Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Best and Worst of 2005

It's New Years Eve. It is the time of the year where people, and the media, like to publish their best or worst of the year lists. Since this is my first year with a blog I figure I should have my Best and Worst of the year list also. Remember these are my opinions and will most likely conflict with your opinions.

Best Movie of the Year: Serenity. I loved this movie. There were a lot of other movies this year that I enjoyed almost as much - Sahara, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you are looking for some deep artsy-fartsy analysis of my movie picks you are reading the wrong blog. I picked Serenity because I enjoyed watching it the most.

Worst Movie of the Year: Since I don't just go see anything at the theaters. I tend to be picky. So I would have to say that none of the movies I saw either in the theater or on DVD this year would qualify as worst of the year. But if I need to pick a worst of the year movie it would have to be any movie that starred Johnny Depp or any other of his USA hating actor friends.

Best TV show of the year: NCIS. Why? Because the whole family likes it. Except some of the shows have been getting rather graphic and we have to send the 8 year olds out of the room. Which really irritates them.

Worst TV show of the year: Anything with the word "Reality" in the description or the title.

Best personal moment of the year: Approximately 2 PM on Oct. 15. I was coaching my 8th grade volleyball team while they were in the middle of serving run that ended with them upsetting the number two seed team in the first round of the championships. My assistant coach walked up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear that the only team my 7th grade volleyball team had lost to in the regular season were just upset in the semifinals and my girls would be playing in the finals against a team that they had easily beaten twice during the regular season, and that morning in the round robin.

Worst personal moment of the year: When my boss walked into my office and told me that the missile program that I had supported for 19 years was cutting back. I was told to stop work immediately and start looking for a different job.

Best blog of the year: Michael Yon : Online Magazine

Worst Blog of the Year:
Democratic Underground (This site is such a cesspool of lies and hatred that I refuse to link to it.)

Best E-mail I received: Tie: My neice Cassie e-mailed to tell us that her baby had been born and that Mommy and Baby were both healthy and well. We were anxiously awaiting word from our Louisiana Relatives after Katrina hit when we heard from cousin Bonnie that everyone was safe and well.

Worst E-mail I received: (excluding the spam) The message that one of my best friend's Mother had passed away. Vanora had been a second mother to me in high school and college. She fed us, scolded us, put us up for the night, talked to us when we needed talking to and listened when we needed to talk.

My Best Blog Post: Based on hit count - this one.

My Worst Blog Post: Probably the one you are reading right now.

Best DIY Project: The cradle I made for Cassie's baby.

Worst DIY Project: The Halloween decorative wrought iron fence I made. It was made of wood and pvc pipe. It turned out looking OK, but took three attempts and several redesigns.

Best Decision I made all year: I started this blog.

Worst Decision I made all year: I started this blog.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Grandpa Democrat

I have mentioned many times my Grandfather was a life long, die hard, party line Democrat. This afternoon while going through a box of photos I found proof.

Grandpa Dick on a Donkey

Monday, December 26, 2005

Greatest Gadgets

PC World has an "idiosyncratic" list of the 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Last 50 Years.

All but one of them were invented in my lifetime. I have owned 6 of them:

1. Sony Walkman TPS-L2 (1979)
7. Atari Video Computer System (1977)
23. Kodak Instamatic 100 (1963)
25. Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 (1983)
32. Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (1999)
36. Iomega Zip Drive (1995)

I haved owned second generation or other manufacturer's similar items of 25 other items on the list.

Can I trade in my baby boomer generation status and join the gadget generation?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day always starts early. Too early. It doesn't seem to matter what time our children go to bed the night before, the get up early on Christmas Morning. Since no one is allowed into the family room where the Christmas Tree is set up, my dear wife and I usually awake to the sound of our children huddled in the hallway outside our room, hushing each other to be quiet so they don't wake us up.

Once their nefarious plan comes to fruition and we are awake they gather at the end of the hallway and anxious watch while I get our camera ready. The last few years we have followed the custom of the children anxiously watch me cross the family room to get the camera. Once I get the camera in hand I turn towards them, glance at the tree and then with a sigh of disappointment I tell them "we don't need the camera this morning. There is nothing under the tree." My children always respond with a resounding "Daddy!" Then they immediately start think of things their siblings may have done that cost them their Christmas presents.

Once I get the camera turned on I usually get time to take one quick blurry shot as the children rush into the room. Rounding the Christmas tree they quickly discover the gifts that Santa Claus has left. Santa is usually generous and leaves one large or expensive gift for each person. This year the twins each got new bicycles. My oldest daughter got a digital camera, my dear wife a new Palm TX PDA and I got a film scanner. Santa is a pretty smart guy. He always seems to know what we each want the most.

After exploring our new gifts for a while we all then rush into the living room to see if our stockings have coal in them or not.

So far no one has ever gotten coal in their stocking. Which is too bad, with the price of natural gas these days we could use a little coal. Our stocking usually contain a mixture of treats and essentials. We get things like toothbrushes, chapstick, shaving cream, etc. We also get candy, trinkets and chocolate.

After the morning discoveries we have breakfast. The last few years breakfast has been homemade carmel rolls. This tradition started several years ago at my sister's house when my nephew would make homemade carmel rolls every morning. We loved them. Since then we have homemade carmel rolls every Christmas morning. However, I do cheat a little. My nephew made his dough from scratch. I use frozen bread dough. But they are still good.

After breakfast our day depends on whether or not we are hosting Christmas Dinner at our house or going to someone else's house. If we are the dinner hosts we usually start dinner preparations. If we are going somewhere else our morning depends on what we are bringing to dinner. If we have preparations to make we do them. If not then we relax for a while and play with our new toys.

Christmas dinner has only a couple requirements. First off we must have family or friends there. We have never had a Christmas dinner with only the 5 of us. We hope we never do. The more family and friends around the better.

Our afternoons, preparing for Christmas dinner are a combination of dinner prep, family fellowship, and watching football on TV.

Christmas dinner fare has changed through the years and locations. As a child living in South Dakota Christmas dinner always included ham. It sometimes included goose, duck, or even pheasant, depending on how the hunting season went. Dessert was an assortment of pies - pumpkin, apple, blueberry, cherry, mincemeat and pecan. One year my great uncle Bud refused to make a choice. He just insisted that my Mother and Aunt surprise him. So they did, they gave him a slice of each covered with whipped cream.

Once we moved to Wyoming and bird hunting was as accessable the main Christmas dinner fare was ham and turkey. Our family Christmas dinner has a few essential elements. First as always - ham. We usually have turkey. If we are hosting dinner the turkey is fried, cajun style. I'm not cajun, but my dear wife's family is and she told me about fried turkey for years. I tried it for the first time about 5 years ago. We haven't gone back since. Fried is the only way to go.

Christmas dinner also includes my wife's dirty rice dressing. She always made pretty good rice dressing, but she always told me it was nothing like her cousin Frankie's. Then several years ago while at a family reunion in Louisiana I got to try her cousin Frankie's dressing. She wasn't kidding, it was great. Before we left she talked Frankie into telling her his secret. So now we get the really good dressing each year also.

The last regualar ingrediant for a proper Christmas dinner is my mother-in-law's Christmas salad. Her Christmas salad is a layered jellow salad that everyone loves. I don't know what all is in it. I don't care, I don't have to make it, I just help eat it.

After dinner, we sit around and let our dinner settle. We watch football if there is a game on. We play games with the kids. We talk, or we nap. Other than dinner preparations Christmas day is a day of family, relaxing, and just enjoying one another's company.

Our dinner menu has taken on a definate cajun flavor the last few years, it still contains the mainstay of Norwegian Christmas dinners - ham. Our Christmas Day also follows Norwegian traditions in that it is the frist day of our Christmas Holiday. We always take the week off work between Christmas and New Year. Starting with Christmas day is our holiday of relaxing, spending time together as a family, visiting with friends and mostly just having fun. We plan very little and pretty much just let each day happen.

More Family Holiday Traditions are written about here.

Merry Christmas!

My family and I wish for all of you a very Merry Christmas.

I would wish for all of you a time of peace, love and happiness.

To my Nephews and cousins who are seving in the Armed Forces of the United States, Thank you. We pray that you will be safe, be strong, and when your job is done that you return home to us again.

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Mark 2:1-20 (KJV)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in our home is a day of contrasts. We start the day slowly. Everyone sleeps in. Meals are very ad hoc. No one wants to spend the day in the kitchen cooking, so we don't.

We attempt to have all our shopping done before Christmas Eve. We try and spend the day relaxing. We may do a little last minute gift wrapping. But Christmas Eve is a day of puttering around finalizing the last few Christmas details, visiting with family and friends, watching football or napping. This is a tradition that my wife and I have worked very hard to maintain. Growing up Christmas Eve was always very hectic. My Mom ran around all day in a total tizzy trying to make everything perfect. What she usually accomplished was stressing out herself and everyone around her. So we try to make Christmas Eve, a quiet, laid back day. If it isn't done by now, it's not going to get done. Christmas will happen regardless of the little things that we may have not gotten done. So we try not to stress the details. That is what December 23rd is for.

