Friday, November 27, 2020

And Now For Something Completely Different!


Sarge is taking a short break.  Maybe so the logistics train can catch up to his infantry, so I'll jump in with my irregular series of something completely different.  Just a hint of my usual fare, then some random musings I’ve had recently.

I am usually the political post-er here on the Chant, and while it isn’t frequent, I do grow weary of always being frustrated by the political goings-on.  I truly enjoy politics though, watching from afar how policy is made, following the election process, how states get a share of our hard-earned tax dollars through federal legislation, and the pork that is often served as a side dish of those laws.  I won’t go into an intensive rant so close to a very filling holiday, but I will toss this out for the record: As much as I believe there was some very illegal activity behind the election, definitely enough to change the outcome, I don’t think there’s enough time to find sufficient evidence of that activity to keep the current occupant in the White House.  Will some software forensics or testimony someday reveal what happened?  Only time will tell, but we have to figure out a better way to secure our elections- starting with Voter ID.  We're repeating history it seems.

I was sorry to hear that Alex Trebek passed away.  While his death after a long fight with Pancreatic Cancer wasn’t a shock, it reminds me again of how fleeting life is.  My mom was a trivia addict.  She watched Jeopardy religiously, loved playing Trivial Pursuit, and would even play those trivia games in a local bar as she enjoyed a glass or two of wine.  She was very smart and well-read, and always amazed me at her breadth of knowledge.  While watching Jeopardy one evening I remember being surprised at her quick answer to a seemingly insignificant question on an obscure topic.  I asked how she knew that and she said it was just one of her “valuable bits of useless trivia” - a phrase I’ve taken on as one of my own when I get the chance to use it.  My mom’s oldest friend from High School and Nursing School down here in San Diego died in January, and her best friend, another trivia buff, passed away in June.  So Alex Trebek’s passing is a little sad for me, for another loss of a cherished connection, and the finality of it.


I heard tell that former champion Ken Jennings will be temporarily stepping into the role as host of Jeopardy.  He's been on recently as one of the people asking a series of questions under a category.  My wife noticed he's been listed in the credits as a Production Consultant.  I'm sure he'll do a fine job, but who could you see stepping into the role?  I think Jeff Goldblum would work well

How was your Thanksgiving?  I can count on one hand the number of times I haven’t spent the holiday in the company of a ton of my relatives.  Just a few this year though, no thanks to COVID.  Not that we’re afraid, nor are we faithful followers of Gov. Gavin “let them eat cake” Newsome.  But we do have a couple of elderly Aunts, and a couple cousins work in the medical field, so we are being cautious.  I’m sort of ambivalent about the vaccine- I’m not worried about getting infected, as I take the appropriate precautions, but I don’t want to be the first one in line.  I need to do some research on the results of the trials though so I have some facts to support/assuage my concerns.  I also want to be sure of how it was developed, with regards to ethical morality and the use of fetal tissue.  Looks like the vaccines developed by Merck, Inovio, Pfizer, and the John Paul II Institute are good to go for me. 

Christmas will be a simple affair for us, but it usually is.  We’re not ones to give or even want big gifts, and I try to focus on the spiritual vice the material.  We’ll have to bundle up for Midnight mass this year since it’ll probably be outside.  No lights in our parking lot though, which may cancel the traditional service, so we may have to hit the early mass.  However, the new and improved Supreme Court just ruled NYC’s ban on religious services unconstitutional so maybe that will trickle down to California.  

Now while I do care more about the reason for the season, it’s not like I don’t want any gifts.  I’ve taken up watching dash-cam videos on YouTube sometimes and there are a ton of really lousy drivers out there.  Criminal ones too.  A front and rear dash-cam is what I’ll ask "Santa" for, if only for the eventual insurance claim.  She doesn’t do tech though so she’ll probably let me pick it out and order it all by myself, so I get exactly what I want.  

We have a very well stocked Navy Exchange down here which is going all out on their online Black Friday sales pitch, offering free shipping or pick up in the store after ordering.  I can even pick up an order at a nearby Navy Mini-Mart and avoid the main store crowds as well.  Two weeks ago my car was broken into and my jacket was stolen.  Well, technically he didn't break in, I stupidly forgot to lock it in a sketchy part of town, so the scumbag just opened the door and grabbed it.  I picked up a replacement coat online at the Black Friday price which actually started on Wednesday.  I'll fill up my tank and pick up the coat on Saturday.  So COVID has at least some benefit.

