Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deer Season

As most folks in Jersey know, deer season opened yesterday in Pennsylvania. Living near the river, we always see a large increase in our neighborhood deer population during the week after Thanksgiving - the smart ones swim the Delaware River to avoid being shot. We've actually seen them climbing the banks down the block from our house.
This evening, I ran into one of the not-so-smart ones - quite literally - with my 11-year-old, 107,000+ mile Chevy Blazer. People talk about the figurative "deer in the headlights look," and I got to see the real thing.
So now I get to have body work done, and suck up a $500 insurance deductible right before Christmas. Isn't that wonderful?

Tags: Life, Deer

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Have you ever?

Lifted this from Jim:

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink – How can you not when it's 25-cent draft night?
2. Swam with wild dolphins – Virginia Beach, many times. They come within a couple hundred yards of the shore.
3. Climbed a mountain – Mount Monadnock. CYO hiking trip - twice.
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive – No, but I owned 3 different Corvettes.
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid – Outside on horseback, but not inside.
6. Held a tarantula – oog. I hate spiders!
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone – Does an electrically-lit hot tub count?
8. Said “I love you’ and meant it! – Yep.
9. Hugged a tree – Once, after way too much schnapps. I thought it was my friend, and kept calling it Ralph.
10. Bungee jumped – Gravity is not a toy.
11. Visited Paris – Only tourists go there. If you want to visit France, go to the villages outside Toulon, where they still remember the American soldiers who drove out the Nazis.
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea – Watched it, then drove the ship into it because we needed to get the salt washed off.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise – More times than I can count.
14. Seen the Northern Lights – Nope.
15. Gone to a huge sports game – 1986 NBA Championship, Game 6, Boston Garden.
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa – No.
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables – My (wife's) garden this year included carrots, peas, broccoli, tomatoes (3 kinds), squash, green beans, strawberries, currants, raspberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, quince, lettuce, onions, basil, spinach, peppers, and grapes. There was probably some other stuff I didn't notice.
18. Touched an iceberg – Nope.
19. Slept under the stars – Camping is fun. Field training is not.
20. Changed a baby’s diaper – More times than I can count, but I avoided it more often than not. I have a very selective sense of smell.
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon – Gravity is not a toy.
22. Watched a meteor shower – Yep.
23. Drunk champagne – The bubbles tickle.
24. Given more than you can afford to charity – Never that much, but I have given more than was expected.
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope – Telescope, binoculars, periscope, and a sextant.
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment – Not that I can recall.
27. Had a good fight – Some pretty bad ones, too.
28. Bet on a winning horse – Bet against a winning horse, too.
29. Asked out a stranger – If a blind date counts, yes.
30. Had a snowball fight – Awesome ones.
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can – Regularly, down at the tracks while growing up. Trains are really loud.
32. Held a lamb – Yes.
33. Seen a total eclipse – No.
34. Ridden a roller coaster – Only under duress. Gravity is not a toy.
35. Scored a winning goal – I'm more of a team player in a supporting role.
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking – I only dance when drunk. Usually by the time I get that drunk, I'm asleep.
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day – Several times.
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment – Feeling that way now.
39. Visited all 5 continents – There are seven. I've been to North America (duh), Europe, Africa, and Asia. Lived in Asia for a year.
40. Taken care of someone who was drunk – Absolutely.
41. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country – See number 36.
42. Watched wild whales – Yes. Seen dead ones, too.
43. Stolen a sign – No, just lumber.
44. Backpacked – Yep.
45. Taken a road-trip – I've done the whole East Coast several times. Longest leg was Boca Raton FL to Virginia Beach (930 miles) in one shot. Solo.
46. Gone rock climbing – Gravity is not a toy.
47. Midnight walk on the beach – Does a patrol count?
45. Gone sky diving – Gravity is not a toy.
49. Taken a train through Europe – Took a ship around it once or twice.
50. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love – Nope.
51. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them – We weren't strangers by the end of the meal.
52. Milked a cow – Doesn't milk come in carboard containers?
53. Alphabetized your CDs – By first and last name!
54. Sung karaoke – I wouldn't exactly call it singing.
55. Lounged around in bed all day – Sure.
56. Gone scuba diving – Loved it - Hawaii, an old quarry in PA, even the Persian Gulf.
57. Kissed in the rain – Sure.
58. Gone to a drive-in theatre – Amazing how many teenagers you can fit in a VW Squareback when the drive-in has a $5 per carload special.
59. Started a business – No.
60. Taken a martial arts class – Mandatory classes in college: boxing (2 semesters), wrestling, judo.
61. Been in a movie – Just a movie theater.
62. Crashed a party – Yes.
63. Gone without food for 5 days – 24 hours is my personal record, but I prefer no more than 6.
64. Gotten a tattoo – No.
65. Got flowers for no reason – No.
66. Performed on stage – I wouldn't exactly call it a performance.
67. Been to Las Vegas – No.
68. Recorded music – From vinyl to 8-track, yes.
69. Buried one/both of your parents – Neither, thankfully.
70. Been on a cruise ship – It was a cruise, but not a cruise ship. Too many Jarheads blocking the passageways and standing in lines.
71. Spoken more than one language fluently – I can order a beer in at least 5 languages.
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over – Yes.
73. Walked a famous bridge – the bridge of a famous battleship, many times. Each trip was a 4-hour walk.
74. Had plastic surgery – Nope.
75. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived – Three car wrecks, any one of which could have been much more ugly. Worst I ended up with was a sprained wrist and a near-totaled convertible.
76. Written articles for a large publication – Submitted, but not published.
77. Tried to lose weight seriously – Lost 70 lbs in 2002-03. It took 60 weeks.
78. Been in the military – US Navy. But you knew that.
79. Read a good book – And some really bad ones, too.
80. Piloted an airplane – Fixed wing and helicopter. Not qualified to do either by myself, with good reason.
80. Petted a stingray – Yep.
81. Broken someone’s heart – Don't think so, but it's certainly possible.
82. Broken a bone – Busted my thumb trying to beat some sense into a college roomate. Didn't work.
83. Eaten sushi – If I was meant to eat raw fish, I'd have been born a grizzly bear.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper – Sure.
85. Parasailed – Gravity is not a toy.
86. Skipped all your school reunions – No.
87. Shaved your head – Nearly. Lost my hair in a football game bet when I was a plebe.
88. Caused a car accident – See number 75. 16-year-old boys and 1968 Firebird Convertibles are a dangerous mix.
89. Pretended to be “sick” – Not that I can recall. Wished I was sick many times.
90. Swam in the Pacific Ocean – Yep, in Hawaii and California.
91. Saved someone’s life – Not directly.
92. Fainted – Not really fainting, per se. More like "sleeping it off."
93. Been in the room while someone is giving birth – Five times, once with a C-section. Cut the cord, too!
94. Hitchhiked – No.
95. Adopted a child – No.
96. Been caught daydreaming – I've been caught sleeping in class, but not daydreaming. No imagination I guess.
97. Been to the Painted Desert – No.
98. Called off a wedding engagement – Not in this life.
99. Become a follower of Jesus Christ – Sure, when my parents had me baptized.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Valour-IT End Game

