Thebastidge: 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    And today it rained...

    ... with pea-sized hail, no less.

    It poured down for several hours. Of course, the soil here can't really handle rain, so everything floods, backed-up shitwater everywhere. The road to our support facility where we use the military DFAC was 8 inches deep in said shitwater, so the boss sprang for mediocre pizza from the AAFES concessionaires.

    When it really rains, you get a whole new sense of how things have progressed over the summer. All the new bullet holes are discovered, as water leaks down through the holes in the ceilings. And any new construction gets it first serious vetting. A couple trailers had to go dark this afternoon after sparking and arcing switch and fuse boxes caused minor fires. We'll see how classroom trailer number 1 fares: it has been slowly sinking on one side even without heavy rain, and the artillery cover over the top (sand sandwiched between some kind of fiber-cement board) has obviously gotten wet enough to stream dirty water in spots. With thin fiber-cement board spaced on 1 meter centered metal supports, I'm not entirely sure the whole damn thing won't collapse with the sand absorbing all that extra weight.

    I'll be here through the worst of the winter weather, and since I'm leaving toward the end of January, before the weather gets better again, I guess it's time to start sending my hot-weather gear home. That at least, is a cheerful thought.

    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Tangos in India

    One notes with sympathy the attack in Mumbai splashed across the news.

    It's quite a bold move, and dismays me for not only the people who live there, since I am planning a trip to Delhi towards the end of January, I'm a bit concerned about my own safety.

    Not that it's going to change my plans. Just something to think about. Kinda sobering. It's good to be aware of these things, and at least somewhat mentally prepared.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    From the Office of The Bastidge of the United States

    Has anybody else noticed Barack Obama's podium lately? I mean plenty noticed his faux-presidential seal, but now he has this sign across the front of it, announcing:
    The Office of The President Elect

    Seriously, where's the flourish of trumpets, dude?

    Pardon my ignorance, but I didn't realize there was an
    Office of the President Elect. (Ta Daaa!)

    I thought he took office in January.

    Seems a bit {ahem} premature.


    Tho I rarely take part in Internet survey-tyoe memes, I seem to be on a roll this week. Must be bored.

    Got this from CosmicBabe:

    1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
    2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
    3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
    4) Optional extra: Post a comment at Very Good Tastelinking to your results.

    1. Venison
    2. Nettle tea
    3. Huevos rancheros
    4. Steak tartare
    5. Crocodile alligator
    6. Black pudding
    7. Cheese fondue
    8. Carp
    9. Borscht
    10. Baba ghanoush
    11. Calamari
    12. Pho
    13. PB&J sandwich
    14. Aloo gobi
    15. Hot dog from a street cart
    16. Epoisses
    17. Black truffle
    18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
    19. Steamed pork buns
    20. Pistachio ice cream
    21. Heirloom tomatoes
    22. Fresh wild berries
    23. Foie gras
    24. Rice and beans
    25. Brawn, or head cheese
    26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
    27. Dulce de leche
    28. Oysters
    29. Baklava
    30. Bagna cauda
    31. Wasabi peas
    32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
    33. Salted lassi
    34. Sauerkraut
    35. Root beer float
    36. Cognac with a fat cigar
    37. Clotted cream tea
    38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
    39. Gumbo
    40. Oxtail
    41. Curried goat
    42. Whole insects
    43. Phaal
    44. Goat’s milk
    45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
    46. Fugu
    47. Chicken tikka masala
    48. Eel
    49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
    50. Sea urchin (Never again!)
    51. Prickly pear
    52. Umeboshi
    53. Abalone
    54. Paneer
    55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
    56. Spaetzle
    57. Dirty gin martini
    58. Beer above 8% ABV
    59. Poutine
    60. Carob chips
    61. S’mores
    62. Sweetbreads
    63. Kaolin
    64. Currywurst
    65. Durian
    66. Frogs’ legs
    67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
    68. Haggis
    69. Fried plantain
    70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
    71. Gazpacho
    72. Caviar and blini
    73. Louche absinthe
    74. Gjetost, or brunost
    75. Roadkill
    76. Baijiu
    77. Hostess Fruit Pie
    78. Snail
    79. Lapsang souchong
    80. Bellini
    81. Tom yum
    82. Eggs Benedict
    83. Pocky
    84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
    85. Kobe beef
    86. Hare
    87. Goulash
    88. Flowers
    89. Horse
    90. Criollo chocolate
    91. Spam
    92. Soft shell crab
    93. Rose harissa
    94. Catfish
    95. Mole poblano
    96. Bagel and lox
    97. Lobster Thermidor
    98. Polenta
    99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
    100. Snake


    Monday, November 24, 2008


    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Why aren't we buying it?

