Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Monday, November 26, 2007

Staying One Step Ahead of the Curve

I want to take a quick moment and say thank you to some folks who rarely ever get thanked by someone like me.

Thank you Nancy Pelosi.
Thank you Harry Reid.
Thank you Ted Kennedy.
Thank you Chuck Shumer.
Thank you Daily Kos and the Kos Kids.
Thank you Cindy Sheehan.
Thank you John Murtha.
Thank you Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon and the rest of the Hollywood liberal left.
Thank you to every moonbat and peace activist who urged the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

And I really mean it. You see, without their strong push to end the fighting in Iraq, the surge, which admittedly, they opposed, might never have happened,and then we wouldn't be seeing all the positive developments in Iraq, like the drop in violence, the ouster of al-Qaida, and the regulation of the militias, not to mention the new atmosphere of co-operation between Shia and Sunni sects. None of this would have happened without the surge,and the surge wouldn't have happened without the constant drumbeat for surrender coming from the left which forced President Bush to take decisive action to bring the conflict to a victorious conclusion.

Which was their plan all along. You see, the Dems don't want to see America destroyed, just the conservative half of it. So they couldn't really want a debacle in Iraq that could potentially destabilize the world, no matter how much their rhetoric made it seem that way. At the same time, they couldn't come out and say we had to win in Iraq because that would have alienated their base and cost them their majority in Congress.

So they came up with the devious plan to turn up the heat on President Bush and force him to win this thing now at any cost, even if it temporarily made them look like anti-American douchebags.

Now that is true patriotism for you folks,and once again, I just want to say "Thank you!" to each and every one of them.

We couldn't have done it without you.

Posted by Rich
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Are You Really That Excited Over Beating Kentucky?

Apologies to Kentucky fans,who are justifiably proud of the improvement in their Wildcats, but c'mon!

Four overtimes to beat Kentucky? After leading by 17 points with just over a minute to go in the 3rd quarter?

Sorry, but I'm not ready to join in the beatification of Saint Fulmer just yet.

Yes, I'm happy that the Vols are playing for the SEC championship, and I think this team has more heart and guts than the last three editions put together. The return of David Cutcliffe has nearly doubled the offensive output of the Big Orange offense, nearly countering John Chavis's defensive doldrums. (Here's a hint for Chavis; if the opposing team needs only 2 yards for a touchdown,if your coverage gives them a five yard cushion, they will score. Unless you're playing Ole Miss.)

Yes, I'm happy to see Eric Ainge breaking records and completing passes and not taking sacks. The offensive line is playing better than they have in quite a while, which means the running game is beginning to come back to life as well.

At least in the first half.

And that's the heart of my issues with Fulmer and his coaches. In big time college football, each half is almost like a separate game. The adjustments made at halftime will usually determine who wins and who loses. How long many second halves have the Vols won this season?

















Second Half
OpponentResultOppVols
CaliforniaL 31-451410
Southern MissW 39-19322
FloridaL 20-59317
Arkansas StateW 48-271017
Georgia W 35-14147
Mississippi StateW 33-21716
AlabamaL 17-41170
South CarolinaW 27-24243
Louisiana-LafayetteW 59-7 7 35
ArkansasW 34-131014
VanderbiltW 25-24716
KentuckyW 52-50247
Totals168154


By my count, we beat 6 teams in the second half. 6 teams with a combined record of 35-37. Contrast that to the combined record of the teams that outscored us in the second half, 44-27. Winning teams win the second half; it is as simple as that. We had a 24 point lead against South Carolina,and wound up needing them to miss a game tieing field goal. We had a 17 point lead over Kentucky, and let them score 24 points to tie the game. Leading 24-17 at the half, 6-6 Bama, losers to Louisiana Monroe, posted 17 points and blanked the Vols in the second half. And let's not talk about Florida. By way of contrast, let's look at UT's opponent in the SEC championship, LSU. The Tigers have outscored their opposition 282-99 in the second half.

Like I said, it's all about the adjustments you make at halftime,and our adjustments just don't work. We get too conservative on offense,too soft on defense. We are consistently outcoached in the second half of big games. This is why Fulmer is on the hot seat, despite his winning record. Too often, it feels like he plays "not to lose" in the second half, instead of playing to win.

Saturday's SEC Championship game represents a test for Fulmer and his staff. LSU is beatable; Arkansas proved that. A good game plan will see the Volunteers playing in a BCS Bowl on New Year's Day. The team has the talent,the heart, and the drive to win.

All they need is the coaching.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Long Time No Blog.

Wow. Where did the month of November go? I look over to the left and I see one of my slackest months ever.

First, don't worry about me; I'm fine. Better than fine, as a matter of fact. One of the reasons blogging has been so light is that my girlfriend is taking up a lot of my formerly free time.

And that's cool.

Even better, she's almost as much of a techno geek as I am, so you don't have to worry about me giving all this fame and fortune up forever. I will continue to blog and line up BlogFests. Sorry if I get anybodies hopes up on that regard.

Second, November was a very busy month for me, with a baby shower for my second grandchild, due in January, two Thanksgiving days, one early when my son and daughter came home, the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert, and a welcome home party for my mom. This comes after an Oct that included a 5 day Chicago business trip,followed immediately by an emergency business trip to Houston, where I taught a 24 hour HAZWOPER course in Spanish.

I don't speak Spanish.

On top of all that, I've picked up some extra work, which is taking up a ton of time. But hey, Christmas is coming and I need some cash, so the work is greatly appreciated. Well, maybe not the work, but the paycheck sure comes in handy.

Third, while I wish I could say that the lack of blogging is due to monstrous progress on my NaNoWriMo project, sadly, the word count is all too accurate.

On the plus side, I have made considerable progress towards putting new flooring in my library, a project I've been working on for almost two years now. And by "working on," I mean of course "totally neglecting in favor of other, more important things."

So never fear, new stuff will appear here.

Eventually.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, November 16, 2007

Loss of the Big Picture

Senator Christopher Dodd, in remarks concerning Democrats decision not to fund the troops in the field, ""The only way to end the war is with a firm deadline that is enforceable through funding."

Umm, how about ending the war by winning it, you moron.

Amazing concept, eh?

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Five Favorite Airplanes

I got this from Tam.

There's no way I could stick to just 5, so here are a couple of honorable mentions before getting to the list.

Honorable Mentions.

Northrup-Grumman B-2 Spirit.
250px-B-2_Spirit_original.jpg
It's a flying wing. How cool is that? Watching the B-2 in flight is like seeing what Wilbur and Orville had in mind all along. So what if it costs almost as much to build as an aircraft carrier?



Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
250px-Usaf.c5.galaxy.750pix.jpg
When I was stationed at Virginia Beach, like everybody else, I got caught in the morning rush just outside the main gates to the base. One of the runways started just past the road into those gates and one morning, a C-5 was landing. I felt like I was in the opening scene of Star Wars with a Corellian Star Destroyer passing directly overhead. The C-5 was moving so slowly, it seemed like it should just fall out of the sky.



5. Grumman F-14
250px-F-14A_Tomcat_over_Iraq_during_Southern_Watch.jpg
Yeah, the F-18 is quicker, lighter, and faster. But there's a reason that Top Gun was filmed with the F-14 over the F-18: the Tomcat is simply the baddest looking plane to ever launch from a flight deck. Not to mention one of the most versatile, flying air support, intercept, air superiority, and even bombing missions during its heyday. It was also one of the more expensive plains to manufacture, fly, and maintain.



4. Taube.
250px-RumplerTaubeInFlight.jpg
I only know about this plane through an RC Modeling magazine I subscribed to but isn't it beautiful? I want to build one eventually. It was used during WWI as an observation and reconnaissance platform. It flew high and slow and stable. One of the coolest things about it was that it didn't use ailerons on the wings. Instead, it used an arrangement of cables to warp the entire wind surface. It makes sense, doesn't it? Have you ever seen a bird with ailerons?



3. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
250px-Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird.jpg
This one looks fast even parked on the tarmac. Mach 3+ and a ceiling that almost touches space, the SR-71 was faster and flew higher than anything our enemies could throw at it. I built an Estes rocket model of this one and it had one awesome flight,except that one of the glue joints failed, and when the charge to deploy the chute went off, the nose cone burst into flame. It made for a very dramatic and unfortunately terminal landing.



2. Chance Vought F4U Corsair.
250px-F4U_Corsair.jpg
Are you starting to notice a trend? I like planes that are unusual in some way. For the Corsair, it's the bent wing that grabs me. Yeah, it was hard to fly, and easy to crash. But it was one of the first carrier built fighters that could rival land based fighters in speed and maneuverability. And it was the plane flown by Pappy Boyington, the lead Marine ace in the Pacific during WWII with 28 confirmed kills.



And that brings us to Number 1. This plane was flown by the two top American Aces of WWII, Richard Bong and Thomas McGuire, with 40 and 38 kills respectively. I'm talking about the...
1. Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
250px-Lightning.jpg
The Germans called it "the fork tailed devil," and the Japanese "two planes, one pilot." It destroyed more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied fighter, except for the F6F Hellcat,and was the aircraft chosen to attack Admiral Yamamoto's air convoy, depriving the Japanese of the architect of their entire battle plan and changing the course of the war.


And it looks awesome!

All pictures from Answer.com

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Trans Siberian Orchestra in Knoxville

"My thirst has been quenched." Alex Fardon, 1980

Twenty seven years ago the assignment in my senior English class was to write a tall tale. On the day the assignment was due, we all turned in our papers, then the teacher decided that since tall tales were an oral tradition, he was going to read them out loud and get the class to critique them. As the teacher went through the stories, Alex would voice his opinion by saying, "I'm still thirsty. I want more."

Then came the last tale, a story of an Irishman who fell into a bottomless pit. He fell all the way through the entire earth,plunging through Hell and wrassling the devil himself before rocketing up into the sky on the other side of the earth and plunging into the sun. He fell back to earth in China, and they've called themselves the Celestial people ever since.

When the tale was done, the class was silent, waiting for Alex to weigh in.

"My thirst," he said, "has been quenched."

Tonight, I know just how Alex felt. I've been to several concerts this year, and I've been disappointed with most of them. I went into the Blue Man Group show with high expectations. I'd seen the concert video of their previous tour, and I was eager to see what was billed as a brand new show. Unfortunately, it wasn't a brand new show, just a rehash of the original tour. That wasn't altogether bad, because the show was great; I was just expecting something new. I also went to see Mannheim Steamroller at the Tennessee Theatre. I love the Fresh Aire CDs so I was really looking forward to seeing them performed live, but so much of the performance was electronically augmented and canned that it was very difficult to determine which performances were live and which were the product or pre-production, and that took something away from it for me.

But tonight was different. Tonight, I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra and my thirst was quenched. The group's website says that founder Paul O'Neill wanted to create music that impacted on all of the senses, and brother, let me tell you that he has succeeded. The show features a cast of 18 (my best guess as they were constantly moving, entering and exiting the stage as they performed their parts) extraordinary musicians and vocalists along with enough lasers, pyrotechnics, lights, and amps to keep the most jaded arena rock fan happy. The light show was dazzling, which helps explain the 7 or 8 semi trucks I saw parked outside when we drove up. As extensive as the light show was, it all served the music, instead of distracted from it,as is common with other concerts. Every movement of every light was timed to the music and played to the mood or the lyrics of the song.

At one point, they even made it snow in Thompson Boling Arena!

Real, frozen water, snow, falling from the rafters.

Awesome!

As was the music itself. The first portion of the concert was a rendition of the Christmas Eve story from their first CD. In about an hour and fifteen minutes, they told a story centered around two visitors to two bars on two different Christmas Eves. The music ranged from classical to bluesy, from raucous rock and roll to powerful ballads, but the pieces and themes all came together to tell a single story of love, hope, and the redemptive power of God. It was wonderfully refreshing to hear a Christmas concert that actually celebrated the birth of Christ and what that event meant to the world, and one that did so in an entertaining and uplifting way. The band's musicianship is simply incredible, as is their passion for the material, and their love of performing. Our seats were close to the front, and I could see both the effort and the joy of the performers as the show went on.

The second half of the concert is more akin to a standard concert set, with the band tearing through several of their more popular songs, including Christmas Canon Rock, Queen of the Winter Night, and Wizards in Winter (the song those people in Ohio used to program their Christmas lights), as well as some non Christmas related songs, influenced by everyone from Metallica to Queen. Again, the musicianship was incredible, but this section lacked some of the intensity of the Christmas Eve story since it wasn't as thematically focussed. This may actually be a good thing since it gives the audience as well as the band a chance to let their hair down so to speak, and just have a good time. And a good time was exactly what we all had.

The band played a solid two and a half hours without an intermission, and that was just enough. Obviously they've never heard the adage,"Leave 'em wanting more" because they gave us everything we wanted, and then they gave more. After the show, the band came out to meet with their fans and sign autographs.

All in all, it was by far the best show I've been to this year. It surpassed all of my expectations, and I will be going to see them next year, if not sooner. They will be coming back to Tennessee twice more. They'll be in Memphis on Dec 20th, and Nashville on Dec 30th. This concert is well worth the drive to either location, and I'm strongly considering going to the Nashville show.

Yeah, it's that good.

Yes, I wrote the tall tale that quenched Alex's thirst. It was the first time I realized that I had the ability to entertain people through my writing. So Alex, wherever you are, thanks. I'm glad you liked my story 27 years ago, and I hope that your thirst, as well as that of everyone who reads these words, remains quenched.

Posted by Rich
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More on the Strike

Now that they aren't backed by a staff of 20 writers, I wonder just who will be funnier, Jay Leno or David Letterman? I'm betting on Letterman.

By the looks of things, the only show that won't be affected by the strike will be Saturday Night Live. Judging by the quality of the show, they haven't been using professional writers in years.

By the way, I have a question. Since the writers are all on strike, shouldn't their picket signs be blank?

Posted by Rich
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There’s a Strike in Hollywood.

The writers for TV and motion pictures went on strike demanding more money for their work, which is odd, since their work mainly entails ripping off previous writers' ideas, plots, and characters.

Or did you think it took stroke of creative genius to write American Pie 6?

Posted by Rich
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The People’s Choice?

Is it just me, or is Fred Thompson, the People's Candidate™, campaigning on the premise that he doesn't have to actually meet the people who want to support him, unless they can afford a couple grand for the privilege of shaking his hand?

I mean, I like what the guy has to say, but I would like the chance to hear him say it in person, you know?

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Yes, Another Exercise in Futility

Like Joss Whedon pitching another series to the Fox network, I am once again attempting to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I'm going to do it a little bit differently this time. When I wrote a short story for Blog-a-thon, the requirement to post every half hour kept me going, even when I started flagging toward the end. So I'm going to learn from that experience, and write the story real time, on line. Every day, starting today, I will write for at least one hour. Also borrowing from that experience, I need you to give me a plot, a title, a genre, or an opening line of dialog to get this thing rolling. SInce I'mshort of time, the first comment wins.

Posted by Rich
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