8.15.2003

Who do you have to talk to to get Arnold to remove the (R) from behind his name on the ballot? Sheesh. California is gonna get what it deserves though, talk about a serious dose of karma with a capital K.

It was interesting watching the blackout news stories yesterday. Talk about an opportunity for any terrorist out there - HUGE crowds of people, all milling about, anybody with a squirt gun could have infected a couple hundred thousand people. Honestly, that is what I kept expecting to hear, that the outage was caused by terrorists and it was just a tactic to get people out on the streets, to make them vulnerable to an airborne infection or a dirty bomb or a squad of homicide bombers strategically placed around the city or a lone radio-controlled airplane slowly making it's way down those busy, packed streets with a thin plume of aerosol trailing behind it. Me paranoid? Hell Yes.

It's Friday here, have had a few rain showers move through followed by some rays of sun and there is a nice breeze to. Had something extremely funny happen last night. The blueberries are slowly ripening and every evening I wander out and pluck a small handful to eat while the dog does her thing. Well, last night, Sage was interested in what I was munching on so I gave her a little berry which she rolled around in her mouth for a bit before eating it and she looked up at me for more. I plucked a couple off of the bush and fed them to her and that is when she noticed where I was getting the berries so she started helping herself to them right off the branches! I haven't seen anything that funny in a long time - she was very careful with her mouth and "dog lips" to delicately pluck one berry at a time off the branches but I had to stop her after a couple, lord knows what that will do to her gastro-intestinal system.

Ok, that's it for now. Have a great Friday.

8.13.2003

I mentioned that I had received an alumni magazine the other day from my alma mater, and yesterday, I received in the mail an alumni magazine from my fraternity. The cover story is about fellow fraternity brothers and alumni around the country from different colleges who are serving in the military. At the top of the list for the article is a fraternity brother, Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, who has become famous for his actions in Iraq! I remember seeing the piece on him on the news when it happened but did not put two and two together when I saw his name. I found a story on CNN that details his actions and I bet once you read it, you will remember seeing him! If you don't want to click over, here ya go:

Commander shows restraint, prevents unnecessary violence

NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- The soldiers were moving to the home of one of Iraq's leading holy men, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein Sistani, seeking his crucial support for their stay in this southern Iraqi city.

But as they turned a corner, a group of Iraqi men blocked their way.

Shouting in Arabic, "God is great," the crowd grew into hundreds, many of whom mistakenly thought the Americans were trying to capture the town's holy man and attack the Imam Ali Mosque, a holy site for Shiite Muslims around the world. Someone in the crowd lobbed a rock at the troops, then another.

Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, showed restraint and intelligence.

He yelled to his troops: "Smile, relax." Then he commanded his soldiers to take a knee and point their weapons to the ground. Some Iraqis backed off and sat down. But many more continued to yell and block the road.

"We're going to withdraw out of this situation and let them defuse it themselves," he told his troops through a loudspeaker. "All vehicles turn around."

Not all commanders would have done it that way. But Hughes, 42, a career military man who lives with his wife, Marguerite, and three teenage children in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, kept his cool as two cultures almost clashed.

Responsible for hundreds of soldiers, Hughes drew praise from President Bush for his "skill and honor."

"This gesture of respect helped defuse a dangerous situation and make our peaceful intentions clear," Bush said during his weekly radio address.

Nicknamed "No Slack," Hughes' unit is described by its official Web site as "a rapidly deployable battalion that is lethal, ruthless, violent, feared in combat."

But on April 3 in Najaf, Hughes also made sure his soldiers understood cultural differences and the meaning of restraint.

With his own rifle pointed toward the ground, the colonel bowed to the crowd and turned away.

Hughes and his infantry marched back to their compound in silence. And when tempers had calmed, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued a decree calling on the people of Najaf to welcome Hughes' soldiers.

"I've been real proud of him," his father, Dr. Patrick Hughes, told The Des Moines Register. "He is doing a good job over there like the rest of them are."