    I see an Army Times article from 17 November this year (sorry, dead tree version so no link) talking about the problems in Aghfanistan with drug lords, and the new policy with NATO allowing us to target them.

    The article states that about 93% of the world's opium trade is suppled by Afghanistan (with last year being a production record), and also that we don't want to go after poppy fields in wholesale counter-narcotics destruction ops because it would alienate working class Afghans. It also states that this drug trade is funding Al-Qaeda type organizations to the tune of at least $100 million yearly.

    So my question is, why the f*** aren't we buying it from them?

    Look; opium and its derivative drugs are not without therapeutic value. The opium trade is NOT going away around the world, and the reason why Afghan farmers want to be involved in it is because it is the only CASH crop they can produce in quantity. Sure, they can raise food crops, but they have no collection and distribution system that allows them to get such to market without spoilage and no system for collecting payment.

    The drug trade takes care of that problem with a product that has little spoilage, less bulk and weight, and the market comes to them to pick up product, and delivers cash money.

    Cash is necessary for all those goods you just can't grow for yourself. Little stuff, like electric generators and light bulbs. I know, most Americans literally can't even conceive of a life without electricity, but trust me, it sucks. Not to mention all those other niceties, like ammunition and guns so that other people don't take what little you have (including your wife and daughters).

    We are NOT going to get the Afghans to stop growing opium, until they have something better to grow, and other products to sell for cash. So stop fighting it. Buy the opium ourselves, and USE it.

    I know that legislators, the moral majority, and yes, even the pharma companies have a vested interest in not allowing the use of opium-derived narcotics even in legitimate medical practice in the United States. So refine the shit and sell it, or hell- give it away to doctors in Africa. Control it and make people account for it. Just don't destroy it. Stop making the market value of it artificially high, stop giving the farmers an incentive to do business with terrorists, stop keeping people poorer than they need to be, and stop failing at providing peace in Afghanistan already.

    Edited to add a note for the Obama Administration: feel free to run with this idea. That would actually be a change I could support. You can even claim it for yourself, I don't care.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Hope and Change

    One of my favourite Not-for-Profit enterprises is the Rocky Mountain Institute, primarily because they are doing something solid to make the world a better place (of course, "better" is according to their view, but that's true of all of us.) The thing I like best about them is that they don't try to re-make mankind, they just try to give us the tools to better our lives, and leave us to improve ourselves.

    One of their best-known works is "Natural Capitalism", but they have some other good products, I gelaned some good ideas from their work with Data Center design as well.

    With that in mind, I reproduce their latest newsletter. Check them out, buy their books, hell- even donate a bit of cash if you like:

    The early bioneer Bill McLarney was stirring a vat of algae in his Costa Rica research center when a brassy North American lady strode in.
    What, she demanded, was he doing stirring a vat of green goo when what the world really needs is love? “There’s theoretical love,” Bill replied, “and then there’s applied love”—and kept on stirring.

    At Rocky Mountain Institute, we stir and strive in the spirit of applied hope. Our people work hard to make the world better, not from some airy theoretical hope, but in the practical and grounded conviction that starting with hope and acting out of hope can cultivate a different kind of world worth being hopeful about, reinforcing itself in a virtuous spiral. Applied hope is not about some vague, far-off future but is expressed and created moment by moment through our choices.

    Applied hope is not mere optimism. The optimist treats the future as fate, not choice, and thus fails to take responsibility for making the world we want. Applied hope is a deliberate choice of heart and head. The optimist, says RMI Trustee David Orr, has his feet up on the desk and a satisfied smirk knowing the deck is stacked. The person living in hope has her sleeves rolled up and is fighting hard to change or beat the odds. Optimism can easily mask cowardice. Hope requires fearlessness.

    Fear of specific and avoidable dangers has evolutionary value. Nobody has ancestors who weren’t mindful of saber-toothed tigers. But pervasive dread, currently in fashion and sometimes purposely promoted, is numbing and demotivating. When I give a talk, sometimes a questioner details the many bad things happening in the world and asks how dare I propose solutions: isn’t resistance futile? The only response I’ve found is to ask, as gently as I can, “Does feeling that way make you more effective?”

    To be sure, mood does matter. The last three decades of the twentieth century reportedly saw 46,000 new psychological papers on despair and grief, but only 400 on joy and happiness. If psychologists want to help people find joy and happiness, they’re looking in the wrong places. Empathy, humor, and reversing both inner and outer poverty are all vital. But the most solid foundation we know for feeling better about the future is to improve it—tangibly, durably, reproducibly, and scalably.

    At RMI we’re practitioners, not theorists. We do solutions, not problems. We do transformation, not incrementalism. In a world short of both hope and time, we seek to practice Raymond Williams’s truth that “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, not despair convincing.” Hope becomes possible, practical—even profitable—when advanced resource efficiency turns scarcity into abundance. The glass, then, is neither half empty nor half full; rather, it has a 100 percent design margin, expandable by efficiency.

    In our most recent Annual Report, available at, my colleagues outline the latest steps in RMI’s long journey of applied hope. As signs of RMI’s effectiveness proliferate, our challenges are chiefly those of success—of needing ever more discriminating focus as the world moves our way, demanding that our limited resources be rapidly scaled to serve nearly infinite needs. We can’t do everything; doing just anything may miss the mark; doing nothing is unacceptable; but doing the right things at the right time can make all the difference. We are intently engaged in discerning and reaching those goals.

    In a world so finely balanced between fear and hope, with the outcome in suspense and a whiff of imminent shift in the air, we choose to add the small stubborn ounces of our weight on the side of applied hope.

    I was overwhelmed by the generous support for Rocky Mountain Institute this past year. RMI's annual fall appeal is approaching, and we certainly hope you'll consider partnering with us. If you'd like to give now and beat the holiday rush, it's not too early to make a tax-deductible gift. Please click here to make a secure, online donation to support this crucial work. Thank you.

    Cofounder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist

    Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent, entrepreneurial, nonprofit organization. We drive the efficient and restorative use of resources to make the world secure, just, prosperous, and life-sustaining."

    Curing the evils of capitalism

    One acronym at a time- or is it all together?

    Well, there are certainly less willing capitalists right now. I thought an Obama presidency meant re-distributing wealth, not destroying it completely.

    My investments are definitely not making me happy at the moment. It's a good thing I'm in it for the long haul. Now hopefully, BHO doesn't pull an FDR and FUBAR us all for as long as the New Deal did. Because the DOW is hurting, NASDAQ is sick, and my IRA is halved. Tons of green sitting on the sidelines like a frog waiting to see which way to jump, while the water in the pond evaporates.

    People! Nothing has fundamentally changed. Some bad risks bit some companies. It's not like the fundamental nature of the transactions have changed. People still need houses, they still drive cars. Oil has come down by 2/3rds from its ridiculous high. We're drawing down resources and expenses in Iraq. Many economic sectors are still doing well, and this quarter we're in will probably be the first to post an actual downturn in the whole economy (if it even does that) regardless of the long-threatened recession which has so far failed to appear. Not to say the economy hasn't slowed a bit. But a recession has a meaning. And we haven't seen it yet.

    I'm putting my money where my loyalty lies (and my best bet to get a good deal for myself. My, isn't enlightened self-interest grand?). I put all my spare cash into the stock market in the last couple weeks. While I wince when I look at it and wish I might have timed the plunge to the bottom just a bit better, in the end, I am supremely confident in the American economy's ability to reward me.

    Sure, it's a gamble, but then I could be hit by a mortar tomorrow, couldn't I?

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    The dog ran away

    Ach well, that's the problem with picking up strays. No gratitiude.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Got a god..

    Maybe I'm dyslexic. James and I picked up a bitch tonight. Together. She's a lovely blonde, shy, submissive, skinny and just wants to be loved.

    Her mother seems to have approved since they both came over to us and rolled over and spread their legs.

    Once mama decideded we were being nice to her baby, she left to bark at cars. A bit callous, some might say, but who are we to judge? Her ma probly needs the room for a new litter soon enough.

    Ourn new blonde babe is hereby christened "Checkpoint" and is being spoiled out of her mind. Have to get a vet to check out her limp if her right forepaw doesn't stop giving her trouble in the next week or so. And since she's probly about 6 months old, it'll be time to get her spayed soon.

    Where I'm at

    Mostly I'm posting over at Bobvis lately. There are some thoughtful people there, amongst the chaff of the Internet.

    Low and unworthy

    I know I shouldn't, but I Just. Can't. Help. It.

    Yahoo's home page at the moment has an article about Peru offering a hypo-allergenic dog to the Obamas, as their approach to Camelot garners media attention and swooning over the most banal aspects of their lives, far earlier than I have ever seen such details published before. The other day it was their "Secret Service Nicknames", today it's their search for the Perfect Puppy™.

