Monday, May 31, 2010

High seas - high jinks

I'm pretty miffed right now.

I get annoyed when people lie to my face, or think I'm stupid enough to believe the nonsense they spout. 

To learn more than Fox, CNN, Al-Jezeera and Sky are telling you about today's escapades on the high seas, I suggest you read what The Muqata has to say in his live blogging.

8:14 PM As we start wrapping up today's events, its not surprising to see the world's condemnation of Israel. We expect it. Regardless of the non-lethal force the IDF was expecting to use, or the "peace activists" Israel was expecting on the ships, today's events spiraled out of control as terrorists brutally attacked IDF soldiers with intent to kill.

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Graduation Night - Moon over Yusufiyah

Graduation Night - Moon over Yusufiyah

By Greyhawk

This article is taken from The Mudville Gazette

The Stokely family sat in a football stadium on a warm Friday night just before Memorial Day 2001 to watch Mike Stokely graduate high school. He already had boot camp / basic training and a year in the National Guard under his belt and would be heading off for Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Gordon in a few weeks. His little sister, Abbey, almost nine, couldn't let go of him, even to have a photo taken with Mike and their brother, Wes. She swung on his arm adoringly - her look of love says it all.

On the morning of August 16, 2005, as my wife Retta and I sat with Wes and Abbey just after breaking the news to them of Mikes death earler that morning, then 13 year old Abbey buried her head into my shoulder, sobbing these words: "he was supposed to chase away my first boyfriend, he was supposed to cheer at my graduation from high school, he was supposed to be an uncle to my children..." These words seared my heart, broken as it was. I shall never forget them. She lost her oldest brother that day, her "Bubs" which she called him short for his nickname, Bubba.

Tonight, May 27, 2010 at the football stadium for Northgate High School in Sharpsburg GA, Abbey Stokely graduated last with her class. She has had a rough five years that started with Mike's death in Iraq. Five months later, she and I were broad sided by a driver who ran a stop sign at 45 plus and rolled and flipped us several times, shearing her right rear passenger door away. She spent 18 months recovering from her serious neck, back, and head injury. Those two events might seem enough to cause a student to graduate last.

But more came her way for just a month or so after she was fully recovered from the wreck. She was bitten by a tick and came down with Lyme Disease. In GA and the south there is medical bias against diagnosing or even recognizing that Lyme Disease exists here and doctor after doctor refused to treat her for Lyme, saying she just needed psychological help due to her brother's death and the car wreck. She missed over half her class instruction time during her sophomore and junior years, essentially home schooling herself between extensive rest periods, migraines, sickness, dizziness, and other symptoms that doctors said was just "in her head" and not Lyme. She and her mother traveled out of state to see doctors who might treat her for Lyme and finally we found a doctor about two hours from our home in GA that started aggressive treatment for Lyme and she finally started getting better. That might be enough by itself, but especially with the continuing grief over her brother's loss and her own near death experience to cause her to be last, but more was to come.

As she ended her junior year her best friend for several years had become her first boyfriend - the one Mike was supposed to chase away. But I think he might have let this fine young man who had been so good to his sister in all of her grief, injuries and sickness stay around. A gentleman in every respect was Thomas Broadwater. A fine son and brother-in-law he might have one day made. They went to the prom together and a great night it was, but then the next day my mother / Abbey's grandmother fell seriously ill at age 81 and died a week later. Looking back, it is about the most normal thing that has happened to Abbey in these five years. Her "Nana" adored her as she adored Nana. Enough you might think. But not yet, for three weeks after burying her Nana, Abbey Stokely buried her best friend, her first boyfriend, Thomas Broadwater, who died from complications of surgery on one of his lungs.

So, you might think that was enough and it was almost too much for her to bear. Thomas was also her classmate and supposed to graduate with Abbey and 395 others tonight. This last year has not been easy to say the least. Surely, this explains why she was the last. She wanted her brother Mike to be there to cheer for her and she felt it so unfair that Thomas wasn't there to get his diploma. And that weighed heavily on her. We were tense to see if she would get through this graduation tonight, an emotional time for her to say the least.

