You've heard of the term shabbos goy? Well, this year me and the family were the Christmas Jews.
Me of Lagniappe's Lair came to town to have Christmas dinner. This is traditionally held at his Mom's condo but due to inclement interior weather conditions (her upstairs neighbor in a fine example of don't-do-it-yourself plumbing flooded her out) she couldn't host it this year.
For Me and his kin to not have a spot to celebrate was simply unacceptable so we offered to host the extravaganza, complete with as Me put it,a Hannukah Ham. Tasty, but Oy Vey.
So it was a very nice time, and after a fine dinner we watched Jeff Dunham's hilarious A Very Special Christmas Special.
Afterwards I had a longing for Chinese food and a movie, but you can't have everything.
For Christmas I got Me (him not me, he really needs a better blog name I shall now call him LLMe) (to the tune of the twelve days of Christmas): The Pacific Mini-Series, a book on World War Two Aircraft, and a Camo Mil-Surp LBE vest.
He got me a very nice knife, which I shall properly treasure. He didn't bring Murphy over after giving me the knife, probably worrying about a holiday circumcision ritual or something.
Before the dinner, we went to the Target Sports II range as he related and yes, they were as overbearing as he related. The claim that the 380 and 9x18 were steel core pistol bullets is laughable, especially as the 9x18 were hollow-points and you could look inside and see lead! The magnet was the size of a brick and was pretty clearly attracted to the steel cases, but logical arguments didn't have any effect. I agree with me that they were probably trying to get us to buy their ammo, but I also suspect they didn't want to sort out the steel cases from the brass that was littering the floor and giving them another revenue stream as the customers left their brass lying about.
On the upside, after a long time hanging about the safe I brought my S&W model 29-2 out to play and it was a accurate and perfect as ever. Simply an exquisite example of revolver craftsmanship, and my 44 Magnum reloads were dead bang on. We were very good that day and our half-fast drills (which are rather humbling as they seem so easy until you try them) were coming along. I daresay we were making the pother range attendees (there were darn few so there was really no need for them to short our time as they did - there was no lineup or wait at all). Very annoying and time to find another place to shoot.
Also as LLMe related, we went to play some laser tag with Spud. The first game I properly dominated and set the pace and came in first. I then eased off in the later games. Especially so in game three when Spud did the "let's stick to Aaron like glue trick." Gotta let the kid win some ya know to keep him coming back and not hurt their feelings and give them an inferiority complex.
So it was a very nice visit and splendid time with LLMe's family.
So a belated Merry Christmas to my Christian readers and prospective wishes to all for a Happy New Year.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
You've heard of the term shabbos goy? Well, this year me and the family were the Christmas Jews.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Just finish watching Team Canada demolish Norway 10-1 at the World Junior Hockey Championships being held in Buffalo, NY on the TV.
Canada has an awesome team on the ice this year and I'd say this year it is their championship to lose, and they're not likely to lose it. Absolutely great hockey and a lot of fun to watch.
Pretty awesome watching Brayden Schenn's tying of Mario Lemieux's and Simon Gagne record for the most goals scored in a game at the championship - 4. He almost got five to make a new record. He's going to be quite a player to watch as will many others on this fantastic team. On to watching them dominate Sweden tomorrow.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
If you're looking for a gift for someone who has everything already why not make a donation in their honor? Or if you're looking for a worthy charity to donate to in the spirit of the season, I'd propose giving to the Special Operations Warriors Foundation.
The Special Operations Warriors Foundation is a highly rated charity that provides college scholarships for the children of Special operations troops killed in the line of duty, and also provides asistance to wounded special operations troops and their familities.
Certainly a very worthy cause to help those who have done so much and sacrificed so greatly for us and for our country, especially in our current wars.
And if you're Jewish like me, I'd suggest a donation in multiples of 18, you'll know why.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
JammieWearing Fool reports on the curious case of a Navy signalman who was busy leaking classified information on ship transit plans and movements to Islamic terrorists and was convicted for transmitting classified information to unauthorized persons.
The best part - before joining the Navy in 1997 signalman had changed his name from the prosaic Paul R. Hall to Hassan Abu-Jihaad.
He then joined the Navy after the name change and apparently no eyebrows were raised at the name change at any time in his background check or afterwards.
The court certainly takes the Navy to task over this blindness:
In 1997, defendant Paul Raphael Hall changed his name to “Hassan Abu-Jihaad,” the surname of which translates to “Father of Jihad.”1 This curious choice appears not to have raised any concern in the United States Navy when, in January 1998, Abu-Jihaad enlisted.2
The notes attached to these sentences are quite revealing:
1. Jihad has been defined as “a religious war of Muslims against unbelievers in Islam, inculcated as a duty by the Koran and traditions.” 8 Oxford English Dictionary 238 (2d ed.1989). Although jihad is also understood to denote “the struggle against one’s evil inclinations or efforts toward the moral uplift of society,” 7 Encyclopedia of Religion 4917 (Lindsay Jones ed., 2d ed. 2005), it is in the former sense that the concept has been invoked to support terrorist acts against the United States, see, e.g., United States v. Rahman, 189 F.3d 88, 104-09 (2d Cir. 1999) (detailing Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman’s support for “violent
jihad” against the United States). In this case, the jury heard testimony that jihad warriors, known as mujahideen, commonly select noms de guerre.
2 There can be no question that the United States was then aware that it was a target of jihad terrorism, as evidenced by the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by in New York City, see United States v. Yousef, 327 F.3d 56, 78-79 (2d Cir. 2003); foiled plots in June 1993 and January 1995 to bomb United States aircraft en route from Asia and
New York City bridges, tunnels, and buildings, see id. at 79; United States v. Rahman, 189 F.3d at 109-11, 155; and the June 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, a residential complex on a United States military base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, see Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 659 F. Supp. 2d 20, 22 (D.D.C. 2009).
In other words, the 2nd Circuit in its opinion just legally asked the Navy "What the heck were you thinking when you signed this guy up?"
The very well written appellate opinion can be read in full at the 2nd Circuits' Website.
The opinion details many of Abu-Jihaads' communications with Islamists and paints a very clear picture that he was certainly not just supportive of jihad but was knowingly engaged in transmitting classified information to the Islamist enemy and potentially working in concert with a Marine (the case doesn't say what happended to the Marine as a result). His 10 year sentence which was affirmed, seems rather light given the lives he may have endangered by his acts.
Hopefully the Navy has since improved its background checks and security procedures for sailor recruitment.
Monday, December 20, 2010
The AP and the Detroit News: Students look to 2012 after immigration bill fails
Again the AP, with the Detroit News failing to correct, provides a misleading headline. It should have read:
Illegal students look to 2012 after immigration amnesty bill fails.
"This is a movement," said Nancy Meza, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant and college graduate who wore a University of California, Los Angeles sweatshirt as she watched the televised vote.Amazing, a bunch of people here illegally are upset when they're not rewarded for well, being illegal and suppooritng illegal activity.
. . .
In the hours after the vote, Meza and about 50 other student activists who had gathered at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center said they would remind Latinos who stood by them - and those who did not - in the next election cycle. They will push for access to financial aid and drivers' licenses in states more friendly to immigrants like California.
Few said the legislation, many called the Dream Act, had a chance in the next two years with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives and a shrinking Democratic majority in the Senate. But they said that wouldn't derail the networks they had set up across the country to support illegal immigrant students and help them reveal their status and learn to live unafraid.
Apparently this loss is quite upsetting:
"This has a real demoralizing effect," Krikorian said of the student activists. "There's only so long you can keep up these hunger strikes and all this political theater they've been engaging in, especially if there's no specific target."I guess with Bush not being around to be blamed for all that is not right in the illegal world, they're having a rough time going the full Alinsky.
But wait, their suffering gets worse:
Another challenge is students could wind up feeling excluded when they can't work after graduation, despite their political activism.So very, very sad. Indeed, is there any wine sweeter than that of the tears of illegal hippies?