    The funny thing about this Peruvian pooch is that it is described as a furless and toothless (this latter in the Yahoo! Buzz article at leaast) breed.

    An unavoidable "bark" of laughter escaped me involuntarily, as I considered that:

    The Emperor's new dog is naked, the breed is toothless. How appropriate for the most Left Liberal President we have ever had and his policies.

    I wonder if liberals everywhere will be rushing out to adopt them now?


    I see another like-minded blogger has been kind enough to link me, so I shall return the respect.

    I heartily agree that the Repbulicans have a marketing problem, but I don't think that is the only problem they have. The problem is that too many people within that party don't agree on the basics that Eratosthenes outlines as the platform.

    The two major parties are paths to power, not ideological platforms.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Librarians pretty much rock

    Breda is kind enough to link me, and I don't notice for who knows how long. Miss Roberta X as well.

    Thank you, ladies,and I hang my head in shame for not being worthy, with my dearth of posts and incredible lack of content. I shall endeavour to do better.

    As Mrs. Fallacy reminds me, I shall write.

    Lately I am teaching. I am not a teacher.

    So, what to do. Make the best of it, I guess, until my buddy gets back who is permanently assigned to the task.

    Seriously, I *LOVE* being a mentor. I really enjoy explaining things to people, and I *LOVE* discussing things with people, and I *LOVE* getting other people's perspectives on things. One on one or in small, informal groups.

    Unfortunately, I also tend to hold forth on things people are not interested in sometimes. My most recent ex-GF expressed on occasion that she sometimes felt I was lecturing and didn't respect her opinions on things. Nothing further from the truth, actually, but our personal styles clashed in that way. I do miss talking with her about things though. Our trip to Ireland this summer was instructive to me, not just on the type of woman I think I am looking for vs what I demonstrate in my actions, but also how I appear to others and where I have some room for improvement. Nothing like spending 3 weeks with someone in constant contact to let one know one is not peerfect, if such a silly thought should ever have passed one's initial BS filters.

    But I digress, as I often do. ahem. I am not a teacher. I do not enjoy having a classroom of people attentive to my every word and waiting for my direction in their learning journey. While I enjoy leading people to the truth and to efficient practices and new ideas, I don't enjoy repeating myself with dull or uninterested students. I don't enjoy dumbing down the message to the lowest common denominator (although I am fairly good at gauging that level and explaining things in simpler andsimpler terms until understanding dawns. Usually.) I don't enjoy dealing with people who have been set a task to learn that they don't care about and wouldn't do if they had a choice.

    My Iraqi guys are pretty smart, in this group. They are intelligent. But they are also intellectually lazy. Of my class of 7, ONE! demonstrates intellectual curiosity without prompting. ONE! can generalize enough to apply concepts acroes different concrete examples.

    They want a daddy figure to explain things to them, not a mentor who can lead them to discover tings on their own. They want the answers handed to them ona pllatter. They want to be given knowledge, but don't want to earn it.

    They expect me to teach them experience, and it can't be done.

    I am afraid my own country is regressing to this level as well.

    Please remember our veterans today. My mates here have been wearing their poppies for Remembrance Day. I wish we had a similar tradition, it's elegant, and very touching. If you've never read the poem about Flanders Field, google it. Then go read some Kipling. Truly, it's worth it.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    I should post more

    I'm just trying to get through this last contract to the end of January without going completely bugnuts fucking crazy from boredom.

    I'm so sick of this place by now. Yes, there is progress. It's still frustrating how backwards it all is, and it will take at least a generation for many attitudes to change, if it is ever successful. That's not an indictment of the effort here, but of the power of cultural practices to keep even intelligent people down. Habit beats smarts any time.

    So I'm keeping my head down, prepping for going back to the domestic job market. I'm not really worried about it at all. I have paid attention to my career development. I get 3-4 unsoicited job offers/week. It's just a matter of making sure I get a job I LIKE when I go home, in an area I like.

    I'm severely disappointed in the election results. Not shocked, but disappointed. I never liked McCain, but he was the lesser of the two weevils. And I could always hope he'd pass on the baton to Palin either sooner or later, as despite the smear campaigns, I see a person to be respected in her. More than the 3 men we were presented with, clearly.

    Changed jobs, then changed back. That kept me busy for a while. At least the housing is better on the new/old job.

    Anyway. I'm still kicking.