Once the day has passed and we get into the evening, the excitment level does start picking up. We usually have a casual dinner. Again no one wants to cook all day, so we either dine on heavy hors d'ourves and snacks or we order out. Pizza on Christmas Eve is becoming a family favorite. The pizza delivery guys seem to like the idea also. My wife believes that anyone who has to work on Christmas Eve should be tipped well for their efforts. Other meal options include, meatballs, BBQed little smokies, cheeze logs, spinich dip, chips, salsa, cookies, candy, etc.

If you haven't figured out yet, the word diet is not allowed in our house during Christmas.

After dinner we gather in the living room and open presents. This is the exciting part of the day for the kids. They have been watching the pile of gifts under thre tree grow for several days now. We crack down pretty hard on snooping. So there is a lot of standing around the tree discussing the size and shapes of the different packages. There is also a lot of shaking and weighing, but that is all done under the guise of rearranging to make room for other gifts. If you ask the kids, they can probably tell you exactly how many presents for each person there is under the tree. We don't allow them to dig around in the presents but they always seem to know anyway. I guess it's just part of the miracle of Christmas.

After we open gifts there is usually a couple hours to play with the new goodies. But eventually we all climb out from under our piles of Christmas wrapping paper and we load into the car and head for church.

Every Lutheran Church I have attended through the years always has two different services early in the day. These are the normal Christmas Eve services and if you want a seat you usually have to get there at least a half hour early. We have only gone to one of these services in my adult life time. The second year we had three kids we went to the 6 PM service. It was overcrowded, and a total zoo. The kids slept in our arms through it all. So we decided that if the kids were going to sleep anyway we may as well go back to midnight services.

Midnight Service is a misnomer. It doesn't start at midnight. It ends at midnight. I have always enjoyed going to church at 11 PM at night and when you leave church it is usually just a couple minutes after midnight. There is something special about being out and about in the wee minutes of Christmas Day.

I have been going to midnight services my entire life. Most of my oldest, fondest christmas memories are of sitting in church at 11:50 PM the church lights are dimmed and everyone is holding a lit candle. Slowly the congregation starts singing Silent Night. It is the one single moment that seems to really make Christmas special to me.

This year is going to be different. Midnight services have been moved to 10 PM instead of 11 PM. I'm not sure what it's going to be like. Getting home from church while it is still Christmas Eve. Unless of course the start time has been moved because Pastor has a 90 minute Homily planned. I'll let you know....

Update: The 10 PM midnight church service was pretty much the same as it always is. Just one hour earlier. The service itself was the same. But somehow, leaving the church at 11:15 PM instead of 12:15 AM felt wrong. On the plus side, the kids stayed away for most of the service. We lost the twins for a few minutes during the sermon but that is becoming their Christmas tradition. So we wouldn't want to stop it now.

Once we get home we usually get everyone off to bed as quickly as possible. Which isn't hard. Everyone has had a fun filled evening and are usually very tired. So the kids set out a plate of cookies and milk for Santa, a couple carrots for the reindeer and then we all head for bed.

My family pretty much follows the same Christmas Eve traditions that we grew up with. As I grew older and started looking into our traditions I discovered that our Christmas Eve traditions grew directly from the old Norwegian Christmas Eve traditons. According to Nytt fra Norge and her writings on Norwegian Christmas Traditions our traditions of a relaxed day visiting with family and friends and opening gifts after dinner are old Norwegian traditions. They must also be cajun traditions because that is the way my dear wife was raised also.

Check back tomorrow for a run down on Christmas Day.

More Family Holiday Traditions are here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Family Christmas Traditions

A few days ago I posted several comments about Christmas vs. Happy Holidays. In that post I put forth the theory that the ways that we celebrate Christmas depends on our family traditions. Traditions that are handed down through the generations or slowly built though the years with your current family.

Since I made such a big fuss about family Christmas traditions I figure that I should write some more about my family christmas traditions. Since we finally have all the gifts bought, wrapped and mailed, our cards written and mailed, parties thrown and attended, I hope to have enough time to write about all our family Christmas traditions.

I'll keep this post as a collection point for links to all the other Christmas tradition posts.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays
Santa's Art Shop
Ridgecrest Christmas Parade
Sagebrush Short Line Railroad
Knights of Columbus Christmas Party
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just Cause? Just Because...

The Mudville Gazette has a letter from the father of a fallen American Hero.

Don't ask why, just read it. Read it all. Just because....

My response is that Mike didn't die for a "just cause", he died JUST BECAUSE - just because he loved his country enough to want to serve it since the time he was in middle school; just because he loved his family enough to want to protect them; just because he loved his friends enough that he would rather fight a war "there" than here; just because he believed in our order of government whereby the civilian government rules and the military obeys, and when the President, with lawful authority, calls upon soldiers to go and fight, he believed it was not only his duty, but his honor to go; just because he wouldn't let his fellow soldiers - his guys - go it alone; and just because he wanted to do for others - the Iraqi people - what he would do for his own country.

My families prayers go out to Robert Stokely. I can't even imagine the feeling of loss that he is experiencing. Thank you to both father and son, for their sacrifice for our freedom.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Knights of Columbus Christmas Party

Today was the Knights of Columbus Christmas Party. Every year a week or so before Christmas the Knights of Columbus have a Christmas Party for the children of their members. Being Lutheran I'm not a member of the Knights, but my father-in-law is. So every year he makes reservations for his grandchildren to attend the party.

The Knights Party is usually only two to three hours long. The kids do Christmas crafts, color pictures, decorate cookies. But mostly the kids wait for Santa Claus to show up.

This year Santa was running ahead of schedule. The party started at 1 PM and Santa showed up around 2. Usually he doesn't get there until around 2:30.

Once Santa arrives he takes his place at the special chair that is waiting for him. Then all the high school girls who have been recruited to help him start sorting out his gifts. Eventually all the kids get a chance to sit on Santa's lap and receive a gift.

We have been going to the Knights Christmas Party for 13 years now. It has become a family tradition. Unfortunately it may be a short lived tradition. Once a kid reaches 12 years old, Santa stops bringing them gifts at the party. So we only have 3 more years before the twins turn will be 12. There probably won't be much reason to go once the kids don't get to sit on Santa's lap any longer.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sagebrush Short Line Railroad

This evening we took a ride on the local railroad.

Back in 1999 George Pruitt and several of his railroad friends started building their own little model railroad. This little model railroad of there is a 7.5 inch gage. Which is approximately 1/8 scale. They call this a large scale model train.

Well the same year they started building their railroad they opened up around Christmas to let their friends come ride on the trains. Over the last 6 years their little model train has grown into 4500 feet of track with 30 switches. They have decorated the yard with several home made Christmas decorations which include a full sized sleigh with 8 flying reindeer and a large castle guarded by several tin soldiers.

This year they hope to have trains from Whittier, Riverside, Apple Valley, Tehachapi and Weldon for their visitors to ride.

Each year my father-in-law gets the family an invitation to go ride the trains. We always have a blast. The yard is always decorated in lots of Christmas lights and displays. Santa Claus usually stops in and talks to the kids for awhile. The wait online is usually only about 15 minutes, often less. Each train pulls bench seat cars. You have to sit in a straight line one behind the other. Each ride usually lasts about 10 minutes.

This year it was rather chilly, and the lines were kind of long. So we only rode one train. We hadn’t had dinner yet and everyone was getting cold and hungry. So we didn’t stick around.

So we loaded back into the van and drove around checking out some of the Christmas lights in town. After a quick dinner at Carl’s Jr. we checked out a couple more lights and called it a night.

A ride on the Sagebrush Short Line Railroad is quickly becoming a Christmas tradition with us. It is one we hope to be able to keep doing for several more years.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Iraqi Message for America

The Political Teen has a video of Iraqi Citizen and voter Betty Dawisha. This 77 year old woman dips her finger into the ink, drops her ballot into the box and with one simple sentence, cuts through all the smoke, mirrors, hatred and politics that is cluttering up the news reporting out of Iraq these days.

“Anybody who doesn’t appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell”

Thank you Betty Dawisha.

Download the video and spread it around. It'll make you smile.

Merry Christmas

California Unprepared for Tsunami

The Instapundit led me to this article: California is not prepared for a Tsunami.

Well, DUH!!!!!

Our coastal areas are filled with nanny state liberals who think the Government will jump in and immediately start taking care of them the moment anything bad happens.

Why should they prepare for a Tsunami? These are the same people who build thier houses on sandy hillsides, strip all the ground cover off the surrounding hill, then cry and scream when it rains and their house slides down the hill.

Every winter we get to watch the local Los Angeles News reporters interviewing some moron from Santa Monica whose house is being filled with mud that is washing down a nearby hillside. Eventually the poor victim chokes back enough tears to blurt out: "This has happened 6 times in the last 10 years and I want to know what they (city/county/state) are going to do about it."

I have a suggestion. Don't live in a house on the side of, or beneath a sandy hillside. If you absolutely must live there, build some drainage or flood control to direct the coming water and mud, away from your house. Because the water and mud is coming. It does every year.

The coastal area of California can't even properly prepare for minor natural disasters that occur almost every year, and people think they are going to prepare for a tsumani?

My family lives in California and we are ready for the Tsunami. We built our house 150 miles away from the coast, with a 4000 foot high mountain range between us and the big waves.


If you do live in the coastal areas of California and want to start preparing for a tsunami or other natural disaster here are a few tips:

1. Move!
2. For the first 3-14 days you should be ready to take care of yourself. That includes food, water, shelter, firstaid, and transportation.
3. Read the Survival Blog.
4. Make friends with Barbara Boxer or Diane Feinstein so you will have someone around who is armed and can help defend you. Us common folk aren't allowed to carry firearms in California.
5. The song is wrong, it does rain in Southern California. Get ready for it.
6. Even if you don't worry about a tsunami, there are still the annual floods, wildfires, earthquakes and civil unreast. You need to get ready!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ridgecrest Christmas Parade

Yesterday was the Ridgecrest Christmas Parade.

The Parade started at 10 AM at the corner of Norma and Las Flores Streets. The city blocks off the entire half mile of Las Flores between Norma and Ridgecrest Blvds so the parade participants can set up.

We drove down to the area about 9:20 and parked in our chruch parking lot, which is right on the corner where the parade starts. Then while my dear wife and her parents walked a block down Norma to find a iece of sidewalk to set up on I walked the kids through the set up area to find where the Saint Ann School was supposed to set up.

parade truck

We found our spot and hung out until the rest of their classmates, teachers and parents showed up. We hung some wreaths on the 1933 Ford truck that the school secretary was driving. Once there were enough adults around, I headed back to Norma St. to find the rest of my family.

The parade started on time and lasted about 1 hour. It was a fun time. The parade always starts off with the Navy Color Guard carrying the American flag, followed closely by the Burroughs High School Marching Band. After them is a very eclectic assortment of floats, cars, trucks, horses, wagons, motercycles, and people walking.

parade banner

Almost every organization in town has some sort of involvement in the parade. All the private schools, charitable organizations, clubs, and many businesses will have some sort of display in the parade. The parade numbers around 65 different entries. Everything has a Christmas theme to it. The horses wear antlers and/or garland. The people and cars are all decorated in garland and lights.

This was the first year that Saint Ann School marched in the parade. I have been nagging for several years that we need to have a presence in the parade. This year several of the teachers and the secretary stepped up and organized a parade entry. They had a banner carried by several of the middle school students then the secretary's old truck with some decorations on it. Since the Diocese won't let our students ride on floats or open trucks we had just put a couple flags in the back of the truck. Following the truck were about 45 of our students who were all wearing red shirts and jeans. Some students were playing recorders and the rest were singing. It was a great first time parade entry.

kids in parade

At the end of the parade, my dear wife and in-laws all pack up the chairs and coffee and head back to the car while I head back down Las Flores to the end of the parade route to pick up the kids.

Once I find out kids we usually find a piece of curb and watch the end of the parade. This gives my dear wife and her mother time to wander into the fellowship hall at out church and check out the Crafts Festival that is going on there. This plan works out great for everyone except my father in law who sits inpatiently in the car and waits for everyone else to show up. We keep telling him to bring a book, but he never does.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

There is an awful lot of rhetoric, hatred and anger flying around these days about the word Christmas. Every time I turn around someone is complaining about the use of the word Christmas. Christmas Trees are becoming Holiday Trees. Merry Christmas is being changed to Happy Holidays. Christmas itself seems to be changing into a Winter Festival. Some retail stores are telling employees not to wish people Merry Christmas because they might offend someone. Many people are taking offense when they are wished something other than Merry Christmas. Fundamentalist bible-thumping Christians are demanding that Christmas should be about the birth of Jesus and nothing else. Atheists are insisting that all religious connotations should be eliminated from their winter holiday. Then there are the rest of us, who are fed up with everyone else trying to tell us what to say, what to think, and how to celebrate Christmas.

So here's my soapbox speech about Christmas.


My family's Christmas traditions are not going to change not matter how much you yell, scream, protest, or legislate. Our Christmas traditions are just that - traditions. At the risk of sounding like Tevye the Milkman, Christmas is about traditions. Our traditions are a combination of the practices and beliefs that have been influenced by generations of parents trying to make Christmas special for their loved ones.

Our family Christmas starts on Thanksgiving night. After the food is eaten, the pie devoured, the guests departed and the dishes done then Thanksgiving is declared over and Christmas begins. Our Christmas traditions do not begin with a song, or a verse, or lights, or prayer. It begins when I haul all the Christmas decorations down out of the attic. Our Christmas holiday ends on Martin Luther King weekend, when all the decorations go back into the attic. For us, Christmas lasts around 8 weeks, give or take a day or so.

During Christmas we decorate our house, inside and out, with Nativity scenes, candles, Christmas trees, wreaths, holly, mistletoe, Santa Clauses, Father Christmases, St. Nicks, Angels, Wise men, babies, shepherds, bells, garland, snowmen and elves.

We decorate a pine tree to honor our German and Lutheran heritage. Legend has it that the Germans were the first ones to decorate pine trees for Christmas and Martin Luther was the first one to put lights (candles) on his tree. We also decorate a Christmas tree because that is what our parents and grandparents taught us to do. It is a tradition. We do not put a star on the top of our Christmas tree. We put an angel up there. Why? I have no idea, other than that is what my grandmother taught my mother to do.

I bake Krumkake and Rosettes to honor my Norwegian Heritage, and because we all like eating and sharing them. We also bake sugar cookies, ginger snaps and chocolate chip cookies. We make divinity, fudge, hard candy and lots of other treats because that is what our Cajun/Norwegian/Hillbilly/Irish/French/German grandparents and parents taught us to do.

We mail Christmas cards to dozens of people. Some of whom we haven't spoken to for years. It is our tradition. Exchanging cards with people who we haven't seen in years is our way of not losing touch with old friends and family who we just don't get to see as often as we would like to.

We open presents from family and friends on Christmas Eve because in old Norway gifts were exchanged on Christmas Eve. But mostly we do it because that is the way we learned to do it as children. It is our family tradition

We go to midnight church on Christmas Eve. It is a tradition. The most vivid memories I have of Christmas as a child are sitting in church at midnight on Christmas Eve, holding my candle and singing Silent Night. I want my children to have those same experiences, and I hope they leave such lasting memories.

On Christmas morning we get up to find that Santa Claus has visited our house during the night. The cookies and milk have been consumed, our stockings that were hung by the fireplace are filled with goodies and there is a gift from him for each of us under the Christmas tree. It has always happened this way, and as long as we are all good this year I'm confident it will keep happening.

We spend Christmas day with family and friends. It doesn't matter if they come to our house or we go to theirs. It is an Old Norwegian tradition to go visiting on Christmas Day. It is also a tradition in most cultures to feed those who come to your house to visit. So our friends and family come to our house for dinner or we go to theirs. The key is that we have Christmas dinner together, somewhere.

All too often our Christmas Holiday becomes a hectic, frantic time. We have so much we want to do, and often so little time to do it. We could simplify our lives by simplifying Christmas. But that wouldn't be keeping our Christmas traditions.

If we were to allow religion to be taken out of our Christmas then what would we have left? We would lose the entire holiday season. Even the word holiday is a derivation of the words “Holy Days”. Santa Claus got his start as Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. Whether or not it is Christianity or a pagan winter solstice celebration, faith and religion have always been an important part of winter celebrations.

Almost as unthinkable to my family as removing religion from Christmas would be trying to eliminate the commercial parts of Christmas. Christmas without Santa Claus, reindeer, sweets, cookies, shopping, gifts and all the fun commercial stuff would be just one more church holiday with maybe a special sermon, a play by the children, some carols from the choir and a special dinner with your family. While that would be OK, it surely wouldn’t be as much fun.

I just don't understand the vocal minority who insist on trying to take Christ out of Christmas, or the fundamentalists who try to decommercialize Christmas. The Christmas Holiday has spent 1600 years blending both spiritual and commercial traditions to become the holiday we celebrate today. Yet each family celebrates in their own slightly different way. That is how it should be. We should all celebrate Christmas in our own way and not try to make everyone else conform to our own beliefs.

If you are one of those radical extremists from either side of the spectrum who hate what Christmas had grown into, I feel sorry for you. Your parents and grandparents obviously did a really lousy job of teaching you that whatever you are celebrating at this time of the year, it isn't about you. It's about your faith, your family, your friends and your traditions.

So don’t try and change my Christmas tree into a holiday tree. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t believe in Santa Claus. Don’t try and take away our heritage based Christmas traditions. My family has spent generations working the kinks out of these traditions. We make small changes each year, but for the most part, we like our Christmas holiday just the way it is. If you don’t like yours then change it. But don’t try and force the rest of us to change with you.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Santa's Art Shop

We had to get up early this morning. OK, not exactly early, but earlier than I like to on a Saturday. Santa's Art Shop opened at 9:00 AM this morning, and my dear wife insists that we are on line waiting to get in when they open the gates at 9:00.

Santa's Art Shop is a huge Christmas themed Arts and Crafts Show. I think this year is the 28th year for this mega crafts festival. It runs for two days, this year it is Dec 3rd and 4th. Admission is only a dollar for people over 12. Once inside the fairgrounds you will find three buidings full of arts and crafts vendors, plus the sidewalk area between the buildings. I have heard that they average over 200 exhibitors each year. Every year we find vendors who have come from as far away as Salt Lake City, Southern Oregon, or Nevada. Apparently we are one of the regular stops on the holiday craft tour that a lot of these vendors make every year.

I know that it takes us anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to wander through the place and that is if we don't stop and talk to anyone.

My dear wife's tradition is to dress the whole family up in Christmas sweatshirts or sweaters and Santa Claus hats. Well, the whole family except for me. I refuse to dress up. My standard outfit is blue jeans, a flannel shirt and my Christmas hat.

My Christmas hat is a baseball cap that is built like a santa claus hat, or is it a santa claus hat with a baseball cap brim on it? Either way, it's a pointed red hat with a white pompom and a green brim. Embroidered on the front, in gold, are the words "Bah Humbug."

I got this hat several years ago at an after Christmas sale at Kmart. In the 15 or so years that we have been going to Santa's Art Shop I could have sold that hat twenty or more times. Usually to some guy who is tagging along after his wife with his arms full of stuff, or to many of the vendors husbands. But I don't sell.

We had a pretty good day today. We didn't get more than four booths into the first building and my dear wife was already sending me out to the car with my arms full. She bought a really cute stuffed Father Christmas that was seated on a wooden chair.

My oldest daughter bought some Christmas presents for a few of her friends. I picked up a couple joke gift ideas for the next couple Christmases.

As a family we always look forward to Santa's Art Shop each year. We get good decorating ideas, some good gift ideas, and always find some new deoorations for the house.

Friday, December 02, 2005

We Have Discovered Oven

I dug, pounded, cut, sawed, chopped and trimmed eventually I found oven.

As I mentioned yesterday, my dear wife and I bought a new oven to replace our old crappy one. I was hoping that the retrofit of the cabinet for the new free standing range would be rather a simple process. It wasn't.

I widened the opening in the cabinet so that it was the standard 30 inches. The space between the cabinets was 30 inches. But there was so much mortar and grout squeezed into the open space that the opening was only about 29.7 inches. This is probably why we had some of the level troubles we had with the old stove. It was crammed into an opening that was too narrow for it. This caused some buckling and hense our inability to get the whole thing level.

After returning the opening to a full 30 inches we slid the oven into it. This is when we discovered that it stuck out 2 inches too far. Strangely enough the strip of tile along the back side of the oven opening was exactly 2 inches deep. So that strip of tile had to go. But if I removed it I would also have to replumb the gas lines, which stuck out of the wall by 2 inches.

So I cut the two tiles on either side of the strip that I had to remove. This was a little time consuming because the only tools I had to do this with were my dremel tool and a supply of cutoff discs. It took several discs, but I finally got through the tiles without cracking either one of them. Then I chiseled the tiles off the backerboard, then I chiseled out the backerboard that needed to be removed. Once I got all that stuff removed I was able to saw through the board and remove it.

Then I cut out the drywall around the gas line. Because of a stud that was in the way I couldn't simply route the line over to where I needed it. But I was able to install a box in the wall, shorten the gas line and get it stubbed out with a valve inside the box. This way everything is flush with the wall and there will be room for the stove to slide all the way in.

I finally got the gas lines all connected and checked for leaks. I got the stove initally leveled, and ready to go. Then I got it slide into place. A little final leveling, straightening and we were finally ready to go. I picked up my tools and then got out of the way while my dear wife cleaned up my mess. I was willing to do the cleanup, but she wanted to chip in and help, and I was tired enough to not argue with her.

So we now have a new oven in the kitchen. I have three new holes in my left thumb, a pretty nasty scratch and bruise on my right bicep and a new dent in my head (you gotta watch those vent hood corners). It wouldn't be a home improvement project without a couple bumps and scrapes now would it?

This project was more complicated than I hoped it would be. But not not as bad as I feared it could get. It would have been simpiler if we had replaced our oven with another slide-in. But we just couldn't find one we liked as well as this one.

So next up is new flooring for the kitchen and dining room then new countertops for the kitchen. I think I will definately hire out the new countertops. I like doing the home repair stuff myself, but that job may be more than I'm ready to take on. A 2 inch by 30 inch strip took me most of this morning. At that rate it would take me all week just to get rid of the old countertop and backsplash.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Free Range Blogging

OK, so this blog isn't exactly living free and wild. Actually nothing in our kitchen is, except for our new range. It is sitting right in the middle of the kitchen.

We have been upgrading our kitchen on the installment plan. We have done most of the appliances over the last couple years. This year it was the oven's turn.

We have been living with the old Magic Chef slide it oven since we moved into this house. The oven has had troubles for years. We have been unable to get it leveled so everything we bake is lopsided. The door has been leaking heat for a while now. If you run the oven for over an hour the knobs on the front get so hot you can't touch them. That is when they are not falling off, or slipping when you try to turn them.

We shopped aroung for a while and my dear wife feel in love with a Maytag free standing range. This range has a double gas oven, and a four burner stove top. It looks like a good oven. I pulled out the old slide-in this evening. I loosened the vinyl flooring from the kickboard and cut out the kick board. Unfortunately the gas line is coming out of the wall at a spot aove the height of the cut out in the back of the new oven. So we have to slide the oven into the gap in the counter and see how far it will slide in.

I suspect that I am going to have to reroute the gas connection tomorrow. But we are hoping not.

So tomorrow I have to clean up the grout around the oven opening so I don't scratch the sides of the new range sliding it into the gap our old oven came out of. Then we'll check the fit and find out if I need to do some gas line rework. If not I'll just need to connect up the gas and electric and then level the new range and then my dear wife can start baking Christmas Cookies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Senator Joe Lieberman

Senator Joe Lieberman a Democrat from Connecticut, recently returned from his 4th visit to Iraq in the last year and a half. The Wall Street Journal carried Senator Lieberman's opinions about the state of things in Iraq.

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.

There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing. And Sunni candidates are actively campaigning for seats in the National Assembly. People are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

Does this sound like the kind of fight that we should be running away from? Does this sound like we are losing the war? Does this sound like all the doom, gloom, and defeatism we hear spewing daily out of the mouths of Senator Lieberman's Democratic colleagues?

It's time for the Democratic members of Congress to stop harping and whinning about the past and why we are fighting in Iraq and time for them to start concentrating on the future. It's time for them to join Senator Lieberman in recognizing that the outcome of this war is important, not just for Iraq, but for America.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Winter in Ridgecrest

It looks, or more accurately, feels like winter has arrived in Ridgecrest. The folks in the mountain states, midwest and east coast who are getting snowed on right now might laugh at this. But for us poor desert rats it's getting cold here. Right now, it is 37 degrees outside. It may get a few degrees colder as the night goes on. For people who are used to months on end of 100 degree temperatures, 37 is cold.

On the bright side however is that it doesn't stay this cold during the day. We can still expect daytime highs in the 60s.

As we get closer to the actual winter season it will get colder here. We will have to suffer through nighttime lows in the 20s and occasional daytime temperatures that only creep into the 40s.

Very seldom do we get snow. If we do it only lasts for a few hours. Last winter we had a snow that actually resulted in schools and businesses being shut down for a day. The snow stayed around long enough to build snowmen, forts and to have some snowball fights with the kids. But those days are rare. Last winter's snow was the first one we had in almost 5 years.

So while the rest of the country is scrapping ice of their windshields, shoveling snow off their sidewalks and slipping and sliding around on icy sidewalks try not to hate us too much. After all we have to wear jackets to work in the morning these days. We can go out to lunch in our shirt sleeves, but if we get out of work after dark we'll need that jacket again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

CD Day

Today was CD Day - Christmas Decorating Day. This is the day that my dear wife explodes Christmas decorations all over our house. She never manages to get all the decorations up in a single day. Especially since putting up the tree and the outdoor decorations is my job. But she always gets a really good start.

