Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I am beyond heartbroken

Today I had to put down my wonderful dog, Luke.  He was only 3.  Three years together with this little guy was not enough.  He went from having some sort of rash on his belly on Wednesday to being terminally ill 5 days later. 

We immediately went to our normal veterinarian who among other things did a biopsy on some skin, then in short order sent us on to a veterinary internist.  He spent his last 2 nights at the 24 hour pet hospital, while we sat at home, worried sick.  They were all great there, but simply couldn't arrest the auto-immune condition that was eating him.  Nobody could.  When he started to suffer, we did what we knew we had to do to spare him any more. 

I'm in shock.  To say I'm completely devastated is a dramatic understatement, sort of like saying Adolf Hitler could sometimes be unpleasant.  I've prayed continuously for the past 48+ hours, but apparently The Man Upstairs had something better in store for Luke.  (Put in a good word for me, Buddy.)

I told myself I wasn't going to do this, but I just had to share the wonderful life Luke and I made together.  (Oh, yeah, K was in there, too.)

Luke's life with us began a couple of months after we had to put this ^ beautiful girl (Emma Belle) down.   It didn't take us long to realize we needed another dog in our lives.  Kelly said this time SHE was getting to pick the breed and the gender.  

"OK, fine, whatdayawant?"

"A male Yorkshire Terrier." 

"DOH!  Not a Yorkie.  They're little, and scared of their own shadow."

"Nope, my pick."

My stipulation was that we were not going to have a dog that looked like a mop, and had the hair on his head tied up with a goofy looking bow!  She agreed.

K knew someone who knew a very reputable breeder, so we arranged for this ^ good lookin' guy to become ours.  He was about 4 pounds when we got him, and yes, I was more than  a bit smitten. (He eventually ballooned to 8 pounds, dripping wet.)

We did all the responsible pet owner things, like have him fixed.  He came with all the proper papers we could fill out to have him registered, but I'm not big on that sort of thing.  He was my (er...OUR) dog.  He was 100% FAMILY!  I wasn't concerned with his "value". 

We bonded fast.  Wherever I went around the house, he wasn't far behind.

This was what I invariably saw when I looked down beside my desk.  Sometimes he would scratch at my leg, wanting up.  I would accommodate him, of course.  I'd lean my desk chair far back until I was at about a 45 degree angle, then he'd lie down on my chest and enjoy the view from up here.  And give me more than a few kisses.  (OMG...were we gay? :)  

It wouldn't be long until he was fast asleep, and I was stuck in that reared-back position.  I didn't have the heart to wake him.  Eventually he'd hear a noise outside and have to go investigate, and I'd get back to work.

When I had some skin cancer removed off my nose, leaving me with a scar that I told people was the result of an epic sword fight *wink*, Luke knew better.  He knew I hurt, and was right there with me to make it all better.

When I would go sit on the balcony, so would Luke.  He ruled over his 'hood from up there, and would assume the "tough little man" stance when he saw another dog on his turf.  I was dead wrong when I said Yorkie's were scared of their own shadow....THIS one wasn't!

True to her word, K never tried to dress him up in silly clothes.  Umm...we made an exception for football season when he wore his custom size XXXS Texas Tech Red Raiders jersey. 

 Oh, and there was the time I agreed to a red sweater when he posed for our Christmas card.

He didn't watch a lot of TV, but he did like The Animal Planet.

He became a regular at some of our local art shows, where he usually gamed K into carrying him after the first couple of miles.  I guess when your pace is only about 3 inches, a mile is almost a marathon!

We had several little blankets on chairs, my ottoman, the couch, etc, that he'd use to make himself a comfy nest.  We were allowed to sit wherever he WASN'T.  :)

I would absolutely love to come from work in the afternoons where Luke would greet me at the door,  then run back towards the den, stopping to run a couple of tight 360's (I have no idea why) along the route.  Then he would jump up on my ottoman, then my chair seat, and finally up high on the back of my chair where I would catch up with him.  I'd pick him up, we'd share affections  (oops, there's that gay thing again), then I'd ask if he wanted to go on a walk.

It's funny....I used to almost dread those early morning and late night potty walks, the bundling us both up in the winter before we stepped out, then picking up his poo with those little baggies they put in dispensers around the neighborhood to keep things clean and tidy.  Now, I'd give a million bucks for the privilege of doing it all over again.  :(

Recently he'd discovered the fun of joyriding in the car.  Yes, we'd just drive around the neighborhood, and the mall parking lot a block away early in the mornings before many people were out.  He'd sit in my lap and stand on the armrest and have the time of his life.  And watching him look so happy would make me a supremely happy guy, too.

No, three years was no where near long enough time with this little guy.  I/we were there today when he left us.  I held his little head in my hand and rubbed his neck, and K caressed him, too, while the doctor gave him his lethal dose.  It was humane, and he was no longer hurting, and I was glad for that.  Now it's my turn to hurt.

 I love you, buddy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yeah boy, how do I get me one of those government jobs? I'm ready for a nap.

Now, I don't mean this to be a blanket indictment, but I've gotta say I don't have much faith in ANYTHING our federal government does.  Or should I say TRIES to do.  Yes, I'm sure there are some successes that go unreported, but when taken as a whole, our government does NOT impress.

Think about it:  Natural disasters strike, and the boondoggle they call FEMA swings into action.  They send in their army of bureaucrats and set up registration stations where the affected can sign up for gubment help.  "Your gubment trailer is on the way!"  *pay no attention to that outgassing thing that makes them dangerous to live in*  "Oh, and feel free to help yourself to a complementary bag of ice."

And for our veterans, the ones who put their life on the line for us, the ones we solemnly promised to take care of if they were injured....do I need to list all the shortcomings of the VA?  (It would fill multiple volumes.)

For a decade prior to 2008, up to this day, even, our federal financial regulators turned a blind eye to the unprecedented con job the banks were doing on the American people.  "So you're broke?  And you want a bailout?  Sure....happy to help.  Here's a coupla hundred billion bucks, and another few billion to fund a nice bonus for you fine gentlemen, too."  Nice job guys.  Thanks for looking out for the American people.

The DOJ developed a half baked idea to see where the Mexican drug cartels are getting their guns BY SELLING GUNS TO THEM OURSELVES.  DUH!

Now Ebola has made it to our shores and the CDC tells a Dallas nurse on the Ebola-watch short list, "Aww, go ahead, get on the big 'ol jet plane and go visit mama in Cleveland.  Never mind that pesky little fever."  BRILLIANT! 

I honestly believe the people we have working for us on the government payroll are the labor pool "B" "C" team.  The really sharp people go to work in the private sector, the left-overs going on to government service.  For others it's the allure of essentially lifetime employment, "help yourself to the cash register" pay, lots of perks, and an early, absurdly generous retirement plan.  Some can do an adequate job, some (most?) not.  *sigh*

The Peter Principle is alive and well.  Can we just fire them all and start over?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dan Patrick gives scum a bad name

Dan Patrick is the absolute most disgusting politician I've ever seen, and you know I think they're all scumbags.  Like a lot of politicians he's made "border security" his campaign focal point, because that's pretty much all the good 'ol Bubba's here in Texas like to talk about.  Saying "border security" to a Bubba is like tossing red meat into a lion's cage....they eat it up, and Dan knows it!

So what is it about Dan Patrick that gives "scum" a bad name?  He has a TV ad that shows an ISIS convoy, a stock Google image, with a voice-over that says, "....while ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and kill Americans..."  

Really, Dan?  ISIS?  Why don't you just show a beheading, and photoshop it to make it look like it was happening live on the State Capital steps?  And make the victim the sweet, grandmotherly Barbara Bush, while George Sr. sits in his wheelchair nearby and sobs helplessly?  That should be good for a few votes.

This is the most despicable example of fear mongering I've ever seen.  But I'm sure Larry, Daryl, and Daryl are foaming at the mouth, and Dan is lapping up their adoration.  Smooth move, Dan.

I can't wait for Karma to kick in.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Keystone Cops vs Ebola

So lemme get this straight:  Yesterday a Dallas County Dep. Sheriff, already on the Ebola-watch "short list", starts feeling puny and walks in to a neighborhood Care Now clinic.  Suspecting Ebola, the doctors there call the Frisco FD, who sends a crew covered head-to-toe in full Hazmat gear.  

They transport him to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas where he gets out of the ambulance wearing shorts, a too-small hospital gown, and a paper face mask and walks right by a large group of gawking reporters and photographers in street clothes.  Meanwhile, back at the Care Now clinic, they pass out Care Now Pills (aspirin?) and tell the others who were there when the deputy walked in to go on back home....all is well.

This morning the deputy is still in Presby, waiting for the results of whether or not he has Ebola or just ate a bad burrito.  (This has me worried as I really like burritos!)

Really?  Who's in charge of this circus?  This sounds suspiciously like a Keystone Cops remake to me.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Change comes slow, if at all, in the Mid-East

This was recently sent to me by a trusted friend, a USAF Colonel (retired).  It's rather long, but offers insight as to why Arab militaries (and Arab countries in general) are such a dysfunctional lot.  Most of you probably won't care, but I find it fascinating....


September 17, 2014: Britain recently revealed that in August they had to deal with a mutiny among 300 Libyan soldiers being trained at a British base. The Libyans were selected to receive combat and leadership training so they could better train and command Libyan soldiers back in Libya. The mutiny occurred when British officers in charge of the training put three of the trainees under guard after police picked them up for being off base without permission. Then twenty other trainees went and threatened the British soldier guarding the three Libyan trainees. The British guard let the three go free rather than risk violence. Senior officers were uncertain about how to handle this insubordination given the nature of Arab military trainees.

