Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here we go again with Yemen

Are we going to commit armed forces to an invasion of Yemen now that we've "discovered" that terrorist activities are originating there? Using this logic (the "Afghanistan Logic"), how many s**tbird countries are we willing to invade? Somehow, our leaders have decided that trying to kill off the source of this terrorism where it originates is the best policy to protect us here within our own borders. Maybe a serious reevaluation of this logic is called for. It's possible that it would be more effective to actively and throroughly police our own borders (sea, land and air) than using the needle in a haystack approach trying to root terrorists out of remote caves over hundreds of thousands of square miles. Even when we squash terrorist activity in a limited area, the terrorists draw back until we leave, then return and resume their activities (proven to be the case in Afghanistan).

In addition to policing our own borders effectively, we could use intelligence to make surgical strikes on known targets of high value, much like Israel did on Iraqi nuclear reactors. That ended Iraq's quest for the A-bomb. By sending large, conventional forces to flail and flounder around in the wilderness while the terrorists look on and laugh is expensive, stupid and ineffective.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's Make Air Travel More Comfortable

The long-delayed, much-ballyhooed so-called "Dreamliner" took off today for the first time not far from here. The two chase jets, which looked like some kind of fighter plane, soared over my house but the 787 took off to the northwest and couldn't be seen by me. For one thing, it's all forested around my house so they have to fly pretty close to directly overhead for me to see them. I stood out on my deck and listened to the distant engine sounds of takeoff, and through the window watched the video on TV on CNBC to see the plane lift off the runway.

The name "Dreamliner" somehow holds out the promise of more comfortable air travel, doesn't it? One of my complaints about air travel is the cramped, uncomfortable space and waste of time just sitting there. My solution would be to arrange the plane in a series of narrow sleeping tubes instead of seats. These wouldn't take up any more space and you could stretch out and go to sleep; that would eliminate the crowded feeling and the waste of time. Maybe the plane could be arranged so that part of it was sleeping tubes, and part seats for those people who like to be crowded, smell the b.o. of their seat-mates, and get coughed on.

Have you ever seen pictures of those sleeping tubes in the airport in Japan? For people experiencing lengthy waits for connecting flights, they can rent a sleeping tube to lay down in; I think they even have a TV in the far end to watch in case you just want to recline but not sleep.

If it was up to me, I'd eliminate first class seating in commercial airplanes entirely. I'm class-conscious enough that I don't need to be humiliated and humbled by walking through the "big seat" area before I must wade back to my miserable coach seat. I know the airlines love first class passengers because they can soak them for a ridiculous sum of money to avoid travelling with the unwashed masses. Kind of like buying your way out of military service in the Civil War. That's one reason I kinda like Southwest Airlines, the "Bus of the Air" which has only coach seating, no butt-kissing first class area. Besides, the first class area is taking up valuable space that could be converted to sleeping tubes.

One time years ago when I was a soldier in the army, I was travelling by bus and my route of travel took me through the Greyhound bus terminal in San Francisco. I had to wait a couple of hours for a connection, so I sat on one of the slatted wooden benches (just like the ones you saw in Dirty Harry movies when they look for a suspect in that same bus terminal). Before long, I nodded off and I don't know how long I was napping before a SF cop came by, tapped me on the foot with his baton and said, "No sleeping in the terminal." Then and now I have thought this was unfair; I had a paid ticket in my pocket; was it my fault that the particular bus I needed to catch wasn't there yet?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grape Nuts Need to be Soaked

Cereals have been one of my favorite foods since I was a child. In those days, adults called them "Breakfast Food" and didn't eat them much. Cereals were for kids.

One of my long-time favorites is Post "Grape Nuts". I'd better not let Post hear me say that or they'll discontinue them. That's the usual outcome for any food product that you fall in love with. I'm still pining away for General Mills "Jets" but that's another story.

The trouble with Grape Nuts is that they are so dog-gonned hard. They might more accurately be named, "Gravel Nuts" as far as I'm concerned. They are definitely for people with good teeth if not soaked. I usually soak mine for about a half an hour before consumption. That's just about the right amount of time; any less and they are still somewhat hard; any more and they start to dissolve into a liquid lacking any substance at all. Well, maybe I'll want to do that some time in the future when I have no teeth left, and I'm eating cereal through a straw.

I gave up on just plain milk on my cereal decades ago; I only use half and half. Anything less just tastes too watery. So, the Grape Nuts get sugared, then immersed in half and half, with about a half inch of liquid covering them. The extra half and half allows for expansion of the cereal as it soaks.

Yeah, I know consuming half and half will kill me. Everyone is going to die, it's just a mere matter of timing. I don't have many other vices; no tobacco, no alchohol, no drugs, so artery clogging and hardening half and half isn't the worst of it.

Then there are the lovely Grape Nut Flakes. These do not require soaking; in fact, you must be careful to eat them in a timely manner or they quickly turn to mush once liquid is applied. These must be eaten with some care, too, as they tend to have a laxative effect.