Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012 - Rock out the old year with Styx

It would be helpful to have a crystal ball which could tell us about the future and allow us to be better prepared for what is to be.

We have to take it one day at a time as that is the only way it is given to us. Rock out the old year with " Crystal Ball " by STYX.

All my hopes & prayers for a better year in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A serious case of " If I knew then what I know now..."

A number of years ago, circa 1985, a few friends and I were at a Sci-Fi Convention in Boston. We were looking at all the different items and displays when we came across a gentleman at a table with an oddly titled comic book he was producing.

The title was " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"...My friends and I looked at it and found it hard to take seriously. There were well established superheroes in the comic book genre, and this one seemed out of left field. We found it kinda of too oddball to be taken seriously.

Later on, we all were proven dead wrong.

The enclosed story details how a gentleman ran up against a air of oddballs in 1976 in California and had a similar reaction. Pretty interesting on how we are able to view things much differently through hindsight.

Secret Apple archive reveals Steve Jobs was dismissed as a 'joker' in 1976 before taking Apple to global dominance
By Leon Watson - UK Mail
29th December 2011

A treasure trove of Apple papers documenting the rise of technology giant shows Steve Jobs was dismissed as a 'joker' when he tried to start up the business.

The collection, held in a secret location in California, includes a note handwritten in 1976 by a man who had just met Mr Jobs and Steve Wozniak.The pair, who launched Apple that year, had asked the printer called Mike to be given '10m catalog sheets' for free.

He then jotted down an historic note warning his colleagues about the young entrepreneurs.
It said: 'This joker (Jobs) is going to be calling you ... They are two guys, they build kits, operate out of a garage.'

In the interview, Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs recall a seminal moment in Silicon Valley history - how they named their upstart computer company some 35 years ago.
'I remember driving down Highway 85,' Wozniak said. 'We're on the freeway, and Steve mentions, 'I've got a name: Apple Computer.' We kept thinking of other alternatives to that name, and we couldn't think of anything better.'

Mr Jobs then added: 'And also remember that I worked at Atari, and it got us ahead of Atari in the phonebook.'

The interview was among a storehouse of materials Apple had been collecting for a company museum.
But in 1997, soon after Mr Jobs returned to the company, Apple officials contacted Stanford University and offered to donate the collection to the school's Silicon Valley Archives.

Within a few days, Stanford curators were at Apple headquarters in nearby Cupertino, packing two moving trucks full of documents, books, software, videotapes and marketing materials that now make up the core of Stanford's Apple Collection.

The collection, the largest assembly of Apple historical materials, can help historians, entrepreneurs and policymakers understand how a start-up launched in a Silicon Valley garage became a global technology giant.

'Through this one collection you can trace out the evolution of the personal computer,' said Stanford historian Leslie Berlin.

'These sorts of documents are as close as you get to the unmediated story of what really happened.'
The collection is stored in hundreds of boxes taking up more than 600ft of shelf space at the Stanford's off-campus storage facility.

The Silicon Valley Archives claims to be the 'world's greatest repository of materials related to the history and development of Silicon Valley'.

It holds a host of collections including documents about the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, Ampex, the computer science pioneer Douglas Engelbar and Hewlett-Packard.

They are part of Stanford University's Special Collections and University Archives and are open to members of the general public.

But since all materials are located in secret remote facilities, patrons must request materials two full business days before planned date of use.

Among the other items in the Apple Collection are:

- Thousands of photos by photographer Douglas Menuez, who documented Steve Jobs' years at NeXT Computer, which he founded in 1985 after he was pushed out of Apple.

- A company video spoofing the 1984 movie 'Ghost Busters,' with Jobs and other executives playing 'Blue Busters,' a reference to rival IBM.

- Handwritten financial records showing early sales of Apple II, one of the first mass-market computers.

- An April 1976 agreement for a $5,000 loan to Apple Computer and its three co-founders: Jobs, Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, who pulled out of the company less than two weeks after its founding.
It is held in a climate-controlled warehouse on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area, but its location has not been disclosed.

Interest in Apple and its founder has grown dramatically since Mr Jobs died in October at age 56, just weeks after he stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to Tim Cook.

Mr Jobs' death sparked an international outpouring and marked the end of an era for Apple and Silicon Valley.

'Apple as a company is in a very, very select group,' said Stanford curator Henry Lowood. 'It survived through multiple generations of technology. To the credit of Steve Jobs, it meant reinventing the company at several points.'

Apple scrapped its own plans for a corporate museum after Mr Jobs returned as CEO and began restructuring the financially struggling firm, Mr Lowood said.

Mr Job's return, more than a decade after he was forced out of the company he co-founded, marked the beginning of one of the great comebacks in business history.

It led to a long string of blockbuster products - including the iPod, iPhone and iPad - that have made Apple one of the world's most profitable brands.

After Stanford received the Apple donation, former company executives, early employees, business partners and Mac enthusiasts have come forward and added their own items to the archives.

The collection includes early photos of young Mr Jobs and Mr Wozniak, blueprints for the first Apple computer, user manuals, magazine ads, TV commercials, company t-shirts and drafts of Mr Jobs' speeches.

In one company video, Wozniak talks about how he had always wanted his own computer, but couldn't get his hands on one at a time when few computers were found outside corporations or government agencies.
'All of a sudden I realised, 'Hey microprocessors all of a sudden are affordable. I can actually build my own,' Mr Wozniak said. 'And Steve went a little further. He saw it as a product you could actually deliver, sell and someone else could use.'

The pair also talk about the company's first product, the Apple I computer, which went on sale in July 1976 for $666.66.

'Remember an Apple I was not particularly useable for too much, but it was so incredible to have your own computer,' Mr Jobs said.

'It was kind of an embarkation point from the way computers had been going in these big steel boxes with switches and lights.'

The archive shows the Apple founders were far ahead of their time, Mr Lowood said.
'What they were doing was spectacularly new,' he said. 'The idea of building computers out of your garage and marketing them and thereby creating a successful business - it just didn't compute for a lot of people.'

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New York’s teacher-retirement fund refuses to disclose info on how much they pay, even though taxpayers foot the bill

NY Taxpayers should be outraged by the conduct of these public employees. They want to keep secret information that shows how much tax money is being spent - even though the public foots the bill...The only response I can muster is "whiskey tango foxtrot ?"

If this is the direction public servants will take with taxpayers, then there should be a movement to end the pensions and cap the funds. The taxpayers should be able to review the fund's books and see who is rigging the game. Anything less would be criminal.

Mum’s the word
December 27, 2011

New York’s teacher-retirement fund wants to keep taxpayers in the dark about the pensions it hands out. Must be some darn fat pensions, huh?

Wouldn’t want to enrage the public to the point where pensions are trimmed, now would it?

In a predictable — but disturbing — development, the state Teachers’ Retirement System last week said it will no longer publicly disclose the names of teachers and how much they get in retiree benefits.

Even though the public foots the bill.

The move comes after other public-sector pension systems zipped their lips, following a disturbing appellate-court ruling last October.

That decision nixed a request by the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for the names of retired city police officers and their benefits.

The center had filed suit when the police fund suddenly refused to provide the info — after having done so for 28 years.

Unfortunately, both a state judge and an appellate panel ruled for the fund. Now virtually every pension system in the state is clamming up, citing the court rulings.

The Teachers’ Retirement System joined the club just days after the Empire Center filed papers to appeal the case before the state’s highest court.

It’s a troubling trend.

Which is why The Post and other news organizations have filed an amicus curiae brief calling for full disclosure.

After all, taxpayers pay for pensions; they have a right to know how their money is spent. Be it on salaries (which are routinely disclosed) or pensions.

Over the past few years, The Post has uncovered numerous public-pension scams, many of them involving individual retirees.

Like FDNY Lt. John “Johnny Lungs” McLaughlin, who retired on an $86,000 tax-free disability pension — even while competing in marathons and triathlons.

Available information has exposed systemic problems, too, like the Railroad Retirement Board’s granting of disability pensions to nearly everyone at the LIRR who sought one. None of these (or other abuses) could’ve been uncovered without the public disclosure of retirees’ names.

And again, this is information that has been openly available — without protest — for almost three decades.

It was only when the Empire Center set up an easily searchable Web site with names and pension amounts that the funds started squawking.

But the Web site did taxpayers a service.

The court rulings made things even worse than they were before.

