Monday, January 31, 2005

Jay Morse - er, that's Major Morse to you.

Daughter Stacy's husband, Scott, grew up with Jay Morse who was the Best Man at their wedding. He is a good man so the roots are deep. Jay is a Major in the U.S. Army, attached to the JAG, and recently jumped from the frying pan into the fire - he was transferred from South Korea to Iraq, with the Third Infantry Division (3ID).

Major Morse with friends and Peter Jennings

Jay is the the second from the right in this photo.

Major Morse cleaning weapon at Doha. Even majors have to ensure their piece is clean and well lubricated.


Kuwait Air Force plane - probably didn't even have peanuts on the flight to Iraq.


RHIP - nuff said!


All the best Jay, and may the bhurka-clad beauties of Baghdad treat you with the respect you deserve!

Chillin'

I had to work on Sunday, deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Mrs. Stomps With Foot and I drove out on Saturday to one of our resorts on Lake Palestine. We stopped in Canton for a bit of shopping (you have to go during First Monday Trade-days to do a LOT of shopping. It was a leisurely drive for us, just a couple of hours and we enjoyed visiting with each other on the way. Little did we know that there was a bass fishing tournament going on - and we were just across from our marina. Pick-up trucks and boat trailers stretched for about half-mile from the marina, on both sides of the two-lane blacktop that leads to the water's edge.

While we "chilled" and watched movies all day Saturday, these anglers, who are always in pursuit of the ever-elusive large-mouthed predator bass, chilled their collective asses in 40-degree overcast weather, 15 mph winds, complete with water spraying up, onto and over them for about 8-hours of unabashed fun.

Now, bass tournaments are a big deal. And it would seem that they are huge here in Texas. I know because I have been bitten by the bass-fishing bug in the past. Bass fishing is a multi-billion dollar business - whether it's forking over $4.95 for that chartruese spinner bait, or $49,500 for your bass boat rig, the monetary outlay is incredible. And all this for a $5,000 first-prize for the biggest-fish tournament.

Although everyone was smiling when they came to the big weigh-in, I had an even bigger smile on my face. I stayed inside, drank a Cosmopolitan and watched movies all day. Yay! Relaxing at it's best, with Mrs. With Foot.

Then Sunday arrived, we packed up and I went to work on a 15-minute photo shoot for the resort. Nothing to it. We were home by 2:00 p.m.

Nice weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Phhhhfffsssssss sssss sssss... BANG!

El Capitan pulled the pin on a grenade and tossed into my lap. I scramble to find the pin and put it back into place … to no avail. "I am so dead," I think to myself.

Then I snap back to reality and realize that I, too, have three live grenades I have to toss:

Witness herewith my explosion, in response to this viral blog. The link that brought me to this look at my inner-self is here.

All of these songs, and many more, are now embedded in my DNA. They have all become, as Jimmy Buffett once titled an album - Songs You Know By Heart.

If you click the song name, AND you have iTunes installed, you will be immediately transported to the iTunes Music Store.

If you don't have iTunes installed, click here to download iTunes for Mac or (cough) PeeCee! Then you too, will know the elegance of iTunes.

Random 10

Using the Party Shuffle feature in Apple's iTunes here are the first 10 songs:

1. Haven't We Lost Enough - Crosby, Stills and Nash
2. Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana) - Jimmy Buffett
3. Angelica - Paul Schwartz
4. Three Women Walking - Ottmar Liebert
5. Typical Situation (Live) - Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
6. Porcelain - Moby
7. Indian Spring - Craig Chaquico
8. White Room - Cream
9. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
10. River of Stars - 2002

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
There are 3,873 songs in my iTunes library. 758 were purchased from Apple's iTunes Music Store.

2. The last CD you bought is:
License to Chill - Jimmy Buffett. Total Parrothead music onboard = 262! Yar! Heave the ho and make room for mo!

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

Desert Rose - Sting



4. 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

1) The Unknown Soldier - The Doors; Jim Morrison, a troubled soul with an astonishing sense of reality. Listened to this one back in the 'Nam.




2) One Particular Harbor - Jimmy Buffett. There is nothing better than listening to this song, to take me to the islands, than this wonderful boat song.



3) Dream Of The Dolphin - Enigma. A snippet from this 5-star album includes the haunting statement … "Remember the Shaman as he used to say, man is the dream of the dolphin." Enigma has always blown me away and takes me on spiritual journey every time I listen to them.



4) Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills, Nash. More of the nautical theme going on here, are we seeing a pattern? "Got outta town on a boat to the southern islands."



5) Take My Hand - Dido. Listened to this song, last year, every day for 60 days during a video shoot across America. Compelling lyrics - angelic voice - wonderful percussion and strings. Wow.



5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (three persons and why)?
1. Beth - because she is hosting Texas Blogfest 2005 and I am interested in knowing her musical DNA stamp.
2. Andy - because he intrigues me.
3. Peter - because he is half-way around the world and a stranger in a strange land.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

There must be an easier way!

Mrs. Stomps With Foot went on a recon mission yesterday. She visited the Bank of Amerika
(<=not misspelled - it's an editorial comment=>)

to see how we can send Peter a monthly stipend, along with other donations, via an electronic funds transfer. She found out that we needed all kinds of routing numbers, codes of 8 or 9 digits, and and arm and a leg. They want USD $45 for each transfer - regardless of the fact that it is for tsunami relief and the efforts of one Mr. Williams. We decided that the money would be better spent on the recipient instead of the bank and are now looking for another way to accomplish this feat.

My fellow :SOG'ger, Mach (in his inimitable way) said, "Just send him your ATM card." Well, now, that may be a solution, but I am looking for an easier way to do this. Maybe I just open an account for him and keep it filled up with an allowance and donations and send him the ATM card for that account. Might work, might not. I will ask Mrs. SWF to do some research on this one and see what she comes up with. Anyone have any ideas?

Peter IM'd me this morning, it was 9:00 p.m. in Bali, but our conversation was cut short when he was called into a meeting. He sent me this photo of a rice paddy, however, and the sun setting over Bali.



Photo by Peter Williams

Monday, January 24, 2005

How to lose a customer for life

WARNING: SAD BUT TRUE STORY

Stomps With Foot and I had an interesting crappy experience at one Albertson's yesterday. Left me in a foul mood for way too long. Without further ado, herewith is her email to their customer service department.


My receipt: preferred customer 4252423XXXX
1/22/05 14:20 4273 02 0036 XXX
I notice the "customer satisfaction guarantee" listed on the website only applies to items that are purchased, not the shopping experience. Too bad. I have no desire to spend my substantial weekly grocery allowance at any Albertson's after today's shopping trip. I went there specifically for the ten items for $10. and the fact that coupons up to $1.00 were being doubled and up to $.75 were being tripled. My husband and I scanned and sacked as we went through the store since most of the registers now are self-checkout and we wondered why this process was implemented. It certainly isn't saving us time having to do this and I would not call it simple, when it comes to produce, exception items, using coupons and paying with a check. I would think we're saving money for Albertson's since perhaps they won't have to hire as many employees, but I have not noticed prices dropping to reflect any savings on to the customer.

I would think maybe we're saving time for Albertson's employees, except for all the problems we noticed they had to deal with when customers checked out. We had bought an exception item - 3 primrose plants for $5.00 so we had to get help, since they wouldn't scan on our handheld scanner. The process to ring them up erased all the scanning we had done, so everything in our cart had to be scanned again. The person (female manager?) who determined that was the way our situation had to be handled, apologized but didn't offer anything for our inconvenience or time.

I don't grocery shop for a fun, entertaining activity and didn't appreciate that we were in that store for two hours. Then, the check approval machine wasn't working, so we had another delay. It seems like Albertson's has their customers beta-testing their new procedure and I have no incentive to shop there again. My husband and I are both tech savvy - very computer literate and there is something wrong when a customer has to get a multi-screen lesson on how to scan groceries using your new system.

If Albertson's had valued me as a customer, they would've told me the $78.37 cost of groceries was not going to be charge.


The scanning part was kind of fun. Like using a Star Trek tricorder, although I found it ironic that the LASER warning on the back was in 4-point type and all the customers were wearing trifocals. If I had known we would be doing all the scanning and sacking for naught, I would have scanned every item I could find, to rack up a grocery bill of at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS (using best Dr. Evil voice).