It's coming right down to the wire in the Valour-IT Veterans' Day Challenge, with just over 4 hours to go, we are less than $4,600 just over $1,400 from our goal! The graph below shows that we were at $175,610 as of 1911 EST; as I prepared it Army crossed the line and the Marines brought in another big donation, pushing the total to $178,568

The only team not over $45,000 is Air Force. They're $8,300 short of the goal; must have spent their time building O-Clubs instead of airfields. Pretend you are Congress and give them more money to make them operational.

Updated 2000: Here's a snapshot of Army crossing the finish line. Nicely done.

Update, 2119: Ladies and gentleman, we have done it! As of this moment, the total stands at $180,095; Army took the hill with a $500 donation to get us there, supported by the Marines with another $50 for good luck. There's still time to help Air Force make it to the summit, but the primary main objective has been achieved! Congratulations, everyone!

Tags: Valour-IT

Friday, November 10, 2006

$24,966 ...

... and 12 hours are all that stand between now and the Valour-IT goal. The chart shows that we are oh-so-close to hitting $180,000 by 1100, 11/11.

All four teams have done their part today, with Navy still leading the pack, the Marines going vertical, and the Army and Air Force moving along briskly as well.

Our Jarhead brothers and sisters only need another $1,761 to hit the $45,000 mark. Watch the space below, and shift fire to get Army over the line once the Marines make the grade. If we keep up the joint effort, all four teams together will have done something wonderful for the injured men and women who have sacrificed so much for us.

