The Bow Ramp

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Out and About in the Middle of Nowhere

Here are a few pictures that I took while traveling around the Northeast corner of Oregon. For more great photos of Eastern Oregon, go here to Michael Totten's site.
First stop, is the town of Elgin. Here is the main street.

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This second photo shows the City Hall.

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A mere 40 miles down the road from Elgin, is the next town of Wallowa. Once again, the main street.

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This one is of Wallowa High School.

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The next three photos were taken just outside the town of Enterprise. You are looking at The Wallowa Mountains. You can easily see why this area is called the Alps of Oregon. You can also figure out why the Nez Perce tribe was willing to fight to keep this beautiful land.

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Now, we get to the town of Joseph; named for the famous Chief of the Nez Perce.

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This next photo I thought was rather humorous (note the small sign to the left for your irony fix.)

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Just to the South of Joseph is Wallowa Lake. Notice the striking glacial morraine along the left bank of the lake.

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Along the shore to right in this picture is the gravesite of Chief Joseph.

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Finally, these last two photos were taken late in the afternoon at a couple of overlooks of Hells Canyon. The Snake River flows through the canyon. The opposite side of the canyon is in Idaho. The snow covered mountains on the horizon at the right side of the first picture are the Bitterroot Mountains on the Idaho-Montana border.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

For all you Daffy Duck fans

This year I decided it was time for a solo road trip for Memorial Day weekend. I want to stooge around some of the out of the way places in Oregon. So, naturally, I go to Washington first (makes sense to me.) I am now breakfast blogging at an Elmer's in Walla Walla. I haven't found the Ace Novelty Co. yet, but I'll scout around some more before moving on.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Better Late Than Never

What do you know, I found where the Treo hid my Sunday post. So, without further ado, here it is--two days late and a dollar short.

Where would you like to go today?
Breakfast Blogging this morning. The wife is down at the shop and being the lazy slug that I am, I'm eating out rather than preparing breakfast for myself. On the other hand, Grempsey's makes toast Southern style like my Grandmother used to, so I guess nostalgia wins.
I am disappointed that the wife and I aren't going to Texas until July. I see there will be a blog gathering at Brew Naufels (excuse me, New Braunfels) on my birthday. Unfortunately, we won't be in the area until two weeks later to visit my oldest daughter in Boerne. When I do get down there, I would like to meet up with Sgt. Mom if she's willin'. She and I are the same "vintage" if you will and even though we made our careers in different services, there is a lot we have in common in terms of times 'n places. As a kid, I used to roam around not too far from where she was growing up. Blog-wise, Stryker's was one of the first sites I started reading on a regular basis, so meeting up with her would be a real treat.
Moving on---I am repeatedly amazed at the people who haunt the county courthouse every Wed. and Sat. afternoons. Who are these people? They are our local contingent of peaceniks. These folks are the truly committed. The majority of them are about my age, and since this area was where many of the hippies fled when "The Haight" went sour, I imagine these folks have been doing this for nearly forty years now. You would think that in all that time, they might have refined their techniques. The world around them has changed dramatically, yet they persist. They were there when I first came to town in '89. Back then, they were mostly protesting global warming and globalization. Now, they have the added thrill of protesting the GWOT. As a former member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) I can empathize with the fun of role-playing, but in the SCA, we at least knew it was fantasy. It's sad that these folks don't seem to realize they are nothing but a tourist attraction.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tempting Fate

Well, well. I am back in the same place where my Sunday post was eaten on my Treo I will submit this short one to see if things are working at all.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Well, That Sucked!

There I was, Breakfast Blogging on my Treo. The Muse was leaning over and whispering in my ear. I was on a roll and the words were tripping merrily out of my mind and onto the screen. One massive post (massive for me that is) finished and I hit the send. The Treo reports that it is connecting, then IT REBOOTS! Who says Windows is the only operating system that does that sort of thing? Not only did it not upload my post, but it managed to lose the major portion of it that I had saved as well. The whole thing has been vaporized! Now, ordinarily, I wouldn't mind much since most of my output is drivel. This time, however, my stuff was almost good--once again proving the first corollary of Murphy's Law. I'm not even going to try to recreate it. I'm too disgusted to do it justice.