Now, there weren't even any paper bags available and we got to try to open those plastic bags (the ones with a 300-year-half-life) that if they were any thinner would only have one side. The static electricity that keeps them stuck together was a wonderful experience in manual dexterity and patience building. Thank goodness for my opposable-thumbs.

So there you have it. If'n yer feelin' like wasting an hour or so for less than $80 in groceries there is only one place to go. Albertson's (you'll wish you had gone Krogering).

AMF Albertson's - you've lost a customer for life.

Mr. Williams, may I see your passport please

Peter arrived in Bali safely. While the Midwest and East Coast are buried in snow, he is enjoying what is left of a tsunami-ravaged paradise.

Here is his blog address



and a nice shot of his nose hairs!

His snail mail address is:

Peter Williams
PO BOX 160 Ubud, 80571
Bali, Indonesia

and his phone number, in case you get lonely is:
Tel/Fax : +62 361 981 504

Peter asks that you send donations to me, for now at least. I will keep you posted as we figure out how to get money to him in an efficient manner.

Keep Peter in your prayers, please. The money is secondary to his mission.

Friday, January 21, 2005

On addiction

I spent most of today fiddling with this site, adding stuff to the right-hand column and flitting around the web trying to learn how to post an animated gif file to this blog. No luck. Drat. Seems that the deeper I dig into other people's code, the deeper the hole I am digging. Ergo, the deeper the hole I dig, the deeper into other people's code I am digging. Answers are a lot like rainbows, they are there, but they are elusive and like tar-babies. Uncle Remus would be proud, Brer Bear!

I reserved my place at the TexasBlogfest 2005 , March 18-20 here in Dallas, and will be hosting El Capitan for the weekend festivities. I hope he brings a nice steak recipe - we will fire up the grill, sit on the patio, and smoke some Cohibas (fresh from Habana). These fine sticks ($35 per in London) come packed 25 to a box and were a gift to me from an unnamed source. I put the entire box on my scanner and … voila! God Bless unnamed sources!



We will make a run to the liquor store, score and enjoy some single-malt scotch. Really looking forward to his visit, and Stomps With Foot is too!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Texas Bluebonnet Tartan

My comrade-at-arms, El Capitan, has sent out his forces to seek and return an oriental gentlemen to fit him for his Texas Bluebonnet Tartan kilt. I can make it easy for ya, Cap! The Texas Bluebonnet Tartan is available in Plano! Sheesh, just 15 minutes from my home in Richardson. So if'n yer lookin' to kill two birds with one stone - get yer kilt and yer body inking up here in Dallas! Plenty of tat-meisters down in Deep Ellum!

Her name is Roxie and she will fit you during a pre-set appointment that will take an hour of your time. Looks like a full array of sporans, hose and flashes, sgian duhbs and dirks, and all things needed to make the bonnie-wee-lasses blush with pride.

Since the full regalia will set me back about a grand, I am going with the 13 oz. wool, after all, I will have to wait for the tax man to take his chunk of my change before I can order mine.

But you can bet your ass I will have my Texas Bluebonnet Tartan Kilt afore long, matey.

Peter Williams - an honorable man

My friend Peter Williams, (his email address is nuphunk@mac.com) late of London, has done what Neil Young suggested years ago. I can hear the refrain in the middle of my head, "Think I'll pack it in and buy a pickup. Head on out to L.A." Only Peter's destination is much farther away. We chatted last week and he said he was headed for Indonesia to help a Non-Governmental Organization in their efforts with the tsunami relief.

He said, "Wayne, I don't have a girlfriend anymore, my business is failing so I am going to Bali to do what I can to help." He said he was trying to get the head of Apple UK to donate a Powerbook to the cause - Peter will be helping with this organization's website and tracking survivors and the missing. I don't think Apple ever helped him out, though, even after I suggested he fax the guy a copy of his passport, visa and airline tickets. Whatever else Apple's UK head was thinking, he would at least know that this man wasn't just trying to cop free Powerbook. Peter is an honest and honorable man, doing what I wish I could do - pack it in and buy a pickup.

I chatted with him last night - he was in Hong Kong, with a one hour layover until his flight to Bali departed. He had is own Powerbook with him for the internet work, but it is an older, slower model and is kind of like taking a knife to a firefight, but he will do what he can with the resources he has available.

Stomps With Foot and I met him last April, in London, and we discussed sending him some money once he gets settled in Bali. We are going to do this as soon as we get his postal address, which I will post on this blog if you would like to help him as well. When SWF and I first broached the subject with him, about sending money, he said, "I will let you know how the money is spent for the refugees and the relief effort."

Selfless, giving individual that he is, Peter did not GET IT. "No, no, no, Peter," I said, "The money is for YOU. For YOU to live on, you will have living expenses and I know you just spent your last pound to buy the one-way ticket to Bali, so we want to do this for YOU, because you are doing what we wish we could do."

SWF and I already sent our donation to UNICEF, you see. The additional money we send to Peter won't qualify for a tax deduction, and that is not why we are doing it. We don't want the deduction, we want Peter Williams to be able to do what he can to help.

Now if I can just collect enough money to get him a Powerbook, or get Apple's ear, then I will be a happy man. If not, I will just keep sending all the money I can to this wonderful man.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dissin' Da Factoids and Gettin' Caught Up Along The Way



A few days ago, the Baboon Pirate had a bit of fisking with Acidman's definition of a Southerner. Yesterday, I received an compelling yet somewhat distorted and partially incorrect list of INTERESTING TEXAS FACTS from Stomps With Foot's cousin Lonnie. I was so taken with those "facts" that I spent hours researching them and decided that I had to spend the time and resources necessary to compile a correct and verifiable list of Texas facts. And to think I owe it all to Lonnie! Thanks,man.

This exercise took me all over the state. I deleted the ones that made claims that were either just flat wrong, or were probably just made up to make the fact list sound better, then corrected those which contained minor errors or omissions. Texans are known for telling tall tales, after all. So to the edification of all, herewith is my stab truth tellin', Texas-style.

State Citizenship Designation: The people of Texas call themselves Texans. However, Texian was generally used in the early period of the state's history.

State Motto: The state motto of Texas is "Friendship." The word, Texas, or Tejas, was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or "allies." (Acts of 1930, fourth called session of the 41st Legislature, p. 105.)

Continuing to dig into the history of the Great State of Texas, I found that there is a recognized state tartan: Now this is one that has my interest piqued. The Texas Bluebonnet Tartan was named the official state tartan by the 71st Texas Legislature in 1989. I need a new kilt, so this will be the tartan of choice for this old pirate.



The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. Yep, sure is nice to hear the surf breaking beneath the creaking floorboards.

The Heisman Trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the first full time coach for Rice Institute (now University), Houston. I grew up in Southwest Houston, went to Robert E. Lee High School, class of '68 and we used to hear a chant from UT students, "What comes out of a Chinaman's ass? RICE! RICE! RICE! Back in the 60s we weren't really into being politically correct, you see, and it was funny as hell at the time. No offense meant to those of Chinese ancestry.

Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.

Jalapeño jelly originated in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1978.

The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900 caused by a hurricane in which more than 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.

The first word spoken from the moon, July 20, 1969, was "Houston." I was courting Stomps With Foot back then and distinctly remember being on the road from Dallas to Houston when those words were uttered.

El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas - well, maybe if you are flying. if you are making the trip in a car, or on horseback, it just ain't so. There really is no more open range in Texas.

Laredo is the world's largest inland port. WTF? Well, I checked it out and no kidding the City of Laredo is at the center of the primary trade route connecting Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is located at Mile Marker 1 of IH 35. The Port of Laredo is the largest inland port on the US-Mexico border. The Port consists of four international bridges that were built and are owned by the City of Laredo. These consist of two passenger-vehicle bridges and two commercial bridges, the World Trade Bridge and the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge, which handle more than 40 percent of all overland trade between the United States and Mexico. On a daily basis there are more than 9,000 commercial crossings at the two commercial bridges, and more than 10,000 trucks driving through the streets of Laredo entering from the interior of the United States and Canada. Yep, the old song "Out in the West Texas town of Laredo," never brought a port scene to mind. Whodathunkit!

