De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


What's Wrong With This Picture?

The time is 2325L; the outside temperature is 57°F.

And the air conditioning is running full blast.


And people think I'm insane.

Official EU Language

The EU Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.


Ultra-Secret CIA Interrogation Techniques

And a hat-tip to the Professor for this one. :-)

It looks like we've finally found out what some of those "torture" techniques are that our gummint has been using to break the resistance of terrorists:

- The Faux Shirt Stain: Interrogator points at suspect's chest: "Look, you've got something on your shirt." When suspect looks down, interrogator brings up index finger, tweaking suspect's nose. Interrogator laughs. This grievous affront, a loss of honor in the eyes of Allah, administers massive psychic trauma to suspect. Repeat as needed.

- The Urkel: Suspect is locked in room lined with 72-inch plasma screens showing non-stop "Family Matters" episodes featuring '90s "urban nerd" Steve Urkel. Longest recorded breaking time: 2.3 hours.

-The Echo: Interrogator repeats all of suspect's statements in snotty voice...

Suspect: All unbelievers will fall before the sword of Allah!

Interrogator: [Flouncing about room in effeminate fashion] All unbelievers will fall! Before the sword! Of Allah! Who is my boyfriend! Pppbbbbbbhhht!!

Interrogator's failure to be struck down instantly places suspect under extreme psychological stress. In case of emergency, interrogator may deploy Nyah-Nyah-Nyah Protocol.

-The Complete and Utter Mindscrew: Suspect is addressed directly by unchaperoned female exposing more than 3% of her epidermis.

-The Chomsky: Suspect is strapped to chair in room with award-craving theoretical linguist Noam Chomsky. Earplugs are placed on table just out of suspect's reach. (This protocol is considered a Last Resort.)


Avast, Mateys!

Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day. All yer posts should be in Pirate Talk. And if ye not be knowing how, then hie on over here.


And if ye be wanting to know your pirate name, hie on yonder.


Blowing His Own Horn

I've always found pride to be one of the more annoying character flaws. For everything a person is proud of, there are at least as many things to be humble about.

Cardinal Gibbons High School graduated its first class in June of 1966. I started there as a freshman that year. At that point, they didn't even have a school band yet. One day, they had a meeting for anyone interesting in starting a school band.

Since my Dad had been a professional musician, and had even taught me to read music, I thought it would be worth exploring. So I went to the meeting.

The guy they brought in to head up the effort was a classically trained musician who owned his own music store. And he was proud of it. Unfortunately, instead of simply presenting his bona fides and telling us how he planned to approach the whole matter, he had to make some unflattering comments about a popular musician of the day who had developed his own unique style. This is where it got annoying.

While he was talking, I thought to myself "Which of these two is touring all over, playing to sell-out crowds, and which one runs a rinky-dink little music store outside Baltimore?" I decided to forgo the "opportunity" of learning music with this guy.

As a footnote, the next year they hired a regular music teacher who turned out to be excellent. And I joined the band. At first, I played french horn, but then moved on to trombone and baritone horn. On my own, I also learned trumpet. Had a great three years in the band. Lots of work, but lots of fun. The only real sad part was that my Dad passed away before things really got going. He might have made it to one recital, but I can't really remember. It's been too many years.

Oh... and the guy the music shop owner was making disparaging remarks about? Meh, no one special. Just some guy from Los Angeles named Herb Alpert.


Clumsy Daddy

One day, Daddy was doing something in the kitchen and I went out to see if he needed any help. He didn't know I was there, and he stepped back and stepped right on my paw. Boy, that really hurt! I screamed, and that almost scared Daddy out of his skin. He jumped up and yelped. He sounded really worried. He picked me and kissed my little paw and told me he was sorry. We just stood there for a minute while he tried to figure out if he had hurt me really bad. I tried to tell him that I was OK, but I was still really shook up.

After a minute, Daddy took me into the other room and sat in his big chair. He rocked back and put me on his chest and cuddled me for a while. After a couple of minutes, I was able to start purring, just to let him know I was OK. I knew it was an accident, so it didn't bother me all that much. But I worried that maybe I had scared him out of a year's growth.

