Archive for September, 2007

This should be a big story. Think it will be?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Hillary Clinton has hired Sandy Berger as a foreign policy advisor. I guess we’re all supposed to have forgotten what he did by now. And his security clearance can be restored soon, too. I commented (ranted, actually) about Sandy Berger more than three years ago.

Jim at Parkway Rest Stop won’t be voting for Hillary because of it. I consider it an absolutely valid reason. As far as I’m concerned, it’s grounds for restricting Hillary’s access to classified information.

It’s not the reason I won’t be voting for Hillary, although it would be, if I hadn’t made that decision (about Democrats, not specifically Hillary) three years ago, too. It means that I sometimes leave a lot of empty spaces on ballots, given where I live.

Via David J.

Do they let her out without a keeper?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I saw and read this article yesterday, but lost the original link. That’s ok, though, because I found several others, including the Wizbang link I used. The article was written by a young woman at Columbia whose brother is attending the United States Naval Academy.

It seems that she and the rest of the family were shocked, shocked, I say, to learn that the Academy is part of the military!

While we knew that someday he would be required to serve, we also were drawn to the top-tier education he was promised to receive. We were told that the Naval Academy was first and foremost an elite college. He would be able to learn history, economics, political science, and even engineering.

He would “someday be required to serve?” Didn’t they pay attention during meetings with the Blue and Gold officers? Did they even attend any? Did they talk with any members of the local alumni chapter? How about the parents’ club?

When I attended (lo, these many moons ago), USNA was primarily an engineering school. Because of the Navy’s needs, everyone got a fair amount of engineering in their curriculum. The school itself was accredited, but only some of the engineering degrees were themselves accredited. That is, when I attended, everyone who graduated was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree. Some graduates received degrees such as “Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering,” but there were no Bachelor of Arts degrees. Majoring in any of the humanities got you a B.S.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he was learning everything she mentions above – I remember history being required. All right, History of Seapower. It’s still history. The “mass lectures” were still conducted by Professor Potter when I attended.

While they boast a first class education, the main goal of this institution was to get my brother “combat ready.”

I graduated before women were admitted to the service academies, but the stated mission of the Naval Academy back then was, “To prepare young men morally, mentally, and physically to become professional officers in the Naval Service.” I have a hard time imagining that the wording has changed in more ways than the replacement of “men” with something less gender-specific. It’s not presented as a formal mission, but the website says:

The Naval Academy gives young men and women the up-to-date academic and professional training needed to be effective naval and marine officers in their assignments after graduation.

Perhaps Ms. Leppla and her mother confused the Naval Academy with the other Naval Academy … you know, the one where they demonstrate for social justice, dress nicely for formal dinner/dances, drink environmentally-sensitive coffee substitutes, and never have to worry about icky combat.

Oh, wait, there isn’t one.

Sorry, maybe there is. If you search around the Naval Academy website, you find their catalog, which contains The United States Naval Academy Mission:

To develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to provide graduates who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

Gack! I thought mission statements were supposed to be straightforward and clear! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though. When I went back for my 20th reunion, one of my buddies was 5th Batt. officer, and he told me stories of how things had changed since our day. Disappointing. Not that I’m going to go into “Back in my day, when men were men, and plebes were plebes, and giants walked the earth” mode or anything, but touchy-feely philosophy (outside touchy-feely courses) and political correctness have infiltrated, as made apparent by the rewritten mission statement, which makes me think of the following “You know you’re a Mid when …” cartoon:


This is part one of four that Ms. Leppla has planned. What horrifying secrets will she expose in the next article? That the uniforms make them all look the same? That parts of the Academy are built on landfill into the Severn? That the locals think the Academy takes up valuable real estate that could be used for Historic Annapolis displays? (They used to; that may have changed.) That it’s possible to pass through Bilger’s Gate and still graduate?

I’ll be waiting with bated breath.

No, wait. I won’t. She’s gotten hammered in her comments; I think I’ll leave it at this.

Fun game

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

My best time is 15.622 seconds. They say that making it to 18 seconds is performing brilliantly.

How well can you do?

And you thought ‘Alien’ was fiction

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Learn the truth at Scribal Terror.

I always thought there was something disturbing about boy bands

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

The Japanese, however, know how to take it to the next level:

Via Scribal Terror.

So, what’s the exchange rate for Zorkmids?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

One of the “attractions” near Quebec is the Ile aux Grues, which, I believe, translates as “Island with Grues.” I presume the tours only run in the daytime.

Catching up

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Internet access has been sort of spotty on the trip. So has cellphone coverage; I’ve got no service here at Smuggler’s Notch Resort. Pretty scenery, though, and the trees are showing signs of their autumn colors. For the most part, things are still green, but every now and then, you’ll catch a bit of orange or red peeking through.