Clearly, the Court of Appeals needs to hear this case quickly and reverse the earlier decisions. And make sure taxpayers stay clued in on the funds’ big secret

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Four Freedoms

Many might not remember how important artwork like the enclosed was to uniting our country during World War 2. Norman Rockwell was America's leading artist and his weekly artwork in the Saturday Evening Post was critical to the war effort. It would be helpful if we had a man like him around now. This is " The Four Freedoms", something we should all believe in as part of being Americans.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Duty on Christmas Day in Afghanistan at COP Mustang

To understand how remote this place is, you need to see the enclosed video. This is the tip of the spear, in a mountainous and unforgiving location, 7000 feet above sea level. While you were with friends and family for the holiday, they were on duty and making the best of what they have.

Food for thought next time you feel things are not working well for you...think about the brave warriors who do their best every day and ensure our safety and the safety of others in need.

In Afghanistan, Christmas on top of the world
December 25, 2011
By Clarissa Ward - CBS News

In Afghanistan Sunday, some 91,000 U.S. troops were celebrating Christmas as best they could in the closing days of a year that has seen the deaths of 412 of their comrades. CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward spent the day with a small unit at a mountainous outpost near the border with Pakistan.

At 7,000 feet, Combat Outpost Mustang, is one of the most breathtaking and remote in Afghanistan. It has been the scene of some tough fighting over the last six months, but the 19 soldiers based there took a little time out to enjoy Christmas on top of the world.

On Christmas morning, the men of Wolfhound Battalion manned their posts as usual, far from home and nine months into a grueling deployment.

The season spirit has been slow to set in here. But there were a few noticeable changes -- an inflatable Frosty the Snowman manning a guard shack.

"He may look nice but he's not," joked one soldier.

Santa Claus took on a slightly different form for the men at Mustang, -- a helicopter flew in from a nearby base, bearing gifts and mail from home.

Pvt. Logan Stamp of New York got cheese and sausage.

Everyone knows the key ingredient to a great Christmas is a delicious meal. And for the soldiers at Mustang, a small kitchen is where the magic happens. Cpl. Billy Jennings worked as a pastry chef before enlisting -- so the men are in very good hands.

"My role up here is basically just to make these guys happy," Jennings said.

The food seemed to hit the spot and for a few moments the men were able to relax. Even their afghan guards were getting into the spirit, donning Santa caps.

But the meal was cut short. As a neighboring checkpoint came under attack, the soldiers rushed off to fire mortars at suspected enemy locations.

The war doesn't stop for holidays up there, but it does serve as a reminder of what is important in life.

"Just waitin' to call my wife," Stamp said. "Can't wait to hear her voice."

"Just to know that everybody back home is safe, safe and happy," said Pvt. Robert Hicks of Oregon. "As long as I get to the see them again, that's all I care about."

For the soldiers, it's already back to business. But the good news is that they will be heading home to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii in March.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all who serve....

To all serving our country, at home, overseas and deployed away from family & home....You & your families are in our thoughts & prayers. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2012

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Reason for the Season

A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL...May you find what you need in family, friends and all the best gifts each of us have been given.


Coming to theatres in February 2012....This movie looks like it will show the sacrifice made by our US NAVY SEALs. I am looking forward to seeing this one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Santa....from 100 years ago in Ireland

Santa and the belief in him is the essence of what the Spirit of Christmas means...While Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, Santa Claus and all his history starting with Saint Nicholas is part of the celebration of the Christian Holiday. Through the year, items like Christmas Trees and other customs have been added to the holiday as many cultures and peoples included their traditions to Christmas.

A letter has been found in Ireland, written by two hopeful children awaiting a visit by Santa Claus. Their hopes and wishes have been shared by millions of children over the years, awaiting a Christmas visit from good old Saint Nick.

The Irish Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Santa Letter sent 100 years ago found up chimney

IT MAY have been slightly scorched over the years but a letter to Santa written 100 years ago, which was later discovered in a Dublin fireplace, has the magic of Christmas written all over it.

On Christmas Eve 1911, a brother and sister, who signed their names, “A or H Howard”, penned their personally designed letter to Santa with their requests for gifts and a good luck message at their home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure (or Terurnure, as the children spelled it) in Dublin.

They placed it in the chimney of the fireplace in the front bedroom so that Santa would see it as he made his way into the Howard household in the early hours of the morning.

The letter was discovered by the house’s current occupant, John Byrne, when he was installing central heating in 1992.

Since then, he has retained it as a souvenir of another time and place but with the stamp of childhood innocence which still exists today.

The message to Santa was warm but explicit.

“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”

Ownership of the house changed over the decades, with the Byrne family moving there in 1961, but the letter survived.

“At that time, the fireplaces were made of brick with a shelf on either side,” said John Byrne who works in the building industry.

“The letter was found on one of the shelves.”

The letter remained remarkably intact given the passage of time and was only slightly burned from fires set in the house over the years.

As well as the requests for gifts from Santa the letter also contains drawings and a message of “Good Luck” to Santa from the children.

According to the 1911 census there were three children living at the address in the year in which the letter was written.

The youngest of them, Hannah, who was 10 at the time, and Fred (presumably short for Alfred) who was seven, fit in with the initials on the letter.

A third child, a 13-year-old called Lily, is also listed.

The Howard family were all born in England, including parents Fred Hamer Howard, an “under manager” in a plumber merchants, and his wife Mary Elizabeth. They listed their religion as Church of Ireland.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where Are You Christmas

This is a great cover of Faith Hill's " Where Are You Christmas ?". I tried to find the original version to imbed but was unsuccessful. This song is one of the newer Christmas songs that I enjoy as it speaks to those who may having difficulty at this time of year. I was overseas for Christmas in 2004 & 2009 and this song makes me think about those years where I was away and having trouble getting into the Spirit of the Season.

Merry Christmas to all who are away from home and especially to those who are serving in our military as we appreciate all you do all year long.

Michele Obama's federal school lunch program scores a " F " as in FAILURE

There is a real need to feed kids at school. For many, it is the best food they may get at anytime during the week, especially in poor communities. The staples of veal cutlets, mac n' cheese, chicken, hot dogs & beans fed generations of school children. Now, we have the lefties trying to push an unpaletable mix of trendy foods on kids when all they really want is the food that tastes good to them.

When you hear that the main reason they are making a change is " for the children", then you know that you are being rooked. There is a way to make sure kids get a good meal without serving up food that kids don't like and won't eat. When we waste food and tax dollars, we leave kids hungry and fail. In the end, this type of program allows the lefties political gains to be met, but the children leave hungry.

Michelle Obama's Unsavory School Lunch Flop
By Michelle Malkin

The road to gastric hell is paved with first lady Michelle Obama's Nanny State intentions. Don't take my word for it. School kids in Los Angeles have blown the whistle on the east wing chef-in-chief's healthy lunch diktats. Get your Pepto Bismol ready. The taste of government waste is indigestion-inducing.

According to a weekend report by the Los Angeles Times, the city's "trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop." In response to the public hectoring and financial inducement of Mrs. Obama's federally subsidized anti-obesity campaign, the district dropped chicken nuggets, corn dogs and flavored milk from the menu for "beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads."

Sounds delectable in theory. But in practice, the initiative has been what L.A. Unified's food services director Dennis Barrett plainly concludes is a "disaster." While the Obama administration has showered the nation's second-largest school district with nutrition awards, thousands of students voted with their upset tummies and abandoned the program. A forbidden-food black market — stoked not just by students, but also by teachers — is now thriving. Moreover, "(p)rincipals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away."

This despite a massive increase in spending on nutritional improvements — from $2 million to $20 million alone in the last five years on fresh produce.

This despite a nearly half-billion-dollar budget shortfall and 3,000 layoffs earlier this year.

Earlier this spring, L.A. school officials acknowledged that the sprawling district is left with a whopping 21,000 uneaten meals a day, in part because the federal school lunch program "sometimes requires more food to be served than a child wants to eat." The leftovers will now be donated to nonprofit agencies. But after the recipients hear about students' reports of moldy noodles, undercooked meat and hard rice, one wonders how much of the "free" food will go down the hatch — or down the drain. Ahhh, savor the flavor of one-size-fits-all mandates.

There's nothing wrong with encouraging our children to eat healthier, of course. There's nothing wrong with well-run, locally based and parent-driven efforts. But as I've noted before, the federal foodie cops care much less about students' waistlines than they do about boosting government and public union payrolls.

