This ain’t Kansas, pt 2…

Well, I talked one other of our party into taking a chance on eating in town last night… and we survived… 🙂

We hiked down to the main (of three) train stations in Shinjuku, did a little looking in the stores at the station and about fell out at the prices. One set of golf clubs was 540,000 yen, so move the decimal two places to the right… er.. um… $5400 for 3-pw!!! A driver for that set was $2450! Of course they were gold plated (no joke)! A couple of people suggested buying a camera since I forgot mine, but with the exchange rate at 89 yen/dollar it’s actually cheaper to buy one in the States!

A couple of interesting notes- In 15 minutes of walking we went from the central business district to the circular at the train station, so from broad avenues, wide sidewalks, underground shops/stores/restaurants to going one block beyond the train station (following our noses, cause “something” smelled good) to single lane streets, alleys (some of which were literally too narrow for us to walk down side by side, and Yakitori and Yakisoba stands built in the alleys with at most 4-5 stools. We were the only non-Japanese back there, but I never saw and resentment to our being there ( I have been other places where it’s NOT so nice).

We walked down one alley following our noses, and found a little yakitori stand that was packed. The mamasans were cooking “chicken” and “beef” skewers on a little hibachi about the size of a laptop, so we stood in the alley and got one of each along with a beer. They tasted as good as they smelled, so we had another of each.

At one point, we looked at each other and both of us said, “Monkey meat”… and started laughing…

Then we went about three stalls over (maybe 10 feet), and got a bowl of noodles from a little old papasan that was about 4’10”, looked about 110 years old, but was spry as hell and pretty feisty! The way I figure it, we might have paid $10 for our meal, and we were both full.

After winding our way back out of the alleys, I noticed a sign adjacent to the cross walk in multiple languages that the circular for the train station was an emergency evacuation area in case of fire/earthquake. We realized all the buildings were concrete and fairly low (max 3 stories). Considering the Japanese fear of fire (many homes are wood/rattan), I’d just never realized how much sense this made.

Other little oddities…

Bicycles on the sidewalk, and you’re supposed to walk on the left; so they come up behind you and ring their bell in warning, right?

What is an Americans natural tendency? Move to the right! WRONG… bout got a set of handlebars up the ass on that one… sigh…

A open sidewalk Fuji photo “store” that was probably 30 feet long on the side of a building, with people moving pictures off disks, printing pictures and email pictures all without an attendant, just insert credit card and away you go!

Karaoke bars- EVERYWHERE around the train station…

And Jumbo pachinko (gambling) parlors (talk about noise)!

Fur trim is in for both men’s and women’s jackets; women wear LOTS of boots, both calf high leather and Uggs; lots of people wearing surgical masks; and damn near everyone regardless of age with MP3/Ipod earbuds in their ears.

Malls over here are multi-story, and some of the biggest are located at the train stations, since that is a guaranteed traffic flow. Shinagawa has one of the largest in Japan. The pic below is from my last trip. It’s a German shop selling high end German knickknacks and cuckoo clocks (up to $5000).

This ain’t Kansas…

Well, not saying it’s one of THOSE days, but…

Northern Japan was just what I expected, colder’n a well diggers ass, wind blowing with snow flurries and wind chill in the single digits… Just lovely… I knew it was not gonna be good when we got off the airplane and were waiting for the bags and I saw two Mamasans, both looking like the Michelin man.

Transportation was fine (thank you Duty Drivers), until we went to dinner and one of our party decided to be nice and let the Duty Driver go BEFORE we got back to the barracks. After a %^&* mile plus slog back through the cold and wind (did I mention single digit wind chill), I was so cold I managed to drop my room key and kick it UNDER the #$%^ door… sigh…

After finally getting into the room, it was off to a nice hot/cold/hot/cold shower… I think every time anybody in the whole damn building did anything, the water temperature changed.

Up at 0400 again, trust me there was not a damn thing stirring other than the wind. Finally got the rest of the crew up, did another bag drag and another flight back down to Tokyo.

I’m typing standing up since I think I have a permanent crease in my ass from straddling my bag riding the train from Haneda to Shinjuku in Tokyo. Nothing like an hour of being a sardine in a can, and this is on a weekend day no less… Dreading Monday morning when we have to do this in rush hour for 2 hours down to Yokosuka.

Staying at the Hilton Tokyo (NICE hotel by the way), so not much in the way of affordable things to do, but I think I’ll take a walk (hopefully I can’t get charged for looking). Gotta love Japanese efficiency too; as I’m walking up to the room, the maid(s) were finishing the final positioning of the flowers in the room and bowed me in.

p.s. after looking at the hotel restaurant list and prices, I think I’ll be eating out of the machines at the train station!!! 30,000 yen ($300 per course) in the Chinese restaurant and not much better in the Japanese restaurant. Hell for that price, maybe I could sell Toto at the back door of the restaurant… (just kidding)

Yee Haaa!!!

