I live in southeastern Virginia. This area was, some years ago rather more rural in character than it is now. The neighborhood where my folks live in Portsmouth was surrounded by farms when they moved there and when I moved into my mobile home in Newport News it was walking distance from a working dairy. The area is all suburbs and congestion now but I occasionally encounter people with no concept of rural life complaining (or boasting) that they live in the sticks...Hampton Roads is not the sticks...it is the oldest continuously populated urban areas in North America.
Many years ago, I used to live in Zuni in Isle of Wight County which is still somewhat rural (but not really). When we lived there, aside from the main state routes, we didn't have paved roads...which sucked when the weather was bad....and we depended on wells for water. Before we got a deep well I had to change the filter under the house daily. Aside from the general store/Citgo station and a lawn and garden place, there wasn't any shopping closer than 40 minutes away. There was a nudist colony about 10 miles away....which took advantage of the isolated nature of the area. I never went there but I know it was on the Ivor side if the county line, in the vicinity of the insane asylum. The little town was (and still is) dominated by the grim visage of a ruined grain elevator ...the explosion of which had cracked windows in Smithfield, some 20 miles away. There were also a few (2?) wild kangaroos...but they are probably all dead now. Even then we were only 40 minutes from a hospital and less than an hour from downtown Norfolk. It wasn't really the wilderness. In recent years the area was devastated by the freak disaster that was Floyd and since then the side roads have been paved (which is a big improvement). It has also had many of the peanut fields filled with exburbs. These in turn are filled with people who boast of living in the country and how genuine this makes them. At one time I delivered the area (except Zuni) for UPS and at one point, while taking lunch in Windsor, I was told about a local political stink involving those roads. When the roads were paved many of the inhabitants of the new exburbs had tried to get the county to NOT pave the roads that did not lead to their little enclaves. They argued that the gravel (and sometimes dirt) roads made the area more authentic and picturesque. This did not sit well with people who had much experience with what it meant to deal with mucky roads in the winter and the terrible dust in the summer. Accourding to the gentleman who told me this, these people had the chutspah to claim that paved roads would encourage more people to miove into the area....just like they had...and they even sued to get the road paving stopped on environmental grounds arguing that the roads for others...(but not for them of course...but then that was a fait acompli) was an environmental problem. When they failed at that they did demand curbside garbage pickup...since it sucks to take ones garbage down to one of the county dumpster stations in ones Prius (these people are so edgy and authentic they can live in the country without a pickup truck). So no...even out in Isle of Wight County...its not the sticks...If someone claims it is cock your eybrow at them.
Why this programming detour? Well its a tail of country living and all the cool kids are doing it... At least this cool kid. Go read her tale of rural life now....no really she's a professional writer. It's a 10.0. It is win. Read the whole thing... her writing brings all the boys to the yard.
Living in the Willamette valley, I never had any confusion about what was "city life" and what was "country life". Maybe that's because my cousins lived on a farm.
They had a small herd (about 20 head, I think) of white face cattle. They had big fields where they grew and baled alfalfa (for the cattle during the winter). They also had a pretty big field where they grew vegetables and suchlike (strawberries) for Aunt Marge's canning.
So I knew what a farm really is like. On a farm you need a tractor. On a farm there will be a baling machine. On a farm there's cow manure. If there's no cow manure, it isn't a farm.
I never lived on a farm. In all honesty, I'm actually a pretty urbane guy, but it gets under my skin to encounter people in college claiming that living in Virginia "with the hicks" gives them some sort of rural authenticity cred.
Depends on where in the country the corn farm is, Steven. Eastern Shore or Pennsylvania? Yeah, they're using manure like you wouldn't believe. Down in the Delta or in some parts of Illinois & westwards, copious NH3 & not enough cattle in the vicinity means that they rely almost entirely on chemical fertilizers.
Around here in my stretch of central Pennsylvania, they're fond of liquid manure. You can smell it on the breeze when the uphill farms are spraying. And really? We're not all that rural anymore hereabouts. Too many condo developments in the last decade to properly qualify. Housing prices are too damn high, for that matter.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Jun 1 10:20:27 2009 (jwKxK)
I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what "liquid manure" is.
Fingers are Crossed
Raymond Pritchett, better known as Galrahn, is really one of the best naval policy bloggers out there. Now he has gone on hiatus for undisclosed reasons, but the fact that he has requested prayers for his oldest daughter does not bode well.