ICE's lack of enforcement is rather interesting. After all, these students have publicly identified themselves as illegals and publicly and contemptuously flout the law, and finding them and enforcing the law should not be particularly hard.
Of course, many want to reward illegal behaviour and prevent deporting these "activists" who no doubt are getting financial aid and benefits that ought to be reserved for legal immigrants and citizens. Democrats are looking for a rich new source of votes form these illegals:
Immigrant rights groups said they planned to turn up the pressure on the Obama administration to slow deportations, end local police enforcement of immigration laws and look out for the students, many of whom publicly revealed their immigration status over the last few months.It is rather amazing that students at public universities receiving state and federal funds are not required to have students show proof of legal residency to attend, or are these universitites adopting a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy when it comes to their illegal students?
Students also said they planned to fight for immigrant benefits - though it's not legalization - locally as they've seen anti-illegal immigration activists do to pass tougher enforcement measures in states like Arizona.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
In honor of District of Columbia v Heller, I brought out my District of Columbia Police Glock 17:
It shot quite well, except for the KCI magazine it came with that caused a stovepipe with a piece of brass consistently on shot 8 or so. The KCI was obviously not issued with it originally and replacing it with another mag made the brass stovepipe issue disappear. My first Glock 17, it functioned just like any other Glock I owned and was accurate and excellent as usual, once the magazine issue was remedied. The rest of the 100 rounds fired just fine.
I also shot my S&W M&P 9mm for the first time, breaking it in with its first 100 rounds. This is one of the pistol-training.com custom guns and I'm rather impressed with it.
I'm planning on taking ToddG's class when he offers it in Ohio next year as soon as he opens it up I'm going to sign up for it, especially after Tam's review. No, I didn't buy it for the class, I've wanted an M&P for awhile and this one came setup exactly how I wanted one to be - no mag safety, no internal lock, night sights and a nice trigger, besides, any excuse for a new pistol right?
The M&P shot right to point of aim and fit my hand like a glove. It feels a bit heavier than the Glock, and the trigger is smooth and feels better than the Glock's trigger to me. The trigger reset will take a little getting used, to especially its reset compared to the Glock trigger that I'm more used to feeling. I didn't hear/feel the Glock 'click' as the trigger reset on the M&P and it was throwing me off a bit and I missed the reset a few times.
I did some mag change drills and some half-fast drills with the M&P and they were quite smooth. Sadly, the range I went to does not allow drawing from a holster so I could not try the real FAST drill and I was stuck doing a half-fast job of it starting the pistol at the bench level and raising it to position rather than drawing from a holster. It will have to wait for another day and another range to practice the full FAST drill live. In any case, the conclusion from this range session was that I do need more practice if I want to get on to the next level of shooting.
To end the range session I ran 50 rounds of the Silver Bear 9x18 hollow points through my CZ-82, which, to no surprise, functioned well, but with great fireballs as usual with this ammo. Flamethrower-effect aside, all shots were nice and on target, with every shot hitting the Caldwell 5 1/2 circle bullseye I had put up to cover the holes from the Glock and S&W sessions.
Considering the flash of the Silver Bears, I'd recommend the Hornady 9x18 hollow points if you plan to carry it concealed. The CZ had less felt recoil than either the Glock or the M&P, and even as a smaller pistol its all-steel construction made recoil management a snap and very rapid, accurate shots were easy to make. It is an amazing pistol for the price and I'm sure Scott is going to love his, and he'll blog about it in due time.
So a good evening at the range and leaving with plenty to work on. On the upside, even after not shooting for awhile my skills haven't declined markedly, but they do need some reinforcement and more practice. Now that the lakes are iced over I can pay more attention to the art of the pistol.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Before, if they were seen troops couldn't ask or tell about them, now after the repeal bill passed in the Senate and the President's pending signature, they're free to again fly the friendly skies and get shot down.
The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press, ever an unbiased news outlet, had the following caption for its story about the failure of the DREAM Act to pass the Senate today:
Yes, a bill to grant amnesty and open the floodgates of illegal immigrants is described by the AP, and by the Freep as a "youth immigration bill" and of course, if you believe the headline, its failure to pass was solely the Republican's fault. In reality, not so much.
The Freep doesn't even have the full AP report, that as biased as it is shows it wasn't just Republicans blocking the passing of the bill (remember the Democrats have a majority in the Senate so the Republicans alone can't truly block anything - but thanks for the spin AP and Freep!).
Three Republicans — Robert Bennett of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Richard Lugar of Indiana — joined 50 Democrats and the Senate's two independents in voting for the bill (and Thank you RINOs for your efforts!).It would have been far more accurate to blame the Democrats for this lousy bill's failure, but that would hurt the narrative now wouldn't it?
Five Democrats — Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — joined 36 Republicans in blocking it. Not voting were Republican Sens. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
|You lookin' at us?|
We even had the ultra-rare two-headed deer -
|Ok, which way do we go?|
There were a total of 5 deer visible in the woods by our house - one big buck who didn't come out for a picture, these two larger does that were about the size of small ponies and a couple others.
Impressively, once they step back into the woods they're very hard to see:
|Can you see us now?|
So they're nice to look at and seem to be quite healthy. Hopefully they'll learn to keep out of traffic.
Friday, December 17, 2010
California. Where even the Judges are leaving the bounds of sanity in order to appease prisoners and drive up costs.
Calif. Judge OK’d Seinfeld’s ‘Festivus’ as Legitimate Religion, Ordered Special Meals for Inmate
Locked up in a California jail, Malcolm Alarmo King wanted healthier meals. In an argument apparently made to a friendly court, he won a ruling from Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson that he should be fed double-portion kosher meals.
Battling to keep its food costs down, the sheriff's department argued that King himself admitted "healthism" was the so-called religion justifying this request. But Johnson wasn't daunted, calling a sidebar with King's lawyer, Fred Thiagarajah, and the county prosecutor and asking for suggestions about a religion he could cite in the kosher-meal order to nail the issue down once and for all, the Orange County Register reported.
“I said Festivus,” Thiagarajah tells the newspaper—and Festivus it was. The holiday (Festivus for the rest of us) was popularized by the writers of the Seinfeld television show, county counsel argued to no avail.
Seriously, Festivus a real religious holiday requiring double-size kosher meals as part of its requirements? I never saw that part of the festival on Seinfeld, and in any case Festivus is a holiday, not a religion.
The inmate should have argued he was a follower of Seinfeldlam -
"There is no god but Seinfeld, and Kramer is his prophet".
When they inevitably get laughed at they could then declare -
You insult our prophet, no soup for you!
That would have at least have been logically consistent in having a religion that has holidays rather than a holiday becoming a recognized religion, even if it is a religion about nothing based on a show about nothing. Of course, in the once great state of California, it seems that even a base layer of logical consistency on which to pile absurdity is not required.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On this day back in 1836, the Michigan-Ohio Border War, known as the Toledo War ended with the acceptance of Federal government terms by Michigan at the Frostbitten Convention.
This practically forgotten war claimed no lives but resulted in much taunting between the rival armies, the calling out of the militia of both states and shots being fired, some assorted fisticuffs and one stabbing.
In return for giving up claims on Toledo and the disputed land in the strip above the Maumee river, Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula and was admitted as a state in the Union. This surrendering of territory was, at the time, thought to have been a decisive loss for Michigan. However, as the Upper Peninsula was later found to be rich in timber, copper and iron ore, this resulted in a real win for Michigan, especially when you visit the City of Toledo today.
A boundary adjustment and survey again took place in 1915 without any serious drama, and the final boundary adjustment between the states was only resolved after a Supreme Court case in 1973 settled the water boundary on Lake Erie, resulting in Turtle island being divided between the two states rather than remaining solely Michigan territory.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The Detroit News: Driving remains treacherous, temperatures to plummet tonight Yes, yes it was, and it probably will be even worse.