Tags: Valour-IT


At this instant in time, the Navy Valour-IT team is at the goal line, and has collected $45,000 to support our injured troops. Now that we have reached the first objective, it's time to push on. The next objective is $180,000 for the drive, and we must keep the pressure on to help the other services deliver.

Army, Air Force, and the Marines need our help, and this has always been a joint operation. Let's give the Marines a birthday present first, then move on to the Air Force.

Tags: Valour-IT, Navy

November 10, 1775

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;

In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve.

If the Army and the Navy
Ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,

They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
Happy Birthday, Leathernecks!

Tags: USMC

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two More Days to Support Valour-IT

There are an awful lot of bloggers supporting Valour-IT. Many of them have great stories to tell. I just realized how many of the Navy team members I haven't visited recently (see the team blogroll in the sidebar). Check out what a few of them have to say:

  • Boudicca looks to the past and finds a parallel with the present
  • An "old as dirt" mustang discusses real courage
  • Barry at enrevanche is matching donations to Valour-IT - or at least he was until you generous donors maxed him out at $500.
  • Jim from FEWL.NET worries about losing the chaplain from his cruiser
  • Flag Gazer reports an unusual donation
  • Jason is going to OCS to be a pork chop
  • Frank J. says, "A chicken in every pot, a bullet in every terrorist."
These are the people who make Valour-IT work. Show them your support by dropping in once in a while.

Progress Update:

In just two short days, this year's Valour-IT Veteran's Day drive will come to a close. We remain short of our $180,000 goal, but with your help we can still get there; at the current total ($127,713) through PayPal, plus the auctions and any checks that have been mailed in it could be close.

The Navy team is almost over the $45,000 mark -- only $2,700 to go! Press on, Navy!

Tags: Valour-IT, Navy, Beat Army

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday Upate

Thanks (again) to the folks at Power Line, Navy remains in the lead at almost $40,000, with the Army, Marines and Air Force each maintaining the same relative positions they held yesterday. With $5,244 left until meeting our goal, we can't let up yet - those Army guys will pull a rabbit out of their hat like last year and end up winning again, and we can't have that.

Of course, the competition is really just a means to stimulate donations, and while they are short of the goal we still have quite an impressive number on our hands. As of 2300 this evening, $119,772 has been paid via PayPal, and the auctions so far account for another $1,000 or more. That's more than 20% better than last year's drive, and we still have Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a final push.

Thus endeth the counting. Go forth and find more!


Tags: Valour-IT, Navy

Why I Support Valour-IT

My best friend from high school always wanted to be a soldier. Soon after we graduated, he was off to boot camp, and ended up in the field artillery at Fort Richardson while I studied at the boat school. He always had great stories when we were able to get together on leave; his passion for an Army career was amazing, even at the tender age of 19, and he wanted nothing more than the opportunity to defend our great nation against all enemies.
After a successful tour in Alaska, he transferred to Yakima, Washington, and that's where the story gets interesting. About a month after I got my commission, I got a call about my friend, who had been in a motorcycle accident. His helmet had saved his life, but just barely. Recovery was touch-and-go for a long time, but he finally pulled through.
In the twenty-one years since that accident, my Cold Warrior friend has been legally blind, as a result of brain damage from his accident. He also has great difficulty with fine motor control, and can only write well enough to fit a few dozen words legibly on a legal pad. He only recently got connected with e-mail, and needs help to be able to read and respond.
When I see what Valour-IT is able to do for wounded warriors today, I wonder how my friend's life would have changed if the technology had existed back then. The ability to reach out for support from someone in a similar situation, to stay in touch with family and friends, even to record his thoughts and fears could have made a huge difference.

Make a difference for one of today's warriors. Every dollar donated goes to the wounded. Click the link in the sidebar so that they have an opportunity my friend didn't have.

Tags: Valour-IT

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Absolutely floored. Flat on my back, almost passed out. That's how I feel right now after seeing the response generated by the kind readers of Power Line. Scott Johnson put up his first post about Valour-IT 23.5 hours ago, and a second post 12 hours later. In the day before Scott's post, the Navy team collected $985. In the 24 hours since Scott brough Valour-IT to the attention of his readers, we have collected $17,145, and vaulted into the lead of our little interservice competition.

Even better news than Navy's big move, we've managed to pull the totals that much closer to the goal line. The project as a whole has gone from more than $26,000 behind to only a $16,000 deficit, and we are now well past last year's total collected with four days left in the drive. We have more than $111,000 committed, which is enough to buy 166 laptops to support our injured troops.

All of the credit for this goes to the readers of Power Line. We would not be where we are without them. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of those not yet able to send a message themselves, thank you for all you've done.

Tags: VALOUR-IT, Navy

Update, 11:14 PM EST: Paul from Maryland just dropped a $3,000 donation on the Navy team. I am absolutely in awe of the generosity of people like Paul. They are great Americans and heroes in the truest sense.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Valour-IT Monday Checklist

Monday's Checklist:

1) Recruit new team members. Done. Welcome aboard, Power Line. Thank you for taking time to join us on what has to be the busiest day of your year.
2) Check out the auctions at NZ Bear's place. Done. Lots of cool stuff, like rare challenge coins, SUBGRU wine glasses, ship posters, books, and even a couple of sweaty old flight suits (worn in combat, no less!). Navy is leading the charge on this one, while the other teams fail to capitalize on the opportunity.
3) Suck up to local blog friends for more contributions and linkage. Done, done, and done. Thank you, New Jersey!
4) Post the latest stats. This job has gotten easier now that I've figured out a way to automate the data capture. Team Navy is still lagging far behind the others, but now that Power Line and the New Jersey crew are on board we should start to close the gap. Army has retaken the lead at $24,758, with the Marines $450 behind. Air Force has a comfortable 3rd place position, while we watch everyone else's six.

For the totals, we have effectively broken $90,000 with $89,901 in the till and another $800-plus promised through the auctions. There will also be checks and non-team contributions to bump up the numbers, but it's still a long way to go for $180,000.

Keep charging everyone!

Tags: VALOUR-IT, Navy

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Valour-IT Sunday Update

Welcome, Power Line readers! For the latest stats, please head up to the top of the site.

Navy Team, there is good and bad news in the Valour-IT statistics at the end of the weekend. The good news is that Team Navy has so far collected $17,281, enough to purchase about 26 laptops for the injured who need them so much.
The bad news, as you can see on the chart below, is that we are getting our collective butts kicked by the other three teams. As of 2200 this evening, the Marines stand in the lead with more than $24,000; Army is second just over $22,000; and Air Force is third at around $21,000.

It really is time to get moving now, Navy! We need to average $5,000 per day to reach our goal by Veterans' Day. Our shortfall versus goal is $7,700, which would provide another 11 laptops to the program. We are responsible for 51% of the total miss of $15,109, and need to make sure that we don't continue to slow the effort down.

Keep your spirits up, and contact everyone you know, whether or not you think they will help. We need a massive surge over the next few days to get over the line.

Tags: VALOUR-IT, Navy

Saturday, November 04, 2006

VALOUR-IT Saturday Update

Folks, we definitely need to kick it up a notch on the Navy team. To reach our $45,000 goal, we need to pull in $3,612 per day. Our running average as of this post is only $2,668! You can see in the chart below that we are fallling way off the pace, with more than $5,000 to make up and only a week left to do it. It's time to secure the brow, take in all lines, and get this ship underway!

Even worse, the project as a whole is slipping behind, with all of our competitors missing the mark. None of them are as far behind as Team Navy, but is still adds up to a $15,000 deficit.

Dig deep, folks. It's going to be hard to make our goal, but it can be done.

Update 12:47 PM: Here's the breakdown by team against the goal. Everyone (except Army) seems to be moving in the right direction right now; let's hope we can keep it up!

Tags: VALOUR-IT, Navy

Thursday, November 02, 2006

VALOUR-IT Progress Report

The VALOUR-IT Veterans' Day challenge is off to a great start, with over $55,000 collected in just over three days! Only $125k left to go, and we can get there with your help. Here's the total progress so far:

In the competition between services, it looks like the (ugh!) Army is on top, but the Marines are close behind and coming up fast. The Air Force, in third place, is only about $500 ahead of Navy. Note in the chart below that Navy's average contribution is about $5 more than Air Force, so we should be able to catch up pretty soon.

Navy has gained a lot of ground today, closing the gap on Army from $3,700 yesterday evening to only $1800 as of this posting. This is great news, but there's still a long way to go -- our team is still more than $600 short of pace needed to hit the target.

Folks, this really is a wonderful cause, and the early returns via the blogosphere are very encouraging. With your help, the Navy team can reach our goal of $45,000 by Veterans' Day. Please, click the button in the sidebar, make a small (or large) donation, and help make a wounded soldier's life easier.

Tags: VALOUR-IT, Navy