In any case, we flew into Montreal on August 26th. Wandered around the old part of the city that evening, took a bus tour of local attractions the next morning, then drove to Quebec. We stayed at a B&B in the walled part of the old city for three nights, and had a really good time. However, there’s a tourist kitsch coffee cup where the cup portion is only a half-cylinder, which states “Quebec was so expensive I could only afford a half-cup of coffee!” Believe it. Even with the continental breakfast at the B&B, I don’t think we spent less than $100/day for lunch and dinner for the two of us. Another word of warning: don’t expect good iced tea in Canada. Apparently, “iced tea” is Canadian for “pre-sweetened, pre-lemoned somewhat-tea-flavored instant drink mix.”

We took a walking tour our second day, which was quite good (ask for Jules, he’s a very good guide). We also took a bus tour, which wasn’t anywhere near as good. I went off by myself for the Musée de la civilisation – they had an exhibit on Dragons I wanted to see. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, although they had a few interesting items included in it. What I did enjoy seeing there, though, was the exhibit “Au Pérou avec Tintin.” They were celebrating Hergé’s centennial with an exhibit about Peru using the related Tintin adventure, with original strip art interspersed with Peruvian artifacts. Fun stuff.

When we left Quebec, we drove out to Riviere-du-Loup, where we took a whale-watching cruise. It was pretty good … we saw beluga (which only appeared as white lumps in the water), minke whales, a pod of about 10 fin whales at pretty close range, and some white-finned dolphins.

The next day (Friday), I spent my birthday traveling down New Brunswick and into Maine, as we had reservations at a motel in Bar Harbor. I was sorry I didn’t pay more attention to the road signs. I’d love to have gotten a picture of the sign pointing the way to St. Louis du Ha! Ha!, but we were past it before I noticed. I expected there’d be a more interesting story behind the name, though.

No trouble crossing the border, but we did run into an immigration checkpoint about thirty miles in. That was interesting, for a moment or two.

“Both Canadian citizens?”
“No, American.”
“Both of you?”
“Then who does this car belong to?”
“It’s a rental. We picked it up in Montreal.”
“Okay, thank you.”

A good place to eat in the Bar Harbor area is The Chart Room, by the way. Marion bought me a lobster dinner for my birthday, and she had the scallops. She got the much better meal; she says she’s been ruined for any other scallops (although I expect her to keep trying to find the equal). She had the blueberry pie for dessert; I had the strawberry shortcake. Loved them both.

Saturday, we toured Acacia National Park, then hit the L.L. Bean factory outlet store in Ellsworth. I bought way too much, but you couldn’t beat the prices. Then we went back to the Chart Room for dinner. I had haddock, shrimp, and scallops baked with cheese and seasonings. Marion’s become ruined for halibut, also. This time, I had the blueberry pie, while Marion had the apple crisp.

Sunday, we drove here, stopping near Ellsworth to go through The Big Chicken Barn, over 21000 square feet of antiques and used books. I picked up three 1964-vintage Analog magazines, one of which contains the H. Beam Piper story, “Gunpowder God.” If I’d realized that they were only $1 apiece before I got to the counter, I’d have picked up more of them. I also picked up a pen-and-ink drawing that looks like it’s an illustration from a 30’s pulp magazine.

We ate dinner at one of the restaurants here (the Morse Mountain Grill). The food was good, but they use instant for their iced tea, and the ambience was about like a Furr’s.

Monday was a day off … we sat around and did not much of anything. Went to Jeffersonville to check out the restaurants, and found nothing much there, so we had dinner at Stella Notte, which is just down the road and pretty good.

Yesterday, we took a day trip back to Montreal. We wanted to see the underground city (not that interesting, from the portion we saw) and the Botanical Gardens (second largest in the world, we were told). The Gardens were incredible. I can believe they’re the second largest; just the Chinese Garden itself takes up perhaps half the acreage of the Denver Botanic Gardens. Then you’ve got the Japanese Garden, the First Nations Garden, the Shade Garden, the Alpine Garden, the Ornamental Vegetables Garden, the Exhibition Gardens, and I haven’t even started on the greenhouses, the tree sections, the Courtyard of Senses, and the other sections I can’t remember off-hand. I’d want to have a week, to view them completely. Then I’d want a year, so I could review each section once a week throughout the year.

We ate dinner at Madison’s, which bills itself as a “New York Grill and Bar.” All dark wood and burgundy leather, black-clad attendants, and wonderful food. Marion had the salmon, and I had the seared tuna. We decided that I had chosen the better meal. Had to happen, sooner or later.

As we left the restaurant, my cellphone rang. It was my daughter, who had been trying to call me since Friday, but had run afoul of the spotty coverage. She didn’t get me, she didn’t get my voicemail, she just heard it continue to ring. I’d had some troubles, myself. In Quebec, Marion called and left me a message (I’d gone off to a museum while she did something else). I was able to call her after I left the museum, but I couldn’t access my voicemail until we got to Bar Harbor. Inconvenient, but such is life.
Today’s another quiet day. Tomorrow, we’ll take a sunset cruise of Lake Champlain. We also plan to tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory sometime, and we’ll probably dine a time or two in Stowe, which is just the other side of the Notch.

We fly back into Denver on Sunday, and I’ll be ready to take a break from taking a break.