28 February 2011

I'm going to ask for a Pegasus next

My niece Katie made me this origami unicorn while I was visiting Florida.  She's awesome.


24 February 2011

20 years after the 73rd Easting

During the Persian Gulf War, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment was the lead unit of the VII Corps as it penetrated into Iraq and searched for five Divisions of the Iraqi Republican Guards just west of Kuwait.

At 1pm on 25 February 1991, in very bad weather and without air support, they found one, the Tawakalna ala-Allah Division......and the Battle of the 73rd Easting began.

The 2nd Cavalry was the only unit that found itself decisively outnumbered and out-gunned in the Gulf War, but nonetheless fought its way to a decisive victory. Over the course of 6 hours, the Regiment destroyed 85 tanks, 40 armored personnel carriers, and more than 30 wheeled vehicles.

The Republican Guards were now fixed for attacks from the rest of the VII Corps including another decisive battle on Feb 27 at Medina Ridge.

For its actions, the 2nd Armored Cavalry received the Valorous Unit Award.

09 February 2011

Goin' Hunting

Antelope Park, Zimbabwe.

You jump into an open-topped safari truck after dark.  There are six other passengers, a driver, a spotter and a guy with a red spotlight.  About a half mile from camp, you meet up with four full-grown lions; two male, two female.  They have been bred at the park and are on the verge of being released into the wild, once they prove they can survive.

There are no other lights but the one red spotlight as you truck off into the pitch-black bush with these four creatures padding silent along with you.  You imagine one jumping up and dragging you from the jeep.  You'd be dead before anyone had time to react.  You notice none of the guides carries a gun.  You try keeping the lions in sight as they melt into and out of the bush.  At times you could reach out and touch one out the side of the truck.  You don't.

The red light does not interfere with the lions' night vision, but it does help in spotting prey.  The beam lights up their eyes.  You all strain to see those ghostly, shining disks peering out from the tree line.

When the lions scent something they start running and your driver guns the engine, trying to keep up.  You duck as thorny acacia branches whip past, scratching at your cheeks and eyes. This is not a road, not a trail, not a path.

The lions have been on alert but now they are functioning as one unit.  Without pause, without voice, they split and flank, they sprint and weave.  They haven't eaten in five days.

Your truck pulls up to the kill scene seconds after the impala has hit the ground.  It is still alive.  Thrashing and bleating, it struggles fruitlessly. Your truck turns on the headlights now.  A lion does not need night vision to tear flesh, to crunch bones.   A fetus spills from the impala's torn belly. It's moving.  The sound of feeding increases.  Your heart beats harder as two hearts stop.

You feel none of the compassion associated with similar scenes you've seen on National Geographic.  Television removes you enough to feel empathy for the prey, to see cruelty in the predator.  The revelation tonight is that real life erases those layers and you feel only the thrill of the hunt, and gratitude for being allowed to witness this.

This is a rush like you have never experienced.


(photo courtesy of one of my fellow travelers)

04 February 2011

Winter Wonderland

After spending Christmas in NY, the Mrs. and I planned on going to visit friends in Maine. Due to the snowstorm, our flight was canceled...undeterred, we rented a car and drove.

It was a pleasant 5 1/2 hour drive...after all the Mrs. and I had been separated for 3 months, so it was great spending some quiet time together.

Our destination was the home of old friends Ned and Patty, just outside Portland. We haven't been up to see them in 10 years, so thing were a bit different.

Most noticeably, these two additions.

Laurel and Jillian

Besides having the two cutest kids on the planet, Ned and Patty also have a kick-ass colonial era farmhouse!

....and a barn!
We stopped by the fish market and got some lobsters...which, after boiling, were cooled off outside.

Once the lobsters were ready. N and P picked the meat off and made Lobster bisque soup to go with the grilled scallops....oh so yummy.

above, Kelly reads to the kids whilst seafood goodness is concocted in the kitchen

below, grilled scallops, lobster soup, salad and wine...whats better then that?

It was great hanging out with our old friends.

...and meeting their ridiculously cute children...here is a clip from snowshoeing.

Thanks Portlanders! We'll be back soon!

03 February 2011

Things to Do With an Elephant

If you and your friends find yourselves with some time on your hands and a spare elephant, here are a few suggestions on how to spend the morning.

You could start with a little conversation.  Elephants like to get to know you.

If you like each other, he might even let you sit on his lap.

Just don't be surprised if he gives you a hug while you are there....

...or tickles you, elephants like to tickle.

He'll probably pose for some photos if you ask nicely.

It's fun to climb up on his back, if he doesn't object.

While you're up there he may reach back to see how you're doing.  This is a good time to share any snacks you have with you.

And if he's in the mood, he'll stand up to show you just how tall he is.

If you have any elephant expert friends they can get up there too and show you some really neat tricks.

You may get tired after all the playing, in which case an elephant comes in handy for resting against.

Just don't forget the elephant might be tired too, yawning is a sign.

And when he wants to go home, you should let him. It's just not a good idea to get in an elephant's way, even if he is your friend.


01 February 2011

In Memoriam

Jack the Cat: 1997-2011

A mother is not supposed to have a favorite among her children, but.....Jack was my baby.

He would sleep on my pillow, curved around the top of my head, purring like a locomotive. That cat had the loudest, most steady purr I've ever heard.

He begged for food like a dog.  You would think he never had a decent meal in his life, the way he cried for treats.

The most affectionate cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, Jack had none of the reserve and dignity usually associated with cats.  He followed me around the house, desperate for attention. The second I stopped petting him was the second he started meowing for more loving.  Aloof was not in his vocabulary.

There were years where he would let almost no one touch him but me.  A quirk he thankfully outgrew to the benefit of himself and cat lovers at large.

He was so big he was once mistaken for a bobcat by one of my neighbors.

He liked small spaces and would cram himself into a brown paper bag two sizes too small.  He would curl his long-legged self into the bathroom sink - spilling out the sides like some kind of furry water.  He would jump into a kitchen cabinet or an open refrigerator when your back was turned.

Jack was nothing if not neurotic.  He had an irrational fear of ceiling fans and would avoid entering a room containing one, even when it was still.

He was easily traumatized.  When we moved into our new house, he spent the better part of three months huddled under my bedspread.  A warm, breathing lump in the center of the bed that came out only at night for food and cuddles

Jack was the best looking cat I've ever seen.  He blended handsome and cute like only a male model could.  Soft white belly, long legs it took him years to grow into, killer green eyes and no concept of how striking he was.

I will be forever grateful to my sister Tina for taking Jack in and loving him like her own when he needed a new home.  She adored the fluffy basket case as much as I did.  Both his mommys' hearts broke this week but she had the harder job of being with him in the end.  Thanks Teensy, and good bye Jack.