There is a fairly substantial update to the post about that abominably abominable
abomination which is mercifully buried far from unsuspecting eyes here. Or you can cut out the middle man and go here.
Well I read about on "Wonderduck's Pond" and downloaded the free episode 1. It is not what a lot of people think it is. Like Wonderduck I have some problems that let me identify with the characters. I'm lucky in a sense that only two manifested as a child and only one was real apparent. Later in life I was faced with the choice of using near theatrical makeup or just going out into the world and dealing with it. Now the final added handicap is age and cataracts.
Posted by: toadold at Sat May 30 07:28:22 2009 (l7PFt)
Vikings VS Pirates: Round 1
Round one goes to the VIKINGS! (HT Eaglespeak)
Early this morning, suspected pirates attacked a Greek Bulk Carrier
in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates fired upon the ship with small arms
and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). A distress call was picked up by
the EU NAVFOR Swedish warship HSwMS MALMO which immediately proceeded
to the area.
HSwMS MALMO made visual contact with the attacking
skiff and fired warning shots and flares. The skiff stopped after
pursuit and was boarded by a VPD (Vessel Protection Detachment).
Weapons, GPS equipment, grappling hooks and barrels of fuel were found
on board the skiff. 7 suspected pirates were captured and are at
present being held for further investigation........
Swedes have stationed two Stockholm class corvettes in the area since
last year. The tiny vessels are supported by a tender.
Stockholm and Malmo with their tender
Stockholm class are interesting. These little ships are intended to
operate in the Swedish archipelagos as coast defence craft.Their stats
via World Navies Today are as follows:
Displacement: 335 tons full load Dimensions: 50.5 x 7.5 x 2 meters/165.7 x 24.6 x 6.6 feet Propulsion: 3 shafts; 2 cruise diesels, 4190 bhp, 20 knots;
1 boost gas turbine, 6,000 shp, 32 knots Crew: 30 Radar: Sea Giraffe 50HC air/surf search Sonar: SS304 Spira hull mounted, TSM 2642 MF VDS Fire Control: 9LV 300 missile control EW: EWS-095 intercept, Philax decoy RL Armament: 8 RBS-15 SSM, 1 57mm/70cal DP, 1 40 mm AA, 2 21 inch
torpedo tubes, 4 LLS-920 ASW RL
numbers are a few years old. They have recently had their ASW
capability upgraded with a big variable depth sonar and several 40cm
ASW torpedoes in place of the 21 inchers . In any event it is very
likely they have landed most heavy weapons for this deployment. This
would make them very economical to operate in comparison with any other
full fledged warships. In theory quarters normally used by the
technicians for the heavy weapons could be utilized by boarding teams.
The fact that a tender supported vessel of this size is meeting success
on the other side of the world goes a long way to validating some of
Admiral Cebrowski's Streetfighter concepts.
slightly larger vessel able to be fitted with with ASROC or ( perhaps
more realistically) and some light AAA weapons like Evolved Seasparrow
or RAM might very well be a good fit for the USN.
heavy weapons removed they would be fairly cheap to operate in "warm
war" operations like this but they might be quickly fitted with their
variable depth sonar and ASW weapons (presumably attended to by
reservists) so they would act as sub chasers in a hot war Such a
vessel would be much closer to the original "Streetfighter" concept
than the LCS it eventually evolved into.
The closest to this idea is actually the often mentioned FLYVEFISKEN class in service with Denmark. It's easy to see something like this fitted with the the Franco-Italian MILAS ASW missile
in lieu of their Harpoons acting as sub chaser in a hot war. It would
be a comparatively efficient little gunboat in warm ones. The broad
work deck could be used for various cargoes such as relief supplies or
the drones the LCS prototypes are now testing....In Coast Guard service
such a vessel might also tend bouys.
Vessels able to act as
tenders for these vessels already exist. Some of the 'gator navy'
amphibious vessels could be modifid to do so and most could provide
helicopters as well.
Politicians can give away what fighting men achieve. I won't really consider this event a "success" until after we hear what happens to those 7 pirates. If they get their hands slapped, and are returned to Somalia, then I would rank it as a failure.
The real problem right now with fighting the Somalian pirates isn't available equipment, it's the ROE. Congratulations to the Swedish navy, of course, but no fighting man can win if his leaders don't want him to.
Mike Rowe Explains It
A very engaging and thoughtful talk by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He ties together some of his experiences on the show, philosophy, and the increasing contempt in which out society now holds manual labor.
