Friday, November 30, 2007

Book Review: George Washington - A Military Biography

If you are an American, and learned American history the way it was taught to me, you might be inclined to believe that George Washington chopped down some cherry tree, and then told his father "I Cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree." (which was made up by Washington's first biographer, Parson Weems, who lived only two miles from our home)

Depending on when you went to school, you might have been taught that Washington was a great man or a horrible man for having been a slave owner. Again, depending on when or where you went to school, you might believe that George Washington was an incredible blunderer or a strategic and tactical genius, who was as brilliant as Napoleon and George Patton all at once.

No matter what you learned, it is likely that whatever you learned was a bunch of crap.

For centuries, different people, for different reasons, have portrayed Washington as an unstained demigod, while others have reported him to be either a dummy or a nefarious character who is just shy of Satan. It's a real shame, because the real Washington, the man, is a very interesting character WITHOUT all of the embellishment.

In his book, General George Washington - A Military Life, author Edward Lengel strips away the history as reported by people with agendas. He brings the facts of Washington's life, as they pertain to his military experiences.

Here, we see Washington as a teenager, who longs for a life in the uniformed service of the British Crown. He first tries to emulate his older half-brother, who secures him a place as a Midshipman on a British man of war. He was thwarted in this by his very formidable mother, but his dream of serving the crown in uniform went un-extinguished.

After the Death of his half-brother and his wife, nine years later, Washington inherited Mount Vernon, which became his home for the rest of his life, and embarked on the rest of his military career.

At the age of 21, Washington was appointed adjutant, with the rank of Major, in the Virginia militia, and only a few years later, was appointed to the Colonelcy of the 1st Virginia regiment, as they were raised for service against the French, who were encroaching upon British claims to the Ohio Valley in the area that later became Pittsburgh.

We see Washington at his very best and at his worst throughout the French & Indian wars, and the long period between those years and the period immediately preceding the American Revolution. We see the Washington as the only American born militia officer with enough military experience and combat experience, selected by the Continental Congress to lead the as yet unformed American army against the experienced troops of the British Army.

(Washington, seen here as Colonel of the Virginia militia, circa 1772)

During the book, Lengel isn't afraid to discuss Washington's successes nor is he afraid to skewer sacred cows when he talks about Washington's failings as a General.

After reading this very frank, but very fair assessment of Washington's military career, one can only come to the conclusion that General George Washington, taken warts and all, was indeed the person that James Thomas Flexner deemed as "The Indispensable Man"

Washington was neither genius, nor blunderer. He was a man, a soldier, and a politician. He was a good field commander, a real fighter, and brave in the face of the enemy. He never lost his nerve on the battlefield.

The history of the military art screams that Washington's strategy in general was, unbeknownst to him, absolutely correct in that he didn't often try to do things that were beoynd his resources against a better trained, better armed, and better provisioned army.

He might not have been 12 feet tall, but he was the man of the moment, and was equal to the challencge.

Kudos to Lengel for a great book on such an important figure in our history.

This is the way Na BloPoMo ends...

This is the way Na BloPoMo ends...

This is the way Na BloPoMo ends...

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

(with apologies to Eliot and his devotees)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Interview

Hello all.

My new blog-pal, Anno has sent me some interview guestions to answer for her... here are my answers:

1. I just read your Thanksgiving post, and despite the fact that I've already had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with a delicious wild mushroom bread pudding, I'm salivating over your corn bread stuffing. You cook. You coach soccer. You have a demanding job, and you are a dedicated husband and father. Not to mention the fact that you write thoughtful and interesting posts that happen to be fun to read. What don't you do?

I don't yodel, nor do I play the guitar. One of those things would make me very happy. I'll let you take a guess at which one.

Oh, I don't gamble, either.

2. And with all that you do, what motivated you to begin blogging?

Becuase I am a narcissist? I blog because I like to write... and I want to be heard! (and all the cool kids are blogging, too!)

3. What are five things you hope to see happen in 2008?

1. All American troops leaving Iraq

2. George W. Bush & Dick Cheney impeached, and then indicted and tried for crimes against humanity. (Surely, illegally, and immorally causing the deaths of nearly half a million people has to be worse crime than lying about a blowjob. I mean, REALLY!)

3. Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Al Gore, or John Edwards, elected President of The United States.