Daddy said he'd have to do something so that we wouldn't have any more accidents like that. The next day, when he came home, Daddy had a bright red collar with a little bell on it. He put my rabies tag on there, too. He said the sound of that would let him know when I was around so that he wouldn't step on me again.

I didn't really like that collar. It was really uncomfortable. One night, I chewed through it so it fell off. When Daddy got up and saw what I had done, he was really unhappy with me. That day, he brought another one home. This one was blue, and it had a bell on it too. He put my rabies tag on it and put the collar on me. I really didn't like it, but Daddy said I'd better not chew that one off.

That night, when we were getting ready for bed, Daddy took my collar off and put it up on the bookcase. He said it would be OK for me to not wear it at night. Every morning, Daddy would put my collar on me and every night, he'd take it off. He said I looked really handsome in my sporty little collar and all the rest of the cats in the world would be jealous of me. After that, I didn't mind it too much, mostly because I knew he'd take it off of me at night.

And Daddy never stepped on me again after that.


Missing Momma

I was taken from my Momma when I was only three weeks old. Then I spent four weeks in that place where Daddy got me. Daddy said that's a terrible thing to do to a little kitty cat. He said we should be left with our Mommas for at least six weeks, and eight weeks would be even better. There were times I really missed Momma. She fed me and took care of me and was always nice to go nappy with.

One day, I got up on Daddy's lap and put my face right up against his tummy. It was kind of soft, just like when I'd put my face up against Momma. I started kneading his tummy with my little paws, just like I used to do with Momma when she would feed me. It reminded me of being with Momma. Daddy acted like he was about to stop me, but then he didn't. Afterward, he picked me up and rocked back in his recliner and put me up on his chest. He talked all nice to me, but he sounded really sad. He said I could do that any time I wanted. He said it wasn't good for a little kitty cat to miss its Momma that much.

I curled up on Daddy's chest and purred at him until I fell asleep. When I woke up, Daddy took me out into the kitchen and put some milk on a saucer and gave it to me. That was yummy. Then he took me back and sat in the recliner and gave me lots of loves. That was really nice. I rubbed my face against Daddy's cheek and gave him kisses.

We only did that a few times, but Daddy always treated me nice and helped me feel better. Daddy said that when I go to Heaven, Momma and I can spend as much time together as we want. He said that's what Heaven is for. I'll be glad to see Momma again. I hope Daddy gets to see her too.


Watch Your Language!

One of the curious aspects of living here in the Scenic City is that Chattanoogans are quite a bit easier to understand than most Southerners. At least, the ones I come into contact with.

There was an occasion back in '94 when I first arrived at Robins AFB. I went to Church and got there a bit early, so I just sat there, writing in my journal. I vividly remember one guy coming over and trying to talk to me. Admittedly, I had to "shift gears" and switch my thinking from German to English, but I have no idea what that guy said to me. I must have sounded pretty stupid, trying to formulate a reply to something I didn't even understand. Later, as I got to know the guy, I was able to understand him.

That reminded me of when I was Ramstein AB, near Kaiserslautern, back in '89. The people I went to Church with were really great, but there was one slight drawback: Kaiserslautern lies in Rheinland-Pfalz, where they speak a dialect called "Pfälzisch" (or "Pelzish" they way they say it). Listening to it was like listening to someone drag their fingernails across a chalkboard. It was also pretty tough to understand. Of course, I realize that they probably have equal difficulty understanding me.

One afternoon, a bunch of us had dinner over at one family's house. I mostly listened in as the conversation covered topics of local interest. Slowly, they slipped further and further from proper German into Pfälzisch. Finally, at one point I spoke up and made a comment, and the reaction was visible. Everyone suddenly remembered that there was An Outsider present who wasn't really following the conversation all that well. All I had to do after that was make the stray comment and the conversation stayed a bit closer to proper German. Nice.

Mauki's Masterpiece

Boy, Daddy was pretty smart, but he didn't know much about art.