Well, everybody else is posting about the inauguration, so I’m not going there…

Bet this was an interesting ride. Sent by a friend up in Nova Scotia, it was taken in 2008. And the lunch special was… Chili Cheese Dogs 🙂

Caribou is NOT a little boat…


A roll-on, roll-off design with a bow visor, the MV Caribou has 2 vehicle decks and 5 decks above, the main passenger deck being Deck 5. She measures 179 metres in overall length and 25 metres in breadth, weighing 27,212 tons. Her capacity includes 1,200 passengers and 370 automobiles or 77 tractor trailers. She has up to 106 crewmembers.

I can just see the insurance claims…

Now lemme get this straight, your car was PARKED and it was run over by a PARKED semi? What were you drinking, and can I have some???

Freeze Tag Meme…

RT tagged me with this Freeze Tag meme.

The meme requires the receiver to talk about himself/herself. Oh joy…

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag six people with a link.


Six non-important things (and whatnot) about me:
1. Since 1970 I have not lived in the same place for longer than three years.

2. I have what is called Aviators Loop hearing loss, so I can’t hear high pitched female voices (comes in handy some times…)

3. I read between 150 and 200 books a year.

4. I enjoy driving long (1000+ mile) distances; to me it’s relaxing. Of course, I grew up driving across Texas as a kid, so I think nothing of driving 200 miles to have dinner…

5. I like cooking Cajun food.

6. Before I tore up my hands/broke fingers badly playing sports, I was an excellent piano player (I actually played both piano and organ for Church and in a few local concerts).

I’ll tag whomever wants to play…

Willie’s playing my song…

Well, I’m on the road again… sigh…


The bright spot is that I’m not in DC! It was 11 degrees when I left for the airport yesterday morning, today the high was 22…


On the way over, I had a chance to talk to a senior airline captain and of course we discussed US Air’s forced landing. It was NOT a crash, as he maintained control and was able to land in the river safely. The captain had a good bit of experience flying out of LGA and said a combination of taking off on Runway 4, with a LGA Departure two basically put them in the perfect position to do what they did.

Since I’m in Hawaii for a couple of days, as usual, I was wide awake at 0200 and finally gave up at 0400 and got up. I did a few hours of work and decided to have some fun.



Of course with golf in Hawaii, for better or worse, you get WIND!!! Look at the palm trees in the background of the hole- Roughly 20 mph wind, not fun on a golf course, trust me!


We played a little course called Ko Olina, on the West side of Oahu, this is the 4th hole.


I aimed at the sand trap on the right side of the green, ended up in the trap on the LEFT side of the green… took a four only because I made about a 15 foot putt. sigh…


Well, time to stop playing and do a little more work… Blogging will be spotty for the next couple of weeks.

Be safe out there!

Here’s an idea….

When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen are they reduce their staff and workers. The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well. Wall Street, and the media normally congratulate the CEO for making this type of “tough decision”, and his board of directors gives him a big bonus. I feel our government should not be immune from similar risks. I therefore am recommending the following cuts to be implemented by the Lightbringer…

1) Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50 (one per State). Also reduce remaining staff by 25%. Accomplish this over the next 8 years. (two steps / two elections) and of course this would require some redistricting.

Some yearly monetary savings include:
$44,108,400 for elimination of base pay for congress. (267 members X $165,200 pay / member / yr.)
$97,175,000 for elimination of the above people’s staff. (estimate $1.3 M in staff per each member of the House, and $3 M in staff per each member of the Senate every year)
$240,294 for the reduction in remaining staff by 25%.
$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork barrel ear-marks each year. (those members who’s jobs are gone. Current estimates for total government pork earmarks are at $15 Billion / yr)

The remaining representatives would need to work smarter and would need to improve efficiencies. It might even be in their best interests to work together for the good of our country?

We may also expect that smaller committees might lead to a more efficient resolution of issues as well. It might even be easier to keep track of what your representative is doing.

Congress has more tools available to do their jobs than it had back in 1911 when the current number of representatives was established (telephone, computers, cell phones to name a few).

Note: Congress did not hesitate to jump on a train to go home for a week when it was a holiday….when the nation needed a real fix to the economic problems. Also, we have 3 senators that have not been doing their jobs for the past 18+ months (on the campaign trail) and still they all have been accepting full pay. These facts alone support a reduction in senators & congress.

Summary of opportunity:
$ 44,108,400 reduction of congress members.
$282,100,000 for elimination of the reduced house member staff.
$150,000,000 for elimination of reduced senate member staff.
$ 59,675,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining house members.
$ 37,500,000 for 25% reduction of staff for remaining senate members.
$ 7,500,000,000 reduction in pork added to bills by the reduction of congress members.
$ 8,073,383,400 per year, estimated total savings.

