Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I'm going to mention one shot in particular. As a fairly novice golfer I always try to make sure that in each round of golf I play I have at least one shot that makes we want to come back for another round.
Tonight my one shot will keep me coming back for several rounds. The 17th hole is a 168 yard par 3 to a slightly elevated green. The green is closely guarded by a bunker and a large tree on the right hand side.
I struggled through my round for 6 holes and suddenly found myself 2 down with 3 to play. I managed to squeek out a win on hole 16 to get to 1 down with two to play. Then we teed off on 17.
I shanked my tee shot to the right. The ball only went about 100 yards. It was laying in the midst of some hard packed dirt on the right side of the fairway. I was far enough out from the fairway that I had both the tree and the bunker completely in play.
In intramurals I always try to play safe smart golf. But on this hole I had no safe smart play. My opponent was laying in the rough off the right side of the green. I had to win or tie this hole to extend my match. I couldn't chip under the tree, the bunker was in the way. I couldn't chip to another part of the green, the tree and bunder took the entire green out of play. I couldn't hit over the tree, it was so close that only a lob wedge would get the ball into the air fast enough and high enough to carry that tree. But my ball was lying on hard dirt. It's hard to get a ball into the air with a lob wedge if there is no grass under the ball.
Well I examined my options and finally decided that I need to get onto the green with this shot if I wanted any chance to extend this match. So I pulled out my old lob wedge and took a couple practice swings. Each time I could feel the club bounce off the hard dirt. If the club is bouncing like that I'm most likely to skull that ball straight into the bunker.
So with each practice swing I swung harder and harder. On the 4 swing I felt the club dig into the dirt and explode a bunch of it into the air. So I didn't hesitate, I shifted forward to the ball and took the same overly hard swing at the ball. I was doing my best to pound that open faced lob wedge into the dirt right behind that ball.
There was an explosion of dirt. I felt the shock of impact in both wrists. I looked up into the setting sun just in time to see my ball sailing over the top of that big old honking tree. It carried the bunker, and landed about 2 feet from the pin. It took a short bounce and stopped 8 feet from the flag.
I made my putt for par. My opponent mischipped and took a 4. On the next hole I hit my tee shot out of bounds and eventually finished with a triple bogey 8. But my opponent played tag with a couple trees and the lake. I won that 18th hole to win my match after being 2 down with 3 to play.
All in all it was a great night and I didn't play very well. Except for that one lob wedge shot. That shot will keep me coming back for a while.
Unfortunately there does seem to be an over abundance of business owners in Ridgecrest that act like they really don't want to be in the business they are in. Many of them seem to go out of their way to alienate their customers. All to often we run into clerks or owners in stores that act like they want you to just throw your money on the counter and get the heck out of their store. Many of them offer poor or nonexistant service, poor products, poor selection of products, high prices and usually a very snotty attitude.
Then there are the other stores in town. There are several stores in town that have a much different attitude about things.
One of the second type of stores is A & L Tire on Inyokern Road. As I said a couple posts ago, we blew a very new tire on the way home from San Ramon yesterday. So this morning I got up and headed for the tire store. I have at one time or another over the last 20 years done business with 4 other tire stores in town. I always avoided A & L because I had been told that they were too expensive by several people.
Well I had trouble with every other store I did business with. Either the product was inferior or the service was bad, or they just went out of business. The last place I bought tires from sold me tires that the tread bubbling off after about 10K miles. I couldn't take them back to the store because they had gone out of business. No one else in a 100 mile radius carried that brand of tire.
Since I was out of options, I tried A & L to get new tires for the van. Yes they were a little more expensive than any other dealer I had bought tires from. But you know what? It was worth it.
A & L has turned out to be one of the best businesses I have dealt with in Ridgecrest. They really know their stuff. Their store isn't much to look at. But it looks and smells a lot like the parts departments that my Dad worked in when I was young. The people that work there are polite and efficient. The tires they sell are well known national brands. They back the products they sell you.
I took my two week old tire with the 5 inch tear in the sidewall in. The manager looked it over carefully and was unable to tell if it was road hazard, something stupid I did, or a defective tire that caused the blowout. So he apologized to me for the inconvienence, and told me that they would replace it - no charge. So I got a new tire mounted, balanced, and reinstalled for free. At the same time I asked them to check a rear tires that seemed to have a slow leak in it. They found a nail and fixed that tire at the same time. While fixing the slowly leaking tire the kid doing the work noticed that one of the studs on my wheel was damaged. Since he had trouble getting the lug nut off with the air wrench, he didn't want me to have to deal with it on the road with just a lug wrench. So they replace the stud, then told me about it later. Total charge for the repair was only $10. Which is the standard price for a repair. When I asked about the stud, I was told don't worry about it.
When the work was done they packed my spare away, and even put the jack and lug wrench, that I'd left laying in the back, away.
I addition to good tire work, A & L also supports a lot of the youth activites in town. They are big supporters of the youth soccer and softball programs, as well as many high school programs. This summer they are sponsoring a youth soccer clinc where they bring in coaches from England to teach the kids for a week.
So if you need tires, or tire work done in town, or you just want to deal with a good honest businessman. Check out A & L Tire on Inyokern Road
Monday, May 30, 2005
It's Memorial Day.
So I'd like to send a thank you and a prayer to every service man and woman who has defended the freedoms we take do much for granted in this country.
Thanks to my Uncle Arnie who fought in World War II. Thanks to my Grandpa Dick who was in World War I. Thanks to my Dad who served in Germany in the 1950s.
A special big thanks to my Nephews who are currently serving in the Marines and Navy.
The kids were in stall mode and so were the dear wife and I. None of us were looking forward to the 6 hour drive home.