Anybody else saving a little more money than usual this year?  With a kid out of college, staying closer to home and no vacations this year- again, no thanks to COVID, our family expenses have been considerably reduced from our 2019 levels.  I did have to replace my Surface Pro 3 a couple months back.  Great computer/tablet combo, but it was starting to act up- not turning on, screen edge acting wonky where the magnetic keyboard connected, etc., so I figured it was time.  And I had that extra cash.  We also got a new TV since I shot the old one.  Late last year we attended a James Bond themed Birthday Party for a co-worker and Bond aficionado.  My wife dolled herself up like a Bond Girl, and I wore a white tux jacket, adding a Walther PPK to complete the look.  No, not a real PPK, but an air soft pellet gun.  Last summer I was sitting in my recliner and not treating it as I should have (poor trigger discipline) and sent a plastic pellet into the screen.  What was initially just a small star of dead pixels,  gradually became a widening black line on both the x and y axis out to the edges of the screen.  Fortunately TVs are almost disposable these days, with very good offerings in the few hundred dollar range.

Anyone a fan of George Winston?  My Sis-in-Law posted a link to one of his songs, which I listened to, then wound up listening to a playlist for the rest of the evening.  Good stuff, fitting the mood for me that night.  I put him on during our Turkey dinner as well, which was good ambient music for the holiday.  I had heard of him, but never took a listen.  I'm glad I did.

I miss going to the movies.  I'm not a huge movie buff, but now that we can't go, I seem to miss it more.  That last movie we saw was 1917.  No, not back in 1917, but the war movie!  I enjoyed it very much, but it wasn't so good that I am still savoring it.  I was looking forward to the next Bond flick, and my son and I would usually see the latest superhero offering during our get togethers, but all those are on hold until who knows when.  Damn COVID.  Maybe we should rush out for the vaccine!  

What are you watching on Netflix or Amazon?  I need something good.  Out of boredom the other night I watched Bruce Willis' action flick Hard Kill.  Don't do what I did.  Avoid it at all costs.  It was not good at all.

Well, I seem to run out of random musings, and all my musings now are centered around leftovers.  But before I go I'll leave you with the things I'm thankful for, and an interesting aviation story from the Cold War.

Plus my health, a good job, and a full fridge.  Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.

During the 1980s, the U.S. flew regular SR-71 Blackbird aircraft reconnaissance missions in international waters over the Barents Sea and the Baltic Sea, the latter known as “Baltic Express” missions. On June 29, 1987, during one of those missions, a Blackbird launched from RAF Mildenhall, UK, piloted by retired Lt. Cols. Duane Noll and Tom Veltri, experienced a pretty serious inflight emergency.


  1. The dash-cam? Hardwire it.....ask me how I know. Haven't had the need for it yet thank Heaven. Mine is several years old so check on the reviews of the latest. The "Winter Solstice" recordings from the late 80s and 90s are pretty good since I also like Winston's efforts. Hoo boy your homes are close! Wish my driveway is that short (snow country here...shoveling/throwing aka winter space management). Nice link Tuna with a very interesting read.

    1. Yeah, urban neighborhoods are compact. I'm looking at the Blackvue brand as it can sit behind the mirror without obstructing the view.

    2. Why the hardwire? Cleaner cockpit?

  2. Hey Tuna;

    Excellent read, and you are right on the Bruce Willis movie, normally I like his movies, but I was 20 minutes into it and "I wasn't digging it" so I backed out. Wasn't impressed at all.

    1. I read a review that said it was filmed in 10 days which makes you wonder what they did for the last 7. Had to laugh at that one.

  3. Jeanie and I have watched too many British police procedurals. Foyles War being the most entertaining. An Acorn subscription through Amazon Prime opens the door to all of the good stuff that has come across the Atlantic for our perusal.

    1. I watched Bodyguard, Collateral, and I'm in the second season of Marcella- all pretty well done. Derry Girls (N. Ireland) was hilarious.

  4. This year has been horrid in so many ways, yet I shall remember this year with great fondness. My youngest grandchild was born in 2020, he's a treasure and a delight. So 2020 has got that going for it.

    Nice post Tuna.

    1. My niece had a boy on the same day, and I'd agree- best part of 2020.

  5. Good post, Tuna,

    We're re-watching the Bond Movies, in order. We'll stop at the last Non Daniel Craig movie. IMHO he's ruined the franchise. Mrs J is into watching "The Pack". The Amazing Race redone with dogs. I'm usually cooking dinner while she's doing it, so a passing interest.

    I've been walking a lot lately, a mile and a half twice a day now. I agree with Nylon's comment about your driveway. 9 tenths of that mile and a half is on my driveway, granted about half of that is about 12' wide. But like I saw yesterday on someone's blog, if they can count the cars parked at my house, they're trespassing.

    I'll be interested to see what the Archbishop does down here with the Supreme Court's decision. I hope and pray that he'll open mass up. Our church building is quite large way more than the 2860 sq ft used by the 100 people limit. That ruling annoys me greatly. That having been said, I think our Archbishop is a closet socialist and is happy with the way things are. I've taken two steps to influence the situation. I have taken advantage of the dispensation for mass attendance for folks over 65 and I've stopped all contributions to Catholic charities. I have rerouted them to other non-church related charities.

