Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Greetings from Chicagoland - A Brigid Guest Post

Yes, as a conservative gun blogger, Chicago was the last place I thought I would end up.  Until I married an Illinois farm town native that got his dream job there (wherein he leaves me to fly to China and South Africa and Austrailia on business about every other week :-)  What we do for love . .

But I've grown to love our life.  We live in a turn of the century home in an outlying village that has almost no crime other than the occasional garage break-in, a few small and quaint local businesses, and it's surrounded by park system on three sides, which is a great gang buffer (especially with rivers as most of them don't know how to swim).

That being said, as we ring in the New Year, a smile for your Sunday. Here in Chicagoland, there is something known as "dibs" wherein after you spend an HOUR digging your car parked in front of your house out of multiple feet of snow, you block the spot so you have a parking space when you get back. It's also legal, some wordage to the effect in the city code. It's considered rude to do it unless there is a boatload of snow, it must be a spot in front of your house, and slashing the tires of someone who moved your blocks is considered rude, even in the worst of neighborhoods.It's like our hotdogs, pizza, and Cubs, there are some things you just don't mess with if you are a local. We are lucky in that the original owner of our 100+-year-old home bought two lots so we have a large side yard on one side of the house with a driveway, though we may clear a "dibs" spot for party guests for New Years.

Some of the "dibs" seen around the city still crack me up. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for letting me share your time and space here.

If it looks like a 60's shower curtain, even more the better. 
 Want to bet that is electrified.
 Unfortunately, now the chickens have gotten out.
 Zep isn't a poison unless you drink a gallon but I like how he thinks.
 If that's full, that IS going to get lifted in 5 minutes.
 My personal view on ironing.
 Yes, Jesus Saves - the ORIGINAL Dibs
 Use Grandpa's Walker because being old in the winter isn't hard enough.
Sam's parking spot. 
 My kind of guy.
It's not like we vacuum or anything.
 That girl that dumped me after the State Fair won't care.
Just another day in the neighborhood.
 I made my child dig my car out.
 Don't' go out half dressed to free your car.
 My roommate doesn't think much of my musical talents.
And my PERSONAL favorite (because what's a redhead to do with a Leonardo DiCaprio life- sized cardboard figure).

Wishes for a prosperous 2018

The single biggest story from 2017 that nobody is talking abut is that economic growth has doubled - from 2 percent a year to 4.  18 months ago people said that Trump was crazy to talk about getting growth to 5 percent - now it's fair to ask whether 6 percent or more is possible.

This will have a big impact on working people.  Higher growth means expanding businesses, which will mean more jobs.  More jobs means higher hourly wages.  Higher wages means higher standard of living.

If this happens, it will be the first time this has happened in 40 years for the working classes in this Republic.

If that happens, then Trump will walk to re-election in 2020.  And if you - like me - believe that the working classes have been screwed by the Ivy-League "elite" that entire 40 years, then this will be a well-needed readjustment.

I have a post for tomorrow about why the economy has shifted into high gear.  It doesn't have anything to do with the tax cut (although when that kicks in, we might see 5 percent growth), but this is the first New Year's celebration in a long time for millions of people in this country.

On a personal note, the Queen Of The World and I are tired of surgical procedures - between us, we've had one every other month or so all year.  We won't look with regret on the departure of 2017, but with hope for a better 2018.  May your new year be equally hopeful.

Ernest Tomlinson - Fantasia on Auld Lang Syne

This song is forever joined to the New Year's celebration.  Earnest Tomlinson wrote an interesting "light" take on the piece.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Frank Sinatra - New York, New York

I'm not a big fan of New York city* but 75 years ago today the "Bobbie Soxer Riot" happened in Times Square:
On December 30,1942, when Sinatra played his first solo concert at New York city’s Paramount Theater near Times Square, the Bobbysoxers came out in droves.  After being introduced by Jack Benny, Sinatra walked on stage to loud and continuous shrieks and screams.  “The sound that greeted me,” he later recalled, “was absolutely deafening.  It was a tremendous roar.  Five thousand kids, stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding.  I was scared stiff.  I couldn’t move a muscle. [Band leader] Benny Goodman froze, too.  He was so scared he turned around, looked at the audience and said, ‘What the hell is that?’ I burst out laughing.”  The kids screamed in delight; some even fainted.  They also crowded the back stage door after the show shrieking for his autograph, and spilled over into Times Square, snarling traffic.
This was more than two decades before the Beatles and Shea Stadium.  I'd never heard of this story.