Since the twins have gotten a bit older, all three kids have gotten into helping. This morning as I was levaing the house, as the door closed I heard both twins ask thier Mom, "Dad's gone, can we start now?"

Now I really don't know what goes on in my home on CD day. I haven't been here for it for almost 18 years. Eighteen years ago, before I was ever married several friends and I got together on the day after Thanksgiving to play a game of Advanced Civilization. That day and game has became a habit for us. Now it is a tradition.

Originally we called it out Friday after Thanksgiving Civ Game. We shortened it, for communications ease to FATCG. Then after a couple years of winning the game, Rodney started getting a reputation of being the guy to beat. By this time we had made this game an annual event. So the name was changed to AFAT(RMD)ACG - Annual Friday After Thanksgiving (Rodney Must Die) Advanced Civ Game.

Rodney doesn't win as often as he used to. We don't really gang up on him like the name implies. But we do trash talk about beating up on him, but it is all in fun. Except for the one year that we had a new player join our group and he took the name seriously and spend the whole game attacking Rodney. We finally got him straightened out and he has become a regular for our game.

Just for the record, I won the game this year. I was playing Babylon and really had a lot of breaks go my way. It was almost too easy. I got to pick my civilization first. I didn't have any neighbors really pressing me for land until late in the game. I skated through most of the calamaties. I made several good trades. All in all it was the kind of game that I rarely get to play - one where everything pretty much goes my way.

Thanksgiving Day

OK, so I'm about 24 hours late with a Thanksgiving post. But yesterday was busy. The day started out slow. We ate some breakfast, watched the Macy's parade, and started making sure that we were ready to cook dinner.

About 1 PM I marinaded the ham, and put it in the electric roaster out on the patio. Then around 2 PM I fired up the heat under the peanut oil. Then I headed inside to get the old gobbler ready. I trimmed a little fat, dry rubbed the bird and injected the marinade. About the time that was finished the oil was hot and it was time for the turkey to take a hot bath.

We had only two guests for dinner. Rodney a friend from San Diego, who used to live here in Ridgecrest, and Dave, another local friend who is my main oyster dressing supplier. Dave makes a great oyster dressing and he always brings enough to share. Unfortunately he also likes turkey hearts. So we decided several years ago to take turns. This year was his turn so he got the turkey heart and I had to settle for the livers.

We sat down for dinner around 3:45. It was a huge feast and we all ate way too much. Just like you are supposed to. After dinner we were settling down to watch a movie and let our dinner settle before dessert. Shortly after the movie started my Niece Cassie, her husband Josh and new daughter stopped by to visit. Traditionally her family spends Thanksgiving dinner with us. But since her family has over doubled in size this year they wanted to spend a nice quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, with just the 15 of them. We told them they were all welcome. We couldn't get everyone around the table but since the temperature at dinner time was about 70 degrees we could have let the kids all eat out on the patio. But they opted to stay home and then just come visit for dessert.

We got to fuss over Cassie's new daughter for a few minutes. She is adorable just like Cassie was at that age, and still is today. Then 7 more of the family showed up. They brought a couple of cheesecakes to add to the four different pies we had here.

We were in the middle of dessert when Pete, Regine and their son Drew showed up from Corona. So they warmed up some leftovers and ate while we had dessert. Then they got their dessert also.

It wasn't a normal Thanksgiving for us, but eventually we had a house full of family and friends and everyone got to sit around, chat, laugh, and just enjoy the evening together. That made it a perfect day!

After everyone else had left the house, I got the turkey fryer cleaned up, and the rest of the dishes into the washer. Then my oldest daughter and I moved all of the Christmas decorations from the attic into the garage. That way my dear wife and kids could spend all day friday exploding Christmas all over our house. I am very thankful for my daughter's help. Her ability to handle boxes that I passed down to her saved me about 30 trips up and down the ladder. Which was a wonderful gift for my poor old broken down knees.

For my Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for:

My dear, sweet, loving, beautiful wife,
my three adorable children,
all our good riends who spent the day with us,
getting to spend some time with Cassie, Kym, Josh, and the new baby,
getting to know some of Dave's new family better,
my new job (even if I don't know what I'm doing there yet),
all our other friends and family that were not able to spend the day with us.

I'm especially thankful for my Nephew Chris who is deployed with the United States Navy in Japan where he serves as a P3 flight engineer, and my Nephew Adam who is deployed with the Marines in Iraq. I am thankful for these two men and all the other Men and Women of the United States Military who are defending my family's freedom.

I'm thankful for President Bush I hope he and his administration continue to stay the line on all fronts of the Global War on Terror, and don't give in to the irrational and illadvised attacks being constantly launched by his political opponents.

Lastly I am thankful for my life as a whole. I have great family, good friends, a decent job and the freedom to enjoy them all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

T-day minus one

Checklist for tomorrow:

20 lb Turkey
secret marinade
Peanut oil
Propane and burner
big ole pot
other secret marinade
wood chips

and cook lubricant - beer.

Add in several side dishes and desserts that my dear wife will be preparing and some friends and family to share it all with and we're ready for thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jovon Bouknight

On October 24th I suggested that University of Wyoming Wide Receiver Jovon Bouknight would be a good candidate for the Heisman Trophy this year.

I know that this is extremely unlikely. The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the best player in college football. But lately it had been awarded to the best player on the best team in college football. Unfortunately this leaves truely outstanding players, like Jovon, who play on mediocre teams out of the running.

However Jovon Bouknight has been named to be one of the 15 semifinalists for the 2005 Biletnikoff Award. I think this would be a wonderful way for Bouknight to end his college career.

Since Wyoming has played it's last game of the season Bouknight's college career has ended. As of this weekend he is 3rd in the NCAA in reception yardage, 8th in the NCAA is number of receptions, 6th in receiving touchdowns. Jovon did all this playing on a team the finished the year 4-7 and with a quarterback who threw more interceptions than touchdowns.

Jovon Bouknight was been a cornerstone of the Wyoming Offense for four years. He has caught at least two passes in every game he played the last 4 years, all 47 of them. He performs equally well as the long ball threat to go deep or the posession receiver who goes across the middle on 4th down.

I applaud the Biletnikoff Awarde Committee for their selection of Jovon Bouknight as a semifinalist. Now I encourge them to vote for him one last time. Even if they don't, there are several NFL scouts that should be paying attention to this kid.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanks for Nothing Hertz Rent a Car

I got a call from my Dad last night. They were stranded in Ann Arbor Michigan and were trying to rent a car. Actually they were only in Ann Arbor for the evening then they were going to get a plane ride to Cedar Rapids IA today. They had gotten to Ann Arbor on an Angel Flight so Mom could see her doctor there. Unfortunately they had to stay longer than expected and their return Angel Flight was canceled. The folks at Angel Flight assured them that they would get them home but it might take several days. They had transportation arranged to Cedar Rapids but would be unable to get them back to Cheyenne before Thanksgiving. So Dad decided that they could drive from Cedar Rapids if he could get a rental car.

Since Mom and Dad's funds are limited Dad had been shopping around for a good rate for a car. The cheapest one way rental he could get was at Hertz. I have used Hertz a lot for business travel and never had any trouble with them. But Dad did. They would not rent him a car with his debit card. Due to issues that I'm not going to go into here, Mom and Dad don't have any credit cards.

Dad called me last night and asked if I could get him the car. He gave me his reservation number and I gave Hertz a call. Once I got connected to a human being I explained the situation and said I wanted to put the charges for Dad's rental on my Credit Card.

Hertz just flat refused to do that. I was told that they would not rent a car to anyone, under any ircumstances, that did not have a credit card in their name and in their position at the time they picked up the car. I asked how I was able to get off a plane in Washington DC then, ride their bus to the Hertz parking lot, tell the driver my name and gold club member number, and get dropped off at a car that I could just get in a drive out of the lot. They let me rent that car without ever seeing my credit card.

I tried to explain the special circumstances involved in this case but the cold hearted bitch that I was talking to didn't care. I then told her I wanted to rent a car for myself out of Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, I was a gold club member and I wanted to list my father as an alternate driver. She refused to rent me the car. So I guess this gold club membership of mine is useless since they won't rent me a car when I need it.

When I asked what my options were to get my parents out of Cedar Rapids next tuesday she told me to buy them a bus or plane ticket. I explained that the chemo my mother's illness is requiring her to undergo will not allow her to ride on commercial air or ground transportation. Then this woman told me "I don't care what happens to your parents because they will not be renting a car from Hertz." Then she hung up on me.

I called dad back and told him that Hertz wouldn't rent him a car without a credit card. He is going to see what his other options out of Cedar City are and get back to me tomorrow. I told Dad he could try taking Mom down to the local office and make sure she throws up a couple times while there. Then tell them that since they are stranded there they would love to rent a car and leave, but they only have a debit card and are not sure what to do. He said he hopes it won't come to that.

So, thanks for nothing Hertz. Here is also a friendly warning for the rest of you. Don't ever let yourself get into a situation where your transportation needs depend on Hertz. They cannot be depended upon. Especially if you don't happen to have a credit card on you at the moment. I guess they don't believe that old slogan on the cash in Dad's pocket - "Legal tender for all debts public and private." Funny, I don't remember ever seeing that written on any credit card I've ever owned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Did Senator Jay Rockefeller Admit to Treason?

Last Sunday on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace was interviewing Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller. Senator Rockefeller is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intellegence Committee.

Most of the interview was based around the old lie that George Bush manipulated intellegence to drag the United States into an illegial war with Iraq.

I could rant and rave about a lot of what Senator Rockefeller had to say. But one thing really jumped out at me.

Chris Wallace had just played a video clip from October 2002 where Senator Rockefeller says that "Iraq poses an imminent threat."

Then Chris Wallace tried to get the Senator to admit that he was hyping intellegence even more than he has blamed the President for doing.

Senator Rockefeller's replied this way:

No. I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

What I heard in this answer was that a United States Senator went on a trip to a known foreign enemy - Syria, and told Syria's head of state that the United States was getting ready to attack one of their allies - Iraq, before that attack ever took place.

Now I may be a bit naive but that smacks of treason.

Did Bush Lie?--Just Google It

Bryan Preston from Junk Yard Blog has a posting on Michelle Malkin's Blog. Bryan, among others is getting tired of the left trying to sell us on the lie that Bush lied. This is especially objectionable since there is so much proof out there that the politicians who are now claiming that they were misled knew exactly what they were voting for when they voted for the war in Iraq.

The latest buzz phrase in the blogoshpere is "Just Google It!" So here is a link to click on to see for yourself if President Bush lied about pre-war intellegence on Iraq. Bryan wants us to spread this around and trackback to see how far it spreads. So I'm just doing my part.


The link to the search is:

Bryan encourages us to swipe his graphic and use it with one small restriction:
Don't hotlink it, but feel free to swipe it and post it on your own bandwidth.
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

First Communion

For the last couple years the twins have just received a blessing during communion at church. This has always upset them because they could see that everyone else was getting something to eat and drink and all they were getting from Pastor was a pat on the head and some words. Needless to say they have felt left out.

Last year it got kind of bad because all their Catholic classmates went through first communion. The Catholic Church makes a pretty big deal of all this with special lessons, practices, nice fancy suits and dresses and a party afterwards. My kids and the other non-catholics in the room went through the lessons with them, but they did not join in the actual ceremony nor the party. Being excluded from all this stuff really upset my daughter. When asking why she wasn't going to do communion with her classmates my daughter was stunned to find out that she wasn't Catholic. My son didn't really care. He just wasn't interested.

Last year our Pastor asked if we wanted to get the twins started with communion. We decided to wait another year. Our oldest daughter was more than ready when she was in second grade. But the twins just didn't seem interested. They wanted some of what everyone else was eating or drinking. But to them it was only a snack that they weren't getting their fair share of.

This year we decided that they were probably ready. So last week they had a meeting with Pastor and he explained the Lutheran philosophy of Communion. After about an hour of talking with the twins he decided that they were ready. So this morning was their first Communion.

I think they were a little disappointed. Their Catholic classmates all got nice clothes and a party. My twins got new clothes, thier pictures taken and a Bible from Pastor. But that was it. They just got in line with the rest of us and joined the congregation in Communion.

I think they thought the whole thing was rather anticlimactic. However for their mother it was a bit traumatic. She isn't ready for her babies to grow up yet. This morning was just a reminder that they are, whether we like it or not.

Chuck Maples - One of the Good Guys

My dear wife and I picked up the Sunday edition of the Daily Independent this morning to discover that our friend and co-worker Chuck Maples had lost his battle with cancer on Friday.

This was a real shock. Especially for my dear wife. She and Chuck had worked together for many many years. Chuck had always helped her with anything she needed help with. Chuck was also one of her biggest supporters at work. I truely appreciated knowing that he would be there to "get her back" if she ever had any troubles at the office.

Chuck had a wonderful sense of humor. You really had to be on your toes around him. He could deliver the most hilarious one liners with no reaction other than a twinkle in his eyes.

Chuck was also one of the old school China Lake employees. He loved the work we do at China Lake. He also believed that we were a family, and that family helped each other. I always knew that if I needed a hand with anything I could call on Chuck. Whether is was a quick fabrication job out of his shop, borrowing a technician for a few hours, or the loan of some equipment. Chuck didn't care that the management stucture said that we worked on different programs. He supported my programs just as vigorously as he did the ones his own Branch was working on. Chuck understood that all the work we do is important. Chuck spent his career making sure that the United States Navy was one of the best armed and defended fighting forces on the planet.

Ridgecrest and China Lake lost a great treasure on Friday. The Navy lost a dedicated employee who truly believed that China Lake was the best weapons development lab in the world. His employees lost a boss who looked out for their careers and their lives. His family lost a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. My dear wife and I lost a good friend.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Broken System or Just Stupid Voters

Most everyone seems to think that we need to do something to fix the public school system in California. The Teachers Unions seem to think that the solution to the problems are more money. The Victor Valley School District thinks paying their superintendant an insane amount of money is the solution. Now the voters in the Romoland School District has found a novel solution to the problem. They elected a new School Board Member who is currently in jail for violating his parole on 1998 convictions for spousal abuse and drug possession.

Yeah, that's the ticket, lets elect people to control our school districts who beat their spouses and abuse drugs, then violate their parole and get tossed back into jail again. Yeah, that's just the kind of guy they need working for the good of their school children.

I don't know if this is just one more sign that the public school system in California is completely screwed up, or is it evidence that the voting masses in California really don't have a clue what they are doing when they enter a voting booth?

OK, I have to admit that attempting to condemn the entire state school system or all the voters in the state of California based on the small sample that voted in for this election in Riverside County is misleading. But you have to wonder, how bad were the two candidates who lost to this guy?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

United States Marines

Happy 230th Birthday to the United States Marines.

230 years of projecting the might of the United States abroad, protecting our interests overseas, defending our freedom wherever and whenever it is threatened. 230 years of defending every American citizen - rich, poor, conservative, liberal, promilitary, peaceniks, mainstream and radicals. They truely are the best of what makes this country great.

Tuesday the family and I were watching NCIS on television. At the end of the show they wished the Marine Corps a happy birthday and showed the words Semper Fi and the Marine Corp Logo on the screen. My oldest daughter turned to my dear wife and I and asked what does that mean?

I immediately answered "always faithful." Actually I think I may have said eternally faithful. But she got the idea. My daughter said "Oh, Cool." and turned back to the TV. My dear wife looked at me with a shocked look on her face and asked "Are you sure?"

When I assured her that I was positive that Semper Fi was short for Semper Fidelis and that it stood for 'Always Faithful'. She blushed and giggled and whispered to me "I always thought it meant 'F**k Off!" She then added "I always thought that was a pretty gutsy motto for a branch of the U.S. Military."

We both agreed that we like 'Always Faithful', but based on attitudes of several Marines we have known through the years her original assumption might have been a pretty good one also.

So Happy Birthday to the United States Marines.

Semper Fi!

Sony Spyware pt. 2

On Tuesday I wrote about Sony's new copy protection scheme that is nothing more than spyware.

Now, Sony's spyware, which has the ability to hide itself, is being used by several different trojan horse viruses to infiltrate the user's computer.

This move by Sony had not only intruded on their customers privacy but now is making them vulnerable to attack from other outside sources.

At least one lawsuit has been filed against Sony for this practice. I expect that there will be others.

I won't be one of them. As I said on tuesday I will never again purchase a product made by Sony.

San Franciscians Violate US Constitution

On tuesday voters in the city of San Francisco voted for a new gun ban that prohibits the manufacture and sale of all firearms and ammunition in the city. The new ban also makes it illegal for residents to keep handguns in their homes or businesses.

In addition the voters in San Francisco also voted in an Antimilitary measure that attempts to keep military recruiters off college campuses. The bill wouldn't ban military recruiters since that might put schools at risk of losing federal funding.

The measure encourages city officials and university administrators to exclude recruiters and create scholarships and training programs that would reduce the military's appeal to young adults.

So what these two measures boil down to is that 58% of the voters in San Francisco decided that since they were willing to give up their constitutional right to bear arms that everyone else in their city has to give up their constitutional rights also.

They have also sent a message to the criminals in the city that if you chose to commit a violent crime in their fair city the only people who will be able to stop you are the police, and other criminals. After all they will be the only ones in the city allowed to protect themselves.

Lastly they have decided to spend a lot of tax payer money developing scholarships and training programs designed to convince students not to get interested in joining the military.