Sure enough, driving today was hell. Having un-plowed streets by municipalities that seem to have been caught unawares that it was snowing all last night, and people who completely forgot how to drive it wasn't pretty. Hopefully these cities will figure it out and actually plow and salt after a snowfall. It is really not hard to anticipate that after snow falls on a Sunday you're going to need to salt and plow on Monday morning. Yeesh.
The streets were still quite snow and ice covered, and the kids schools were closed.
Remember what you were doing on June 3rd of this year? That far back is how far forward we're going to need to be to see spring again. Ouch.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
We live on a hill with one heck of a high angled driveway. I headed out to clear the driveway so we could get Natasha's van up on top as even with snow tires, it couldn't make it up the hill that is our driveway.
So about midway down the driveway, shovel in hand I start sliding. And kept sliding. No traction with my boots whatsoever. Under the snow is a layer of ice that makes getting any footing impossible. So I'm sailing down the driveway on the soles of my boots, rather well balanced and then come to a crashing stop. Great fun.
I then get up and realize I still can't get up the driveway, climb up and I slide right back down. So I shovel the base of the driveway and again can't get up the driveway, nor can Tash in the van, it got halfway up and then stopped short and slid back down.
So I walk up the grass, nursing my bruises from the fall and tomorrow morning, hopefully with the snowfall ended I plan to shovel again and salt the heck out of the driveway.
Winter is here again, and I'm not enthusiastic. If the ice is that bad with the first real snowfall, this will be a long Goreified winter.
Friday, December 10, 2010
General Motors plans to give $27.1 million over the next five years to help the United Way restructure five metro Detroit high schools, as the company continues its post-bankruptcy emphasis on turning around its home city.Now, helping Detroit area schools is indeed a noble (and herculean) task and 27 milion is ust a fraction of the government money the company has received, but should GM, still owing the US Government (read: taxpayers) billions of dollars in bail out money be putting its money into this program?
The donation, which is the largest ever to come from GM’s charitable foundation, targets the 22 schools in southeast Michigan that have graduation rates of less than 60%. The schools must submit applications in January to get turnaround money and, if chosen, will follow an existing United Way model with the hope of increasing their graduation rates to at least 80%.
As GM has returned to profitability and to the stock market, the automaker has returned to charitable giving.
After shouldn't the Department of Education be the federal government's source of education dollars rather than GM, its new motor vehicle production department?
Is GM just another source of government funds ready to be diverted to government approved social causes?
Like Custer, the Flag didn't live up to expectations as to what would happen when it faced its destiny.
Instead of an estimated 2-5 Million, it was sold for $1.9 Million. Still pretty respectable for a history- (and blood-) soaked cloth.
Perhaps the lower price is an appropriate result as the DIA didn't get as much money as it hoped it would from the sale, and now may be able to buy less kitsch as a result when it could instead have made a fantastic exhibit that would have rallied around this flag.
A military flag that accompanied Gen. George Armstrong Custer into the Battle of the Little Big Horn and was owned for 115 years by the Detroit Institute of Arts sold for a hammer price of $1.9 million at auction today at Sotheby’s in New York
It is stil a shame that the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum sold the flag off rather than at the very least arranging to place it in Michigan's Capitol Rotunda with the other flags that honor Michigan's past military units and their soldiers.
FAA loses track of 119,000 aircraft
Yes, the FAA's registry system is so messed up, they don't know with certainty who owns over 1/3 of America's aviation fleet.
The Detroit News:
The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.The fix will require re-registering all 357,000 civilly owned US aircraft, causing some major issues with priority on the titles of the aircraft.
The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government's knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.
About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have "questionable registration" because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.
Already there have been cases of drug traffickers using phony U.S. registration numbers, as well as instances of mistaken identity in which police raided the wrong plane because of faulty record-keeping.
The registry errors have already led to innocent aircraft owners being confronted at gunpoint by US law enforcement:
Unreliable data in the system has led to cases of mistaken identity.As the Instapundit would say, the country's in the very best of hands!
Pilot Pierre Redmond said his Cirrus was searched by Customs and Border Protection agents in fatigues and bulletproof vests last year in Ramona, Calif. They told him his tail number had been confused with that of a wanted plane in Florida.
In August, police in Santa Barbara, Calif., detained flight instructors John and Martha King at gunpoint after federal authorities mistook their Cessna for a plane that was stolen in 2002. The Kings are famous in aviation because they produce and star in a popular series of test-preparation videos for pilots.
The error in the Kings' case was eventually traced to a law-enforcement database that is cross-referenced with the FAA's registry, not to the registry itself. But Brown of the FAA called it an example of the real-world consequences of bad recordkeeping.
"It's very, very scary," Martha King said. "If this keeps happening to people, somebody's going to get shot."
Thursday, December 09, 2010
A mist was rising off the lake and a bit of ice could be seen at the waters edge on the boat ramp. We did wonder why we were doing this, but hey, a dive is a dive.
So in we went, and it was cold. On the upside the visibility was the clearest I've seen at Union lake in a long time, the boaters are gone, the particulate causing vegetation is dying or already dead and so the view is much father than normal - at least 30 feet plus.
We headed to the north boat, got there, messed around practicing some maneuvers for a bit and then both looked at each other - you cold? You cold? We both agreed that we were in fact cold. Ok, lets blow this pop stand. It was indeed cold. My temperature gauge read the water as 41 degrees at the surface and 39 degrees at depth, Keith's computer read 37 and I think his was more accurate. A good shiver-me-timbers dive was had by all.
We headed back, admired ourselves in the large mirror beside the skeleton of the Model T Ford, 'cause being numb with cold is no excuse for not looking awesome in the water, did a minimum deco ascent and got out.
The dive details:
Maximum depth: 38 feet
Bottom time: 28 minutes
Water temperature: 39 degrees
Air temperature: 37 degrees.
So will I get to dive #175 and perhaps more in 2010 or will the ice move in first? Will I be crazy enough to keep diving in sub-39 degree water? Will I get a working heated vest to hold off hypothermia? Stay tuned to find out.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
On the way to work there was a bit of a traffic hold up so I managed to observe the following sequence of events:
It seems a small deer had decided to interface with a truck and it was still kicking but had clearly gotten the worst of the meeting. This was the cause of the traffic hold up.
A police officer on the scene sentenced the deer by the roadside for impeding traffic. The officer dragged it off the road into the woods that were conveniently located there (and was probably where it came from in the first place), drew his service weapon, and BANG.
One shot, one dead deer.
The officer had an excellent awareness of his backstop and didn't miss. Nicely done.
The deer are now on notice not to mess around in traffic in that jurisdiction.
The DCLU (Deer Civil Liberties Union) was unavailable for comment.
Monday, December 06, 2010
On the weekend in between various errands and tasks we stopped for brunch at Big Boy.
It was the first time for the kids to be at Big Boy.
"The sign says Big Boy!" said Abby enthusiastically as we pulled up. She was also impressed by the statue of the Big Boy outside the front door.
Leah in her very concerned voice then asked: "Can little girls eat there too?"
Yes, yes they can, and quite a lot as it turns out. Big Boy was having a breakfast buffet. The French toast covered in the (real) cherry sauce was pure awesomeness for the kids, in addition to some scrambled eggs we managed to get them to eat for protein in between runs to the french toast.
Good service, good coffee, nice clean atmosphere and the kids were well behaved, so a successful and quite reasonably priced quick brunch was had by all.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Hanukkah as written above is a festival of lights, the holiday commemorating the miracle of the oil that burned in the lamp in the liberated Temple in Jerusalem for eight days when there was only enough oil for one day. It is a festival of religious freedom and an celebration of an ancient Jewish feat of arms in driving the Hellenic Syrians/Greeks out of the land of Israel and freeing the nation to be Jewish again and able to worship freely.
The second miracle of Hanukkah is that the Jewish people have been eating latkas and doughnuts fried in oil for hundreds of years, yet we survive!
Now you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy latkes and sufganiot (homemade doughnuts! - think a Jewish variety of beignets for those of you lucky enough to have gone to Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans). However not being on a low fat, low carb diet is pretty much a prerequisite for enjoyment. Consult a physician before preparing and consuming the recipes below.
