Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One month down, 11 more to go

January has flown by and given me an "interesting" month. At least February is a short month. It will help having that extra day in there this year so I can meet my goal as well as wish friends I have who were born on February 29th a truly "Happy Birthday."

It's been fun this month posting every day. People have loved some of my posts. People have hated some of my posts. Sometimes they were the same posts. And many of them have been largely ignored. It doesn't bother me either way how people feel about them or whether or not they're read. I'm doing this for myself and so far I'm liking it pretty well.

The hardest thing is coming up with a good topic each day. Often something will happen and it gets my dander up enough to write about it. Other times I'm reminded of something I've heard/read/watched and want to share it with those of you who read this. The majority of the time, however, I'm sitting and staring at the computer trying to think of a topic that won't bore you to death or be so incredibly dull that it becomes the most-read item on the blog and then I'm known not for my humor or intelligence or opinion but only for the most incredibly successful cure for insomnia published on the Internet.

I can only write about the dogs so many times and I've still got a LOT of the year left to go. I'd write more about my family but I'm just not there yet and not everyone wants to hear every little thing happening. And though my most popular articles so far have been about television shows, I don't sit and watch television all day enough where I'd be able to comment on a really wide variety of awful shows. And they'd have to be awful because all of the great shows have people writing and tweeting and blogging about them already.

So, thanks to those who have stuck with me since day-one. And thanks to all who have shared my articles with their friends and brought new readers to my little corner of the interwebs.

Oh, and don't worry....the "voices" are still there and still driving me insane and still keeping me up at night. Fortunately they're starting to try to schedule dates for certain subjects, so maybe the blog will be a little more organized. But I wouldn't count on it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A rose received on any day is still pretty sweet!

Yesterday I received a very nice surprise. Husband and Youngest Son went to the grocery store for me and when they returned, they didn't bring just the groceries home. Both had picked out a bouquet of roses that they thought I would enjoy. And they were right!

A nice bouquet of yellow roses. That's one of the many, many things I really appreciate about "the guys." I enjoy that they like to spring surprises on me like that. No special occasion -- just because. They know I've been stressing over a lot of things recently and wanted to help me cheer-up. Even though flowers don't last for a long time (and I kill plastic plants), it's still nice to see something so pretty that reminds me of how much they love me. They'll send me flowers when I'm working away from home. They do it to remind me how much they love and miss me and also to make my co-workers jealous when I have them sitting on my desk.

I know it may not seem like much, but to me it means a lot. And that's what matters.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kritzinger's warning -- a moral for today

Today's post comes from a story told in the movie "Conspiracy" by Reinhard Heydrich to Adolf Eichmann and Rudolf Lange that supposedly was told to Heydrich by Friedrich Kritzinger. There has been some debate over whether this story was actually told by Kritzinger to Heydrich or if it was mentioned at the Wannssee Conference during one of the breaks when the meeting was not being transcribed. However, it is a fabulous story and the moral is something very worth remembering.
He told me a story about a man he had known all his life, a boyhood friend. This man hated his father. Loved his mother fiercely. His mother was devoted to him, but his father used to beat him, demeaned him, disenherited him. Anyway, this friend grew to manhood and was still in his thirties when the mother died. The mother, who had nurtured and protected him, died. The man stood at her grave as they lowered the coffin and tried to cry, but no tears came.

The man's father lived to a very extended old age and withered away and died when the son was in his fifties. At the father's funeral, much to the son's surprise, he could not control his tears. Wailing, sobbing....he was apparently inconsolable. Utterly lost. That was the story Kritzinger told me.
What was it about the story that the listeners didn't understand?
The man had been driven his whole life by hatred of his father. When his mother died, that was a loss, but when his father died and the hate had lost its object, the man's life was completely empty.
That was the message. That was the warning given in the story.
Do not let hate fill your lives so much that, when it is gone, you have nothing left to live for.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where do you get squirrel-flavored cake at this hour?

Today's post is going to be very short because I have two birthdays to celebrate today. And, as anyone who's had to organize birthdays for a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old will know, it takes a lot of time.

Fortunately, though, these two celebrants aren't going to mind that there are no decorations, cakes, or overly-expensive presents with which they'll never play.

I'm sending Happy Birthday wishes to Harley and Celeste, my pet and service dog respectively. I know Celeste's birthdate because of the papers that came with her since she's an AKC registered dog. Harley is a shelter rescue and we can only estimate when she was born based on her age the vet gave us when we adopted her. So, why not have them share a special day? Makes it easier on us owners who have a lot of dates to remember!

Happy birthday to them both! They're both two of the best dogs I've ever had in my life and I'm very thankful they're here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I have a stupidphone and I'm not afraid to use it!

I was sitting here staring at the screen just begging my brain to come up with something worth blogging about. Husband suggested politics. I quickly shot that down because everyone's blogging about it. Youngest Son said I should write about not being able to think of a subject. I've already done that one this month. And then, it happened.

The "incoming message" tone on my cellphone rang. I looked at the screen and saw that it was from Biological Mother. I opened the message and there was a teeny-tiny photo of some sort that even if I had 20/20 vision I'd still not be able to see it. I sent a message back to her stating that I couldn't see the photo and reminding her that my cellphone isn't like hers. She replied that it was a photo from PeopleOfWalmart.com and that she thought my phone could show any photo she sent. I had to text her back to explain (for the I-don't-know-how-many-th time) that my phone doesn't work like hers and I can see photos she takes and sends but not something forwarded from the Internet. I sat my cellphone down and started to get comfy on the couch before it rang and vibrated again -- only to show her incoming message of "OK."

Gah!!! I hate that!!! I really used to hate that when I had to pay for every message I sent or received and she would send "OK" or "K" after anything I texted to her. I would tell her that her little ending notes were costing me money, but she'd only remember that for a few minutes and I'd get tons more messages. When we had a horrendous ice storm in January 2009, we lost power and in order to save our batteries I sent a text to family members that we were fine and would only call or text if something important happened. I lost track of the number of texts Biological Mother sent asking questions about things that didn't mean diddly-squat when we were trying to keep ourselves from freezing.

And she's not the only one in my family who does that. Half-Sister does it too. She and our mutual mother have a thing about wanting to send stuff by text. As a matter of fact, while I've been trying to type this far into this post, Half-Sister has already attempted to forward the same thing to me.

Both of them have smartphones. You know what those are, right? The cellphones that can do all of the neat photos and videos. They run applications that are useful, entertaining, and occasionally both. People have been known to line-up outside of stores for days or weeks waiting for the latest and greatest to be released. Some even now will talk back to you if you ask it a question. I guess that's good for those who are too enamored by their techno-gadgets to have relationships with real people. And Biological Mother and Half-Sister have both, at one time or another, offered to "give" me one of theirs that was being replaced by a newer model.

I have a stupidphone. You've probably never heard of one of those. Actually, if you've ever had a cellphone prior to the days of touchscreens and voice recognition, you've had a stupidphone too. These are the ones that allow their owners to place calls, take a photo, or even send a text message. But not all at the same time and certainly not with any great fanfare about it. I do not have an unlimited data plan or worry about how many bits/bytes of memory I've sent over the airwaves each month because I can't do those things. I have unlimited texting, but that's because it's a family plan and when you have Youngest Son receiving messages from his friends who also cannot remember that you have to pay for every message, it gets expensive.

Another reason I have a stupidphone is because I can think of many, MANY other things I'd rather spend my hard-earned cash on instead of a piece of plastic that will scratch or break easily and the "privilege" of using it by paying outrageous phone charges along with the basic plan and taxes. I don't Titterbook or Fweet on my phone and as a serious sufferer of ADD, I don't need something like that distracting me.

I'm not a technophobe. I try to stay as up-to-date as I can. But I'm not going to bankrupt myself and my family to fling birds across a screen.

Now that I've spent over an hour trying to type this while still having to send texts back to the two of them explaining why my phone doesn't do what theirs does, I'm going to end my post, put my phone back on the charger, and maybe watch a movie or two. It's Friday night -- gotta have some fun sometime!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Persistant Portal Preoccupation

What is it about video games that make grownups want to sit for hours and "prove" their mastery of what five-year-olds can do with little thought?

I've already posted about my love of Lego-branded video games. But Youngest Son wanted a special game for the holidays. One that has become a part of today's pop culture that you've either played it and get all the jokes or you have no idea about what everyone is blithering. People have begun to decorate their houses, cars, and even themselves in the new meme. It took me a while to find the game because he wasn't sure how to locate the original game that has everyone raving about the sequel. And now, I'm addicted.

Portal. Little red/orange and blue circles. Why are they so intriguing??

I did the research and found that the original Portal game came out in The Orange Box along with two other games that most people played until they tried Portal and then totally forgot about them. I didn't know that at first and had been searching everywhere for a stand-alone game that didn't exist. When I happened to stumble upon the needed game for the PlayStation 3, I made sure to snatch it as quickly as I could. And then I went back and paid for it.

I gave Youngest Son the game because I knew he'd need to be familiar with it before I could purchase the game he really wanted. I sat and watched him figure out the puzzles and followed the storyline. It was cute and I figured if he could do it, so could I.

What took him just a few days to complete took me well over a week. The game actually requires you to use concepts of physics and critical thinking to solve the puzzles. I took physics. I did pretty well in the class. I consider myself very intelligent. And I have no idea how even after watching the puzzles being solved I would get really confused on where to go or what to do. Simple tasks seemed to be the most challenging and I had to remind myself to "think smarter, not harder" throughout the game. I was determined to finish it and finally did....with help from Youngest Son.

