Sunday, August 31, 2008
No doubt you have all seen the coverage in the local media, including several of the Springfield blogs. And while I took pictures Saturday, and I may post some later, I thought I would instead post some photos I've been wanting to share here for years. These are pictures from the day I actually flew on a B-17.
In July of 1999, a B-17 owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association, called Aluminum Overcast, stopped into Springfield on a mission similar to Sentimental Journey's this weekend: To offer tours and flights to raise money for its upkeep.
I was single at the time and had the $350 cost of the fight. It would be money well spent as far as I was concerned, and I had no one to tell me differently. Well, no one who could do anything about it anyway. I was dating the future Mrs. TEH at the time and she did make the comment that I should do something like this while I was still single because she kinda thought it might be a problem if, say, I were to get married (hint, hint). So sensing my last chance, and a huge desire to do it anyway, I bought my way onto the Aluminum Overcast for a flight.
Here are a few shots of the Aluminum Overcast on the ground before we left.
During the flight, we were able to move around the plane taking turns in the various positions. Standing behind the pilot, I took this one looking out at two of the planes four engines.
This was taken from the radio operator's station looking back toward the tail. They had removed the canopy for ventilation purposes that hot summer day so I was able to stick my head and camera outside the plane.
Sitting in the prime seating of the bombardier's chair in the nose of the aircraft, I snapped this shot of the power plant near Kincaid, IL where, exactly 20 years prior, I was an employee. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined while working at that plant in 1979 that one day I would be looking down on it from a B-17.
Finally, I took this picture at some point before we took off. I saw this elderly gentleman gazing at the plane, alone and almost mesmerized.
I imagined he was remembering heroic, frightening and maybe even tragic experiences he had had on just such a plane. I didn't ask him because I was afraid he might tell me he was a baker in Kenosha during WWII and was just out to see the old warbird like me. Instead, I continue to have this man represent all those brave soles who flew, and often didn't come back from, combat missions in B-17s.
By the way, if you are ever interested in a good movie about the men who flew in the B-17s, try Memphis Bell. If nothing else, watch the trailer to the movie. Twelve O'Clock High is another good one.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
This goes back to at least Reagan in 1984 when he used Springsteen's Born in the USA which, aside from its use without permission, was also a strange choice given the real meaning of the song conveyed in the lyrics.
Just to be fair, I'll say shame on any Dems who engage in the same thing, but I'm not aware that it's much of a problem with them.
Can't she wear contacts? Or is she like me and prefers glasses? Except I only buy one new pair every few years. Shit, she has more glasses than McCain has houses.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Politically, can anyone say “Dan Quayle”? Well, in out-of-left-fieldness terms anyway. I guess we will all get to know her better in the coming weeks.
Update: Uh-oh. Palin was recently quoted as saying she has no idea what the vice president even does. Now that’s experience we can believe in, my friends.
I'll make this simple; watch this CNN video. Just do it, I'll wait.
It's a report from Kenya where the locals are celebrating Barack Obama's winning streak by...what else, drinking beer. But not just any beer, Senator beer. Kenyans have dubbed it "Obama Beer".
Obama's father, as you probably know, was Kenyan and folks there have Obama fever. That is, when they don't have an Obama hangover.
Have a great Presidents Day weekend! And have a beer for Obama, but not too many, it will make you Obamit.
Update 08/29/08: Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sangamon County had to obtain new voting machines after the State Board of Elections ruled the county couldn’t use the more than 900 machines it purchased for $2.7 million three years ago.
The board said the company that made the machines, Populex Corp. of Elgin, had not completed all the required testing.
County officials say they prefer to rent equipment for this election because the state is likely to adopt new standards for voting machines, and the county does not want to be stuck with even more machines that might not be certified under the new rules.
The cost to rent the machines is about $429,000 for the first year.
Compared to the Populex machines, the rental equipment is fairly simple. Voters will mark paper ballots with a pen or pencil, and those ballots will be fed into a scanner.
Voters who miss a race or over-vote will be alerted by the machines and given the option of changing their ballots.
I have no idea if these new machines are more secure as far as counting votes, but they HAVE to be easier to use than the old voting machines (the ones we’ve used for the last several years). I’m not technologically inept, but those old machines were very confusing in some regards. I mean, I really felt stupid using them and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in that. Good riddance. But are we now stuck with the $2.7 million in unwanted voting machines? That seems like a big loss.
Where did this controversy come from? Pols of all stripes hug each other all the time. And when a few Democratic office holders start hugging it’s an issue? Obviously, in this case, some of the huggers really don’t like each other but who really cares?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"Look, I owe the American people an apology. If I had beaten the old man you'd of never heard of the kid and you wouldn't be in this mess. So it's all my fault and I feel that very, very strongly. So this is an important election for us. Let me tell 'ya."