Big business does these types of cuts all the time, isn’t it about time the Government stepped up to the plate????

Just a thought…

Oops… I really need to change that name…

Okay, a little humor since I’m not gonna post about how lousy this week is going…

At this rate, tomorrow will be the THIRD Monday in a row… sigh…

All of these are legitimate companies that didn’t spend quite enough time to consider how their online name might appear! These are not made up. Check them out yourself!

1. ‘Who Represents’ is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their Web site is: www.whorepresents.com

2. ‘Experts Exchange’ is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at: www.expertsexchange.com (I’ve unlinked it, since it tried to download a cookie)

3. Looking for a great pen? Look no further than ‘ Pen Island ‘. It can be found at: www.penisland.net

4. Need a therapist?Try ‘Therapist Finder’ at: www.therapistfinder.com

5. Then there’s the ‘Italian Power Generator’ company. Check it out at: www.powergenitalia.com

6.’IP computer’ software, there’s always: www.ip_anywhere.com (This link no longer works, but it’s still funny as hell)

7. And the designers at ‘Speed of Art’ await you at their wacky Web site: www.speedofart.com

And a little visual humor… From the old Steve Harvey show…

Two Things…

First via IBD from the London’s Sunday Times…

Winning Isn’t News

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Iraq: What would happen if the U.S. won a war but the media didn’t tell the American public? Apparently, we have to rely on a British newspaper for the news that we’ve defeated the last remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq .

London’s Sunday Times called it ‘the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.’ A terrorist force that once numbered more than 12,000, with strongholds in the west and central regions of Iraq, has over two years been reduced to a mere 1,200 fighters, backed against the wall in the northern city of Mosul. The destruction of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is one of the most unlikely and unforeseen events in the long history of American warfare.

We can thank President Bush’s surge strategy, in which he bucked both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington by increasing our forces there instead of surrendering. We can also thank the leadership of the new general he placed in charge there, David Petraeus, who may be the foremost expert in the world on counter-insurgency warfare. And we can thank those serving in our military in Iraq who engaged local Iraqi tribal leaders and convince d them America was their friend and AQI their enemy.

Al-Qaida’s loss of the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis began in Anbar Province, which had been written off as a basket case, and spread out from there. Now, in Operation Lion’s Roar the Iraqi army and the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is destroying the fraction of terrorists who are left.

More than 1,000 AQI operatives have already been apprehended. Sunday Times (London) reporter Marie Colvin, traveling with Iraqi forces in Mosul, found little AQI presence even in bullet-ridden residential areas that were once insurgency strongholds, and reported that the terrorists have lost control of its Mosul urban base, with what is left of the organization having fled south into the countryside.

Meanwhile, the State Department reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government has achieved ‘satisfactory’ progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks ‘a big change for the better from a year ago.’ Things are going so well that Maliki has even for the first time floated the idea of a timetable for withdrawal of American forces. He did so while visiting the United Arab Emirates ,which over the weekend announced that it was forgiving almost $7 billion of debt owed by Baghdad, an impressive vote of confidence from a fellow Arab state in the future of a free Iraq.

But where are the headlines and the front-page stories about all this good news? As the Media Research Center pointed out last week, ‘the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 were silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks ‘that signaled political progress.’ The war in Iraq has been turned around 180 degrees both militarily and politically because the president stuck to his guns.

Yet apart from IBD, Fox News Channel and parts of the foreign press, the media don’t seem to consider this historic event a big story.

Copyright 2008 Investor’s Business Daily. All Rights Reserved.

Addendum: I believe the reason you haven’t seen this on American television or read about it in the American press is simple–journalism is ‘dead’ in this country. They are controlled by Liberal media who would rather see our troops defeated than recognize a successful Republican initiated response to 9/11. I also believe the media are probably holding the info ’til after coronation of BHO in order to give him credit.

Second- the commissioning of CVN-77 the last Nimitz Class Carrier was held yesterday in Norfolk. It is the USS George H. W. Bush, and the ship’s motto is Freedom at Work. Any commissioning is a special time, not only for the crew, but also for the families both of the crew and the namesake. While it is unusual for the namesake to still be alive, it is not unprecedented. The families finally get to see their sailors who have worked their tails off man the rails for the first time and they know the pride their significant others feel in a job well done.

To me the two special moments were the fly-over, which included a TBM Avenger like what President Bush flew (and he did NOT know it was going to be there), and the posting of the watch. For those who are not Navy folks, when the watch is posted that is the first time the Navy assumes control of the ship from the builder, and from that point forward, 24/7/365 until that ship is decommissioned, be it 20 years or 50 years, there will always be a duty section standing watch aboard her.
The original crew will be known as plank owners, dating back to the days of wooden ships when one of the original crew, upon departure was given a piece or plank from the ship as a commemorative of their service.