    I have noticed one interesting aspect of 2020 though. Days seem to fly by, however the cruise we took in January seems to have been a millennium ago.

    Cheers to all and Happy Holidays

    1. With all the destruction of human bodies and spirits associated with socialism, it boggles my mind that any priest of any religion would follow it. Especially since one of the first things socialism targets, once it becomes state policy, is... religion.

      It was a good ruling by the Supremes. It also wasn't surprising that Roberts finally exposed his true self.

      I fondly remember the majesty and the awe of the Church when I was young. Now? Not so much. It's almost like they're trying to put themselves out of business.

      Le sigh...

    2. Juvat, saw your comment early this AM, but didn't want to bang out a long response on my phone.

      - TV Suggs- The Amazing Race with dogs sounds interesting. We'll take a gander. I happen to like the Daniel Craig Bond, but I don't blame him for the change in the series. All the other movies are high action and a slower paced suave debonair Bond had to evolve to keep up imho. I think Skyfall ranks up there as one of the top 3 in the series, but Quantum of Solace was in the bottom 3. Do you read Vince Flynn like Sarge and I do? American Assassin was ok, but I think that could have gone far had they done it better.

      Yeah, living in the city has drawbacks, but we love the weather here. Those homes were all built in the 20s-40s, on thin mesas above canyons so the space isn't suited for anything else besides short houses and driveways. We live in a high-demand neighborhood which is good for the property values, but mainly because everybody keeps their houses/yards up very nicely, which makes it a nice place to live.

      I wrote that I hope for some trickle down constitutional efforts on church services, but it's not exactly apples to apples between NY and CA. NY was far more restrictive and less proportional as to the type of businesses, whereas here in CA, there's not a lot of distinction in the type of business, although there is some- grocery stores and casinos are allowed freer reign. CA Politicians don't want to touch the casinos due to the massive sums of money they dole out to campaigns. And my Bishop is known as one of the most liberal in America, thinking climate change is the biggest issue for the Church. I still donate to pro-life and other charitable causes, but not through the Bishop's appeal. That hurts my parish, because there's a quota, but I just can't.

      Beans- Roberts is definitely not a conservative so the ACB nom is so important. I hope Thomas stays healthy if the election stands.

    3. Haven't read Vince Flynn in quite some time, not sure why I stopped. Lee Childs is one of my favorites and I see he's got one showing up on my recommendations page. PJ Deutermann's WWII USN stories are also pretty good. He's also got a Police story line that I didn't make it through the first story, so 50/50.

      The difference between CA and NY is irrelevant, in my opinion. I think the wording is "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." No Law means No Law. They cannot interfere with our free exercise of religion. And the fact that the Catholic Clergy isn't fighting back is disheartening. Hence my redirecting my charitable contributions.

      Oh, and by the way, further on in that #1 thing that NO Law clause also applies to abridging... "the right of the people peaceably to assemble". So if I want to have my extended family for Thanksgiving dinner, I will and Gavin or Andy or Gretch on any of the other bozos can take a flying you know what at a rolling donut.

      I keep hearing that Sidney Powell is going to "Release the Kraken", I don't think she is the one that is going to release it, but the Kraken AKA the 70+Million people that actually voted (vs the slightly larger number of bogus "votes" created by a few crooks) are about fed up with this BS and well, I wouldn't want to be a politician at that point.

      The Pack is that Dog show's name. It's on Amazon Prime.

      Hang in there Tuna.

    4. The Kraken seems to be only lawsuits that are being rejected in each state. I think the problem is is that the record-breaking 80M votes Biden got, despite not campaigning and being a weak-ass candidate, only fails the common sense test, but can't be proven. We would need harder evidence.

      After Vince Flynn died, Kyle Mills took over, but his style is different. Not bad, but different. I don't like the 3rd person talking about how Rapp thinks, as if Rapp was narrating it in first person. It doesn't make sense. I've read all of the Reacher books save for the last few. I need to pick it up again. Brad Thor is good too. I could see those books as movies, but that genre is awfully crowded. I just looked up Lions of Lucerne- Thor's first book- and it's a movie in development so we'll see. I picked up a couple Bosch series books by Michael Connelly. Great Amazon series, never read the books.

      Hanging in.

  6. Bruce Willis has become what so many other actors before him became. A money-whore. Eh. It's his job to be paid for reciting lines. The lines can be Shakespearish, or they can be complete schlock. He gets paid either way.

    A good movie, though rather dark, is "Knowing" with Nicolas Cage. Excellent plot, it's a real tense, well written movie that the end doesn't ruin. (Wife and I tend to like Cage movies. Sure, many (money whore) aren't the best, but even the bad ones are campy in a good way. Which means... "Drive Angry," though a gore-splatterfest, is a very amusing movie also. Heh. Warning, not PG-13 at all, but a good story anyways, love, redemption, hot cars, guns, gore, what can't you love?)

