Program Music: An Ode to the Gulf War That I Wrote When I Was 24

This came up on my iPod at work today and it cracked me up. I’m guessing no one else will have the same reaction. Shame. I wrote this while I was taking an honors class on Beethoven my senior year in college. One day we talked about Wellington’s Victory and it sounded like it was a good idea, ergo this:

Schwarzkopf’s Victory (.wav file)
Schwarzkopf’s Victory (.m4a iTunes file)

Here’s the program:

  1. Saddam’s Army Invades Kuwait – 0:00
  2. The U.S. Denounces the Invasion and Vows to Assist the Sovereign Emirate – 0:42
  3. European Allies Proffer Money and Arms to Support the Coalition – 0:54
  4. The Coalition Gathers, SCUDs Fall, the World Awaits – 1:24
  5. The Air Offensive Begins, Things Go Well – 2:15
  6. The 24-Hour Ground War – 3:08
  7. Though Defeated, Saddam Lives to Fight Another Day – 3:51

I sampled real artillery explosions to make it sound more lifelike. Man but I miss ScreamTracker.


(Yes, a colon in the title again.)

More B-52 Photos, By Request (Plus a Couple Pics of AMARG)

And because, let’s face it, I’m never actually going to get around to putting anything on Flickr.


Bomber Row at Pima — B-47 in front of three B-52s

B-52 with x-plane spar

Tail Gun on B-52 at Pima Air & Space Museum at Davis-Monthan AFB

b-52 at the pima air & space museum, close-up

And because the last set didn’t include any actual photos taken from the boneyard at Davis-Monthan (AMARG — Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group), here are a few. The bus, as mentioned last post, made it tough to get good photos. For me. Maybe DLF got something better.

c-130s and mountains at Davis-Monthan AMARG

The above C-130s are in the “could be re-used” wing of the boneyard.

B-1 bomber with C-130 at Davis-Monthan boneyard

There were a handful of B-1s scattered around also. And for some reason the right side of the bus didn’t seem to get the best visuals. If you ever go there, try and get a left-side window. And start trying to peel off the tint some time before it leaves the parking lot…

boneyard airplanes used for scrap

And then these poor guys are on the cannibalization side of the street.

But the view from Google’s satellite maps are, IMHO, the most interesting (zoom in and scroll around for best effect).

View Larger Map

Enjoy. Or, “have enjoyed”, I guess.



Pima Air and Space Museum and the Davis-Monthan Boneyard

Went out to Tucson last weekend ahead of some business meetings I had in Tempe on Tuesday. Primary purpose: visit the AMARG, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base airplane boneyard (I think “boneyard” sounds less ominous than “graveyard”, although I suppose maybe it shouldn’t). Tours of the boneyard are facilitated by the Pima Air and Space Museum, located around the corner from the base. The museum and the boneyard were both cool.

b-52 at the pima air & space museum in tucson

The B-52 above was one that dropped several of the x-planes — you can see the spar on the right wing where the planes were carried pre-drop.

A-10 flying at Davis-Monthan AFB

Above is an A-10 Warthog banking hard over the top of Davis-Monthan AFB as seen between the prop blades of the DC-6 that used to be John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One.

c-133b cargomaster and the pima air & space museum yard

Above is a Douglas C-133B and the view from the far end of the museum’s 75 acres of airplanes.


  • 75 acres of airplanes is a lot of airplanes.
  • There aren’t many ropes keeping you away from the aircraft. If you want to get down on your belly and see what the underside of a B-52 looks like, you’re welcome to do so.
  • Oh — right, so on the Sunday we were there, the air force base was doing practices for the spring and summer air show season, including having civil pilots get qualified to join air force pilots for “heritage flights” (in which a couple of old planes, piloted by civilians, fly in formation with a couple of current air force planes). This meant we got treated to an air show with aerobatic maneuvers from an F-22, F-15, A-10 (I’m an A-10 fan), F-4 Phantom, P-51, and P-40.
  • Actually those last three didn’t do anything aerobatic, but the first three did a lot to make up for it.
  • Like, for instance, the F-22 stopping and hovering mid-air. Pretty trippy.
  • They actually have three B-52s there — that’s an imposing-looking, ominous airframe. IMHO.
  • They also had a nice collection of WWII bombers — a B17, a B24, and a B29. Again, with full belly-based viewing privileges.
  • The docents were all pretty old and friendly.
  • They had a couple of Lockheed Constellations and a Sud Aviation Caravelle — I’d never seen either of those up close before.
  • Included pretty much every American jet fighter up through the F-15.
  • Also included a bunch of huge ol’ cargo planes.
  • It’s just a lot of airplanes and a lot of access to those planes.

Other notes:

  • It’s at least a one-full-day museum. If you go see the boneyard, which we did, it’s at least a day and a half.
  • It was pretty cool seeing how different the aircraft designs have been throughout the Air Force’s history. In a world where every commercial aircraft built in the last 50 years still looks like a 707, it’s nice that *someone’s* trying.
  • You have to make reservations to take the tour of the boneyard itself. Those tours only run on weekdays.
  • You’re only allowed to see the boneyard from the tour bus.
  • It’s kind of hard to get good pictures through the windows of the bus — all the photos above were taken at the museum.
  • It was weird to see so many recent airframes among the retirees at the boneyard (including B-1 bombers). Also strange that we’re still building new C-130s when there are apparently hundreds that have already been retired. I can only hope that someone’s done a cost-benefit analysis on some of this stuff.