In a little-noticed announcement several months ago, Obama health officials declared their intention to use school lunch applications to boost government health care rolls. Never mind the privacy concerns of parents.

Big Government programs "for the children" are never about the children. If they were, you wouldn't see Chicago public school officials banning students from bringing home-packed meals made by their own parents. In April, The Chicago Tribune reported that "unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria." The bottom line? Banning homemade lunches means a fatter payday for the school and its food provider.

Remember: The unwritten mantra driving Mrs. Obama's federal school lunch meddling and expansion is: "Cede the children, feed the state." And the biggest beneficiaries of her efforts over the past three years have been her husband's deep-pocketed pals at the Service Employees International Union. There are 400,000 workers who prepare and serve lunch to American schoolchildren. SEIU represents tens of thousands of those workers and is trying to unionize many more at all costs.

In L.A., the district's cafeteria fund is $20 million in the hole thanks to political finagling by SEIU Local 99. The union's left-wing allies on the school board and in the mayor's office pressured the district to adopt reckless fiscal policies awarding gold-plated health benefits to part-time cafeteria workers in the name of "social justice." As one school board member who opposed the budget-busting entitlements said: "Everyone in this country deserves health benefits. But it was a very expensive proposal. And it wasn't done at the bargaining table, which is where health benefits are usually negotiated. And no one had any idea where the money was going to come from."

Early next year, Mrs. Obama will use the "success" of her child nutrition campaign to hawk a new tome and lobby for more money and power in concert with her husband's re-election campaign. It's a recipe for more half-baked progressivism served with a side order of bitter arugula.

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The New England Patriots are on a tear heading towards the end of the season

The Denver Broncos were strong but not strong enough to withstand Brady & the boys from New England. Tebow would have needed a miracle to get past the Patriots and it looks like he learned that prayer alone won't win all the games he plays. I pray also when I need HIS help but I know that he also wants me to work hard to solve the issue myself. Tebow mania and all the hype with it is just a distraction.

Clinching the AFC East title is a good place to be especially with the NY JETS and their feckless coach going down in flames. This weekend will be Christmas and New England will be in the best position as home field advantage will be all but assured going forward.

Football in Foxboro in January....That is something to look forward to as the New England Patriots make another run towards the Super Bowl. In Tom & Bill we trust...

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Chirstmas Favorite - A HOMECOMING WITH HEART - a story of a US Marine making his way home for Christmas in 1951

I have shared this with friends each year at Christmas and it still has a powerful impact as it is a true story(which took place in Fitchburg, MA)

Read on and remember the power of "coming home" for those who have been away at this time of year....especially those, who like your humble scribe, have been away at the holidays, and wish they were able to be HOME....

The enclosed is my Christmas present to you & yours - MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and hopes that all will know the spirit and warmth of Christmas year round.

Author: By Mike Barnicle, Boston Globe Staff

Date: 12/25/1997

Maybe Christmas Eve wasn't actually colder then, but it sure seems so; just like it seems you could always depend on snow dropping out of a lead sky the moment shops began to close and people headed home late on the one afternoon when excitement and anticipation arrived together, natural byproducts of the season. It was a period of far less affluence and cultural evil, a time when community meant more.

So again we spin the dial back to December 24, 1951. Harry Truman was in the White House. The Dow Jones closed at 228. ``Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade'' was the No. 1 show on a thing called television; an appliance few owned on the day Eddie Kelly stepped off the train at half past 11 in the morning.

Kelly was 22 and tired. He was of medium height but appeared smaller, hunched beneath the weight of a seabag he carried as he walked along Main Street, past people who thought they recognized him but were not quite sure because he was 40 pounds lighter and his eyes held dark secrets that had not been present prior to his departure for Korea in the summer of 1950.

By winter of that long-gone year, he was with ``Chesty'' Puller's Marines at Chosin Reservoir, surrounded by thousands of Chinese who charged through snow in a murderous mass, blowing whistles and bugles. It cost 2,651 Marine casualties and took 14 days of combat with men using rifles, entrenching tools, and their hands rather than concede defeat or leave anyone behind as they walked, on foot, 40 miles to Hungnam and safety. As a result, Kelly was hospitalized from January until December; in Japan, then at Philadelphia Naval, where he recuperated until boarding one train for South Station and another for the place everybody wants to be on this night: Home.

Four blocks from the depot, the lunch crowd stood two deep in the Beacon Cafe as Eddie pushed through the door and dropped his seabag by a stool. The old barroom went chapel-quiet. Then, after five seconds of a complete and awed silence, the patrons burst into endless applause.

They bought him drinks and begged for stories, but he had no thirst and there was very little he wanted to repeat or even recall. He stood in the warmth of a familiar setting, waiting to meet his mother, who worked 7 to 3 in a paper mill and did not know her boy had returned for Christmas.

He was the older of two kids. His father died when Eddie was 11. His younger sister, Eileen, was born retarded, and to keep things going his mother had to institutionalize her only daughter in a state hospital that people called ``The Nut House.''

When Eddie was in Korea, his mom sent him a picture of Eileen taken at the hospital. In the snapshot, she was smiling, waving and wearing a white Communion dress. Eddie taped the photograph inside the shell of his helmet. Now, as afternoon grew full of beers and cheers, Eddie Kelly brooded about the little girl who had been left behind. So he asked Roy Staples if he could borrow his car to visit Eileen. Staples insisted on driving and both men left the bar as snow began spitting from the sky.

At the hospital, Eddie waited at the end of a quiet corridor until an attendant came holding Eileen's hand. She recognized her brother instantly, never noticing the trauma and change that had settled into his skin. She threw her arms around his neck and would not let go, and she asked him to take her with him.

Over the objections of the nurse, Eddie carried his sister to the waiting car. It was 5 o'clock, snowing, and dark when they got back to the Beacon Cafe. Eddie removed his coat and wrapped it gently around Eileen. Then, to the cheers of all barside, they headed into the storm, past the shops on Main Street where everyone had been alerted by word of mouth that Eddie was carrying Eileen home for Christmas.

He had walked like this before, through cold and dark and danger, but now he had this light load in his arms: A girl -- young and innocent forever -- who would not let go, and her clench felt warm to his soul. When they got to the bottom of the hill by their apartment, the whole block knew what was happening, and the neighbors stood on the slippery sidewalk as a mother ran to meet her children on a whole street filled with tears of joy simply because it was December 24, 1951, the day Eddie Kelly and his family were finally home on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vacationer-in Chief runs up a $ 4 Million + dollar tab for 17 day holiday to Hawaii....It's only the little people's money.

Yes, I know that some will see this info as a "non-story" but in the interest of stressing that " Leadership by example " is seriously missing from the White House, this becomes a prima-facie case of the hypocrisy of the Obama and the First Lady. Obama signed an executive order that directed limiting excessive travel expense or increasing costs needlessly but rules are for the "little people" after all.

Here's what the local press in Hawaii has to say about it. When you are making the locals unhappy in Hawaii, you are obviously doing something wrong as Hawaii is one of the most laid back places anywhere....Kinda tells you where things stand even in a place where he has support.

With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama’s Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN - KAILUA, OAHU -

The U.S. Secret Service has arrived, street barricades are in place, and the U.S. Coast Guard has stationed itself in the waters surrounding Kailua, Oahu. That is a sure sign President Barack Obama’s security team is preparing for the first family to arrive in the small beachside community as early as Friday night for what is expected to be a 17-day vacation.

The President and his family are traveling separately to Hawaii because he wants resolve the payroll tax cut issue before leaving Washington – and his wife does not want to wait.

But the advanced trip and the cost that comes with it – as much as $100,000 (flight and security) – adds to an already expensive vacation for the taxpayers.

Hawaii Reporter research shows the total cost for the President’s visit for taxpayers far exceeded $1.5 million in 2010 – but is even more costly this year because he extended his vacation by three days and the cost for Air Force One travel has jumped since last assessed in 2000. In addition, Hawaii Reporter was able to obtain more specifics about the executive expenditures.

The total cost (based on what is known) for the 17-day vacation roundtrip vacation to Hawaii for the President, his family and staff has climbed to more than $4 million. Here's why.