Granted, we were toward the back on Sixth Street and that made our exit particularly easy, but anyone who needed to could have gotten out. Again, that’s not to let organizers off the hook completely, just that the situation wasn’t as dire as some are making it out to be. No one was captive. Seeing Barack Obama isn’t worth risking your health or the health of your young children if you were foolish enough to bring them.
Some of the criticism even has the smell of politics. "See! Barack Obama is a bad, bad man because he let people almost die of thirst so he's not fit to be president!" Give me a break. The last thing anyone wanted was the crowd to be uncomfortable. It was a hot day, there were way more people than anyone expected and the water distribution was poor. That's all there was to it.
Update: I forgot to mention that I think a better solution to all of this would have been to have several water stations located just inside the entrance. People could have grabbed a cup of water (and the ones they were actually using were pretty good size) on their way in. That would have gotten most people through the event. There would have had to have been lots of water being poured to keep the line moving, but I think it could have been done. Perhaps passing out (can I use that term here) cheap caps might have been a good idea too. I was, for once, smart enough to bring my own cap but most people didn't think of it.
Update II: Allie in comments makes a good point: We may have learned our lesson from all this but when exactly are we going to have to deal with 35,000 people downtown again? Short of a public flogging of Rod Blagojevich, I don’t see it happening.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This past Sunday evening I noticed some odd pink clouds right about sunset. My poor quality iPhone camera doesn't really do this justice, but these clouds looked more like Northern Lights than clouds. This was taken looking due west:
Here are the pink clouds more isolated:
I'm going to rule out government conspiracy on this one, but as to what they were, well...the truth is out there.
Make that, LOTS of people...
And, hey, Springfieldians, if the Obamas can dress like this and not whine about the heat, you should be able to do it too.
But please, go ahead and tell the SJ-R that it was really because you wore too many clothes.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Two weeks after a devastating revelation sent her husband into political exile, Elizabeth Edwards isn't getting the steady sympathy usually afforded to a woman scorned.
Instead, she's faced criticism from dedicated Democrats who think she was too willing to keep the affair a secret to help John Edwards' political ambitions, as well as her own.
At a time when she was expected to hold a prominent role in pushing an agenda of
improved health care for Americans, she stands silent. While fellow Democrats converge in Denver to nominate Barack Obama for president, Edwards remains in
seclusion in North Carolina.
It seems an odd way to treat a woman with incurable cancer wronged by a cheating husband, the latest in a series of deep hardships in life that includes the death of a teenage son.
But some former followers have questioned the recklessness of keeping the affair under wraps even though her husband - a former U.S. senator, two-time presidential candidate and the 2004 vice presidential nominee - said he confessed the affair in 2006, before the campaign began in earnest the next year.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It was hard to get pictures of the cape AND the golf clubs to get the full effect.
In the end, as is always the case, Batman "won". Just ask him.
Last week, I took a quick drive east to New Buffalo, Mich., and the Four Winds Casino Resort...
But I'm not sure I'm ever going back, for one simple reason:
The joint smells like an ashtray.
Not only is smoking allowed in the Four Winds, I swear I thought it was mandatory at one point. Now that we've had the better part of a year to get spoiled in Illinois, it's jarring to walk in to a place like the Four Winds and get hit with the unmistakable stench of cigarette smoke.
I think overall I’ve become far less tolerant of cigarette smoke in general now that it has largely been eliminated from my universe. (Full disclosure: Mrs. TEH still has the occasional cigarette in the privacy of our back deck, but she’s working on it!) And that’s saying something. While I never smoked myself, I grew up in house full of the smoke from my father’s cigarettes. Even as a teenager, working at a store in the newly opened White Oaks Mall in the late ‘70s, I would sweep the numerous cigarette butts off the floor after closing each night. Think about that; people would smoke in stores and smash their butts out on the floor and just leave them. We have come a long way.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
First, it really was exactly as I expected: hot and humid and nothing to drink. There really should have been better provisions for providing water to the crowd. What was available was almost impossible to get to. Some people passed out, while other were very desperate to get to the water tent. I made an attempt but after fighting the crowd for about 15 minutes, I gave up. I wasn't THAT thirsty and other people obviously were. But I did OK. I knew relief was only a half a block away at Brewhaus if I really, really needed it. And a...more on Brewhaus later.
We got downtown about noon. We saw the massive line and followed it to its origin, which, by the time we got there, snaked back many blocks to in front of Saputos (see JP's photo here). It took us about 10 minutes just to walk to the back of the line and then another half an hour to walk in line to the entrance to the event at 7th and Washington.