So when the holidays came along I was ready to give Youngest Son the present he'd been hoping for all year. Portal 2. The sequel. A bigger storyline and even cooperative play ability in multiplayer-mode. Famous guest stars doing voiceovers of new characters that help expand the Portal universe and make it even more fun to play.

Youngest Son was beside himself with joy and promptly began playing. Within less than a week, he was finished and then began again in order to win all of the trophies. And as of this moment, I've forgotten how many times he's replayed the story mode. I've only been able to finish it once all the way through and there are many trophies that I should have easily obtained but for the life of me I can't figure out. Sure, I could go online and look for cheats and walkthrough but I should be able to figure it out on my own.

Every site I went to told me the same information and I analyzed the videos of "professionals" playing the game and tried to copy their moves. Still I haven't been able to complete them all. But I refuse to give-up. Sooner or later, I'll have those trophies and I'll even try to earn all of the cooperative play trophies. I've got to get to 100% finished. It's a goal -- not a major goal, but a goal just the same.

We have strict rules in the house about how much time the kids are allowed to play video games. If we didn't, I know that Eldest Son would have never finished any homework in high school and Youngest Son would only be able to speak like the villans in Crash Bandicoot. Each child is given one hour per day if all homework, instrument practice, and chores are completed. Even with these limitations, both were always able to speed through every game they bought.

What is it that makes it so easy for them? Here's my theory -- they don't care.

Being kids who've grown up in a world saturated with computers, electronic gizmos, and made-up characters they're able to disconnect from the character and attempt the impossible jumps and dash through dangerous puzzles without a second thought. Adults, who didn't have the luxury of video games and had to actually interact with others while using their imagination when playing, subconsciously become "attached" to the character as if it's an extension of themselves and aren't so willing to take chances.

Does this have any impact on the future of our world? I have no idea. It's just a theory I have and I've not had time or desire to absolutely test it. I'm sure there are scientists somewhere that have begun a full-scale experiment based on this theory and are preparing their dissertations as we speak.

All I know is that for now I need to be able to move through those colored rings without firing the wrong color and ending up bashing my character against a wall again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discovery's "Combat Cash" goes MIA tonight.

It's Wednesday and I settled in for an interesting evening. Two weeks ago this blog lit up after I said that Discovery's Combat Cash was awful. That's not exactly what I said, but you can go back and read the original post for yourself.

I looked up when it would be on again and found that today was the next air date. TV Guide said that I'd have to be ready to watch at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time. Here are the descriptions of the episodes:
7 p.m. - Real GI Joe; 1795 Springfield Musket: A 1795 Springfield musket is test fired; a rare GI Joe is sold; the guys meet a helicopter crew from the Vietnam War. New (CC)

7:30 p.m. - Hellcat Ammo; Flamethrowers: Flamethrowers from WWII and the Vietnam War are used for a photo shoot; the guys search for ammo for a Hellcat tank. New (CC)
I started flipping channels to find something to watch until 7 p.m. and switched to Discovery a few minutes early so I could get settled-in with a snack. The show advertised above as the 7 p.m. episode was ending! What's up with that??

So, I went to Discovery's website and pulled-up the schedule for tonight. Here's what they advertised (times are Eastern Standard Time):
7 p.m. - Hellcat Ammo/Flamethrowers TV-PG; Bob and Owen roll up their sleeves to search for WWII-era ammunition for a Hellcat tank. The owner offers them the bonus of getting to fire off some live rounds. Then the guys light up a special photo shoot with WWII and Vietnam War-era flamethrowers.

7:30 p.m. - Real GI Joe/1795 Springfield Musket TV-PG; Vintage Productions owner Bob and partner Owen connect passionate collectors with rare military items. They sell a very rare GI Joe and test fire a 1795 Springfield musket. But it's their job for a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter crew that really strikes home.
I did get to see the guys test fire the Springfield musket and the video of the new owner placing it in his customized display which, when the musket is inserted, looks like a "life-sized" Combat Infantry Badge. That's actually pretty awesome. A neat idea for displaying a nice firearm.

But that's all I got to see! TV Guide and the satellite guide say one thing; Discovery says something else. TV Guide and the satellite say the episodes will rerun at midnight Central Standard Time. Discovery says they'll rerun at 1:30 a.m., 2 a.m., and 2:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, January 26th.

I don't know about everyone else, but I do enjoy sleeping. It's one of my favorite activities. And I function a LOT better when I have an average amount of it each day. I'm not staying up until "0-Christ-Hundred" to watch a show that may or may not be worth watching.

So what's up, Discovery?? I've already been getting emails and question from friends/family if maybe the episodes weren't aired when they were advertised because they didn't want me to see it again. While that's flattering, I don't believe my blog post would cause a full-scale schedule makeover. But I still don't understand why Discovery would change its schedule when it's already been printed and programmed for one time and decide to air the episodes when people are not usually watching Discovery. Do they want it to fail now? Are they hoping only the diehard militaria fans will stay-up to watch it? Do they hope that those who are usually up at those times will "appreciate" the show more than those who made sure their schedules were open to watch at the advertised times?

Shame on you, Discovery. Shame, shame, shame. I was actually looking forward to watching the episodes -- and not just to be snarky about them. I wanted to see if there was any improvement from the first two episodes and be able to comment positively on that. I have no idea why anyone would want WWII-era ammunition for a Hellcat, so not having seen the episode I can only imagine that it's an idiotic reason since ammunition does become unstable over time, but I don't know and I'm not going to speculate.

I'll wait and see if new episodes are forthcoming, but I'm beginning to seriously doubt it. Especially since there's an article on Discovery's website saying "Combat Cash Finale" and dated today (January 25, 2012).

Oh well....at least I've got time to watch something else, and it sure as heck isn't going to be Sons of Guns that they've decided to show in the scheduled time slot for Combat Cash. If you thought I didn't like Combat Cash, you don't want to go into the deep waters of Sons of Guns. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What you missed while not watching the Florida GOP Debate - reprinted

I am very much against plagiarism. I would never pass off someone's work as my own. That's why today, while I'm trying to ice-down my head in hopes of relieving a migraine, I am reprinting this FABULOUS article by Michael Scherer from Time.com. It's everything I would have written had I been able to keep as detailed notes or give as much of a crap about what did and didn't go on in last night's debate. Let's face it -- they're no longer debates and never were. I only wish I could run a major political debate -- they'd all be standing onstage and Rule 1 would be that if they start campaigning instead of answering my "Yes or No" question, their microphone would be cut and no one could hear them. Rule 2 would be that if they did it again, they'd be dropped through the floor to not return to the rest of the debate. I know I'd stay up to watch reruns of that debate!

Anyway, here's Mr. Scherer's article and I certainly hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

0 minutes. TV Guide lists a new episode of Fear Factor at 9 p.m. on NBC. It's called "Leaches & Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My! Part 1." And yet, as the hour strikes, the screen shows another patriotic montage, this time from Tampa, Florida, introducing the 18th Republican debate. The NFL plays a 16-game regular season. There are nine circles of hell. God got it done in six days. But democracy is unrelenting, a bit like Joe Rogan, with less forced regurgitation and fewer critter challenges. Which is to say, Fear Factor has been preempted. A fearful nation takes its place.

2 minutes. Blue gels on the audience again, like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, except there will be no "dum-dum-dum," at least as sound effects. Brian Williams, the handsomest man to have never been a movie star, is not wasting any time. He lists a lot of bad stuff former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been saying about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "Erratic, failed leader," it goes on. "Your response tonight Mr. Speaker?"

3 minutes. Gingrich responds by reciting his resume, with extra emphasis on confusing historical analogies that only he knows. He says Reagan carried "more states than Herbert Hoover carried -- than Roosevelt carried against Herbert Hoover." As is often the case with Gingrich, his words form a shield. By the time he gets to, "they're not sending somebody to Washington to manage the decay," it's impossible to remember what was asked.

4 minutes. A wide shot shows Romney standing there, next to Gingrich, with his right hand hanging at his side, ready to draw. But dapper Williams tries again with Gingrich, which allows the speaker to continue taking credit for everything good that happened during his decades in the House. "When I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets, the only time in your lifetime, Brian, that we've had four consecutive balanced budgets." This is not true. The four years of surplus ran through 2001. Gingrich resigned from office in 1999. Newt gets two out of four. If this were a history class, he would fail.
5 minutes. Romney gets his chance. "I think it's about leadership," he says, "and the speaker was given an opportunity to be the leader of our party in 1994. And at the end of four years, he had to resign in disgrace." This is the same Mitt Romney who said in the last debate that he wished he had spent more time attacking President Obama, and less time attacking his rivals. Romney calls Gingrich an "influence peddler," says he encouraged cap and trade and called Paul Ryan's budget plan "social engineering."
6 minutes. Gingrich, doing his best imitation of Romney, from when Romney was the frontrunner, acts like he is too big a deal to worry about the criticism. "Well, look, I'm not going to spend the evening trying to chase Governor Romney's misinformation," he says, adding that he would rather be attacking Obama. "I just think this is the worst kind of trivial politics."
8 minutes. Williams still looks like every 1940s radio drama detective sounded. He asks Romney whether he can appeal to conservatives. Romney says he does, and pivots. "Let's go back to what the Speaker mentioned with regards to leadership," Romney says. He notes that Gingrich was the first speaker in history to resign. "I don't think we can possibly retake the White House if the person who's leading our party is the person who was working for the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac," he adds.
9 minutes. Romney says almost exactly what Gingrich said after Iowa: That the last election taught him he can't sit back. He has to go on offense. "I had incoming from all directions, was overwhelmed with a lot of attacks. And I'm not going to sit back and get attacked day in and day out without returning fire," Romney says. The two men have traded strategies since South Carolina. Or traded bodies. Gingrich is now aloof and focused on the general. Romney is trying to muddy the field.
10 minutes. Gingrich returns fire with a couple of zingers: "He may have been a good financier," he says of Romney. "He's a terrible historian." So is Gingrich (See minute 4). Then Gingrich proceeds to respond to a lot of stuff he just said he would not waste his time talking about. He tells a rosy version of his fall from the atop the U.S. House that would not please his fellow historians. "Apparently your consultants aren't very good historians," Gingrich tells Romney. "What you ought to do is stop and look at the facts." The intellectual insult. A classic Gingrich move. Like I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I?
11 minutes. Debonair Williams, he of the slender face and half-Windsor knot, throws it to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has apparently been standing on stage this entire time. How, asks Williams, is Santorum going to actually win? Santorum hits his stump speech, saying he is positive, and that this is not a two person race.
14 minutes. There is actually a fourth person on stage as well. Texas Rep. Ron Paul gets a question that is basically this: You have no chance of winning, you said you don't envision yourself in the Oval Office, so will you run as a third-party candidate? Paul says he has been winning the under-30 vote, and otherwise doing "pretty darned well." Then he calls the historian on his rosy history about giving up the speaker's gavel. "This idea that he voluntarily reneged and he was going to punish himself because we didn't do well in the election, that's just not the way it was." True that. Then Paul says, once again, that he has "no plans" to go third party.

17 minutes. Gingrich gets a question about Paul. Gingrich praises Paul for his criticism of the Federal Reserve and desire for a "gold commission," which is nothing like a blue-ribbon panel. It would study bringing back gold as currency.

18 minutes. Romney says he will release his tax returns for two years on Wednesday morning. But again he gets tongue tied. Rich people don't like to talk about their own money. It is impolite. So Romney says, "The real question is not so much my taxes, but the taxes of the American people." Suddenly, out of nowhere, Romney, who previously opposed any debt compromise that raised any taxes, is praising the Bowles-Simpson plan, which raises tax revenues by nearly $1 trillion. But Romney doesn't talk about the deficit part. He talks about the cutting marginal rates part, which by itself would make the debt problem worse. He chastises Obama for having "simply brushed aside" the Bowles-Simpson recommendations, in much the same way that Romney did previously.

20 minutes. More discomfort, as Romney is asked again to talk about his money. "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more," he says. "I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes." Now that is settled.

21 minutes. Gingrich tries to needle Romney by saying he wants everyone to enjoy Romney's 15 percent tax rate. Romney points out that under the Gingrich tax plan, investment gains would be taxed at zero. "Under that plan, I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years," Romney says. This is true. It is the reason Gingrich's policies are better for wealthy financiers than Romney's policies. Romney would keep his own tax rate on investments at 15%.

22 minutes. More awkward talk about Romney's wealth. "I will not apologize for having been successful. I did not inherit what my wife and I have, nor did she. What we have, what I was able to build, I built the old-fashioned way, by earning it," he says. This is true, if you discount the fact that his father's money helped to put Romney through college (Bringham Young, Stanford) and joint degrees at Harvard (Law, Business).

25 minutes. Now it's time to talk about what lobbying means. Gingrich worked for lobbyists at Freddie Mac, a quasi-government agency that conservatives despise. He also took lots of money from health care companies, while at the same time writing articles and giving talks that furthered those company's agendas in Congress. But technically none of it was "lobbying," which is a legal term of art. Williams asks the right question, by avoiding the L-word. "You never peddled influence, as Governor Romney accused you of tonight?" Gingrich can't answer. "You know, there is a point in the process where it gets unnecessarily personal and nasty," he says, before avoiding the question by saying he never lobbied.

28 minutes. Romney and Gingrich go at it. Romney accuses Gingrich of profiting from an organization that destroyed the housing market in Florida. Gingrich tries to compare his consulting work for lobbyists with Romney's consulting work for corporations. "Wait a second, wait a second," protests Gingrich at one point, after Romney admits that his firm made money too. "We didn't do any work with the government. I didn't have an office on K Street," Romney says. It goes on.

33 minutes. Never-a-bad-hair-day Williams cuts them off and goes to commercial break.

36 minutes. We're back, with charity time for the other two candidates on stage who have not had much time to talk. Paul and Santorum talk about the housing market and say nothing new. Then Romney says he wants to help homeowners too. And Gingrich says he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, the banking regulation bill, because of its effect on smaller banks. Romney agrees.
43 minutes. Cuban question: "Let's say President Romney gets that phone call, and it is to say that Fidel Castro has died. And there are credible people in the Pentagon who predict upwards of half a million Cubans may take that as a cue to come to the United States. What do you do?" The premise is a stretch, since Fidel has already ceded most government control to his brother, Raul. Romney tries to make a joke about how Fidel is a bad guy. "First of all, you thank heavens that Fidel Castro has returned to his maker and will be sent to another land," he says.
44 minutes. Gingrich retells the joke, but gets the punchline right. "Well, Brian, first of all, I guess the only thing I would suggest is I don't think that Fidel is going to meet his maker. I think he's going to go to the other place," he says. Fidel in hell jokes must poll really well in Miami. Then Gingrich says he would authorize "covert operations" to overthrow the Castro regime.
46 minutes. "I would do pretty much the opposite," says Paul.
47 minutes. Having stirred up the Cuban pot, Williams now accuses the candidates of pandering for votes. Why don't they care as much about Chinese dissidents and embargo China? Santorum says China is not 90 miles off the coast.

49 minutes. Iran time. Romney criticizes Obama, "We ought to have and aircraft carrier in the Gulf." Nevermind that the USS Abraham Lincoln is there right now. Gingrich picks up where Romney left off. "Dictatorships respond to strength, they don't respond to weakness," he says. The same can be said of Republican primary voters.
52 minutes. Romney tears into Obama on Afghanistan, saying the president should not have reduced troops so much, allowed elections to go bad or announced withdrawal date.
53 minutes. Paul pretty much has the opposite view.
54 minutes. Another break. "I'll welcome two colleagues out here to the stage when we continue from Tampa right after this," says Williams. Hope for Joe Rogan and Donald Trump. Or Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey.

58 minutes. We're back. It's National Journal's Beth Reinhard and the Tampa Bay Times' Adam Smith. After Santorum gets a chance to talk about the evils of Iran, he is asked about offshore drilling. Santorum said the economy in Florida went bad in 2008 "because of a huge spike in oil prices," which is like saying people watch Fear Factor to see Joe Rogan.

62 minutes. Reinhard asks a great question: How can the candidates be against bilingual balloting, even as they advertise in Spanish to Hispanics? Gingrich and Romney don't really have answers. So they dance around the edges. Everyone on stage is against multi-lingual education, except Paul who doesn't mind if states do whatever they want.
66 minutes. Immigration time. Same as before, except Gingrich makes clear that he would support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who serve in the military. Romney agrees. Then Romney says of other undocumented immigrants, "Well, the answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here." Self-deportation is one of those neologisms that gets added to dictionary at the end of the year. Sign of the times.
70 minutes. Questions about sugar subsidies. Gingrich says you can't beat the sugar lobby, because "cane sugar hides behind beet sugar," and there are "just too many beet sugar districts in the United States." Surely someone can work that into a Haiku.
71 minutes. Romney says he is against all subsidies. Then he pivots into a long rant about the awfulness of President Obama. It is telling that it has taken Romney 71 minutes to get into this rant on Obama. South Carolina has transformed him as a candidate.
72 minutes. Paul is asked is he supports federal funding for conservation of the everglades. Paul lets down his strict libertarian guard to pander for Florida votes. "I don't see any reason to go after that," he says.
73 minutes. Another break. Things are speeding up.
77 minutes. Some talk about Terri Schiavo, a woman in a vegetative state who became a cause celeb for conservatives in 2005. The answers are inconsequential.
81 minutes. Space cadet time. No, really. Romney says Obama has no space plan, and America needs a space plan. Gingrich gets asked about going to Mars. He says he wants a "leaner NASA," but then lists off a terribly expensive list of goals: "Going back to the moon permanently, getting to Mars as rapidly as possible, building a series of space stations and developing commercial space." At least something new is happening. First time in 18 debates that anyone has talked about Mars.
84 minutes. Gingrich is asked why the Bush tax cuts in early 2000s did not create a lot of jobs. His answer is priceless. He channels Obama, seemingly unaware of the irony. "In 2002 and '03 and '04, we'd have been in much worse shape without the Bush tax cuts," he says. That's what Obama says about the stimulus bill. Both are basically right, though neither would give the other credit.
85 minutes. Last break. Almost there. Actually scratch that. You will never get there. When this debate ends, there will be another. The next one is Thursday. No joke.
90 minutes. We're back. Romney is asked what he has done to further the cause of conservatism. He is sort of stumped. Talks about his family, his work in the private sector, neither of which is all that ideological.
92 minutes. Gingrich talks about how he went to Goldwater meetings in 1964, when he would have turned 21.
93 minutes. Santorum is asked about electability. Suddenly he comes alive. It's the best moment of any of his debates. Yet few will ever notice, and it will almost certainly not matter. He makes the case that he is the only true conservative who can take on Obama, and that both Romney and Gingrich are fundamentally flawed because they are too close to the political positions of Obama. "There is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen," Santorum says. This is not true, if you were wondering.
95 minutes. Paul talks about the constitution.

97 minutes. Romney talks about RomneyCare and ObamaCare.
98 minutes. Gingrich says, "I never ask anyone to be for me. Because if they are for me, they vote yes and go home and say, I sure hope Newt does it. I ask people to be with me, because I think this will be a very hard, very difficult journey." No doubt.
99 minutes. Romney, who talks all the time about "restoring American greatness," is asked when America was last great. "America still is great," Romney says, thus undercutting the meaning of his signature campaign message.

101 minutes. That's it. See you Thursday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Up to my eyeballs in auditions!

Sorry folks but there won't be a long post tonight. Our local Community Theatre is getting ready for a new production and tonight was audition night.

I was there as the technical director looking over the hopefuls because there's a lot of special makeup and costume notes that needed to be made. I wanted to be sure to have a good idea of the folks we were considering before I start sketching out anything. I loved majoring in theatre in college and still really enjoy working on any theatrical production I can get going. It's going to be a fun show and we've only got until the beginning of March to make it happen!

So, sorry again! But I'm sure something will be getting me on a rant or a remembrance soon. Heck, a new episode of Hoarders is coming on and that's always good to go!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rednecks with money equals "American Stuffers"

And just when you think you've about seen it all on television, along comes something else that makes you wonder, "Who comes up with this stuff?"

Now, I must confess that I like a lot of different shows. I don't like soap operas (daytime or nighttime) and I certainly don't like most sitcoms. The majority of the time you'll find my television tuned to History (even though they really don't show many historical shows anymore), Discovery (absolutely love Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs), Science Channel (I really would love to own a store like Oddities and the things they find are awesome), or BBC America (Top Gear, Doctor Who -- just a small sampling of the British shows I love). If I can find something educational I'll be more than happy to watch it over any tarted-up "reality show" where every other word has to be bleeped. I used to enjoy Hell's Kitchen but you can only listen to someone be so BLEEPingly BLEEP BLEEP without it getting really old.

So last night I sat down to surf the zillion channels available on satellite in the hopes of finding something, anything, worth watching. Occasionally I'll tune-in to Animal Planet. I like their shows Dogs 101 and Cats 101 and occasionally they have a few others that might hold my interest. I'd watch some of the animal rescue shows but then I'd just get upset seeing how people mistreat their pets and be in a crappy mood for the rest of the day. And don't get me started on Animal Hoarders -- we can't even have that show on because Youngest Son gets so angry at the people and cries when he sees the animals that can't be saved.

Suddenly, a show started from which I could just not look away. It wasn't in a "that's so incredibly awesome" sort of enrapturement as a "really bad car accident" kind of not being able to look away. Their new show was starting -- American Stuffers.

Now, if you've not heard of this show yet, I'd suggest you sit down before continuing because it is certainly not like any other reality show on television. The Ross family of Romance, Arkansas, owns and runs Xtreme Taxidermy. And when I say "family" I mean ALL of them. Mrs. Ross is a school teacher, but Mr. Ross and their three sons get very hands-on with the preparation of animals to be stuffed. There are also two other employees of the shop (one that showed-up one day with a roadkill deer on the back of his moped) and a veterinary student intern named Dixie who gets incredibly grossed-out by dead animals or the idea of having to touch them. I think she needs to rethink her major!

Other than the standard taxidermy that is performed in their little shop north of Little Rock, Xtreme Taxidermy specializes in a very odd form of preservation. They taxidermy pets. And they don't just skin them and put them on mounts like you do your prized deer or moose head. The pets are freeze-dried so that they'll last forever.

I'd already heard of freeze-drying animals, especially in the scientific community where specimens could be preserved. If you had a two-headed pig or a set of conjoined lambs that didn't survive, you could have a scientific group prepare them by freeze-drying so that they could be used in the classroom to explain biological anomalies. Seeing a real, three-dimensional representation is much easier to learn from than a photo in a textbook or just trying to take someone's word for it.

But pets? Yes, there are pet cemeteries all around the United States where people pay a lot of money for their pets to be buried in elaborate caskets with ornate headstones. I have Cody, my previous service dog, buried in the back yard with a plaque over the site. The only reason we buried him is because we couldn't do what we normally do when a pet dies -- have them cremated. No one in our area does that. But in the past when a pet has finally gone to wait at the Rainbow Bridge, we've taken their body to the vet's office to have them cremated and then sprinkled their ashes in places they loved to play or just lay in the sun in the backyard. I had considered getting an urn to keep Cody's ashes if we could have had him cremated, but it just wasn't to be.

I totally understand how people are so attached to their pets. Anyone who tries to brush-away your grieving by saying, "It was just a dog/cat/hamster/rabbit/etc." has no idea how much a part of the family they become. True, I can get another dog/cat/hamster/rabbit/etc., but it's not going to be the same animal and it's still not going to fill the void the recently deceased has left. And don't get me started on those who are trying to clone dead pets....

But freeze-drying a pet? I love my pets and service dogs immensely, but I'm not so sure I'd want to have it staring at me for the rest of time. Or even if you get it done with its eyes closed, it's still going to be there and you can't hug and cuddle it like a live pet. Plus you have to dust it just like any other knick-knack in the house and heaven forbid you have company over and someone's toddler decides to play with it and snaps off a body part. Don't laugh at that -- there was an episode last night where after having a Chihuahua in their freezer for four years a family decided to have it freeze-dried along with another dog that had just recently passed away and their kid kept trying to play with them like dolls. Even Mr. Ross said it would be a miracle if they got home with them intact or if he didn't receive a phone call in the next two months because she'd snapped the head off of it.

Part of my family is from that northern-central/northeastern part of Arkansas. I grew up in the Bootheel of Missouri. We were rednecks and we knew it. When I got a job as a newspaper editor in one of the "hill-country" counties just north of "Southeast Missouri-proper," I knew I was a redneck. They were hillbillies and darned proud of it. They couldn't understand me and vice versa. It was almost a Deliverance-like experience that has shaped (and scarred) my life forever. So when I watched the show, I understood their accents (even the one shop employee whom the network thought needed subtitles to understand), and I understood that hunting wild hogs or picking up a road-kill deer wasn't something considered out of the ordinary. Seeing a young girl coming into their shop to claim her oven-dried hog skull from her first kill didn't faze me a bit. Husband, however, was laughing himself silly because nothing seemed to shock me or appear disturbing in my opinion.

And then the lady with the racoon appeared. I've had friends that have had all sorts of weird pets. And, yes, I've seen the horrible tourist-trap taxidermies that have been done like the lizards that are supposed to be a mariachi band or the snakes posed as if they're going to strike. And, yes, I've even seen the ever-famous jackalopes. But I've never known anyone to keep a racoon as a pet. Those things are mean. Really mean -- as in "eat your neighbor's small dogs or cats" mean. This lady had a 40-pound racoon that she'd raised as a pet that had, sadly, become roadkill. She wanted it mounted so she could always remember it. I guess the large photo album she brought with her wasn't enough.

When Mr. Ross went to the lady's single-wide trailer to deliver the mount, she proudly showed the places where the racoon had chewed through cabinets and left a path of destruction through the home. Of course it did! It's a wild animal! But instead of spending money to repair or replace the damages, she gets the animal stuffed. This is the part of the show where I've got issues.

I don't want to assume bad things about anyone. And I certainly have had my time (and probably will many additional times) where I couldn't really afford to have or do the things I wanted and hard choices had to be made. And when you've grown-up in that environment and in an area where it's very prevalent, you try to remember where your priorities are. Sure, an income tax refund seems like something that needs to be spent immediately -- but I'm not freeze-drying a pet with it!

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've not been so traumatized by a pet's death that I need to have it's freeze-dried carcass taking up precious floor or shelf space and having it stare at me. I had major surgery once and Youngest Son bought me a toy owl that had huge plastic eyes that I had to turn the thing away from me at night because it looked as if it was staring into my soul. I certainly don't want that from a 40-pound-or-more animal glaring at me. And if it's eyes are closed, then what's the point of "having the pet there" where you can "interact" with it (as many of the customers said)?

I like the fact that the show is family-friendly and probably the harshest word you'll hear would be "darn." But I do have to agree with Mrs. Ross -- you bake hog skulls in my good oven and you're gonna hear about it!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Four-legged inspiration for today

Here I sit, another blank blog page in front of me with nothing of quality to write about. Oh, I could go on-and-on about my childhood or the political season and today's primary election in South Carolina. Or I could sit and poke a fork in my eye and probably feel better than writing about those topics.

Celeste is staring at me with her deep brown eyes -- the kind of eyes that you can get lost in and make people infer human emotions and thoughts onto their four-legged companions. And then she goes over to sniff the behind of Harley Quinn (our Schnoodle) and expects me to warmly welcome her back by allowing her to lick me on the face. Again she stares at me, looking as if she could say, "Mommy, hurry up and finish making those clicking noises on that thing that takes up so much of your time so we can take a nap on the couch together." Meanwhile, Harley -- whom I'm convinced is completely insane -- just looks at me as if this huge interloper who only joined our family last July (Harley's been around since 2009) has broken every rule in the house and should be the one left-behind when we go out.

Harley could have been a service dog and was adopted from the local Humane Society to be trained as one. My previous service dog, Cody (a Sheltie), was aging quickly and his health was very poor. Once Harley was added to the household, he began to perk-up and was even attempting to show her what she would and wouldn't be allowed to do in "his" house. Harley was basically a "nurse dog" for Cody -- licking his eyes and ears to help keep them clean, laying next to him when he'd fall asleep on the floor instead of his cushion, and was even there right beside him the day that he passed away. I used Cody as an example for Harley. I'd tell him to sit and he would. I'd praise him highly and then ask the same of Harley. She looked at me as if I'd just asked her to build a time machine and would walk away.

Cody was a "superdog" -- a phrase we use in our family for a dog that has fabulous talents and, yes, those human qualities that we shouldn't place on our dogs but we just can't help it. He was a puppy mill rescue. He'd been a breeder dog and had never known love or affection. Even toys baffled him. Roll a ball to any dog of most any age and they're going to go after it. Roll a ball to Cody and he looked at you as if to ask, "Why would you do that to me?" He never played catch; he never got into a tug-of-war; and he never tried to perform a trick or command for a treat. The only time he would ever jump on the bed was if it was storming outside. Not only could he jump up onto the bed but he could clear me and land right between Husband and me. But, if I forgot to take my medication or if I was having a panic attack, he was right there nudging me awake and looking at my purse where my meds are kept or laying on my chest to help me relax. He tried once to bring my purse to him, but the people who had him before me had so poorly taken care of him he didn't have many teeth left. Pulling with his gums was very uncomfortable yet he still tried every day.

So bringing in Harley was, I thought, a stroke of genius. She could see up-close-and-personal what was expected while hearing the commands and being able to be rewarded for properly completing them. Little did I know that when you have a dog with as much ADD as the owner, the dog isn't going to pay attention to crap. Actually, let me rephrase that -- because she did pay attention to crap. The cat's crap. And found it to be a delightful after-dinner dessert before trying to lick your face. That habit was broken VERY quickly!

But I thought that her being around a trained dog and having the structure of becoming trained as a service dog would help speed along the process. Schnoodles are Poodle/Schnauzer mixes. They're considered a "designer dog" and I felt very lucky to have found her at the pound and to give her a new lease on life. Poodles are very, very smart dogs and have hair instead of fur -- something that would be ideal for a family of asthmatics like mine. Schnauzers are terriers and are also supposed to be very intelligent with very little odor or shedding. Again, that was a big plus for us. And Harley showed every bit of the Poodle in her with the exception of the Schnauzer beard that no matter how you trimmed it still wanted to stand-out as a Schnauzer trait. I had hoped that it was the only stubborn part of the Schnauzer we'd gotten but I was wrong. So very wrong. As she got older the terrier part of her personality became very prominent. She to this day still growls and barks at every squirrel, bunny, or leaf that passes her view as if they're the largest threat ever to mankind and she's the only dog that knows it or can do something about it.

You can just say the word "squirrel" in our house and she'll bolt for the nearest window or door and begin to stand guard.

The more I worked with her, the more she tried to learn but just wasn't able to keep it all straight in her head. Plus, add a hyper dog to a person with anxiety and you've got a bad mix. She was very good at mimicking Cody by trying to lay on my lap or my chest to calm me down during moments of panic. What she wasn't good at doing was staying there until everything had passed. What was more likely to happen was she would be there for me to pet and try to calm down before she would jump off, growling loudly at something only she knew about which would then increase my anxiety even more because I'd become worried over something that I'd missed or that could actually be dangerous. I started freaking-out on my own over leaves tumbling down the driveway for no apparent reason!

Soon, the State of Missouri passed a law that only service dogs (and grandfathered service horses for the blind) would be recognized and that they had to be trained by an accredited and certified service animal trainer. That effectively put an end to my continuing to self-train Harley for the job I needed her to perform but certainly wasn't going to get. However, she was definitely assured her continued place in our household because once you've met her you can't forget her. She's hysterical and, as I said above, almost certainly insane. She's just the right size for cuddling and picks-up quickly on emotional changes of not just family members but also anyone she's around.

And if you recognized where we got the name "Harley Quinn," you'll understand that the insanity was aptly named before we ever encountered it.

So, I began my search for a service dog that would comply with the new State laws and was paired with Celeste. She had been trained very well and it took a week of training me to get me up to speed enough so that she'd realize that I was the new person in charge and that I had worth to her. That "worth" being food, water, shelter, and affection. That's another reason why I have "DO NOT PET" on her vest -- she needs to have her entire attention on me and if she gets lots of attention from others, why would she want to keep protecting me?

Celeste has tried to blend in with the family and not usurp much of Harley's "dominance" (for lack of a better word). However, when Harley has her bits of insanity and believes that a 30-pound dog can go toe-to-toe with an 85-pound dog in No-Holds Barred Hardwood Floor Rambunctious Roughhousing, Celeste is quick to put a paw on Harley's shoulders as if she could say, "Look squirt....you think you're big but you have NO idea what you're getting into and I'm gonna let you off easy even though you've been trying to bite at my ear for the past 10 minutes. How about you calm down and we'll all get along?" When that doesn't work, she just grabs her by the nape of the neck and moves her out-of-the-way. Celeste was raised in a pack and learned pack mentality. Harley was abandoned on the side of the road and we have no idea if she understands the standard pack pecking order. But she's learning it now.

While I've been typing this Harley has decided to come in and join the staring. They both are looking as if no one has ever, EVER in their lifetimes given them a pet or food or any attention whatsoever. They try to push my hands off the keyboard and, especially Harley, get into things they know they shouldn't but they also know will annoy the crap out of me and make me get up to see what they're doing. I guess I'll end today's post.

Plus, when they act like that it usually means they need to go "walkies" and that's a whole other adventure in itself.

Friday, January 20, 2012

70 years ago today, true evil was planned with drinks and laughter

Friday, Friday, Friday. End of the "work week" for many. Beginning of the weekend for others. Me? It's just another cold, dreary day and I'm trying to think of something profound about which to blog.

Oh, as you may or may not have noticed, I've changed the look of the Blog. I got tired of the "pink" theme. When I started this thing I needed a layout that was simple and would help me ensure that every date had a prominent marker so I would know that I had remembered to keep up with my challenge. However, I am not a "pink" person. I hate pink. Unless it's a retina-burning flourescent pink, I don't want it. I can't stand having to pass the Barbie aisles in stores because of all of the pink. Even my dogs, both of whom are female, are like me -- tomboyish and no "froo-froo bows or ribbons" in our hair, especially if they're pink.

Since Friday itself doesn't have much importance to me today (at least, not yet), I decided to try to find something interesting about today's date -- January 20th. Usually people remember that it's Inauguration Day after we elect (or re-elect) our President every four years. It's also a date that has had a lot of controversy -- specifically in 1981 when just minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as our 40th president the hostages in Iran were suddenly freed. Debate still continues over who paid whom and how badly President Jimmy Carter had to be portrayed so that Reagan would win and the back-table dealings would get our people out of Iran. It was all so scripted and choreographed that many realized that something was rotten, and it wasn't in Denmark.

But if you want true evil at its utmost that occurred on January 20th, look back to 1942. On that day, 15 officials sat around a large table while drinking wine, smoking cigars, and enjoying the finest food. They were there to decide the fate of over six million lives and did so with such politeness and efficiency that was meticulously recorded, as only the Nazis could.

January 20, 1942 was the date of the Wannsee Conference.

Hitler's armies were freezing on the Eastern Front. He wanted his goal of a "true Aryan supremacy" to come to fruition, regardless of the cost. American troops had begun to join the fight in the West with the Allies and Germany had too many "undesirables" in their way. That's always a problem when you invade a country -- you have to do something with the population that was already there. They have needs and those needs must be met. But when your plan begins to suffer because of all the people standing in your way and you're as bat-crap crazy as Hitler was over world domination, you get someone else to take care of it.

Herman Goering, under Hitler's instructions, sent SS General Reinhard Heydrich to a manor house in a small suburb outside of Berlin to meet with SS Major Adolf Eichmann and other officials from Nazi ministries and organizations. By the end of the day, they had decided the "final solution" and went off to continue their lives and careers. The sole instruction given to them at that time was that a copy of the transcripts of the meeting (Nazis loved to keep notes about everything) would be distributed to each member present and that they were to be kept in the highest confidence. Fortunately for the Allies and the rest of the world, their obsessive-compulsive need to have everything documented along with the arrogance of one of the members present resulted in a single copy surviving. This copy of the minutes of the meeting and what was said and done in that room was used as key evidence during the Nazi war crimes trials.

If you've never seen the movie Conspiracy published by HBO Films and starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth (among many other recognizable stars), then you should. To watch a reconstruction of the events based upon the surviving copy of the transcripts and what each person had to say, their reasonings behind it, and even the casualness with which the participants spoke and joked about "evacuating" undesirable persons is truly shocking. All of the ideas tossed around the table and debate between who should be the first to receive these "benefits" to their organization and seeing some having a moment of conscious realization about what they were actually discussing is very educational and disturbing. Even more disturbing is at the end of the movie when they show what happened to all of the participants. If I remember correctly, the last one to die did so in 1987 -- having never been convicted in this plot. As a matter of fact, you'll be stunned how many were never associated with the plans written that day and what they went on to do with their lives.

I have a penchant for movies that are historically accurate yet morbid and I can't quite explain why. Conspiracy is in my DVD collection along with Downfall -- the movie from which the Hitler rant that's become an Internet meme showing him upset over everything from why the Star Wars prequels were so awful to when Twitter crashed and even to Hitler finding out he's become an Internet meme and the decision by the corporation that owns the original film to remove all of the parodies from the Internet. I still want to find a DVD copy (with English subtitles) of The Chekist. I rented that movie once and watched it one evening with Husband. Let's just say it's not a movie to which you can eat popcorn. Or much of anything else. Watching the Soviet purges over and over will definitely keep this from ever being a suitable "date" movie.

Heck, I've decided that if I'm ever truly suicidal that all I'll need to do is watch The Chekist, Conspiracy, and Downfall in one sitting and I'll be begging to slit my own wrists.

So, there's your history lesson for the day. There might be a pop-quiz in the middle or at the end of the blog, so be sure to keep your notes. And definitely don't ever let anyone forget what plans happened on this date 70 years ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brain still work good after no computer

Well, 24 hours without the Internet and I'm still able to function normally. Not that I doubted I would -- I grew up in the time before computers were in everyone's homes. When computers were only for the government, military, and large corporation usage. There were no "apps." We didn't "post" unless you were building a fence or putting up a sign on a telephone pole. And no one in my area ever surfed -- that was reserved for the people on the coast who said "Dude!" a lot and we never could figure that part out either.

We would have conversations with friends and family members. If you were lucky to have television, you had three or four channels to watch until cable TV came along and even then there weren't that many added. I remember when we got HBO and we had to have a box on the top of our TV that had a switch you flipped to make HBO work. No switch, no movies. And you only got one HBO channel, not a bazillion like there are now and if you missed the movie when it was showing in your time zone you couldn't just wait around for the West Coast broadcast to watch it. But most of all, if you wanted to do something really outrageous like being a monster on some strange planet and having your friends there with you, you had to actually go outside and use your imagination. You had to physically be with your friends and you all played together. None of this sitting in front of a box with headphones on screaming at someone in a foreign country that you and your friends (who are in their respective homes and wearing headphones) are going to smash the crap out of them and their team of people sitting with headphones on in their respective residences. So much for "The Internet brings us 'together'."

The world did not come to an end. Politicians and celebrities are still doing and saying stupid things in the hopes of continuing their 15-minutes of fame. The sun still rises and sets. Ducks go "quack" and cows go "moo" and dogs go "woof" just like before.

So, today's post is going to be short because I've got a lot of catching-up to do. The sun is actually shining brightly outside and the dogs might like to go wallow in something rancid they previously deposited in the backyard (Why do they DO that??) and it would be a shame to waste a beautiful day in front of a computer screen. However, tomorrow is another day.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Strike Against SOPA/PIPA!

Sorry, but not only do I have an opthamologist appointment which makes trying to read and type with dialated eyes difficult, I'm also part of the Strike Against SOPA/PIPA movement.

You can learn more at http://sopastrike.com/strike/ and/or watch the video below. I'll be back on Thursday!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/31100268 w=400&h=225]

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting ready for the strike!

Many people have been following the SOPA/PIPA anti-piracy bills that have been threatening to be passed in Congress recently. Even though the President "says" he's opposed to it and wouldn't sign a law like that, I still trust him and any other politician as far as I could throw them.

So, in solidarity with other organizations who believe that censorship on the Internet is a bad thing and that there's a better way to solve the issues, this blog will be joining-in the Stop SOPA/PIPA Strike. There will be information posted here where you can find out more about the movement and how to help.

Here's an article you can read today about what's going on and what websites you can expect to see blacked-out tomorrow: http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/gigaom/articles/2012_01_16_house_shelves_sopa_but_blackout_protests_continue.html

It might be the last time I can copy/paste a link like that. And, sure, it may not be the best article there is -- but it will do for now.

See y'all again on Thursday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I have a dream -- that today you'll save money on a new living room set?

What is it with the rampant consumerism that makes everyone believe that any Federal holiday would be the perfect time to have a sale? Martin Luther King Day (or, specifically this year, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday) was the last Federal holiday to be implemented. Yes, President George W. Bush issued a "national state of mourning" that has been called "Patriots' Day" every September since 2001, but it's not an official holiday. It wasn't until 2000 that MLK Day (as it's often abbreviated) was celebrated by all 50 states, even though the law declaring it an official Federal holiday was passed in 1986.

I remember being in school and not celebrating MLK Day. It's not that I didn't want to, it mostly was because the town in which I lived did not have many black people living there. Those who did live there sent their children to other school districts. When I went to elementary school, I was in a different school district where I was the minority and my pasty-white skin tone was a dead giveaway that I wasn't "from around there." So, when just before junior high (or middle school as they refer to it now) my family moved to a new school district, I was absolutely gobsmacked that everyone looked like me. Well, not exactly like me, but you get the idea. We were one of the whitest school districts around. I only knew of one student who was of African-American descent, and she was adopted by a rich caucasian family, so no one looked down upon her. Otherwise, I couldn't believe what my new classmates had to say about anyone of a different race. I remember asking once where the black students were and was laughed at as if my idea of attending school with "them" was in any way appropriate. I missed my black and white friends from my old school district. I also made myself a promise that I'd be sure my kids (if I ever had any) would understand that all are equal. A big step for a fifth-grader.

Eldest Son went to elementary school in a very diverse district where there were many students from many racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. When a new job forced us to move away into a new area, I felt horrible because we'd moved into one of the most racist counties in our state. People there bragged about how anyone not "of the correct color" would be run-out of town and how their children weren't welcome in the school districts. While we were there, Youngest Son was born and a year later, we moved again. We moved back to my original "hometown" (I have a hard time claiming just one) where the racial mix was roughly even at that time. Both boys had friends of many different backgrounds and I was very pleased to see that they didn't pick up the bad habits of those who, in that very economically and intellectually depressed area, felt the Jim Crow laws should never have been abolished. It was hard at times trying to make sure that they kept their focus on equality for everyone instead of listening to the majority that steadily grew who didn't want "those people" in our town.

Now, Eldest Son is in college and making lots of friends with LOTS of different backgrounds. The town in which we live now isn't quite as diverse as where we were, but Youngest Son still remembers that he needs to treat everyone equally and his opinion changes only when someone does something against him first. I'd like to think I've done a pretty good job -- but my work isn't over.

So today we're all sitting at home enjoying some time together because (1) Husband is a Federal employee and all Federal offices are closed, (2) I'm not deployed away from home and even if I was I wouldn't be working on a Federal holiday, and (3) Youngest Son is out of school because the local school district commemorates MLK Day by closing the third Monday of every January. And every other commercial on the local channels is about how you can save money on a car or how a store has extended hours just for today's shopping convenience or even how celebrating this holiday will get you money off your breakfast/lunch/dinner. Where are the celebrations? Where are the parades?? A town west of here did have a commemorative march and a multicultural festival (which is a good thing since it is known for a horrible race crime in the early-1900s) to help people learn about the holiday, what it stands for, and why it's important to remember.

And don't get me started yet on the rest of the holidays that are treated as this one is. Actually, many of them are worse! But never fear, dear readers -- as they come up you'll be sure to get my opinions regarding them.

I sit and realize that the vast majority of students today who are enjoying the day off from school have no idea why the man being honored today has received the honor. I realize that the same majority don't even know who he was or why it's important to remember not just him but the entire movement and all of the historic changes that he, his followers/assistants and his ideas brought to our country. And just like the rest of the Federal holidays (with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas), they don't care. What a sad state of affairs it is.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's the years....and the miles.

They say "You're only as old as you feel." Well, "they" must be taking something and I want to know where to get some 'cause today I feel like I'm "hit-by-a-bus" years old.

I had a feeling this day would come. Actually, I knew it would -- I just never thought it would be this soon. I'm only 40 for cripes sake! There are guys out there older than me who are humping gear through the woods and enjoying every second of it. Then again, if you're not used to doing it every day, it can be a LOT harder than people think.

Just because you've beaten Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, or Brothers in Arms doesn't make you a reenactor.

Yesterday was the annual "Battle of the Bulge" reenactment at Camp Clark outside of Nevada, Missouri. There were reenactors from all around the midwest and some from even further away there for a day of fun and excitement. Husband and I (along with Celeste since she goes everywhere with me) drove in the wee hours of the morning with our weapons packed, our uniforms on, and lots of militaria to sell after the battles. We saw people we'd not seen in a year (since the last battle there), some we'd not seen in many years, and made a lot of new friends as well. We met people doing impressions of GIs, Heer, Waffen-SS, Foreign-SS troops, Spanish Blue Division, Italian, British, and Soviet forces. There were a lot of semi-automatic weapons there but we were lucky to have a few fully-automatic rifles and some that had been converted to fire propane so they'd sound as an automatic weapon should. Even the Soviets brought a "flamethrower" which squirted water out the end -- making it easy to show what had been ignited and who would be affected by it.

Everyone gathered for the safety and authenticity inspection. We have to have them because you can never be too careful where firearms are concerned. They checked to make sure all of the pyrotechnics (dummy grenades, etc.) were safe and approved and also examined everyone's weapons and blanks to ensure that nothing prohibited makes it onto the field. I've had a lot of people over the years ask me if we use blanks when we do our battles. I tell them that we use blanks because it's easier to keep having battles and recruiting new members, even if blank rounds are "inauthentic." Sadly, the sarcasm often passes by them.

After the inspection, the OICs (Officers in Charge) were told to form-up their units and prepare to move to the first scenario's launch point. Husband and I portray 35th Infantry Division, HQ MP Platoon members. We started years ago (Husband in the early 1980s; me in the early 1990s) as infantry and then changed to military police. We often will add in military intelligence to our repertoire if the battle coordinators need more varied units to help flesh-out the scenarios they've written. I, being a second lieutenant, automatically became the leader for the third squad of the second company. We fell into ranks and started to march to the launch point.

There was a bit of snow on the ground but we marched along on the asphalt road at a fairly good pace. The Soviets enjoyed riding their bikes past us and ringing their bells in fun. We waved and teased them about how they would have to make motorcycle noises in order to intimidate the Germans. We watched many of the Germans being transported by truck to their areas and began to wish we'd had that luxury. We continued to march and march and march. The first company consisted mostly of younger (18-to-mid-20-year old) reenactors who are military cadets and do this on a daily basis. Some of the older guys attached to their company said "Heck with that!" and sauntered along at a pace more suited for them.

Our company passed the remnants of the first company and continued to march. Soon, we began to slow down. A very short time later, my squad was going even slower than the rest of the company. Sadly, my stride isn't as long as my male counterparts' and I was basically running compared to their walking. I kept wondering, "When are we going to get there?" Usually, we move-out into the woods and the battle will start fairly quickly. Not this day. We were informed by our OIC that we had AT LEAST another half-mile to march before we'd reach our staging area.

Maybe in tennis shoes or sneakers I can wander a half-mile down a paved road. When the paved road turns to rough gravel with snow, it gets harder. But I didn't have my comfy shoes. Regardless, I wasn't going to stop and let the guys down. If they could do it, I could too. Oh, and did I mention that the bitter air aggravated my asthma?

Finally, we made it to the staging area. Our OIC began to deploy the unit along the area where we were supposed to defend. My squad was the flank....the end....the last stand against where the Germans and their allies would be attacking. We were going to be the WWII version of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. Standing on a ridge, waiting for the enemy, but with more ammunition and better firepower. I turned to issue deployment orders to my squad.

The next thing I remember is hearing a lot of loud bangs and then being dragged into a ditch. In a brief second, Husband had done a test-fire of his submachine gun to ensure he had the right blank adapter installed so the weapon would cycle correctly. However, he failed to follow a standard safety procedure of announcing "Fire in the hole!" before starting so that people in the vicinity would be prepared for sudden close firing. Because I had not heard the announcement, I hadn't prepared Celeste and didn't have a tight grip on her lead which was slung over my shoulder and across my chest. When the noise spooked her, she immediately began to pull me towards the closest ditch for safety. Her lead cinched-up and tightened around my neck and left shoulder and, being an 85-pound dog, I was quickly knocked off my feet.

Years ago I broke my right knee while I was in college. I won't go into the details here, but I landed squarely on that knee on the large chunks of gravel used to pave the road for military vehicles, not foot traffic. She continued to pull until I was off the road and I felt like an idiot because I thought for sure the rest of the guys would have thought I was just a klutz (which is true at times). I calmed her down, readjusted her collars and lead, and proceeded to yell loudly at Husband for not following protocol. Then, I tried to get up.

I got about halfway up on my feet before my knee began to scream and basically decided it was going to defect from the rest of my body. I wasn't going anywhere fast. Celeste helped me brace myself and I finally was up and moving. It wasn't pretty, but I was moving under my own power.

Since Husband is a sergeant in my unit, I told him to go give my deployment orders to the rest of the squad. They'd already left to deploy near the area I wanted them, but it's a hobby and I wasn't going to nitpick over where they were standing since it would be quite a while before the advancing troops would be near us. Then the OIC said that because Husband and I were MPs, we were to walk BACK towards the bridge we'd crossed a while ago and ensure that no one came around the flank to take the bridge.

So, we wandered our way back to the bridge and began to look at the terrain. A very large, very deep, and very icy creek ran under the bridge and no reenactor in their right mind would try to cross it. However, since we know a few that aren't in their right minds (including us, we began to think), we waited at the bridge. A little while later a large group of Boy Scouts approached and, being in-character, I stopped them to ask what they were doing in our area. I directed them to stay on the road until they reached the next intersection where the OIC could give them their directions of where they could observe the battle. I wish they'd have told me before the battle that we were going to have visitors -- I've had experiences at other reenactment where "touristas" just show-up to watch uninvited and usually end up putting themselves in danger. Yes, we use blanks but people CAN be injured or killed by them.

We waited and waited and could hear the battle beginning in the distance. We didn't have radio or messenger contact with the rest of the unit. Hours passed, and no one came near us. Soon, we realized that the rest of the unit had moved even farther away and we'd been forgotten. I watched my knee swell even more and finally sat on the side of the road and decided I wasn't going to march anywhere else. Fortunately, the WWII ambulance that was to ferry people back-and-forth to the aid station arrived. Husband and I decided to call it a day and went back to the main building.

It would have been nice to be in the thick of the battle. With an M1 Carbine and a submachine gun, we could have helped lay a nice covering fire as our units advanced. I'd already decided that when they got to the "town battle" (a small area with shipping containers that had holes cut for doors and windows for military training) that I wasn't going to put Celeste through the serious noise that would be caused there. I had earplugs; she did not, and until they invent some for dogs we'll just stay out of that area. It wasn't until after the entire scenario was over that we found out the bridge where we were sitting was a major objective. Regardless, I wasn't going to sit for almost 7 hours to wait for them to get to me.

When we arrived at the main building, we started unpacking the items we brought to sell. We made a fairly decent profit and even found a few items from other vendors that we wanted for ourselves. I hobbled into one of the latrines and changed out of my uniform. I got to see lots of new shades of black-and-blue as well as the cuts I didn't know I had on my knee. The blood had been absorbed by my long underwear, which is why I didn't see it through the wool pants I'd been wearing. I sat down and iced my knee for a while and chatted with other reenactors as they dropped-out early as well.

As we sat there waiting for the scenarios to end, Husband and I talked about possibly changing our unit's designation. Maybe we'll portray a quartermaster unit since we do better at selling stuff to the reenactors than in keeping up with them. We're not doing medical corps -- there are many VERY good medical reenacting units. Our fear is that we'd just get stuck with the biggest, laziest reenactors wanting us to hump their butts back to the HQ on a stretcher and that ain't happenin'! Maybe we'll consider doing ordinance since they wouldn't have to march into the field. Artillery and recon were discussed but they require vehicles and we've owned a MB Willys Jeep before and don't need another money pit. The 35th Division even had a CIC (Counter-intelligence Corps) detachment. We're not sure what in the world they would have done, but they would have been "in the rear with the gear."

Yes, we're getting too old to play this game. WWII reenacting is fast becoming a young-man/woman's hobby. Our days of marching through the woods, mud, sand, hills, valleys, and anything else they threw in front of us are slowly ebbing away. We'll keep at it as long as we can, but a smart person knows when defeat is creeping upon them.

Then again, we can always form the 35th Infantry Division Band.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today's post delayed by injury

Howdy y'all! Well, I would be posting my usual stuff tonight, but today I was at the Battle of the Bulge WWII reenactment at Camp Clark, Missouri. A little snow on the ground to give us the feeling of "being there" and a bunch of great guys/gals with which to enjoy the day.

Sadly, Celeste wasn't happy when Husband fired his SMG without warning and she pulled me into a ditch. My knee (which I previously had broken in college in another blog-worthy post) took the brunt of the fall and I'm now icing it down. It excuses me from being able to post (according to my own rules). So, be sure to check-back tomorrow for the full tale and my odd insights!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preparing for battle tomorrow....

Today I'd planned to write something about it being the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but holy crap on a cracker!! You guys are really into my post about Discovery Channel's Combat Cash! My hit-counts are going way up and I've had a few comments on the article, too. I'm either the new speaker for the masses who agree with me that the show is not what it should/could be or I'm the new heretic that should be burned at the stake for daring to say that I didn't like it and feel as if that's an hour of my life I'll never, ever get back.

Either way, it stands up under the Rules for this blog -- I write only from the truth, even if it's just the truth as I see it. And everyone is free to agree or disagree or agree to disagree with me. This is just a blog I started to help me process things going on in my head and I can't help it if something sticks in my craw and the "shut-up filter" won't activate while I'm typing. So, thanks to those who've read and shared the post! Thanks to those who've commented! And thanks to those who want to continue this journey with me through the rest of the year. Remember, insanity doesn't run through my family -- it saunters slowly and gets to know everyone before making itself at home!

So, kind of on the same topic of my Combat Cash rant, today Husband and I are preparing for the Battle of the Bulge reenactment tomorrow at Camp Clark outside Nevada, Missouri. It's not as large of an affair as the Conneaut, Ohio D-Day battle, but for those of us in the Midwest who want to have a fun weekend doing LARP (live-action role-playing) of Axis versus Allies it's a great place to go. Husband is currently packing the car with the militaria we plan to sell at the event from my website. Just a note -- if you are from California and are coming to the event, don't tell anyone where you're from because the word around the Midwest dealers is that now we can double or triple our prices because of that show and you'll be more than willing to pay them. I don't plan on taking any modern-day militaria; just packing the WWII through Vietnam-era items that might be of interest to the reenactors. Many of them will get tired or will have blown through their supply of blanks quickly and will want something to do, so we're more than happy to sell them stuff at reasonable prices so they can brag to their friends/comrades/etc. what a deal they got or how they were lucky to find such an unusual item.