Finally we loaded the car and headed home. Shortly after merging onto I5 the rest of the family fell asleep. Which was good. The traffic got heavy and they all get nervous in heavy traffic. So I had the car to myself and Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Rush and his callers were hilarious. They were making fun of the Ted Kennedy for his honoring the one year anniversary of the Abu Grabe (sp) prison scandle. But the time his show ended they were turning it into a national holiday and making lists of what kind of presents you should give your favorite liberal on Abu-Grabe Day. It was funny, if highly irreverent. I don't alway agree with Rush, but I do enjoy listening to his show. It passes the miles quickly.
After Rush ended I put a mix CD in of my favorite old Motown songs. I was quietly singing along with the Temptations when suddenly my right front tire exploded. I was fortunately in the number 2 lane. So they shoulder was there on my right. A few moments earlier I had been in the number one lane with 70 miles an hour traffic to the right, front and back of me and a median too steep to pull into on the left.
I controlled the car and moved over the graded wake-up strip on the shoulder. I was able to get far enough over to keep about 2 feet between the van and the traffic then I got the tire changed.
The tire had a 5 inch tear in the side wall. I have no idea what caused this blowout. The road in that area was rough but not that rough. Additionally the tire was only two weeks old.
Regardless I got the mini spare on, and the back of the van reloaded. Since the tire was only two weeks old I wanted to take it back to the dealer where I bought it. So I didn't want to stop and buy a new tire so far from home. So I set my speed at 50 mph which was the recommmended speed for the mini-spare and we spend an hour longer getting home than we had planned.
Boy I have to tell you, I5 into Bakersfield and Hwy 14 from Mojave to Ridgecrest are really boring at 50 mph. I munched most of the way and made the family keep talking to me to avoid getting sleepy. On the bright side I didn't have to worry about passing anyone. I was definately the slowest thing on the road today.
We finally got here safe and well. I already planned on taking tomorrow off work, so instead of installing the new ceiling fan in the patio I guess I'm headed for the tire store.
Its good to be home again. We all like going to visit family, but coming home is always good. Well its getting late and I hear my own pillow and bed calling.
Happy Memorial Day to all, I hope you all got home safe also.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
I thought Canyon Lakes was expensive two days ago. Dublin Ranch was $48 and that was the twilight rate. Ouch. If we ever moved into that area I'd have to give up golf - just too expensive.
Dublin Ranch was a beautiful Course. Even prettier than Canyon Lakes. The fairways were smoother and closer mowen than some greens I have been on. The rough was fescue grass that was mowen about 1.5 inches. It was so thick it was almost impossible to swing a wedge through. It just grabbed the club head and stopped it cold. Outside the rough was tall fescue grass. And I mean tall. It was about 2 feet. You had to play all this tall grass as a lateral hazard. We lost several balls in this grass but each time we found more than we lost while looking for our lost balls. We seldom saw a ball we found, we usually stepped on them and felt them through our shoes.
The greens were hard and fast. I don't know how well they would hold a ball, then only greens I hit with approach shots the ball landed on the fringe and bounced onto the putting surface.
BIL and I played as a twosome. We had fun. No rush, no a$$holes. It was a wonderful afternoon. The only other golfers we met were polite and friendly. On the third hole we played up behind a fivesome. They immediately stepped off the green they were preparing to putt on and waved us through. We shouted thanks and motioned them to play on. We kind of liked waiting behind the fivesome. It gave us time to discuss our shots, offer some advice on course managment to BIL, and to look for lost balls.
At one point a twosome played up behind us. Seeing the fivesome a head of us, and that there was no one behind them, eveytime they caught up with us they would just ride back and repeat the last hole.
The weather was fantastic. The course wonderful if expensive. BIL and I had fun. All in all a great day.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
We wandered around and looked at all the arts and produce vendors and watched the kite flying demos for a few hours. The music was good - some local band that covered a wide range of other peoples music. They turn out was incredible. Coming from a small town where a street fair might drum up a couple hundred people and the Christmas Parade might bring in a thousand spectators it was amazing seeing literally thousands of people wandering through the park.
Friday, May 27, 2005
BIL and I went golfing this afternoon. We played a course called the Canyon Lakes Country Club. The facility was nice. Pretty fancy. Pretty pricey also. Our round was $65 each. This kind of caught me off guard. I'm used to 20 - 40 dollars per round and have only ever paid over $50 for a round of golf once before. But then everything in San Ramon is significantly more expensive than Ridgecrest. So I was sort of prepared.
Well BIL and I were next to tee off and were warming up when the starter paired us up with another twosome who was waiting to tee off. This is a pretty standard practice at most golf courses and I usually look forward to it. It gives you a chance to meet some other golfers and sometimes some interesting folks. So we were going to play a round of golf with K and M.
However this time was different. Really different. When we first met these two we warned them that BIL was a new golfer and I while having played for 8 years was a 26 handicap. We just wanted to warn them that we might occasionally be a little slow while looking for wayward balls, and that we might be taking a few more swings than the average golfer.
Both guys told us don't worry to much about it, they claimed to be an 18 and 20 handicap themselves so there wouldn't be a problem. Things started out nice, friendly and chatty. You know, standard stuff - where you from, what business you in, how long you been golfing, etc.
Well it started out slowly but soon became apparent that we were in for a really ugly day. These two guys turned out to be the worst example of sportsmen, gentlemen, or just reasonable golfers that I have ever had the misfortune to have to spend 18 holes with.
For two guys who played as well as these two they must have had a lot of experience on the course unfortunately these two obviously never learned anything about the sportsmanship part of the game.
I should have suspected that something was going to be wrong when on the first tee I duffed a short drive and BIL had a short drive that just passed mine. We were both laying just off the right side of the fairway. K and M were both 50 yards beyond us in the middle of the fairway. As BIL and I rode up to our golf balls, K and M just rode right past us and on down the fairway to where thier balls were. We had to yell at them twice to watch out so we could hit as they were standing right in our line to the green. I assumed that they were just inattentive and had made a mistake.