Anyway: cool trip. Many planes. Nice weather. Recommended.


How Many Things Can You Find Wrong with This Article?

Teed-off pro golfer who killed hawk in Orlando area apologizes

Here are the problems I found (from top of the article to bottom):

  1. That being convicted of “killing a migratory bird” is punishable by up to a year in prison.
  2. The quote: “It’s just senseless when people kill wildlife when they are doing nothing but being themselves.” So when I have a cougar trying to get its jaws around my throat, I should just, what, relax and enjoy the ride?
  3. The idea that eyewitnesses actually counted how many attempts the golfer made to kill the bird. Did *every* eyewitness say it was ten?
  4. The fact that he was doing a spot for a video called “Play Like a Pro” — so if I really want to play like a pro, I guess I need to learn how to target-drive balls at migratory birds…
  5. That there’s someone in the world that thinks that a good way to scare off a noisy bird is to start hitting golf balls at it.
  6. The idea that adopting three cats necessarily qualifies one as a lover of all animals, including birds.
  7. That the copy-editor let this get through: “300yards” (without the space).
  8. Presenting the sound engineer who was also the guy responsible for turning the golfer in for the incident as an objective arbiter in deciding whether the bird’s sound was “extreme”.
  9. That the golfer made the film crew wait 10 minutes for him to try and scare the bird by hitting golf balls at it.
  10. The fact that the writer of the article didn’t source the “10 minute” time period.
  11. The fact that neither the writer nor her editor seem to know that you need to put a space between the numerals and the units when giving distances: “75yards”. Buy an AP Style Guide, I’m pretty sure that’s in there.
  12. That the 152nd-ranked PGA golfer made $471,000 last year.
  13. That the writer also failed to source the $471,000 claim…
  14. The idea that someone would (or did) yell the sentence “I didn’t think I would hit it”. Most sentences with two verbs or more remain un-yelled.
  15. The amount of melodrama that the sound engineer managed to pack into this statement to “wildlife officials”: “The bird was on his back, bleeding from his nostrils, his mouth was opening and closing slowly, and it was looking up at me as people ran over. I saw its eyes slowly close, and I was pretty sure that the bird had died.”

    I took his pulse — it was faint, but his heart was still beating. “C’mon, little bird,” I said slowly, but I knew he wouldn’t make it. I stroked his feathers and he opened his eyes again, called to me weak and pleading: “kee-aah … kee-aah”. In the distance, I heard the screeches of other hawks, the family of the fallen, scanning the treetops in hopes of finding their loved one, their brother, their friend. If only they knew. If only I could tell them. If only they could be here with him. One. Last. Time.

    A tear fell slowly from my face and onto his beak. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “For what we’ve done. Please forgive me. Forgive my kind.” The bird stared at me, furrowing its brow and licking its lips, then nodded. You, I forgive, it seemed to say. You I forgive. It nuzzled my wrist and I scratched its belly and as the warm Florida wind bent the bluegrass and the sun’s red rays stretched across the horizon, my animal friend coughed once, turned its head, then closed its eyes. One. Last. Time.

    So I killed the golfer with a chainsaw.

  16. That any part of this is considered newsworthy.

Humanity’s only hope is colonizing the asteroids. Hurry.


The DIY Kitchen Table Project is Done (or Close Enough)

Here’s proof:



It turns out that, size-wise, the table’s more of a writing table than a kitchen table. The idea that two people could eat at this little guy is almost laughable. Oh well. It’s the size that would fit in the allotted space, so I’ll deal with it.

Things I Like About It:

  • As big a pain as it was to get screws into, the red oak looks really nice; I like the grain and how heavy the thing is.
  • I wasn’t sure about the black paint on the legs, but I like the way it brings the grain out and it ties in pretty well with the rest of my bachelor-quality black furniture.
  • I’m pretty happy with how smooth it is, especially where the two 12-inch boards were glued together for the top.
  • Also happy that it doesn’t wobble — pure luck, but I’ll take it.

Next project is probably a work bench. If I get excited at that point, I’ll build an entertainment center maybe. “Entertainment” may be too strong a word — I’ll build something I can put my TV on, my center channel in, and my receiver under.



States That Do Not Love Me

According to Google Analytics, my blog has only been visited by people in 39 of the 50 US states + DC. Here’s who’s missing out:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Michigan (and I sort of *lived there* for four weeks)
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Clearly the M-states are killing me here — I’ve only drawn clicks from Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. Small states are also over-represented above, naturally (but *Michigan* — come on, that reeks of conspiracy), otherwise I’m not seeing many patterns. Red/blue seem pretty even as do west/east and north/south. I guess I’m particularly strong in the Southwest (California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and sometimes Utah).

Meh. I’m not convinced Google Analytics knows what it’s talking about anyway.


Energy Drink Challenge: Monster vs. Full Throttle Fury

The quest for the perfect daily beverage-as-drug continues. The last four days have witnessed my first encounters with both Monster and Full Throttle Fury. Next week, