Bob's Basement

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Saints or Sinners / Snacks or Snafus

Over the past few years I have sat quietly and watched a lot of people argue across a myriad of political issues on Facebook. There are people who love portions of our government and its policies, while others detest them. The current scandal-of-the-day is that some see Manning and Snowden as heroes, while others consider them traitors.

I have tried my best to keep my silence, because the last thing that anyone needs is another person adding their opinions to a cyber-sphere that is already saturated by divisiveness, ignorance, and paranoia. But eventually an issue arises where I simply cannot remain silent; sometimes our government has unquestionably gone too far.

With all the dangers and terrors in this world from which we need protection, how is it possible that German Kinder Eggs must be banned by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act?

Somehow I am sure that Communists are to blame. ;-)

Posted: Aug 10 2013, 09:55 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor | Rants
Tags:
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Adventures with the Tooth Werewolf

My oldest daughter just reminded me of something that I hadn't considered in years: when my children were young, my wife and I raised our kids somewhat differently than other parents. If you know me personally, then you're well aware that I'm not revealing anything surprising by that admission.

But let me explain what I mean: every parent has to choose which traditions they want their children to experience, and which traditions they want to skip. For example, some parents let their children celebrate Christmas, while other parents might not let their kids participate in Halloween festivities. My wife and I decided that Christmas and Easter were great, albeit with no Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny.

Now I know what many parents are thinking, and you can put the phone down - my children are all grown and you can't call Child Protective Services just because my children didn't set cookies by the Christmas tree in hopes that St. Nick would drop by.

But we had one tradition that we didn't skip, we just changed it a little; instead of the Tooth Fairy, we had the Tooth Werewolf. That's right, instead of Tinkerbell, we had Timberwolf.

I don't know why I chose to raise my kids with the belief that a big, hairy wolf snuck into their room and absconded with their baby teeth, but what's even more surprising is that my wife let me do it.

In all actuality, my children knew that it was me - I made sure of that. But it was pretty amusing when they would tell their friends that the Tooth Werewolf was coming to take away their teeth.

By the way, after a few successful years of the Tooth Werewolf, I decided that he needed a friend, and I invented the Easter Vampire.

Years from now, someone might need therapy. Winking smile

Posted: Feb 09 2012, 15:46 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

The Wheels of Time Have Rolled Over Me

When we moved to the Seattle area, one of the selling points for our new home was the backyard. The backdoor of our house empties out onto two large, wooden decks which overlook a large greenbelt of towering evergreen and maple trees. When our son was younger, he and his friends would play paintball and other games in those woods for hours.

My son is currently in college, so he's moved on from such 'juvenile' pursuits as paintball; now a fresh crop of kids has taken over the timberland. This new batch of boys has replaced the paintball pistols of yesteryear with airsoft artillery; in the summer season, we hear them waging war till all hours. This has never bothered me at all - it's simply part of the experience of living near a cool stretch of forest.

But recently, a few of the boys were skirmishing through the thickets, and one of them was crouching low to avoid being seen by his pursuers as he took a running shortcut across my backyard. I happened to look out the window as this unfortunate event unfolded, and we had just laid fresh layer of bark throughout the yard. With this in mind, and before I had a chance to consider the consequences, I had opened the window and yelled, "Hey! Don't run through my backyard!"

And then it hit me - I had officially become Old Man McMurray; the antiquated ancient who lives on the hill and yells, "Hey, you youngsters get out of my yard!"

[Deep Sigh.] Sad smile

Is it time to buy a new guitar yet?

Posted: Jan 09 2012, 18:28 by Bob | Comments (2)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Dogs Versus Cats

I freely admit that I am a "Dog Person." What's more, I am blessed to have married another dog person - we both love dogs, and this is generally a good thing. My wife grew up surrounded by dogs, as did I.

My wife and I spent the first ten years of our marriage in poverty or in the military, and unfortunately being in the military is a lot like being in poverty. Sad smile Just the same, we had been married ten years before the two of us were finally able to get a dog. Our first dog was a yellow Labrador Retriever named "Barney." Unfortunately, Barney had been mistreated by a previous owner and we were not able to keep him.

Our next dog was wonderful - we got a Bouvier des Flandres, who became a part of our family for the next eleven years. We named him "Ruff Waldo Emerson," which we shortened to Emerson. I had never owned a herding dog before, and it was a lot of fun to watch the way that he took care of our family: he would patiently wait by the door for the kids to arrive home safely from school, and he would try to push me out of my desk chair when he decided that it was time for me to go to bed.

Our most recent dog was a red-haired Golden Retriever, who our son named "Rook." (Our son, Peter, was heavily into chess at the time.) Rook was a great dog, and I now see why so many people love Golden Retrievers. Sadly, Rook died of a fast-acting bone cancer when he was just eight years old. Crying face

All of this is simply an introduction in order to offer proof that I am a dog lover. But that being said, I am decidedly not a "Cat Person." I am allergic to cats, which I think is God's way of saying that man isn't meant to coexist with cats. My daughter has a cat, and her cat seems to like me more than anyone else that comes to visit - which seems to be due to the fact that I ignore it.

Here are several of my thoughts on dogs versus cats:

  • Dogs have masters, cats have servants.
  • When stranded in an avalanche, no one looks for a cat to rescue them.
  • Who cares if cats kill mice? Why not just raise mice and skip a step? My friend has cats which drag live mice into the house - ostensibly to kill them - but eventually the cats lose the mice somewhere inside the house.
  • Dogs are faithful and loyal; cats are selfish and fickle.
  • If you pet a dog, the dog thinks, "Wow - he likes me; he's so wonderful." If you pet a cat, the cat thinks, "Wow - he likes me; I'm so wonderful."
  • No one takes a cat hiking.
  • Dogs can be trained to search for explosives, provide eyesight for the blind, haul loaded sleds across hundreds of miles of hostile terrain, sense a variety of medical conditions, guide herds of animals without supervision, and a host of other important tasks. Cats can be trained to poop in a box.

The debate over which is better – dogs or cats - is ages old, and not likely to ever be resolved. But in my estimation, dogs will always be man's best friend, while cats will remain - at best - frenemies.

Posted: Jul 20 2011, 13:00 by Bob | Comments (2)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Killer Rabbits from Antiquity

For those of you who thought that the killer rabbit in Monty Python's "Holy Grail" was a work of fiction, I suggest that you see the top center pane in this stained glass detail from the West Rose Window of Notre Dame in Paris. Apparently brutal bunnies must have been an issue when the French built this cathedral, or perhaps the French will run away from anything.

(Note: Giving credit where it is due, this image is originally from the web page at La Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.)

 Wink

Posted: Jan 07 2011, 01:10 by Bob | Comments (1)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Tags:
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Replacing a Military Radio - The Hard Way

Many years ago - more years than I would care to admit - I spent eight years in the Army as a 98G Voice Intercept Operator, which is a long title for someone that spends a lot of time listening to what other people are saying, taking notes, and then telling someone else what was being said. I won't go into any more details about what I did for a living, but for several years I was stationed in Fulda, Germany, where I was a member of the 511th Military Intelligence Company, which was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

My fellow soldiers and I spent a lot of time hiding in the forests along what was then the border between East and West Germany, which is where the conditions were generally the best for our line of work. During the day we used an AN/TRQ-32(V) Radio Receiving Set, which we affectionately called the "Turkey 32."

The Turkey 32 was my favorite piece of equipment, and it's primarily used for direction finding operations. (Which means "locating the bad guys.") The only trouble with the Turkey 32 was - it used a great deal of fuel, and its generator was horribly loud, so at night we would shut down the Turkey 32 and use our AN/TRQ-30 Manpack Radio Receiving Set to continue our listening activities... which we called the "Turkey 30."

These radios were left over from a bygone era in the distant past - like the Korean War, or maybe the Civil War - so they were really starting to show their age. One of our radios was falling apart - literally. The knobs on the face panel kept falling off, the reception was terrible, the tuner barely moved, etc. I knew that my Turkey 30 was on its last legs and was in dire need of some kind of emergency maintenance, so one day I hauled my Turkey 30 to our Circuits & Electronics (C&E) office to see what my options were. (I was secretly hoping that C&E would replace the radio, but I was almost certain that it would simply spend a few weeks in the shop for repairs.) I had a good friend who was working in C&E that day, SP4 Villarreal, and he replied that as long as the radio was working, there was nothing that he could do about it.

So I started to pack up the radio, and I was probably muttering something about the fact that I had no idea how long it would take for the radio to eventually die, when Villarreal stopped me and said, "Perhaps you weren't paying attention, so listen to me very closely this time - we can't fix it, but if it doesn't work then we can replace it."

And suddenly - the light bulb turned on.

I blissfully carried the Turkey 30 back to our platoon office in the 511th building and announced to everyone, "Gentlemen, this radio has to die - today." So we spent the next hour or so having a contest to see who could throw the Turkey 30 the furthest from the 2nd-story window where our platoon office was located. After everyone had made their share of attempts at breaking the previous distance record, we declared the contest winners with the usual pomp and circumstance that is called for in such occasions - which means that several people were undoubtedly punched a few times before heading back to work.

Once that was taken care of, I packed up the Turkey 30 and strolled back to the C&E office, where I announced to Villarreal that, "For some reason my Turkey 30 has stopped working." Villarreal didn't blink as he overlooked the massive dents and broken glass and replied, "Well, we'll just have to order you a replacement."

It's times like that when it's great to have friends in the right places. Smile

Posted: Jan 04 2011, 13:50 by Bob | Comments (1)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor | Military
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Who is this Santa, Really?

I spent the weekend in Leavenworth, Washington, with my wife, our kids, and my future son-in-law. It was a fun-filled weekend of bright lights, snow-capped mountains, hot apple cider, chestnuts roasting on open fires, and Christmas carols sung by choirs. But the more that I listened to Christmas carols, the more I started to get an interesting picture of Santa Claus.

Like many other people, I grew up with the concept of Santa Claus as a kindly old gentleman that brought gifts at Christmas to all the good children of the world. Santa was like the ultimate grandfather - with a bright red suit, a cheery disposition, a full beard of whiskers, and a sleigh that flew through the air by magic reindeer.

But this year the words to some of the traditional Christmas carols began to really sink in, and I started to see a different Santa. A darker Santa. A scary Santa. Let me give you just a few examples:

  • "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Think about it: "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake..." Wait - Santa is IN MY ROOM and WATCHING ME SLEEP? Holy cow - I never realized that Santa was stalking me. I don't think that I can match eyes with him in the mall from now own; it's just too creepy.
  • "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - So Santa is breaking up marriages now, eh? Does DADDY know that Santa is spending a little too much time under the mistletoe with MOMMY? How does Mrs. Claus feel about this?
  • "Santa Baby" - That's obviously not MOMMY that's singing those lyrics, so Santa must be two-timing mommy with someone else. And she sounds well-taken-care-of. I wonder how many pretend Mrs. Clauses Santa has scattered around the globe.
  • "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - All those years of prejudice and abuse that Rudolph had to endure, and what did Santa do about it? Nothing. Santa ignored the whole affair, until a foggy Christmas Eve came around, and suddenly he has a use for Rudolph. That poor abused reindeer is nothing but an opportunistic tool to Santa.

My childhood illusion is finally shattered - this Christmas Eve Santa isn't filling STOCKINGS hung by the chimney with care, he's STALKING you by the chimney with care. That's why he's sneaking into your house like a burglar, and why he has so many aliases around the globe - even James Bond doesn't use as many pseudonyms: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Grandfather Frost, Yule Man, Sinterklaas, Дед Мороз, etc.

So this Christmas Eve I suggest that you heed the wise advice found in the "Here Comes Santa Claus" Christmas carol: "Jump in bed and cover up your head, Because Santa Claus comes tonight."

Posted: Dec 05 2010, 08:44 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Misadventures with Foreign Languages

I served in the Army for 8 years as a Russian translator. When I was still in Russian school, we were required to attend "conversation" class, where a group of students would sit down and discuss various topics with one of the instructors.

One day the instructor asked me what I had been doing the previous evening, and I said that I had played soccer. She asked what position I played, and since I didn't know the Russian noun for a goal keeper, I took a chance and replied in Russian that "I played goalie." She looked surprised, and asked if I was often goalie when playing soccer, and I replied yes - I usually play goalie. After that we chatted back and forth about how I preferred to play goalie, why I preferred to play goalie, etc. This conversation continued for about a minute, when she switched to English and informed me that in Russian "goalie" (голый) is the adjective for "naked".

So I had spent the last part of the conversation waxing poetic about my preference for playing soccer... well... you know. ;-)

Posted: Oct 21 2010, 17:07 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor | Military
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

Famous Amos is Out to Kill Me

Let there be no misunderstanding – I love Famous Amos cookies. But that being said, Famous Amos is out to kill me.

If I eat a small handful of Famous Amos cookies, I will pay for it with severe heartburn that lasts for several hours. But the following week, I’ll buy another package – I know that I'm going to be in pain, but I just can't help myself.

I know that one of the hardest experiences for mankind is trying to kick the smoking habit, but I have to be honest – trying to stay away from Famous Amos cookies is much harder. At least for me, anyway.

What’s even worse is when I have just enough pocket change to buy a little bag of cookies from the vending machine and the @#$% machine won’t take one of my coins. Those machines do that just to mess with me, I’m sure of it. All I can do is stare at the bag of cookies – just out of reach – and there’s nothing that I can do. There they sit – right in front of me – taunting me to resort to drastic measures.

[Deep Sigh.]

I have to go – the day is getting late and I feel like a snack.

I wonder how much change I have?

Posted: Jun 15 2010, 17:53 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Tags: ,
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us

School in 1959 versus 2009

I was sent this list of how several things have changed in our educational system and lives over the past 50 years, and it's a sad but true observation of how "Trying to Make Things Better™" ultimately makes things worse...

SCENARIO 1: Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

  • 1959 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
  • 2009 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for A.D.D. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.

SCENARIO 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

  • 1959 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
  • 2009 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled, even though Johnny started it.

SCENARIO 3: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

  • 1959 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.
  • 2009 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

SCENARIO 4: Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

  • 1959 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
  • 2009 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

SCENARIO 5: Billy breaks a window at his school and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

  • 1959 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
  • 2009 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

SCENARIO 6: Pedro fails high school English.

  • 1959 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
  • 2009 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

SCENARIO 7: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

  • 1959 - Ants die.
  • 2009 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents -- and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

SCENARIO 8: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

  • 1959 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
  • 2009 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
Posted: Oct 19 2009, 11:03 by Bob | Comments (0)
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Filed under: Humor
Social Bookmarks: E-mail | Kick it! | DZone it! | del.icio.us