No mistake there. These two consistantly outdrove BIL and I and they would ride past our balls and straight to theirs every single time. I had to constantly warn them to lookout because they were in our line to the green. Never once did they move out of the way. They would just step behind their cart and grumble to each other because we were taking too long to hit.
During the front nine I lost 6 golf balls. One in a water hazard, they other 5 were in deep grass just off the fairway. This course had very little room for mistakes. If you strayed more than 10 feet off the rather tight fairways you found your self in shrubs or 12 inch long grass. So five times for myself and 6 times for BIL we say a ball land in the deep grass. All eleven times M and K just roade past the spot where our balls landed and headed up to their balls. Each time that BIL and I stopped to look for our balls we were reminded that we needed to speed up and were told to just drop a ball there and play on. The longest period of time that we had to look for a lost ball was about 30 seconds. We found that one, while turning back to the fairway to capitulate with our playing partners wishes to just drop and play on.
Several times during this round they had both holed out their putts while BIL and I were still chipping towards the green. Then while BIL and I were putting they would practice putt towards the same hole.
On one hole I hit my approach shot into a pot bunker next to the green. BIL rolled his ball up to about 3 feet from the pin where M and K were just finishing putting. As I was working my way into the bunker I told BIL to go a head and putt in if he was ready. He stepped up to his ball and just as he started his swing, K reached back and stuck the flag he was holding back into the hole and walked away.
On the very next hole M and K finished putting before we got onto the green, then they stood there with the flag in the cup and their backs turned to us, while I walked all the way up to the flag removed it from the hole and walked 30 feet back to my ball. When I got to my ball I turned to find K putting the flag back into the hole and walking away.
On the 13th tee we had to hit a blind tee shot over a hill. In the distance we could see that a tree lined creek bordered the entire left side of the fairway. My tee shot was long and straight for about 150 yards then it took a huge left turn and we say it go flying into the trees along the creekbed. I turned to K and M and asked them if there was room to drop along the edge of the hazard down there (because I couldn't see the fairway where my ball would have crossed the hazard boundry) or should I re-hit from here. M turned to me and said "it's your call."
Disgusted at his nonanswer I started to retee a ball. Then K asked "why are you hitting again, we have to get going?" I said ratherly snottily I'm ashamed to admit "Since I have never played here before and I can't get a straight answer from the guys who have played here before to the simple question - Is there room to drop down there. I have two choices, make you all wait here while I drive down there and check it out and maybe have to drive back up here to hit again anyway. Or I can avoid inconviencing the foursome that will be coming up behind us soon and just hit from here."
They looked at each other, then M looked at me and said "Oh, OK, whatever." And they drove off down the cart path. I teed up my next ball and took a swing while praying with all my might that I could pound that ball right into the middle of their cart. Fortunately for me, and them, I'm a 26 handicap and I never hit what I'm aiming at.
On 17 a long par 5 that you couldn't see the green on until you were within 100 yards, BIL and I took several shots to get to the top of the hill where we could see the green. M and K were already putting on the green. When my approach shot hit the front of the green, they turned in a hissy fit because we hit near them and didn't holler "fore". I ignored them. Just like they had ignored us for 16 holes.
However I almost wasn't able to ignore them any longer when M's tee shot on 18 went wide into a hedge. He and K stopped to look for the ball and BIL and I played on, just like they had to us for 17 holes. When they caught up with us they were both comnplaining and whinning because we didn't stop to help them look for M's ball.
All in all it was a beautiful day, nice golf course if a little expensive and difficult. BIL is a nice guy to golf with who with some more practice will be giving my tips instead of me giving him tips. But the whole experience was badly marred by having to spend 4 hours with two of the most selfish, self absorbed, ignorant, insportsmanlike, a$$holes I have ever met.
M and K need golf lessons really badly. Not for they way they swing their clubs but for the way they behave, on and around the golf course. The few club pros who I have had lessons from and the two juniour college teachers who I took golf classes from all stressed that golf is a gentlemen's game. You have to play by the rules, and be a good sport to the people around you. Unfortunately M and K apparently never had teachers like that. Or if they did they failed those lessons.
I pity the next two guys who get stuck playing a round of golf with those two clowns.
Today is my 16th Anniversary. We came up here for My sister-in-laws birthday but having a larger selection of restaurants than at home to celebrate in is a plus.
I just want you to know that I have the best wife ever, she's letting me go golfing on my anniversay.
My brother-in-law took up golf this year and wanted to get me out on some of the courses up here. I never turn down a chance to go golfing.....
Well he wants to go today, my 16th anniversary. My dear wonderful wife told me to go ahead and have fun. So we are....
Thursday, May 26, 2005
My sister-in-law lives there. She turns 40 on Saturday and we're headed that way to pick on her about it.
It's about a 6 hour drive along some pretty boring roads. South from Ridgecrest to Mojave, The west to Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Pass. Then north west along I5 through the California Central Valley to Tracy. Then west through Livermore CA to San Ramon.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Our A player was in a pretty tough match with both players working hard to lower their handicaps. Both players were under net par for the evening. Our A player had birdies on holes 1, 5 and 7. This is his second 3 birdie round of the season. Depending on who you ask, hole number 5 is either the hardest or second hardest hole on the golf course. So I don't expect to see too many other golfers making birdie there, especially if the wind keeps blowing.
Our B player played a slightly different game. He lost the first hole. He managed to get back to even two holes later, then dropped the next two holes. When he made the turn around 9, he was 2 down with 2 to play. He managed to win both the last two holes to tie his match.
The AB side went 2-1 with a win by the A player and Ties for the B and the Best Ball match.