4. The Price of gasoline to come down to something close to $2 per gallon.

5. Get my next tattoo (I want to do this by June).

4. Al Capone once famously said, "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." What's your take on the role of guns and diplomacy?

I believe that guns CAN be a part of diplomacy. Sometimes diplomacy includes talking tough. You can't talk tough if you can't fight... it's seldom effective. Having said all of that, I certainly don't think that diplomacy should go anything like this: "Do what we say, or we are invading your country"

5. Any plans for the further adventures of Hamish MacDonald and Abigail Carter?

Funny you should mention them, because I was back at it last night, while I was waiting for SoccerGirl's Brownie Meeting to end. Mac and Abbie will be back, rest assured!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Fall Soccer Tournament

I have started this post five separate times since Monday, in vain attempts to strike some sort of chord. On this, my sixth attempt, I am going to do what I should have done in the first place… tell you about our weekend soccer tournament, focusing not on the odd cultural event that these things can be, but on what this one meant to Soccer Girl, and to the family as a whole.

Our Soccer Club only had one All-Star team in our division, despite the fact that various folks in the club office wanted to have at least two… tough shit, folks… Yours Truly is the League Director this season, and I don’t want two or three all-star teams drawn from nine teams… I want the best team that we can field, drawn from the nine teams… not some primadona show, where some, more exalted coaches get to take their teams as a whole to the tournament. I know some clubs do that… but sue me for being something of an egalitarian. Our All Star team was drawn by picking two of the best players from each team… except for the two coaches that refused to participate if it wasn’t going to be their way.

Well, f*** ’em! (the coaches… not the kids)

This was a large tournament, with 433 teams competing in varying age groups, both boys and girls. The tournament was so large that the fields were spread out over three counties!

Our story starts on a cool, crisp, Saturday morning. I was decently rested, since I had the good sense to leave our happy hour gathering before the REAL fun started… We gathered all of our things, including the folding chairs, Insta-Bench, mittens, jackets, fleecey blankets, books, etc… and loaded them all into the trunk.

We were a little behind schedule, so we had to step on it, in order to get to the field on time. We arrived in time to find a last remaining parking spot… OK, so it was a handicapped spot… Don’t call the SWAT team… I moved the car shortly thereafter.

Anyway, we found our team, and Coach Patty took over. The girls had their warm-up while the parents scouted out the fields, which were pretty cool. It’s rare that the U-9 kids get to play on the artificial turf! I mean, these fields were BE_YOU_TEE_FULL!

Soccer Girl and her chums played a good game of Soccer, but tied the first game. They tied their second game as well. After the second game, we had a few hours before the third game (they were playing 4, 25 minute, mini-games), so we went to lunch.

It really was a beautiful day. This late in November, we could have expected cooler temperatures and some amount of precipitation, but instead, it was cool, crisp, and sunny for the whole day.

At the end of the day, Soccer Girl’s team ended the day with three ties and a win. The teams were evenly matched for the most part, and the girls played hard and tough, without whining (except in the case of one or two). At the end of the day, we were in 5th place out of twelve teams, which was respectable, considering the short amount of time the girls had to practice together.

We went home with a happy but tired eight year old (who was really stinky after her day of athleticism). After SG was fed and watered (and thankfully bathed) she went off to sleep, while Mrs. GF and I talked about our day. Since we are still in the midst of NaBloPoMo, I got online, and began my post for the day, during which I apparently fell asleep at the computer for nearly two hours… finally posting something, and then going straight to bed.

Sunday morning broke bright and clear, and we were better organized for our day. Out first game was at 8:45, so we had to be at the field by 8:15... Which meant we had to be Johnny-on-he-spot getting up and out. You know what this means, don’t you? It means that Gunfighter had to get up at 6:45.





I wasn’t amused.

We got to the field in plenty of time (ok, right on time), and got right down to business. This round of play was all do or die. We had the potential to play 3 games, but any losses meant elimination.

We handily won our first game, and the girls were on fire.

The second game was…. Different.

In the second game, we played the team that was the top seed of the whole tournament. To make a long story short, we got our asses handed to us. Badly. We got mauled. It was 5-0 at halftime. Coach Patty was organizing for the second half, while coach Gunfighter pumped up the girls on the bench. Some of the other dads were coaches, too, so we were able to stiffen the girls spine for the second half.

The second half was different from the first, in that our girls were physically and mentally tougher that they were at the start. Despite being tired, our girls battled back, and made the other team take notice. To be sure, we were outclassed, but at least we held them to two goals in the second half. When the final whistle blew, the girls were able to run off the field with their heads up, knowing that they gave it their all.

I was so proud of them. I was also proud of soccer girl. She was tough, strong, determined and brave.

The tournament ended for us, with our team finishing fourth out of twelve. As it turns out, the only team to beat us on the whole weekend was the team that won the tournament.

Not too shabby.

We had a fun weekend together. It was the thing that we like… concentrated family time.

Of course, the laundry is all piled up, ready for me to do on Wednesday (today), because we didn’t do it over the weekend.

Big fun.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bloggers Night Out.

To make along story short, we had a fine time last night.

We gathered at popular Capitol Hill watering hole, the Hawk 'n Dove, which was a favorite place of mine when I was a much younger man, living on The Hill back in the late 80's and early '90s.

It is always a great time when you get to meet such nice, like-minded, fellow bloggers.

Here are the great folks I got to meet last night... some for the very first time:

Devra Renner
Unquiet Heart (and cool dude, Chris!)
Mamma Loves
Flower Child
Madame Meow

I would go on at great length, but I spent all day at a soccer tournament, and I am friggin' beat.

Must sleep.



Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Hour 3.0

Hey! Do you know what today is?

Of course you do.

Today is Friday!

Fridays are special to us, aren’t they? Special because it signals the beginning of the weekend… that blessed time where we get to sleep late, relax, and do whatever we want to do, right?


No, the weekends tend to be about getting things done around the house, working in the yard, doing laundry, and soccer, soccer, SOCCER! (how many of you just read that in your Jan Brady voice?).

Well, this post isn’t a complaint piece… not this time. This post is a reminder that this Friday, some of us in the Washington, DC area are meeting for libations at Happy Hour!

That’s right. Happy Hour(s).

If you are reading this and didn’t get the emails that have been going out, and you live in the DC area, or are willing to travel to DC to join us, please get in touch with me and I will tell you where we will be gathering.

So far, there are 9 or ten of your fellow bloggers that have indicated that they plan to attend. So if you can, or if you are willing, come on down!

Good times... good times.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Something Important...

...happened to me today.

I'd like to share it with you, if you'll take a moment to listen.

Unless you are a very new reader, you'll know that my hobby is making rosaries. I make rosaries of all sorts, but mostly of the Episcopal/Anglican variety. I have always found it to be a very personal piece of ministry... so that I could be of some assistance in the prayer life of someone else who might benefit. I have been making these things for a few years now, and for the most part, I just give them away to those in need.

As a result of having posted pictures of my work here on my blog, Many of you have been kind enough to tell me that you think that I should sell them, and recoup some of my costs... well, I have thought about that and at long last, I came to a decision a few months ago.

A few months ago, when the Virginia weather was still blazing hot, I made a trip to the Washington National Cathedral. While in the gift shop, which I and my family REALLY love, I saw some Episcopal rosaries for sale... and thought that I could do better. I got the name of the shop's buyer whom I contacted the next day. The buyer told me that the shop already had some Episcopal rosaries, and that she doubted that they could use anymore... she told me that she would meet with me in .... November.

Well, today was the day of our meeting, and even though she kept me waiting, the buyer greeted me warmly, and we got right down to it. I showed he nearly twenty samples of my work... and she bought seven of them!

You friend Gunfighter is now a paid artisan!

My work will be sold through the National Cathedral, here in Washington, DC.

I can't tell you how pleased I am.

I am over the moon.

I am giddy.

I called my grandmother, and she wept with joy.

I have never had a prouder moment.

Geeky. Yes, I know... but I am still exceptionally excited.

For my entire adult life, I have been valued for my ability to kill and destroy. Being able to be lauded for my ability to create is almost more than I can take.

Please enjoy this moment with me.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Career Day, 2007

So.... Friday was career day at SoccerGirl's school. I was a happy participant, and enjoyed doing this for the third year running.

I arrived at the school in plenty of time, so I just dawdled in the office for a few minutes while the teachers prepared the students for the day.

I was presenting to grades 3 through 5, and since this was my third year doing this, I already knew a great many of the kids that I was going to be seeing.

When it was time for me to go to my assigned classroom, I headed in the right direction, being stopped by calls of "Hi, Mr. Gunfighter!, or "Aren't you Soccergirl's Father?" One girl, who had been soccergirl's classmate i the first grade came up and gave me a hug... it was all very cute.

I may have talked about this before, but I think that it is important to revisit here: A single man could do quite well in an elementary school. As I walked down the hall of the school, I got no small amount of attention from the teachers... all of whom were women.

Elementary school is so not man's world.

Anyway, the teachers were all giving me the sunbeam smile, and I was feeling rather good about myself until I realized something: It wasn't me that was um, exciting them. It was my stuff. My stuff. You see, to keep the kids engaged, I was wearing my tactical body armor, big-ass-expandable-baton, pepper spray, handcuffs... that whole shootin' match. They kind of like it.

So I meet my first group of kids, and I talked to them in very general terms about what I do, they enjoyed the presentation, which lasted about 30 minutes, and as usual, there was a segment for questions at the end.

This is where it gets... er, interesting:

"Do you shoot people every day?"

"That stick is to beat people, isn't it?"

"Are you married?"

"Are you really soccergirl's father?"

"Can you pick me up with one hand?"

"How far does a bullet go?"

"Bullets are so small... How do they kill people?"

"Can I shoot your gun?"

"Why doesn't your jacket have any sleeves?"

"Are you allowed to drive as fast as you want to in a police car?"

It was a long day, but it was a LOT of fun!

I can't wait until next year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Murder In Washington, DC

The following is a short story based on information traded with a random partner via email.

The assisting minister said “Go in peace, serve the Lord” To which the congregation replied “Thanks Be To God!”.

Hamish MacDonald bolted into the parking lot via the back door, and headed to his car. His pager had alerted him to an incoming call from the dispatch center, which was always a bad sign… especially on a Sunday. Bad sign or not, he wasn’t going to take the call in the middle of the service… Lutherans don’t do that. Especially since today was Reformation Sunday. After the last chorus of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, the service ended and MacDonald could call back to the bosses and see what they wanted… even though he already knew what the problem was.

You see, MacDonald is a cop. A homicide detective. There had been a murder.

The details were few, because the crime had taken place in a sensitive location, but what MacDonald already knew was enough to give him some things to think about while he made the 25 mile drive from Woodbridge, Virginia into DC. The traffic was mercifully light as it is only on Sunday morning in this area… and since it was nearly noon, and the Redskins had 1 O’clock kickoff time, most people had already gone wherever it is they were going to watch the game from.

MacDonald took the 12th street exit off I-395, and as he drove toward the National Mall, he decided that he wouldn’t stop at first district headquarters… what would be the point? He already knew that there was a body at the National Air & Space museum… he already knew that the crime had taken place, and there were no witnesses… well, at least no witnesses that had spoken up, yet.

When he got to the museum, he spoke with the uniformed officers securing the crime scene, who told him that no one had entered the area since they had arrived on scene, and that the museum employee who found the body, Caren Cramer. Was waiting to speak to him in a nearby office. He could talk to Cramer later… he had a crime scene to process.

“Well, no sense wasting any time” he thought… “time to go look at the stiff… er, the departed“.
The Smithsonian security officers, along with a uniformed DC police officer, took MacDonald to the second floor maintenance area located just behind the interior mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), in the Apollo exhibit. The body was laying face down, in pool of blood, that looked like it came from a massive head injury. MacDonald gave a brief, silent prayer for the soul of the deceased, and got right to work. The deceased was a white male, in his middle to late thirties, with brown hair, and he was wearing a suit.

There were crime scene technicians and a team from the coroner’s office waiting to finish their work, so MacDonald let them finish doing all of the things that they needed to do, from checking for fingerprints on doors and walls, fingerprinting the victim, to taking copious photographs of the scene from various angles.

Once all of that was done, MacDonald and his newly-arrived partner, Abigail “Abbie” Carter, searched the body. The search turned up most of the usual stuff, twenty four dollars and sixty one cents in cash, a partially used farecard for the Washington, DC subway system, best known as “The Metro”, an inexpensive-looking cellular telephone, and a key chain with the keys to a Ford. There was also a wallet with the usual credit cards, auto insurance, health insurance, and a drivers license, all in the name of one Julian Krasnovski.

Once all of the items carried by the victim were catalogued and bagged for evidence, it was time to remove the body. The coroner’s office took care of the removal in short order, pausing only for the police photographers to take a picture of the body’s face… Nothing conclusive there, though MacDonald, since the face was covered with dreid blood.

Considering the degree of rigormortis, the body had been there for at least a few hours before it was discovered. The coroner’s people placing the time of death at approximately 7 A.M. “Well,” said MacDonald to Carter, “that’s a start. At least we know when Mr Kasnovski got whacked… now all we need to do is figure out who did it and why” Carter rolled her eyes and said “Great, Mac… this shouldn’t take any more than an hour, maybe two to figure out, right?” MacDonald laughed and scolded his partner with mock severity and said “That’s about right, Abigail (she always bristled when he did that… apparently her dad always called her that), but don’t interrupt your elders while they are solving crimes. Now, let’s go talk to our witness.”

Caren Cramer was twenty six years old, white, with red (almost orange) hair and bright green eyes… a real stunner. When MacDonald and Carter came in to talk to her, she gave them both a very frank look of appraisal, that you seldom see from most people so young. “Maneater” MacDonald thought, but fortunately for him, and perhaps not so fortunately for Cramer, MacDonald wasn’t susceptible to that kind of thing… he had been married for nearly 14 years, to a smart, sexy woman, and he got all that he needed at home.

“Miss Cramer?, I’m Detective MacDonald and this is Detective Carter of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department” he said while both Detectives proffered their police identification. “We’d like to talk to you about what you found this morning” Cramer immediately replied: “Well, I’ll tell you what I told the other guys already, I am the floor supervisor for the early shift at the museum. It’s my job to make sure that all of the exhibits are clean and presentable before we open for the day. I arrived just after 6 this morning, and after I clocked in, I took a look at the schedule to see what, if any, special events were taking place today. There weren’t any, so I started my walk-through to make sure everything was ready I started at the far end of the hall, across for the Skylab exhibit, and checked for clean carpets, the restrooms, and the exhibit spaces themselves. Everything was normal… until I got to the Apollo area. When I walked in, all of the recordings and auto play animation was already running. I saw that the maintenance area door was slightly ajar… which is unusual, because all maintenance doors are supposed to remain shut at all times… that’s why I walked into the space, when I stepped in I saw… well, I found the body.” Carter immediately asked what Cramer had done next… had she touched the body?, how did she conclude that the victim was indeed dead? Who did she call?, did she leave the scene to get help? Cramer answered all of her questions, but by the time she was done, her tone had gone from cooperative to wary.

MacDonald noted the change in tone, and he and Carter shared an exchange of arched eyebrows when Cramer abruptly asked why she was being interviewed a second time. MacDonald told her that the uniformed officer’s initial questions were just used to establish a few facts and that the homicide detectives always started from the beginning in order to get all of the information first-hand. Cramer insisted that she understood all of that… and practically sniffed at the Detectives that she wasn’t an idiot (she was a Georgetown graduate, after all). What she meant, she said with the tone that is usually reserved for the particularly stupid, is why MacDonald hadn’t gotten all of this information from the Federal investigators that arrived even before the uniformed city cops showed up?

“Oh shit,” thought Hamish, “not again”

Miss Cramer…” he began, “actually, I prefer Ms.” she interrupted. “Of course,” he relented, “Ms. Cramer” can you tell me the name of the agency that the investigators were from? Did they show you any identification?" “Of course", she replied, “I’m not some twit who just believes that someone is a cop just because he says so… I was raised in Detroit, and in Detroit, you don’t believe anything anyone tells you just because he says so… not even the parish priest.” Carter said “Oh, you must have been a real pain in the ass in Confirmation, with that attitude” Cramer actually smiled for the first time since they had arrived, and then actually laughed! The loud, braying sound was incongruous coming from that delicate face, and she then proceeded to launch into a tale of her exploits with the nuns in the convent school she had attended. MacDonald actually had to cut her off in order to get back to the discussion of these Federal investigators that she had mentioned.

“Oh... them,” Cramer said “their identification said that they were from the FBI, but I’ll tell you, they didn’t really look like those clean-cut guys you usually associated with J. Edgar Hoover’s boys. MacDonald asked what she meant by this, and Cramer told him that both of the men that she talked to were white, of average height, nondescript suits, and had longish hair. One of them actually had a goatee. One thing she could tell about them, though, was that they were both in excellent physical condition. Carter asked how she could tell what kind of shape they were in, and Cramer asked her how hard would it be to NOT know “after all,” she said, “we’re young single women… we notice these things in men, don’t we?” noting Carter’s blank stare, she went on: “Oh… batting on that side of the plate, are you? Well… whatever.”

“Ms Cramer, I think that’s enough for now, but I am certain that we will want to talk to you again soon, so please make yourself available… we have already taken the liberty of speaking to your supervisors so that we won’t have to visit you at your home. Here is my card, and that of Detective Carter as well. If you think of any details that you might have forgotten about discovering the body, or the FBI agents you mentioned, or anything else, please give us a call”

MacDonald and Carter left the museum and stood near the Independence avenue exit, and pooled their facts while the tourists lined up patiently to go through security. Mac just shook his head, remembering when he first came to Washington, DC as a young Marine in 1986. When he first came to town, the public could just walk into the building. All of that went out the window after 9/11. Security was one thing, he thought, but the problem is that most of the security measures put into place since 9/11 were only useful in deterring the odd crackpot. Anyone who knew anything about security knew that the person determined to wreak havoc, didn’t try to bring a small explosive or gun through the proper doors. Vehicle-borne explosives were the real danger, and short of banning vehicle traffic, there wasn’t a single bloody thing you could to to protect yourself from it… not in an urban environment, anyway.

Setting that tangent aside, Mac and Carter knew that something bad was happening to their investigation, even before it got started… but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to see this thing through. Both MacDonald and Carter were veterans of the United States Marine Corps… and Marines don‘t know the meaning of the word “quit“.… the first thing that they needed to do was to talk to their Captain.

“Feds? What the f*** were they doing there? Who the f*** called them?” Captain Roy Martin thundered, “that’s all I need, the Feds getting in the way. You two be careful, but I want you to continue to investigate this like no one said anything about Federal involvement in this case.”

“OK, Abbie…" Mac said when they were done with the Captain, "how do you want to do this? You want to work together? Or do you want to start running these things down separately?” “Let’s do this together, Mac, there are always a few things that a young detective can learn from an old dude like you” quipped Carter. “Old dude, my ass” was the immediate rejoinder “First, I am only seven years older than you… and I happen to know that the reason that you wanted to work with me in the first place is because of my Yoda-like status in the first district… that and you have the hots for me.” Carter heaved a huge sigh and rolled her eyes in feigned annoyance… she had asked to be assigned to MacDonald, not because she had the hots for him (she already had a special someone in her life) but because MacDonald was as smart guy, a good cop, and even though he was serious about his faith, he was never judgemental about her sexuality. Mac was one of the good guys, no two ways about it.

“Alright, let’s start with the deader, Mr Julian Krasnovski: There is no indication that he is married or living with someone, and the administrative folks are trying to track down next of kin, so why don’t we see what we come up with at his residence. His driver’s licence and some of the other crap in his wallet give his address as 618 A street, southeast, Apartment 325. Let’s get over there and get started, but first, let’s go over to Burrito Brothers and get something to eat… I’m starving…”

Three days later, MacDonald and Carter had found out lot’s of things: First, Krasnovski had turned out to be a an accomplished violinist, who played for the National Symphony Orchestra. He had been some sort of prodigy as a youth, and big things were expected of him. He had gone to Juliard on scholarship, and was noted as a young man on the rise. He came to the NSO as a fairly young man… and that’s when the bottom dropped out for him. It seems that the young Krasnovski likes to gamble. A lot.

They also found out some things… some disturbing things about Caren Cramer… a cursory background investigation revealed some inconsistencies that caused MacDonald and Carter to want to interview her again. When they attempted to do so, they met a blank wall. The personnel office at the Air & Space museum claimed that they had no employee by the name of Caren Cramer. When they attempted to contact Cramer at the address she had provided, there was no one by that name at that address.