TRAVEL: $3,651,626

The biggest expense is President Barack Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One, a cost the GAO office estimated at $1 million in the year 2000. Contacted today, the GAO confirmed there is no report the independent office affiliated with Congress has prepared since 2000 to operate Air Force One and Air Force Two.

However, the U.S. Air Force provides the most current numbers of $181,757 per flight hour. Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.

The cost for USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment is not available to the public. However, the flight time between Andrews Air Force Base and Hawaii is at about 20 hours roundtrip, with estimated operating cost of $7,000 per hour (GAO report) for a total of $140,000 per roundtrip. The United States Marine Corps provides a presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for the test flights, which travel on another C-17 flight at $140,000 for a total of $280,000.

Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii costs about $63,000 (White House Dossier), but add security and personnel for a total of about $100,000.

HOUSING: $151,200

The President and his family pay for their own beachfront rental (they are not staying in the Winter White House this year but rather a house on the same street further to the ocean point).

The Kailua rentals are fronted by the ocean and backed by a canal. So, the taxpayers must cover the costs for housing U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Seals in beach front and canal front homes in Kailua.

That costs about $1,200 a day ($200 allocated per bedroom per day). Since security arrives one day early, homes are rented for 18 days.

That is about $21,600 per home for approximately 7 houses rented at a total cost of $151,200 for security to stay nearby.

HOTEL: $72,216

The President’s staff and White House Press Corps stay at one of Hawaii’s oldest and most elegant hotels, the Moana Surfrider. Hawaii Reporter confirmed they are again staying there this year. Besides its stunningly beautiful view of Waikiki, and its traditional architecture, it is one of the most pricey hotels in the state.

Government rates are $177 per night, but that only is available during certain times a year.

Rooms typically start at $250 but can cost on average as much as $450 a night, and are even higher during the holidays. A hotel spokesperson did not return calls to confirm the rate the White House received.

A conservative estimate with rooms at the government rate of $177 per day (excluding a 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax and a 4.712 percent General Excise Tax on each bill, meals, internet charges and other charges) means the taxpayers are covering more than $72,216 in hotel bills for an estimated 24 staff.


Local police over time for the president’s visit has historically cost Oahu taxpayers $250,000 but may be more expensive this year with the extended vacation.

The city ambulance the accompanies the president 24 hours a day through his entire visit is $10,000, according to city spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy.


There are several costs the White House annually refuses to release, citing security.

■For example, the president’s security usually rents an entire floor of an office building in Kailua on the canal during the president’s stay.
■There are security upgrades and additional phone lines to several private homes where Obama and friends are staying. That includes bullet proof glass installed, home security systems disabled, new security measures put into place and additional phone lines added.
■There is the cost for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel.
■And there are additional travel costs Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President.
The total cost (based on what is known) for a 17-day round trip vacation to Hawaii for the President and his family and staff and security is an estimated $4,135,038.
Hawaii Reporter annually has requested details on the cost of the President’s trip, but the White House will not release any figures, citing security concerns. A spokesperson has maintained the costs are "in line" with other presidential vacations.

Hawaii Reporter has sought to determine the cost of vacations for the current president and last two presidents but the Government Accountability Office was able to provide those costs and referred Hawaii Reporter back to the White House spokesperson.

Avenger Drone takes to Afghanistan Skies and likely peruses IRAN too

Stealth Drones present a serious advantage towards keeping tabs on those who threaten the peace. While there are many inconsistencies in the story of the lost drone over Iran, this newer one will be prepared for whatever the Iranians put out there.

Iran is capable but they are literally shooting in the dark....There is still a sizeable amount of info out there about whether the RQ 170 they say they have is valid, or if it was a BS story sent out in a " Trojan Horse" move....

It is all interesting speculation and one that we will likely be only able to hypothesize about for the forseeable future.

Air Force Deploys Newest Armed Stealth Drone to Afghanistan
December 15, 2011 - FoxNews

As the military scrambles to deal with a U.S. spy drone lost in Iran, it was revealed that the U.S. Air Force has bought a cutting edge, jet-powered stealth drone -- and plans its immediate deployment in Afghanistan.

But the brand new drone -- an armed model from General Atomics designed for strike as well as reconnaissance -- was ordered months ago, well before the crash of the stealthy Lockheed-made RQ-170 Sentinel that remains in Iran, the USAF said in a statement to aviation website FlightGlobal.

Unmanned drones get more sophisticated with each generation -- faster, stronger, smarter.

"This aircraft will be used as a test asset and will provide a significantly increased weapons and sensors payload capacity on an aircraft that will be able to fly to targets much more rapidly than the MQ-9 [Reaper] UAS," the USAF said.

Developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the Avenger -- also known as the Predator C -- is the upgraded successor to the Predator and Reaper drones with significantly greater firepower, speed and sensor capabilities.

It also has an internal weapons bay and is capable of carrying 2,000-pound missiles.

Despite being labeled a test aircraft, the order for the Avenger came in response to an urgent request made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in early 2011. The Avenger was the only aircraft that met the Defense Department's needs on such short notice, the Air Force Times reported, citing a heavily redacted document posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Wired's Danger Room blog speculates that the drone may be used not in Afghanistan but for further missions in Iran, given its stealth capabilities and large weapons payload.

“The Avenger reportedly carries a ground-mapping radar and the same ultra-sophisticated cameras as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, making it a perfect candidate for quietly snooping above, say, suspected nuclear facilities or terrorist camps guarded by air-defense radars and missiles,” wrote Danger Room’s David Axe.

All of which doesn’t seem too far-fetched: Panetta recently told Fox News in an exclusive interview that the stealth drone campaign along the Iran-Afghanistan border will “absolutely” continue despite the loss of a valuable and sophisticated drone in Iran.

The mysterious loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone revealed not only that the U.S. was spying on Iran, but also that the program was being run from Shindad Air Base in western Afghanistan.

"Those operations have to be protected in order to do the job and the mission that they're involved with," Panetta told Fox News.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at a press conference Wednesday morning that he was unaware of the Sentinel drone malfunction until informed by Iran.

"Afghanistan was not aware the drone had gone down or malfunctioned in Iran ... the government of Iran has sent a note to us on that," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been quietly pushing to sell armed drones to key allies, but it has run into resistance from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the proliferation of technology and know-how.

Administration officials recently began informal consultations with lawmakers about prospective sales of armed drones and weapons systems to NATO members Italy and Turkey, while several U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf have been pressing Washington to authorize drone sales, officials said.

The Faithful Fans of RED SOX Nation line up for tickets & a piece of RED SOX history

Even after the 2011 slump in the " September from Hell ", where our Red Sox tanked in a spectacular display of buffoonery, the fans return in droves. It must be something in the DNA of Red Sox fans that makes them like the swallows coming back to Capistrano....We don't really have the ability to resist the siren call of Baseball, the Red Sox and all that goes with Fenway Park, which will celebrate 100 years of Baseball this season.

I just hope for our sake that John Henry & his crew have gotten their game plan in place because if they tank the 2012 season, it will be the worst way to commemorate a century of America's pastime in " The Chapel ".

Red Sox fans
gobble up tickets, memorabilia

Boston Red Sox backer Eric Atkinson is a prime example of why "fan" is short for

Atkinson was so intent on buying the team’s 2004 and 2007 World Series championship banners at the Red Sox Yard Sale that he flew in Friday from Beverly, Mass., rented a storage truck and stood in line overnight so he could be first in line.

He had $8,000 in his pocket because the Red Sox only accepted cash.

It hardly helped his level of comfort that fans – standing in a separate line for single-game tickets – told him there was a nearby shooting and drug deal.

But he stayed – with one eye open.

Atkinson’s 16-hour wait for the pennants – which hung on the team’s batting cages – was rewarded when he joined about 350 fans who walked through the turnstiles at City of Palms Park at 8 a.m. Saturday. He bought each for $800.

“It’s the prize of the lot,” friend Rob Hurst said.

“Can’t go wrong with ’04 and ’07,” said Atkinson, who also bought locker room chairs, bats and $50 grab bags, which included a jersey of an unknown player as well as a program. The week before, he bought 93 jerseys, a turnstile, bats and Carlton Fisk and Wade Boggs banners at a Fenway Park yard sale. “They’ll go in my man-cave bar.”

With the Red Sox moving to a new park this spring, the team sold furniture, framed artwork and televisions from City of Palms Park as well as media guides, bats, balls, shirts, banners and signs.

