Hasty Ruminations

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Monday, January 31, 2005

A Different Point of View

Here are the comments by RADM Paul Sullivan about the USS San Francisco accident. He has a different perspective from the reporter in New London in the follow on article below.

Sitrep on the USS San Francisco Grounding
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 15:25:29 EST
Below is the update on the grounding of the USS San Francisco by Rear Admiral Paul Sullivan.
Sent: Mon Jan 10 02:17:01 2005
Subject: USS SAN FRANCISCO SITREP -2100W/9 Jan 05
Fellow Flag Officers this is my second unclas update on the SAN FRANCISCO incident for your situational awareness:

At 10 January 1634 local (100134 EST) the USS SAN FRANCISCO returned safely to Apra Harbor, Guam. The ship moored with her own line handlers in a normal submarine configured mooring (AFT draft is 27'-10'' (normal AFTdraft is 32') and FWD Draft is above the draft marks with the waterline at the point the towed array faring begins; 0.8 degree STBD list and 1 degree Downbubble indicating by naval architecture calculations that 1 A/B and 2A/B MBTs [Main Ballast Tanks] are most likely flooded).

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The severely injured Machinist Mate (Engineroom Upper Level Watch at time of grounding) was evacuated immediately and transferred by ambulance to Naval Hospital Guam where a fully staffed medical team was standing by. He is conscious and in stable condition. Approximately fifteen additional injured personnel requiring medical care subsequently departed the ship and were transported to the hospital after taking a moment to meet with family members. Crewmembers from the USS CORPUS CHRISTI, HOUSTON and FRANK CABLE assisted in line handling and various return to port evolutions such as propulsion plant shutdown, shore power cables, and rig for surface. Standing by on the pier was a full complement of watchstanders from USS CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI (and SAN FRANCISCO stay-behinds) to satisfy all watchstanding requirements for reactor plant shutdown with follow-on inport forward and aft watch sections.

Following the grounding on 8 January, the ship transited on the surface at 8 kts [knots, about 10 miles per hour] with surface escort, USCGC GALVESTON ISLAND to Apra Harbor, Guam. Due to deteriorated weather conditions on the evening of 9 January, the Commanding Officer shifted bridge watchstations to control and shut bridge access hatches to maximize watertight integrity in light of reserve buoyancy concerns. The ship maintained stability throughout thesurface transit with continuous operation of the Low Pressure Blower on the Forward Main Ballast Tanks.

SAN FRANCISCO has experienced no reactor plant, propulsion train orElectrical system degradations as a result of the grounding. The Commanding Officer shifted the Officer of the Deck's watch to the bridge on 10 January in preparation for piloting into Apra Harbor. The critically injured Machinist Mate (Auxiliaryman) passed away yesterday afternoon as a result of his injuries. The MM2 was in Aft Main Seawater Bay at the time of the grounding and his body was thrown forward approximately 20 feet into Propulsion Lube Oil Bay. He suffered a severe blow to his forehead and never regained consciousness. Emergency medical personnel, including a Naval Hospital Guam surgeon, Undersea Medical Officer and Independent Duty Corpsmen, arrived on the ship via helicopter transfer to provide immediate medical care and prepare the crew member for medical evacuation on the morning of 9 January. Unfortunately, the sailor's condition deteriorated and he died onboard while under the care of the embarked physicians.

Just moments prior to the sailors death, I spoke with the Sailor's father in preparation for their pending travel from Ohio to the West Pacific to see their Son. Since then I have passed on to his Dad my condolences on their Son's death and reassured them their Son's remains would be treated with utmost respect and dignity. His father expressed great gratitude for the extraordinary efforts made by the Navy to save his Son's life. He told me his Son loved the Navy, having just reenlisting earlier this year and wanted to make it a career. That when he called home he always talked about the many friendships and the wonderful camaraderie the crew of SFO exhibited. Prior to sailing, he was really excited about the pending ship visit to Australia. The parents are considering traveling to Guam, with Navy support, at some point to meet the crew and partake in a memorial service for his Son.