On the CD side the golf wasn't pretty. OK, it was just down right ugly, with an occasional bright spot. Our opponents are pretty good guys and we had fun anyway. I was in a bit of a rut. With the exception of a freak 5 on hole #9 I shot only 6s and 4s all night. Now, as a 23 handicap, and since I was alternating 6-4-6-4 etc. I was averaging 5 strokes per hole. Which would work out under normal circumstances to be a bogey round of golf. A pretty good night for me. I jumped out to a quick 2 up lead after two, then played pretty even until I finally won the match 2 and 1. I shot a 47 (net 36).
Our D player had a much different plan for his game. His opponent jumped out to a quick 2 up lead and he spent the night playing catchup. My partner finally took his first lead of the night on the 7th hole then lost it on the next hole. He went into the final hole even up with our best ball match dormie. He then got the dubious pleasure of watching his partner (me) hook my tee shot into the trees and knew that he was on his own for both his match and the best ball on that hole.
Then while standing over his ball on the tee box of hole #2, our last hole to play, my partner started his swing motion just as we hear 4 voices from back on the first fairway all yelling FORE! TEE BOX!
So there's my partner, in the middle of his back swing, people behind us are all yelling, the rest of us who are standing around on his tee box are all ducking and moving around and just as a ball comes smacking down onto the back side of our tee box, My partner rips a crushing drive 280 yards down the left side of the fairway. Leaving himself only 70 yards into the green for his second shot. He settled for a bogey on the hole which was enough to win both his match and the best ball.
Over all the team went 5-1 tonight, and had quite a bit of fun doing it
Sunday, May 22, 2005
And Noah did as the Lord asked. And when the ark was completed he loaded all the animals into it. Then he loaded his family into the ark and sealed the doors. Then the rain began.
As the rain continued to fall the people who had harassed and ridiculed Noah began to worry. They moved to higher ground and began to make boats themselves. When they realized that the waters were rising too quickly they grabbed what weapons they had and stormed the Ark.
Beating on the hatchways of the Ark with whatever was available, shovels, pitchforks, furniture and pottery, they struggled in vain to gain entry into the Ark.
Finally the waters rose to such levels that the Ark teetered precariously upon its dry-dock supports. The outside population launched a final desperate assault. But the water was too deep to get near the hatches. So they tried to batter their way through the bow of the vessel. All attempts failed.
As a last defiant act, a desperate member of the rabble hurled a crock full of wine against the hull of the vessel, just as the Ark slipped free of it's supports. The complete futility of this last desperate act of a doomed man created a lasting impression upon Noah and his family.
As the waters receded and the occupants left to repopulate the earth they remembered, and as they built boats to sail the seas they made a custom of launching each one with a bottle of spirits.
I guess that means that summer is here. Well I guess we had better get used to it again. Once the 100s start we usually get around 6 months of them.
I can feel my shoes sticking to the blacktop already.
Friday, May 20, 2005
It was a very frustrating night as a coach. I just don't know what to do or say to motivate a team when they get into what I call 'zombie mode'. It seems like every now and then every team gets into a situation where the entire team just stands around and watches. I've tried calling time out and pep talks. But all I can do is tell them to move, to get off their heels, to get into the game etc. But there are some times that those are only words. And apparently words aren't enough some times.
Inspite of the lackluster performance we lost the match close. We were down the first game 23-16 and came back to lose 26-24. The second game stayed close throughout and we ended up losing 25-23. All my girls needed was a couple more good first serves or a couple serve receives that stayed in bounds and they could have ended the season 7-1. But I guess that a 6-2 record with a team that only got practice 7 hours the entire season isn't bad.
I'm not bothering with the statistics I kept. The league is over, the team disbanded and I may not see any of those girls again. Except for my daughter, I keep bumping into her quite regularly.
I really hope I do see some of them around again. Hopefully on a volleyball court. There were a couple young ladies on my team that I would love to have play for me this fall. But they don't attend St. Anns. So I hope I at least get to see them on the other side of the net.
It was a good season and I had a blast. A stressful, heart-attack kind of blast.
Well I got more volleyball coaching to do tomorrow. We're having a three hour camp tomorrow for our school team. I hope several of the 5th graders who will be 6th graders next year show up. I'd like to get an early start with these ladies. The volleyball season starts so quickly after the start of the school year that it's hard to get them ready for the start of the season. So we are going to try and hold a couple camps this summer. This year it will hopefully help us get our 6th graders ready for the next season. If we can make these camps a regular summer activity we can also use them to help our 8th graders next year to get ready for high school ball.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I want to make something very clear - I Love the Star Wars Movies. All of them. Sure some were better than others. Some were lacking things I'd like to see more of. But over all if I had to make a list of my all time favorite movies they would all six be somewhere up near the top. At least 2 of them would be in the top 5.
They are fun, adventurous, exciting and most of all entertaining. But I'm not a total Star Wars Geek. I don't own a light saber, nor a mask or costume, not even an action figure. I have the DVDs and two sets of Star Wars Legos that I was given as gifts. I love the movies but I don't buy into the hype and marketing. They are fun movies but that's it.
I wasn't disappointed at all with Revenge of the Sith. It was a good tie in to the first trilogy, yet a good story in itself. Sure it wasn't perfect. There were several things that I wish were different. Specifically, Anakin gives in to the dark side way to quickly and easily. I was hoping for a more drawn out conversion. I wanted to see him keep taking little baby steps towards darkness until suddenly he finds himself in a very dark place, looking out at the light. How believeable is it for him to suddenly just decide to be dark? OK he had motive, but maybe he had other options also.
The chemistry between Padme and Anakin was nonexistant. Hayden Christohper proved in this and other movies that he can act. Natalie Portman has shown in other movies that she can act. So why when they are on the screen together are they both so bad? Regardless of the dialogue those two have no chemistry together. They do absolutely nothing to make me believe that they care for one another. Obi-wan and Anakin very obviously care for one another. It's apparent even without the words. Threepio and R2D2 have marvelous chemistry on screen together and that's tough to do from inside a roll of tin foil. Heck even the affection shown between Yoda and the two wookies was more believable than anything between Anakin and Padme. I can't really blame the actors for this, as said they both can act. Is it the dialogue? Maybe. Better dialogue certainly wouldn't hurt. But mostly I suspect that it's the direction they are receiving. I'm sorry but whistful gazes and clumsy hugging does not portray deep emotional feelings. Where were the small touches, the caresses, the hand holding. Why do they always look so ucomfortable together? If they wanted to make us beleive that they are truely in love then they should be able to just stand next to one another and look as comfortable together as an old pair of levis and your favorite tee shirt.
Lastly, Padme's Babies were two big, to clean, to normal looking to be as premature as they had to be. She named them way to quickly, and where did those names come from? Did she name them after her favorite brand of ice cream back on Naboo? Luke and Leia's Lucky Lemon Surprise?
Well enough of that. I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. Go see it. It's a good entertaining movie. It's better if you have seen the Clone Wars Cartoons before, but not necessary.
I have just one more question: With all the advanced technology in the Star Wars universe, have they never heard of jetways or canopies against the rain, general anesthetic or ultrasounds?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
So I started shopping around and had myself talked into buying a Dell Laptop. I was looking the Inspiron 6000. So I logged into their outlet website and started shopping through the systems there. I found just what I was looking for. Well, OK it wasn't just what I was looking for. I still had to pay for it. But they didn't have any free laptops in the system so I figured I could settle for this one.
I wanted to get this whole process done tonight because they were running a free shipping offer that ended tonight. So I picked out my system added it to the shopping cart and started the check out process.
I was in a bit of a hurry because the outlet store will only let you keep a system in your shopping cart for 15 minutes. So a 9:50 PM PDT I start checking out. After filing in all my information, name, address, credit card, etc. I was shown a total purchase page that included the system I ordered, free shipping, california sales tax and an $8 environmental
Off Soapbox and back on subject now - I had to read and accept Dell's purchase agreement, Then I had to click that I wouldn't export this computer. All in all I had to click through about 5-6 different pages and on each one I was being shown what my order was - computer, free shipping, tax, enviro
I eventually get through this entire process and get to the last page where I'm allowed to review my order one last time before clicking on the submit order button. Now what to my wondering eyes should appear on this final page? My order of laptop computer, $49 for shipping, California State Tax, and California Stick-it-to-the-taxpayer environmental
WAIT A MINUTE - $49 shipping? What they heck happened to my free shipping. I start reading the fine print and clicking back through the pages and everyone one of them has a $49 charge for shipping on it.
So I'm pissed, I'm tired, I'm confused, and I don't feel like dealing with any crap from a rip-off company right now. So I shut down my browser and flop back in my chair and glance up at the clock that reads - 10:03.
Wait a minute, Dell is located in Texas, which is in the central time zone, so if it's 10:03 here in California then it's 12:03 in Texas. 12:03 on May 19th. The free shipping offer expired on May 18th.
Now I'm really hot! Dell expects me to pay California State Sales Tax because I live in California. They expect me to pay the California Environmental
Well that is just a load of BS. The free shipping offer expired at midnight. Well according to every clock in my house I still had 1 hour and 57 minutes to midnight. Sure Dell has to set a cut off time to end the freebe offer. But nowhere did it say midnight Central Daylight Time May 18. It just says "offer ends May 18". Well according to my clock here in California it's where I have to pay state sales tax and stupid environmental
So Dell - pick one are you doing business in California or Dallas. If you are doing business in California and charging all the different California taxes then why would you cancel a free offer early in California?
Crap, it's late, I'm tired, and now I have to start shopping for a new laptop computer - tomorrow.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
History books tell of the exploits, deeds, and courage of men such as Eric the Red, John Paul Jones, Christopher Columbus, Chester Nimitz, Sir Francis Drake, Ferdinand Magellen, Sirs John & James Ross and countless others. But none was braver, more resourceful, more daring, or more willing to risk it all for the needs of his country than an unnamed 2nd century BC ships captain.
Our unnamed seaman most likely commanded a small fleet of merchant triremes operating out of any one of many small coastal cities, near present day Tunis, on the North African Coast.
When approached by his King and General of the Army, this Captain readily agreed to make his fleet available and thereby entered into history as one of it's most daring, courageous, self sacrificing, and least known adventurers.
Most history books tell the tale of Hannibal's crossing of the Alps to invade Rome. But seldom documented are the great sacrifices, and trials (not to mention the mess) endured by a sea captain who agreed to transport Hannibal's elephants across the Mediterranean Sea in preparation for his historic venture.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
We let them have three meal a day. They get new socks once a year whether they need them or not. Heck, just last week we gave them each a full one inch thick piece of foam to put over the plywood that they use for beds. Sometimes we even replace their shoes before all 5 toes are visable through the holes.
But just to remind my mother that as parents we do realize that providing an occasional indulgence for my kids is my job as a father. So a few weeks ago we picked up one of these.
The kids loved this. It sets up quick, but takes a bit more to take down. I guess I have a new regular chore for the weekends this summer.
Finally, since its sometimes tough to tell sarcasm in print, that second paragraph about the way we treat our chldren was a total fabrication. We let them have new socks twice a year. So don't be writing to me about what a horrible father I am.
Through the years our backyard plans have changed a bit as our family grew. But that strip of dirt remained. About four years ago I finally put down the paving stones to cover half the strip of dirt. Then two years ago we had the patio enclosed and moved my den out there so each child could have their own bedroom. Last year I added the roofing over the patio area.
Well this summer I finally got my rear in gear and finished the ground level deck on the other side of the dirt. My dear wife immediately picked out a nice set of padded chairs and a new patio table. So we now have an outdoor dining area.
