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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Sunday, December 24, 2006

¡Feliz Navidad!

I like this picture because it portrays the scene in a cave, which many believe to be accurate. In fact, the actual cave in question is located within the present-day Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:1-12 (KJV)
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger'."

He was, of course, the greatest Christmas present ever.

As for the proper date of the birth of Christ, not everyone agrees, even now.
(It probably wasn't in Winter, though)

It was not until A.D. 350, that December 25 was declared the official date for celebrating Christmas by Pope Julius I.

It wasn't made a Federal Holiday in the U.S. until 1870, when it was added as one by President Ulysses S. Grant.

I saw The Nativity Story on Friday; catch it if you get the chance...it has the camojack seal of approval.
(Highly recommended!)

Here's an official movie poster:

For other entertainment, Christmas lyrics HERE.

And "White Christmas" may be a secular song, but I absolutely love The Drifters’ version.
(As presented in the linked cartoon, especially)

Speakin' of secular tunes:
Mele Kalikimaka!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Recommended reading...

The last book I read is by a fellow blogger...and my "homey", since we were both born and raised in the Philly area.

It was a great read; I think a good measure of excellent writing is when it can elicit an emotional response, which (for me) this story did.

All of the key elements are included: action, adventure, romance, suspense, etc.

Description (from the publisher's website):
"Benning's War" follows an American soldier from the Battle of the Waxhaws to Kings Mountain, and beyond. War, friendship, and love in the American Colonies.

If you'd like to order "Benning's War", click HERE.

For an autographed copy, check HERE.
(That's what I've got)

The author's blog is called Benning's Writing Pad.
(There's been a link to it on my sidebar for awhile)

That's also recommended reading...

Friday, December 15, 2006

What's your hurry?

Motorcycle Land Speed Record pushed to 350 mph

Denis Manning’s "BUB 7" set the new absolute motorcycle land speed record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.

Rider Chris Carr piloted the BUB 7 to 354.832 mph on the outbound run and 346.939 mph on the return for an average speed of 350.885 mph...a new world record.

Prior to 2006 the absolute motorcycle land speed record had not been broken since Dave Campos achieved his 322.149 mph world record run in 1990.

This happened in September; I heard about it in October.

I'd been planning to mention it, but got sidetracked.
(It's that A.D.D. thing)

There are other categories for speed records:

New diesel land speed record: 328 mph
(Also set earlier this year)

Electric land speed record: 315 mph

And I can't leave out the overall record holder:

Thrust SuperSonic Car: 763 mph

Car?! More like missile...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Some kind of dope...

Man Calls 911 to Report Stolen Drugs

AP: WICHITA, Kan. - A Wichita man called 911 to report he was the victim of an armed robbery. The theft? A pound of marijuana worth about $1,100 that he had been trying to sell at his home.

The victim told police Thursday that a buyer had pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and stole the drugs.

Police brought in a drug-sniffing dog to the house and located more marijuana and drug paraphernelia.

The victim was booked into Sedgwick County jail on several charges, including possession with the intent to sell drugs.

The thief has not been found.

Like the saying goes, "why do you think they call it dope?"

Obviously this guy wasn't thinking too clearly.
(I wonder why?!)

People go to all kinds of lengths to indulge their vices; an interesting one I learned of some time ago was:
The Tennessee Pot Cave...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Blue Christmas?

Well, the lights on my tree are blue, at any rate.

I put it up over the weekend; I've been using an artificial one for years.

"Tree hugger" that I am, I just can't see killing a tree every year for Christmas.

Anyway, the one I have up has three sets of lights built in...but not a one of them was working.

Same with the other ½ dozen strings that I had.
(Past tense)

So, I went out and got a set of all blue LED lights.

Per the specs, they'll last up to 200,000 hours.
(They also use about 90% less electricity)

That's almost 23 years if I were to leave them on continuously.

It'd be 276 years in the more likely event that they're only used about one month out of the year.
(Quite long enough, I suspect)

If I outlive them, (HA!!!) I'll spring for a new set...

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Lucca Brazzi swims with the fish"

Of course that title is a modified version* of a line from "The Godfather"....but I like to swim with 'em sometimes, too.

Anyway, on my recent trip to Mexico I would have really liked to swim with the biggest fish:

The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

They are a member of the shark family and as such have no "real" bones, but only cartilage. These fish are live bearers. The eggs develop and hatch in the uterus. Several hundred babies are born live.

Length: up to 40 or 50 feet.
Weight: up to 20 tons.

Diet: They are plankton filter feeders. They do not eat large fish or other large animals. They swim through the water at about 2 to 3 knots constantly filtering plankton, fish eggs, shrimp and small sardine-like fish from the water.

There are a lot of charter outfits that will take you to them.

Here are but a few links for those:
Grey Whale
Manta Divers
Mexico Whale Shark
(There are lots more)

Unfortunately, I was there at the wrong time of year; those critters are migratory, and they mostly only show up to feed in the Caribbean in July and August.