Another key is the ship’s emblem, this symbol is normally done by the pre-com unit and is the design that will forever grace the ship’s patches, flags, coffee mugs and lighters. Here is the CVN-77 Emblem and explanation.

Each element of the seal is significant for its relevance to the ship’s namesake, Naval Aviation, naval service, and our great nation. There are six prominent features of the seal, beginning with the forty-one white stars.

These stars symbolize our namesake and the nation’s forty-first president, the Honorable George H.W. Bush. After taking the executive oath of office, with his hand on the same Bible George Washington used in 1789, President Bush inspired us to use power to help people.
Rays of light that appear on the seal’s horizon represent President Bush’s concept of a thousand points of light. He urged us to find meaning and reward by serving a purpose higher than ourselves, to imbue the timeless ideas of “duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.” The crew of CVN-77 stands ready every day and takes pride in pitching in.

The graphic depiction of the aircraft carrier reflects the carrier as both a symbol and instrument of American strength as “a force for good.” Bridging the past, present, and future of Naval Aviation are the overhead profiles of the TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, the F-18 Hornet strike fighter, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Avenger was selected for its relevance to President Bush’s days as a Navy pilot.

The fouled anchors and shields, as seen centered on Naval Aviators wings, honor our namesake’s aviation history. The youngest pilot in the Navy when he earned his wings, he later flew an Avenger bomber during World War II. During one combat mission, his aircraft received heavy anti-aircraft fire. Although his plane was afire and severely damaged, he courageously completed his strafing run before heading out to sea, where he bailed out and was rescued by a Navy submarine, the USS FINBACK.

Finally, the motto “Freedom at Work” is adapted from President Bush’s inaugural speech, during which he said, “We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right.” The USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH and its crew, proud to serve a higher purpose, are the finest examples of Freedom at Work.
That is all.

It’s ALREADY one of those months…

If the first week and half of 2009 is any indication, I’m in for a hellva year… sigh…

I’m already up to my alligator in assholes, and no relief in sight. So far, 9 days in, I’ve been on the road 7 days; and the way things are looking, next week will be the only full week I’ll be home between now and mid-March!

Kinda feeling a little bit like the antelope 🙂

Except rather than hitting a tree, I’m just hitting the brick wall, again and again and, well you get the idea…

I getting just a wee bit paranoid too (and not JUST because they’re out to get me)…

Every time something breaks in the place I’m renting, the SAME thing breaks in my condo down in the Carolina’s. First it was the dishwasher, then the microwave, and finally the washing machine… the SAME things broke in Carolina, in the same sequence!

Now where did I put that tax rebate I was promised… Oh yeah, never mind, MY taxes will go up, not down!

Listening to the news today, Blogo is impeached by the Ill House, something like 114-1 and he STILL says he’s innocent, his Senatorial pick still is on the sidelines, etc. High “dramady” at it’s best! And the Lightbringer is pontificating on how bad the economy is, expecting a one Trillion dollar deficit JUST in 2009, yet the media is lapping it up like dogs! Oh, Oh… AND he’s going to create 300,000 new government jobs? To do WHAT???

Far as I’m concerned, it will be that many more pigs feeding at the trough. If we could get RID of 300,000 of the lifers (Lazy ignorant f’ers expecting retirement types) and get rid of a few programs that were completed, oh 40 or so years ago, like the TVA (to bring power to the Tennessee Valley), we might actually have a few dollars left over.

Are these the same media that bashed Bush every time he so much as commented on the economy???

The one that really cracked us up though, was the blurb about how the Lightbringer and his crew are going to use campaign slogans and bumper stickers to get their message out! WTFO?

Oh yeah, one last thing, it’s a pretty good indicator that people are afraid of the gun/ammo confiscation/taxation/excise tax thing when there is no .22 cal ammunition to be had from any of the normal suppliers, and excessed Lake City .223 is up to almost $1/round!

Kicking the soap box back in the corner now…

Since I found my glasses, now I’ve gotta find the soap powder, I “know” it’s around here somewhere….

Now whereinhell did I put that flashlight???

Why am I in the handbasket and where are we going…

One of these days I’m gonna learn to schedule things better… sigh…
Well, the holidays are officially over, so back to the salt mines tomorrow, which for me means another day, another airplane ride and another set of meetings…
Since I just got back from South Carolina, I’m washing clothes, repacking the bag, and trying to get caught up on email, snail mail, work related stuff and various other cats and dogs (parenthetically speaking- I don’t even have any plants anymore); AND still get some sleep tonight…
I must say, I envy those with more than one person in the house- At least there is SOME backup when one has absolutely NO #$%* idea where that one thing you really need to put back in the bag is… sigh…
I guess it’s back to the old checklist!
Watch, wallet, spectacles, testicles… well, you get the idea 🙂
Now, whereinhell… mumble, mumble, mumble…