One day, I found a stack of papers. They didn't look like much. Daddy had just left them all in one big stack. So I took all those papers and made a really neat pattern out of them. That was a lot of work. But it looked really cool when I was done. They were all turned around every which way and made a really neat design.

Then Daddy came along and saw what I had done. He just stood there with his hands on his hips and said "Now what? I had all those papers stacked up all nice and neat and you've scattered 'em all over. What am I going to do with you?"

He wasn't mad or anything, but he took all those papers and put 'em all back in one big, dumb-looking stack again. All my work for nothing.

I guess there's just no accounting for taste.


Defining Moments

Every generation has at least one "defining moment" -- an occurence that galvanizes the people and is forever etched in their memory. After that, it colors everything they do and influences the way they see the world. One hallmark of these events is that one rarely forgets where one was or what one was doing when they happened.

The downside (as we shall see) is that some of them are remembered for all the wrong reasons.

In my own life, there have been four:

The Wall On the night of 12 August 1961, the Soviets constructed a 28-mile wall around the eastern sector of Berlin. Until it was finally breached on 9 November 1989, "The Wall" referred to only one structure. For 26 years, it stood as a stark reminder of the difference between freedom and oppression, an ugly scar thru a once beautiful city.

Sometime in 1990, one of the networks ran some footage that had been shot in the mid-'60s about those who had tried to escape. There is no way that anyone could see the design of that wall and come to any other conclusion than that it was built to keep people in, not out. I remember watching that with my Dad and wondering what would happen to the people trapped inside.

The Kennedy Assassination I was in the sixth grade when that happened. The odd thing is that I remember that day not so much because of the assassination, but because of something totally unrelated that had just happened.

There was a girl in my class who had a sister a year or so older. Both were very intelligent, and did good work. For some reason, our teacher was taking her to task for some little mistake she had made and along the way she insulted this girl by saying "Why can't you be like your sister?". As young as I was, that made me incredibly angry. I felt like jumping up and saying "Because she's not her sister!". But there are some things one just does not do. At any rate, this poor girl was in tears. She had done her best, but it "wasn't good enough".

Just then, our teacher got called out of the room. A couple minutes later, she came back in. Looking over at my classmate, she said "You want something to cry about? Here's something to cry about: Pres. Kennedy has just been shot." The rest of the day is pretty much a blur.

What strikes me as odd about the Kennedy assassination is that people have almost universally remembered it for the wrong reasons. It wasn't "the end of Camelot". It had next to nothing to do with JFK or the Kennedy clan. The President of the United States had been assassinated.

The takeover of the US embassy in Tehran After all the hand-wringing of the Vietnam era, the national will was at a low ebb. Then came the ultimate insult: Islamic extremists stormed our embassy and took it over. Unfortunately, few people were willing -- or maybe they weren't intelligent enough -- to recognize this for what it was: an act of war. A nation's embassy is considered under international law to be an actual part of that country. The takeover took place with the full knowledge and cooperation of the government.

The proper response would have been to at least invade Iran and free the hostages, if not outright declare war on the country. Unfortunately, our "president" lacked the guts to do what was necessary. For this, we paid a heavy price and are still paying it today.

9/11 Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Better than that, I paid attention to the who and why. Those murderous thugs also perpetrated an act of war against the United States. Had Pres. Bush done a better job of standing up to the Chinese when they forced down one of our aircraft (another act of war), this might not have happened.

Once again, people are not paying attention to what is really going on. Amid all the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, the hand-wringers have failed to learn why these thugs hate us. It has little to do with our presence in the Middle East (although a non-interventionist policy would be a great idea). It doesn't even have all that much to do with our support of Israel; although that's a convenient excuse.

It has to do with our freedom. There are some people in this world who simply cannot stand the idea that other people are free to make choices with which they do not agree. I've seen it a million times. Since before this world began, there has been a struggle between freedom and tyranny. And that struggle will continue until this world ends. The only question is which side you're on.

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry



Guess who clicked on the wrong thing and turned off the Comments function?