obliged to surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, the American Revolution came to a political conclusion.

Please note, that even after Cornwallis lost the battle of Yorktown, the combined French and American forces were still too weak to dislodge the British armies. So please, dispel all of your notions of angry American farmers throwing the British out. It didn't happen like that.

Washington's strategy proved to be totally effective.

Now, let's look at what happened to that other capable Virginian, Robert E. Lee.

Robert E. Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War... or "The War of Northern Aggression" for you unreconstructed rebels.

Lee's Army of Northern Virginia (which is the best part of the state, I might add) was probably the best army in the entire Confederate States Army, and was vital to the military viability of the so-called "Confederacy". The problem is that R.E. Lee, despite his ability as a battlefield commander, made two strategic blunders that doomed the Confederate rebellion. The first mistake was to invade the north the first time, leading to the bloody disaster at the Battle of Antietam. The second, and ultimately fatal mistake, was to invade the north a second time, leading to the even greater disaster at Gettysburg.

Despite the fact that Lee was able to escape the debacle at Gettysburg, his Army of Northern Virginia couldn't recover from it's losses, and the fate of the Confederacy was sealed.

These are two great examples of insurgent warfare... if you need more, you don't need to look too far... I give you the Chinese Communists, or the Viet Minh/Cong.

The United States armed forces don't have the time, and the American people don't have the inclination, to remain in Iraq forever.

Leave now or leave later, the results will be the same... except that more Americans will win up dying for little result that will benefit the people of the United States.

We, no doubt, will hear testimony from Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus later today that will suggest the we are making "progress" in Iraq, and that "the surge" is working. In my heart, I believe Petraeus to be an honorable officer, as a commander, I think he is top-notch. He has faith in the ability of his soldiers, as he should. Having said that, I believe that I believe that he is still a soldier, and as such, bound to be loyal to his political maters.

So the surge is working... uh huh. I'm sure that it is... to a certain extent, but ultimately, I think it is throwing good money (and lives) after bad.

Personally, I can't see the wrecking of our armed forces in Iraq, chasing car bombers, when we face other external threats.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Happy Hour

Hello all! Your pal Gunfighter here, to talk about Happy Hour. Not just some random Happy Hour, mind you. No, no.... I'm talking about a specific Happy Hour. As a matter of fact it was a Happy Hour that lasted for several happy hours.

Last Friday evening, several readers of this particular blog, gathered in Rosslyn, Virginia at a cool bar called "The Continental" for drinks and general mirth-making. It was a lovely group of people, and much mirth was made. In addition to the general merriment that comes from meeting people whom you only knew previously from words or a few pictures on a screen, adult beverages of varying sorts were consumed, as were a few orders of fried pickles.

You heard me.

Fried pickles.

Oh, gag if you like, but they were gooood!

While we were consuming the aforementioned beverages, and fried pickles, the conversation(s) flowed across many subjects, while really good music flowed from the speakers, which were connected to a really good jukebox.

I won't "out" any of the attendees... they can identify themselves in the comments section, if they wish, but I'll tell all of you that read this, that we had a really good time, and yours truly was honored to be in their company.

I had fun, y'all! Let's start planning the next event!

(...and next time, I'll wear a kilt)

Oh... by the way... do any of you know what this is?

No? I'll tell you: It's a Dirty Martini. That's right. A Dirty Martini. Only one was consumed on Friday night, much to the disappointment of all of the rest of us.


PS: I mentioned that it was several happy hours, didn't I? Well, let's just say that I didn't get home until after 1 a.m. ... I haven't been out that late in many years.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Rugby World Cup 2007!

The day has finally come!

Today is the first day of the 2007 Rugby World Cup!

At 2 P.M. (in the eastern United States) the Rugby World Cup (RWC) will begin with the opening match between France and Argentina, at Le Stade De France

In the 2003 RWC, England were crowned champions, defeating Australia due to a last minute drop-goal by the hero of the hour, Jonny Wilkinson.

Unfortunately, England has suffered through a rough patch over the past couple of years, and aren't expected to make it to the finals. They have lost the leadership of then-Captain Martin Johnson (pictured with the William Webb Ellis cup), and Jonny Wilkinson's kicking ability.

For the opener, France appears to be the favorite, but appearances can be deceiving. This will be a very physical match, and may contain some surprises. Look for veteran Number Eight, Sebastien Chabal, to come off of the bench as an impact player in the second half to smash the opposition, should fortunes turn against the French.

Sebastien Chabal is an incredibly physical player, and is dangerous not only in defense, but has the ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He has the ability to change the outcome of a game. Watch for his bruising running ability and his crushing tackles.

Addtionally don't discount the contributions of the French Captain Raphael Ibanez, and returning French Great Fabien Pelous. The French have depth, and they won't be afraid to use it against Argentina this afternoon.

For their part, the Pumas are no sluches. Although France will likely win this match, there are no gurantees. A strong Argentine showing coud very well conclude with a win.

It won't surprise anyone who is a rugby fan to hear that New Zealand are favored to win the championship, but, expectaions dont always end up coming true. Australia, South Africa, France, and Ireland all have the depth of high-level players to emerge victorius. Having said that, I am still supporting New Zealand in their efforts.

Look for Dan Carter to score an unholy number of points with his ability to score drop-goals and penalty goals from long distance at nearly any point on the field. Carter is also a dangerous runner. fast and agile, he is one of the leading point scorers in international rugby, and was recently hailed as the International Rugby Board's Player of the year.

New Zealand has a deep team full of fast, strong, and tough players, who all play in the world's best professional tournaments, the Super-14, the Air New Zealand Cup, and the southern hemisphere Tri-Nations.

They will be tough to beat.

Australia has had some depletions over the past couple of years, but that doesn't mean that the Wallabies are out of the running. Expect Veteran George Gregan to have an impact. Gregan, the former Captain of the Wallabies, is one of the most experienced players in the worild in terms of international rugby. This will be Gregan's last Rugby World Cup, as he will be playing in Europe next year.

Expect to see the Aussies advance at least to the quarter finals.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention South Africa... and if I mention South Africa, I would be shamefully remiss if I didn't include this young man: Bryan Habana. The south Africans are in good form this year, and will be real players in this years RWC. Look for hard-playing Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, and Percy Montgomery, among others to be a major playmakers.

Habana is a whole other story. He is widely believed to be the fastest winger in international rugby. If Habana gets his hands on the ball, and has a reasonably clear path to the try-line, stopping him will be nearly impossible

OK, enough about the RWC... your eyes are already glazing over... but I am here to tell you, my friends, that the next week or so are going to be big fun for yours truly.

Wait. What's that? What about the United States team review? Well, ok, here you go: Our boys don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the RWC. Which doesn't mean that I won't be cheering for them mightily when they play their first pool match against England on Sunday. Look for leadership from CaptainMike Hercus, who, incidentally, is a local boy... of sorts. He was born about 10 miles from here, in Falls Church, Virginia, before moving back to his parent's native Australia, where he was schooled.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Chickenhawk - Someone who is now too old to serve in the armed forces, who supported the war in Vietnam, or currently supports the war in Iraq, or who chose not to serve in the military when he was younger (and eligible to serve). Think Vice President Cheney, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, almost every man over 41 years of age on President Bush's staff, and all of the men in President Bush's immediate family, with the exception of his father.

Yellow Elephant - Someone who is eligible for military service and supports a war as long as someone else fights it. Yellow Elephants can still change their minds. Think Michelle Malkin, and other young Hawks of her ilk.

Be A REAL American, Enlist now!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The First Day of School

Here in my part of Virginia, today is the first day of school.

Soccergirl is poised to begin third grade and is excited about it. She will be seeing her friends and classmates from last year, as well as beloved teachers and school staff... these things make her happy.

Mrs Gunfighter and I are excited about it, too... sort of. You see, sending SG off to the third grade means that next year she will be in fourth grade. The year after that she will be graduating and going off to college and getting married and... Well, you get the idea.

I can't afford to get all sappy and sentimental, because today, I have to re-teach two poor shooters what they learned in the academy. I also have to attend a senior staff meeting. I can't do that kind of stuff while I am all choked up about school.