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world' s largest rose garden with more than 38,000 rose bushes with 500 varieties situated on 22 acres of land. When I was growing up in the 60s there was always a guy on any street corner selling a dozen Tyler roses for $1.

King Ranch is larger than Rhode Island. Yep. It ain't braggin' if'n it's true.

Tropical Storm Claudette brought a U.S. rainfall record of 43" in 24 hours in and around Alvin, Texas (near the Gulf Coast) in July, 1979.

Texas is the only state to enter the U.S. by TREATY.. This allows the Texas flag to fly at the same height as the US flag, and the treaty allows us to secede from the Union or even split into four separate states - in addition to Texas, so that makes five.

The "Big Tree," named State Champion Coastal Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) in 1969, is thought to be one of the largest in the nation. Estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, the "Big Tree" has a circumference of 35 feet, is 44 feet in height and has a crown spread of 90 feet.

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.

Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper.

Texas has had six capitol cities.
1. Washington-on-the-Brazos
2. Harrisburg
3. Galveston
4. Velasco
5. West Columbia
6. Austin




Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history," the Texas Capitol is an impressive example of late 19th century public architecture. The largest in gross square footage of all state capitols, it is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Texas Capitol in Austin is the only dome in the United States to surpass the National Capitol in height, rising almost 15 feet above its Washington counterpart.


Photo copyrighted by R.L. Sadler.

And, oh yeah, The San Jacinto Monument is taller than the Washington Monument!

The first domed stadium in the U.S was the Astrodome in Houston.

The State mammal is the armadillo. An interesting bit of trivia about the armadillo is they always have four babies! They have one egg which splits into four and they either have four males or four females.





I took this photo on I-20 between Dallas and Tyler last year. Bradzilla and I were on the road again and noticed it as we were headed east. We looked at each other and immediately decided to take the next exit (one-mile ahead), make a U-turn, go back a mile or so for the next on ramp going east and drive slowly to look for this perfect speciman of Texas roadkill. I have no doubt that you will agree with my assessment … the U-turn was worth it. These shots are priceless fodder for that age-old question of what makes the best roadkill chili … armadillo or deer.

State Song:
Texas, Our Texas
Texas, our Texas! all hail the mighty State!
Texas, our Texas! So wonderful, so great!
Boldest and grandest, Withstanding ev'ry test;
O Empire wide and glorious, You stand supremely blest.

Chorus
God bless you, Texas!
And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth,
Thro'out the ages long.

Refrain
Texas, O Texas! Your freeborn Single Star,
Sends out its radiance To nations near and far.
Emblem of freedom! It sets our hearts aglow,
With thoughts of San Jacinto And glorious Alamo.

Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free,
Shines forth in splendor Your Star of Destiny!
Mother of Heroes! We come your children true,
Proclaiming our allegiance, Our Faith, Our Love for you.

Cowboy Church


Photo copyrighted. All rights reserved. Permission was graciously granted to use it here by Mark Williams. If'n ya need a good shooter, he's yer man.

The classic Ten Commandments are posted in a little sign on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas. But all the "shalt" and "shalt not" biblical dictates are delivered with a cowboy twang:

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma &Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Now that's kinda plain an' simple don't ya think?

… and there is not one mention of "Southerner" in this missive. We aren't Southerner's, we're Texans.

God Save the Republic.

Monday, January 10, 2005

2005 An Odyssey - update

While my travel agent is diligently working on our itinerary, cousin Cecil called yesterday. The PET scan showed a lot of nodes, but they were all inactive! Prognosis is 5-10 years. Whew. While I would have loved to have gone to Wayland's crash site to fulfill promises made, it is a huge relief that the nodes are inactive. Will they reactivate - probably. Will they ultimately take his life - probably. In the meantime, I am planning a flight to Virginia in February to visit with him for 3-4 days.

Huge sigh of relief from Stomps With Foot - not only for the inactivity of the cancer, but also for me not having to go to Vanuatu any time soon. Seems she worries about me doing that jungle scene thing.

Isn't it interesting how one thing leads to another, and especially how we never know what is just around the corner. It makes me very proud of Stomps With Foot. I knew she was opposed to the trip, but she understood the reasons and the brotherhood that made it a probability.