So in honor of the holiday I give you Natasha'a recipe for the epitome of the Hannukah Latka, and for Sufganiot. Indeed her recipes are the perfect embodiment of everything a Latka and Sufganiot should be and they're both very easy to make, and fun to cook and then eat.
This is Natasha typing.
There really isn't a recipe for latkas, but I will try my best.
1. Peel potatoes until you get sick of peeling (I would say 6 potatoes for the family of 4)
2. Get your newly seven-year old to cut them up while begging her to keep her fingers out of the way.
3. Grate them using your indispensable food processor. Grate a large onion while you are at it [don't grate them too finely].
4. Get your four-year old to crack a couple of eggs. Make sure all the shells are out of the batter.
5. Add salt and black pepper. Start adding flour or matzah meal until the mixture comes together (I added about half a cup).
6. Make the batter into pancakes and fry in lots and lots of oil until golden brown and delicious [have your husband do this, he's not scared of using lots of oil]. Blot on paper towers and serve and sour cream and apple sauce (home-made from apples you picked yourself, of course).
Okay, now for the sufganiot/donuts.
1. Go to the store and get fresh self-rising flour. Do not substitute any other kind of flour, and do not use last years - it has lost its magic.
2. Combine the following:
-- 1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
-- 1/2 cup sugar
-- 3/4 cup sour cream
-- 1 egg
3. Deep fry in lots of oil.
4. Drain on paper towels and serve with powered sugar. Some people like to inject these donuts with jam, but while I was looking for the injector, all the donuts disappeared.
Happy Hannukah from our family to you and yours.
On this the first day of Hanukkah, the festival of lights, the holiday of the (olive) oil, what does he do?
Obama bans drilling for oil in the eastern Gulf for 7 years
President Barack Obama will not be allowing new drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least seven years, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday.
He's mixing his festival metaphors, the Story of Joseph and the seven lean years in the bible wasn't about a ban on oil drilling, and Hanukkah is about a festival of lights, not a lack of lights due to no oil production.
But he's probably going to cause seven very lean years for oil workers and their families in the region, and lean years for the rest of us as energy prices rise due to the lack of domestic production and further reliance on foreign oil.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If a conservative is a liberal whose been mugged, it looks like Portland's mayor may need to be mugged twice
On listening to NPR this evening, I happened to catch an All Things Consideredinterview they were having with the mayor of Portland, Sam Adams discussing the Christmas tree bombing attempt.
The title of the post is from the old joke: a liberal judge speaking to an audience on his soft on crime approach boasts that he has not changed his mind, has not gotten tough on criminals, even though he was mugged himself.
From the back of the room, a little old lady is heard to yell: "Mug him again!"
Sadly it seems that Sam Adams may need to be mugged again to be able to face reality and the citizens of Portland may suffer for his touchy-feely approach to terrorism.
It turns out that Sam was one of the last to know that terrorist Mohamed Osman Mohamud had been apprehended, because five years ago, he and others on the city council opted Portland out of the Joint Terrorism Task force, the first city to do so.
The interview shows Adams has a very pink if not full on red-tinted view of the world. It states how he's starting to reconsider the stupid decision to opt out, because he trusts the current (read Obama) administration more than the Bush administration, but he wants to make sure all of Portland's citizens civil rights are unhampered. At the time of the opt-out He felt he could not "in good conscience" have Portland Police involved that would risk his citizens due process rights including being involved in (gasp) wire taps and in depth investigations and a concern over racial and religious profiling. By the way, Sam Adams supported Portland becoming a "Sanctuary City" for illegals, with police banned from enforcing immigration laws, and he's also pushing for city ordinances on gun owners that violate Oregon state laws. So much for protecting "due process rights".
Of course as a dumb liberal, Mayor Adams is of course concerned that Mahmoud was entrapped and he believes dialog is important and the investigation should be in a civilian court where his peers can weigh claims that he may have been entrapped.
Look, if when approached about blowing up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, instead of saying "hell no!" you respond "Yes, by Mohammed's splooge-encrusted beard, I'm gonna do it, get me the explosives!, Allahu Akbar!". It is not entrapment.
All Things Considered is a nice window into the liberal mindset.
This was a casual practice dive, not a training dive so I was able to tag along.
It was a cold and rainy day so we were already wet before getting into the lake. The water temperature was 43 degrees on the dive computer but certainly felt a lot colder. This makes me want my heated vest, which is still being worked on.
As part of the dive we ran a line between one of the boats and the pontoon boat that serves as a dive platform to complete a course between a number of sunken boats. We also did an out of air drill and I blew a lift bag that we used to do an ascent drill on, which worked out pretty well with everyone doing a nice job managing their buoyancy and holding all the stops. Surfacing during the ascent drill was really chilling, and the air felt even colder than the water, so we quickly deflated the lift bag, stowed it back in my pocket and descended to retrieve the dive flag and return to shore.
Total dive time: 40 minutes and a great if cold time had by all. We then went to get some coffee and to warm up and share diving stories. Grosse Pointe Farms residents can rest assured that they have a very capable and professional dive team available to them in case they are needed.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
This morning was our group's annual Thanksgiving Day Dive.
The weather was cold, wet, with some cold rain coming down as all six of us pulled into the boat dock parking. The rain was bad because we could get cold and wet.
Another group was there as we arrived, donning their equipment and getting ready to go in. After exchanging some hellos, we started to gear up as they went in. Since they were diving in wetsuits, they were coming out pretty quick from the 45 degree water.
The visibility was really terrible today - the rain and a fair bit of wave action dropped the viz near the boat dock to a few feet. Once we got farther out to the northern boat it cleared up a bit but was still like diving through pea-green soup. Rob's light conked pout so he had to go to his backup but no big deal. Chad was wearing the vest today and on medium it kept him nice and warm the whole dive. now to figure out how to lock it in to the medium setting and we'll have some nice heated vests to make diving more enjoyable.
After a while, We then headed back, did a slow ascent and came out 35 minutes after we began and another Thanksgiving tradition continues. We then changed, stopped for coffee, talked about diving and future plans and wished each other a happy Thanksgiving and then headed off to be with our families for the rest of the day.
A very nice, albeit cold and wet, way to start the holiday.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Time flies and kids get big fast. You think you've got a tiny baby and you turn around and you've got a little person with a dazzling personality who can read, write, imagine, and really think about things.
Today was Abby's seventh birthday.
On waking up she received a happy birthday song and a Nintendo DS Lite in pink of course, an item she's been patiently begging to get for her birthday for a year now.
I had pre-configured it with her name and birthday so she was amazed that it knew her name and date of birth when she opened it. Nice to see that even at 7 you can still get a sense of wonder with a little prior preparation and planning.
Her first game was America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking
. The kid loves to cook, and this game, which speaks her name has cool videos on every stage of food preparation to cooking to serving and tons of recipes and she's loving it. She loves to watch the show on DVD, loves to cook and is really working on creating her own dishes, many of which actually are pretty tasty (of course its hard to go wrong with whipped cream, chocolate chips, milk and chocolate syrup).
We then took her to Gamestop and let her buy another game. She chose Imagine Teacher. In addition to cooking she loves to pretend being a school teacher and you can really hear her first grade teachers voice as she "teaches". The game also helps her with writing, spelling, math and other subjects so its educational without being overbearing.
While Abby and I were at Gamestop, Leah thoughtfully bought her a pink plastic case for the DS at Toys R Us, with a little selection help from Tash, and Leah got a Barbie mermaid doll for her thoughtfulness on her sisters birthday.
We then took her to lunch, then home for some quiet time and playing with her new toy and I sat with her and helped her figure out how to play the teaching game. She got the hang of it really well and since her reading ability is high for her grade she was soon zipping along happily playing teacher.
We then made her choice of dinner - spaghetti and sauce and then had some friends over for her birthday cake - a homemade cherry cheesecake that was excellent.