He also points out the obvious but increasingly ignored fact that theory and practice are two very different things.
I highly recommend you take 20 minutes of your time and watch this. It is important.
Oh I know way too many tales of when OHSA started putting putting in work rules that turned out to cause casualties. You had people who had never done "labor" in their lives making up rules.
Government "equal opportunity" rules killed most of the company sponsored apprenticeship programs. Companies would hire kids from training schools then the college educated "managers" would sneer at them. So people left and they couldn't figure out the reason for turnover and why they couldn't get people.
Posted by: toadold at Sat May 23 00:38:04 2009 (l7PFt)
A fantastic presentation. Rowe is clearly very bright and well-educated. I agree this is must-watch material. I'm glad that Silicon Valley people got this message.
Posted by: Ravenor at Fri May 29 00:29:30 2009 (NB3q/)
Tuckers For Today
A hot rod house has produced a near replica of the Tucker '48 Torpedo using the original blueprints and mold.
Its not exact of course as the engine is moved a bit forward to improve balance (its almost a mid engine now )and the thing has A/C and a modern electronics fit (GPS/ stereo ect.) but damn....this is cool.
And yet it gets cooler still because they've done a low rider version updated, behold the Lower 48!
It was not just stylish, it was a safety feature. The center light turned with the steering wheel whenever the wheel was turned more than 10 degrees right or left. This not only illuminated the road in that direction but broadcast the intention of the driver. Neat!
Atlantis launched this afternoon on one of the last of NASA's shuttle missions. This is also the final repair and preventive maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Gahlran puts the task facing the astronauts in some perspective.
STS-125 is considered one of the toughest space missions in decades,
repairing equipment that was never intended to be repaired in space.
For context, imagine replacing a hard drive in your computer, while in
a zero gravity environment, while wearing a space suit, while traveling
at 17,500 mph, and oh btw you have to replace nearly 100 hard drives.
Don't lose those little bitty screws either, because you have to use
them to put the thing together when your done.
Difficulties beyond trying to repair items never intended to be fixed in space include the danger of debris from both the Chinese ASAT test and the possibly related breakups of two old Kosmos satellites.How dangerous? NASA estimates the odds of LOCV (that's loss of crew and vehicle!) on this mission at 1 in 185. The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the few things considered worth this risk. With its replacement not scheduled to be launched untill 2013...assuming no pragram slippage...the Hubble is one of the most important scientific space assets in existance. The mission is considered sufficiently
hazardous that Shuttle Endeavor is standing by in the event a rescue
mission is necessary (and possible).
The STS 125 Crew:7 very gutsy volunteers
NASA's overview of the mission (STS-125) is here. NASA TV is streaming mission control live here. One of the astronauts is 'Tweeting' and can be found here. (lolwhut?)
Apropos of nothing, this is the 100th shuttle mission after Challengers last flight.
General Banality Status
Still no word on Mom. She was supposed to go into the hospital for the full biopsy just over 2 weeks
ago. Unfortunately, she took an aspirin before the appointment which would have invalidated
the test...somehow...so it was rescheduled. We should know something this Thursday. Dad and I have, of course, secured the aspirin. She has
seen a cardiologist and her heart issues are not directly heart related(!?). Rather
they are due to inflammation around the heart. Whether this is
simple inflammation or actual cancer pressing against her heart we wont know
till Thursday. I would think that if it was just an infection they would have caught it, but then I'm not a doctor.
All other issues are fairly trivial by comparison.
Be advised that despite being an odd numbered Star Trek film, this movie kicks rather than sucks ass.
The film is at least as good as The Wrath of Khan. Interestingly, its premise in some ways a mirror image of that film. Wrath of Khan explored the characters long after the series and how they had changed...or not...over the years. This film ostensibly looks at how the characters started out, but because of the main plot point the film is a total reimagining. This reimagining however is astonishingly faithful to the original.
The characters are all well developed. The development of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy trio is absolutely dead on. (Karl Urban in particular is absolutely brilliant as McCoy.)
The secondary characters are all well thought out too, Uhura is pivotal to the story and is every bit the genius she is supposed to be. Sulu, Scotty and Chekov all are well written and acted and its nice to see Chekov be presented as goofy-smart as opposed to...just plain goofy. Bruce Greenwood is superb as Captain Pike.