At the security entrance, we had to unload our pockets and go through the metal detector. JP failed his first attempt through but graduated with honors on his second attempt. Iron rich blood or something. I, of course, had no problems. I was just glad we didn't have to take off our shoes. Which makes me wonder, why are shoes a potential danger to airplanes only?
Once inside, we were immediately approached by this guy, who took a keen interest in our cell phones for some reason. It turned out he was a staunch McCain supporter, but came to town from Mason City to revel in the event anyway. He was nice enough, but JP and I moved on after a bit fearing he was going to latch on to us for the duration. We also checked our pockets for our wallets just in case.
Then we just stood there baking in the sun for what seemed like forever. There was this really tall guy near us who I was so tempted to stand behind just for the shade. But in the end, the only relief we got was the occasional stray cloud blocking the sun. One such cloud even got cheers from the crowd.
The warm up (as if we weren't hot enough!) were Obama campaign organizers (one of whom couldn't say "housing project" and twice said "project housing" or something), the Pledge of Allegiance, and a religious invocation. Not long after that, Mr. Obama took the stage. When people's heads moved the right way and signs weren't in the air, I could actually see Obama for a split second or so. Mostly I saw this though:
Later, Biden came on stage and began to give his speech. Again, I was able to get fleeting glimpses of him. About half way through his speech, I tapped JP on the shoulder and suggested we make a retreat before our 35,000 other friends decided to do the same thing. JP was agreeable and we made our way to the one entrance/exit which just happened to be right in front of Brewhaus.
At that point, we were hot and very thirsty. The lure of cold beer was irresistible. We decided to try Brewhaus. We went in and were surprised that it really wasn't all that crowded. Most of the bar stools and tables were taken but it wasn't packed or anything. Most of the people there were intently watching the speech on the TVs. I thought that was strange. They were just feet from the event and yet where inside, sitting down in a cool building, enjoying beverages...oh, wait, I get it now.
Now let me stop the story right here and point out that no blog in the world praises Bewhaus on a regular basis like mine. Brewhaus is the official bar of The Eleventh Hour. And I still love the best beer bar in town, but my experience there Saturday sucked big time. Anyway, back to the story.
So we make our way down to the north end of the bar and get behind a few people to place our beer order. At that point I really didn't care what we got, but I spy the Blue Moon draught handle and think that will be a good choice. When the bartender gets my order, she goes off and pours us not glasses of beer, but beer in two red plastic cups. I pay her the $3.50 a piece price and give her a two dollar tip. We lift the long awaited brew to our lips and discover the plastic cups are filled three-quarters of the way with WARM FOAM. We tip the cups skyward to get to what beer there is because we just don't give a shit anymore. But really, $7 plus tip for two cups of foam? Give a loyal customer a break, Brewhaus!
Having had enough of the shittiness of Brewhaus, we leave through the rear entrance and quickly make our way back to JP's vehicle where we (I) had the foresight to stash a small cooler full of iced-down water bottles. As soon as we got the vehicle we tore into those. Finally, thirst quenched!
That's pretty much all there was. We did hang out at my place for a while afterword and enjoyed some brews from my beer fridge, making good on the disappointment of Brewhaus.
Final score: Obama/Biden - 10, Brewhaus - 0, Dave and JP - 11.
Update: Leave it to me to inadvertently piss off another Springfield blogger (see comments). To be clear, I do not blame the bartender at Brewhaus. It was a weird day for everyone and things go wrong.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Brewed in Texas, Stampede Light is being endorsed by beer expert Jessica Simpson. I guess Paris Hilton was too busy participating in the presidential race.
However, Stampede doesn't appear to have been the first to think of this. A Filipino beer inventor seems to have come up with the idea too.
Thing is, beer already has lots of vitamins and other good stuff. With all due repect to Jessica, I'll pass. But then I don't have to really since it isn't sold here.
Have a great weekend! And take your vitamins - have a beer.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
…the White House says President Bush has "no plans" to see the movie.
White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said she's not sure that Bush has seen any of Stone's earlier films, which includes "JFK" and "World Trade Center."
One thing she's clear about: Oliver Stone has no credibility to chronicle the Bush presidency.
"Oliver Stone is an accurate historian like Gilligan was an accurate navigator," she said.
That would be Gilligan, as in "Gilligan's Island," the CBS sitcom from the 1960s about seven castaways shipwrecked on an abandoned island. The show featured Bob Denver, above, playing Gilligan, the hapless navigator.
I don’t recall ever thinking of Gilligan as “hapless navigator” or any kind of navigator. Hapless deckhand, maybe. And wasn’t the Skipper at least equally involved (not to mention that terrible storm) in getting the Minnow and its occupants stranded on that island?
For one thing, it’s going to be hot, in the upper 80s approaching 90 degrees. And humid. There’s no way this is going to be comfortable. That means I will likely have to lug around lots of water which means, and this is important, I’ll have to pee every half hour. Which means I may lose my spot in line or place on the Old State Capitol grounds anyway.
Now, I endured the extreme cold in February 2007 to watch his campaign kick-off speech and was very uncomfortable and cold. My feet were frozen before it was all over. But I was glad I did it. This time, the day is going to be hot (at noon everyone is going to be in the sun). I’m not sure I’m up for that.
However, like I said, I sort of want to be there. So I’m thinking I might just buzz around the perimeter and get as close as I can while still being able to duck out of the heat and grab a cold drink (say, Brewhaus is nearby…). I just think that would be more tolerable and I could still claim to have “been there”.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The Democratic National Committee has invited some high-ranking officials from Barack Obama’s home state to speak at the party’s convention in Denver next week, but not Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Those invited include Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Comptroller Dan Hynes and Attorney General Lisa Madigan. All three are potential rivals of Blagojevich, should he run for re-election. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley also has been invited to speak.
But I am looking forward to the sure-to-be rousing speeches to be delivered by the lesser state officials. Let’s hope one of them will be speaking at the 2012 convention as governor.
And who could have predicted I’d have two posts in a row containing the name Alexi Giannoulias?
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The evidence is now overwhelming. Let's run down the list:
Obama is coming here to make the announcement. The town in which Davlin is mayor. Not a coincidence.See! It's inevitable.
Davlin led the way in implementing the city's smoking ban long before it was Kool to do so. Obama who has, or is trying, to stop smoking will need someone with a proven track record to keep him off the butts.
Davlin is an overt Irish Catholic and has not ever been suspected of being a Muslim.
The sudden announcement that Davlin's brother, Kevin, will soon be divesting himself of Chantilly Lace is evidence of the Veep vetting process. No one wants Chantilly's notorious past brought up during the campaign. The Attorney General's position may then also become available to Kevin Davlin.
What campaign could pass up the slogan "Vote For the Boyz From Illinoiz"?
Davlin was seen in the Simpsons "Real Springfield" contest video in London, solidifying the mayor's foreign policy cred.
But I think it’s hilarious that owner Kevin Davlin is blaming the smoking ban for Chantilly’s declining customer base. Although my days of partying there are long gone, I do know it has gotten kind of a bad reputation over the years and people are just going elsewhere. New places become the new hot spots, it happens all the time in that business. Blaming the smoking ban is lame. For one thing, the ban is now universal in Illinois; the playing field is level. Chantilly is just old news and the crowds have moved on.
Now, I said the first time I was in Chantilly was about 17 years ago and, technically, that’s true. However, I used to go in to that building a lot some 40 years ago when it was Shakey’s Pizza. As kid we went there all the time, for birthdays a lot as I recall. They had wooden benches and long tables, a piano player and a huge window into the kitchen where you could see them making the pizzas. They also gave the kids these styrofoam hats which we would have broken and in pieces before the end of the night there.
So I actually have a lot of memories and long history with that place. It’ll be sad to see it torn down and replaced with a drug store or gas station, but that's just the way it goes.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I took a look at the signatories of this initiative and, unless I missed one at this late (11th) hour, the only Illinois institution to have a signatory is Quincy University. (Which I will never get used to being called a University; it's Quincy COLLEGE dammit.) Anyway, I don't know what that means but there it is.
Personally, I can see both sides of the issue. It seems to me that once you are an adult at 18 you should be allowed to drink. On the other hand there seems to be some demonstrable benefits (less DUI, etc.) to the higher drinking age.
Fortunately, at 48, I'm in the safe zone and won't have my beer-buying privileges revoked again. Not like when I was 19 and, at the time, of legal drinking age, only to have the Illinois Legislature raise the drinking age to 21 making me underage again for 18 months. Bastards.
[Bar manager] Sam Mrofcza said he does not have a problem abiding by the ban, but does not approve of more personal restrictions.
"If they're going to take it this far, (they should) just make (cigarettes) illegal, and while they're at it, they might as well make alcohol illegal," Mrofcza said. "And we all know how prohibition went."
Yeah, OK. I think you answered your own question, Sam, as to why no one is proposing an outright “ban” on cigarettes. Like the crazy war on drugs, it would be counterproductive, putting strain on law enforcement and creating a huge black market. Strict regulation and taxation works much better and still allows people to engage in their vices while not hurting anyone else. So just relax Sam.