Hat tip: The Queen Of The World, who knows stuff.


Fair jumper on London Underground gets stuck

More specifically, he gets an important part of his anatomy stuck as he jumps over the turnstile:
Then there are the times when you try to hurdle the gates in the London Underground and get your genitals stuck in the barriers.  
Hilariously, that’s exactly what happened to this young man when he apparently tried to jump over the barriers to avoid paying. 
It left him in an extremely compromising position and a lot of pain – and needing police officers and Transport for London workers to pull him out.
The link doesn't just have pictures, it has video (courtesy of the Transport for London workers, to whom we give a heartfelt "thank you").

New Year's Resolution Pro-Tip: wear pants when fare jumping.  You're welcome.

Ashley Monroe - You Ain't Dolly (And You Ain't Porter)

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, (in)famous for parties that aren't remembered afterwards.  Of course there's a Country song for that.  I'm not big on the new country music but this is a tip of the hat to the giants of old.  It's one in a neo-traditional style with hilarious lyrics that, in the best Country music tradition tell a story that we all have seen acted out in front of us.

But remember that alcohol and karaoke don't mix.  Make sure that your party has a Dedicated Singer ...

You Ain't Dolly (Songwriters: Ashley Monroe, Vincent Grant Gill)
You ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter
She's a little bit fuller and you're a whole lot shorter
Let's dance all night and fill the jukebox full of quarters
'Cause you ain't Dolly, no, and you ain't Porter
Well I noticed you right off the bat in those cowboy boots
Who couldn't help but see you in that rhinestone suit
That's cause I'm the reigning queen of karaoke night
Well if I get drunk enough to sing, hell I just might
Hey now, don't you worry cowboy, cause I'll get you through
We'll sing a cheating song just like they used to do
Cause you ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter
She's a little bit fuller
Yeah, but you're a whole lot shorter
Let's drink all night and fill the jukebox full of quarters
Cause you ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter
You'll probably see me country singing on The Voice someday
Yeah and I'm the guy they wrote about in 50 Shades of Grey
Why don't you come on back to my place and you can have your way
Well baby that sounds tempting, but I just can't stay
Oh we won first prize cowboy, let's just split the dough
Honey I will always love you, but we'll never know
Cause you ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter
She's a little bit fuller
Yeah, and you're a whole lot shorter
We danced all night and filled the jukebox full of quarters
Cause you ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter, no
No, you ain't Dolly and you ain't Porter

Friday, December 29, 2017

Why Race Bannon is Cooler Than James Bond - A Brigid Guest Post

Let's see - is tonight's episode of Jonny Quest the pygmies, dragons or perhaps the giant pterodactyl ?

Someone shared a photo today of trhe 60th anniversary edition of the Johnny Quest Series.  60 years?   I remember watching that show as a kid.  I still watch it, mostly because I love Race Bannon.

I don't care as it has Race Bannon, covert actions, intelligence gathering, security, electronics and espionage.  He was the coolest guy on the show, way cooler than Jonny Quests father, some redheaded Scientist that usually had some lame plan like "we'll reverse the polarity of the beam. . . ".  Seriously, Dr. Quest was cute and all, but redheaded scientist?  Boy, I hope he can cook. :-)

Plus ,Race, assigned by "Intelligence One" to guard Dr. Quest and his son, can fly anything, jets, hovercrafts, alpacas (though those are a bitch to remove the gust lock from the rudder without a fight).  Then let's throw in firearms -pistols, rifles, slingshots, bazookas, he's an expert at them all.

Unlike the so called "role models" of today he doesn't consult with a committee or apologize before blasting an assortment of holes in the bad guys.  Arm Race with only a piano tuning fork and throw him in a room with a bunch of two legged mutant Brahma bulls with uzi's and in the next scene he'll be grilling burgers. 
It's better than being Bond, you probably get to drink a beer, not shaken vodka drinks and you never have to kill anyone with your cuff links wearing an uncomfortable tux. You prefer your quarry to fall for the old "whacked in the jaw with a hundred pound bench, breaking it in several places" trick, and soon the bad guy's evil plan is exposed (though Dr. Zin continue to have a burr under his saddle for multiple episodes over that whole gold thing).