For the remainder of the transit, the embarked medical trauma team administered medical care to the other injured personnel. Their careful attention and evaluation augments the ship's Independent Duty Corpsman's heroic efforts since the grounding. Submarine Squadron Fifteen COMMODORE, Captain Brad Gerhke and Captain Paul Bushong, Commanding Officer of the Submarine Tender USS FRANK CABLE have mobilized their assets, staffs, crews and local Navy Community to provide comprehensive support to the SAN FRANCISCO. Professional counselors, medical personnel and Navy Chaplains are scheduled to meet with the entire crew to provide grief counseling and assistance throughout the next several days and as required over the long term. Brad has been meeting frequently with the SFO families and they are doing remarkable well. The entire Navy community in Guam has come to the SFO's families' assistance. I have talked to Kevin Mooney's (SFO Skipper) wife, Ariel. Her state of mind is positive and resolute, with a courageous and upbeat view of the trying days ahead.

The ship's Main Ballast Tank damage and deformation has degraded maneuverability and mandated the use of two tugs to moor in Apra Harbor. A Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard/NAVSEA Material Assessment Team comprised of a structural engineer, MBT vent expert, air systems expert and naval architect arrived in Guam with special ship salvage and recovery equipment to stabilize the ship pierside as soon as possible. The team, led byCaptain Charles Doty, commenced a seaworthiness and repair assessment upon the ship's arrival. Once additional buoyancy measures are in place and tested satisfactory, the Low Pressure Blower will be secured to allow divers to enter the water to conduct an inspection.

While this grounding is a tragedy, with a through investigation led byCecil Haney, we will find out all the facts and then ensure we learn from the mistakes. But, I too believe we have much to be thankful for today, and much to be confident in. An operational warship has returned to port on her own power with all but one of its crew after sustaining major hull damage.The survival of the ship after such an incredibly hard grounding (nearly instantaneous deacceleration from Flank Speed to 4 KTS) is a credit to the ship design engineers and our day-to-day engineering and watchstanding practices. The continuous operation of the populsion plant, electrical systems and navigation demonstrates the reliability of our equipment and the operational readiness of our crews as a whole.The impressive Joint and Navy team effort which resulted in SFO returning to port safely says volumes about the ingenuity and resourcefulness of all our armed services. For all who participated in this effort, thank you and your people. We are all eternally grateful to each of you .

Very Respectfully - Paul Sullivan

USS San Francisco

Here are some more details on the grounding of the nuclear submarine. I am amazed that the ship survived at all.

Crippled Sub Challenged Crew's Skills
Navy sources shed light on crash, return trip of USS San Francisco

Day Staff Writer, Navy/Defense/Electric Boat
Published on 1/15/2005 New London –

The galley crew had started to serve lunch as the USS San Francisco checked its position against a global positioning system satellite, checked the water depth with its fathometer, and announced that the ship was going to dive, all routine operations aboard an attack submarine. Four minutes after it submerged, that routine was shattered one week ago today as the San Francisco crashed into an undersea mountain at more than 35 mph, sending sailors crashing into equipment and bulkheads and destroying the bow dome and three of the main ballast tanks at the front of the sub.

The accident released kinetic, or non-radioactive, energy on the scale of the electrical output of the Millstone 2 nuclear reactor, which explains the extensive damage to the ship and the severity of the injuries - one man was killed and more than 60 others were injured, two dozen of them seriously. But engineers are impressed that despite the violence of the underwater encounter, the ship's reactor, steam turbine generators, electrical distribution network and even its navigation system were unharmed, and the ship was able to limp back to port on its own.

Through dozens of interviews with submariners, active duty and retired, as well as a review of a variety of internal Navy documents, an account of the accident that nearly crippled the San Francisco is beginning to emerge. Because the investigation is still under way, there are few official sources of information, however. The captain of the San Francisco, Cmdr. Kevin Mooney, has not been relieved of duty, perhaps the most telling evidence that the initial inquiry has found that the sub was following all the correct procedures and had the misfortune to run into an uncharted seamount. In fact, Rear Adm. Paul Sullivan, commander of the Pacific submarine force, said in an unclassified e-mail obtained by The Day that he was impressed with how the captain and crew dealt with the aftermath of the crash. "The continuous operation of the propulsion plant, electrical systems and navigation demonstrates the reliability of our equipment and the operational readiness of our crews as a whole," Sullivan wrote. "The impressive Joint and Navy team effort which resulted in SFO (San Francisco) returning to port safely says volumes about the ingenuity and resourcefulness of all our armed services. For all who participated in this effort, thank you and your people. We are all eternally grateful to each of you."

The San Francisco was built at what is now the Northrop Grumman Newport News (Va.) Shipyard, was commissioned in 1981, and was originally home ported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After a refueling overhaul completed in 2002, it was assigned to the new submarine base in Guam. The San Francisco had finished all the post-refueling sea trials and conducted its first two-month deployment last year, arriving back in Guam Dec. 1, 2004. On Friday, Jan. 7, it set sail for Brisbane, Australia, for a port visit. The sailors were probably excited - Australians still recall that the U.S. submarine force kept the Japanese at bay in the Pacific during World War II and generally treat American submariners well.

Saturday morning, soon after breakfast ended at 6 a.m., the ship conducted a "field day," during which the entire ship is cleaned, top to bottom. All 137 men on board would have been out of their bunks and taking part until just before lunch was served at 11 a.m. They would have removed deck plates to clean bilges and other hard-to-reach spaces. The chief petty officers on board warned everyone as they finished to "stow for sea" - make sure everything is bolted down or locked up. In the event of a collision, loose objects tend to become unguided missiles. As a result, the ship was probably more tightly stowed than usual, which helped prevent more serious injuries, submariners said.

In late morning, the ship was at periscope depth, checking to make sure it was on course. Everything checked out; the ship was just over 400 miles southeast of Guam, near the Caroline Islands ridge, but the charts showed that there was no water less than about 6,000 feet deep for at least seven miles around the boat, more than enough of a safety margin for submariners, who are known to be cautious. Some time about 11:30, after running through a safety checklist to make sure the boat was ready to submerge, the officer of the deck gave the order to dive. The San Francisco used the dive to pick up speed, and was soon running at flank speed, something in excess of 30 knots. Although its destination was to the southwest, it was headed in an easterly direction, probably because it had "cleared its baffles," or changed direction to check to make sure there were no submarines trailing it in the spot directly behind the ship, where its normal sonar sensors cannot "hear."

At 11:42 a.m. Guam time, about four minutes after diving, the San Francisco crashed head-on into a nearly vertical wall of stone, a seamount that was not on the charts. In an instant, the submarine's speed dropped from almost 33 knots horizontal to 4 knots almost straight up as the bow whipped up and the ship tried to go over the obstacle - without success. Crewmen told family and friends that the moment was surreal, so unexpected that it took a moment to realize what had happened: The sub had rammed into something and was out of control. One sailor told a friend it reminded him of the movie "The Matrix," in which everything slows down and a disaster unfolds in slow motion.

The diving officer of the watch, normally strapped into a chair in the control room, had just unbuckled his belt to update a status board. He struck the control panel so hard that he broke some of the gauges. Some crewmen were tossed 20 feet into bulkheads, several narrowly missing being dropped down through stairways. A couple of men were smoking in the lower level of the engine room, and more were waiting their turn - it is the only area in the sub where smoking is allowed. The area includes much sharp-edged metal equipment that caused several of the lacerations and broken bones that had to be treated later. Machinist Mate 2nd Class Joseph Allen Ashley, 24, of Akron, Ohio, who had just re-enlisted for a second four-year term, was in the main seawater bay at the back of the sub. He was thrown forward 20 feet into the propulsion lube oil bay, striking his forehead against a large metal pump. He was knocked out and died the next day without regaining consciousness.

Through the chaos, though, the crew followed the procedures they had drilled on day after day as submariners. Within seconds, one of the crewmen at the helm, his arm broken in the crash, pulled the "chicken switch," which forces high-pressure air into the main ballast tanks to force the submarine to the surface. The executive officer suffered a serious back injury when he was thrown onto an emergency air supply pipe, but he was quickly directing damage-control efforts. Injured men were carried to the crew's mess and the wardroom, where the tables were pressed into service as gurneys. The ship's "doc," an independent duty corpsman trained in emergency medicine, began assessing and treating the injuries. One of the ship's junior officers was a former enlisted man and was able to help out. Other crewmen were recruited to keep men with head injuries awake until they could be checked out, as the worst cuts were stitched and the worst breaks were set. When a medical team arrived from Guam via helicopter the next morning, a surgeon, an undersea medical officer and another independent duty corpsmen remarked that the care given to the injured crewmen was outstanding, particularly considering the circumstances.

The submarine force has a policy of "water space management" that would have required Mooney, the skipper, to file a plan showing his expected track and speed through the area to make sure he would not be in the same water as another submarine at the same time. Navy sources said there was nothing on that plan that would have raised any alarm. In addition, given the charts that showed only deep water in the area, Mooney would not have been expected to do depth soundings more than every 30 minutes, certainly no more than every 15 minutes, which would not have given him enough time to react to the steep seamount. In fact, he might not have been able to avoid grounding even with nearly continuous soundings. The undersea mountain was so steep that there was damage visible even on the top of the sonar dome, which indicates that the sub hit a virtual wall. The San Francisco would have picked up the mountain if it was using active sonar, but submariners use that sparingly because it gives the boat's location away. Instead, it would have been using passive sonar - listening for the noises made by other ships and submarines. But seamounts don't make any noise, and even if there were currents swirling around it, the noise would have been lost in the noise the San Francisco was making as it sped through the water near top speed.

Jeff Schweitzer, a research professor in the Physics Department at the University of Connecticut, said the submarine's kinetic energy at 33 knots and 4 knots is easy to calculate - one-half its mass (6.3 million kilograms) times its velocity (16.98 meters per second before the accident, 2.06 meters per second afterward), or 902.4 megajoules before, and 13.3 megajoules afterward. So the accident released just over 889 megajoules of energy. The Millstone 2 reactor in Waterford is rated at 870 megawatts, so if the ship slowed over a second, it released roughly the same energy in that time as Millstone 2 could generate. "It would have lit quite a few light bulbs," Schweitzer said. "It is a lot of energy, which is why the collision cracked rock and dented such strong steel." He said it would take much more complex calculations to determine where all that energy went - how much went into bending the steel of the ballast tanks, or even heating the water in the area around the wreck - but the release was enormous. Physics also explains the injuries, a fundamental principal being that a body in motion tends to stay in motion until something slows it down, whether air friction or a steel bulkhead. If the submarine instantly decelerated from 33 knots to 4 knots, in theory the men aboard would have kept moving forward at 29 knots relative to the rest of the ship until they encountered something hard. Schweitzer noted, however, that even sitting in a chair or standing on the floor would bleed off part of that speed, and that the ship would have decelerated over a second or so, which would also yield a slight difference. "So it might not be the same thing as being thrown forward at 29 knots," Schweitzer said. "But it would have been a lot more comfortable to have been in a seat and belted in." At the time, however, no one on the San Francisco was doing the calculations. They were more worried about saving the ship. At almost 550 feet, the water pressure would have been almost 240 pounds per square inch, so even a small leak could have quickly put the ship in danger. In addition, it quickly became apparent that three of the four forward ballast tanks had uncontrollable leaks, which caused the ship to take on a serious bow-down aspect. That was dangerous for two reasons: any forward movement could quickly drive the ship deeper; and any angle would allow more air to seep out of the ballast tanks, making the ship heavier, increasing the angle even more. Through the quick use of variable ballast tanks located throughout the ship, the crew was able to get it to the surface, though the back end of the ship was riding about four feet higher than normal, and the bow was so deep the depth markings were out of sight. The reactor plant, propulsion system and electric distribution gear were all operating normally, however, which allowed the crew to focus on the ballast system.

Immediately, Mooney dispatched a message to Guam, where the Commander of Naval Forces Marianas dispatched the 110-foot, Guam-based Coast Guard cutter Galveston Island and the 906-foot Maritime Sealift Command cargo ship Gy. Sgt. Fred Stockham to intercept the submarine and escort it home, but it would be almost a day before they arrived. By 4 p.m. Saturday, the commodore of Submarine Squadron 15 on Guam had called together family members to deliver the news and promise regular briefings on the situation. The front of the ship was so badly deformed, its maneuverability was compromised. In addition, because the bow-down aspect of the sub would force it under at even moderate speeds, the San Francisco was limited to about eight knots on the surface. Then, poor weather on Sunday forced the captain to bring all his crewmen down from the bridge out of fear that any additional water coming down the hatch would cut further into the sub's limited buoyancy. He had to run the ship from the control room, using radar and radio to make sure it stayed close to the escort ships, but not too close. The crew continuously operated the low-pressure blower to keep air in the ballast tanks, despite the leaks. The air pump is rated for only intermittent use, but held out for more than 30 hours during the trip back. In addition, the crew quickly implemented an emergency technique to use the exhaust from its massive auxiliary diesel engines to augment the low-pressure blower.