Note: In every war there are acts of extraordinary courage where an individual, military or civilian, goes beyond what is expected to avert conflict, save lives or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission. This special section highlights the acts of a few individuals who -- through feats of courage, nobility of purpose or life-risking situations -- have become "Heroes of War."

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Awesome.


Chris is about 5 years older than me and when I was joining the fraternity and going through Hell Week, he must have been on leave and visiting his folks in Red Oak because he dropped by to lend a hand and just ran our asses ragged and I don't think I have ever done as many push-ups as I did during the few days he was visiting!! After reading the article and recalling the news story on TV, seeing how calm and collected he was and seeing the care that he had for the people of Iraq and for his men, it brought back a bunch of memories of Lt. Col. Hughes. Yes, he pushed us hard through that week at the fraternity, but what I remember most were the talks he had with us, the ability he had to motivate us, to encourage us and I also recall the cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor he had, always in control, always a leader, always looking out for others.

The news high-lites all the crap that is going on over there, the soldiers that get killed every day, they focus on the handful of Ba'athist party folks that want us out of there so they can start running their scams again, so it was wonderful to re-visit the wonderful story of Lt. Col. Chris Hughes and his men.

CNN has a page dedicated to theHeroes of War, lots of great stories there about folks that you might not have heard about.

Also, National Review Online has a Guest Comment article by Jim Lacey, a reporter for Time Magazine who was embedded with the 101st and the article mentions Lt. Col. Hughes. Good stuff.


8.12.2003

Great article on MSNBC about geographic information systems (GIS). Used to be when someone asked me what I did I simply said "computer maps", now they are becoming mainstream and everyone everywhere will have access to these spatial databases (GIS people are spatial people, heh) on their laptops, their cellphones, PDA's, and personally, I can't wait for the 3-D holographic map contact lenses with the wireless terabyte database and centimeter-grade GPS unit in my watch.

And another thing, since I read these stories and these things pop into my head - if you can fly a radio controlled / telemetry controlled airplane from Canada to Ireland, (and I am assuming that the vehicle is undetectable by radar) couldn't some whack-job do the same thing with a radio controlled / telemetry controlled airplane/BOMB/BIO-WEAPON??
My Comcast connection has been sucking all day and I finally broke down and used an old dial-up connection to check email and see what's happenin' out here.

I placed a call into Comcast to check with their technical support folks, see if it was something I had done on my end that had messed up the connection and their wonderful technical support phone message says, more or less "download the patch from Microsoft." Huh? What patch, you morons? Of course, someone who is familiar with computers can assume that it is a security patch, but what about the other 98% of the folks out there that don't know that? And anyhow, how the hell are these people that only have a high speed Comcast connection supposed to get to the fricking Microsoft download page in the first place?

Apparently, they have come under the influence of the LovSan virus on their servers and telling their customers to download the security patch is a way for them to deflect attention for a bit. Anyhow, the patch doesn't, won't and can't fix something that is screwed up on their end. Seems that if their servers are the ones getting hosed, they are the ones who should have downloaded the patch.

Another fun thing on the Comcast site - they have a support segment of their web site except that when you use your dial-up connection, it won't let you access those pages!!! Buncha freakin' ding-dongs.

Other than that (and that is a HUGE deal to someone who spends 10 hours a day surfing job sites, refining and updating resumes, surfing more job sites, reading job-hunting-strategy pages, etc.) not much else is going on. It did, however, rain today and it smells fresh and cool and the fog tonight across the back pasture is just wonderful.

8.10.2003

Still here, just not much to write home about.

Weather has cooled off and is back to 'normal' I reckon. Tops out at about 70 or so during the day, down into the low 50's, high 40's at night - a very welcome change from the 90 - 100 degree heat we had!

Busy with the job search, stressing pretty hard about that at the moment. Received alumni magazine from my university and it just added another layer to the no-job depression. One good thing about all of this - I am not a drinker - because if I was, I would be passed out on the couch right now with a cheap bottle of tequila - but hell, I couldn't even afford that! Have to keep remembering to count my blessings, keep my chin up and stay as positive as I can.

Ok, back to the online classifieds.....