Sunday, February 27, 2011

A sad day in the neighborhood

Another casualty of the modern depression: our favorite little burger joint "Cousins" is out of business.  For those who don't know Cousins, it opened in 1990 in a small store front between a donut shop and a 7-11.  The Missus and I went soon after it opened and ordered our food but discovered we were short a couple bucks to pay.  We told the owner who was also the cashier to cancel the order and we'd come back another day.  He told us not to worry about it and processed our order.  They did well, prospered, moved across the street to bigger digs, opened two more Cousins in town.  The cool thing is that the stores were in fact owned by Cousins!   The food was great although a bit pricey but of course you get what you pay for.  One store shut down a couple years ago as the recession turned into our depression but the other soldiered on.  Our local Cousins was still our favorite but was getting competition for our business from a new chain that moved in: "Five Guys".   We didn't stop going to Cousins but we didn't go as often.  On our walk yesterday we passed by Cousins.  The doors were locked and there was an eviction notice on the door.   I guess there is a chance they will show up somewhere else but I don't have a lot of hope.  And yes, I feel guilty for not patronizing them as much as I had.   Sad times....

Friday, February 25, 2011

The end of American Civilization

I'm seeing more and more of these dog strollers in action.  I saw a young woman proudly pushing a stroller down the sidewalk the other day.  She had a smile on her face and I thought how nice, taking the baby for a stroll.  Then when she passed me I saw that there was a dog in the stroller! Yet again a dog in a stroller!  This is at least the 5th one of these I've seen and not just in the land of nuts.  I even saw one in use in Lovelock NV, in the heart of rodeos and ranching!

 Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final sign of the end of American civilization.   People have lost their minds.  In the far future scholars will wonder what the break point was for the decline and fall of America.  This was it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Movie night

So, yesterday I introduced young son to the best swashbuckling movie made in the last 35 years.  I saw this movie shortly before I left for basic training and I was mesmerized by it.  I've seen it over and over again since then and although not everyone (or anyone) seems to have the same appreciation for it that I do it was fun to watch it with him and see him enjoying it too.   It is semi-historical and somewhat prophetic in its treatment of the conflict between the West and Islam and the swaggering attitude of the U.S. in its refusal to accept bad behavior on the part of bad people.  The movie?   Wind and the Lion.

The Risuli versus the United States and a beautiful woman in peril.  Manly deeds done well, the U.S. trumping the weak and scheming European powers, and the Marines carrying the day.  What could be better!
Tomorrow we may sit down to watch 'The Wild Geese'.
Old guys doing one last merc job in Africa and discovering that idealism does matter.  It is a very 70s movie but moving in its own way.  The Missus cannot watch the scene at the airfield, it is too sad for her.

A long time ago in a place far, far away...

A long time ago the Grouch attended the U.S. Army Ordnance advance course at Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD.  This is a course that teaches all sorts of cool stuff to officers that show promise and potential for bigger things in the Army.  How I got into it I have no idea.  I guess their guard was down when I came along.  Anyway, as part of the U.S. outreach to other militaries around the world foreign officers also attended this course (and others too).  My class had two Egyptians, two Tunisians, a Turk, A Kuwaiti, and a Philippino attending.  Since then I have sometimes wondered how the foreign officers fared in the turmoil and strife in their countries.  Did the Kuwaiti Captain survive the invasion of Kuwait in 1991?  Which side did the Egyptians and Tunisians choose in the recent upheavals that their countries went through?   Where are my fellow officers today that attended the class with me?   I remember that the Missus and I were invited to the quarters of one of the Egyptian officers for a dinner.  I don't remember much at all about the evening except that the Egyptian wife did not speak English at all and that she was very pretty but of course not as pretty as the Missus.

Can you pick the Grouch out from this line up?  Just look for the debonair officer (and click on the picture for a larger view).  

A long time ago indeed.  The past is a different country....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Army day

Saturday was drill day for me.  I was planning on getting a haircut Friday afternoon after work so I would be STRAC and setting a good example for the soldiers in the unit.  Pop quiz:  what does STRAC mean and where did this come from?  See answer below.   Anyway, my haircut plans were foiled.  A southbound train struck and killed a horse and rider about 3 p.m. and stopped the train at that point.  It took two frustrating hours to get home on my northbound train and the barber shop was closed so no haircut for me.  I was looking pretty shaggy on Saturday.  The day was long and I was tired by the end of the day.  Traffic going home wasn't bad so the Missus, young son and I took the opportunity to rendezvous at mass at 1730 or 5:30 for you national guard types reading this.  I was in my ACUs and felt a bit conspicuous in my camo and clunky boots and disheveled hair. Near the end of mass I heard a voice next to me in the church aisle saying "thank you" and realized a little boy was standing there holding out a business card.  I must say I was a bit confused as to what was going on.  Did he mistake me for someone else and was trying to return something to me that wasn't mine?  He had a big smile on his face so I took the card and thanked him in return. 

I looked at the card and this is what I saw:

Needless to say I was pretty humbled by this and felt a little ashamed too since I will never be putting my life at risk these days.  I was glad to make his day though and I guess an old guy with gray hair too long will have to do until the real deal shows up.  Today the Missus and I went shopping at Walmart and Home Depot.  I was wearing the t-shirt that I bought at the PX at Ft. Jackson in 2002 when oldest son completed basic training.  It reads "Proud Dad of American Soldier".  Two people said to me while shopping "thank your son for me".  It is heartening to hear that folks are still thinking of servicemen and women.

Pop quiz answer:  STRAC  refers to Strategic Army Command, a formation from the 50s and early 60s known for its sharp appearance and generally squared away nature.  Calling someone 'strac' says that the soldier is sharp and well turned out.  I'm probably the last guy in uniform still using this term.

According to Wikipedia, STRAC  " Army slang term for "a well organized, well turned-out soldier, (pressed uniform, polished brass and shined boots)." A proud, competent trooper who can be depended on for good performance in any circumstance.   Gear clean and tight; Weapon clean and ready; Mind clear, organized, and ready for action. S- skilled T- tough R- ready A- around the C- clock. STRAC

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scotland in the Gloaming

I came across this blog awhile ago and frequently return to it for the beautiful images of Scotland. Take a look at it, it is worth seeing.

Thanks Susan

My new job doesn't want me using the cell phone they issued me for personal calls so I went and got a TracPhone. It is one of those pay as you go phones that are beloved by terrorists and drug smugglers since there isn't an account connected with it. Oh, by the way I'm neither a terrorist (or tango if one is an 'operator or even a 'special operator') nor a drug smuggler, just a grouch trying to save a buck. So, it really steams me that I am getting repetitive wrong numbers, phone solicitations, bill collectors, and urgent calls from AT&T about my account since each call uses up my prepaid minutes. I put the phone number on the 'do not call' roster but I am still getting the AT&T calls, so I called them. After being transferred to three different people and going on hold for at least 15 minutes I had enough, hung up and called them again. Susan answered. Susan had a nice Texas twang and a slow way of talking. I jumped right in and started expressing my righteous indignation over the situation. Susan got me stopped and with a couple polite questions got the problem identified. Someone used my phone number as the contact number for a cellphone account that is past due. Did they use the number randomly? Was it a number that they used to have but gave up? Did someone know that it is my number and used it on purpose? Who knows! However Susan filed a case number for me and promised the calls would stop. She did it in such a gosh-darn pleasant manner that I was smiling while talking with her. Susan sounded like she was all right. I apologised for coming on strong when I first spoke with her and she told me that it was ok, she'd be frustrated too. We ended up wishing each other a great weekend and happy days to come.

Thanks Susan, you made my day.