What happened with these Libyans was not uncommon when Westerners are assigned to train Arabs to be military leaders. What these trainers run into is a collection of problems that have long made it difficult for Arab, and many other poor (and often Muslim) nations to establish democratic governments or prosperous economies. A lot of the problem has to do with culture, especially culture influenced by Islam. There are a number of reasons for this and the most important problems are:
Most Arab countries are a patchwork of different tribes and groups, and Arab leaders survive by playing one group off against another. Loyalty is to one's group, not the nation. Most countries are dominated by a single group that is usually a minority (Bedouins in Jordan, Alawites in Syria, Sunnis in Iraq, Nejdis in Saudi Arabia). All of which means that officers are assigned not by merit but by loyalty and tribal affiliation.

Islamic schools favor rote memorization, especially of scripture. Most Islamic scholars are hostile to the concept of interpreting the Koran (considered the word of God as given to His prophet Mohammed). This has resulted in looking down on Western troops that will look something up that they don't know. Arabs prefer to fake it, and pretend it's all in their head. Despite that, improvisation and innovation is generally discouraged. Arab armies go by the book, Western armies rewrite the book as needed and thus usually win. (Al Qaeda seems a little more innovative.)

There is no real use of NCOs (sergeants or petty officers). Officers and enlisted troops are treated like two different social castes and there is no effort to bridge the gap using career NCOs. Enlisted personnel are treated harshly. Training accidents that would end the careers of US officers are commonplace in Arab armies, and nobody cares. The troops do not appreciate this and that dislike often manifests itself in unpleasant ways.

Officers tend to be despised by their troops, and this does not bother the officers much it all. Many Arab officers simply cannot understand how treating the troops decently will make them better soldiers. Westerners have a hard time convincing a lot of Arab leaders on this point and those that do understand and implement these ideas risk ridicule for not being authentic (as an Arab).

Paranoia prevents adequate training. Arab tyrants insist that their military units have little contact with each other, thus insuring that no general can became powerful enough to overthrow them. Units are purposely kept from working together or training on a large scale. Arab generals don't have as broad a knowledge of their armed forces as do their Western counterparts. 

Promotions are based more on political reliability than combat proficiency. Arab leaders prefer to be feared, rather than respected, by their soldiers. This approach leads to poorly trained armies and low morale. A few rousing speeches about "Moslem brotherhood" before a war starts does little to repair the damage.

Arab officers often do not trust each other. While an American infantry officer can be reasonably confident that the artillery officers will conduct their bombardment on time and on target, Arab infantry officers seriously doubt that their artillery will do its job on time or on target. This is a fatal attitude in combat.

Arab military leaders consider it acceptable to lie to subordinates and allies in order to further their personal agenda. This had catastrophic consequences during all of the Arab-Israeli wars and continues to make peace difficult between Israelis and Palestinians. When called out on this behavior, Arabs will assert that they were "misunderstood." 

While Western officers and NCOs are only too happy to impart their wisdom and skill to others (teaching is the ultimate expression of prestige), Arab officers try to keep any technical information and manuals secret. To Arabs, the value and prestige of an individual is based not on what he can teach, but on what he knows that no one else knows.


While Western officers thrive on competition among themselves, Arab officers avoid this as the loser would be humiliated. Better for everyone to fail together than for competition to be allowed, even if it eventually benefits everyone.

Westerners are taught leadership and technology; Arab officers are taught only technology. Leadership is given little attention as officers are assumed to know this by virtue of their social status as officers.

Initiative is considered a dangerous trait. Subordinates prefer to fail rather than make an independent decision. Battles are micromanaged by senior generals, who prefer to suffer defeat rather than lose control of their subordinates. Even worse, an Arab officer will not tell a US ally why he cannot make the decision (or even that he cannot make it), leaving Western officers angry and frustrated because the Arabs won't make a decision. The Arab officers simply will not admit that they do not have that authority.

Lack of initiative makes it difficult for Arab armies to maintain modern weapons. Complex modern weapons require on the spot maintenance, and that means delegating authority, information, and tools. Arab armies avoid doing this and prefer to use easier to control central repair shops. This makes the timely maintenance of weapons difficult.

Security is maniacal. Everything even vaguely military is top secret. While Western promotion lists are routinely published, this rarely happens in Arab armies. Officers are suddenly transferred without warning to keep them from forging alliances or networks. 

Any team spirit among officers is discouraged.  All these traits were reinforced, from the 1950s to the 1990s, by Soviet advisors. To the Russians, anything military was secret, enlisted personnel were scum, they had no use for NCOs, and everyone was paranoid about everyone else. These were not "communist" traits, but Russian customs that had existed for centuries and were adopted by the communists to make their dictatorship more secure from rebellion. Arab dictators avidly accepted this kind of advice, but are still concerned about how rapidly the communist dictatorships all came tumbling down between 1989 and 1991.

Such a system can produce fearsome looking armies, at least on paper. But these troops cannot survive an encounter with well trained and led soldiers. Even fanatical Islamic terrorists are often too much to handle. This is still happening throughout the Arab world as can be seen currently in Libya and Iraq.