I can't wait to see what the travel agent comes up with! The money isn't the problem, the time and distance are. But, then again, there are no problems we cannot overcome when only money, time and distance are involved. God willing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

2005 An Odyssey

2005 An Odyssey of life and death.

My first cousin, Cecil, and I are beginning to plan a trip to the South Pacific for the summer, maybe earlier. It's a long story but you can read about some of the history behind our trip here. We are heading to Vanuatu and the island of Espiritu Santo to visit the crash site of our uncle's F4U Corsair



- he was training to join Pappy Boyington's Black Sheep Squadron. VF214, also known as the Swashbucklers (curiouser and curiouser) and the Black Sheep Squadron flew their Harrier Jump Jets from Yuma to the funeral in Texarkana - I lost it when they did the missing man formation over the gravesite. Uncle Wayland was Cecil's mother Wanda's twin, and we are in for a long trip. It will turn out, I believe, to be both a spiritual and a physical experience like no other.

It is the top priority on Cecil's "things to do before I die," list. He is in the advanced stages of non-Hodgkins, Type B, Stage 3, lymphoma. Yeah, he did all the chemo a couple of years ago, and has relapsed big time. Prognosis is 6-12 months left for him to complete his list.

Since he is an M.D. it is doubly ironic and sad. He stays on top of the literature so he can discuss his treatment with his doctors - disagreeing or making suggestions along the way. He had a PET scan Monday, January 3, 2005 and will get the results next week, but he said it didn't look good when he viewed it. Damn, that sucks. So it is on my Things to do for Cecil before he dies List.

We grew up together - moving irrigation pipe in West Texas on his parent's ranch and cotton farm. Learned how to drive a Jeep at a young age with him, slop pigs, castrate bulls and chop cotton. We are more than just first cousins, there is a cosmic bond between us.

The purpose of our trip is to bring back Wayland's spirit - funny how he crashed on an island named Espiritu Santo. It is a promise to keep that was given to his mother. We will fly from DFW to LAX to Brisbane, to Port Vila, Vanuatu to Espiritu Santo. Then we will charter a copter in Espiritu Santo, plug in the GPS coordinates of the site, and with a canopy penetrator, rapel down to the crash site which has long since been swallowed by the jungle. We will hold a prayer ceremony, and cleanse the area with smudge sticks, and return Wayland's spirit to his twin-sister's tomb.

I will document our odyssey, if Cecil is indeed able to make the journey. Right now we are doing research and making connections with those who will ultimately enable us to complete the journey.

If this excerpt from Dr. Bookout's book doesn't get your blood rushing, then nothing will:
------------------
SEARCH FOR THE LOST BLACKSHEEP

By Dan Bookout

AN EXCERPT
Two Blacksheep Squadron pilots roll their planes over and pull back the control sticks. As they enter a long dive, their speed accelerates to 300, then quickly passes 400 mph. Crocker sees contrails form behind Bennett's wings. As they recover from the pull-up, Crocker's vision fades as he courts the edge of a dreaded blackout. Then he looks over at Bennett, and he sees the signal for yet another dive. They do a wing-over and peel off left into another steep dive. Crocker slides into formation for the attack position. Down they dive... but this time Bennett is slow pulling up. They pass 450 mph, diving straight down, with only the seat belts and shoulder harnesses holding their bodies in place. Crocker lets out a mental sigh of relief when he finally sees Bennett's Corsair start pulling up. He sees long, graceful contrails form behind Bennett's wing as the hard pull-up narrows his visual field. As the two specks plummet from the sky, the engine hum becomes a shrill scream - a sound that causes the Japanese to call Corsairs "The Whistling Death."

"Bennett's pushing the limit today, but he knows how to handle his Corsair's power. We must have been doing 475 to 500 mph on that dive," Crocker thinks. Crocker knows he must ride the fence between consciousness and blackout because, at 4500 feet, they are too low to relax the pull-up. He groans under the enormous pressure on his body as the nose rises back up to the horizon and safety. He wonders, "That must have been at least 7 Gs."