You didn't see Race going to the store to buy someone feminine hygiene products.  He didn't have manicures or facials.  Heck, we never even saw Race taking Bandit out for walkies on the airport tarmac so he doesn't poop in the Quest jet. No he was too busy protecting the Quest family from the bad guys and monsters (seriously if the Questjet landed at my airport I'd be on the fast train south of here before all the giant komodo dragons showed up).  Jonny Quest had action, grisly deaths (lots of them) and an assortment of weapons and firearms and you didn't see any of us in my house ending up monsters.  No, we all wanted to grow up and be one of the good guys.
None of the monsters were a match for Race, including the invisible Monster Energy thing that left footprints in the sand (that scared the crap out of me as a little kid until they showed it and it looked like "ghost of Hostess Snowball") or the giant spiders that could walk by rapidly firing tanks without a scratch (I have two of  those at home that keep trying to sneak inside from the garage).

It wasn't just monsters. Race once took out a panther with a shot to the skull while elsewhere on television, Jim was off wrestling the giant Anaconda and Marlin was waiting in the safety of the jeep. And there was always the issue with the hotel that ALWAYS seemed to have a poisonous snake someone left for them ("yes, front desk, we specifically asked for the non-cobra suite.")

Sure he wasn't the star of the show, that was Jonny, a Cold War Era Huckleberry Finn every kid on my block wanted to be.  Think about it, you've got your own hovercraft and got to use a bolt action rifle when the other kids your age were begging for a "slip and slide".  Think about it, no school, no girls to interact with at recess, and all the cool weapons you could play with, it's worth a few lectures from Race about flying your hovercraft INTO the tunnel instead of having a Controlled Flight Into Terrain like the evil henchmen did.
And we'll always remember Hadji, Jonny's best friend from India, and Bandit (yes, a cartoon dog that actually ACTS like a dog) and Dr. Benton Quest (I was just kidding earlier, he was cool too).

It still brings back good memories, even all these years later. Yes, we had a show with violance, with monsters and guns, but always with a lesson, a display of moral code, not "how many points you can rack up by shooting something on a video screen".  Violence was not undertaken easily,  the destruction of a life done for the protection of the innocent, not for material gain.  The bad guys learned the hard way, especially with Race Bannon around, that violence to promote evil or take something that is not yours, was not a good idea.  With intellect and tools, came responsibility. That was a lesson not lost on us. We were a generation of kids who were not wrapped in bubble wrap so we never learned the difference between right and wrong, good and evil and deliberated courage versus "stupid should hurt".  There are those of you reading this who understand, the rest may simply say  "Jonny WHO?

I got nothing

And so here's a picture of a cute kitten.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dang, that's brutal

On the upside, the screaming and hollering from the Usual Suspects® should add a degree or two to the temperature in the Northeast ...

NSA caught with its fingers in the encryption cookie jar

Again.  There's a quite interesting blog post by a Johns Hopkins cryptographer where he writes about how he and a colleague found NSA's fingerprints on an encryption backdoor:
Yesterday, David Benjamin posted a pretty esoteric note on the IETF’s TLS mailing list. At a superficial level, the post describes some seizure-inducingly boring flaws in older Canon printers. To most people that was a complete snooze. To me and some of my colleagues, however, it was like that scene in X-Files where Mulder and Scully finally learn that aliens are real. 
Those fossilized printers confirmed a theory we’d developed in 2014, but had been unable to prove: namely, the existence of a specific feature in RSA’s BSAFE TLS library called “Extended Random” — one that we believe to be evidence of a concerted effort by the NSA to backdoor U.S. cryptographic technology.
I wrote about the back story on RSA four years ago.  Re-reading that post, I think that I let RSA off the hook too easily - there is credible reason to think that RSA did take $10M from NSA to weaken their widely used crypto library.  The blog post above goes into why they think they have evidence of this, in software in the wild.

But the overall feeling of betrayal in my post is still fresh.  And reading between the lines in the the linked post above, it seems that I'm by no means the only one.  Security professionals don't talk about "hackers" - that's for the press.  Pros refer to the "adversary".  I suspect that a lot of the technical gurus on the IETF (the Internet standards committee) consider the NSA to be the adversary now.  Quite frankly, NSA earned ever bit of that.

Hat tip: Bruce Schneier.


It feels like Massachusetts here.

Wolfgang still liked to chase his frisbee, though.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Some people will do anything to get better gas mileage

But this is a bit overkill.

