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  • Sleepover math: If each 11-year-old boy at the sleepover is to be offered enough nutrition to not starve to death between 4 PM on a Saturday until 10 AM the following morning, how much food must you have on hand?
    • Answer – 2 large cheese pizzas, 1 large pepperoni pizza, 1 large ham and pineapple pizza, 1 order each of breadsticks and garlic knots, a case of bottled water, a pound each of mandarin oranges and strawberries, one bag of microwave popcorn, a dozen donuts, a hotel breakfast buffet, and enough coffee to keep yourself sane.
    • That, by the way, is not an exaggeration.
  • One of the boys had never seen any Star Wars before the sleepover, and the other boys threatened bodily harm to anyone who spoiled it for him after I put the DVD in the player.
  • Watching a bunch of alpha-male young men try to play Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit was quite entertaining. I’ve watched old priests dicker over details of Christian dogma with less zeal than these kids did when arguing about each other’s answers to questions about Hogwarts.
  • If you’re working the oh-my-Lord-it’s-early shift at the donut place, please partake of some of your fine coffee before answering the drive-thru.
    • “A dozen plain donuts and a dozen mixed donuts” should not confuse you.
  • I know IrishWoman was trying to help me out on my diet, but I was kind of counting on having those leftover doughnuts and pizza for breakfast and lunch tomorrow.
    • No, it’s fine. I like cold boiled eggs and cheese at 4 AM on a cold, rainy February morning.

Today’s Earworm

News Roundup

  • From the “Civics 101” Department – Indiana lawmakers are considering a new requirement for high school graduation – a citizenship test. Several other states require students to pass a test on the United States government, and I like the new requirement. We didn’t have to pass such a test when I was in high school, but we did have to pass a general civics class.
  • From the “Dumbasses” Department – The TSA recently announced that it is confiscating, on average, twelve firearms at airport security checkpoints. Overall, TSA discovered 4,239 guns in 2018. Folks, your range bag is not your airport bag. We’re better than this. Pull your gun out of your bag and your head out of your fourth point of contact before going to get on the big silver birds.
  • From the “Houdini” Department – A toddler in Alabama recently discovered a secret passage into an arcade claw machine. This, of course, proves my belief that young children are masters of both destruction and teleportation. No word yet on how many quarters emergency personnel had to expend to get him out.


  • Last weekend, I flew into the Airport That God Forgot – Newark.
  • The last time I flew through Newark, it was 1994.
    • We landed just ahead of a rather vicious storm, and were stuck in the airport for about 12 hours with a toddler.
    • I probably put in about 5 miles walking said toddler around the terminal.
    • Eventually, all of the military families used duffel bags and luggage to corral in all of our kids and let them loose so that we could all get something resembling a break.
  • Other than first thing Monday morning, traffic in New Jersey wasn’t bad.
    • I think I disconcerted some of the other drivers by doing things like letting folks merge, using my turn signal, and waving thank-you.
  • One thing I noticed was that the staff at the hotel seemed to be surprised when I was polite and friendly with them. It seems odd that they didn’t know how to handle a guest who said “Thank you” or actually talked to them.
  • Our instructor was a nice fellow who lives in Phoenix and had never seen a snow storm or temperatures at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This week, he got a two-fer.
  • One of my work buddies is flying to Boston for more training on Superbowl Sunday. He’s a braver man than I.
  • TSA Pre-Check paid for itself on its first trip. It took longer to check my bag in Newark than it did to clear security.
  • What does it say about me that I’ve started taking an HDMI cable on business trips so that I can have a monitor when I work after hours in the hotel room?

Today’s Earworm

With apologies to Papa Roach.  I was in a class on data protection all week.

Cut my files into pieces!
This is my hash report!
Data streaming!
Don’t give a #$!@ if my backups are speedy!

Old Rifles

As you all can tell, I like old rifles. Yeah, the AR-15 and the other modern or semi-modern guns are fun and I geek out over the latest gilding of the firearm lily. But I have to admit, there’s just something about a big chunk of steel and wood that just feels right against my shoulder.

So, here are a few descriptions of old rifles that just make me happy.