What fascinated Katie Haas, the Red Sox Florida operations director, was what interested the second person in line was totally different from what Atkinson wanted.

“I gave a sound bite, which I wish I hadn’t said because a fan said, ‘You’re calling this junk,’ “ Haas said. “But one man’s junk is another person’s treasure.”

Haas said the story behind the treasure helped people in their purchases. When told the TVs were in the clubhouse or a chair was in the owner’s suite, that helped husbands convince wives they needed to buy them, she said.

Fans did get a little physical and jostled for the bats. “When it’s covered in pine tar and tape and has a player’s name on it, that also tells a story,” she said.

Helen Sotiropoulos, a 19-year employee of Aramark, the Red Sox’s food vendor, bought a chair before “they went out flying.”

Jennifer Canedy of Cape Coral got a photo of her favorite player, Jason Varitek, “even though he probably won’t be here anymore.” Shannon Devegnee of Cape Coral, bought a $20 framed photo of Ted Williams playing tennis. She’ll give it to her father Tony Patti for Christmas because that’s his favorite player. Her daughter Brianna bought Red Sox lights for $3.

April Bailey bought a rusted metal, on-deck bat. “I just happened to see it on a table,” she said. “I put it down, walked around the inside; and when it was still there, I said, ‘I just have to ask somebody about this bat.’ “

Bailey was told the bat really wasn’t for sale; but to tell the cashier it was $10.

Pine Island’s Jack Kershilis, 73, was resourceful when the Red Sox Baseball Store sign ($100) was too big to fit in his van. “They had a saw so I cut it,” he said. “I’m going to take these feet (Red Sox logo) and cut off the words store and put the feet on that side. I’ll put it in my garage.”

Kershilis’ wife was in line waiting for tickets. “I think she’d go ballistic if she knew,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll tell her until she gets in the car. She might not be able to ride in the car.”

When Brianna Devegnee helped Kershilis carry his sign to his car, he gave her a $2 tip.

As Kershilis returned to his unsuspecting wife, fans patiently waited in line for tickets.

A group of North Fort Myers High friends – Connor Roggero, Teddy Moore, Matt Mills, Neill Dickinson and Bridget Harper – had camped out since Thursday.

Two, long-time Naples’ friends and oldtimers, Phil Stang and Mike Boudreau, arrived at the ballpark at 4:15 a.m. to get tickets. Stang talked Boudreau into coming, even though he’s recovering from foot surgery

What the heck? Why not,” Boudreau said.

And what they did do while waiting? “Annoy each other,” Stang said.

Haas said five games are near sellouts – Tampa Bay (March 10), St. Louis (March 15), Baltimore (March 17), the New York Yankees (March 22) and Philadelphia (March 24).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Please stop sharing.....WTMI ( Way Too Much Info)

Reading a story about oversharing on a blog is a bit of an oxymoron.....Yeah, I share my opinions about many subjects BUT there is a distinct difference between what transpires here and what people share via Facebook and Twitter.

You will not find pictures of me at a drunken party here or other nonsense that people willingly post on Facebook, where all can see them making fools of themselves. That info once posted goes on have created a permanent record that all can see(regardless if you believe that the "privacy" controls will protect you) maybe a future boss or finance. It's not cool and it is a narcissistic self centered exercise enabled by the technology.

Timothy Egan from the NY Times and I agree that people need to be a little more wary about what they post online. I will air out my opinion here but at the same level as I would if my dear sainted Mother was in the room...and that is the difference. I have no issue with anyone I know seeing what is written here. While they may not agree with my point-of-view, nothing here is cause for me to be social or morally embarrassed. Too many Facebookers or Tweeters cannot make the same claim.

If you would be unwilling to allow your parents or boss to have full access to your Twitter feed or Facebook account, then there is likely some things you posted that you shouldn't have posted....Kill your Facebook account. Make a bold statement that shows others you won't be just another sheep.

I don't have a Facebook or Twitter account and never is utter nonsense.

Please Stop Sharing
December 15, 2011

Last week, there came from the dispiriting clutter of the nation’s capital an extraordinary tale of our times. It concerned aides to Representative Rick Larsen, Democrat of Washington, who broadcast via Twitter how cool it was to be sitting in the seat of power at midday while drinking Jack Daniels and watching Nirvana videos on the taxpayers’ dime.

For good measure, these Aides Gone Wild sent out a couple of bad mots about their “idiot boss.” Within an hour of hearing about the indiscretions, which had continued for months on personal, not Congressional, Twitter accounts, the boss fired all three young people.

The moralists had a field day, complaining about the low standards of the millennial generation. No wonder they can’t find jobs!

But there is only one difference between the knuckleheads of yore — me, for example — who did numerous stupid things between the onset of puberty and a late adolescence lasting to nearly 30, and those Twit-iots of the 21st century.

And that is technology. Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messages and palm-size appliances yet to sprout from Apple’s labs allow all of us to be banal in real time.

“I’m a moron, Siri,” I can tell my new iPhone 4S robo-assistant. “Please share with everyone.”

Let the counterrevolt begin; the shying of America would be a welcome thing. Sure, social media tools have helped foster revolutions (Egypt, Tunisia), while releasing butterflies of free speech in police states (Iran). And it’s great to get baby pictures from that distant relative living north of Nome.

But enough with the everyday shared thoughts, those half-hatched word products that could use more time in vitro.

People I once admired, even looked up to — smart, literate, funny folks — have gone down several notches in my estimation after they decided to reveal their every idiotic observation via Twitter.

From one (I’ll protect him here, even if he won’t do the same thing for himself by going silent for a day), a man known for daring urban design ideas, came these recent insights on his Twitter account:

Stuck in traffic. OMG, this light is long!

Just had the best burrito of my life!

Saw my first deliveryman on a Segway — how cool is that?

Not very, actually. Where did this compulsion for light confession come from? In part, surely, from narcissism, a trait as ancient as our species. But at least Narcissus could only stare at his own reflection until it killed him. Imagine that handsome Greek with a text finger as itchy as say, that of former Representative Anthony D. Weiner, the saddest of the digital exhibitionists.

So I cheered the news from my colleague Jenna Wortham this week that the march of Facebook into every facet of our lives has slowed at last. Of course, with 200 million active users in the United States, Facebook has won the war. It’s all over but the arguing among corporate overseers about how to divvy up our private information for profit. But some brave souls refuse to submit. Hurray for the holdouts!

The most encouraging part of the story were the comments from young people who went cold turkey, saying they realized that Facebook had made them less close to, even alienated from, their friends. The imperative of Facebook — maximum exposure of the personal “brand” — is by itself a form of poison to lasting relationships. It’s hard enough trying to stay close to say, five good friends. Why have surface relationships with a hundred of them?

The fear of those newly proclaimed social-media-phobes is that people will say they disappeared, or that, without regular screen updates, they don’t even exist at all.

But they’ll never vanish — the online graveyard is an oxymoron. Among the haunting consequences of Facebook and Twitter use is the immortality of ill-chosen words and personal pictures. And for that reason, alone, parents now have to give their children “the talk.” No, not about sex. Kids already know enough from the Internet to advise Casanova. The talk is about privacy, and the importance of children keeping to themselves things that could harm them later.

Need I remind everyone that human resource departments have no problem finding captioned pictures of job applicants sharing, um, lingerie reviews from their junior year in college? Cyberspace never forgets.

I hope that those three former staffers fired by Larsen will be given a fresh start somewhere, especially because their Google reputations will follow them forever.

Plus, public displays of stupidity happen at the highest levels. When Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to be the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Newt Gingrich immediately tweeted that she was a “racist,” and should withdraw her name. He was following that paragon of unfiltered verbiage, Rush Limbaugh.

Gingrich later took his “racist” comment back, saying he’d acted in haste. Of course he wants it back. There are 50 million Hispanics in the United States, and they are the nation’s fastest-growing minority. But no matter how many appeals to Hispanics Gingrich tries to make, his digital tattoo can never be erased.

In his youth, Gingrich married his high school geometry teacher. If Twitter existed then (and given Gingrich’s promiscuity with the language, you know he would have tweeted hourly), he most likely would not be the Republican frontrunner today.

The best advice I’ve heard of late is from the actor George Clooney. “I don’t tweet, I don’t go on Facebook,” he said in a profile. “I think there’s too much information about all of us out there. I’m liking the idea of privacy more and more.”