    And... it's sappy Hallmark movie season. Yeah, that's right, mean old Beans is a Hallmark movie watcher. Why? Well, sappy love stories, nice people winning, bad people being converted, like those sappy 1930's movies that I also like. No sex, no violence, no unnecessary death or destruction, just nice things happening to nice people. Yeah... Sappy, but...

    And, of course, in the spirit of things, back to Bruce Willis and the first two "Die Hard" movies. It's not Christmas until a terrorist falls from the Nakatomi Tower...

    Regarding Christmas, I suck as a gift giver. My first inclination when Mrs. Andrew says, "I think I need XYZ" is to go out and buy XYZ and not pick up the hint that XYZ is a subtle clue for me to make notes for gift giving time. (Looks down, past gut and man-boobs, yep, it's an outie, not an innie, so subtlety is not my strong suit. My subtle suit is about as existent as an actual suit in my closet, which, well, no suit in my closet. I mean, I can read a subtle shift in a fighter's stance or the movement of an enemy line. But subtle hints from wife? Huh?)

    So this year I've got some practical gifts for her that she's been hinting at. A shelf for her gun. A long-sleeve t-shirt/sweat shirt modified into a bolero-jacket thingy for to keep her arms warm. Simple things. Maybe this year I won't do flashlights (Yeah, one year she said something about needing some LED flashlights and I just kept finding neat cheap ones everywhere I went, and I ended up giving her about 50 small flashlights. She hasn't let me live that one down, yet. Maybe sometime in the next 100 years or so...)

    Else, well, we're alive. We took the same precautions for Covidiocracy that we take during any winter flu season. Since we're basically a pair of married hermits, not interacting physically with people isn't hard for us. And any time I feel like testing humanity, well, it's time to go to Walmart again... Sams, the grocery store, not so bad. Walmart? If it wasn't for the cheap prices and good quality of their grocery, I wouldn't go there, but I can save money, lots of money, so... I just take a delousing shower afterwards...

    And, yeah, dash-cam cameras are very interesting to watch. I also watch machine-fixing videos, and construction videos and stuff like that.

    1. My wife is the opposite- she doesn't listen at all so I've learned to just give her a list, but it's always short and practical- socks, something for the house, etc. I don't mind Walmart, but I am in and out quick, not caring for any browsing whatsoever. Target is different, but again- not much time there either since we don't buy "stuff" anymore, and we don't want for much. We purged a little last summer, but that effort slowed and died out. Need to revive it as my garage is too full of stuff we'll never use again.

  7. Roger your comments on the political situation, and necessity to plug the holes in the system which facilitate cheating. Lest, plugging of actual cheaters be required.

    There was only one Bond, James Bond, and none can replace Sean Connery, another lamentable loss this sucky year.

    As far as thriller authors: Vince Flynn was possibly the best of that genre, and a great loss at a too early age. I think someone else has taken up the pen, so the action continues. Hugh Hewitt regularly did (still does?) interviews with authors like Flynn, and here are a few others which have been great companions in audio versions on our pre-covid travels:

    Brad Thor and Alex Berensen- Very similar to Vince Flynn's work in quality and themes. The same guy (George Guidell) is the reader for the audio versions of all three authors, so I almost cannot tell who wrote which one. (Berensen, incidentally is former NY Times reporter, and currently a frequent guest on Tucker Carlson's show.)
    Daniel Silva- Protagonist is an Israeli Mossad agent whose cover and avocation is restoration of old mater paintings.
    Lee Childs- The Jack Reacher series.
    C.J. Box- Joe Pickett series about a current day Wyoming Game Warden

    Not a Hewitt guest, but another enjoyable author with insights into the cultures of the Southwest is Tony Hillerman with focus on law enforcement on the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations. He died a few years ago, and his daughter has added a few more.

    1. Well. That would certainly be the reason I stopped reading Vince Flynn novels. Rats!

    2. Although I haven't read his books yet, I plan to since I've heard good things about them - Jack Carr, former SEAL, is the author (although like most novelists, it's a pen name)
      I was also in a 'rats!' mood when I heard Vince Flynn had passed a while back.
      If you like the Hillerman novels (I do), then also try Michael McGarrity's works about New Mexico lawmen

    3. Saw his response after reading your previous Juvat. Yeah, Flynn died, but another writer picked it up. Looks like we're all on the same page with regards to authors.

  8. TV Recommendations ? Wife and I finished "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix in a two night binge. Really enjoyed it. "Poldark" has been fun, even if he does get carried away with his 18th century SJWism at times. The Cornwall scenery is glorious. Netflix also.

    1. We'll pick up Queen's Gambit one of these days- probably after the Crown. We like to savor the shows so we don't binge.


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