With a gnawing sense of dread, MacDonald went to his Captain to ask his advice, the Captain looked him in the eye and asked him what he was talking about. After going over the case and everything that they had discovered, the Captain took MacDonald and Carter to the office of the Deputy Chief of Police, who introduced them to a certain Mr. Johnson, from the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Johnson told them that what they encountered at the Smithsonian had been declared a National Security Incident, and as such, was under the perview of the Dept. of Homeland Security. They were told that their investigation was being terminated at the direction of the United States government, under the Authority of the USA Patriot act. All notes, evidence, and reports concerning the investigation have been deemed classified at the Top Secret level, and all such materials are to be turned over to DHS personnel immediately, and all personnel involved in the investigation were hereby enjoined from discussing the investigation with anyone.

Please note that this story is a work of fiction. All of the characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Also note that stuff like this happens… and if you think it shouldn’t be happening in this country, it is your moral duty to oust all Republicans from elected office, at any level, throughout the United States.

It isn’t too late... yet.

The source material for this story was given to me by Jen, who can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Today is the anniversary of the birth of my Corps!

For 232 years, United States Marines have been kicking ass at the behest of our government, and nobody, I mean nobody does it better!

Whether is is taking artillery from the British garrison, at New Providence, In the Bahamas, or duking it out with the Chinese communists in Korea. From Belleu Wood, France, to the storming of Koh Tang Island. Yes, indeed, from the Halls of Montezuma (in Mexico) to the Shores of Tripoli (modern Libya), your United States Marines have stood ready to fight, any time and in ANY place, because we're that good!

On this day above all others, I am guilty of the sin of pride. Totally guilty and without shame, because being part of the Corps is so much a part of me that the two cannot be separated.

I will live forever. Not because I have a secret potion or special genes, but because I am connected to every Marine that ever lived, or will ever live.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fi!


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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Electoral Success (Crank That!)

Yesterday, Virginia voters continued a strengthening trend: The "Blueing" of a Red State.

Democrats now have a majority in the Virginia State Senate, and have eaten away much of the Republican majority in the House of Delegates.

Republicans in Virginia had better watch out, because Virginia is poised to fill the U.S. Senate seat of retiring John Warner in 2008... and it is looking ripe for the former Democratic Governor Mark Warner.

As happy as I am about this, I really need to talk about something else, today.

I am willing to bet that some of you have heard of the song called "Crank That (Souljah Boy)". As a matter of fact, some of you are probably already laughing to yourself, because you know what kind of popularity that this song has achieved. You probably already know (and have at least tried) the "Souljah Boy" dance.

I have to make a confession about my total ignorance about this phenomonon until just this past Monday. A reader of mine encouraged me to go to You Tube and do a search for "soldier boy dance". I did, and was greeted with no less than 33 pages of video clips of people doing this dance.

According to Wikipedia, this song was released in April of this year and reached number one on two separate charts.

Now, if you want to spend some time having a full belly-laugh, watch some of those videos! You will see black children doing this dance, white teenagers doing this dance, the University of Maryland Water Polo team, student councils, cheerleaders, Drum Majors, moms, GRANDmoms.... you name it, people are doing it. Just about everybody is doing this dance.

Everyone except me... and Mrs Gunfighter, too (I asked).

You know, I always liked to think that I was rather savvy about the trends in this country... popular culture holds a great deal of interest for me... but I completely missed this. WTF?

If you would like to learn now to "Crank" the Soldier Boy dance, see the instructional video here.

Oh, and I have no intention of "Cranking the Souljah Boy" at Happy Hour next week, so you can forget that!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Read This Blog!

Many of you, who have been reading my blog for a while know this person's blog. You know it because you have seen her many thoughtful, cogent comments about the foolishness that I often post about,

For those of you that haven't visited her yet, be sure to do so. If you are anything like me, you like smart. This lady is smart.

Her name, well, her nom de internet is Soccer Mom in Denial, but since that takes a long to type (for a poor typist like me), many of her readers reduce that lengthy moniker to SMID.

Good blog-pal SMID is a humble woman who has true social conscience. She cares about the less fortunate, and although she is a physically gentle person, is a true and tough warrior for social justice. I admire her for her passion and dedication to the cause.

SMID is also dedicated to her rugby-playing husband, whom she calls "Amazing Guy" and her three children, all of whom she is raising to be sensitive, culturally aware, questioning, thinking people.

She also takes a great interest in photography, something she shares with us (along with a fellow blogger, about whom I'll talk about later in the month via second blog) at Looking Into.

Thanks for sharing so much with us, SMID, you're a bit of alright.


Hey! Why are you still here?

Go to her blog. Now!