Easy for him to say. He’s famous. But oh, how he wouldn’t crave a bit of the most precious commodity of the digital age — anonymity

Friday, December 16, 2011


The American people are praying too....that we get better leadership in the 2012 election than the group of utter chumps are being offered to us presently...

We need an IKE or Truman right about now and all we are getting is a big pile of " Meh". There has to be better candidates out there.

Gear left behind in Iraq - No real surprise

Looks like we left a substantial amount of gear in Iraq...which is really no surprise as we can't possibly bring all the stuff back, nor would we want to. By the time you have housing units, porta-potties, etc. there for any amount of time, you really (really) don't want them back as they are in pretty beat up shape.

Hope we got top dollar for the M1 Abrams and other workable vehicles...I am sure we paid $$$$$ for them when we bought them.

Gear galore left in Iraq as last troops pull out
U.S. command says it’s not worth hauling back
By Rowan Scarborough

The Washington Times
Thursday, December 15, 2011

If the U.S. military held a yard sale, the rummaging would look a lot like what has been going on in Iraq.

Troops are leaving a bounty of leftovers as they exit the country this month, abandoning dining-hall tables and chairs, tents, air conditioners and old vehicles.

Unlike a traditional American yard sale, the military bric-a-brac is free. The stuff likely would be dumped back home.

For an Iraqi force moving into once-bustling U.S. bases, the accouterments are just the thing to make the soldier's life a little more comfortable as he takes on the full load of fighting insurgents against the government.

The State Department, which inherits the lead U.S. role in Iraq on Jan. 1, also is accepting hand-me-downs, such as armored vehicles and surveillance electronics to protect its turf.

"We've gone through a very extensive review process to determine what we need to take back to the United States, what gets reconditioned, what we can afford to transfer to the State Department, or to state and local governments back in the United States, or to the Iraqi government," said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.

"It's really the leftover things we've transferred to the Iraq government."

The command estimates that it has bequeathed to the Iraqi government more than 4 million pieces of this and that, valued at $580 million. However, the military is saving more than $1 billion in shipping costs.

Here is some of what Iraq is getting when it assumes control of all U.S. bases:

• Containerized housing units, air conditioners and gym equipment.

• Generators, water and fuel tanks, cars and stoves.

• Tables, washers and dryers, portable chemical toilets; and large, portable concrete walls and barriers.

"They take a crane and move around on flatbeds as they need it," Gen. Buchanan said. "It's certainly not worth the cost to us to to get all these pieces of concrete anywhere back to the U.S."

With the sprawling Camp Victory complex that surrounds the country's international airport, the Iraqis also are receiving prison cells, including the ones that held Saddam Hussein.

Iraq also gets a waste-treatment facility near Tikrit that takes care of contaminated earth and fuel oil.

The U.S. military is keeping its frontline weapons systems. Tanks, armored fighting vehicles, spy and strike drones, jet fighters and artillery pieces are going to the United States or to U.S. bases in Europe or Afghanistan.

"Starting with the question of what we need: Obviously, if this is a current piece of military gear - something like vehicles, tanks, artillery pieces, weapons, etc. - that all goes back with our forces," Gen. Buchanan said.

Iraq is buying some of these sophisticated weapons through the Foreign Military Sales program that arms other allies, such as Israel and Egypt.

Iraq is buying 140 of the front-line M1 Abrams tanks. It also is acquiring as many as three dozen F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters.

The United States has given Iraq rifles, pistols and Humvee multipurpose vehicles.

Iraq did not get a "yes" for everything on its wish list. Because of federal transfer regulations, the U.S. military rejected requests for certain sophisticated surveillance electronics that operate out of aerostat balloons and scan large areas.

The State Department, whose diplomats will turn to private security officers for protection as they move around a dangerous landscape, is taking possession of 60 MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicles.

One of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' first moves in 2007 was to prod the Army and Marine Corps to produce more MRAPs and get them to troops being attacked by improvised explosive devices.

State also received armored Chevrolet Suburbans, as well as surveillance equipment to watch a compound perimeter or detect incoming rockets. U.S. diplomats will work chiefly from the embassy in Baghdad and two consulates.

The U.S. gives away items through the Foreign Excess Personal Property Program. It came up with a list of potential hand-me-downs and negotiated the transfer with the Iraqi government, which had a shopping list.

"All of that stuff went through a process to determine, did we really need it back in the United States?" Gen. Buchanan said.

The answer was "no" for 4 million items.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The President takes credit for end of Iraq War...a war he opposed.

Some may forget what was said in the past, but others hold people to their words.

The President likes to take credit for the efforts of others....this is a prime example....Enclosed is what he said in 2002....You be the judge. The only reason why we are leaving is Iraq asked us to leave...But Barry takes credit as if he did the heavy lifting.

What a poser.

Barack Obama's Anti-Iraq War Speech (2002)

" That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars"

Home made ice rink gets a penalty call before the games begin....

It likely sounded like a solution to their need for more water at first but it ended in a case of " Oh yeah. I guess that is an issue..."

Hope the judge in the case has a sense of humor....what a group of hockey pucks !

Friends Busted For Fire Hydrant Backyard Ice Hockey Rink

December 14, 2011
by: Ben Maller - Yahoo sports

It sounds like a Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy: Best friends decide to make a backyard ice hockey rink, end up stealing water from a school fire hydrant and get nabbed by cops. Only this isn't some Hollywood production, it's reality!

Police caught two buddies illegally using water from a fire hydrant in order to make a really cool backyard ice rink. Tony Nelin and Timmy Ryan, each 20 and from the suburbs outside Chicago, thought it would be "productive" to have the ice rink over the frigid winter months in Tinley Park.

One of the kid's parents signed off on building the backyard rink for $350.

The innovative youngsters, along with a couple of other friends, began filling it with water from a garden hose last week. After close to four hours, they decided it was going be too expensive. The friends borrowed 250 feet of fire hose from a relative who works for the fire department to finish the rink framed with lumber. The homemade frozen pond even includes a penalty box, according to the Chicago Tribune.

These puck lovers would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for a meddling school janitor. The custodian at Tinley Park High School discovered the fire hose connected to a running fire hydrant on school property and called police. Officers used expert detective skills, following the hose through a wooded area and right to the 91' by 43' partially frozen backyard ice rink.

Nelin and Ryan were given citations for tampering with a school fire hydrant. With a court date next month, they're expected to have to pay for the water. Both accused water thieves didn't think it was a big deal. "I really just thought it was water," Nelin said. "I didn't think it was this big of a problem."

The Chicago Tribune reports they used an estimated 26,000 gallons. That's a lot, but in the end the expected bill for the water will be close to $130 dollars. The good news is that they will be able to keep the backyard rink because it was built on private property, and therefore it doesn't need a special building permit.

The four friends plan to split the expected fine and water fee.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CHI-COMS take out their new Flat-top

The CHI-COMS took their 2nd hand Soviet Boat out for a spin....I'm not sure about you, but the Soviets are long on getting things together, but what they produce is not long lasting. The B-52 is still flying because it was built 50+ years ago by the USA....Things the Soviets make, don't last like that.

We'll see how the carrier fares but I feel that they may find they have bought a lemon - Let's just say I feel our Flat-tops out duel their flat-top (singular)

At least the deck doesn't have planes: Satellite captures first picture of China’s aircraft carrier which it claimed is just for ‘research’By Daily Mail Reporter
15th December 2011

A satellite photo captured China's first ever aircraft carrier on the Chinese coast's Yellow Sea Thursday by a commercial U.S. satellite company.

The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of the open-ended possibilities the country may have for it as a future military power.
Little on the ship had been said by China after purchasing it from Ukraine in 1998, spending years refurbishing it from one with no engines, weaponry or navigation systems, to one seen sailing last week.

A DigitalGlobe analyst says they found the image Tuesday while searching through their satellite's photos.

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe's analysis center, said he's confident the ship is the Chinese carrier because of the location and date of the photo. The carrier was on a sea trial at the time.

China has said the carrier is intended for research and training, which has led to speculation that it plans to build future copies.
The former Soviet Union was the first to start building the carrier, which it called the Varyag, but never finished it.

China publicly announced around 50 separate naval exercises in the seas off its coast -- usually after the event

When the Soviet Union collapsed, it ended up in the hands of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic who then sold it to China.