So she had a great birthday and is looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow.
Making your kid happy on their birthday is one of the great joys of parenthood.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Yes, the Detroit Free Press editorial seriously proposes the Michigan Department of Corrections to hire ex-cons for jobs in corrections.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Don't bar ex-cons from Corrections jobs
A law legislators passed in the 1990s prohibits the Corrections Department from hiring ex-convicts, even for the many nonsecurity jobs that don't require contact with prisoners.I'm not sure if you need an extremely naive liberal view of the world, complete with very rose colored glasses, to write editorials for the Detroit Free Press, but it sure must help.
Legislators should repeal that misguided policy. It looks more than bad when Corrections is prohibited from hiring the very people it wants other employers to take on.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Water temperature was a brisk 45 degreesand the dive was around 30 minutes. 45 Degrees is getting out of the diving comfort zone.
On the upside, I had a new device to help with keeping warm.
My dive buddies and I are experimenting with converting Tourmaster Synergy vests to battery power for use in diving. I bought he vest, Chad bought the batteries and waterproofing materials and is making it all work together pretty brilliantly, we're testing it out.
On the upside, it worked and felt really good in the water- I was the warmest diver there. In fact I no longer got the shivers and instead actually got cold hands. Most of the time I'm too focused on a cold core to notice the hands so this was progress. The downside is the controlled is under the drysuit at the top left chest position and with the two button configuration you can't tell what button you're hitting or if your equipment is knocking it on or off. A one button controller to cycle through the temps would be a smarter set up, or just a straight on/off button. We may change the controllers as a result. Also the battery life wasn't great so we need to look into why it didn't last as long as we figured it would.
On the upside aside from a crazy lone boater out on the water, the visibility was great except where he tore it up with his engine on the way out.. Plenty of fish and crayfish were seen.
We did an ascent drill from 28 feet to hold at 20 feet and I did it pretty well. Given ascent drills are where I'm having the most trouble, I can use the practice. An ascent drill you rise to a depth and stay at it, then move up to another and repeat - for example - from 28 to 20 to 15 to 10 to 5 - its harder to do than type about it as you try to not overshoot or undershoot your depth. Ascent drills are vital to have down to advance to more technical diving as you don't want to overshoot your deco stops.
A nice dive, though a little wet as I had a leak in the suit at the chest area. This was disappointing as I had just replaced the chest inflator valve on the suit on Saturday as we figured that was the cause. On the upside, I was much less wet than I was prior to the inflator valve change so I probably have had two leaking areas in the suit. I think I found the pinhole tonight on a seam when checking the suit with a flashlight in a dark room. I sealed the hole with aqua seal and hopefully I'll have a drysuit rather than a wetsuit once more.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Get your popcorn…
This one doesn't call for just popcorn, it calls for marshmallows, extra large and fluffy ones.The God hates Fags people will protest at the Islamic Center in Dearbornistan tomorrow.
Heck, this confrontation, however it works out, is truly a win/win for America.
It will be interesting if it makes the news and fun to see the coverage.
Pity that the Phelpsians didn't choose the Islamic House of Wisdom and its ex-Iranian Navy spiritual head Elahi to protest. At least this latest nonsense is keeping them away from soldier's funerals.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
35 years ago today, the mighty Fitz lost to the gales of November and sank 500 feet down to the bottom of Lake Superior, taking all of her crew with her.
Immortalized in the Gordon Lightfoot song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the sinking of the 728-foot long freighter continues to fascinate the public with the sudden loss of the great ship. The current and most probable theory advanced for the sinking of the ship was that she struck a shoal that was incorrectly marked on one of the charts and took on water in the storm and then sank suddenly, with the ship breaking in two as it headed for the bottom.
To commemorate the sinking, The Detroit Free Press has released many previously unpublished photos of the Fitz, including many of the wreck on the bottom taken by submarine during an expedition to the wreck in 1994.
Only two people are known to have dived the Fitzgerald on open circuit SCUBA equipment - Terrence Tysall and Mike Zee in 1995 - at 530 feet, it is an Everest-class dive. To put it in perspective, for a bottom time on the wreck of six minutes, they had three hours and fifteen minutes of decompression in the cold waters of Lake Superior.
So today take a moment and remember the mighty ship the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew of 29 lost in Lake Superior, 35 years after she's gone.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Unexpectedly, of course.
Fill-up fears: Michigan drivers face $3 a gallon at pump
Michigan drivers got hit with a 20-cent increase at the gas pumps this past weekend, sending the average price for regular unleaded fuel above $3 a gallon for the first time in two years.
At a time when fuel costs usually drop following the summer tourism season, statewide prices surged to $3.04 a gallon, AAA Michigan spokeswoman Nancy Cain reported Monday. "It's surprising that this is happening," Cain said. "It's very unusual."
Why the price spike?
The spike is being fueled, according to AAA and two Michigan economists, by a weak American dollar that causes the prices of commodities like food, metals and gas to increase because the American currency has less power to buy items from abroad — especially since the United States imports more than 60 percent of its oil supply.
You can't keep on with Quantitative Easing and putting more and more dollars into circulation and not expect commodities to increase in dollar value as a result as each dollar is now worth less and less.
Monday, November 08, 2010
We're starting "Benefits Open Enrollment" at the firm where I work. Open Enrollment is the one time a year where you get to try to prognosticate into the future and figure out what health care you and your family may need. If you're wrong, you'll spend or lose a lot of money.
Of course, with Obamacare having passed things are changing, and not for the better as we find out whats in the bill.
The Blue Cross / Blue Shield plan we have (with 3 possible different and confusing deductible/co-pay options) is having quite a jump in rates. From a 6% increase last year we face a 14% increase - any bet its to cover all those costs BCBS is about to take on by having to cover those with preexisting conditions? So thanks for that one. Any bets the cost increases will eventually cause it to be labeled a "Cadillac" plan as the costs continue to rise to subsidize the Obamacare caused costs?
In addition, the Obamacare bill also removes all over the counter medications and items from Flexible Spending Accounts, and reduces the max contribution to $2,500 from $5,000. In other words, it is a tax increase as a tax savings method's utility is being drastically reduced by this law leaving items and income once untaxed to be taxed.
The FSAs are rather strange but useful tax-saving systems. You have to guess what amount of medical costs you and your family will have in the upcoming year. Put too much money in and you lose it and your employer gets it. Put in too little and you lose some of the advantage of paying for medical supplies with pre-tax dollars.
Then you have to submit your receipts to your plan administrator and you're reimbursed from the account for eligible medical expenses - up until the law passed that included contact lens fluid, contact lenses, over the counter pain and flu medication and suchlike. Now it doesn't.
While my family never incurred $5k in medical expenses in our FSA (not even close), I can easily see large families, and families with sick kids or serious medical problems having that amount of expenses so they'll certainly appreciate the reduced contribution amount and the higher taxes they're going to pay.
Thanks to the wonders of Obamacare, I can now look forward to increased insurance costs and higher taxes, and no real benefit in return. Thanks so much Mr. President! I can't wait to thank you personally by voting for your opponent in 2012.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Lagniappe's Keeper kindly sent me package containing this book, part of our "Stuff Guys With Guns Like to Read" plan.
Paul Kirchner brings the stories Jim Cirillo - one of the most accomplished gunfighters, police officers and firearms instructors to life with a well-written narrative.
Of course, with the material he has to work with must have made this book almost write itself.
Reading the book makes one regret missing the opportunity (since he sadly died in a car accident in 2007) to learn from Mr. Cirillo in person. The man was on the streets of New York in the turbulent 60s on a stakeout squad in gunfights with some of the worst robbers New York had to offer.
Filled with stories of Cirillo and other stakeout squad member's gunfights, it dramatically illustrates a time when officers with .38 special revolvers, the occasional 1911, shotguns and M1 Carbines faced down numerous store robbers.