  • M1903 – Take the bolt handle between the thumb and forefinger gently, but firmly. With just a practiced flick of the wrist, you can cycle the smooth-as-butter action and be right back on target.
  • Mosin-Nagant 91/30 – Smack that thing like it owes you money, tovarisch, and it’ll cycle every time. If it doesn’t, try hitting it with your shovel.
  • M-1 Garand – The ping of freedom. Just watch out for your thumb.
  • Winchester 94 – I’ll admit it, I like Louis Lamour and Chuck Connors. There’s just something satisfying about working that lever. Almost makes me want to invest in a pair of boots. Almost.
  • G-3 / CETME – Fired this a couple of times when I was working toward my Schutzenschnur. More teutonic fun than should be allowed by law.
  • Schmidt-Rubin K31 – Bang, pull, bang, pull, bang, pull, bang, pull, with each cycle making the cheap bastard that lives in my head yell out “We are not made of money!!”


  • The good news is that in the choice between a damaged television and a damaged Amazon Fire Stick, I got the broken Fire Stick.
    • We’ve been considering a new TV, but didn’t want to buy one this weekend.
  • Things I’ve decided as a parent:
    • Books are better than movies
    • Legos are better than Minecraft
    • Nerf guns are better than Fortnite
  • We got about three inches of wet snow, which rapidly turned to slush and then mud. It’s the natural cycle of things here in Louisville.
  • When your ten year old comes in from playing in the slush, then goes back out with a large glass of water, you know he’s creating something nefarious.
  • There’s a moment of absolute peace and well being when the dishes are done, the house is vacuumed, and the laundry is washed, dried, folded, and put away.
    • It’s only a moment, mind you, and then life reverts back to “hand grenade in a hen house” mode.

Today’s Earworm


  • Ah, the sounds of the season. The hiss and pop of a warm hearth, the tick of the timer on an oven full of cookies, my youngest trying to figure out how to make Darth Vader’s theme song sound Christmasy on the keyboard, my wife muttering to herself as she finds yet another gift that needs wrapping, and the dog farting against a hardwood floor.
  • Irish Woman thought that the two, count them, two Harry Potter Lego sets Boo got from Santa would take him all week to assemble. Total build time – 6 hours to get both done.
  • They may sound like a gimmick, but a 25 pound quilt made for the best nap I’ve had in years.
    • Lifting it, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly easy. Imagine trying to lift 25 pounds of loose bubblegum that doesn’t want to stay in one blob.
    • Irish Woman pinky swears she didn’t pay retail price for it. I most certainly hope this isn’t one of those little white lies I hear so much about.
  • One bad thing about having two black dogs is that when they bolt on you after sunset, it’s like trying to chase shadows. Luckily, both of them came right back to the porch after the three of us did a few wind sprints up and down the block, in the dark, and across several lawns.

Repost: Combat Preparation

Note – This originally appeared here in 2010. It is the first dim thought I had of the Minivandians

The old warrior slowly ran the stone down the length of his sword.  This weapon had been made for his grandfather, and he was planning on passing it along to his own grandson.  He could be buried with some of his lesser weapons, but this piece of family hardware would pass down the line along with the strong bodies and tough minds that had set him and his brothers apart during the wars.  Once the edge was sharp enough to shave with, he ran an oiled rag down its length to protect it from the elements.

Next came the shield.  He polished the leather, wood, and iron of it lovingly.  He noted every chip and dent, remembering the blows that had made their mark over the years.  He would need this old friend’s protection again today.

Next came his war kilt, chain mail shirt, and helm.  He strapped his sword across his back, and attached his long dagger to his ankle where it would make a good back up weapon.

Bowing his head before starting his march to battle, he prayed to the gods, both old and new, to protect him as he faced the ravening hordes he was sure to encounter today.  He thought of all the old comrades who had gone before him, and the young men who had come home half mad from the sights he was heading towards today.

Once both his body and spirit were armed and armored, he stepped out onto the black plain that lead to his goal.  He squared his shoulders, but knew that today might be his last.  Too many gray hairs graced his head, too many battles over the years ran through his memory for him to expect to see the sun set on this day.

As he walked forward to battle, the sights and sounds of this day burned into his soul.  The high pitched ringing of a bell, the soft music that filled the air, the old warrior knew they would be the sounds that would take him to Valhalla.  The red and black clad herald of  the madness within greeted him as he walked through doors that magically opened for him.  The noise of the horde immediately pressed on him like a wave.  Undaunted, he waded into the lair of the enemy, intent on his purpose.

The last thing he heard before the noise drowned out all sanity was the merry calling of the door keeper:

“Merry Christmas!  Welcome to Walmart!”

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