But none of these things are why Abbey Stokely was last to graduate with her class tonight. Abbey Stokely graduated last tonight because she was the Valedictorian and by tradition the last to receive her diploma and graduate. Before rising to give her speech to send her classmates into the future, she watched with bittersweet pride as a member of Thomas Broadwater's family came forward to receive his diploma posthumously. Then, she nailed her speech in front of thousands of friends, family and strangers. Just as she finished, a downpour hit and drenched the graduates and the crowd. A mile away not a drop.

I first wondered why it rained there. But then, as I saw the rising full moon emerge from behind the clouds, The same Moon over Yusufiyah I watched night after night as Mike served in Iraq, even as I prayed for his safety and wished to feel close to him, knowing he had seen the same moon 8 hours before. It was then I wondered if it was Mike's tears of joy and pride for his sister that had just drenched us all.

The Moon over Yusufiyah was shining bright over Sharpsburg tonight.
And I was reminded again that the highest cost of Freedom is A Lifetime of Love.
Robert Stokely
proud dad of Abbey Stokely, Wes Stokely
and Mike Stokely KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq
Fiddlers Green a.jpg

Abbey produced this memorial slideshow for Mike in 2007, on the second anniversary of his death. I first saw it not far from Yusufiyah, where we were finishing the work he and so many others had begun. Those were grim days, but from the Stokely family I gained strength to carry on.


 Thanks again to Greyhawk over at the Mudville Gazette

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 Years of One Man and His Dog

And oy aff been watching it.

Oooh arrr.

Skill, energy, gabardine and flat caps. What more could a man ask for?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TV shows to watch over the summer

The baby has been waking up in the middle of the night and even once he is down again I can't sleep. So I've been watching a fair bit of TV recently, catching up with series that i've been too busy to watch.
Family watching television, c. 1958

The Good; stuff I'd watch at the drop of a hat

Deadliest Catch - reality show about crab fishing. A must see for everyone bored in their lives or jobs.
Crew members struggle to recover a crab pot as...Modern Family - comedy
Big Bang Theory - comedy
NCIS - drama

The Bad - shows that others love and I don't;


The Ugly - shows I have gotten very bored with, although they were once great;

Chuck - comedy/drama
Two and a Half Men

So to conclude, I strongly suggest, whilst all the normal shows are on summer break (why, I don't know!?), watch The Deadliest Catch, from Season 1. Modern Family, with all the family. Download The Big Bang Theory and keep it on your computer to watch when you need a laugh. Its not everyone's cup of tea.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Everest, Part Deux

As I ranted in the last Everest blog, as is my want as 'Jumblerant', I did actually have a point to make! And it seemed to me that it was a simple one.

The Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest

So what was I really moaning about last time? The stupidity of people in wanting to climb Everest at any cost. And that cost may not only be their lives, but also their rescuers' lives too.

A good, if not great, book to read on Everest and climbing the heights of the world is 'No Shortcuts To The Top' by Ed Viesturs.

Ed starts explaining his love for climbing, how he started out as a local climber, then local guide and then international expedition member, guide and then leader.

He has opinions on all matters Everest and is not afraid to share them. The main quote that sticks in my mind is a basic one;

"Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory"

Mount Everest (topgold)This to me sums up all that is wrong with paid hikers, as opposed to experienced climbers, going up Everest. Repeatedly on the Everest based TV shows climbers gravitate to the peak of the world forgetting that they have to get back to shelter if they are going to live to tell the tale.

Turning away from the peak 250 meters is an option because it means you live to try another day but many amateurs forget this, and as expedition companies sell more spaces depending on how many people reached the summit the year before, they are always ready to give in and risk numerous lives.