The list reccomends for China Lake to gain about 2500 billets. However this list still has to get through 5 months of committee re-work and then approval by the President and Congress.
So nothing is going to happen fast. Personnally I don't expect a hugh rush of people moving into town. Most folks who work at the bases that are going to have their work sent here will not want to live here and therefore probably won't move.
I just hope that we get some more work and funding here so those of us who are working on programs that are rapidly winding down can find some interesting work to do next.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Short Canyon is only about 20 miles away. Straight up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It's a pretty easy hike from the parking area. The trail winds up a short canyon that has a small creek running through it. This keeps the bottom of the canyon green.
Here are a few of the pictures I took today.
Giant Nolina - This plant was across the creek from us but looked to be over 6 feet in diameter.
The Beavertail Cactus were blooming all over the place
Rock Live-Forever Plant - which looks to me like it belongs in an aquarium not the desert.
There weren't many California Poppies left on the hills
A desert Thistle - this one was about 5 feet high
The view from the short canyon parking area looking back towards Ridgecrest.
Last, but certainly not least, the real reason we went up there in the first place.
I can think of lots of reasons to take a day off work. But spending today in the outdoors with this group of kids was absolutely one of the best.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Since that night my girls had lost one match. The team we lost to was the reamining undefeated team in the league until they played tonights opponents.
Our opponents tonight beat that undefeated team three straight games.
Well it was a tougher match as I expected. Unfortunately both teams were a little flat. Not much movement or activity on the court. But unlike that last time we had a flat night, this time my team didn't lose their ability to serve. I think that is what swayed the match in our favor. We won the first game 25-12 and the second 25-21. The third game which was just for practice at this time we won 15-12.
The stats for the week are:
Player 7 April 14 April 21 April 28 April 12 May
M 3/5 5/5 10/10 9/9 8/10
A 9/10 13/13 12/14(2/3) 7/7(0/2) 15/16
K1 7/7 4/6 5/7 2/4 3/4
B 12/12 2/5 8/10 7/7(0/1) 6/7
J 2/4 7/9 2/4 dnp 2/5
S1 8/8 0/3 7/10 3/5 5/6
K2 4/4 dnp dnp 8/9 dnp
D 3/3 3/6 4/5 5/5(5/6) (5/7)
S2 4/5 dnp 4/4 7/7 6/6
Total 52/58 35/47 52/64(2/3) 48/53(5/9) 45/54(5/7)
MFS 4 8 3 2 3
SAWIB 10 6 5 3 3
BFP 29 8 9 10
(the serves in parenthesis are overhand serves)
Next week we don't get to practice. The gym is being used for the upper division tournement. So it's just one more game and then the season is over. I really wish the city would take practice a bit more seriously. The girls don't learn much during the games. Practice is where they need to learn the game. But this league is all about the games. The practice schedule always gets short changed. Well maybe if I keep nagging they'll come around eventually. Or else they'll just get sick of me and not let me coach anymore.
And to what do we owe this new found fame? Did China Lake develop new weapon to use in the war on terror? Nope. Did our local high school sports team win a national championship? Not that either.
We are nationally famous now because a husband and wife in Johannesburg were ticketed for letting their chicken cross the road.
Jaywalking chicken lands couple in court
Chicken Ticketed For Crossing Road Near Ridgecrest
These are just a couple samples of identical articles that are appearing all over the web.
So here I sit trying to present a common man's hopefully humorous view of life in Ridgecrest and I get upstaged by a chicken.
I only hope that somewhere some good comes from this whole incedent. Maybe if the story gets enough coverage in Texas the armadillos will learn some road crossing tips from the chicken's technique.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
This leads me to propose the hypothesis:
Hair Loss is Fattening!
We competed tonight against several ex-teammates. When we first joined this league we had a team of 6 guys that by the end of the season had swollen to 12. So the next season when there was an opening in the league for another team half out guys broke way and formed another team. This has worked out well for all concerned. We now play a team at least once each season made up of friends. So it's usually a fun night, we can beat up on each other and still laugh, joke around and have fun.
The last two years they have gotten to better of us in the head to head matches. But tonight we exacted a little revenge. We won 5.5 out of 6 points. Our A player, Shane, had three birdies in 9 holes. I managed to shoot my first net par round of the season.
Monday, May 09, 2005
As I have pointed out several times - Ridgecrest is a small community in the upper Mojave Desert.
So what would make 20,000 people move out here into the middle of nowhere? What would make all these people live in a place where the streets get so hot in the summer that your shoes will stick to the blacktop and grabbing any metal object that has been outside with your bare hands can cause first degree burns?
The answer is work. Our jobs are here. Sure some people live here because they love the desert environment. But a great many live here because they love the work they do, and this is one of the few places in the world where they can do the kind of work they love. So many of us are here because of the largest single employer in the valley. The one company that not only employs around 4000 people but is also the main customer for hundreds of support companies here in town - The United States Navy.
That right, we have right here in the Indian Wells Valley our very own land-locked Navy Base - The Naval Air Warfare Station - China Lake.
The Naval Air Warfare Station - China Lake is the current name of the actual Navy Base. The tenant activity, which does most of the work here, is called the Naval Air Systems Command Weapons Division, or NAVAIR. From 1992 to 2001 it was called The Naval Air Warfare Center - China Lake. From 1967 to 1992 it was called the Naval Warfare Center - China Lake. From it's founding in 1943 until 1967 it was called the Naval Ordnance Test Station - China Lake. Navy managers are always playing around with names. Lately they seem to be intent on removing any sense of history or identity that that place has. Our new names don't include the words China Lake. But to the dedicated people who work here and the residents who live around here the place is and always will be just "China Lake".
Founded in 1943 China Lake has a 62 year record of being the foremost weapons research, design, development, testing and integration facility in the US Navy.