New digs for Battleswarm blog

Well, more secure ones, anyway:
I finally got off my lazy butt and got an SSL certificate for this blog. 
So the official address is now h (note the new all important “s” after “http”).
Lawrence (unlike your lazy host*) runs his own Wordpress blog, and so did the leg work to add this bit of security - when you go there you'll see the padlock icon showing you that you're actually reading him, and not some imposter.  Yes, that's exactly why there's SSL.  Yes, this kind of thing happens.

Update your bookmarks appropriately.

* I use the hosted Blogger service which went to SSL/HTTPS 3 or 4 years ago.  Like I said, I'm lazy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Queen Of The World's Tiramisu

The Queen Of The World wrote this down for me to post.  It's crazy good.

Makes approximately 8 servings (2” x 2”).  I prefer to double the recipe, and use a 9” x 13” glass baking pan.  It should be prepared the day before serving, or at least in the morning for dessert that same day.  By using Splenda and low or no fat cream cheese, this is a great nearly sugar and fat free, low calorie dessert.
2 pkgs of lady fingers
23 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 8oz cream cheese (tub or bar*, regular or reduced fat)
½ Tsp of unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups of whipped cream**

1 cup of very hot water
2 Tbsp sugar (or Splenda)
2 Tbsp instant Espresso granules
4 Tbsp Kahlua
     1.         Combine the powdered sugar and cream cheese in a mixer until well blended.
     2.         Gently fold in 1 cup of whipped cream
     3.         Combine hot water, sugar, Espresso, and Kahlua and stir well
     4.         In a square or rectangular baking pan (preferably glass), place 1 layer of lady fingers, cut side up
     5.         Drizzle the Espresso mixture over the lady fingers
     6.         Spread a layer of the cream cheese mixture over top
     7.         Repeat steps 4 and 5
     8.         Top with the remaining ½ cup of whipped topping
     9.         Sprinkle lightly with unsweetened cocoa
  10.         Place toothpicks to hold plastic film off of the whipped topping layer, cover, and refrigerate overnight
** - If using a cream cheese bar, set out ahead of time to allow it to soften before mixing

** - I prefer making my own whipped topping using fresh whipping cream and Splenda to sweeten.

UPDATE 26 December 2017 21:22: Edited to change original "flour" to "powdered sugar".

The Queen Of The World's Bacon wrapped green beans

The Queen Of The World made them last night.  Man, were they good.

Fresh green beans
1/4 sweet onion, cut in half from top to bottom
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Bacon slices, cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 350°

Slice half of the sweet onion into 1/4 inch wide slivers
Chop the remaining onion

Place the olive oil, green beans, chopped onion, and garlic in a skillet and saute over medium heat until lightly browned.

Remove from heat and let cool.

Wrap 4 green beans and one sliver of onion with a piece of bacon around the middle (like a belt).  Repeat until all beans are wrapped.

Place the bundles on a rack placed on a cooking sheet (so that the bundles are not touching the sheet; we want to roast, not fry).  Bake at 350° until the bacon is golden brown.

Serve to an adoring public.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Roast Beast

The Queen Of The World did a feast fit for a king today.  Her Prime Rib was done perfectly - a true medium rare (mine is always over done).  She did bacon wrapped green beans, which is even better than it sounds.  The mashed potatoes and gravy  were more than your typical restaurant fare blast-for-the plate, and she had homemade apple pie AND homemade Tiramisu.

Lord, this was the best dinner I've had in I don't know how long.

We've done well eating healthy all year, and my waistline shows that, but today was a feast day and she made it memorable.  Boy, howdy.

If y'all are interested, I can ask if I can post some of her recipes.  I pride myself on being a pretty good cook but I'm not in her league.

Puppy Loot

Wolfgang hopes you got squeaky toys, too.

I won't be home for Christmas

Remember them.

Because they won't be home for Christmas ...

God bless our men and women overseas, in harm's way. Be their shield, and bring them home safely to their families. And to us. Bless their families and keep them strong, while the families are broken by distance, and duty. May the reunion be sweeter for the lost days and months.

May we not forget any of this.


The sight of you would be my present that would make my dreams fulfilled ...

Remember them, and their families.

Georg Frederick Handel - "Messiah" (complete)

This is a 1980s recording of the complete Handel Messiah, performed by the Academy of Ancient Music in Westminster Abbey.  It was billed as being performed as closely to the original eighteenth century style as possible at the time.

