Thebastidge: 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    New Interweb buddies

    I added a few more bookmark links to interesting people on the left side there.

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    Holding pattern

    This little sojourn to the "cradle of civilization" is creeping to a close, and I can't express how glad I am of that.

    It's been an interesting experience, and very worthwhile to me, but certain things have had to be put on hold, and though we always have a bit of inertia keeping us in a given track, it is time for me to flip the ship and accelerate out of this particular orbit. So the last few weeks here are bidding fair to drag out, emotionally.

    I have some rambling thoughts on it that want out, probably much like a cat that meows at the door from inside, only to turn around and want back in. But for some reason it wants out, so here goes...

    I'm no stranger to holidays spent overseas, often working. This one hasn't by any means been the worst I can recall: indeed I have a bunch of great friends and comrades here. On the other hand a bit of delayed maturity followed by some responsibilities to others than myself in recent years has resulted in some lacks in my personal life that I feel keenly at times.

    I'm approaching my 20 year high school reunion. I have accomplished a great many things, and I have nothing to hang my head about in the company of my age peers, in most respects. I have a firm sense of myself, where I've been, and where I want to go from here. That's worthwhile in itself. It does make me keenly aware that I'm past ready for some other developments in my life: finding a nice lady, settling down, and raising kids and puppies sort of top that list. Odd for such a long term bachelor to express, I suppose. Many would probably look at my lifestyle and the fields I have played and be surprised by that.

    In fact I'm a little bummed today because the very nice girl I met a few weeks back and have been dating recently has left for the States today. Sort of an unexpected thing- meeting somebody with at least little hint of something special between you, in a place like this. Not to overstate the possibilities or anything. Just a hint of the sweetness of life, like.

    I have some other personal achievements that I'm missing out on while here as well. Nothing earth-shattering in importance to humanity at large, but things I want to do.

    Like I said, a bit of an emotional wasteland here for the next few weeks.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Merry Christmas

    ... foir those of you of that persuasion. Whatever your beliefs, I hope that you are enjoying a safe and secure time with your family, warm and well-fed.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    I guess there's hope ...

    ... for us neandertals who haven't given in to the metrosexual revolution.

    Breda talks about chest hair.

    I'm a pretty hairy dude. Not like a mat of fur or anything, but a largely Scots-Irish heritage has definitely not left me hairless. I guess I'm lucky enough to be in the middle, with light-coloured reddish-blonde hair that doesn't make me look like a chimp, but not looking like a pre-pubescent boy either.

    I've always been a little squicked by dudes who shave themselves all over. The guy I shared a suite with while I was in school in Misissippi, while otherwise a good guy, would spend frikken' hours with the bathroom door locked while engaging in his all-over manscaping. Annoying, and kinda gross. As far as I've always heard, this practice gained its initial popularity in gay bath houses, and spread to the body building set so that the oiled-up dudes could would show their muscles to better effect. Such Man Pageantry seems a little weird and emasculating to me. Not in the sense of being castrated/threatened, just not appealing. It also smacks of trying to make us sorry simply for being males.


    It's also natural for females to have some body hair. Hair removal is a fashion, not a necessity. Women in our grandparents' youth did not depilate themselves all over. Maybe it's my upbringing mostly amongst the hippy chicks of the Pacific NW, but I basically just don't care if a girl doesn't feel like conforming to that particular 'beauty' standard.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008


    Innovations in sovereignty are dangerous.

    As for the rest of it, some good ideas, some I'm not too sure about. But that one quote is dead on, and should be a bit of a cautionary point.

    From Unqualified Reservations via comments at Roberta's place

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Must confess to excess stress from this mess

    So it's unbelievable how hard India makes it for us to go there and spend money. I mean, do they really think I'm going to overstay my visa and detract from their economy and national security? You can't even transit from one terminal in the airport to another without a "transit visa".

    The only way for me to get a visa is an overly cumbersome and circuitous path of mailing my physical passport (!) to a company that processes visa applications for them.

    Bed enough with ID theft so rampant these days, but add to that the fact that I am in a foreign country and literally stranded if my passport doesn't return before I wish/need to leave.

    Then the options for mailing it suck too. I mailed it on the 7th, and it still doesn't show up in the US Postal Service's tracking system online. Check on it at the postal annex and the ever-so-helpful KBR dude tells me it might not arrive for a month: first I heard that.

    I need to be ready to leave here by the 15th of January, just to have some leeway. By the time my stuff arrives in Sanf Fran, gets processed, and sent back, that's kind of pushing it. Not a good feeling.

    Monday, December 15, 2008


    As the man says, it's incomprehensible to us. It is an honour to contribute.