Accomplishements here at China Lake over the last 60 years have included over 100 different missile and rocket programs. In addition to missiles and rockets, China Lake has been made major developments in Chemistry, Physics, Explosives, Soldering, System Engineering and Weapons Integration.
A few of the major advancements you might recognize include the Sidewinder Missile - The most widely used air to air combat missile in the world. Do you remember the pictures from Desert Storm showing the smart bombs point of view as it drops out of the sky and is directed exactly to an intended target? Do your kids play with glow sticks? The chemical luminesence technology at use there came from China Lake.
So what does all this have to do with the Sound of Freedom this morning. This morning I was serenaded during my breakfast by the sound of a military jet passing overhead. This is a very common sound in the valley. Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear military aircraft flying in the area. But it is rarely a bothersome sound; it is the sound of freedom. It is the sound of my co-workers doing weapons testing and/or evaluation. It is the sound of what we do here. It is the sound of the protection of freedom for America and the advancement of freedom for nations who want it by the continued support and advancement of the capabilities of the United States Military.
A pdf brochure about China Lake and the surrounding area can be downloaded here.
A Photographic History of NAF & VX-5 at NOTS China Lake
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Having been at sea and submerged since November doing nothing but taking scientific measurements the discipline among crew had become lax. In a momentary lapse, the galley crew left a burner on under a pot during a daily drill. The resulting fire quickly spread to the adjoining crew's quarters. In the crew's quarters, as certain materials heated up they began give off a noxious vapor which soon threatened to overcome the vessel.
Realizing that the exhaust system on board was not handling the problem the Captain ordered the ship to surface. Two teeth jarring attempts were made to ram their way through a thin spot in the overhead ice. The third attempt was a success but the hull of the MantaRay was slightly damaged in the process.
The crew was immediately evacuated and the ship exhausted of the noxious fumes. The crew had moved back into the vessel within 2 hours and hull repairs progressed without incident until they were completed three days later.
Once battened up and ready to submerge The Captian of the MantaRay discovered that the ice had frozen in around the vessel and she was stuck fast in place. For two more days the crew struggled in vain to free the ice bound ship. The Captain radioed for assistance but was told that the nearest ship capable of helping was two weeks away, and they should continue to attempt to extricate the boat the best they could until then.
The frustration of the situation led the Captain and the crew to try many different approaches to free the vessel. None worked. Finally the First Officer requested permission to try a more radical approach. With the Captain's approval the First Officer ordered two members of the crew to paint a large mouth and large sad eyes on the bow of the stuck sub.
He then radioed an anonymous tip to the Greenpeace Headquarters in Seattle that an Eskimo had spotted a rare Grey Whale stuck in the ice, and gave them sub's location.
Eighteen hours later in the most dramatic rescue effort ever launched by Greenpeace, 2374 volunteers equipped with axes, chain saws and other equipment arrived on snowmobiles, sleds and snowcats. In little over 5 hours these dedicated defenders of the defenseless, proceeded to chop free the stuck 'whale'. As their ailing charge slipped beneath the surface the volunteers gathered to wish it well. Yet they feared all their efforts had been in vain because throughout the rescue the creature lain so still and lifeless. But they hoped for the best and returned home praying for the animals quick recovery and survival.
Sensing that the Navy owed the organization a debt of gratitude, the Captain of the MantaRay arranged for a shipment of 200 sealskin winter sea coats to be delivered to Greenpeace for use during their North Atlantic operations.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Little Green Footballs is reporting that Cafepress is now selling tee shirts that advocate Save America, Kill Republicans!
So you have to ask yourself, is this anyway to advertise a tee shirt?
Making fun of Repubicans won't get them on our side, but threatening to kill them might be more effective.
Right, threatening to kill me is going to encourage me to take a closer look at your side of an arguement. Maybe if you could spell Republican I might take your threat a little more seriously. But regardless, if you believe that threatening to kill me will make me pay attention to your side of the arguement you are wrong. But then you should be getting used to being wrong by now.
Who do you want running your country right now? The Republicans who recognize that we are fighting a global war against terrorism, or the liberals who are fighting a global war against Republicans?
But this tee shirt does raise a question that makes me go Hmmmmmm? Just how are the ranting and raving loony liberal left going to try and kill Republicans?
They don't believe in the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, so theoretically the Republicans are probably better armed than they are.
Are they going to terrify us to death with their scathing wit? Howard Dean the new head of the Democratic National Committe says that we are 'evil', 'corrupt' and 'brain-dead'
Oww, Mommy make the scary man stop saying bad things about me.
They can't run us over with their cars. Can you imagine them trying to take out this:
with one of these
Can you say speedbump?
So how about the tolerant peaceful left go back to wearing tie dyed tee shirts, hemp pants and sandals. You look silly advocating the murder of 50 million Americans.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
I was the C player this evening and we started on the 14th hole. Number one handicap hole on the golf course. Long, straight, narrow with trees on both sides. Par 4 that faces straight into the wind most of the time. I really blew it. It took me 3 shots just to reach everyone elses tee shots. If you ever want to see a really ugly overswing let me know, I'll video tape it for you.
I lost the first 2 holes then made a great chip and putt on 16 to get one back. 17 is a 168 yard par 3 with an elevated green. I hit my tee shot off the toe of my 6 iron. But I hit it well. We were looking straight into the evening sun so seeing was difficult at best. As I looked up during my swing I saw nothing but sun. My partner was sure he saw the ball heading towards the green via a big hook over the tree on the right side of the fairway. My opponents thought they saw my ball bounce near a large rock in the right rough half way up the fairway. Knowing that I had hit off the toe I started checking around the rock.
I eventually found my ball on the green about 20 feet from the pin. I had to ignore what my eyes were telling me about the putt I was facing. It looked like the putt would break to the left, but I know from experience that the 17th green is really flat, so it doesn't break much from any direction. I lined up center cup and drained a nice 20 footer for my first birdie of the season. Lets just hope it's not my last.