Back in Guam, the Navy was assembling flotation aids and welding gear to do emergency repairs when the San Francisco finally pulled into port. Divers and technical experts were on hand to assess the damage. A team was on its way within hours from Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, including a structural engineer, a ballast tank expert and an air systems expert, led by Capt. Charles Doty, who commanded the USS Cheyenne in the Pacific until last year. During his time at the helm, the Cheyenne was the first ship to launch missiles in the Iraq war in 2003. On Monday afternoon, family members lined Sierra Pier at the Guam submarine base, where they waited anxiously for their first sight of the submarine they were assured would be berthed at the pier before long. About 3 p.m., it came into view, nose down, listing visibly to starboard, with a tumultuous bow wake testifying to the damage at the front of the boat. Submariners from the USS City of Corpus Christi and USS Houston, and the tender USS Frank Cable, which comprise the rest of Squadron 15, waited on the pier as well, ready to help tie up the ship, shut down the nuclear plant, hook up the shore power supply and otherwise aid a crew that had been up for two days straight saving the San Francisco.

Creative Advertising

Have you seen the fake ad circulating on the internet? It’s about the Volkswagen Polo, and Volkswagen denies having any part of it.

A black Volkswagen Polo (not available in the U.S.) pulls up at a crowded café, and a man wearing a checkered scarf and a green bomber belt gets out. He presses the detonator button, and a fireball fills the inside of the car. But the car holds together, and the people sitting at the cafe don’t even notice. Then Polo's tagline appears onscreen: "Small, but tough."

Please give us a url if you find it.

Dogs vs. Wives

OK, this has a bias. In favor of those poor slobs who are going through difficult times because of their ex's. I read this as I glanced at my pooch, and I found it very apt.

Why Dogs Are Better Than Wives

01. The later you are, the more excited your dogs are to see you.

02. Dogs will forgive you for playing with other dogs.

03. If a dog is gorgeous, other dogs don't hate it.

04. Dogs don't notice if you call them by another dog's name.

05. Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.

06. A dog's parents never visit.

07. Dogs do not hate their bodies.

08. Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.

09. Dogs like to do their snooping outside rather than in your wallet or desk.

10. Dogs seldom outlive you.

11. Dogs can't talk.

12. You never have to wait for a dog; they're ready to go 24 hours a day.

13. Dogs find you amusing when you're drunk.

14. Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.

15. Another man will seldom steal your dog.

16. A dog will not wake you up at night to ask, "If I died, would you get another dog?"

17. If a dog has babies, you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.

18. A dog will let you put a studded collar on it without calling you a pervert.

19. A dog won't hold out on you to get a new car.

20. If a dog smells another dog on you, they don't get mad. They just think it's interesting.

21. On a car trip, your dog never insists on running the heater.

22. Dogs don't let magazine articles guide their lives.

23. When your dog gets old, you can have it put to sleep.

24. Dogs like to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

25. Dogs are not allowed in Bloomingdales or Neiman-Marcus.

And, last but not least:

26. If a dog leaves, it won't take half of your stuff.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Dublin Christmas

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John, Tina & Ciara
This is from about a month ago. My son John, his wife Tina, and their daughter Ciara.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Now That's Punny (groan...)

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with thanks to my funny niece Kaitlin (the GOOD kind of funny), who sent it to my funny cousin Valerie (the... well, yeah, sure, GOOD kind of funny), who sent it to me:

#1 -- A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

#2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says, "Dam!"

#3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

#4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

#5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

#6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

#7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! Once you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

#8. An order of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

#9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him ...... (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good).....A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

#10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.

No pun in ten did.

Their Legs Go All the Way to the Ground

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Foals at the Irish National Stud, Kildare

by Maisey Dotes


The Inauguration

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(right to left)
President GW Bush (“Wave with left, hold with right”)
Laura Bush (“Smile, George. Wave, George. Smile, George.”)
Lynne Cheney (“I could be Vice President. I could be President. I could be Queen.”)
Vice President Dick Cheney (ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-……., ka-thump… “What was THAT?!”)

The Irish Daughter

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An Irish daughter had not been to the house for over 5 years. Upon her return, her father cussed her; “Where have you been all this time, you ingrate! Why didn't you write us, not even a line to let us know how you were doing? Why didn't you call? Don't you know what you put your Mum through??!!"

The girl, crying, replied, "Sniff, sniff... Da... I became a prostitute..."

"WHAT!!? Out of here, you shameless harlot! Sinner! You're a disgrace to this family - I don't ever want to see you again!"

"OK, Da - as you wish. I just came back to give Mum this luxury fur coat, title deeds to a ten bed-roomed mansion, plus a savings account for €5 million. For my little brother, this gold Rolex, and for you Daddy the spanking new Mercedes limited edition convertible that's parked outside plus a lifetime membership to the Country Club... (takes a sobbing breath)...an invitation for you all to spend New Years' Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera, and...."

"Wait” says himself. “What was it you said you had become?"

Girl, crying again, "Sniff, sniff... A prostitute, Da! .. Sniff, sniff"

"Oh! Begorrah! - you scared me half to death, girl! I thought you said ‘a Protestant’. Come here and give your old man a hug!"

Bubba and Earl

Bubba, Earl, Friend, and Some Other Guy
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Bubba and Earl, two rednecks from Kentucky, were in a local Wal-Mart when they decided to get in on the weekly charity raffle.They bought five tickets each at a dollar a pop.

The following week, when the raffle was drawn, each had won a prize. Earl won first place: a year's supply of gourmet spaghetti sauce and extra-long spaghetti. Bubba won 6th prize: a toilet brush.

About a week or so had passed when the men met back at Wal-Mart. Bubba asked Earl how he liked his prize, to which Earl replied, "Great, I love spaghetti!" Earl asked Bubba, "How about you? How's the toilet brush?"

"Not so good," replied Bubba. "I reckon I'm gonna go back to paper."

Л. Н. Толстой - Война и мир

Leo Tolstoy
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Ну, здравствуйте, здравствуйте. Je vois que je vous fais peur, садитесь и рассказывайте.

Well, hello, hello. I see I have frightened you, sit down and tell me all the news.

Opening section, Volume I, part 1, War and Piece by L.N. Tolstoy

Voyna i mir (1865-69; War and Peace) contains three kinds of material--a historical account of the Napoleonic wars, the biographies of fictional characters, and a set of essays about the philosophy of history. Critics from the 1860s to the present have wondered why these three parts were put together, and many have criticized Tolstoy for including the lengthy essays, but readers are still enthusiastic about them.

Tolstoy portrays Napoleon as a buffoon, Tsar Alexander I as an empty shirt, and the Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov as a patient old man. The novel's battle scenes show combat realistically, as sheer chaos. Generals may imagine they can anticipate all contingencies, but battle is really the result of "a hundred million diverse chances" decided on the moment by unforeseeable circumstances.

And you thought we only told jokes!

Paper Toys

Neuschwanstein Castle
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Check this out.

Paper toys, models, cut-outs, trains, airplanes, paper party gifts, party hats, paper cars, paper motorcycles, cards.

They are all on the web site. Just download the designs and go.

This may be the long-sought-for cure for blog-a-diction!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Milwaukee Postcard Collection

Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert apparently have a lot of time on their hands. A LOT of time.

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Their postcard collection numbers over 12,000. The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee must be similarly rich with spare time: they have culled the collection to 200 cards, and put them on this website. You may have surmised that the collection has something of a focus on Milwaukee, Wisconsin themes. When you, too, find yourself with a few unscheduled weeks, do drop in and research such postcards as those on the Hotel Medford in downtown Milwaukee and probably Milwaukee's "Finest Restaurant-Bar", the fabled Schwaben Hof.

(Click on "Link" or the title of the article to see the site.)

The Richard Nixon Library

Nixon Library
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Fourteen years. That’s how long the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Ca., has been open. There is a lot to see, although the Presidential papers of Richard Nixon are still in the custody of the National Archives. Last year, I spent a lot of time in Kansas City, Mo., on a contract, and I visited the Truman Library in Independence. It is very nice, and could probably fit in a corner of Nixon’s.

"In the National Interest" is the Nixon Center's weekly online magazine covering foreign policy affairs. And, if you still need more, join the Nixon Forum, where you may discuss all things Nixonian 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Thomas Jefferson Papers

T. Jefferson
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Check out the original Jefferson documents now on this site. There are over 83,000 images of correspondence, finances, and manuscripts. It covers the years from 1606 to 1827 (and you thought Jefferson was a mere mortal!). It includes two timelines about the events surrounding Jefferson's life, as well as some history of the colony of Virginia.