I guess the voters in San Francisco don't trust high school and college students to be mature enough to make up their own minds about their career choices. Which is ironic because they also voted to defeat a state measure that would have required underage girls to have their parents notified if they were going to have an abortion. So children in San Francisco can decide on their own to have abortions, but they can't be trusted to make their own decisions concerning their careers.

Normally I wouldn't worry too much about a city in California passing some reactionary laws like these. Afterall most ballot initiatives that are passed by the voters in California get overturned by some reactionary judge in San Francisco. But since these measures were passed in San Franciso I'm not sure where they are going to find a judge willing to overturn these measures.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sony Spyware

The Boston Globe is reporting that Sony has started including software on their music CDs that is automatically installed on computers when you play that music CD in your computer. This software which is not obvious, nor easily removable, hides itself in the Windows Operating System and limits the users ability to copy the music onto their computers. It also locks copied files so they cannot be shared over the Internet.

According to Computer Associates International Inc. the software also collects information from the computer that plays the discs. It then secretly communicates with Sony over the Internet if the computer has an Internet connection. The software transmits the name of the CD and the IP address of the listener's computer to an office of Sony's music division in Cary, North Carolina.

Computer Associates considers this Sony Software to be spyware that collects personal information without the computer owners permission.

I consider this move by Sony to be dispicable and dishonest. Sony says that they have a website that will allow users to uninstall this software. "So what?" The software shouldn't get installed on a users system in the first place. So providing a means to remove unautorized software is not enough. I don't share music or software online. But I do like to play CDs on my computer. I buy CDs for the music not for the software that may come on the disc. I consider this latest move by Sony to be an invasion of privacy and an act of sabotage. But more importantly it signals a concious decision by Sony to adopt a corporate attitude that they can't be trusted anymore.

My solution to this situation is simple. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever again buy another music CD, or anything else for that matter with the Sony name on it. I have used Sony electronics since I bought my first VCR in 1983. I have owned a Sony Rear Profection TV and several other audio or video devices. But the items I own now will be the last I ever buy. Sony has proven that they are willing to invade my privacy and sabotage my computer. I am certainly not going to pay them to do so.

A final note to Samsung and Sony's other Blu-ray DVD partners. Sony just made a marketing move that is going to drive away their customers in droves. You had better get ready to buy a DVD-HD system.


Today is the day to take a few minutes to stop by your polling place and vote.

I don't want to sound melodramatic but this election could very well shape the future of the State of California.

This is our first chance to try and take control of this state that many of you love, and the rest of us are resigned to live in for sevral reasons. We have the opportunity to take steps to get state spending under control. We can make a small start to try and fix our State's failed public school system. We also have a great chance to take control of our state legislature out of the hands of the radical left wing who have had a stranglehold on state politics for too many years. For too long almost half this state has languished without a real voice in state politics and being oppressed by an overly legislative Democratic Congress.

So don't blow off voting today. The future of California, even your own personal future may depend on how the vote goes today.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Horror Movie Night

Last night was Horror Movie Night at my oldest child's Middle School. They watched Jaws and The Birds. This was a first time event and seemed like it went over pretty well. Good turnout. It was a little tough to plan. The ages of the kids ranged from 11 to 13 so we had to be rather picky about which movies we watched.

All the really good scary movies have always been rated R or occasionally PG-13. We were trying to keep the selections to PG. Which made the selection limited. Several kids with coaching from their parents submitted lists of movie suggestions and then the class voted on which two to watch. Both movies picked were on my suggestion list.

I was recruited on Friday night to help out as one of the adult chaparones. The middle school teacher who was managing things needed one more adult and knew that as the volleyball coach I had the two requirements she needed for this event. I had all my paperwork and fingerprints on file in the office, and I have proven the I can spend several hours with a room full of these middleschool kids without killing any of them.

The night went well. Most of the kids thought Jaws was pretty funny. Which just goes to show how movies have change the last couple decades. When I saw Jaws in the theaters it was pretty intense and scary. Kids these days see it has hokey and silly. To them the shark is very fake looking.

After a pizza and soda break we started The Birds. The kids were bored with the first hour of the movie. But by the time it ended most of them were rather freaked out. The two who went home with me walked out to the car, looking into the sky and over their shoulders to see if there were any birds lurking around.

I can't wait to see what their reaction is the first time they drive by a mess of crows sitting on fence here in town. We have a lot of crows around here and the scenes with the crows in them were the ones that seemed to disturb the kids the most. I guess they could relate to the crows. Being the desert, we don't see alot of seagulls around here so flocks of them attacking people didn't register too much on them.

Everyone seemed to have fun. When we left the teacher and a couple kids were already talking about doing a Christmas version of Movie Night during the holidays.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The 13 Year Olds Are Taking Over

Tonight is my oldest daughter's birthday party. Her birthday was actually over a week ago but with the out of town volleyball tournament last weekend she had to put the party off until tonight.

So about 5 PM this evening the number of teenagers in our house suddenly increased by 700 percent.

This evening has been loud, full of giggles, and a blast to watch. I usually see these girls only at school or volleyball. So it was really fun to see them just having fun together. So far they have played Ghost in the Graveyard, which is a version of hide and seek that involves one person hiding and everyone else looking for them. Once the ghost is spotted everyone has to run for base. If the ghost tags someone then they are it. The offical method of communication for this game is screaming. The game has one flaw - everyone wants to be it.

After dinner they played some statue games, charades, dressed up with the wrapping paper from the presents and worked on their giggling.

Right now they are settled down and watching movies. Which is good, this way the neighbors might be able to get some sleep this evening.

Well it's time for me to disappear for a while and let them have some time without a parent hanging around. So far the house is still standing and structurally sound. Lets all hope it is still that way in the morning.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

New Job

I have tried to get into the habit of not writing about my job. Mostly I don't write about my job because I don't want to think about it after hours when I do my blogging. Secondly I don't write about it because some things about my work aren't meant to be discussed outside of work. It is easier to avoid crossing one of those lines if i just never get into the habit of writing about work.

But there have been some big changes going on for me at work lately. A week and a half ago my boss walked in and told me that the program I have worked for, in several different capacities, for almost 19 years was running out of money, they had to make some cuts and I was one of the cuts being made. I was ordered to stop working on their projects immediately and start looking for a different program to support.

This a real body blow. I had just finished a programming project and was starting the verification effort pending a delivery in November. I figured that they would at least want me to finish that job first. I guess I was wrong.

So I started an immediate job search. Looking for work is actually pretty tough to do. Management is of little or no help at all. My branch head gave me an outdated list of job openings to look into. My Division Head and Department Heads are non-existant in the help department. Unless of course they find out that my salary is coming out of their overhead budget. Then they get involved quickly. They won't help me find a project to work for. They'll just nag me daily for a progress report on my job search.

The base does have an e-mail list that goes out daily about job openings. But the selection is limited and most of the points of contact on the list never return calls or e-mails. So getting booted off a project means that I am pretty much on my own to find a new job.

This can be difficult if, like me, you have spent the last 19 years working with the same people. I don't get out much nor make many contacts.

So I sent an e-mail out most of my friends and aquaintances asking if they knew of any work.

My best friend was looking out for me again. Twenty years ago when I wanted to get out of my job in Texas he turned my resume into a branch head here who eventually interviewed and hired me. Last week he gave my resume to his boss who eventually interviewed me and hired me. They were looking for programmers who knew FORTRAN and C, which I do. So naturally they are talking about putting me to work programming in C++. But that's managers for you.

I started my new job on Monday. I spent most of the day packing up the stuff in my old cubical. It was tough sorting through 19 years of files, piles and stacks of stuff. I managed to get my personal files and stuff finally sorted out of the work stuff and into boxes.

Then today they had a large multi-agency program review. I was told to sit in on it in order to try and gain a familiarity with the program and the players. It was a lot like watching the spanish channel on TV with the subtitles turned off. Lots of nice pictures and people talking about things that make no sense to me.

This is the first non-missile program that I have ever worked on. They don't build anything that doesn't go boom. So I'm a little out of my element. Hopefully I can get some instructions, introductions, and a better start on my new responsibilities after this review.

In the mean time tomorrow is another day of meetings. One of the other programmers promised to bring me an acronymn list so maybe I make a little more sense of what is going on.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rio Bravo Greeley Volleyball Tournament

Our volleyball season came to an end today. We left town this morning at 6:00PM and headed for Bakersfield to play in the annual Rio Bravo Tournament. We first played in this tournament last year. We had a lot of fun and managed to squeek out a 3rd place finish.

The Rio Bravo tournament is a lot tougher than our own city tournament. The level of competition is a lot higher. There are a couple club teams in Bakersfield and a lot more schools. Since most of the schools have much larger student bodies than we do they are able to be selective about who plays on their teams. It is a tougher tournament but that's what I like about it. Besides the teams are pretty good sports. There are always a couple who take the win at all costs. But most of the them play a good clean game and are fun to compete against.