Having said all of that, if you think that I won't be leaving my office in an hour to go her school to be there when she walks in the door, you're out of your cotton pickin' minds!

ADDENDUM: So... I drove to the school breaking every speed law on the Virginia books in a brisk manner, in order to get there on time. When I got there, Mrs GF and SG were already inside. Damn! So, I got a visitor's pass from the secretaries, and went to her classroom, where I found her chatting away with her friends. I had about a minute for hugs and kisses, and away she went, happy to go back to her classmates.

I'm still glad I went.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr President,

I would think that one of the toughest things about being President of the United States, is being the leader of your party. It isn't like you don't have enough to do running the country... you also have to ride heard on a bunch of elected officials, Cabinet members, and other office-seekers who try to use you or your office to help them get elected.

In normal times this would be difficult, but considering what is going in in this country these days, it really must be awful!

It's been a rough couple of weeks for you, hasn't it?

I mean, first, your main political advisor, Karl Rove...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket forced from office resigned under a cloud for his roles in the exposure of an active CIA operative, and for his involvement in the questionable firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons. Next, you had to fire your Attorney General...

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...resigns because every time he opens his mouth, he lies to the United States Senate... and got caught doing it.

Then the most recent National Intelligence Estimate tells us that, despite your claims of success for the troop surge in Iraq, that country's government will become more precarious, not less, over the next six months.

Next on the hit-parade is a soprano-singing, staunch conservative GOP Senator...

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...who gets caught trying to do the nasty with an undercover cop in an airport men's room, tries to use his position as a U.S. Senator to interfere in the investigation, pleads guilty to a lesser charge... then conceals whole arrest/guilty plea from the Senate ethics committee. The incident forcing him to announce his resignation (nice mug shot, Senator).

As if all of these things weren't bad enough, John Warner, a well-respected moderate GOP Senator (from my own Commonwealth of Virginia) has decided not to seek re-election, severely jeopardizing the chances of your party holding on to that Senate seat next year.

I'll bet you are sure glad that August is over.

Now for the good news: The General Accounting office will be putting out it's estimate of the situation in Iraq soon. Rumor has it that the picture that they paint will be none too rosie. Rumor has it that portions of the report have been leaked so that your purple kool-aid swilling minions have the chance to doctor it.

THEN you embark on a secret trip to Iraq, Seemingly to give General Petraeus a copy of hie report that YOUR PEOPLE wrote confer with General Petraeus on "the way forward in Iraq".

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I'll bet months like this one make you look forward to getting out of the White House.

I'll tell you one thing, the folks here at Casa Gunfighter are really looking forward to that happy day a great deal.


Your pal,


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I hope you enjoyed the trip!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Thoughts On A Saturday Night

** Goodbye, and thank you, Senator Craig. I guess you couldn't bullshit your way out of this one, eh? You are a criminal. A stain on society. An additional stain on an already dirty GOP (and Senate). Oh, and good riddance, too.

** Michael Vick, I don't care how sorry you are. I don't care that you now acknowledge your "immaturity. Get thee hence, you miserable wretch, to a federal penitentiary and repay your debpt to society. You just can't go araound killing
"Man's Best Friend" and get away with it, once you had been discovered.

** To the lady pushing the wheel chair at Epcot a few days ago, that crashed the wheel chair into the back of soccergirls legs: If you weren't old and a woman, I would have punched you right in the f***ing face.

** To the parents who let your no-older-than-ten year old daughter wear a bare midriff T-shirt that read: "Hot Lover": I wish it wasn't unlawful to punch parents in the face for doing stupid shit like this. What were you thinking? Why? In what kind of world is this sort of thing, OK?

** To the ladies wearing four-inch heels at Disney World... what kind of chemicals have you been indulging in?


I will be on my way home tomorrow morning. I suppose it'll take us about 12 hours to get home, unless we decide to stop for the night.

We have had a great vacation. Between Disney World, Sea World, and other fun places, we have had a good time together, which is what our vacations are all about.

Nextweek, I will send you my vacation report. ... and get back to blogging on a few more serious issues.

In the meantime, DC area readers, prepare for happy hour next friday... if you are still available.