China initially said little about its plans for the carrier but has been more open in recent years, said Bonnie S. Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

'It wasn't until the Chinese actually announced they were sending it out on a trial run they admitted, `Yes, we are actually launching a carrier,'' she said.

China publicly announced two sea trials for the carrier that occurred this year, she said.The carrier's progress is in line with the U.S. military's expectations, said Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Defense Department spokeswoman.

A Defense Department report to Congress this year said the carrier could become operationally available to the Chinese navy by the end of next year but without aircraft.

'From that point, it will take several additional years before the carrier has an operationally viable air group,' Hull-Ryde said in an email.
She declined to comment on the DigitalGlobe photo, saying it was an intelligence matter.

DigitalGlobe, based in Longmont, Colo., sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the U.S. military, emergency response agencies and private companies. DigitalGlobe has three orbiting satellites and a fourth is under

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The " F" in Facebook stands for " FAIL"

Articles like this one give me satisfaction as the idiots who fawn over Facebook are as clueless as those who use it. I wrote about the utter stupidity that Facebook represents and how I was NEVER going to join it as it was a vapid, self centered brainchild of a feckless kid who went to Harvard and was pissed off at the rich kids who shunned him. He created Facebook as his pentulant revenge to show how he could become better than the rich bullies who shunned him.

So now, All the "Cool Kids" are quitting Facebook ? How about the COOLER people knew better than to ever use it in the first place....To those who have invested in this empty place on the web, you've been had....It amounts to the newest version of AOL. Both are over and both were given too much credit for very little other than fleecing people of personal info and enabling people to place way too much info on the web that didn't need to be there.

When people act like sheep, they are usually lead to slaughter....don't be a sheep. Be a Sheepdog.

All the Cool Kids Are Quitting Facebook
Atlantic Monthly

Adam Clark Estes

The best reason to quit Facebook can be summed up in one quote from a 29-year-old in Jenna Wortham's latest item in The New York Times: "People always raise an eyebrow. But my life has gone on just fine without it." Like a lot of Times trend pieces, people have been talking about this phenomenon for ages. But Wortham's news peg is startling. Citing comScore Wortham reports that Facebook is continuing to grow in the United States, but after a 56 percent boost from October 2009 to October 2010, Facebook grew only ten percent from October 2010 to October of this year. Why? Well, Wortham gives a lot of reasons, quoting experts and so forth. But it's all very clear to us. To wear out that worn out Social Network quote a bit more: Joining Facebook isn't cool. You know what's cool? Quitting Facebook

OMG...I concur

Monday, December 12, 2011

The real 1% - Those who defend our nation.

This author makes the case for the 1%. The 1% she is highlighting is not the uber-rich, but those who are serve in uniform defending our nation and their families who support them from the homefront. I agree with her point-of-view.

Two members of a different 1% on Afghanistan, politics and privilege.
By ANNE JOLIS - Wall Street Journal
Zhari District, Afghanistan

U.S. service-members make up less than 1% of the American population. But the occupiers of Afghanistan do have a few, superficial similarities with the self-described "99%" occupying Western financial districts: Their endeavors both involve tents and have gone on far longer than first expected; both elicit mixed reactions in the areas they occupy; and both at times struggle to explain what their occupations are meant to accomplish.

Otherwise, the soldiers here in southern Afghanistan could not pose a starker contrast to their agitating peers back home. Take Spc. Anthony Webster, 32, of Portland, Maine and Sgt. Matthew Montville, 24, of Worcester, Massachusetts. They serve as their command group's security detachment in the Fourth Squadron, Fourth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, First Infantry Division—the "Pale Riders."

In late November, straightening their tent after a day of patrols, Sgt. Montville recalls taking leave in October to find himself "appalled" at the Occupy Boston crowd. The impish blond, who enlisted at 17 because "the idea of college never excited" him, observes: "Most of those 'Occupy' people wouldn't know hard work if it jumped up and punched them in the throat."

Not so the Pale Riders. They've had a particularly wretched war even for a particularly wretched part of Afghanistan, which has the ignoble distinction of being the Taliban's birthplace. Since arriving with 517 soldiers in late February, the Pale Riders have buried seven and been awarded 134 living Purple Hearts.

After 2001, the U.S. largely left this stretch of the Arghandab River valley to Afghan forces. By 2006 the Taliban was resurgent, and a Canadian-led contingent was sent to level entire neighborhoods here. But they never had the manpower to hold the area and by 2007 had effectively retreated, leaving the valley to de-facto Taliban control once again.

President Obama's surge increased U.S. troop presence here by roughly six-fold. The Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division spent much of 2010 redoing the Canadians' bloody work. When the Third Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division arrived with its Pale Rider attachment, they expanded the 101st's so-called security bubble while consolidating those gains with local outreach.

"We came at the beginning of the fighting season, and there was no bulls— about it," says Spc. Webster, a former construction and private-security entrepreneur whose tattoos cover about 85% of his body. "When it started, it started."

Spc. William A.T. Phillips, 4th Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
The Pale Riders patrol through Charkusa, southern Afghanistan.

It hasn't really stopped. On a routine patrol a week before I met them, the Pale Riders entered a house that turned out to be rigged with explosives. The blast brought the house down on top of two of them, who survived but were critically injured. "I've never heard screaming like that in my life," says Sgt. Montville.

"You can't justify any of the losses," says Spc. Webster after a long pause. "But we're here to do our jobs, we know what we signed up for. The mission is what we live by, that's priority No. 1."

Sgt. Montville summarizes: "We continued the push and at the same time started talking to the locals to find out what they need from us and actually start to implement it—roads, schools, clinics."

"Anyone can go in and blow a place up. We're trying to do the right thing," he adds. "I'm proud of what we've done."

"We see more kids now, more of their women out, people able to farm their land—we've accomplished a lot in a short period of time," adds Spc. Webster. But "it's frustrating, too. Ultimately it's up to the Afghans. We go to these shuras [meetings of local elders] and we hear them arguing about dumb stuff."

Earlier on the day of our interview we patrolled through the neighborhood of Charkusa, where only weeks before the Pale Riders had been taking regular fire from mazes of grape walls and marijuana gardens. Now Charkusa is quiet, though nearly deserted. Over tea with several elders who had fled during the Canadian offensive, the old men acknowledged that security had improved and said they're prepared to work with their imperfect government, return home and fill the vacuum that insurgents would be happy to re-occupy. But some remained focused on what the Americans haven't done for them lately: They want their mud huts rebuilt and this time with doors and windows; they want their irrigation canals repaired and reinforced with brick or cement; they want their relocation expenses covered. Pale Rider Commander, Lt. Col. Michael Katona of Michigan, listened patiently, his soldiers fanned around us, nodding: "We can do all that."

Their aim is to do so by the end of the year, when the Pale Riders will start to leave. But "it's their community, at some point they need to own it," Spc. Webster says. "If not, our efforts will have been futile. I'd like to believe they weren't, I know my friends who have passed away, their families—I know they hope they weren't."

Another crucial variable over which the Pale Riders have little control is the development of the Afghan National Army, which Spc. Montville says is "definitely improving. But for a lot of them, it's their first time having their own money, so they have cell phones and they want to hang out and talk on them, weapons flopping around—sometimes they smoke hashish on patrol."

Like most of the U.S. soldiers with whom I spoke, Spc. Webster and Sgt. Montville have taken it upon themselves to informally train the ANA they work with—though ostensibly they've already received NATO training.

Sgt. Montville tells me that, for instance, their ANA counterparts were recently issued .50-caliber machine guns. But "a lot of them didn't know how to clean them, take them apart—they just didn't know what they were doing. So instead of us getting shot in the back accidentally, [Spc.] Webster and I went over to the ANA side [of Forward Operating Base Pasab] and brought our .50-cals over and had them bring theirs out. We showed them how to take them apart, clean them, make sure they work right, put them back together—basic soldiering skills. . . . Eventually they do start taking stuff seriously."

He flicks on his laptop to show me a recent video of U.S. soldiers defusing an IED set against a grape wall. While everyone else waits, frozen, an ANA soldier wanders into the frame, ignoring the others' warning shouts, steps on the pressure-point and loses half his face and a foot. "Luckily, they're getting better."

"Yeah, but that really is how undisciplined some of these guys are. It's a liability every time we go out with them," adds Spc. Webster.