This year we were able to take both our teams to the tournament. Which meant that I was going to be busy again. The each division in the tournament was divided into pools. After pool play the top eight teams were slotted into a quarterfinal bracket and played a single elimination best two out of three games till a champion is crowned.

My 8th grade team started out hot. In their first game the got out to a quick 13-4 lead and then clicked into zombie mode and started standing around watching and eventually lost the game 19-21. I have seen them do this a lot this season but today was different. Today they stopped moving and playing but they also started something. They started snipping and snarling at each other. They excuses and acqusations were flying wildly around the whole day. It was the most frustrating experience of my brief coaching career. Nothing I said, nothing I did made a difference. I talked, pleaded, threatened, yelled, anything I could think of, nothing was getting through to them. They just stood around and blamed each other for all their problems.

I know I'm not supposed to think this way but I'm glad that this season with this team is over. I've been beating my head against the wall with this team for three years now and frankly I've had enough. I'm slowly admitted to myself that if it is possible to get that group of 7 girls to cooperate and play like a team then I don't know what the secret is. Even worse I've reached the point where I don't care anymore. I just want to try and get the two girls who have a chance to make the high school team the practice time they need to continue to improve their skills. I just want the rest of them to go on with their lives and refuse to do everything someone else tells them to do. I'm going to miss my two setters but I'm not going to miss the rest of them much.

Then there was my seventh grade team. They showed up playing just like they normally do. They struggled a little at the beginning but then hit their stride and cruised to a win in their first pool play game. Then we had a one hour break before our second game. Somewhere during that hour my seventh grade team turned into my eighth grade team. We got onto the court for the second pool play game and they just shut down. they did a lot of standing around and watching the game go by. I just wanted to cry for my two setters. They were practically killing themselves trying to pick up the slack for their teammates. At one point I called a time out and had one player break down into tears, for apparently no reason at all. At no reason that she would tell me. Even after the game I asked her parents to find out what was wrong. They couldn't get anything out of her either.

The team stayed in the game until the end but eventually lost by 4 points. I tried to get them moving, talking, doing anything during the break before our last pool play game. They seemed OK off the court. They were their normal happy, silly selves - talking laughing, goofing off. They were passing a ball around and everyone seemed normal.

Then in the third game it was more of the same. The team wasn't near the caliber of my seventh graders on a normal day. But for some reason this wasn't a normal day. They played slow and made a lot of silly mistakes. Eventually losing this final pool play game by two points. This put them into the championship quarterfinals seeded eighth.

In the first match of quarterfinals against the number one seeded team it was more of the same. They struggled to a 10-15 loss. Then we switched sides of the net and they picked up right where they left off - for 5 serves. Then just as suddenly as they turned off 4 games earlier my team turned back on. They started serving, passing and spiking. It was fun to watch for a few minutes. They came storming back into that game and when they got the score tied up at 12 -12 the other coach was getting worried. Unfortunately we had a caught a couple bad breaks and a couple missed calls by the ref and ended up losing the game 15-13. It was disheartening but that's the breaks of the game. You can't blame a whole game on a couple missed calls. It was just unfortunate that they just hit us just as we were getting up to steam.

So our tournament ended in the first round for both teams. It wasn't how I wanted our season to end. But end it did. I was mostly disappointed for my seventh grade team. They played such a strong season going 11-0 in the regular season and 8-0 to win our local tournament. Then to get knocked out of this one tournament that they were so looking forward too was a real downer.

I tried to cheer them up a bit and they did all promise to be back again next year. But I don't want to wait that long. I want to get these girls back into volleyball practices on a monthly or better yet weekly basis as soon as I can after basketball season ends. But that will be an issue with the school that I will have to start fighting in a couple months.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Father of a Teenager

When my oldest daughter went to bed last night she was still my little girl. This morning, she woke up a teenager. She was grumpy, surly and all together unpleasant to be around. But that has nothing to do with being a teenager. She’s like that every morning. She gets it from her father. Neither one of us are morning people.

I am not ready to be the father of a teenager. I just hope that my daughter is better prepared to be a teenager than I am to parent one.

Are there any classes you can take to learn how to be a parent of a teenager? Or is it like regular parenting, you make it up as you go along?

My father once told me:

“the hardest thing about parenting a teen is resisting the urge to kill them.”

I mulled over that that comment for several days while reminiscing about my teenage years. Eventually I came to the conclusion that my Dad is a much more tolerant man than I ever gave him credit for. It is amazing that I am still alive today.

I don’t know why I worry about this. After all I deal with an entire team full of teenagers everyday with my 8th grade volleyball team. My daughter is the last one on the team to turn 13. I seem to handle them alright. But I do have an edge there. I always have the old, tried and true, coach’s solution to everything:

“Take a Lap!”

I’m guessing that is not going to work too well at home.

Oh well, so far dealing with a teen has been pretty easy. But then it’s only been one morning. One down - Two thousand, Five hundred and Fifty-Five to go.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jovon Bouknight Deserves the Heisman

I've only gotten to see the University of Wyoming play twice this season. But I have to agree with Ron Bronson, Jr. Jovon Bouknight is definately Heisman material.

This guy does it all. Throws passes, runs and makes some of the most acrobatic catches I've seen on a football field. Never mind that some of those balls are thrown in the wrong place or simply to the wrong team, Jovon simply puts his hands out and makes the plays.

Through 8 weeks of the season Jovon is playing for a 4-4 team and yet he is 4th in the NCAA in Receiving Yards with 843 yards. He is tied for second among NCAA receivers with 11 TDs. He is tied for 10th in number of receptions with 52.

So far this season he has carried the ball 6 times for 88 yards, that's 14.7 yards per carry. He has also completed one third of his pass attempts and thrown for one touchdown.

Jovon is the real deal. He is an outstanding player on a mediocre team. If he was playing for a team that got regular attention from major sports outlets then we would all be watching Jovon make his circus catches every week on ESPN Sportscenter.

I agree with Mr. Bronson. Jovon Bouknight may not get the National attention he deserves. But for their sake lets hope the NFL scouts are paying attention. They don't want to miss out on this kid.

Update: If not the Heisman, than at least the Biletnikoff Award..

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Local Government Proposes More Interference

We have trouble right here in Ridgecrest. That's right, Trouble with a capital T. The Ridgecrest Planning Commission (RPC) spells trouble "Cargo Container."

The RPC is proposing a city ordinamce to prohibit storage containers from residential property here in Ridgecrest.

Accordig to an article in today's Daily Independent, Community and Economic Development Director Gary Parsons:

“It is a controversial item within the community, “We have lots of them within the community in different phases.”

“We do not have any control over the placement or how they are established within our ordinance,” he said. “There is a need for some sort of control over the use of containers within our community.”

Mr. Parsons concerns were echoed by City Councilman Steve Morgan who said:

“We need a regulation for them, and that is what is being provided here,”

Fortunately Councilman Ron Carter seems to have a good grasp of the issue.

“I’m not sure why this is even needed,” said Carter. “I think government controls too much of peoples’ lives, and here’s another indication we’re going to control more. There haven’t been any complaints to the city since I’ve been on the council.”

When questioned about the number of complaints that have been filed with the Ridgecrest Planning Commission, Mr. Parsons had this to say:

“I have not personally seen any, and I don’t know that the department has,”

So let see if we can straighten this mess out. No one has complained to the Ridgecrest Planning Commission, nor to the city council. But we have a problem with storage containers on private property here is Ridgecrest. Even worse, since we have no regulations on where and how to place storage containers then naturally the logical thing to do is to just ban them within the city limits.

I think the members of the Ridgecrest Planning Commission and some members of our city council are jockeying themselves potential runs for seats in the California State Senate. Since they obviously have nothing better to do with themselves, so they are sitting around trying to think of ways of interfing with our lives.

If this is the type of leadership that we can continue to expect from our City Council then I have some suggestions from other regulations to improve the looks of our fair city. I am personally sick and tired of seeing cars parked in the driveways of city council members. I think we should ban them. Afterall it is obviously a problem. You can tell it's a problem because no one has been complaining about it. That's a sure sign of trouble in Ridgecrest. Anything that no one is complaining about has to be banned.

I don't have a cargo container in my yard. But I know folks who do. The all have them for one reason. The wind. Metal storage shed in Ridgecrest last about as long as a trailer park in a tornado. The wind around here is just to strong for metal storage sheds. Hense many people opt for cargo containers. You never see a cargo container getting torn apart in the heavy winds.

I don't kow about the City Council, but I would personally rather see a cargo container in someone's back yard than have to look at all the crap they would store in a container scattered around their yard. Besides, what is next? Will I have to start calling the Council and asking permission to mow my grass, trim my trees, paint my house, rearrange my patio furniture, or hang up a bird house in my backyard?

This is just one more instance of a typical Californian Politicial trying to over regulate and control the lives of people who voted them into office.