• Archives

  • Topics

  • Meta

  • The Boogeyman - Working Vacation
  • Coming Home
  • Quest To the North
  • Via Serica
  • Tales of the Minivandians
  • Join the NRA

    Join the NRA!

Musings

  • 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

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!”

Saint Joseph and the Donkey

A Christmas thought

DaddyBear's Den

As we sat down to our Christmas Eve feast tonight, it occurred to me that things are pretty good.  We’re all home, everyone is healthy, and it’s a pretty normal evening for us.  It could be a lot more difficult for us.

Imagine that you’re a simple tradesman, who’s been told to walk 80 miles to the city of your ancestors.  With you, you take your young, very pregnant wife.  Luckily, you have your trusty donkey, so she doesn’t have to walk the whole way.  Once you get there, there’s no place to stay, so you end up in someone’s stable.  Of course, after four or five days on the road, she goes into labor.

So now, you’re in a barn, with a young woman going through her first labor, and you’re alone.  Somehow, you get both her and the baby through the labor alive.  Then strangers start showing up…

View original post 114 more words

Musings

  • There’s nothing like the Christmas season to make me ask myself why I didn’t become a hermit.
  • The meaning of true love is a wife who gets up an hour early so that she can make her husband breakfast before he goes into work.
  • We’ve reached that time of year where Irish Woman cannot work her frustrations out by digging in the dirt, so she’s filling her days with crafts and home improvement projects.
  • For crafts, she and Boo decided that only losers buy Christmas gifts for school friends and teachers. Instead, this year they made dragon eggs out of foam cores, about a thousand thumbtacks, and irridescent metallic paints.
  • Her latest home improvement effort used a 12 foot section of countertop, left over from our kitchen remodel, and a half dozen kitchen cabinets in the family room.
    • Why do we have a 12 foot piece of leftover countertop, you ask? Well, it has to do with my wife having a lot more confidence in my ability to accurately and cleanly cut 45 degree miters in laminate countertop than I do.
    • Did y’all know that if you spend several hundred dollars for a custom-built, non-mitred 12 foot piece of laminate counter top, you’re not allowed to take it back for a refund? Yeah, neither did I.
  • There is a certain amount of satisfaction found in taking an old couch out of the basement after ripping it apart with a sharp knife and a reciprocating saw.
    • Irish Woman was going to do it with an old steak knife and a pry bar. I’d be lying if I denied that I considered letting her do it her way.
    • Yes, my garbage collectors hate my guts. Why do you ask?

Book Review – Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky

I decided to take a break from monster hunters, zombies, and hover tanks and picked up Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky.

Oleg Gordievsky was the highest ranking KGB officer ever to work for Britain.

For eleven years, from 1974 to 1985, he acted as a secret agent, reporting to the British Secret Intelligence Service while continuing to work as a KGB officer, first in Copenhagen, then in London.

He provided Western security organizations with such a clear insight into the mind and methods of the KGB and the larger Soviet government that he has been credited with doing more than any other individual in the West to accelerate the collapse of Communism.

In this thrilling memoir, Gordievsky lays out his extraordinary, meticulously planned escape from Russia, a story that has been described as ‘one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying.’ (Ben Macintyre – The Times)

Peopled with bizarre, dangerous and corrupt characters, Gordievsky introduces the reader to the fantastical world of the Soviet Embassy, tells of the British MPs and trade unionists who helped and took money from the KGB, and reveals at last what the author told Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders which made him of such value to the West.

Gordievsky’s autobiography gives a fascinating account of life as a secret agent. It also paints the most graphic picture yet of the paranoid incompetence, alongside the ruthless determination, of the all-encompassing and sometimes ridiculous KGB.

Next Stop Execution tells the life story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent who should have been the idyllic Soviet man.  Instead, through exposure to both Western ideals and witnessing such Communist brutality as the raising of the Berlin Wall, he began to work toward the ruin and eventual downfall of the Soviet state.

Gordievsky’s descriptions and narrative are detailed, if a little dry at times.  However, his ability to draw exquisite pictures of the people he worked with, for, and against brings his story to life.  In addition, his description of life under Soviet oppression acts as a stark backdrop to these characters.  This isn’t an action story by any means, but it proceeds with a tension that breaks only in the aftermath of his escape from the Soviet Union.