Update: Hmmm, This may just be more than me.

Friday, May 20, 2005

So, how was Episode III?

As usual, it was good if you see it for plain old entertainment purposes. If you wanted great dialog, acting, plot, etc. take a pass. Much as been said about a few lines that supposedly take digs at our sitting Pres. If I were George Lucas, I'd be ashamed if that was the best I could do. I mean, "only Siths talk in absolutes" is also an absolute statement--thus disproving itself! Sheesh. Pot, meet Kettle. Of course, my favorite oddity was the fight in the middle of a giant river of molten rock and neither hero or villain even sweats. Georgie boy has obviously never actually been close to a real lava flow, or he would have at least sprayed a little water on their faces for effect. Still, it was worth the admission, especially compared to some of the other crud Hollywood has been pawning off on us recently.
On the other hand, just the previous evening I had been to see a Japanamation show called "Steamboy" which was just as scientifically unlikely, but much more richly populated with complex characters and just as visually complex. And like Star Wars, it utilized the good vs. evil motif. The main things missing from Steamboy were the hype and merchandising--and that I am more than happy to do without. The really nice thing about going to see Steamboy, was the venue. In our little town (50,000) we have a guy, Paul Turner, that really loves cinema. He is the local film equivalent of Glenn Reynolds A few years ago, he built his own theater in order to show the kind of films he wanted to see. Just last month, he opened an additional four-plex (again built by himself and friends) downtown. So in Corvallis, we now have five screens for showing international, art, offbeat, etc. films. Oh yeah, you can bring your own food too.
Interestingly enough, since this post started out with Star Wars, Paul's new theater is called "The Darkside."

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Live blogging Revenge of the Sith

I arrived at the theater 20 minutes before the next seating and there was no line.

Only took about three minutes to get a ticket.
I got some popcorn (ummm, popcorn), no line, and was immediately seated. All-in-all a pretty efficient operation. The multiplex is showing it on four screens. The auditorium itself is packed. As you can see from the parking lot,

Now to post. The show is about to begin.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Silence Was Deafening

Sheesh, it's been almost a week since my last post. Why do those stupid real lives keep getting in the way of our virtual ones? Anyway, I'm back to lunch blogging. The last few days I have been more than usually torqued at the MSM. This whole Newsweek-Koran (excuse me - Qu'ran) flushing story is such a prime example of the dreck the public is being handed on a daily basis. A century ago, the media moguls were trying to convince us of our "Manifest Destiny." Today's media kingpins are trying to tell us the exact opposite, but the techniques are the same. Having discovered the power to manipulate public opinion, the press seems unwilling or unable to stop. Instead of being a check on government, the press has become a rival -- a rival without any formal checks on it's own power.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I Am Amazed

at how easy it is for people to delude themselves. I know I am as guilty of that as anyone else. It seems (based on personal observation) that folks will tend to evaluate things as true or false based on subjective criteria, rather than objective data.

I recently caught myself doing it while commenting on another blog. No link to that blog, because what was actually said is irrelevant to this post. What I did was make an assertion about someone's behavior based on my concept of what does/does not constitute honorable behavior. Now, what I consider honorable is probably pretty much in line with what a majority of milbloggers would think as well. Unfortunately, that is not what many other people might think; so without citing specific examples of abuse, I left myself open to other people concluding that I am just a right-wing lunatic. The funny thing is that the person replying to my comment then proceeded to do the same sort of thing concerning some other assertion that she made. Is it no wonder that so many discussions these days amount to nothing more than talking past each other rather than talking to each other.

Much of what we believe is like a tier in a house of cards. Each layer is supported by another layer that came before and many of those layers are very shaky. What each of us believes is a compendium of all that we have passed judgment on in the past. When someone else comes by and try’s to pull one of those cards out we tend to defend it because losing that one card can bring the whole edifice down.

I'm guessing that only about a billion other people have addressed the same idea. No way is this original thinking, but I think it's something we should remind ourselves about on a regular basis. If nothing else, it will (hopefully) keep my comments a little more civil than might otherwise be the case.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My Worst Nightmare

This is a sort of backhanded Mother's Day post. Not about my own mother--she is a wonderful lady and I will be calling her later in the day. This is about my wife. She's down at the shop now: won't be back for another hour or two. So I was doing the dishes and something came to mind that I haven't thought about in years.

Back in the late '70s I was stationed aboard a fleet tug. This was a small, mostly defenseless ship, with a crew of about 70. When we deployed overseas, we would usually spend a great deal of time cruising around in the back-end of nowhere. That’s where I would have my nightmare. Not while I was asleep, mind you. No, my nightmare occurred while I was awake and could fully appreciate the horror of it. Remember, I was a child of the Cold War. I would practice "duck and cover" in elementary school. I was 16 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. For as long as I could remember, the possibility of an all-out nuclear war hung over everyone's head like the Sword of Damocles. That was one reason I joined the service. I wanted to place myself between my loved ones and such a fate. My nightmare was that my ship was so far into the boondocks, and so insignificant as a target, that if there were a war, I might survive, but my wife and daughter back in San Diego were at ground zero. This, of course, was on top of the usual feeling of helplessness that happened every time I went to sea. When you are five thousand miles away, there is not much you can do to protect your loved ones from fires, flooding and other accidents. No, this was an especially troubling scenario because I was in no position to do what I had dedicated my life to doing. It was certainly an irrational fear. Consciously, I knew it for what it was, but that irrational fear would hitchhike in the back of my mind for days. This was something that I never communicated to my wife. Oh, she knew about the normal worries I had about their welfare, but this one I kept to myself. I would not have felt that way if I hadn't been so absolutely and irrevocably in love with that wonderful lady and our perfect little daughter. She put up with so much during my years in the Navy (and with me) that if I were granted a whole additional lifetime with her, I couldn't possibly make it up to her.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Missed Out

on Blog Nashville. I was able to tune in on the webcast for a few minutes, but had to spend most of the day updating our shop's website. When I say "our" I mean that my lovely wife runs the place and I am the cheap labor :-). Now I am downtown blogging from the new Water Street Market. It just recently opened -- still has that "new" smell, but it is actually an old building. The last few years have seen some definite improvement on Corvallis's waterfront. Those of you who are not from these parts (read nearly everyone) don't know that Corvallis used to be the most upstream navigable point on the Willamette River. First Street runs along the river and back around 1900 used to be lined with docks on one side and warehouses on the other. Now, the river bank is a linear park and the dry side of First Street is mostly restaurants and shops. One really nice thing about Corvallis is that the downtown area never went to seed. We've never had "urban renewal" here, just a long standing movement to retain downtown as the mercantile and entertainment center of town.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Don't These Things Have a Half-Life?

I guess I'm "it" now. It always seems to roll down hill doesn't it.
First Lex (the Four Striper) tasks Chap (the Three Striper) and now
Chap tasks me (the Two Striper) with this "thing." Answering the
questions will be easy. Its finding people junior to me (that know how
to blog) and have time on their hands that will be the killer.

Anyway, here's the deal. There is a list of fifteen possible
professions I might like to be in. I'm to pick five from the list and
write about why I would like to do each of the five. After that I pick
three worthy souls (victims) to carry on with the torture.

So here is the list:
If I could be a scientist…
If I could be a farmer…
If I could be a musician…
If I could be a doctor…
If I could be a painter…
If I could be a gardener…
If I could be a missionary…
If I could be a chef…
If I could be an architect…
If I could be a linguist…
If I could be a psychologist…
If I could be a librarian…
If I could be an athlete…
If I could be a lawyer…
If I could be an inn-keeper…
If I could be a professor…
If I could be a writer…
If I could be a llama-rider…
If I could be a bonnie pirate…
If I could be an astronaut…
If I could be a world famous blogger…
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world…
If I could be married to any current famous political figure…

Numero Uno: If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...
Saddam's Tribunal - Self explanatory.

Numero Dos: If I could be an astronaut...
Be the one to write "Kilroy was here" at the face on Mars.

Numero Tres: If I could be married to any current famous political figure...
Hillary - Just so I could divorce her. Must.Control.Fist.of.Death

Numero Quatro: If I could be an athelete...
As a life-long cyclist, I'm thinking Tour de France here. Lance is retiring after this year, so we need another 'merican to keep on sticking it to the French.

Numero Cinco (for Cinco de Mayo): If I could be a chef...
Here's my real chance for posterity – invent a drink that would be better than a 32 oz. Margarita after 100 days at sea!

Now, for the lucky three. How about Chaotic Synoptic Activity, Major Mike, and Kevin (hey, you just got back – I bet you have lots of time on your hands.) OK, so I didn't find anyone junior to me. They're all busy fighting the war. You retirees and reservists will just have to take up the slack.
I am now entering the fallout shelter to await the slings and arrows of outraged milblogers.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Feeding my Habit

This lunch-blogging is getting to be a habit. Can I own the term? If Glenn, The Captain, and Smash can hospiblog .... Its actually pretty convenient for me. I avoid blogging at work, although I sometimes read blogs there while waiting for some process to finish. When I get home I'm frequently called upon to work the Honey-do list; so lunchtime is ideal. There is no cafeteria at work. I usually go to one of the local establishments to eat and with my new infrared portable keyboard, I can type easily on my Treo. The only major drawback is that it is slow and laborious to insert links when posting from the Treo, so I compose on it and then fill in the links later from home. So if any of you Higher-Beings from the blogosphere were to happen by and see yourself mentioned without the usual link, just wait a bit--I'll get you linked sooner or later. That said, I will leave you with this. You can't beat the Northwest for micro-brew.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Today's Lunch Post

comes from the Red Horse Coffee Shop. I usually stop in here in the mornings and yak with the "gang" to get tuned into the community. We've got all sorts in our morning group. Retirees, farmers, tech workers, cops, health care workers, contractors, etc. All in all, a pretty diverse group and the discussions can get as wild as a comment party over at Castle Argghhh! I'm the only blogger in the group, however. My mission is to educate them. Their mission is to throw paper cups at me when I get too geekey -- a fair trade I guess. It is certainly a beautiful day out. We do have our season of gloom here (think unending rain;) but when this time of year rolls around, you can't beat the place. James Lileks should transplant Jasperwood to the Willamette Valley and Charles Johnson would die for the bicycling here. Of course, if everyone moved here, this place wouldn't be the same; so all you people stay put -- this is our place!

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Monday, May 02, 2005

My, How Appropriate

I see that I have evolved to the level of "Crawley Amphibian" in NZ Bear's TTLB Ecosystem (see sidebar.) Apropos for a guy with a picture of a landing craft on his masthead. Not too bad I guess, for being in business for less than two months.

Iran Revisited

Two posts down, I delved into some of the problems related to regime change in Iran. Today I see an interesting article here by Masoud Kazemzadeh and Shahla Azizi in the Pacific News Service (H.T. Winds of Change)

The gist of the article is that because of the conditions in Iran since the ouster of the Shah in 1979, the average Iranian has lost any idealistic tendencies and has become self-centered and cynical. This is a theme that has occurred before under similar conditions -- Iraq under Saddam, the USSR, etc. The authors predict that the change in the dominant ethos bodes poorly for any chance of an internal ouster of the existing government. Unless, that is, the mullahs do something that pushes the average person over the edge, or there is some sort of outside trigger.

I personally don't think an outright invasion by the U.S. would do it. My guess is that we would see something similar to what happened in Iraq. The average person would see it as our (the American's) business and would stay neutral until there was a clear winner. The tipping point might be reached in certain areas if some group pushed the government to the point of a stupid over-reaction. As the authors concluded, time will tell.

My Cup Runneth Over

I've been reflecting on the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon as it relates to my own life. In April of 1975, Vietnam was six years in my past. I had come back from Vietnam in April of 1969 and gotten out of the service in order to attend school. Subsequently, I had rejoined the Navy, been homeported in Naples, Italy, come back to the U.S., and married my lovely wife. Since 1975, I've retired from the Navy, raised two wonderful children and embarked on a new career. My life has been blessed with many wonderful things and few negatives. I have no idea why I have been so blessed. I'm not particularly religeous, so I'm not going to claim Devine Intervention. Lucky? anyone who has ever played cards with me would laugh at that suggestion. Randomness? Who knows? I guess I will continue to wonder; but I will also continue to deeply appreciate my life. In addition, I'll continue to remember the ones I knew who never made it this far and think about the ones I didn't know--servicemen, civilians, Americans, Vietnamese, or anyone else that suffered an interrupted journey. Here's to all of you.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Iran - What To Do?

The other day, Josh Manchester at The Adventures of Chester asked the blogosphere about what options do we have in Iran? This was a follow up post after live blogging the Fox special "Iran: The Nuclear Threat." A number of options were explored. The Fox options included:

Isreali surgical strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities

American surgical strikes

A naval blockade

An outright invasion

Chester added the option of fomenting revolt within Iran. Certainly, the mullahs have created an environment in Iran that has left many people dissatisfied with the regime. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who are fully supportive of the existing government – and they are the ones with all the weapons.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the Pasdaran) is somewhat analogous to Saddam’s Republican Guards. They are a military force separate from the regular armed forces and are more trusted than the regular military. They are the ones that control the strategic missiles and would control any WMD.

The Basij, are a paramilitary force similar to the Saddam Fedayeen. They are lightly armed and not as well trained as the regular military and Pasdaran. The regime frequently uses the Basij for internal security and putting down riots. These are the ones that would make it difficult for an internal revolt to succeed.

Even though the various Iranian armed forces are numerically very large, like Saddam’s were, they are no match for the U.S. military. A single U.S. Navy carrier battle group has more firepower than the entire Iranian Navy and Air Force combined. Apparently, the Iranian government is planning on fighting a protracted guerilla war and hoping the rough terrain of Iran will slow our advance and bleed us dry.

I’ve been thinking of another possible angle. Mind you, this particular course of action could be troublesome on a number of points. It is precisely the opposite of what our policy has been to this point. It has the possibility of getting out of hand. Like any other major undertaking, the unintended consequences might not be to our ultimate liking. That said, I think we should at least investigate this potential course of action.

In Afghanistan and Iraq we have been involved in nation building. We’ve been trying to stitch together viable societies from bits and pieces lumped together within artificial borders drawn by 19th Century colonial powers. Iran is no exception. Instead of nation building, we might try a bit of nation dismantling.

There are several regions of Iran that are inhabited by various ethnic groups that have more in common with the people on the other side of the border than they do with the dominant Persians. There are several specific areas that could be exploited in this way.

The Southeast corner of Iran is sparsely settled and inhabited by the Baluchi people. Although ethnically related to the Persians, they have a distinct language and culture. They are also Sunni Muslims. Directly across the border in Pakistan and along the southern rim of Afghanistan are the rest of the Baluchis.

In the Northeast, along the shore of the Caspian Sea, are the Turkmen. There was an attempt to revolt 25 years ago and serious violence there as recently as 1983. On the opposite side of the border are their ethnic brethren in Turkmenistan.

Along the Northwest border of Iran is the country of Azerbaijan. The Azari people are ethnically related to the Turks but like the Iranians, they are Shia Muslims. Only a third of the Azaris live in Azerbaijan. The other two thirds live in Iran. In fact nearly 30 percent of Iranians are ethnic Azaris.

The Kurds are a large ethnic group residing in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. They are Sunnis. There have been Kurdish independence movements in all four countries for many years. Now that Iraqi Kurds have achieved a great deal of local autonomy the governments of the other three countries are becoming increasingly concerned about the Kurds within their own borders.

At the head of the Persian (Arabian) gulf, directly across the Euphrates River from Iraq is the Iranian province of Khuzistan. This is the area that contains the majority of Iranian oil fields and is populated by Shia Arabs. There has been rioting there in just the last few weeks.

As I see it, the hopes for some sort of “velvet revolution” within Iran are not very high. The mullahs just aren’t going to give up power and they don’t care how many people are jailed or disappear in the process. Neither do I believe that there will be a successful armed uprising – not without help that is. Rather than encouraging a nationwide uprising with no chance of support, we might try chipping off a few regions by clandestinely or overtly supporting the reintegration of various ethnic groups with their brethren in other countries.

My new Keyboard
Another post on the road. This time I am testing my new infrared keyboard. Boy this is a lot faster than the built-in keyboard. Now I need to get a new digital camera that uses the same media as the PDA so I can post better pictures than what the built-in camera offers. boy, there is always another rationalization to spend money isn't there!

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