Both agree that Washington's 2014 combat-withdrawal date doesn't make their work easier.

"It's more pressure on us and especially our commanders, to try and get everything in place to make sure it doesn't all fall apart once we leave, to make sure these people aren't bullied all over again," explains Spc. Webster. He says even after 2014, he expects the U.S. and its allies to keep a significant overwatch presence in Afghanistan for a long time, "for the safety of the whole world. If not, [Afghanistan] would go to hell again."

But he also sees their work now as more humanitarian than U.S. defense. Which is why the pre-set timeline is "the right thing to do. We've got a lot of problems at home. How many more lives and money can we really afford to lose here?"

Spc. Montville, on the other hand, characterizes the timeline as "a nice goal," but also akin to telling the insurgents "'Hey, guess what guys, we're leaving in 2014, you just got to hold on till then. Then you can come back and do whatever the f— you want.'"

Unlike Spc. Webster, Sgt. Montville claims "honestly, I don't care. Once I go home, I'm going to try my best not to think about this place and some of the s— I've seen."

Why? "Because I'm a spoiled American."

Turns out that after nine months dodging rockets and IEDs, without alcohol, flush toilets or their respective wife and girlfriend, Spc. Webster and Sgt. Montville's tour has left them preoccupied with how good they have it.

"If you grew up in a mud hut, went to school for maybe one or two years, you might not be the smartest dude either, but you'd be a hard worker," says Sgt. Montville. "You see kids here hauling three, four times their body weight, going 15 miles an hour on some [beaten-up] one-speed bicycle. I absolutely have a lot of respect for them. You've got to."

Which brings us back to America's "occupiers." "Yeah okay, a lot of them have jobs, they work a crappy nine-to-five, they've got student loans," concedes Sgt. Montville. "And I have a car payment. I'm not getting financial aid for my cell-phone bill. Everyone has to work. Deal with it."

Of their own unenviable salaries, Spc. Webster shrugs: "No one's ever going to get paid enough to do this job. That's not why we do it."

"I love what I do, I can't see myself doing anything else," adds Sgt. Montville. But when Washington politicos were threatening earlier this year to suspend military pay, his initial reaction was: "They train us to kill people, to drive tanks, use explosives, fight in the dark, to engage in hand-to-hand-combat; they give us all these guns, all this cool gear to do this—and then they're going to take our pay? Are they stupid?"

Memo to the humorless: He's kidding. Upon hearing of the budget brinkmanship, "a lot of guys here said '[Forget] it then, I'm not going to go out on patrol!' But I don't know anyone who would actually do that."

And while neither voted for the current President, "[Mr.] Obama is my boss," says Spc. Webster. "If he sends us orders tomorrow to go to Pakistan, Iran, wherever—done. I'd pack my bags and go."

As the U.S. drawdown proceeds, Spc. Webster predicts, safely, that 2012 campaigns will bring claims of "'I did this, I brought the troops home.'" He laughs and lets Sgt. Montville finish his thought: "We're the ones watching each others' backs out here. The ones who survive—we'll have brought ourselves home."

Miss Jolis is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Make peace or die....Take a walk with the 1/5 Marines in Sangin

The 3/5 Marines had a tough fight in Sangin from September 2010 - May 2011. The 1/5 Marines relieved them and built upon the success of their shipmates through this summer and into the fall.

Watch the enclosed video (yes, I understand it is 17 minutes long...Watch the video and give them the time they have earned) is a view of what your US Marines have been doing out in the Shitewilds of Afghanistan. This is a small peak into how tough it can really be out there at the "tip of the spear".

I have been to Helmand and spent time with our USMC. They are doing the impossible in a harsh landscape and should make each American proud. Agree or disagree with the mission, this is the truest example of what we stand for and why we are Americans. Semper FI 1/5 Marines.

Wreaths are placed at Arlington to ‘remember, honor and teach’

To “Remember, Honor and Teach” - This is the mission of Wreaths Across America who provide Christmas Wreaths for Servicemen's graves at Arlington National Cemetery and other national cemeteries around our country. The efforts of tireless volunteers ensure that a wreath is placed at graves and those who sacrificed are remembered.

Bravo Zulu to all who make this important effort.

Wreath-laying event at Arlington to ‘remember, honor and teach’
On Saturday, 90,000 wreaths were laid on headstones at the cemetery by about 15,000 volunteers.
By Pamela Constable,Washington Post - December 10, 2011

Thousands of people filtered quietly among the rows of white tombstones in Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, placing identical pine wreaths with simple red bows at the graves of sons, cousins, parents, battlefield buddies, fraternity brothers and strangers fallen in half-a-dozen wars over the past 70 years.

There were Boy Scout troops, military units in dress uniforms and extended families in mittens and earmuffs. Many headed for familiar spots and formed somber clusters around a single tomb. Some said prayers or read out combat citations and saluted. Others wept or simply stood and stared, lost in thought.

“Every stone here has a story,” said Tim Frey, 43, a police officer from Lancaster, Pa., who came to honor Lt. Col. Mark P. Phelan, a member of his Army Reserve unit, who was killed by an explosive device in Iraq in 2004. “I’m here from a sense of duty, and to see a friend again,” he said. “Other people may not know anyone, but it’s still an honor to come here.”

More than 100,000 wreaths, loaded onto about 20 tractor-trailers, arrived after a six-day caravan from Maine for the 20th annual Wreaths Across America event, sponsored by a nonprofit group. The trucks parked at scattered spots around the vast cemetery, and hundreds of volunteers handed them to waiting visitors.

The event included formal wreath-layings at the grave of President John F. Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the original mast of the USS Maine, a legendary battleship sunk in 1898.

The official slogan of the organizers was “Remember, Honor and Teach,” and the wreath-bearing convoy stopped for special events in towns on the way. But for most visitors to the cemetery, it was a day of personal mourning and private reflection.

“Christmas doesn’t seem to mean what it used to mean, and we need to remember that these soldiers died so we can have the things we have,” said Jeannie Ludwig, 39, of Fairfax, who was visiting the graves of her grandparents, both veterans of World War II, and the grave of a friend who died in Iraq. “My kids are still too young to understand what these soldiers did for us, but this is a way to begin talking to them about it.”

By far, the most crowded portion of the cemetery was Section 60, where the most recent casualties of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

Members of the District’s National Guard unit came to mourn Spec. Darryl Dent, 19, who died in Iraq.

The grief-stricken family of Navy Cmdr. Charles K. Springle, 52, wept and hugged at his tomb. Springle died in May 2009 when a fellow U.S. soldier opened fire at a military clinic in Baghdad. His parents, Ruth and Charles, traveled from Beaufort, N.C., for the event, and were met there by his daughter, Sarah Monday.

Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Virginia Tech gathered to honor 1st Lt. Jeffrey Kaylor, killed by a grenade in Iraq. One member, Jeff Dawley, 26, of Reston, paid his respects to Kaylor and then headed to visit the grave of his father, who he said had died because of exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Some mourners preferred to keep their grief private. A group of tight-lipped Special Forces officers, standing next to a friend’s tomb, politely declined to speak to a reporter. At another grave, a middle-aged man recited the obituary of a soldier decorated for valor in combat, but said he would rather not talk about him.

But for many others, Wreaths Across America served as a public ritual, a way to connect veterans and their families across wars and generations, or a form of group therapy. Gray-bearded Vietnam veterans in motorcycle jackets handed out bright red Christmas caps to Boy Scout packs and shook hands with spit-and-polish Marine officers.

Lynn Hill, 62, of Silver Spring wore a historic cavalry uniform and said his mission was to memorialize the 9th and 10th Horse cavalries of the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army unit founded in 1866 and composed of freed black slaves. He said he had attended every Wreath Day since 1992, “to honor all the dead soldiers” in American history.

Regina Barnhurst, the mother of a slain Marine from Severna Park, turned her son’s tomb into a day-long gathering place for other grieving families. The spot was next to a holly tree, where she and some friends put up a ladder and invited visitors to hang personal messages on the boughs and share coffee and doughnuts.

“I used to wonder how I would survive Christmas, but this has become a way for us to support each other,” said Barnhurst, who began weeping as she recounted how her son, Eric Herzberg, had been fatally shot by a sniper in Iraq five years ago. “You have to do something to get through the holidays,” she said with a sad smile. “For all of us, there is still such a huge hole.”