The book highlights Jim Cirillo's laconic sense of humor and conveys quite a few of his thoughts on guns, ammunition and gunfights, not to mention his decidedly politically incorrect observations on the politics of the NYPD and City of New York.
Readers will learn that shooting fast and accurately is a life saver, but also learn from Mr. Cirillo's focus on knowing the backstop - knowing where your bullets will end up which is a key concern for both police and civilians.
After all if you hit an attacker but also either shoot through them or hit an innocent with a missed shot, you're not getting a medal, kudos or style points.
Instead you're probably looking at a lawsuit or quite possibly jail time for your mistake. That's a pretty key point to take away from the book.
In short, the book is well worth a read - but pick a time when nothing else is pressing as you'll be hard-pressed to put it down.
It starts right back up and I continue to drive until the next red light where, guess what, it stalls and dies again as soon as I get to a complete stop.
This was not happy making.
I get very good at shifting the automatic transmission into neutral and constantly feeding the engine gas at stops in traffic to stop it from stalling out and then shifting into drive while simultaneously manipulating the gas and brake pedals. Shades of when I was driving a stick, many years ago.
So I get home and of course the local Jeep dealer can't see it until Monday and has no clue over the phone, my friend the home garage mechanic that does my regular service is mystified. One of my buddies thinks it is the alternator.
So off to the Internets I go.
I search many a forum and find a few people with the exact same problem.
One of the suggestions is it is the Idle Air Control. So I go to the local O'Reiley's Auto Parts get the part for $80 and take it and the Jeep to my friendly home garage mechanic.
On accessing the air intake, its plainly visible that the intake and throttle plate is filthy with carbon which we comprehensively clean with carb cleaner. My mechanic friend unscrews the IAC, which is also filthy and on running the suggested test of setting the car to on ( but not starting the engine) it actually breaks into its component parts, which is a pretty good indication that it was the cause of my woes.
We replace it with the new part, do an oil change and it runs beautifully, with no more stalling at idle.
So if your Jeep suddenly develops a habit of stalling at idle when you come to a stop, check your IAC and thank the wisdom of the Internets.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Tash: Do you know why do we vote today?
Me (feeling rather curmudgeonly): So we can choose who is going to be in charge and take and waste our money.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The City of Ann Arbor is finding out that when you subsidize certain behavior you (surprise!) get more of it.
The Detroit News: Ann Arbor struggles with homeless influx
City tries to balance services with surge in panhandling, tent camps
Ann Arbor, often know as the Berkley of the Midwest, is having a little problem with a great influx of aggressive homeless panhandlers swamping their social safety net.
Why? Because they subsidize and provide for the homeless for more than any other City and homeless people from as far away as Detroit and beyond are flocking to get some of these services, bringing all sorts of social issues along with them.
Ann Arbor — This progressive city, long known for embracing the poor and destitute, is learning that its support has a price.
For several years, homeless from around the state have descended upon the city because of a largesse that ranges from social services to the generosity of U-M students toward panhandlers, said city police, social service agencies and transients.
The number of homeless in Washtenaw County jumped from 4,212 in 2008 to 4,618 last year, according to the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County. A quarter of them are from outside the county, said the association.
The influx contributed to a panhandling problem that grew so severe this summer that the police chief labeled it the "No. 1 crime," and the City Council assembled a task force to study it.
"We have people from all over," said Police Chief Barnett Jones. "We're on the cusp of being a victim of our generosity."
And in return for this generosity:
Some of the homeless became emboldened after the city eliminated downtown police patrols for budgetary reasons, area merchants said.Of course, in request to the demand for increased social services brought on by homeless from beyond the City flooding their city and taking uo resources, what did the City do?
In the spring, the homeless began aggressively asking people for handouts, blocking their path, following them, sometimes grabbing them, the merchants said. They violated a panhandling ordinance by approaching people in outdoor restaurants, movie lines and near ATMs.
Merchants and customers began complaining. Police don't keep track of the number of complaints, but said it was the biggest source of downtown calls they received during the summer.
"It's a pain," said Caroline Peters, 36, a Saline resident who frequently shops in Ann Arbor. "It makes you not want to come here anymore."
Because of the horrid economy that has roiled government budgets across the state, Ann Arbor city staff has recommended for the past three years that the social service money be cut from the city budget.Anyone see the connection between the continued increase in social services, reduction in police and concomitant upswing in the panhandling problem?
And for three years the City Council has said no.
Instead, its members have chopped into such things as police and fire services.
Apparently not the Ann Arbor City Council:
Councilwoman Sabra Briere said it was important to help the poor now more than ever.Well, as long as she cares, after all that's the important thing.
"I would not like to think of us as Mr. Plentiful and Lady Bountiful," she said. "A lot of people here actually care about keeping the ladder down to help people than pulling it up from behind them."
Scum of the day: Jennifer Petkov and Scott Petkov of Trenton, Michigan for harrasing a 7-year old dying girl.
Jennifer Petkov age 33, and Scott Petkov age 30, win the scum of the day (if not the year) award for their acts in taunting and harrasing a 7-year old girl dying of from Huntington's disease.
Yes, really these two "adults" got their jollies off of taunting a dying 7-year girl. Let that sink in for a moment.
They were taunting a dying seven year old girl.
The taunting included:
the Petkovs had posted an image on Facebook of Kathleen's face above crossbones, allegedly hurled verbal jabs at the girl, and drove their truck — which had a coffin attached and bore the inscription "Death Machine" — up and down the block.And scum like this thought this was a good idea? What the heck were these supposed adults thinking while they were doing this to a little girl?
Apparently for the Petkovs it was all about me, me, me:
Forget about the old adage of picking on someone your own size. It is never, never, appropriate or acceptable to harass, taunt and embarras a dying 7-year old girl - period frickin' dot.
The community has reacted quite appropriately to those pond scum that give pond scum a bad name (pond scum after all serves at least some purpose) and who have tarnished the reputation of Trenton, Michigan:
The Petkovs' lawyer, Scott Weinberg, said his clients this week have received mail and e-mailed threats of violence; their house has been egged, and they fear for their lives.Aww, so sad that he's lost his job and they're facing some backlash over this - I would doubt anyone would want to hire or be associated with such scum.
"They have been told to not come out of their house, to not walk down the street. If those people sending these threats had signed their names, they could be charged a crime," Weinberg said.
. . .
"My clients have apologized for making a juvenile mistake. He's lost his job," Weinberg said. "It's hard to imagine that what's happened over the past week can be undone."
This was not one little juvenile act or mistake on their part, it was a series of extremely outrageous, evil and wrongful acts that put the Petkovs far outside the bounds of civilized society:
I don’t understand how people could spew such hatred,” Yerigan said. “They would pull up in the truck (with the coffin attached), rev up the engine, and say to Kathleen, ‘I can’t wait until you die.’ When I saw what she posted on Facebook, I almost threw up. I’m totally dumbfounded.”You do something like this then you better accept the consequences that come your way.
Too bad that there isn't an ostracism statute for when you go this far over the line - while you have the right to be a complete jerk and scum, you don't have a right to such stalking-like behaviour and when you stoop to acts like this you should forfeit your right to protection by society.
Contrast their behavior with the grace and goodness shown by their victims:
Edward [the girl's father], 26, said the ordeal has been tough.The Petkovs are quite simply and by any definition the lowest of the lowest scum that are defiling the soil of this fine state by their mere residence here.
“You have to understand how angry we are,” he said. “The police told us they were shocked that we haven’t gone over there and beat the hell out of her. But there’s more important things to deal with, like our daughter. She’s hanging in there. We have hospice at our home every week, and that’s a lot to deal with on its own.”
Edward said after his ex-wife died last year, the Petkovs drove their truck, which bears the message “Death Machine” and has a coffin attached to it, down the street and honked the horn.
To counter this evil, the community and people around the world have been quite amazing:
Kathleen's family has reported an outpouring of sympathy and generosity from around the globe since stories about the incident went viral on the Internet.
More than $20,000 has been raised by people worldwide who saw media reports about the dispute — $17,000 by the toy store and $5,000 by the Huntington's Disease Society of America Michigan chapter.
