Thursday, July 31, 2008

Five Minutes

She took my credit card and asked, "Do you have a Borders Member Card?"


"Well, if you get one, you get a discount on every purchase, and all I need is an email to register you in the computer. You'll get coupons in your mailbox. Oh, and I will also need a phone number."

She stood behind her register, looking at me through her tortoise shell frame glasses. I thought about yet another card in my wallet. I could take a shot from a medium caliber pistol back there and be oblivious until somebody asked about the hole in my pocket...

"Do you release the phone number to other businesses, or will Borders ever use it to contact me?"

"No and No."

So I agree to become one with the database. Home phone and email.

"What's 'tmj' about? Initials?"

"Sort of. Back in the day when surveyors ruled the battlefield, the communicators never put us on the call sign lists. The firing batteries all had call signs. The supply guys had call signs. Forward observers, infantry platoons, even the chaplain's jeep driver, all had their own assigned alpha-numeric code that changed every twelve hours, or on command. But not surveyors, so we got tagged. I was The Man Jones... which evolved into Tango Mike Juliet inside our battalion, or Echo Four (later Five) Juliet, for regimental traffic."

"Surveyors? Vests and tripods?"

I slid the bag with my new book in it between us on the counter. I put four pieces of change on the counter on my side of the bag. I moved a stapler from beside the register to the counter in front of her.

"Helmets and flack jackets. These coins are batteries of howitzers. They lob shells a long way, and can fire over mountains, like the bag here. Your stapler is a large convoy on the move, and all the batteries have to compute different firing solutions to try to hit it. Without survey, the commanders of each battery have to make their best guess map spot, and could easily be off hundreds of meters, or more, if they or the map is off.

In the desired scenario the surveyors have already gone through and measured, then staked out each battery position, as well as providing another stake defining a known direction - which means that the batteries are all within inches of where they think they are on the map, and share a common grid and azimuth relationship. Now if the Forward Observers up on the crest of the mountain correctly locate and describe the target, the batteries will have effect without having to shoot a bunch of adjustment rounds".

Her eyes are not glazed over. I am surprised.

"They use GPS for this, don't they?"

"Today? Absolutely. I'm a land surveyor still, and GPS is indeed slicker than sliced bread.

"Cool. Here's your book, and your card is in the back. Thanks for the history lesson, Tango Mike."

There is hope for our young people yet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

There Is A Storm Coming

I get no traffic, and justly so. But that doesn't mean I can't sometimes pass on important news:

"Stealthily, with minimal legislative deliberation (much less media attention), a vast new claim on the United States Treasury is being enacted into law by Congressional Democrats. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae with a porked-up bill that allowed only limited debate."

It will be unaccountable government spending nonexistent money that brings us down.

Remember this in November.

There IS A Fire.

And it's not a bad thing. I think. I hope...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not Ready For My Closeup

Here's what we did today:

In other news, comments here, here, and here, too.

And tomorrow brings - chores! Happy Pioneer Day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friday Stumbles In Early

Last week was the first Monday - to - Friday, consecutive days, all day, every day, work week I've been able to put on the board since coming off my winter leave.

And this week would have made it two in a row, too, but for Pioneer Day falling on Thursday, and my company taking the Friday off as well.

I had a darn good three days this week. Wish the diet was going better. Wish Mrs. Tmj's job wasn't so stressful. Wish I had a candidate to vote "for" president...

... but it's gratifying to watch the Hopey Changey one chew up the furniture a little more each day; it certainly contributes to making it possible for me to vote for McCain without barfing in the booth...

But darned glad to be back in the mix just the same.

Mom works a shorter day tomorrow, and we are skipping the barbeque in favor of diet discipline. There will be cannon fire in the park beginning at five p.m..

The next four days will be make and mend here at the Team. I have major clutter issues still to deal with, but intend to commit acts of carpentry before the clock runs completely out. There may be gunfire involved - either at the Provo City Squaw Peak Range or up to my usual haunt, the Lee Kay facility up in West Valley City.

You have a fine one now, hear?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Choice And Food And Diet

Mrs. Tmj and I are on Weight Watchers. She's been doing the points thing for since last August and has just celebrated losing fifty pounds. I started three weeks back and have so far notched a loss of eleven pounds. These eleven were the easy ones, I'm sure.
My early impression is that the system will work if I do my part - and I think that men get a lot more points to play with than women of comparable height and weight, as a tip to the male psyche. I find myself with points left over at the end of the day, more often than not, while Mrs. Tmj routinely expends a bonus point (you get a separate allocation of 35 points above your normal daily number for "emergencies") or two by snacking at the end of the day.

Back before we were attempting to be nutrition conscious we had several buffets that we enjoyed regularly. On our way home from WalMart this afternoon, Mrs. Tmj mentioned that she's found a new one up by her work that may become a weekly stop. The fee for lunch is 6.99, they have sushi and a killer salad bar. She has excellent discipline and can get her money's worth out a buffet.

There aren't any buffets that I think would return value for me as long as I am on this program. It is not good for me to hammer and tong one big meal on any day, even as an outlier, after spending weeks training myself about portion sizes, nutritional balance, and fat awareness.

But if I walked through the doors of an eatery and had to immediately jump on a table to avoid a maddened beef being chased by a pack of bowie knife weilding cutomers and a chef wearing a flamethrower followed by two assistants pushing a bathtub full of barbeque sauce...

I'd pay for a seat at the table.

Sure hope you've had a fine weekend out there. I am not so sure I'm ready for Monday. Not by a long pitch.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I did:

To Whom It May Concern:

America's national parks should always be the most peaceful places in our country. They should offer solitude and an opportunity for reflection. In recent years, the increasing numbers of park visitors have inescapably resulted in an increase in criminal incidents within our parks and monuments. That's why I was so encouraged to learn that the administration is considering allowing citizens to legally possess loaded firearms in our national parks.

Petty crime, drug dealing, and theft are serious issues in our national parks--and the incidence of all criminal activity as well as episodes of visitor interaction with dangerous animals have been steadily increasing over the years. I applaud the logic and common sense on display here in allowing personal firearms in our national parks. Our park rangers cannot keep up with the activity already happening in our parks, and opening up the parks to allow safe and responsible citizen possession of guns even where hunting is not allowed will enable law abiding citizens a means of defense when the overburdened Park Service employees are unable to help.

Please do open up our parks to citizens who would legally exercise their lawful right to armed self-defense. This administration would be setting a tremendously beneficial precedent by acknowledging that citizens are absolutely empowered to carry loaded weapons in our parks, and that such a situation is in no way abnormal, nor does it put at risk the wildlife that calls these parks home.


A.R. Jones
Orem, Utah

(via Instapundit)

In other news, today finds me a total of eleven pounds down since I began my diet on 20 June.

Mr. Tony Snow, late of Fox News, then White House Press Secretary, and lastly as a CNN commentator, has passed away of complications associated with his long fight against colon cancer.

He was a pro, and I will miss his take, and delivery, on what is happening in the world around us.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Morning Rounds

Feeling better but still weak.

Being home all week has made it possible for me to pay too much attention to current events, think too much about future events. Such conditions result in me putting up comments like this:

"I understand the leadership vacuum. Better that band of campus commies and hacks chew on each others’ hands than actually coordinate a formal assault on the nation. I further believe that Pelosi and Reid may actually owe their positions to the fact that the brighter bulbs in their party (edit - were not) man enough to step up to the plate knowing what is coming.

I’m getting mighty tired of being Chicken Little but I could die a happy man being wrong … or even half wrong… about what I think is coming down the pike.

The people we elected to govern us have created a government that panders to us, then goes about its business of taking more and more oxygen out of the room. And the people we elected have recognized this for generations yet keep on adding layers and offices and regulatory agencies.

How much of our liberty, happiness, and security are those folks willing to sacrifice to keep what they have usurped?

Fannie Mae/Freddie MAC. Iran. Energy. Inflation. CFR. Where the DOW will be a week from now. Three weeks. And Jesse is miffed that his scam is threatened, McCain can’t find a reason for me to vote for him, and Obama thinks a pressing issue is that my kids can’t order off the menu if they end up in Paris.

We’ve got four thousand and counting lives on top of an unimaginable amount of money toward an ongoing investment in the freedom of over forty million people… as a means to ensure our own national security. And here we are on tenterhooks waiting for our candidates to make their next gaffe or next flip flop. Both of them.

I’m plumb past being scared. Not much I can accomplish going that route anyway. Tomorrow I talk with our financial adviser and get his best guess, then sit down with Mrs. Tmj, maybe telcon with the extended family, and make some moves. Being under the weather is just spice.

Have a weekend. Enjoy. I’m out.

And lo here I am, breathing mostly pain free, on a beautiful Friday morn waiting to find out what will be left of our investments at the end of this day.

I'm sick of being sick, and tired of being scared. Scared for my family's future, for what path our country is about to stumble down, what this election will mean for all the hard work and sacrifice of the last six years or so.

I'm leaving the investments alone. Maybe there's enough years for them to get their value back.

And now I'm going fishing. I'll even take a pan, I think. And a book, something in Prachett.

Have a fine day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Down Time

I have developed a nasty, dry bronchitis over the course of the last five days. I was able to last a couple of hours in the field this morning but finally gave up and went to CritCare.

The drugs, they are good, but I'm not driving or working anywhere tomorrow.

Have a fine one!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Aid And Comfort (UPDATED)

Lynn Stewart could use some company.

And the New York Times still feigns outrage about the Plame affair. Simply amazing.

Whatever happened to tar and feathers? We could fire every third lawyer and use the money saved to buy tar ponds and chickens. Better value for the money all around, I say.

UPDATE: We may need a longer rail.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

On Time One Day Late

We here at the Team have a traditional Independence Day routine.

1. Burn meat in front of the house, feed friends and neighbors.
2. Haul the Team cannon down the block to Cherry Hill Park and burn some powder.
3. Shoot off fireworks in the culdesac.

Yesterday went a little differently.

Mrs. Tmj took a friend's daughter and her friend to Stadium of Fire. And at fifteen minutes shy of midnight, our friend's oldest daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

My suggestion of "Independence" for a middle name was ... gracefully... declined.

A fine time was had by all.

I have since woken up with a hellish summer cold. Mrs. Tmj, with the use of hooks and elephants, dragged me from bed so that I could make my second Weight Watchers weigh in to log a loss 8.6 pounds since beginning the program two weeks ago.

Forty two point four to go.

Happy Birthday, America. We love you!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Squeak Free

Mr. Reynolds notes that Obama is executing his long expected pivot toward the center where the war in Iraq is concerned.

"You could see this one coming."

I must point out that the move is practically soundless as a result of being lubricated by all those crushed hopes and dreams of O!zombies and progressives who thought they had found a leader they could trust.

New boss/old boss, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Friend Of The Armed Citizen?

I just got my latest unsolicited bleg from the NRA. I've never seen one like this before.

I open the CD mailer and lo and behold I have in my hands disc one of the "Personal Firearm Defense" DVD series, presented by the American Rifleman Collection. This episode covers "combat focus shooting and home defense tips".

Also included in the box is a nice silver coin with a nice George Washington quote on one side and the NRA seal on the reverse.

The promotional material says the disc is "MINE TO KEEP"... which is true, even before the "IF YOU SEND $12.95" which is in the same sentence.

I didn't ask for it. They mailed it to me; they could have mailed it to "occupant", and if it wasn't solicited from here, it's mine when it hits my mailbox. That's the law, Festus.

However, I believe that the NRA needs every cent it can get to do the good work it does so well, especially since they have this obvious gaping wound in their fundraising model that is comprised of phone banks and now this poorly executed attempt to burden members with what appears to me to be an onion skin's thickness away from an outright scam.

I kept the coin because it's not worth sending back - not because they said I could. The DVD goes, unwatched, back in the provided postage paid return envelope, with a nasty gram for whatever boiler room employee opens it.

Then I sent an email to the NRA directing them here.


Text of message I sent:

"I just returned the Personal Firearm Defense DVD I didn't ask be sent to me. I am highly irritated.

I wrote about it at


I declined your recent invitation to become a Life Member with a substantial discount off the going rate because I have been using my annual memberships as a way to contribute.

Is there a contact address I can write to where I will stop receiving blegs every other week? I recently contributed fifty dollars over the phone and now regard the decision as a mistake, especially if it puts my name in the hopper for more phone calls and even more straight- to- recycling blegs.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Issue Advertisement

It kind of writes itself, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Mr. Lileks weighs in on Tuesday's Bleat:

"There’s only one sensible response: we have to shut down Las Vegas. Yes, I know, they get their power from hydro, but juice is fungible; the power that goes to light up Vegas could be used to take oil-fired plants off the grid. Closing down Vegas would reduce Nevada’s carbon footprint in other ways: a quarter of all tourists come from California, and I’d wager they drive."

File under: "Can't make this stuff up".

Tidy Tidy

Colonoscopy GOOD. Some tissue off to biopsy just in case.

Doctor's advice: Eat more fiber. Chillax. BRING A BOOK.

Since I was going to be travelling immediately after leaving the hospital on Thursday, they gave me a sedative that didn't have as long a recovery time as the usual stuff.

I was up about twenty five minutes after the procedure and on the road a half hour after that. But I remember NOTHING but a few sentences said by the doc during his post and then back to complete awareness halfway through eating a BK breakfast sandwich, northbound on I15 heading to the airport.

Very laid back weekend. Spent Saturday cooking ribs (whilst having my prejudice against propane soundly thrashed) and helping put up the steel siding on my brother-in-law's barn. Ribs turned out decadent, barn is tight, and I got to watch other people get hammered.

SWEET weekend.

I have the Yugo in pieces out in the garage. There's a few decades' worth of cosmoline trapped in the stock so I'm letting the hundred degree heat sweat it out. I just wipe it down morning and night. The metal parts either in the parts washer or are laying on newspaper slathered in CLP, waiting for the wood to be ready. I shot this rifle over our Christmas visit so I know it is a fair specimen mechanically. The finish shows white on parts of the receiver and barrel, the bore is pretty dark but with distinct rifling, and the handguard has a hairline crack that I'll repair once I've gotten most of the oil out of the wood.

Should be a nice little project rifle, and that's a fact.

No work these past two days. I'm supposed to have a little map tomorrow.