Sending a 13 year old up into the Death Zone may not be the cleverest thing a parent may do but adults also get all discombobulated by the peak of Everest looming over them;

Bonita Norris and her long ordeal in Everest's dead zone

Fellow climbers tell how the youngest British woman to scale summit was rescued frostbitten, semi-conscious and close to death
She was very lucky indeed. Many, if not most of those afflicted with anything life threatening over 28,000 are left to die a slow and painful death because at that height you cannot have a pal sit next to you and cheer you on as they themselves need to get back to where they can breath air not from a bottle.

They need to get down to a warm drink and a place to relax because most people coming down from the peak have been awake for close to 24 hours.

Don't take my word for it, listen to Dr. Kenneth Kamler who was a part of the 1996 disaster on Everest:

Let's be careful out there...

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yours sincerely, Disgusted of Kathmandu

I read this morning the great news that 13-year-old Jordan Romero became the youngest climber to reach the top of Everest on Friday.
Good for him. A lifetime goal for many has been trounced by a 13 year old who will be able to look back on it forever and apply what he has learned to structure his adult life.

But I blame the parents.

It was a foolhardy and, some might even say, stupid thing for them to do.

Mount Everest North Face as seen from the path...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some limber climber who spends every waking moment dreaming of climbing Everest or hiking to it's Base Camp. I'm an armchair athlete who is happy to comment on almost anything. I do have an interest in Everest though.

Cover of "The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on ...As most of the English speaking world knows, there was an horrific day on Everest back on May 9th 1996. Its well written about repeatedly but my favorite book about that day, and climbing Everest in general, is Jon Krakauer's 'Into Thin Air'. Its a great read and was the first book that I know of that brought out the subject of people paying to get to the top of Everest, irrelevant of skill or experience.

'Into Thin Air' had a lot of critics. There was little proof of what happens above 28,000 feet in The Death Zone and armchair expeditionists and family of those that died, were up in arms about getting to the truth.

Anatoli Boukreev, who had been one of the main characters in 'Into Thin Air' spoke from the grave* with his book 'The Climb, Tragic Ambitions on Everest'. This is probably one of the least read books about Everest, even though it was a 'National Bestseller' because it is written in an arrogant, stuttered manner. But the truth, or Anatoli's version of it, lays there and needs to be read.

So whats all the noise about? Its a mountain. You go there, climb for a bit, have an energy bar or two, climb for a bit more and then put on a bottle of oxygen and get to the top. Smile for the camera - phone your Mum, and back down in time for tea and crumpets with the charwallwahs.

Tea house at North Mount Everest Base Camp.First of all I'd like to point out that a number of people die every year on their way to Everest Base Camp. Its not like they're going to hike up the mountain itself, they've gone to see it from a long way away and the altitude sickness kills them. So Everest is a killer from afar too.

There are TV shows all about Everest such as 'Everest Beyond The Limits', 'Everest' and 'Bear's Mission Everest'. And they all repeatedly state the bare facts:
People die on Everest.
People die easily on Everest.
Sending your 13 year old to climb it seems like the crappiest Bar Mitzvah present I've ever heard of.

My further thoughts of climbing Everest in Part 2.


*Anatoli died in an avalanche on Christmas Day 1997.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Mummy was I made in Afghanistan?

In today's British newspapers there is an article going round about how female soldiers who are embarking for a tour of duty in a war zone are being encouraged to take condoms with them.

In a practical way this does make sense. Under stress, pressure and unusual surroundings people bond in a different way than they would in normal circumstances. One thing leads to another and then... well you don't need me to tell you about that, the Internet runs on it!!

The amazing thing for me? This quote:

Last year, 102 pregnant British servicewomen were flown out of Iraq


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Not So Safe After All

Norton, AVG, McAfee and Avast. All excellent ways of stopping viruses and invaders, from getting into your computer.

But there is a huge gaping chasm of a gap where I for one, never thought of it.