Kathleen bought about $2,000 worth of toys during the shopping spree; the family is donating the remainder of the funds to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.
"Within a week, a nation has come together for a little girl," said Jessica Shinkonis, whose 11-year-old daughter, Cailey — who also suffers from Huntington's disease — was invited by Kathleen's parents to join in the shopping spree.
In the face of such stupidity and evil, much goodness can be shown by normal and decent people, not to mention that a 7 year old knows better how to behave as a human being than the Petkovs ever will.
According to the Detroit Free Press, here's some locations where donations can be made:
If you'd like to donate money to help 7-year-old Kathleen Edward of Lincoln Park and others with Huntington's disease, you can make contributions online through the "Kathleen's Crusaders" fund-raising page with the Huntington's Disease Society of America Michigan Chapter at www.firstgiving.com/kathleenscrusaders.
If you'd like to help Kathleen purchase toys for other ill children at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, donations can be made through the Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor Web site at https://treetowntoys.com.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Just back from Diving Union Lake tonight in a non-typical night time dive.
Because Keith and Mills had the last dive of their Overhead class set for today Chad and I were to tag along, but turn our lights off once they entered the simulated overhead so they could do a lost diver search. James cunningly placed a glow stick and our lights would have interfered with their search for it so into the darkness we went.
It started out pretty cool - following their lights and it was pretty clear they didn't know where we were. Of course we soon got our of range of their lights and entered what was pretty much total darkness at 30 feet.
One issue with total darkness in the water is your start to lose your reference points and since you're starting off weightless you can lose where your position is in the water pretty easily. Which of course, I did.
Moving along to keep up with the field of light cast by their lights, I would occasionally lose them completely, enter total darkness and swim along. Then on just a couple occasions I would feel a soft sensation enveloping me as I hit the silty bottom - that was rather embarrassing, but it told me where I was. Getting off the bottom, I would continue on, heading toward their lights if I saw them.
On the way back, we saw some nice sized Bass lying on the bottom, and since our lights were off they didn't even bother moving as we passed them.
So it was a good dive, if a bit muddy at times. Very instructive in terms of no light night diving and plenty to work on as usual.
Certain ministers of the cloth, like Obamas' Reverend Wright come straight out with the "God Damn America" song and dance in their liberation theology inspired, blame America first shtick.
Other, similarly believing, Ministers get there more obliquely, but no less wrongly, and in the case below quite inumerately, and wholly ignorant of history.
In the example of Robert Smith Jr, a Detroit minister and self described liberal editorialist (liberal is an understatement - he states his most admired political figure is Lenora Fulani, the facts never get in the way of his blame America first worldview.
In his Detroit news Politics Blog he writes an article entitled God is no stranger. In the article, while pontificating that America should educate its kids on how wonderful the people of Haiti are, and multiple non-sequiturs throughout, he drops this gem of a conclusion:
From World War I through this present mess America is in now in Iraq and Afghanistan, no nation has killed as many people as America. If God were going to curse a nation for killing folk, the United States would be at the top because it dropped the atomic bomb twice, but God is right now blessing Haiti, where He is no stranger.
Huh? What the heck does this ending have to do with the rest of his somewhat tortously constructed and rambling column? Apparently Mr. Smith is a product of Detroit's public schools. Only someone so historically iiiliterate could make such ignorant statements. From World War 1 through the present you'd have to discount the far greater killers Germany, the Soviet Union, China, Japan, Cambodia, Turkey, Rwanda and many, many others before you'd get close to naming America as number one. Heck if you remove combatants killed from the mix the US is most likely near the bottom of nations you could think of when you think of the greatest killers from World War 1 onwards. In fact most of the greatest killers during the period in question were left wing socialists of various stripes.
Further while I have no idea of God's feelings on the matter, dropping two atomic bombs as compared to firebombing raids that did far more damage, and considering the bombs ended the war quicker, leaving far more Americans and Japanses alive than would have been lost had the war against Japan been ended by an amphibious invasion, its pretty unlikely to be a major black mark against America to those who understand context and history. People when killed don't really care if they were killed by a regular or an atomic bomb, they're rather dead all the same, so no special damnation points over the use of atomics to shorten the war please.
The reverend should stick to the Bible, anything past that in time is surely beyond his knowledge.
So I unclip the light and take it inside to change it. I notice the rubber cover is kinda loose and the top doesn't want to unscrew and I have to really hold it on and turn the light head pretty hard to get it to open. I'm turning it to open it and .....BOOM!
Not quite an Earth-shattering kaboom, but a boom all the same.
The light head cover shoots forward whacking my palm with quite a smack and the light bulb/mirror unit holder go flying from the light and a battery shoots out.
The boom was loud enough everyone in the house heard it and comes to see what happened. After assuring everyone that everything is ok and we didn't just have a major explosion, I look at the flashlight, now in four separate sections.
On examining the unit, the light bulb and holder show some grey and white build up on the side and the threads of the flashlight body all appear damp, and there is a corroded bit under the label on the top of the top battery.
I'm thinking that some water leaked into the flashlight body, the battery then leaked and some gas built up at depth resulting in a pressurized tube and quite the boom on opening, but I'm not sure.
The light bulb unit itself is now quite dead and while not visibly broken will not work with new batteries. On the upside, this moves my plan to convert the light from the standard halogen bulb to a nice bright LED conversion forward.
So be careful when opening your dive lights to change the batteries, there may be quite a bit of pressure waiting for you when you go to unscrew it.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The Overhead Protocol class gives you the skill set you need to advance to take a cave or shipwreck penetration class - it involves a lot of no-mask or dark mask (taped over masks that you cannot see through) and line work.
On the upside, the weather was sunny and warm, the water 59 degrees and I got to come along on some of their final dives and watch James kick their butts all over the place. I was following Maki who was handling the video of the class dives and it was quite interesting. I had it pretty easy - just working on keeping perfect trim and buoyancy and keeping out of the camera's way -- not easy when the action kept shifting as things kept happening.
When Keith and John both had their dark masks on and were doing a line drill they both hammered into the silt releasing a massive and spreading dark cloud (I figure I'll do the same when my time comes) that soon separated myself from Maki and everyone else. Viz dropped so much you couldn't see anything, so I just stayed by a line so I wouldn't get lost and eventually they made it through the silt.
After that it was easy - watching and following ascent drills and keeping out of the way on lost line drills - they look like fun and I can't wait to take the class. Keith and Mills did great on the dives so I'll really have to work at it to get to their level in the class when it happens.
Dive time: 2 hours.
Average Depth: 28 feet.
Viz: very good with occasional bursts of silt.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Really, Livonia's city government proposes to levy a tax to pay for the costs of collecting a tax.
The Detroit Free Press: Livonia mulling 1% fee on taxes
Livonia might charge its residents a 1% administrative fee to collect their property taxes, beginning with the December tax bill.
The city is considering the fee as part of efforts to deal with a substantial drop in revenue expected in its proposed $48.4-million budget for the next fiscal year. The council is holding a public hearing tonight, and is expected to vote on the proposed budget, which includes the fee, Oct. 20.
If the council chooses to charge its residents to collect, process and distribute their taxes -- an option permitted by state law -- Livonia would not be alone. Terry Stanton, spokesman for the Michigan Treasury Department, said more than three-quarters of the 1,800 tax-collecting units in the state charge the administrative fee.
Of course there are many new-speak proponents of the idea:
Anthony Minghine, associate executive director and chief operating officer of the Michigan Municipal League, said charging residents for tax collection makes sense because the fee pays for a service.So the fee is for a service according to Minghine.
"I wouldn't characterize them as taxes, and I wouldn't characterize them as inappropriate," he said.
It is quite an interesting definition of service considering it doesn't benefit the residents who are being dubiously charged for and receiving this "service". The residents are having more money taken away from them in return for the service of having money being taken away from them. To a proponent of ever-expanding government, this does make perfect sense and is considered a service in bureaucrat-speak. Heck, he probably honestly believes that the 1% surtax is a wonderful service that is being offered to the grateful peasants.