Academy of Ancient Music / Choir of Westminster Abbey 

Emma Kirkby (soprano) 
Judith Nelson (soprano) 
Carolyn Watkinson (mezzo soprano) 
Paul Elliott (tenor) 
David Thomas (bass) 

Christopher Hogwood (conductor)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24, 1914

103 years ago today, 100,000 soldiers in the trenches of the Western Front stopped shooting each other, at least for a little while.  Instead, moved by the spirit of the season, they met in No Man's Land to exchange greetings and brandy, and to play soccer.  

Image from the Illustrated London News, 9 Jan 1915
The Generals were less than amused, and cracked down in following years.  Captain Sir Iain Colquhoun was Court-marshalled for his participation.  After they convicted him someone recalled that he was related to the British Prime Minister, and so they swept it all under the carpet.

Historians now occupy the field of battle because all the eye witnesses are now long dead.  All that we have are stories from those who remember those witnesses. But we know that December 1914 saw something unique in trench warfare: Christmas showed that the human heart still beat on the front lines:
All our lives, our family our friends told us it we were crazy.  Couldn't possibly have happened to us.  Then we heard your song on the radio and said "See? See? We were there."

Christmas In The Trenches (Songwriter: John McCutcheon)
My name is Francis Tolliver. I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lyin' with my mess-mates on the cold and rocky ground
when across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I "Now listen up me boys", each soldier strained to hear
as one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singin' bloddy well you know", my partner says to me.
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony.
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more
as Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished a reverent pause was spent.
'God rest ye merry, gentlemen' struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was 'Stille Nacht". "Tis 'Silent Night'" says I
and in two toungues one song filled up that sky.

"There's someone commin' towards us" the front-line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
as he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
with neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
and in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photographs from home
these sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
this curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
had been crumbled and were gone for ever more.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War One
I've learned it's lessons well.
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
and on each end of the rifle we're the same.
This Christmas Eve, remember those caught up in the killing fields of Flanders, and the Ardennes, or Khe Sanh. And remember those who still stand post far from home and family tonight.

Huron Carol/Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8
We all know the story, that's the problem.  We know it so well that we don't think about the story, and what it means.  It helps to put the story in a different setting to make us think on the meaning again.

Huron Carol is the oldest Christmas Carol from Canada, and perhaps from the New World.  It was written in 1642 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the Huron tribes.  It tells the story of the nativity in terms that were familiar to the Huron: instead of a stable, the baby was born in a lodge of broken bark.  Instead of three wise men there were three chiefs from far off tribes.  Instead of frankincense and myrrh there were gifts of fox and beaver pelts.  He wrote in their native language, as necessity called for.  If you would tell a tale, you must use words the listener will understand.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Redeemer.  Amidst the holiday cheer, gifts, and yes, feasting, think on the familiar meaning as explained in a different tongue, a tale made new again.


The original words of the carol in the Wyandot language (Huron).
Ehstehn yayau deh tsaun we yisus ahattonnia
O na wateh wado:kwi nonnwa 'ndasqua entai
ehnau sherskwa trivota nonnwa 'ndi yaun rashata
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Ayoki onki hm-ashe eran yayeh raunnaun
yauntaun kanntatya hm-deh 'ndyaun sehnsatoa ronnyaun
Waria hnawakweh tond Yosehf sataunn haronnyaun
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Asheh kaunnta horraskwa deh ha tirri gwames
Tishyaun ayau ha'ndeh ta aun hwa ashya a ha trreh
aundata:kwa Tishyaun yayaun yaun n-dehta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Dau yishyeh sta atyaun errdautau 'ndi Yisus
avwa tateh dn-deh Tishyaun stanshi teya wennyau
aha yaunna torrehntehn yataun katsyaun skehnn
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Eyeh kwata tehnaunnte aheh kwashyehn ayehn
kiyeh kwanaun aukwayaun dehtsaun we 'ndeh adeh
tarrya diskwann aunkwe yishyehr eya ke naun sta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.


The 1926 English version by Jesse Edgar Middleton.
'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory
On the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bruce Springsteen - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

Joe Diffie - Leroy The Redneck Reindeer

Wolfgang loves his walks near Castle Borepatch, not least because we see deer fairly often.  He never comes close, of course, and the deer never seem alarmed at a big, slow, galumphy dog, but he sure enjoys it.  This Saturday Redneck song is a shoutout to Wolfgang - and nobody does redneck like Joe Diffie, anyway.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and to y'all a good night!

Leroy The Redneck Reindeer (Songwriters: Stacey Slate, Joe Diffie, Steve Pippin)
Well, you've all heard the story
About Rudolph and his nose
But I'll tell you a Christmas tale
That never has been told
You may think you've heard it all
But you ain't heard nothing yet
About that crazy Christmas
The North Pole can't forget 
Well, Rudolph was under the weather
He had to call-in sick
So he got on the horn to his cousin, Leroy
Who lived out in the sticks
He said: "Santa's really countin' on me
And I hate to pass the buck."
Leroy said: "Hey, I'm on my way."
And he jumped in his pick-up truck 
When Leroy got to the North Pole
All the reindeer snickered and laughed
They'd never seen a reindeer in overalls
And a John Deere tractor hat
Santa jumped in and said: "Just calm down
'Cause we've all got a job to do
And like it or not, Leroy's in charge
And he's gonna be leadin' you." 
And it was Leroy, the redneck reindeer
Hooked to the front of the sleigh
Deliverin' toys to all the good ol' boys
And girls along the way
He's just a down home, party animal
Two-stepping across the sky
He mixed jingle bells with a rebel yell
And made history that night 
Before that night was over
Leroy had changed their tune
He had 'em scootin' a hoof on every roof
By the light of the neon moon
Santa wrapped his bag with a dixie-flag
He was havin' the time of his life
And you could hear him call
"Merry Christmas to y'all
And to all of y'all a goodnight." 
And it was Leroy, the redneck reindeer
Hooked to the front of the sleigh
Deliverin' toys to all the good ol' boys
And girls along the way
He's just a down home, party animal
Two-stepping across the sky
He mixed jingle bells with a rebel yell
And made history that night 
He mixed jingle bells with rebel yell
And made history that night

Friday, December 22, 2017

Joe Bonamassa - Christmas Boogie

The Call of Winter - A Brigid Guest Post

Going around - NOT an option.

You could see the air mass coming on down from Canada.  I couldn't 'help but think of this one day some years ago wherein the local TV news channel had to substitute a regular reporter for their meteorologist.  She was obviously very pretty but of weather knowledge-- there was none.  But she tried.  What made me snort tea, was in her stress in relaying what was on the radar, she blurted out on the air.  "From the north comes a Giant Green Blob!!" (that would be precip, Miss)

Back when I was commuting from work in Indy to new husband in Chicago,  I relied on Accu-Cow weather for the drive.  If he was dry, it was nice out, if he was wet, it's raining. He was always there as I made my stop for gas on my way back and forth to my work week.
On my last winter drive on that route e Accu-Cow stood there in frozen silence.  I hated to lose a Sunday at home, but there was ice in the forecast if I waited to go in the morning.

For today, while warm some brandy and button the house up for the evening- a tale of exposed windswept places and hearts that withstand the cold.  You all be safe now.

The night is cold. And it is raw.

The icy wind blows down from Canada, mother nature pulling the chill deep out of the ground and throwing it in your face, daring you to fight back. It is a frigid mass of air we've not seen in my lifetime.

Looking out across a flat horizon I wonder why this view looks so different from where I grew up. Certainly, I can put on the scientist hat and say it was the glaciers that moved down from the north in the Cenozoic era, or the giant dust storms that followed that carried the soil away, then replaced by layers of volcanic ash from the West, creating a vista of fertility. But the difference is more how I live in it, as opposed to its geological origins.

There is something about being able to see so near and so far. Some people feel exposed out in the open land, I don't. I walk the fields, gun in hand, nothing more than a moving lightning rod for those things that might wish to strike me, but they don't. I feel a lot out here in the open heartland, my black lab by my side, and it is not fear, it's comfort. It follows me as I walk, the sound of my breath, the whisper of God there in the corn, the vista of open miles of ground in which I perceive the absolute truth about the past, a truth beyond the buildings and billboards of illusion.
Trees throughout much of the northern plains are few, taken down so that the soil may be tilled, only a few remaining as protection against the marauding wind that cuts through the land late at night like a Viking horde. The cold presses down, pressing deep, into layers of topsoil, and the bones of ancient buffalo, who bury themselves further down to get out of the wind, strataform of bones and life and death, forming the coal that drives much of this area.