Bennett's plane suddenly seems to lurch and drop out of formation. As Crocker's plane slows and everything gets back in order,  he looks around for his leader. Nothing. Crocker shakes his head to clear the cobwebs from his eyes and again scans the skies for Bennett, but to no avail. Crocker has an uneasy thought in the back of his mind. "Did Bennett crash?" It seems that, in his last fuzzy view of Bennett, the right wing was buckled, then he was gone. "Could that be true?" Crocker turns back south to survey the jungle. At this low altitude he is even unsure of his own position. From 500 feet he sees no smoke, no fire, no broken treetops,  and no sign of an explosion. For several minutes he searches the skies, hoping. Then he searches the jungle below, dreading. Still no sign of Bennett. As he heads back to Turtle Bay, Crocker ponders, "If Bennett crashed into that area, he will be very hard to find... he drilled a very small hole in a very large jungle."
--------------------

Uncle Wayland was good, very good. He was an extraordinary sharpshooter and a natural flyer. He was training for a mission that never came to fruition, one that would change history. If I ever write a movie script about that mission it will have the tag line: One man, one plane, one bullet, one target – Adolph Hitler.

Our odyssey begins …

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Best of show

Mrs. Stomps With Foot and I attended our annual New Year's Eve party at the B's home. It's in the neighborhood so we don't have to drive very far and we avoid the insanity of drunk drivers. The B's have been hosting this annual soirée for about 30 years, more or less. In fact, it became a topic of conversation during the party.

B is an architect and he knows how to make cool stuff. We were on the back porch, if you can call it that. It's a huge-ass stone deck, 20 x 30 or so, covered, and has the biggest hot tub I have ever seen. Probably floats two dozen folks. We are told that if you sit in the Northeast corner and turn on the jets it will blast you across the water to the other side with such force that if you are holding a drink, well, it'd be emptied by the force. The fire was burning in the fireplace and I was toasting a fine Montecristo - from Habana, Coobah! YAR.

Our friendship with the Bs goes back many many years, 35 or so to be sure. Mrs. With Foot used to be roommates with Mrs. B, and Mrs. S and we kind of all raised our children together. Which brings me back to the beginning of the New Year's at the B's tradition. Seems we were all strapped with kiddo's and B (being the smartest of the bunch) suggested we just do a byob or byo-whatever, bring the kids and we all have a party night at his home. This totally caught on. I can remember sitting the kids in front of the TV, with an RF converter hooked up to the original Pong game. That later evolved into more complex games as the kids grew up, but the party continued.

Everyone brings a dish, kind of a smorgasborg of goodies, and we party 'til we can't stand it anymore. Play darts, lose (or win) $1 per game per player... generally have a blast.

This year Bradzilla and Suki joined us. Brad and Mike used to play in a band back in the 70s - Ralph Zackowitz was it's name, but that is another story. We enjoyed seeing everyone again and especially enjoyed a comment made by Mrs. S's husband, Gary. They belong to a "dinner club." You know, the ones that rotate from member to member, and he said to Mrs. With Foot, "If you belonged to our dinner club, you would have won "Best of Show" with your Scotch eggs.

Now let me tell you about Scotch eggs. They kick ass, totally. You boil 6 or 7 large eggs. Then take a pound of Owens or Jimmy Dean sausage and divide it up by as many eggs as you have, pat the sausage flat - think crepe - and wrap the egg with it. Completely wrap the egg with the sausage. Then you scramble-up a couple of eggs in a bowl, dip the wrapped egg into the egg and roll it around in bread crumbs (the kind you buy already crumbed). Place the wrapped, dipped and rolled eggs into a cooking dish and plop em into a 350-degree (pre-heated) oven for 40 minutes. Remove them from the dish and allow them to drain on a couple of paper towels while they cool down. Slice into quarters (I used an electric knife) and put them onto a deviled-egg plate and serve.

Let me tell you - they are killer. When we first put them on the table for everyone thought they were dunked in chocolate... but noooooo... just try one!

I even put some Pickapeppa sauce on a slice - not a good idea so I didn't repeat it.

Bradzilla called me yesterday to ask how to much sausage to use to cover the eggs. I will be sure to ask him about how they turned out - and I bet he even tried putting Pickapeppa sauce on at least one.