But the residents of Livonia will likely consider themselves ill-served by this new "service".
Friday, October 01, 2010
Granholm Might Bring Michigan Alcohol Sales Into the 21st Century by Finally Allowing Sunday Morning Sales.
Now that the Michigan Legislature is well on the way to making Michigan safe (or at least gaining enhanced revenue) from Bootlegging, the Governor is about to sign a law regarding alcohol sales that make sense:
The Detroit News: Bill to expand Sunday liquor sales heads to Granholm's desk
This bill will allow sales on Sundays and also on Christmas Day afternoon(but still not the morning of Christmas Day - apparently there's a concern about a drunken St. Nick driving his reindeer into the Capitol Dome in Lansing if the sale is allowed before noon or something).
Of course, making sense is never reason enough in Michigan these days, it also has to raise revenue:
Bars, restaurants, retail outlets and golf courses can sell beer, liquor and wine Sunday mornings for an annual fee of $160, under the bill. Establishments now pay $90 to sell liquor starting at noon Sundays.
So the state will get an extra $160 a year from the establishments that wish to sell on Sunday mornings, and that adds up pretty quick. Still its a bill whose time has come.
Getting rid of the ban on Sunday morning alcohol sales, an anachronistic ban well past its time, is certainly a good idea. It also had one of the lamest outcome-determinative don't-pass-the-laugh-test rationales behind a Court decision -- ever -- associated with upholding the ban. The Michigan Court in its decision held it wasn't establishing religion by banning sales on Sunday morning and Christmas when Christians were supposed to be in church - not at all, it was quite disingenuous and held it was a common day of rest as alcohol sales were especially tiring to workers that just happened to be on Sunday and other commercial activity could occur in the same store by those same workers which was less tiring - yeah right.
This will get rid of the roped-off aisle in stores like Costco and Kroger on Sunday mornings and make it easier to pick up a bottle of wine or champagne at the last minute when you're heading over to a friend's place for brunch.
So let's hope Michigan gets rid of this outdated Blue Law.
Perhaps the legislature will get sufficiently enthusiastic in its modernization drive to repeal the blue law against Sunday car sales in Michigan?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Because as the economy continues to be driven over the cliff by the Michgian Dems, they've got time to worry about some good ol' fashioned crimes like bootlegging. Yes, in 2010, Michigan is concerned about Smokey and the Bandit.
The Traverse City Record Eagle: Bill aims at bootlegging liquor
The first question is - is this even a real problem?
Well it is of course importing without taxing some very precious bodily fluids. Which is bad.
The word bootlegging brings to mind images of Prohibition-era gangsters wearing fedoras and smoking cigars.Of course - this bootlegging is due to Michigan's higher taxes in comparison to neighboring states.
It's not an issue most people expect to encounter in 2010, but Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, begs to differ.
"There are people who are absolutely making a living off of bootlegging," Johnson said. "Not the smart wholesalers or distributors or retail outlets, but the ones that are unscrupulous believe that it's an act that they can participate in, so we want to stop it."
Johnson is the primary sponsor of a bill that would raise penalties for those who sell, deliver or import liquor into the state without going through Michigan's Liquor Control Commission.
A 2008 study by the LCC estimated the average bootlegger brings about $30,000 worth of products over state lines, two to three times a week. That results in a revenue loss for the state of between $1 million and $2 million annually in liquor taxes.
The bill is predicted to earn $9.1 million annually for the state's general fund, primarily from fines of $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the amount of liquor involved. Now, the maximum fine is $1,000.
The bill passed through the Senate and House by votes of 30 to 7 and 77 to 28, respectively.
Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said the gap between Michigan's liquor tax and that of surrounding states adds to the lure of bootlegging.The legislators of course don't propose the simple fix to the problem - matching Michigan's alcohol taxes with its neighboring states, causing the entire reason for this smuggling to go away. That would mean losing revenue (actually it would probably lead to more revenue as the liquor would be bought locally rather than smuggled across state lines) and we can't have that!
"We are the sixth-highest taxed state in the country when it comes to distilled spirits," Binoniemi said. "Our tax rate is four times higher than Indiana's, and over three times higher than Wisconsin's."
In Michigan, the liquor tax is about $10.09 a gallon, compared to about $2.68 in Indiana and $3.25 in Wisconsin. That means a fifth of vodka that costs $17.02 in Michigan would cost only $15.54 in Indiana.
I suspect the projected $9 million in fines is a tad optimistic - you'd have to catch the Bandit first in order to fine him, and if you haven't been doing so to date, the increased fines won't magically appear once the law is passed.
Midwest bound and down....
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In our continuing exhibition of stupid criminals, we present the driver who led police on a 10 mile high-speed pursuit. We should of course mention that he had a million dollars cash in his car at the time.
From The Detroit News: $1M found in car after 10-mile police chase
Charges are expected following a high speed chase in West Michigan's Sheridan Township in which police found $1 million in a man's car.At $100,000 per mile chased this doofus has got to be crying. That was one of the most expensive drag races ever.
Michigan State Police said the man pulled off suddenly after he initially was stopped about 8 p.m. Friday about 65 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. He eventually pulled over and surrendered after a 10-mile chase.Most likely this guy panicked for no good reason.
The cash was found during a search of the car.
But its just as well that he couldn't keep cool and now loses all that cool cash.
Police said the money may be drug proceeds.Gee, ya think? Either that or the money is going to fund other nefarious ends. Darn few people have a million bucks in their car as walking around money.
I guess it goes to show that doing drugs really does make you paranoid and stupid, not to mention broke.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Nolan Finley of the Detroit News, in a well-written article came up with three "I"s that hold back Detroit: ignorance, illegitimacy and isolation.
I've got three "C"s - Corruption, Culture and Crime
Corruption - its endemic to Detroit -- from monies disappearing from medical, fire and city services into politicians pockets, sweetheart deals on city contracts to school paychecks written for non-existent workers. Kwame and friends were just the tip of the iceberg that's been sinking the Titanic that was Detroit, and there's only been prosecutions of the very tip of the tip of the iceberg.
Culture - Detroit is the most segregated city in America, controlled very much on racial lines with the city leaders ruining the show (yes ruining not running) by claims that the suburbs (read whites) will take over Detroit and steal its "jewels". The leadership of Detroit has used race to divide the city from the suburbs and to create a city citizen dependent on the government for services and daily life. In short, its everything Mr. Finley covers with his three "I"s, and he writes it a lot better than I. Unfortunately, I'd have to disagree with his prescription of a regional government - I don't know many people in the suburbs that feel like having to pay for the mess that decades of ineptitude and corruption on the part of the cities leaders and the apathy of its residents have caused, nor will the suburbs pay in to watch the money disappear into numerous rat-holes and Detroit establishment pockets.
It may take removing Detroit from self-governance and instead rule by Gubernatorial fiat to finally get through the pervasive culture of corruption and failure that Michigan's most famous, or indeed infamous city, continues to suffer.
Its a one-party City - straight D Democrat, or in the words of Obama - its in D for Drive - straight into the Detroit river.
Crime - A city with a crime rate that Detroit has will not draw the types of residents that it so desperately needs. Combine the crime with high taxes and pathetic city services and its no wonder that riverfront condos that in any other city would be packed stand vacant. Again, that's something the city officials and residents have to take care of it they're going to move forward.
A vibrant and livable Detroit would go a long way to improving Michigan's outlook.
Detroit can turn itself around, but its going to take shrinking it down to size, cracking down on entrenched corruption and crime and removing a lot of control and decision-making powers from the current rulers of Detroit to outsiders to keep the Detroit establishment's hands off the money to make sure it gets to its citizens and infrastructure where it is actually needed. Not sure if that can happen in real life, given the interests already in place, and it certainly won't happen as long as the state governor is a Democrat counting on the Democrat machine in Detroit for votes.