The villians, despite not being particularly engaging or interesting, work surprisingly well. The villany in this movie is a banal and simplistic evil that nevertheless wreaks untold havoc. The villans plan is, not to put to fine a point on it....WHACKED, but they have tremendous power, murderous intent and the determination of a pit bull.
Despite the assurances that the film is not aimed at Trekkies there are in jokes and references galore...(a particularly painful "red shirt moment" elicited tremendous laughter from the audience).
I expected the film to be decent or at least interesting, I did not
expect it to kick ass and chew bubble gum the way it did. To be sure there are a few logical quibbles and some plot points that are dubious, (mostly revolving around a bumpy bit of exposition at about the halfway point,) but the pacing is superb, the acting excellent and the action nearly non stop. As a sumer action flick this is great. As a Trek film it is one of the best.
It is the best odd numbered Trek out there. But it is not better than Wrath of Khan, in my opinion. The reason Khan remains superior is not only the development of the characters, but the pacing of the movie. J.J. Abrams seemed to have only one gear in this movie: full tilt. That's nice in action scenes, but you need to have crescendos, rest periods (I know there is a better term but I can't think of it this morning), and then builds to the next crescendo.
Khan has a build up to the initial ambush sequence, then the aftermath where you how its affected the characters. Then it builds up to the first showdown on the Genesis planet, followed by the revelations of Kirk's past and his fears. Then it starts building up again to the Battle of Mutara Nebula.
By contrast, Star Trek doesn't seem to have this. It starts off dropping the viewers into first confrontation. Then with barely a moment to recover, you get the accelerated introductions to Kirk and Spock. Both of which keep going at the same pace. About the only build is in the Star Fleet Academy scenes. Everything else its like being a bullet train. It works in this film. But it would have been nicer to every once in a while slow it down a bit.
If only I could meld Nicholas Meyer with J.J. Abrams and it would produce the perfect Star Trek movie.
Posted by: Bill at Sun May 10 13:59:10 2009 (BtODw)
Did they leave out Nurse Chapel? (I hope I hope I hope)
Did they leave out Nurse Chapel? (I hope I hope I hope)
We never see her, but during a humorous scene where McCoy is trying to deal with some...medication side effects...he shouts at an offscreen Nurse Chapel for some medication. However, I'd have to watch again but I think that it was mentioned later in the film
that she was "on deck 6"along with Dr. Boyce. I gathered that almost everyone on deck 6 died. .
More Uninformed K-ON! Blogging
I still haven't seen K-ON! yet, but this series went on my to-watch list when I first heard about it. Pixie has had the credits up for two weeks and has some thoughts (including a very considerate earworm warning for the opening). I just now got around to watching them....
Posted by: Andy Janes at Mon May 4 05:16:28 2009 (4DhfH)
This is pretty funny indeed, but hey... You've got to be ready for contingencies. It's the same with JSDF and tanks. Who are they going to fight with their tanks? Well, what if... RUSSIANS BUILD A BRIDGE?!
Is it wrong that when I looked at it, I was looking to see if they would paint those handy targeting marks like they used to on their aircraft carriers? Or should I say, cruisers with embarked fixed wing aircraft?
Posted by: Bill at Mon May 4 13:59:59 2009 (mUl8k)
Because the Russians have never heard of landing craft? Or airborne troops?
Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon May 4 21:24:09 2009 (Cq4Jw)
We all know what the real purpose of the JSDF tanks is, and that's to shoot ineffectually at the Giant Monster / Robot attacking Tokyo before getting stomped.
Personally, I wonder if the flag on the fantail of the not-a-carrier is going to cause just as much of a stir as the not-a-carrier itself. A couple of retired army types were saying that a few years back a picture was circulating of a JSDF tank unit on exercise where one of the crew in the lead tank is clearly waving the old Imperial battle flag, and that the photo had proven a major PR problem for the JSDF by pissing off the Chinese and Koreans.
Posted by: Civilis at Tue May 5 20:57:35 2009 (eAUSz)
Well since I didn't see a catapult or ski jump, It is not all that impressive, unless they are going to load an updated Harrier or F-35. Even then you wouldn't have many on board. Now if they built a whole shit pot full of them it could be a different story. Build about ten and launch 100 aircraft armed with the smaller smart bombs.....Or build a 100 and watch everybody go nuts trying to track them all over the place.
Posted by: toadold at Sun May 10 23:41:41 2009 (rfjBl)