North to Alaska

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My Mom and Dad had a dream which did not get fulfilled. They wanted to go North to Alaska, singing the old Johnny Horton tune and exploring the wilderness. Mom was born on a homestead in Montana, and Dad was fascinated enough with that idea to take our family of seven on several summer trips by car from Chicago to Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

The University of Alaska and the Alaska State Library have put close to 3,000 objects on this site. It seems to be a great capsule of Alaskan history. You can browse the thumbnails, and even create your own collection of favorite documents. Worth a visit.

The Alger Hiss Story

I have early memories of sitting on the floor, watching a new-fangled invention called tel-ee-vishun. It was showing some boring guys in suits talking from behind a table, and my Mom would watch it for hours. I had voted for Howdy Doody, but I lost. Later, I found out what we were watching.

Oliver Wendell Holmes & Alger Hiss Posted by Hello

During McCarthy-ism, the House Un-American Activities Committee brought a wide variety of people to answer charges about their alleged Communist activities. A prominent name was Alger Hiss. When I first heard his name at the age of six or seven, I knew he must be guilty, because he sounded like a snake.

This site has changed my mind. Now I think that McCarthy was probably the snake. And his assistants. Check it out yourself; it’s interesting, especially if you still think that It Could Not Happen Here! Oh, and if you do not know the connection between Oliver Wendell Holmes and Alger Hiss, the site will tell you.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

St. Therese of Liseux

This is from Matthew Collins, at http://www.interbit.com/blogger/2003_09_28_archive.html. Please check it out. There is a movie out now in a limited run, Therese, about St. Therese of Liseux.

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Matthew writes, "I've never had much devotion to St. Therese of the Little Flower - until now. It's not that I had anything against her, it's just that I never paid her too much attention. I thought all this stuff about roses was rather maudlin. My particular devotion has been to St. Francis of Assisi and St. Josemaría Escrivá.

"Recently, though, I started attending daily Mass at the Shrine of the Little Flower, in Baltimore, MD, on my way to work. It's particularly convenient because it's on the way from my son's school to my office. There's been a long-standing issue in my family that we needed to find a solution to. So one day before Mass I thought I'd ask St. Therese to find a solution. I didn't say anything to anyone about it. Sure enough, within a week the problem was solved. I asked my sister-in-law who she had been praying to, and she said "I just started praying to St. Therese last night!" Even though no unexpected rose was involved there was no doubt in my mind that St. Therese had been the one who solved the problem.

"Last week the priest at Little Flower started a novena to St. Therese in preparation for her feast day yesterday. After Communion we would say some short prayers, one of which was addressed to St. Therese. The prayer contained a promise (for the rest of my life, no less) to bring others to Jesus by making St. Therese better known. I figured "What the heck?!", if she answers my petition (which was a very private one) I would be happy commit to spread devotion to her for the rest of my life.

"So yesterday morning she and I had a little chat. Actually, it was mostly I who did the talking. I said "OK, St. Therese, today's the last day. I haven't received that rose yet, and my prayer hasn't been answered. So if you're going to do it, you don't have much time left." Well, within 10 minutes of that chat, and within about 5 minutes of venerating her relic, my petition was granted! I didn't recognize it at first, but during the day an awareness kept growing that what had happened that morning was, in fact, the answer to my prayer. But still no rose.

"Yesterday was my 15th wedding anniversary. When I opened the mail after getting home from work there was a card from my godmother telling me that my wife and I would be remembered weekly in the Masses said by the Vincentian fathers. On the front of the card was a single rose!!

"Coincidence? Perhaps, but I don't think so. My godmother is a very good and holy woman, but she has NEVER sent us a card for our anniversary. And what are the chances that she would send a card with a rose on it when NO ONE, not even my wife, was aware of the novena I was making? And that it would arrive on the very day my prayer was answered?

"So, I've decided I will have to find out more about this great saint so I can keep my promise to make her better known. Today's blog is my first step in keeping that promise.

"One thing I do already know is that St. Therese proposed the "Little Way" in which we can find holiness by doing the ordinary things of our lives with great love and perfection. "

The Consultant and the Sheep

When lawyers run out of lawyer jokes, they tell consultant jokes.

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A shepherd was tending his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a dust cloud approached at high speed, out of which emerged a shiny silver BMW. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Ferragamo shoes, the latest Polarized sunglasses and a tightly knotted power tie, poked his head out the window and asked the shepherd, "Hey! If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

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The shepherd looked at the man, then glanced at his peacefully grazing flock and answered, "Sure."