Tonight, this close to the window, I can almost smell the cold, the odor of a whetted knife, carving shadows into the night. My body responds in a way as ancient as these lands, and I pull my black sweater across my chest, tight and warm, and turn away from the glass.

"You ought to move back to the south", colleagues say. "How about California or Florida?" I enjoyed as a youth, like anyone, days snorkeling, blue water dreams and tropical sun. But that is not where I want to live year round. I am not at home in such places all of the time, preferring these months of quiet cold, time to think, to write, to dream broad dreams, icy fingers down my neck making me shiver, the fire, melting marshmallow against my skin, melting me.

The lamplight dances along the walls, my shadow following. A black lab is asleep on the rug, feet in the air, exposing warm fur to a remembered sun of August, feet chasing dusk colored rabbits within a dream. I think back to tales of my ancestors on my Mom's side, who came to the United States settling in Minnesota. Of great grandpa, new to the country, moving a household across miles of land, risking all he had to form a new life out where winters are raw, beating miles of ocean and illness and pain, only to lose most of his money, belongings and food as wind-swept fire roared through where he lay sleeping one night. But he got out, accessed the damage, and gathered those small coins he had left to him, and moved on to safer ground.

The wind sings its siren song against the eaves, daring me to leave, to admit that moving to the Midwest, to the new land of my ancestors, where I had no family other than a cousin near Indy, or friends, was wrong. But I won't. The price that was exacted for learning my way alone out here left my heart an almost empty purse, with just a few scattered coins tinkling in the bottom. Yet I know it was a journey I had to make. You make decisions with what is in the heart at the time, and when the chill wind blows, you take stock of your life and your decisions and seek shelter elsewhere or you stand and fight for your life and heart, and what fuels it. To do otherwise is to wither and die. Out here, the price of innocence is high.

Outside, the wind howls, mute in its anger, with no breath now but a sigh. We flee inside with drumming hearts and warm hands and hoist a challenge to the cold as the fire ignites the night. Here and there faint windows glow, while the trees outside lay their shadows across my shirt like scraps of black velvet. I close the curtain and pour the wine and listen to my heart.

They say the Rockies are God's country, but so is this, a small juncture of trees and grass and an old easy chair inside a warm house. A small point in space among a great expanse of glory, where the Trinity is intact because it had never been otherwise, simply tested by the fragility of youth and the passion of yearning. God lost and then found, postulated here in the open miles of our faith and need.

I think I understand why my grandparents settled here and I find, more and more, that I am like them. I belong to this cold landscape, surviving like the small creatures outside, by wit and heart. As I turn back towards the fire, I listen to the wind, tapping the glass with the resonant sound of a few small coins that are left in my heart, ready to be spent. I know that I'm where I need to be, as snow brushes the window like a kiss and I wait for the knock of wind at my door.
 - Brigid

Yes, fanbois - Apple is screwing you

Yes, it's true that Apple's software slows down older iPhones.  They claim that it's to protect against over-draining older batteries.  They say that this is only in the last year or two that they've done this.  It seems that this is not true:
Apple hasn't explained why it didn't disclose the practice until now, after GeekBench released charts based on its data that showed how older iPhones were not performing as quickly as they had when they launched.
And people are looking more closely, and finding that this goes back to at least the iPhone 3G:

It seems that every time Apple releases a new iPhone model, Google searches for "iPhone slow" spike.  Hmmmm.

A class-action lawsuit has just been filed on this:
The complaint recounted how the various plaintiffs, frustrated by iPhone slowdowns, bought the latest models, unaware they could have just paid Apple US$79 for a $4.45 replacement battery to resuscitate their hobbled handset.
So fanbois, you know that you're getting fleeced.

A Deer goes shopping

A clerk at a Ft. Collins convenience store had a rather unusual customer:

So what does a deer like?
Despite store policy prohibiting feeding the deer — and against her betterjudgement — Lori Jones did the only thing she could think of. 
“I got a peanut bar and backed her out and took her down to the lower field.” She added “You can’t let them run all over your store.”
I see you slapping your palm to your face, and yes, a couple days later this showed up:

“There she was in the store and again I started laughing,” Jones said. “And there were her babies in the background.” 
Once again with a peanut bar in hand, she showed Mama and her babies away from the store.
Pretty funny.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby

Everyone's done a cover of this song, but Eartha was the first.

Happy Solstice

The days will get longer from now until June, so yay.