Next Stop Execution is a must-read for history buffs who want to learn a little more about the shadowy side of the late Cold War.

100 Years On – Armistice

Negotiations that led to the end of hostilities on the Western Front began after the German military began to melt away in the face of Allied advances, as well as the abdication of both the German and Austro-Hungarian emperors.  Beginning on November 8, 1918, German representatives attempted, but failed, to soften the harsh demands the Allied Powers presented them.

After only minor changes, the armistice was signed at 5 AM on November 11, 1918.  It took effect at 11 AM that morning, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  German forces soon began the final evacuation of their remaining forces in Belgium and France.  Other terms of the armistice agreement included the occupation of the Rheinland, surrender of naval, ground, and air forces, and the continuation of the blockade of Germany.

Later, a myth that the German Army was not defeated in the field, and had been “stabbed in the back” by the civilian government became popular. This, however, was belied by the fall of the Hindenberg Line and general retreat of German forces in the face of the 100 Days Offensive.  It is possible, maybe even likely, that the German Army would have rallied had it been pushed back across the Rhein. But the inability of the German economy to sustain its armed forces, much less replace what it was abandoning on the field, would have made even that a desperate, and likely short-lived, reprieve from total collapse.

As the guns finally fell silent across Europe, Asia, and Africa and the last man died, the world could count the war’s cost.

 

Musings

  • My day started with me cooking up 8 pounds of bacon, then baking both banana and cranberry bread, and is ending with me sitting in front of a nice, hot fire.
    • All of the bacon was eaten by a horde of Cub Scouts. The accompanying pancakes were also devoured.
  • If you’re going to give Cub Scouts crap for asking that you consider leaving a food donation out next weekend, please take a few moments to examine your soul and upbringing.
    • Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with just saying “No, thank you.”
  • The maple trees have finished dropping their leaves.  Now comes the time of The Rakening.

100 Years On – Abdication

On November 9, 1918, Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Hohenzollern, King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, abdicated his throne and ended monarchy in Germany.  Over the course of the war, the increased influence of the military, especially that of Ludendorf and Hindenburg, atrophied the power of the Kaiser.

Eventually, as revolution raged in the streets of Berlin and other German cities, Kaiser Wilhelm II was informed that the army would not fight to keep him on the throne.  His abdication was quickly followed by the creation of a republic in Germany.  Wilhelm lived out his days in exile.

Wilhelm had been a bombastic keystone in the arch of monarchy that stretched over pre-war Europe.  Many, including me, place at least partial blame for the initiation of the to his belicose support of Austria-Hungary during the crisis of 1914.

The Great War ended soon after the departure of Wilhelm from the stage.  The republic that replaced him was ill-fated, and it was replaced in its turn by an even worse dictatorship.

 

 

Book Review – Galaxy’s Edge: Retribution

Jason Anspach and Nick Cole have completed what they’re calling “Season 1” of their Galaxy’s Edge series.  The 9th book in the series is “Retribution“.

VICTORY is at hand.

With the galaxy in tatters, Chhun and Wraith lead Kill Team Victory and the remnants of the Legion in a clandestine final effort to bring about Article Nineteen. It’s needed now more than ever as the Republic’s new emperor, Goth Sullus, grows increasingly enigmatic and tyrannical in his rule, leaving some to question their roles in bringing the mysterious leader of the Black Fleet to power.

Meanwhile, a dark traveler finds Prisma Maydoon at the sanctuary of Mother Ree, and bids her to depart from the path of the Ancients.

Experience the exciting conclusion of Galaxy’s Edge Season One, as a desperate, daring raid on Utopion itself leaves Kill Team Victory torn between duty to the Legion and the need to make those responsible for its demise finally pay!

I usually burn through Galaxy’s Edge books in one sitting, but I kept putting this book down.  This wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it.  Rather, it was because the authors did an exquisite job of building to the finale and I didn’t want it to end too quickly.

The plot is thick with tension and punctuated by action.  The characters, all of whom we’ve come to know by now, race toward a final confrontation that rocks the galaxy to its core.  At the same time, the authors point to what comes next, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Retribution is a fitting end to the beginning of what I hope is a long list of stories from Galaxy’s Edge.

 

%d bloggers like this: