Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hard Times?

Citizens of Leningrad fleeing their homes, destroyed by the Germans. (Source)
Election Day is less than a fortnight away and I am still refraining from political commentary. Those of you who come here often know my leanings and I honestly couldn't state things any better than Tuna did yesterday. My slightly left of center colleague at work remarked recently how amazed he was at my apparent equanimity as regards current events.

No, I'm not seething on the inside, as I really feel...

Well, what say you, General Lee?

Though I daresay I might be as dumbstruck as J.E.B. Stuart in two weeks time, depending on the outcome of the election. Dumbfounded, shocked, stunned, and not a little peeved described my feelings on the day after election day the past two cycles.

But, I am confident that the ship of state will eventually right itself. We are, after all, a constitutional republic, not a democracy. I presume that eventually enough honest men and women will find their way into government to halt the rising tide of idiocy that seems to be all the rage throughout this fair land.

Things might get uncomfortable for a while, but they're not going to get Siege of Leningrad bad. Or so I really, really hope.

Anyhoo, let's have a bit of a rant on one of my favorite topics.

Crappy drivers!

On the way home from my place of employment this week I have observed on the roadways of Little Rhody behavior which, to me, is symptomatic of "what's wrong with our country." I am, of course, speaking of the blatant disregard for the law and, no doubt, a certain ignorance when it comes to operating a motorized two-ton death machine on the public thoroughfares.

On Monday, and again on Tuesday, I watched as two moronic scofflaws followed the path depicted in the following photo (courtesy, as always, of Google Street view)...

The red arrow marks where two folks from the shallow end of the gene pool went from the far left lane, across traffic and down the off ramp at a very high rate of speed. Note that the entrance to the off ramp is well behind us in that photo.

The car on Monday, with the California plates, might be excused for realizing at the last minute that this was indeed their exit. Being a non-local, as it were. However, traveling, at a conservative estimate at upwards of 70 mph seemed a bit much. Perhaps the relative lack of traffic in these parts led them to go "hog wild" regarding the application of pressure to the accelerator. I don't know, just seemed a might fast for my tastes. Also this idiocy occurred not ten yards from my port bow. Startled me just a bit I must say.

Tuesday's poor excuse for a human couldn't use the "I ain't from around here" excuse. That rather large pickup truck (even bigger'n Juvat's new ride) had Massachusetts plates. He was going even faster than that feller from California. (Yes, both perps were men. Women typically, at least in my experience, don't drive like they have a death wish.)

He left a cloud of debris in his wake as he entered the off ramp just in front of the exit sign (which can be dimly perceived in the preceding photo). Then at the bottom of the ramp, which is a T intersection, he was determined to execute a 90° right turn at the bottom of the aforementioned ramp without backing off even a teensy wee bit on the throttle.

Physics and inertia forced him to give her a bit o' brake just before he rolled his late model truck. Which no doubt would have been nasty. Odd that this is one of the few times in the past couple of days that there wasn't a cop car parked underneath the overpass. While the speed limit on that road is 30, folks like to push that well past 50.

Okay, ee-jits trying to inadvertently end it all by driving like complete a$$clowns is annoying to a certain extent. But nowhere near as annoying as having someone of questionable ancestry talking on her cell phone while driving as close to one's back bumper as possible without actually contacting said bumper. And yes, I had the pleasure of that experience on the way home yesterday. While still pondering the complete stupidity of the alleged human in the pickup truck.

Said grande dame of cluelessness stayed glued to my bumper all the way into town. Apparently I wasn't exceeding the speed limit to an extent she found to her tastes. Speed limit 35, I was doing a tad over that. How positively gauche of me! When she had the opportunity to get out from behind me (red arrow below) she did so at roughly twice the speed limit. (That's me under the green arrow, traveling at a law-abiding 25 mph.)

Google Maps
Was she really in a hurry? Or simply oblivious to her surroundings. Some Little Rhodians (and denizens of the Commonwealth as well) will travel right up your kiester as a signal to "go faster or get out of my way!" Some will simply keep pressing on the accelerator if there is nothing in front of them, or until their vehicle won't go any faster. And I'm only exaggerating a little. On the interstate you can almost see the color shifts as they slip in and out of light speed.

So for now, I'm still not gonna bitch about politics, not when I can bitch about my fellow motor vehicle operators. Elections are ephemeral, seeing and complaining about crappy driving is a year-round sport.

Though I am currently under a ban on bitching about other drivers when The Missus Herself is behind the wheel. Hardly seems fair, when I'm not driving I can see so much more inanity and lack of skill.

But rules are rules. Not for everyone mind you, just for a select few. It's just one of the things which fall into the "what's wrong with this country" category.

Or so I think. What say you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

I’m sure you’re familiar with the title I’ve chosen for this post. It’s from scripture of course, Proverbs 13:24.  The full verse, depending on your particular chosen version of the Bible is as follows: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

I think that’s prophetic in so many ways, for parents, for the military, for regular citizens, and…for voters.

With that being said, you can probably tell where I’m going with this post. While I’m just as tired and frustrated with this election season as most of you probably are, I’m not so frustrated that I’m at a loss for words. I guess I’m posting a piece as your pithy part time political blogger again. So here goes:

Hey candidates- Pthbbbbbbb!

That’s right- a great big slobbery raspberry to both of them, even the one I’m going to vote for. They’ve turned this election season into the most vitriolic one I’ve ever seen and I’m disgusted by it.  While one of them can't seem to stay out of the mud, or keep his muddy foot out of his mouth, the other seems to live in the mud, not only surviving on the seedy underbelly of politics, but thriving. It’s not just the candidates, but some voters as well. I heard conservative political columnist Maureen Dowd tell about a wife who angrily stated she would divorce her husband if he voted for Trump. I don’t know if I’ve lost koobecaF friends over my own beliefs, not that I really care, but I've heard that others have and that just shows how powerful politics can be on our psyche.

There were other potential titles I was considering. I thought about “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Sure, it’s a little comic-book-ish, but both candidates have experience with power, and the Presidency is possibly the job with the most responsibility on Earth. Trump is a very powerful businessman, used to multi-million dollar deals, building great things. He’s responsible for the lives of many- the people he employs who need him to make careful calculations in his business dealings. Doing so ensures projects get built, people remain employed, and the economies surrounding the projects continue contributing to society.

Hillary has had power since her husband came into office, if not before, and it just continued when she carpet-bagged her way into a NY Senate seat, followed by SECSTATE.  Big jobs there, lots of responsibility, but I can’t really say she did anything to improve our country, or its stature in the world.  I consider that responsibility squandered, as were lives in Benghazi. After giving up on the Presidency in 2008 in exchange for a Cabinet position and future support, she’s been the coming messiah for the DNC.   And that mantle has given her nearly free rein to operate outside the margins of both ethics and the law.

What do you call that free rein? That leads me to another title that would have worked so well- “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” Here’s another saying- “Knowledge will give you power, but character- respect.”* She definitely knows how to work the political game, her donors (foreign and domestic), as well as her base, but her character is lacking.  As for the last group, it unfortunately includes the media, who don’t even try to hide the fact that they are solidly in her camp and will do anything to help her win.

Because the media has abdicated its responsibility to be neutral, they are no better than Pravda, supporting the regime without question, and covering up the truth of its misdeeds.  This just strengthens the Executive Branch so that the three branches are no longer equal.  Add to that a constant barrage of negative media against Trump and almost none against Hillary, the power becomes more absolute and ever more corrupt.

The liberals in the country are enabling the corruption- spoiling the child per se, because they either hate Trump so much, or love Hillary so much, that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the ethical lapses and criminal behavior of their candidate.  The DNC obviously believes the ends- stopping Trump and remaining in power- justifies the means.

Robert Creamer, who is connected to the Democratic National Committee and is the husband of Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, was busted in a video bragging about the alleged unethical methods the Democrats use to “rig elections.” These illicit activities include:
  • Paying mentally ill people to instigate fights at Trump campaign rallies
  • Acting as hubs of information to coordinate campaign and Super PAC activities
  • Sabotaging Trump press events
The Democratic operative then punctuated his view on the purported unethical activities with a memorable phrase: “It doesn't matter what the friggin' legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherf...”                                                                       Source 

The ends justify the means, even if the means are completely unethical, lowdown, dirty, nasty, and highly illegal.

And it appears that the money given to Hillary by foreign governments and the power she's handed by an apathetic public and a complicit media, has enabled her to infiltrate or influence the very institutions responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal behavior.

FBI Agents say Comey stood in the way of Clinton email investigation

And they're not happy about it.

FBI Agents are ready to revolt over the cozy Clinton probe

The media plays an important role in democratic society with its duty to report wrongdoing, keeping bad behavior in check.  But when that's done in a biased way, the full truth isn't told and democracy suffers.  The truth is sometimes hard to face however and if ignored, our society has to deal with the symptoms, unable to treat the root causes of a problem.

We've seen Greece and Venezuela collapse because Socialism is unsustainable.  It might take a while, decades in fact, but eventually their failure is inevitable. No matter how much the government intrudes in their markets, it can’t hide the reality that Socialism just uses up other people's money, and both countries give away far more to their citizens than they produce.  Here in the U.S., race relations are at an all-time low, at least since before the civil rights movement, because ignoring the reality of the root causes just exacerbates the situation.  We have welfare serving as a never ending crutch, and divisive politics that pit one side against another, blaming the specter of racism.  Sure, racism exists, but its not the ever-present beast that the left likes make it out to be.  And our Chief Executive, instead of calling for calm, fans the flames of it when police do their duty in the face of violent resistance to arrest.  Those issues, when coupled with high rates of divorce, abortion, and irresponsible sex result in the collapse of the American family, and just deepen the cracks in the very foundation of our country.  And shoring that up requires hard truths to be told and acted upon.

When parents refuses to discipline their kid, they raise an incorrigible child.  If a Captain allowed a Sailor to slide when he violates the UCMJ, he will be unable to maintain good order and discipline on the ship and lives could be at risk.  If voters, over a 30 year span, turn a blind eye to terrible ethics, to violations of the Oath of Office, and to criminal corruption, you raise an entitled politician who thinks the rules don't apply to her.

Early in my career, ethics training became part of the annual training requirements.  Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety was the direction.  However, the Clintons don't seem to care.  Pay for play scandals, private servers, $1M birthday gifts from Qatar, $600+K speaking gigs from Goldman Sachs, $12M from Morocco, $25M from Saudi, withholding evidence from congress, destroying evidence under subpoena, etc., even having a foundation in your name while serving in a government capacity- they're all tremendous conflicts of interest.   None of these sound like she cares even remotely about avoiding the appearance of impropriety. 

As I was researching this post, I found a quote by Jonathan Swift: "Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent."  I picked up on that one because of the abortion issue brought up during the last debate.  There's no protection for the most innocent from Hillary.  It's the exact opposite what we’re seeing from her, and her power is a curse to the unborn, considering her stance on abortion even for babies on the last day of gestation.  Here's another quote, this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson:  "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." And it’s a dark soulless pit of despair inside Hillary.

We still have power however, through the ballot box, but we choose to promote the same bad behavior.  We spare the rod, and spoil the nation, essentially condoning bad behavior, when we reelect the same politicians that make up our legislative branch, an organization that we overwhelmingly believe aren’t serving us.   If Hillary wins the election, it will not be the result of her qualifications. It will be because the mainstream media refused to report her many failures.  Failures of character, failures of foreign policy, failures of morality, failure to be a decent human being.  And the voters, supported by a corrupt media, allow it.

I’ll repeat what I wrote in a comment to one of Sarge’s posts last week. “One of my high school friends, a great many of which are either trending Bolshevik or weak in their fortitude to actually listen to an argument from the right, sarcastically commented on one of my many koobecaF posts about Hillary.  He said "Thanks Tom, you really changed my mind on that!"  I responded that I don't do it to with that in mind, I do it because I like posting.”

I realize that I’m preaching to the choir here at The Chant, but writing about politics is somewhat cathartic for me, whether or not someone’s position is swayed.  koobecaF?   It’s become a slimy cesspool for political discussions, mainly in the comments section of public posts.  But even if I won’t change anyone’s mind, I want them to be at least better informed about an issue.  If a segment of society isn't given a chance to hear the truth, or refuses to do so, we're becoming less free and losing the power given us in the constitution.  While the truth sometimes hurts, that's part of the rod we shouldn't be spared- whether it's why we have urban decay, what an ultrasound reveals to a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, or how corrupt our politicians really are.  Voters should be fully informed.  Knowledge is power, whether it be for a human life, crew morale, or in politics.  We'll all be better behaved children because of it.

*Bruce Lee

Monday, October 24, 2016

"There is nothing permanent except change" *

As I've gotten older, I've noticed I'm ever increasingly resistant to change.  I've got my routines and I get irritated when I have to change them.  I like things to be predictable.  

For instance, I want to leave home at 7:15, drive 70-75MPH and arrive at work NLT 7:30.  It bugs me that the highway has been getting upgraded for the last 18 months without a lot of noticeable progress.
TXDOT=Capt Obvious!
Even though the sign says "expect delays 8AM to 5PM", I still get stopped for 1 lane traffic at 7:15.  It bugs me even more when I hang around the office until 5:30 then head home, only to get stopped in 1 lane traffic again.  I mean c'mon!  If you mean you're going to be working on the road from 7-7, say "Expect Delays 7AM to 7PM"

But....I digress.

So, a few weeks ago, Mrs Juvat announces that she has sold my truck.  Just like that...

"Honey, I sold your truck."

I'm dumbfounded.

I like my truck.  It's just like me.  Not pretty to look at.  Needs a bit of coaxing to work.  Runs better with a little encouragement and TLC. However, it's comfortable and mostly reliable.  Yep, pretty much exactly like me.

Oh, yeah.  It's 15 years old and has 223K on it.

One other thing.  It's paid for.

I like my truck.

"Did you hear what I said? I sold your truck."


"My sister needs it for the contractor who's building her house."

I recognized immediately, with logic like that, I've already lost the argument.

So,  that means I'm going to engage in one of my least favorite activities, buying a car.  With respect to WSF, I truly loath the whole car buying process.  From the "let me go talk to the manager" then disappear for 30 minutes to let you stew, to the "do you want to add this option, it's only $20 per month?"  No, it's $960 plus interest.  

I don't hold it against the salesman, they're trying to earn a living.  I just want them to tell me what the price is.  

When we bought Mrs. Juvat's car, in 2006, we bought it through USAA's car buying service.  We "built" the car on their site.  USAA then gave us a price for THAT car.  We tinkered with options to get it down to where we wanted.  They then gave us a certificate and we walked into the dealer and drove out with that car. 

So, that's where we started last weekend.  I'm on their site and "building" my truck.  Except, I don't get to select the options I want.  Just the Make and Model.  Then I select which packages I want, except there's not really any explanation of what is or is not included into each package.  So, I've got multiple pages open and am looking at package contents, finally getting something I think I want.  

I push the button and I get a certificate that says I can buy any truck in stock for $8800 off MSRP.  


I'm a bit confused, but not to worry, as soon as I pushed the button to get that certificate, my email and contact info got released to the various car dealers within a 100 mile radius of home.  All ready to answer any questions I might have.

Seriously, the first email arrived before I'd logged out of the USAA site, asking me to call and set up an appointment.  They had a vehicle that had 81% of the features I wanted.  What does that mean?  

In any case, I get one from a dealer in San Antonio that's got 95%, so I give them a call.  The lady that handles the USAA car buying program for them takes down the information about what I'm looking for, but I notice she doesn't ask for a VIN for the vehicle I'm interested in, which the car buying program included.  

The appointment was for a week ago Saturday.  Little Juvat is in town, and as my truck is no longer MY truck, I'm sans wheels.  He graciously offers to provide a lift for his old man.  We get to San Antonio around noon and decide to postpone the agony for a bit by having lunch.  

BTW, the Yardhouse, in La Cantera is a great place for Lunch.  The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was a nice complement to the fish and chips.

Now fortified, we arrive at the dealership and meet up with our sales person.  We introduce ourselves and she says she's got several trucks for us to look at, are we ready to go?


Truck #1 is a VERY nice truck.  Fire Engine Red, 5L V-8.  The dashboard was outfitted like the cockpit of an F-22.  We take it out for a spin.  Interestingly, pushing hard on the gas pedal, there's a very noticeable pause before the truck begins accelerating.  But it's quiet, smooth and well equipped.  In other words, expensive.  List price was north of $53K. 

Which, BTW, is the loan amount I'm pre-approved for.  Wonder if that's a coincidence there?

And before, any of you start with the Ron White "Loadddddddddedddd!" routine, No, that's about 45% more than I want to spend.

I mention the acceleration and she suggests a different engine.  So we test drive Truck #2.

Truck #2 is also very nice.  A bright metallic blue with a 3.5L V-6 ecoboost engine.  We take it out for the same circuit.  Out of the lot, about a mile on the access road (50-60MPH), on ramp with a quick acceleration to traffic speed (mach .93) out to DeZavala, back on the interstate back to the lot.  

#2 accelerates a lot faster.  The turbocharger really helps.  #2 still has a lot of bells and whistles which contributes to a MSRP and resulting sales price much higher than I'd like.  Nice vehicle though.  Solidly in contention for "when I win the Lottery."

We are getting nowhere fast.  The salesperson is showing cars that are more expensive than I want to buy, and I'm trying to tell her that I don't need all the bells and whistles.  Finally, I just tell her that I'm not going to spend any more than X dollars driving it off the lot.


I do want the ecoboost engine, I don't need any of the Star Wars cockpit.  I would like my phone to connect to the music system and I do want a crew cab.

Finally, she shows me the right vehicle with most of what I wanted.  It didn't have heated seats, which are very nice around here on winter mornings, but....I'll live with the hardship.

No, Sarge, I don't have a name for it.  Suggestions may be left in the comments below.  Right now, I'm leaning towards "My Truck"

First time in the 16 years we've lived on this property that we've had Green Grass the end of October.  Need to get the Hay Guy here for another cutting.
Just to continue that scene.  This will be where Sarge will be staying when he comes down to visit.  Nice little firepit in the front, by the barbecue.

* Heraclitus - Some dead white Greek Dude

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It's The Little Things

A Proud Day.
Good Times.
One cat is great.
Two are awesome!
Kodi and Bear are ready for walkies. Or dinner. Which ever comes first!
One of my favorite places. One of my heroes.
Flowers are good.
So more flowers must be even better.
Daughters are awesome.

Old ruins are interesting.
Je pense que je vois le Sarge! (I think I see the Sarge!)
Dirt roads are good.
Foliage is awesome.
Laughing together is awesome.
Connecticut River in the gloaming.
Goofy WSOs are awesome.
The town of my birth.
My brother built that.
Never forgotten.
Forever loved.
Gardens are nice.
Four birds on a wire.
Faith is awesome. (Literally!)
The next generation.
Aircraft carriers are awesome. (As is Sandy Eggo!)
Snow is awesome. (In finite quantities!)
Recognize me?
A day in the park is awesome.
Dogs are awesome.
Sunsets are magnificent.
The sky is awesome.
A great time of year...
I know I'm blessed. And yes, I'm thankful.
A blessed Sunday to you all.