Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Archive for February, 2012


Posted by Lissa on February 29, 2012

By way of Borepatch, found this at Yankee Born, Rebel Heart:



P.S. AKs and Cupcakes? This may be a kindred spirit…

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LookingForLissa Product Review: Kensington Keyfolio (iPad stand and keyboard)

Posted by Lissa on February 28, 2012

The short version: I like it. A LOT.

The longer version: For someone who types as much and as fast* as I do, the iPad keys are irksome. They’re large . . . but not QUITE large enough to type normally. The electronic keys mean that just as you’re starting to get up a rhythm autocorrect will pop up and ruin your day. (Damn you, autocorrect!!)

As long as I’d had the iPad I’d been using one of those magnetic cases that shuts off the device once closed (yeah, I do miss that feature). But in the interest of more and easier typing – and posting – I purchased this doohickey. (Yes, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been posting more – it got easier.)

I love it. The keyboard is small but not unreasonably so; the entire case/stand is bulkier than just a cover but I can still easily fit it into my purse; the keyboard pops out if you want to adjust the screen to a shallower angle. It was simple to hook up and I’ve charged it up once in the past month. Best of all, the iPad knows when you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard and disappears the on-screen keyboard so you have a larger viewing area.

Bottom line: Two thumbs up! A very nice purchase and a very good investment. I’m pleased.

*I used to be able to type 90 words a minute with no more than two errors. No way in hell can I approach that any more, but I’m still pretty quick.

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“Alas, Babylon” revisited: You call THAT an arsenal??

Posted by Lissa on February 27, 2012

Remember this review of “Alas, Babylon”? I re-read it yesterday and came across the following passage on page 129:

He stared at the gunrack on the opposite wall. Until very recent years guns had been an important part of living on the Timucuan. Randy guessed they might become important again. He had quite an arsenal. There was the long, old-fashioned 30-40 Krag fitted with sporting sights; the carbine he had carried in Korea, dismantled and smuggled home; two .22 rifles, one equipped with a scope; a twelve-gauge automatic, and a light, beautifully balanced twenty-gauge double-barreled shotgun. In the drawer of his bedside table was a .45 automatic and a .22 target pistol hung in a holster in his closet.

That’s all. THAT’S what was thought of as “quite an arsenal.”

Good lord. What does that make y’all’s collections? Batteries? Armories?

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Seal Unit K-9s

Posted by Lissa on February 24, 2012

Taken from my father’s email

Seal Unit K-9s

When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, earlier for a highly publicized, but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog. Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range.


German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations around the world.


Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by Sea, Air and Land (thus the acronym). The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and hostile or hiding humans. The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to escape is not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.


The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow. As I mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water. Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for
the jump. Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc. (more about those folks shortly).


As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious — incredibly frightening and efficient attackers. When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been four of the first on the ground. And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body Armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles” — specially designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls. Now where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech doggie gear? From Winnipeg, of all places. Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm Inc., has a deserved worldwide reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body Armour available for police and military dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently protected by their K9 Storm body Armour.


Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force when he crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the mid-1990s. Soon Slater was making body Armour for other cop dogs, then the Canadian military and soon the world. The standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that makes it ideal for tandem rappelling and parachuting.


And then there are the special hi-tech add-ons that made the K9 Storm especially appealing to the U.S. Navy SEALs, who bought four of K9 Storm Inc.’s top-end Intruder “canine tactical assault suits” last year for $86,000. You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits when he
jumped into bin Laden’s lair. Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special features:


Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy. In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several of the photos I have included here are from Foreign Policy, as you
will see. Other photos are from K9 Storm Inc.



As for the ethics of sending dogs to war, that’s pretty much a moot point, don’t you think? If it’s ethical to send humans into combat, then why not dogs? The U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of the military.

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Insomnia = no posting

Posted by Lissa on February 23, 2012

On Monday night I lay me down to sleep around the usual time – 10 PM to 10:30 – and drifted off to the land of dreams.

I was wakened at 2:45 by the sound of a crocodile snarfing down a wildebeast. Or perhaps a lion trying to deep-throat an entire gazelle. Maybe a complete wolfpack going to town on a caribou?

Oh. No, it’s just Rajah mowing through his breakfast.

We have the auto-feeder go off around 2:45 AM so that he can eat and fall back asleep with us. (The days before the feeder began around 4:30 with much pawing off our faces, purrs, headbumps and pleas for food. Our sleep improved immensely once we delegated his meal schedule to a machine.) Usually it works quite well . . . but early Tuesday morning, not so much, because I couldn’t fall back asleep.

I visualized clouds on a blue sky.

I tried to “feel” myself sinking deep into the bed.

I reached out for my iPhone and finished my current book (Lord of the Rings book three, Return of the King).

I lay there with my eyes closed.

Finally, finally, around 5:30 I fell back asleep . . . just in time for my alarm to go off at 5:50.

I hit snooze repeatedly. I forewent my usual morning mug and blogpost. I crawled out of bed at 7:05 just in time to take a shower and hie myself off to work.

Tuesday night I lay down thankfully, relived that my tiredness would make for a full night’s sleep . . .