I made 2 other 17 - 20 foot putts this evening, unfortunately I missed two 3 foot putts. Opps.
I shot a net 3 over par and lost to my opponent 2 and 1 with him shooting a respectable 2 under par net.
My team went 3-3 on the night thanks to our AB players who went 3-0 to offset my partner's and my 0-3 night.
Monday, May 02, 2005
CrimProf Blog asks the question "Should Hoaxes be treated as Criminal Offenses?"
There seems to be a lot of opinions flying around about whether or not this
Did she commit a crime? Is it illegal for an adult to just wander off without telling anyone? Is it illegal for an adult once they realize that they screwed up to concoct a phony kidnapping story to cover up their actions? Is it illegal to inflict unimaginable emotional distress on your parents, friends, and fiance?
Well I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. So I can't answer those questions from a legal standpoint. But I can tell you my answers from a conservative, middle class, father and husband point of view.
Did she commmit a crime? Yes, the moment she told the police that she had been kidnapped she had filed a false police complaint. What kind of punishment should she receive? How about she perform the same hours of community service as the police, and emergency agencies spent in looking for her? She could do her time giving talks to kids about the appropriate ways to deal with stress. Of course someone would have to write her a script.
Is it illegal for an adult to just wander off without telling anyone? Well no it's not illegal, at least I hope it's not. But it is cruel, uncaring, and extrememly selfish. My children from an early age have had a lot of freedom to chose how they spend their free time. But they have to tell us where they are going. Front yard, back yard, to the neighbors house, Mom and Dad have to know where you are going. This is not to control them, it is to protect them and us. But this
Is it illegal to inflict unimaginable emotional grief on your family, friends and loved ones? In certain circumstances it probably is. In this case, illegal - no. Immoral, selfish, childish, and incredibly stupid - yes. Her parents of course are thrilled just to know she's safe and to have her back again. As a Dad I can understand that. But her fiance who still wants to marry her after she intentionally made him the number one suspect in her disappearance. She put him into the position of appearing to the nation as the prime suspect in a kidnapping or murder.
A word of advice to her fiance, marry a crack whore instead. At least you will know what you are getting into. Their problems are well documented and you can take appropriate actions to try and prevent them. This whack job that you are engaged to now needs to be sent back to her Mommy and Daddy where she needs to be spanked, grounded, and watched over very carefully until she grows up enough to be allowed to dress herself. You may still love her and want to be with her. But can you ever trust her? And without trust how stable is your marriage going to be? More importantly will you ever be able to leave her unsupervised? How long will it take for her to get stressed out over an upcomming trip to the grocery store and take off again? Did you enjoy the polygraph test? Did you enjoy having half the country think that you were a murdering SOB? Because that's what most of my coworkers thought of you.
So was this a hoax, criminal act or just plain stupidity? I think I vote for stupidity. If I was a over-legislatively inclined liberal I'd say that we need a law against people being this stupid. Fortunately, I'm not that stupid. (I hope!)
So get the Georgia relief agencies to total up the hours they spent looking for Jennifer (walkabout) Wilbanks and get ready to put this whack job to work, paying back that time.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Well we can find out. The Darth Side is
"Journal of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith and Servant to His Supreme Excellency the Emperor Palpatine."
Lets all hope that GL and his stable of lawyers doesn't shut him down or worse.
In 921 AD, Baron Willim Stutfiels a minor Holder on the East side of the British Isles commissioned a local craftsman to install two siege crossbows upon the bow and stern of each of this three merchant ships. This desperate act was a result of the increased pirate activity in the area.
Baron Stutfiel's idea was a marvelous success. Soon most ships sailing the English Channel were equipped with such weapons. Unfortunately for every development of war comes a counter measure.
In 922 AD the pirate Juan Diego Calvertes discovered, quite by accident, that one well placed shot of a crossbow into the supply of crossbow quarrels, usually stored near an enemies crossbows, would cause the supply of quarrels to sympathetically fire madly about the enemey vessel. The resulting chaos and destruction provided an easy victory for the pirate.
As the occurrence of sympathetic firings of stores of quarrels increased the Captains took to placing the quarrels in re-enforced oaken boxes. But still the sympathetic firings continued. Soon the quarrels were moved into a storage area below decks, and a winch system rigged to deliver them to the bowmen manning the crossbows.
This led to the tactic of trying to determine where the enemy had stored his quarrels and firing not at the sailors or riggings but trying to pierce the sides of the ship in hopes of striking the store of quarrels.
Shortly after that the quarrels were moved to an area of the ship below the waterline so to be protected from missile fire. This led to the tactic of ramming the enemy ship near the quarrel magazine.
Eventually the amount of protection needed to defend ones quarrel supply from attack by the enemy was so substantial that many ships became overloaded and rode too deep in the water. In the high seas, and unpredictable winds of the Channel this condition caused many vessels to capsize and sink. Finally crossbows were abandoned as a viable naval weapon. Not because they were ineffective but because of the dangerous storage problems of the ammunition.
As I mentioned in my last post the Mudville Gazette has a great article for new bloggers. Number four on the list there was Trackback. So I signed up over at Haloscan for thier comment and trackback service. This was so easy there should be a law against it. I used thier auto install feature for Blogger accounts. The hardest part of this whole process was typing in my blogger username and password. I'm so brainwashed to never give out my login names and passwords. So trusting a new site with that information was a bit nervewracking. But in a fit of insanity I forged fearlessly ahead. So if the Ridgecrest Blog starts showing up in Swahili, or becomes a XXX porn site you'll know I screwed up.
There is a lot of great information there for new bloggers. Like me.
Now I have to follow my own advice and get some changes started on my blog - Trackback here I come.....