So I guess we'll all be dealing with our old photocopiers the way John Cusack dealt with the printer in Office Space (the fun starts around the 1.20 mark)

Pass on the facts to friends and family alike. Its a ascary world out there!

Hat tip to Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man


Monday, May 10, 2010

But I Didn't Shoot T't Deputy

I was listening to the amazing podcast 'Answer Me This' the other day and heard what I tihnk was the most interesting question of 2010.

Why is it okay to admit shooting The Sheriff, but then deny shooting The Deputy? What can you possibly gain from that?

And for all you Technical Writers and printing related chaps out there: 

Hat tip to William the Coroner


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jay G - keeping the iPad real

'Twas a mere couple of days ago that I celebrated the iPad's astoundingicityness, here, on this very blog 'iPad is High Quality', and yet His Eminence the Jay G of MArooned sees it differently.


P.S. Jay - I'm not saying you're wrong, but lets settle this with my Tavor against your VERP. Just a case of getting it all through customs I guess.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Distance from bias? Myas

I read a few blogs every day - maybe a 100, maybe 500 - depends on the wife, work and if the latest episode of 'Pineapple Dance Studios' is downloaded.

Louis from Pineapple Dance Studios

So now to the title of the blog - Reuters. And Hamas. A lovely couple.
gilad Shalit
Hamas was upset at an on-line ad that was seen at the Reuters Arabic service site, offering a $10 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit.

Reuters' response to the terrorist group is instructive.

Palestine Today reports that Reuters responded to the criticism, saying that it was an automated ad placed there by Google Ads, and not - Allah forbid! - placed by any Reuters staffers. After all, an ad that seeks to free a prisoner illegally held in an unknown location without any access to the Red Cross would be thoroughly offensive to any Reuters employee, right?

Reuters then cravenly added that they immediately acted to remove the ad, and "we are now taking steps to ensure non-recurrence of such things in the future."

Reuters additionally wrote back to the offended terrorist organization that Reuters has a long history of covering the Middle East in a neutral and accurate manner, stressing that they are committed to continuing this approach, they wrote "We are clear and faithful to our principles of integrity, independence and distance from bias."
My response to Reuters? - "Distance from bias? Myass"

Hat tip to Elder of Ziyon


Doug Hegdahl's POW story

People ask me why I blog and I really don't have a valid answer. And then I find an amazing true  story like the one over at Nobody Asked Me and I realise just what it is that keeps me sharing and caring on the interwebs.

Its a story I've never heard before about a POW in Vietnam, how he got there and how he got out. Here is a short excerpt from the tale;

Christmas in Vietnam, 1967In trying to get people to accept early propaganda releases, the Communists would have some "good cop" interrogator like the ones we called the "Soft Soap Fairy" talk to the prospect and sound him out for pliability. They got Doug one day and asked what we eventually learned to be the lead question: "What do you want more than anything else in the world?" The answer of the weak and willing was : "To go home to my family." Doug thought for a long time, then cocked his head with a smile and said "Why, I'd like a pillow, Sir." This was not an unreasonable response since we had no pillows on our cement pads or bed boards. However, the response sure confounded the enemy. They eventually came up with a name for Doug amongst the guards and interrogators: "The Incredibly Stupid One." His original resistance ploy had paid off.

Because they thought him stupid, they would let him go out in the cell block courtyard during the siesta to sweep up the grounds period monitored by only one sleepy, peasant guard. I thought that was great since it kept him from skipping and I could get some rest. However, curiosity got the better of me and I started to watch him through a peephole we had bored in the cell door. He'd go sweeping and humming until the guard was lulled to sleep. Then Doug would back up to a truck, spin the gas cap off the standpipe, stoop down and put a small amount ("Small, because it's going to be a long war, Sir.") of dirt in the gas tank and replace the cap. I watched him over a period of time do this to five trucks.