No, Rajah didn’t wake me. This time I was awake at 2:30 so I could hear the feeder go off and the snarfling commence. The rest played out as before.

Is there anything quite so irritating as when your normally functioning body and its systems suddenly decide, for no possible good reason, to go rogue and disobey your commands?

Slogging through the day, it didn’t help that I’m currently on a Caffeine Cleanse; no chugging of java to keep me going. *sigh*

Last night . . . I turned off the light at 11 PM and I woke up at six. Hooray!!!

The day looks a helluva lot better with some sleep under my belt.

P.S. Parents, I know you’re laughing at me. I know you’ve learned to exist on two hours of sleep and perhaps the occasional nap. It’s all what you’re used to 🙂

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“Chink in the armor”? REALLY?!

Posted by Lissa on February 20, 2012

An ESPN writer posted an actual story with that as the headline. Really.

*ahem ahem* *mee-mee-mee-mee*

How DARE they? Don’t they know how HURTFUL and OFFENSIVE that statement is? We need a full study of racism against Asian-Americans! We need better preferential treatment! We need our asses kissed and our sensibilities pandered to!!!!

Okay, just kidding.

Seriously? I thought it was pretty funny. Do I think the headline writer should have been fired? ABSOLUTELY. Anyone that stupid is way too stupid to work for an organization that wishes to be profitable and that depends upon the goodwill of its customers. Hell, anyone that stupid is probably too stupid to flush the toilet, zip his/her pants or chew with a closed mouth.

I’m glad that “chink” is a slur that’s pretty much died an ignominious death. I think any headline writer who used “dago”, “wop” or any other ethnic-slur-not-relating-to-blacks would be fired as well, and rightly so. Again, I’m not personally offended – I laughed incredulously when my husband told me – but you CANNOT publish a headline like that in a national forum. You can’t. Not if you want and plan to keep your job.

(I have more sympathy for people who stay stupid things live that can’t be bleeped in time. We’ve all had stupid things slip out. A published headline, on the other hand, takes a deliberate decision to write, review and hit “launch”; I’m just not as sympathetic.)

Stupidity has consequences. (At least, it SHOULD.)

Let us all take a deep breath and thank The Great Deity that there’s no Asian equivalent of Al Sharpton to start whipping up riot mobs. (Of course, the mobbees are probably too busy studying. It’s an Asian thing.)

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Read of the Day

Posted by Lissa on February 16, 2012

I think many of us have had the kind of revelation that Ace describes:

I was blown away to learn that people could just start bonfires on the beach, whenever they liked.

Now, to be honest, I learned on this when the government was trying to crack down on the practice, but I was blown away at the idea that a private citizen could, in this country, previous to changes in this law at least, simply create a bonfire on the beach and enjoy it. Just because he wanted to.

Then I started to think like this: What kind of a mind-screw did they do on me when I should be surprised that people would be allowed to do this?

You see what I mean? My default mental state, thanks to the more statist area I grew up in (at least as far as bonfires) was that of course I wasn’t permitted by The State to build a bonfire and enjoy it.

I internalized that. My default belief, absent any external stimulus, was that of course that would be an Illegal Act, and of course I should not Break the Law.

And this is where I begin to get angry:

Read the whole thing.

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Oops! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted by Lissa on February 15, 2012

Oops! I was so indignant about the Ministry of Truth stuff yesterday that I forgot to post Valentine’s stuff! Mike’s out of town right now so we celebrated early over the weekend. I made one of his favorite dinners, Aussie meat pies (lean ground beef, onion, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste all simmered together and piled between puff pastry layers) — Valentine’s style!


For dessert, I made red velvet mini cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting (yes, all of it from scratch):


I had some red sugar sprinkles but decided that they weren’t necessary and might be messy. Then I watched an episode of Cupcake Wars and mourned that I hadn’t added sprinkles AND a fondant heart. Or something.

As for Valentine’s Day itself . . .


My sweetie is a wonderful guy 🙂

I hope your Valentine’s Day held as much love and good feelings as mine did!!

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Did those people never READ Orwell?

Posted by Lissa on February 14, 2012

The “Truth Team”? Oh for heaven’s sake, why go halfsies? Why not just bloody call it the Ministry of Truth?

“If the other guys are going to run a campaign based on misrepresenting the president’s record – and their own – we have two options: sit back and let these lies go unchallenged, or fight back with the truth,” deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in an email. ”We’re fighting back.”

I know, I know. It’s not possible for anyone to oppose the liberal agenda from genuine concern or disagreement; one could only do so from malice, ignorance, or stupidity, and therefore one’s opinion can only be false.

All they need is a tail they can whisk as they skip back and forth . . .

(I wonder how much of my political thinking was because I read Animal Farm when I was too young to connect it to Communism.)

P.S. When I say “those people,” no, I do NOT mean “black people,” so stick it up your tailpipe.

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Rajah sez . . .

Posted by Lissa on February 13, 2012

He wishes it were still Caturday! Perhaps if he clings tightly enough the Mommy Kitty will stay home?


(No, Rajah doesn’t care that the Pats lost. He likes the Bengals better anyway.)

Happy Monday!

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