I'm in the process of making sure all of my uniform pieces are present and ready for inspection. Yes, even though I'm a female and women didn't have front-line positions in the military, I do WWII reenacting and have for many, many years. And not just when I do Soviet where females were on the front-lines as snipers, tank crews, and many other positions. I am the unit commander for the 35th Infantry Division, MP Platoon based out of Southern Missouri and Arkansas. I do a male impression when there's a tactical battle (no public audience) because I'm not content to sit on the sidelines and watch all the guys have fun running through the woods and "shooting" at each other. I have to make sure my uniform is correct; my hair is cut short like the guys or pinned-up so that it meets the 10-foot "authenticity" rule; and I have to show and reshow people I'm just as qualified and in some cases more qualified to lead a unit into "battle." And as for the 10-foot "authenticity" rule, I pass it easily. True, I'm heavier than most WWII recruits would have been and there's always some smartass who makes a comment about the ampleness of my chestular region. But, my uniform is usually more authentic (or at least reproduced more authentically) than many of the guys' are. Also, Husband and I have sent shockwaves through some of the German units who thought they witnessed two male reenactors kissing after a particularly tough scenario, only to find out that it was us greeting each other on the way back to the vehicles. I'd say that counts as an "authenticity" pass.

This year, however, I probably won't be on the "front lines" as much since Celeste, my service dog, will be coming with me. Beaucerons were used in WWI and WWII by the Allies, so she'll be the perfect "war dog" to take and intimidate the captured enemy soldiers into confessing their objectives (even though the most she'd do would be lick them if I let her). She's even getting excited about going somewhere because she sees me packing new leads and collars and a lot of extra food, water, treats, and her booties (to protect her pads) in her personal bag. Plus, she deserves "doggie time" and there will be ample time when the battle is raging somewhere else that she and I can toss a ball around and let herself enjoy playing in the sun.

Husband, however, has already jumped into "military mode." As a bit of history on him, he is a military veteran having served in both the Army and Air National Guard for over 28 years. But when we get ready for WWII battles, you'd think he'd jumped-back in time and "Sergeant Husband" has stepped forward to organize a full mobilization. He want to be sure to get to the "fuel depot" (to fill-up our 2001 Suzuki Esteem wagon since we no longer own a military vehicle). He's up at "Oh-Christ-Hundred Hours" making a list of everything that needs to be done and packed and the specific order in which it will be done so that he can stow the "manifest" to ensure everything makes it to the battle site and back home again. Actually, I can't complain -- he saves me a LOT of time and worry about things because usually all I have to do the morning of the trip is wake up, take the dogs to go "walkies," get dressed and enjoy the ride because everything's packed and ready. Even my ammunition clips are already loaded and waiting for me!

So, this is what I'll be doing tomorrow. I just wanted to be sure to clarify that in case I'm either too tired or too sore to type anything before tomorrow's midnight deadline in keeping with the Rules of the blog. But don't worry -- I'll be sure to have a great recap of what happens, especially for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about. It's not a cheap hobby; it's not an easy hobby; but it's my hobby and it's a LOT of fun!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Discovery's "Combat Cash" is crap!

Reality TV is stupid. It's beyond stupid. And it's certainly not any reality I'm familiar with -- actual or imaginary.

People have become hooked on watching other people do incredibly stupid things to get on television with the hopes of winning money, getting married, or just for their 15 minutes of fame. And what passes for "reality" television these days is horrible.

Last night, I suffered through Discovery Channel's latest "reality" show, Combat Cash. I figured that someone, like myself, who is into militaria and World War II reenacting would enjoy a show about others who have the same interests and perhaps I might learn a thing or two. I learned something alright....I learned that these guys are idiots.

Let's go back a bit for those who aren't personally familiar with who I am and what I do. When I'm not working disasters with a certain governmental agency, I run an online military surplus retail store (you can find the website in my profile information). Husband and I have collected, bought, sold, and traded military items from almost every major conflict and most of the major players in them. We specialize in items from World War I to the Vietnam Conflict (although, every veteran and civilian I've ever met that was in Vietnam at that time said it sounded more like a war than a "conflict"). Our main speciality is World War II GI (American) Military Police and the 35th Infantry Division. We even attend World War II reenactments where, yes, we as fully-grown adults dress-up in uniforms (mostly reproductions since originals are hard to come by these days) and play "good-guy/bad-guy" with others dressed as Germans. We attend as either US 35th Division MPs if it's a Western Front event and as USSR NKVD if it's an Eastern Front event. Many of our friends portray British, Italian, German, GI, partisan, and Soviet and we have a good time running in the woods shooting blanks at each other just like kids used to do when playing "Cowboys and Indians" with their old cap guns and toy bow-and-arrow sets. It's pretty much the same, actually....except that the "guns" are actual military surplus and cost a LOT more than your average plastic six-shooter but the amount of squabbling over who did and didn't get "killed" is still pretty much the same.

So, it's pretty safe to say that we know what our items are and what they aren't. We've had to become adept at detecting the faked items from the real thing -- and these days it's getting harder and harder to do. There are companies that not only make almost perfect copies of WWII German medals/awards, they even have reproduced the boxes in which they were originally presented!! That's one reason I won't buy German militaria unless I can absolutely, without-a-doubt prove that it's original. Too many fakes out there for my wallet. Sure, it's great to buy reproduction items when you're on a budget and need something for a collection to hold a place until you can get an authentic item or if you plan to run around in the woods and don't want to take your incredibly expensive originals out to play. But if you're buying and selling items to make a profit and you don't have a clue as to what is and isn't real and how the fakes are fooling many, then you're in big trouble.

I grudgingly sat down with Husband to watch the premiere episode of Combat Cash last night and laughed about how we'd been contacted months ago by "producers" saying that they worked with Discovery, TLC, and other big cable networks who wanted to do a reality show about military surplus collectors/dealers and if we would be interested. First of all, this "request" came by email from someone I had no idea and couldn't find information about who they were. Secondly, why would I want to show where I purchase my inventory or how I get awesome deals on it?? It's like announcing to the world, "Here's how it's done, so be sure to get there before I do because I don't have the desire to actually make money anymore. Oh, and while you're at it, here's where we live/work so you can see our collection and steal it from us. M'kay?"

The first episode was awful. Pure and simple -- just awful. As a matter of fact, I started live-posting on Facebook about it when I wasn't either laughing myself silly or having a fit over something stupid said or done on the show. I posted on my profile and our business' page. Here's a sample:
"Watching the premiere episode of Discovery Channel's 'Combat Cash.' OMG!! These guys are idiots! They say they know everyone in military collecting -- well, we've never heard of them! Getting ready to watch the episode that includes WWII reenactors. This should be a fiasco!"

"Watching Discovery Channel's new show 'Combat Cash." The premiere episode was incredibly stupid. Watching the second episode which is supposed to feature WWII reenactors. They just said that 'not many people have this kind of firepower (i.e. M1 Garands, MP40s, MG34s, etc.).' No....not in southern California where they are they don't! They're using the firearms to record sound effects for a WWII videogame that has dinosaurs as Hitler's mechanized weapons. We'll maybe they at least won't have someone yelling 'Take your hit!' like Medal of Honor: Underground had. That is, if they don't kill themselves -- range safety seems nonexistent!"

"Okay....just to let everyone know, we saw the 'Combat Cash' guys sell an "original" M1 steel pot painted with medic insignia for $1250. No, there's not a decimal point missing out of that -- they sold it for twelve hundred fifty dollars!! Now everyone will believe ANY painted "WWII" helmet is worth at least that. And they didn't even prove that it was "original" (stamps, seams, etc.) that people who actually know their stuff would be sure to look for. I feel sorry for the guys who bought it 'cause now their names are all over national TV!"
You get the idea. And the show also featured them going to the annual Conneaut, Ohio D-Day reenactment. Now, I've never had the opportunity to attend that even but I've heard it's pretty awesome. The last D-Day invasion I participated in was the 50th anniversary reenactment at Ft. Story, Virginia. That was AWESOME! But, I digress....

These yahoos they call "hosts" of the show started walking through the vendor area and were talking about how "Midwestern prices" are insanely low and how they could go in, buy a lot of stuff, and sell it for twice or three times what they paid to customers in California. Oh, goody!! They're not only incompetent at identifying items or putting reasonable values on them, but now they're insulting us who live/work in the Midwest by basically typecasting us as ignorant rednecks and hillbillies who are too stupid to know what things are "really" worth.

In the show, they make a point of saying that they're very busy finding new items for their store and that the store is open by appointment only. Who can make a living operating that way? And they charged the videogame dudes $5000 to record sounds of weapons when they could have easily flown themselves to Knob Creek, Kentucky for one of their Machine Gun Shoots and gotten all the effects they needed for a lot less than that! The final straw for me was watching these goobers argue over whether or not to purchase a BSA paratrooper bicycle and watching the seller get really irritated at their squabbling. It was finally decided that if one of the guys jumped out of a plane that they would buy it. Huh??? It wasn't even the seller offering to take the guy skydiving!! Why would you settle a purchase argument by spending more money???

I hope this show either (1) goes off the air soon so that reputable militaria collectors/vendors like myself and many other companies we affiliate with will be able to continue selling items before the general public starts ranting "But on Combat Cash they offered a guy more!" or (2) that they find someone who actually knows what he/she is doing to educate these people that the whole militaria collecting world doesn't revolve around what's done in southern California.

But, I did notice one of the guys lost a rear sight on the M1 Carbine he borrowed for the D-Day battle. I've got an original WWII one for sale!! Maybe I'll inflate my price on it, just so they'll feel more comfortable!!