Now, I'm a liberal arts major who shot himself down, so all I can do is report what I saw. There were five trucks working in the prison; I saw Doug work on five trucks; I saw five trucks towed disabled out of the prison camp. Doug Hegdahl, a high school graduate from the mess decks fell off a ship and has five enemy trucks to his credit. I am a World Famous Golden Dragon (VA 192) with two college degrees, 2000 jet hours, 300 carrier landings and 22 combat missions. How many enemy trucks do I have to my credit? Zero. Zip. Nada. De Rien. 0. Who's the better man? Douglas Brent Hegdahl, one of two men I know of who destroyed enemy military equipment while a prisoner of war.
So go here and read the whole story. And tell the Old NFO that Jumblerant sent you.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

iPad is high quality

How would you show that the iPad is the highest quality machine ever built? Get a world renowned pianist to play something on it. In public.

Real or fake? What do you think??


Saturday, May 1, 2010

No Free Lunch

I unashamedly stole this, verbatim, from the excellent, and highly recommended blog The Sandgram

Got this from a friend of mine whose son is about to become a 2ndLt in the Marines.  John, thanks for the piece, I tend to stay away from politics, but this is too good!!
I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the successful passing of the recent health care bill.

Public domain image from http://vis...The West Wing CastGLENSIDE, PA - MARCH 08:  President Barack Oba...

I could not finish my breakfast.
This is what ensued:

They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes.
I heard the young man exclaim, “Isn’t Obama like Jesus Christ?
I mean, after all, he is healing the sick”.
The young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, “Yeah, and he does it for free.
I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market would work for health care.
They are all crooks and thieves and don’t deserve all of that money.”
Another said, ‘The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power.
Obama should be made a saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate.”
At this, I had had enough.

I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table.
“Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?
”They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation.
Perfect Breakfast?I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.

“I would like to give one of you my house.
It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there.
Anyone interested?” They looked at each other in astonishment.
“Why would you do something like that?” asked a young man, “There isn’t anything for free in this world”.
They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point.
“I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money what so ever. Anyone interested?”
In unison, a resounding” Hell Yeah” fills the room.

“Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money free bargain.”
I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking
his head in apparent disgust.
“I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules.”
Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces.
The perky young woman asked, “What are the rules?” I smiled and said, “I don’t know.
I have not yet defined them.
However, it is a free home that I offer you.”
They giggled amongst themselves, the youngest of which said, “What an old coot.
He must be crazy to give away his home.
Go take your meds, old man.”
I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further.
I am serious, this is a legitimate offer.
They gaped at me for a moment.

Hell, I’ll take it you old fool.
Where are the keys?” boasted the youngest among them.
Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then? I asked.
The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table.
“Oh hell yeah! Where do I sign up?”
I took a napkin and wrote, “I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction.”
I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature.
“Where are the keys to my new house?” he asked in a mocking tone of voice.
All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.

Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere from this point forward.
You may only live in the house for one hour a day.
You will not use anything inside of the home.
You will obey me without question or resistance.
I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you.
You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature.
Your morals and principles shall be as mine.
You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith.
These are my terms.
Here are your keys.” I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumb founded.

Are you out of your freaking mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms?” the young man appeared irritated. You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement.
Was all I said. The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him.
I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people.
You can shove that stupid deal up you’re a** old man, I want no part of it exclaimed the now infuriated young man.
You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends; you cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it.
I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared.
I am the power you agreed to.
I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to.
In short, I am your Master. At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.

After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent.
What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation.
I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain.
Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn; that you are entitled to that which you did not earn; that you willingly allowed someone else to think for you.
Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you.
You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee.
Your only chance of freedom is if your new Master gives it unto you.
A freedom that is given can also be taken away; therefore, it is not freedom.
With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man.
This is the nature of your new health care legislation.”

I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation and was surprised by applause.
The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, Thank you Sir, these kids don’t understand Liberty these days.
He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, You earned this one, it is an honor to pickup the tab.
I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled, and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.