However, I might see some this Winter...

*The line was actually "sleeps with the fish".

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nifty gadgets...

I came across the item shown above being advertised in my American Legion newsletter.
(It certainly fits in with my personal motif)

I emailed the company who makes it to ask where it's produced, because if it's made in China I'm not interested...so far, no response.
(Which probably means it's made in China)

Anyway, here are the details (from their website):

Personalized with your full Name, Years of Service, Branch Emblem or Purple Heart Medal.

Veterans Commemoratives™ proudly issues its U.S. Military Utility Knife, which is literally a "toolbox in your pocket®." The body, handle and tools are crafted in stainless steel for a lifetime of rugged use in everyday activities.

The front of the handle is finished in camouflage and inset with your Service Branch Emblem (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine) or Purple Heart Medal. The back of the handle is engraved with your Full Name and Service Years, and inset with the Veterans Commemoratives’ Emblem as your assurance of quality and satisfaction.

The Official U.S. Service Branch Emblem of your choice or Purple Heart Medal is minted like a fine coin finished in Gold and hand enameling, to honor your service.

• 2 1⁄2" Knife Blade
• Blue LED Light
• Cork Screw
• Punch with Sewing Eye
• Nail file
• Phillips Head Screwdriver
• Flathead Screwdriver
• Can Opener
• Bottle Opener
• Toothpick
• Tweezers
• Scissors
• Key Ring
• Reamer

Order yours today. You have earned the right to own this tribute to your Military Service.

If not satisfied return within 30 days for replacement or refund.
+$7.95 shipping, handling & engraving

And if I really wanted to get carried away?

Then there's the Giant Swiss Army Knife:

But that's just INSANE...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inherit the wind...etc.

The windmill in the picture above is a Skystream 3.7, which was awarded a "Best of What's New" by Popular Science in the Home Category.

Some specifications from their website:
Product Brochure: Skystream 3.7 brochure (PDF)
Technical Specifications: Skystream 3.7 Spec Sheet (PDF)
Installation & Operation: Owner's Manual (PDF)
Foundation Manual (PDF) - Tower Manual (PDF)
Certification: UL (US & Canada)
Interconnection: Guidelines & sample interconnection agreement
Rated Capacity: 1.8 KW
Rotor: 12 feet / 3.72 meters; 50–325 RPM
Alternator: Gearless, permanent magnet brushless
Voltage Output: 240 VAC (Optional 208 VAC)
Estimated Energy Production: 400 KWh per month at 12 MPH (5.4 m/s)
Weight: 154 pounds
Tower: Towers from 35-110 feet are available; height is dependent by site
Warranty: Five year limited
Availability: October 2006
Skystream is initially available primarily for North American grid configuration (220V/60HZ). Additional international configurations (50HZ) will be available in late 2006, along with marine and battery charging versions.

An array of solar panels can also be seen in the picture; when I retire, I'm planning to use both forms of "alternative" energy, although that might not be for another 10 years. I'm sure the "state of the art" will be vastly improved by then.

Here's a wind farm I've been to in Hawaii:

(Kamaoa Wind Farm at South Point on the Big Island)

It had fallen into disrepair, but I was reading fairly recently about plans to refurbish it.

The less fossil fuels we use, the better...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Baby, you can drive my car...

...mostly because I don't own one.

I've got a Harley that I named "Leilani", and a GMC conversion van that I named "Blanche".
(Which I also call the "Camobile")

But no car.

Anyway, I saw a station wagon on my way to work yesterday, and it occurred to me that they've gone out of fashion...supplanted by minivans (which I call "Suburban Mom-mobiles") and the ever-popular SUV.

What I wanted to talk about though, is people's driving habits, which have been fodder for many a comedian's routine. And rightly so, considering all the material they have to work with.

A couple of quick anecdotes:
(I commute 10K miles yearly)

I drive my (15 MPG) van to work and back doing the speed limit, for fuel economy reasons; one time a guy rode my bumper (in the right lane) for miles, and when he finally passed me, I got the "single digit salute". I guess since I was only doing the posted limit, by his (warped) reasoning, I should have been driving on the shoulder using my 4-way flashers. I mean, I could understand it had I been doing that in the left lane. Some folks tenaciously remain there at all costs, as if it were their God-given right or somesuch. That's one of my pet peeves, and if I were a cop, I'd be issuing tickets aplenty for it...stay right except to pass! It's the law in a lot of places, but rarely enforced.

Another time I was riding my (40 MPG) Harley to work, upon which I generally do about 10 miles over the limit because fuel economy is inherent already, and happened upon a similar scenario. In this instance, someone was riding somebody else's bumper and flashing them with the high beams. Again, this was in the right-most lane, on an interstate in a place that had three lanes in each direction. When I pulled alongside the driver's side window of the nitwit displaying the aberrant behavior, I yelled "Go around them, you idiot!" I suppose it hadn't occurred to them, because after I pulled away, that's what they did.

Some people, I swear...

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