    More on John Galt

    The other day I noted some commentary about reward/risk ratios for small businesses. There are others thinking the same way:

    We got into business to be independent. We will get out for the same reason.

    h/t Buttle's World

    Steaming pile of Justice

    For commentary directly related to this case where an Iranian court ordered a man blinded with acid in punishment for his throwing acid in the face of a woman and blinding her, and my peripheral thoughts on justice; see this post over at Blunt Object.

    (edited to fix link- thanks Matt)

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Hear, Hear...

    Sunday, December 07, 2008


    From low to zero

    I have been following a bit of a flap over an endorsement given by Lon Horiuchi onm behalf of H-S Precision.

    Various people around the Interwebs have been making their opinions known about this. Some other companies have responded.

    Well, I didn't do much about it because I am out of country for one thing, which does make interacting back home slightly more problematic (not impossible by any means) and because I wasn't a likely customer in the first place. But now I can say pretty definitively that a low probability is rapidly approaching zero, even if a last minute (real) apology ever appears.

    The Weavers don't appear to have been people I would have cared much to hang out with, but I have read pretty thoroughly about the incident and nothing has come to light to convince me that any of the government's actions were justified, much less shooting an unarmed woman to death while she was holding her baby.

    Sidenote: The government is us, people. Our agent did this in our name, and has never been repudiated or punished. Until his actions are disavowed, we are all culpable.

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    Runner up isn't too bad

    I didn't win, but then I neither knew there was going to be a judging, nor did I volunteer.

    But runner-up in a best-dressed contest ain't too bad for a trailer park kid at a party with over 200 people from all walks of life.

    Who woulda thunk wearing a kilt would appeal at a party thrown by Masons and heavily attended by American Black folks in Baghdad?

    Random thoughts on John Galt

    CLayton Cramer has a post up on "Going John Galt"

    Now personally, I have a hard time with slowdowns. I figure if I have contracted with someone to perform work, then I owe a full day's effort for a day's pay. A full day's effort, obviously varies from day to day, we are human beings, not machines, after all. I'm also not a big fan of strikes- again, if I have contracted to perform work, I feel obligated to do work, or leave, ending the contract. The fairly explicit threat of violence and property destruction by unions when scabs cross picket lines disturbs me.

    However, in a less specific situation, I could see changing my career to something that has less taxable income. Family farm, something like that. I certainly am factoring in the probability that income taxes and exemptions will soon hit me harder, when I make the decision that I want to give up my very lucrative contract position here in Iraq and go home.

    I also make pretty good money as an IT professional back in the states. I can see that at some point the benefit of the better paycheck may be negated by the tax burden, to the point where my leisure time becomes more valuable to me than a marginal increase in income with a corresponding large increase in effort.

    I don't typically make my career decisions based purely upon stuff like taxes. There have been times when I looked at the pros and cons though. I have checked to see if a raise would push me into a higher tax bracket and whether that would negate the raise or not. So it is on my mind. It hasn't (so far) been the singular deciding factor in my decisions: I typically make my job changes based upon career advantage over the long haul, not just pay (but pay is up there at the top part of the list).

    Taxes can certainly make or break the entrepreneur though. I have been trying to get into a position to start my own business for a while. The recent stock market downturn has delayed that plan, because my investment capital in the market and mutual funds is devalued at the moment, and depending on how the tax scheme goes in congress in this next term, could derail it indefinitely.

    The uncertainty of how things will go under Obama's leadership and a Democrat-controlled congress is obviously affecting the stock market. I'm just another tiny datapoint when I say that my own business plans are affected, but surely this is the same kind of thought process that hundreds of thousands or millions of other people are going through as well.

    Just something to think about.

    Fantasy Ideology

    The Smallest Minority had an interesting post up today, and via that I found this piece on Fantasy Ideology that appears to have a fairly unique viewpoint that I find very compelling.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    Steer into the skid...

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Job hunting

    So I've started the process of looking for a job back home. I'm still a bit far out for it, but it's good to throw your hat in the ring and let them know you're looking.

    There's a few options out there, and I could stay here with another company easily enough, but honestly, I'm sort of homesick and ready to be done with this place. We've accomplished a lot, tried and missed the mark on some things, but I will never look back and think I haven't done my part. In 13 years of being in uniform I was never called on to go to war. Then I came here as a civilian. It's not been frontline combat by any means, a realtively safe position, if you can say that about a place that took fairly regular mortar and rocket attacks for a long time. But I'm definitely not left with a feeling that I owe more. To my country, yes, I will forever work to do what I can to make my country stronger and safer, and do my little bit in the vast sea of civic responsibility, be a voice for what I think are the wiser courses for our nation to take, be involved in my community.

    But I don't feel like I have anything more to prove to myself about my willingness to take risks for my country. I've also made some strides toward my financial security- this job did pay pretty well. It has been a worthwhile personal experience, but sometimes you just get enough hardship and don't need it anymore- the lesson is learned.

    Looking forward to the end of January, end of tour.