Sunday, May 29, 2005

Three Day Weak End

After needlessly buying and installing a new alternator, battery, and battery post for my heap I found out the problem was a cable connection. I don't know whether to feel elation because my ride is back in service or anguish over the dough I wasted. Taking the philosophical high road, I dismiss the loss of money by telling myself it's only money and I would have pissed it away on food, clothes, bills, and other foolish items. And to reinforce that cavalier attitude I took Linda to the local Indian casino last night. She wanted to go into the small, isolated, and profitless non-smokers room, so we did. I didn't see any slot machines I liked after a couple of tests, so I plopped down beside her and stuck my $75 credit slip in the slot. After a few plays I noticed my credits were pretty low and she was busted (having only $20--of mine--as a stake). That's when I noticed the nickel machines we'd been playing were actually $5.00 slots.
No high roller, me. I said the heck with this and headed for the smoky main room. There's a machine that was good to me the last time I played and I found one that was open so I sat down and put in my by-now $55 credit slip. After a bit I was up to $80--my original buy in--and decided to stop. Linda, meanwhile, dropped another of my double sawbucks.
Since we hadn't been there long I thought we should get a couple of $5.00 slips and play the penny machines. I settled on a 2 cent slot and milked it for a time. Linda actually parlayed her fiver (mine, actually) into $15.00.
Some day I'd like to have a fat roll to play with and the attitude that if I lose it all I really don't care.

Speaking of Linda, she just went to the movies and saw that lame comedy with Hanoi Jane. I am not pleased.

I've done some chores this weekend. I wired the trailer I assembled, no thanks to the instructions. I cleared out some junk in my office and the staircase leading up to it. Cleaned the rat's cage. I mowed the front yard and ripped up a bunch of weeds on the strip between the street and sidewalk.
That stip has been the biggest pain in the ass since we moved in. When I planted grass it didn't grow. When I put down plastic and covered it with beauty bark the grass grew. Linda, my commie pinko wife, put in some bushes and weeds sprouted between them like, well, weeds. Very hearty, fast-growing weeds.
I watched the second batch of Deadwood shows on DVD. Some folks were offended by the cussing, and the scripts do it up royal, but I work with young military people and they talk like that all the time. I hardly notice it anymore. I like the way the series tries to show the Old West the way it was--dirty, deadly, corrupt, lawless, and unmerciful. Sort of like L.A. today.

My reading is still minimal right now. I have a western on my bed that I'm slowing working my way through and Pronzini's short story collection at work that I look at during slack times.
There haven't been that many slack times lately, however. One of our jobs is to load and secure Stryker armored fighting vehicles into the C-17 jets at McChord AFB. I suppose in the past six months I've been involved with deploying a couple of dozen of these Strykers, and there have been as many done by other shifts. It makes me wonder what happened to the ones that were there initially, and also what happened to the guys who rode in them. I know that the desert is murder on engines, and certainly some just wore out, but others were blown up and a couple rolled into canals by accident. Fort Lewis, the Army base we're supposed to merge with, has at least one memorial a week for service members who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of them in Strykers. So each time I help send one off I wish the best for those who will be assigned to it on the other side.
Besides, it takes eight 25,000 lb. tiedown chains to secure one of those monsters (weight: about 43,000 pounds) to the deck of a C-17. I hate doing tiedowns. Getting too old for all that squatting.

Happy Memorial Day to all those who served.

Cap'n Bob, veteran

Monday, May 23, 2005

Is It Over At Last?

As moaned about in my previous blog, a lot of annoying little setbacks have been happening since the middle of April (the beginning if you count an old back injury that flared up). The ongoing car hassles may have stopped since I put in a new battery, alternator, and battery post.

Yesterday I took my girls to see KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. It was rated R, and I wouldn't have taken them to an R movie normally, but the rating was based on some splattered blood during the battle scenes and that's mild compared to the junk they see on TV all the time.
I suppose I liked the movie but not without reservations. My usual complaint about the MTV influence in the action scenes continues here. Flash cuts, extreme closeups, wobbly cameras, and what appears to be a strobe effect all diminish the action for me rather than enhance it. Also, the movie included the old chestnut of the hero doing a good deed for his enemy which saved him from destruction later on.
Still, the assault on the castle was damned exciting, the female lead lovely, the ideals of knighthood and redemption played with proper solemnity, and the chatterbox a few rows ahead shut up after I hinted she should.
Also interesting was the portrayal of the Knights Templar, whose history was germane to the Maltese Falcon. Here, they're shown as a rapacious, greedy bunch interested only in loot and power.
A movie like this demands a large screen, so unless you have a really big TV I recommend you see it in the theater.

My oldest girl has been getting a few driving lessons from me. Actually, I just sit there and let her drive my car--when it works--and caution her about stopping distances and speed around corners when the need arises. Lucky for us there's a park nearby with a Five Mile Drive that's one way and has a 20 MPH speed limit. After traversing that a couple of times we hit the city streets and she's doing well. It's funny for me to see someone learning to drive a car when I routinely drive a 55-foot long aircraft loader and other pieces of Air Force equipment.

I stared reading BURGADE'S CROSSING, by Bill Pronzini, last week. I like Bill's writing a lot and was eager to read this, but when I stared I realized it was a short story collection. I'd already read the titular story (luckily I have too poor a memory to remember how it ended), and probably several others. Now, I don't mind having the book at all, but I think the pulisher was kind of sneaky by not saying it was an ss collection right up front. All the cover says is FIRST TIME IN PAPERBACK! That sounds like a novel to me.

The weekend was so busy I had to take today, Monday, off. What with the holiday next week, that'll be back-to-back three day weekends. As Homer Simpson says, Woo-hoo!