The driver parked his car, plugged his microscopic cell phone into a laptop and briskly surfed to a GPS satellite navigation system on the Internet and initiated a remote body-heat scan of the area. While the computer was occupied, he sent some e-mail via his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, nodded solemnly at the responses. Finally, he printed a 150 page report on the little laser printer in his glove compartment, turned to the shepherd, waving the sheaves of paper, and pronounced “You have exactly 1,586 sheep."

"Impressive. One of my sheep is yours." said the shepherd.

He watched the young man select an animal and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?"

Pleased to meet a fellow sportsman, the young man replied “You’re on.”

"You are a consultant." said the shepherd without hesitation.

"That's correct," said the young man, impressed. "How ever did you guess?"

"It wasn’t a guess," replied the shepherd. "You drive into my field uninvited. You ask me to pay you for information I already know, answer questions I haven’t asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me my back my dog."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


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(Contributed by Silver Fox. Folks on the Left Coast have more time to find these things because of the time zone difference…)

Once again, The Washington Post published its yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate word meanings.

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steam-roller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline .

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.

14. Pokemon (n), a Jamaican proctologist.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.

Toilet Brush Wins

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By a Hair (No... scratch that.)


(Jan 6) -- The sign on the toilet brush says it best: "Do not use for personal hygiene.''

That admonition was the winner of an anti-lawsuit group's contest for the wackiest consumer warning label of the year.

Other Wacky Warnings:

Scooter: "This product moves when used."
Thermometer: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
Hand Blender: "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."
Packing Material: "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."

Census Prankster Renames Bevis Lake

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It's now... wait for it, wait for it... Butthead Lake!

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. (Jan. 7) - To the Washington state Department of Natural Resources, it's Bevis Lake. In Census Bureau records, it's Butthead Lake.

Ken Brown, a land surveyor with the state agency, suspects somebody in the federal agency decided to have some fun with the name of the 5.7-acre lake in a forested area about 25 miles northeast of Seattle.

He noted that U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps also show the name as Bevis Lake.

Wind Turbines Prey...

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... on birds of prey.

Thousands of bats dying in turbines

To some persons, wind farms represent a way to reduce America’s dependence on various non-renewable energy resources. Still others feel that these wind farms are having an increasingly deleterious effect on various endangered animal populations, including certain species of bats, red-tailed hawks, and golden eagles. One of the most well-known wind turbine farms in the United States, located in the Diablo Mountains between San Francisco and the Central Valley, has come under increasing scrutiny due to the fact that it spans an international migratory bird route. It is estimated that close to 5,000 birds are killed annually by accidentally flying into the fiberglass blades on the massive turbines that have become noted icons of the region.

Does it seem that we gave the enviromentalists what they wanted... and they don't want it?

Broadway Mishap

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Idina Menzel, the Tony-winning star of "Wicked," fell through a trap door during the Saturday matinee of the Broadway musical and cracked a lower rib.

The show, a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," was halted for about 45 minutes while Menzel's understudy, Shoshana Bean, prepared to go on as the green-skinned Elphaba, according to Bob Fennell, a spokesman for the musical.

Bean also played the Saturday evening performance and the Sunday matinee, which was to have been Menzel's last performance after a more than 16-month run in the show.

In Sunday's final scene, Menzel, wearing a track suit because her injury prevented her from getting into costume, went on stage for about 30 seconds of dialogue and singing. The audience applauded Menzel after a curtain call.

A New Word

To Dan Rather's chagrin:

Pajamahadeen: bloggers who fact-check traditional media, and then challenge them.

(Thanks and a tip o' the hat to TimesOnLine, National Review, and others who enrich our speak!)

The Computer Doesn't Lie

For my sister, Mary Anne, who cannot converse normally when Mr. Johnny Depp is in the same room. Physically, tele-videoly, or psychically.
Johnny Depp
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Johnny, As the Computer Sees Him, Some Time In the Future
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Saturday, January 08, 2005

U.S. Nuclear Submarine Runs Aground

Update Sunday

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USS San Francisco SSN-711

One crewmember is dead, 23 others seriously injured, as of Saturday night. The nuclear submarine ran aground about 350 miles south of Guam. There were no reports of damage to the USS San Francisco's reactor plant, which was operating normally.

The Navy promised more information when the sub arrives back in Guam.