Thursday, March 30, 2006

On This Day

in 1981 I was celebrating my twentieth birthday on the island of Okinawa, Japan. The Far East Radio network was wall to wall with the news of the attempted assassination of President Reagan. One of the reporters we heard a lot from was Sam Donaldson. I have always found his delivery annoying.

This morning when the numbers on my bedside clock radio kicked (no, they don't do that anymore - it's all digital these days) over to five a.m. the first words out of the speaker were those I had heard spoken by Mr. Donaldson all those years ago.

I heard that voice reporting "there has been an attack on the president" and my eyes snapped wide open. I felt a moment of confusion; the ceiling above me was not the institutional light puke green of a concrete squadbay (Marine speak for "barracks") but instead textured drywall, and holy Moses I was big as a house... and who was this woman next to me???...

Time passes.

I have been stopping at the same convenience store on my way out of West Valley City every morning since December. I know the employees and manager by first name, and only have to pay for my coffee every third or fourth time.

This morning the manager of the store overheard one of my fellow surveyors wishing me happy birthday, and we started talking about how fast the years go by. She just turned forty five herself a week ago. I mentioned the gestalt I got from the morning radio broadcast and she did a Lon Chaney werewolf in the moonlight thing on me:

"I sure wish that somebody would shoot that (*&^^%!!( #$^ sonofa(*&@ we've got now!"

From affable acquaintance to full blown BDS in two seconds. Eyes bulging, lips white, and a great red rush that ran up her neck and exploded across her cheeks.

"You mean that, don't you? You really do."

"Hey, I'm SORRY if your a REPUBLICAN but somebody should... "

I put my morning muffin back on the rack. The coffee cup was already filled, and I didn't feel like dumping it in the sink with her in such a state. So I went to the counter and paid (had to insist) and walked out.

I guess I have to start carrying a thermos again. Oh, and I won't be buying thirty gallons of fuel there every third day, either.

Folks like her hated Uncle Ronnie, too. The same hate, and for all sorts of reasons, but in the end they hated him for being right where it counted. And winning. I reckon that's how Bush will end up, too, when the serious books are finally written.

Trying day at work; in my experience working on your birthday always boils down to either a cake walk or a shit sandwich. Today I got the double hoagie special. Arrived home with the sunset to a Happy Birthday Chorus from my family in the driveway, and went out to Sizzler for a great dinner. We were too full to eat any birthday cake but it will still be there tomorrow.

I'm a lucky guy. It was a beaut of a day and now I'm off to bed.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Interestingly Enough

The Town Hall was held at the Provo City Library which is located in the refurbished Brigham Young Academy, which was the institution that preceded Brigham Young University. There were over a hundred people in attendance. Mr. Hatch hit the threshold at 1400 sharp and opened the meeting by thanking us for giving up a fine Saturday afternoon to show up for politics.

Senator Hatch mentioned blogs during both the open Town Hall and the by-invitation dessert meeting afterward. He recommended Powerline and Hugh Hewitt in particular, and Michelle Malkin was mentioned as well. As far as media goes, his statements surprised me a bit. Not much subtlety or temporizing in "The media dislikes conservatives and hates this president". He proposed that blog impact has little to do with the agenda of any single blog; rather, the self-correction and fact checking between widely disparate blogs improves the quality of information available to those who actively follow current events.

But he was up front that is was nice to have friends in blog places, none the less.

Questions from the crowd ranged from border security to if Harry Reid still attended church. Laughs on the latter question, and laughs on the Senator's reply to same. Mr. Hatch and Mr. Reid are both LDS, as were probably ninety five percent of the folks in attendance. Hatch said that Mr. Reid did indeed attend, and that we should consider for a moment the constituency Mr. Reid was trying to represent. That brought a moment of pin-drop silence and some thoughtful shaking of heads.

(I agree that trying to stay in front of the Left must be a frustrating chore. Cat herding would be easier. But that still doesn't affect my personal conviction that Harry Reid and his party are a threat to the country on a level that Al Qaeda could only dream of being...)

Economic issues affecting Utah were discussed at length. Without a senior senator in Washington, Utah would probably have already lost the Utah Test and Training Range to the environmentalists, and with it Hill AFB. Ditto access to a huge bulk of our public lands as well - big state feds (not to mention a recent president) have always looked toward western states to give up land as gestures to the Greens. On those same lines, the Senator detailed his opposition to storing high level radioactive wastes in Utah. He has been in the Senate since before Yucca Mountain, Nevada was put forward as a repository site, and decried the Democrats' decision to use the facility for political posturing AFTER all the billions have been spent in studying, planning, and building the facility. The crux of the matter is that the first state that willingly accepts interstate delivery of highlevel wastes will be THE state that handles the rest. Politically and in terms of permits, costs, and the very real and pressing need to secure unsafe sites that now exist across the country, it just can't work out any other way. Mr. Hatch mentioned "other alternatives" in process for dealing with materials in situ; no details were given but I believe he may have been alluding to vitrification, a method shot down by Jimmy Carter at the behest of environmentalists. Instead of encasing tons of waste in glass, we now store the bulk of spent fuel roads in above-ground water tanks. And those tanks are failing.

Energy policy was discussed. Senator Hatch pointed out that Canada represents our first, largest supplier of imported petroleum products. Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming together have three or four times as much oil in shale as do the Canadians in their tar sands, and technology is coming on line that makes recovery of shale oil only slightly more expensive than it is for tar sand now. He stated that biofuels, hydrogen, and ethanol only make sense in the long term if there is clean energy available to produce them, and that means expanding our nuclear generating capability. France was used as a data point here: they get almost seventy percent of their electrical power from nuclear generation now. ANWR, too, was mentioned. Hatch pointed out that the surface acreage to be explored was smaller than Provo.

Illegal immigration and border security were discussed at length, both separately and as the same issue. Senator Hatch was adamant that the President's guest worker program was not amnesty; I don't think the room bought it. I know I didn't.

Near the end of the allotted hour the senator called for any questions on the domestic surveillance issue. He explained the timeline of the program, and the congressional oversight/periodic review that had been built into the system at its inception. He was adamant that the program has effective in the war and has not violated any citizens' civil rights. He expressed surprise that there hadn't been any so far. A gentleman standing in the aisle next to me asked why the program hadn't been legislated via congress. Senator Hatch replied that at its inception, the administration had presented it as in keeping with the execution of the President's Article II powers during wartime, and supported by precedents from Lincoln to Roosevelt (FDR). Hatch also stated that he was convinced that any move to legislate at this time would simply degenerate into political theater on the part of the minority - he further pointed out that no serious court challenge to domestic surveillance was being pursued in spite of all the media noise on the subject - and predicted that courts would come down on the side of Article II if push came to shove.

After the meeting ended the gentleman who asked the FISA question and I met in the hall and talked further on the details of the issue. One of the staffers stopped by to chat, and shortly after we were both invited up to the dessert meeting.

And that is for tomorrow's post.

Springtime And Gunfire. Plus Treachery And Politics, Too!

I've been almost manic since yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, a brilliant clear Friday, I did not head up the road to Salt Lake nor did I drive up Parley's Canyon to the job. I did not set up my GPS set with the rising sun. I didn't call my queue of contractors (which caused them all to call me before eight a.m.). There was no rush to record newly-constructed sewer or water connections. No staking hundreds of feet of line for blasting or for construction. I did not visit Lot 7 in Pod X2 to replace the stakes that the excavator had blown out while the form crew stood waiting. I did not wade through crotch deep snow setting rebar with caps on rear property corners. I did not drive my F-150 over house-high piles of freshly shattered rock in the wake of a D9N Caterpillar bulldozer in order to get from one end of the project to the other.

I stayed home. The contractor came and measured my windows for vinyl replacements. We cleaned the living room and kitchen. My garage - MY garage - is navigable without guides and bearers! So is the driveway where I park my work rig; an hour with shovel, broom and hose to remove the dried mud shed there over the past winter. The infinitely better half and I signed powers of attorney to serve as guardian for a friend's daughter to attend high school down here with our girls instead of the blackboard jungle she dropped out of in Salt Lake. We ordered a new dresser for our guest room for her use; it should be at the warehouse to pick up as soon as I finish this post.

I visited my local gun store during a break in the action. They've finally got a selection of Kar-98 German Mausers in stock, almost all of them WW2 production. I pointed out to the proprietor that some of them were cartouched for Kriegsmarine (Navy) contracts and should be worth a little more than the others to collectors, even if the Nazi Waffenbrink markings had all been stamped out. I wouldn't have a Swastika stamped weapon in my home, anyway, but some people like that sort of thing. That got me a twenty buck discount should I wish to buy one of the others.

A passing knowledge of history can be profitable in ways other than making good political choices.

Closed the day by meeting with my surveying partner up at Doug's Shooting Sports indoor range in West Valley. Some days you shoot smooth, accurate, and safe. Others you manage not to hurt yourself or anybody else. I did o.k. keeping most of the rounds on paper but never really got comfortable. I'm almost a year into my latest glasses and my right eye is the one changing with age. Grrrrr... so I coached the kid on the line next to me on rifle. He was there with his dad to practice for his Shooter's Safety range test (probably up at Lee Kay right now, matter of fact) and was fighting his rifle more than shooting it.

He went from shotgun pattern down to a consistent three - inch group over the course of the next half hour or so. If given the choice between a bad rest and no rest, shoot offhand, and aim with your feet whenever possible. His dad asked who I worked for (I was wearing a polo with our company logo on the sleeve) and it turns out dad is an engineer and works closely with one of the owners of my company! Small world, and it never hurts to give a good impression.

On the treachery side , we have the perfidious Russians aiding Saddam Hussein during OIF. I guess Pootey Poot isn't all that much of a friend after all. Hell, he'll probably get his own log-in at The Huffington Post.

And for politics I have a two o'clock Town Hall with Senator Hatch down in Provo.

Y'all have a fine one.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Straw boater, with red/white/blue bunting hatband. Check.

Navy blazer, wool/silk, with U.S. colors lapel pin. Check.

Dark blue Oxford button-down shirt, new regimental tie in scarlet, utility green, and gold, gold Marine Corps emblem tie tack.


Blue slacks, shade to be determined after consulting with my handler (thirteen year old daughter), with black belt or suspenders.

Black street service Oxford with new ortho inserts and comfy black socks.

Laptop from the wife or oldest Goddess. May go with PDA if venue isn't wireless-equipped.

Mark calendar: 28 April, Payson High School: State Republican Convention.

I have been elected as one of four delegates from my Republican precinct to attend the state convention. I will be casting votes for our federal house and senate races.

The incumbents are Congressman Chris Cannon and Senator Orrin Hatch. My three fellow delegates are our precinct chair, vice chair, and a gentleman who runs his own public relations/marketing outfit. All have literally decades of experience in politics, local, state, and national.

I have a lot of homework to do. I am honored to have been chosen.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


In other news, last Friday I ran two crews out on my project. We staked a thousand feet of road for blast: curbs, storm drain, water and sewer mains and services. We mark the locations to be shot with two foot tall grade stakes laid out on fifty foot stations in tangents, twentyfive in curves. The end result is a multicolored forest of stakes. You can drive down the middle of the road in a truck, or even a grader if you fold the blade as close as you can.

But you can't do anything else with the road until after the blasters do their thing and the grading contractor comes in and cleans up the overburden.

We've got a foot of snow in the valley since last night. The mountains surely got more. I truly don't want to replace those stakes.

I spent a few hours at a rock and mineral show down in Spanish Fork yesterday. I paid a buck to run a pan of gold-bearing sand. I talked with the proprietor of a prospecting shop while I worked the light stuff off the top.

He's working a claim out on the Nevada/Utah line. He brought that up just when as I arrived at the moment when you tap your ring against the rim of the almost-empty pan to "jump" the gold out of the remaining tablespoon of black sand. He's looking for help, on a shares basis.

No real prospector ever forgets the first time he found color in a pan. Not a one. And folks who truly have the bug get a pleasurable echo every time it happens ,too, even if they are standing over a trough in an exhibit hall and not squatting in a stream twenty miles back up the mountain.

More on this later. I've got to go clean my work truck and GPS set and then get our documents together for our tax guy.

Reading For A Snowy Day

Wretchard is all over the aftermath of Operation Swarmer. He ends his post with a truth that applies far, far beyond what has happened to the jihadis in Iraq:

"The enemy in reading the leading newspapers of the West remained ignorant of the doom descending upon their heads, confirmed in their eventual victory even as catastrophe overwhelmed them. Thank you MSM."

Hollywood. Democrats. Jihadis. All are connected by a common tendency to believe their own press releases.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


How can you tell you worked an eleven and a half hour day? That began in a blizzard?

You have to turn down the rearview mirror in your F-150 to see traffic behind you on the way home.

I'm some beat down. Have a good night, all.

Monday, March 13, 2006


for DU votes.

I may just go out and buy another rifle. Or two. I'm collecting milsurps and have my eye on an SMLE Mk4 right at the moment...granted, it's rather ratty, and a bolty...

Nah. Maybe something evil.

No. REALLY evil.

Hell and death; there's already one in my safe!

I guess I'll just have to settle for buying some more hi-cap mags for my pistols. And maybe reload some more rounds for the M1 Garand. Mom needs a small frame 9mm for carry, too...

Spring is sprung here in Utah. No, really it has. Ignore the blizzard conditions on my jobsite and the low double-digit overnight temps here at the house and you can almost hear the buds ripening on the trees.

Just as soon as I can see at least two hundred yards in any direction, I'm taking the rifles across the lake to get the dust out of the bores.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Old News.

Iranians have been killing Americans with bombs since 1983.

ABC has a story up about the shaped charge/copper jet IED's that Iran has been smuggling into Iraq:

"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," says Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."

Mr. Clark, it's not hard at all if you think that defeating Islamofascist terror comes a distant second to winning house races.

This news came out months ago. The linked article mentions Ocotober of last year as when the deadlier Iranian imports began showing up. Dan Darling at Winds of Change wrote an excellent post detailing Iranian involvement. This was from August 2005:

"U.S. military and intelligence officials tell NBC News that American soldiers intercepted a large shipment of high explosives, smuggled into northeastern Iraq from Iran only last week.

The officials say the shipment contained dozens of "shaped charges" manufactured recently. Shaped charges are especially lethal because they’re designed to concentrate and direct a more powerful blast into a small area."

Read all the links.

Why the resurgence of interest by ABC? Don't know. If Iran attempting to subvert our efforts in Iraq is a valid causus belli, we should have gone to Tehran in 2004. As it stands now, a sizeable minority within the government have no interest at all in pursuing terrorists where they live, anywhere in the world.

(via Captain's Quarters)

Sunday, March 05, 2006


It's been almost a month. I better do an events dump to clue in anyone who wanders by here...

1. Bronchitis since December.

2. Averaging sixty hours a week on the job. Yes, I work outside, in Utah. The base elevation for my project is 6500 feet.

3. Emergency room visit first week of February. Was forced to admit "yes, chest does hurt". Result: Left side cardiac catheterization that day, endoscopy exam the next. Diagnosis: pre-ulcerous conditions in stomach. Result: drugs. Lots of drugs.

4. GP visit one week later, after fainting in the shower after a coughing spell. Diagnosis: bronchitis (still) and sinus infection. Result: more drugs; steroidal inhaler, cough suppressants (pill and liquid), antibiotic pills the size of .38 special cartridges.

5. We've had three visits from window contractors. Each one has provided a bid for replacing the existing seventeen aluminum storm windows we use to heat our neighborhood. Bids have ranged from astronomical to merely daunting, so far.

4. Youngest Goddess turned thirteen on the 25th and had her party here at the house. Fifteen eighth graders. Oldest Goddess turned sixteen two days later, and we had her party here on Friday the third, with eighteen highschoolers.

5. Externally, I've watched the cartoon flap, Cheneygate, the mosque bombings, the latest iteration of Bush-killed-New Orleans, Iran's march to nuclear arms, and Terry Taliban Goes To Yale, all with an increasing sense of detachment.

I've decided that a sad majority of Americans aren't serious about fighting this war. Not yet. It doesn't help that media, Hollywood, and The Democrats are still willfully blind to the threat beyond opportunities for them to exploit for personal gain. The administration's strategy has worked well enough to prevent another 9/11 so far. The opposition (beyond the previously mentioned) has wisely invested most of its domestic efforts in media moves.

And that's o.k. We'll arrive at the 2006 midterms with a Republican caucus fearing righteous revolt by their base. The Democrat caucus continues operating in an abject vacuum of ideas or principles, and will be even more beholden to their base.

For what it's worth, I think we'll see Iraq stabilize enough over the next six months that we move a lot of troops out of theater. The remaining coalition units will be dispersed widely throughout the country. Less of a strategic target when the ultimate suicide bombing begins.

Will we strike at Iran before then? I have my doubts. The smart move would be a coordinated air and ground mission conducted within the next two weeks... but the decision may have been made to allow the Iranians to conduct a test, first. A pragmatic political decision, but inherent in such is the acceptance that the inevitable conflict with Iran will be nuclear.

9/11 wasn't enough to mobilize the West. Well, we'll not have that pesky WMD argument the next time around.

The price of victory is going to be more than anyone dared think. Sad, that.

Posts will continue to be infrequent, and will probably be more of the "I cleaned my garage today" flavor than any political or strategic musings. I am in better shape now than since before Christmas but find that concentrating on tasks I can actually lay hands on makes me feel better than beating my head against a wall.

Have a fine one. I'm off to the garage.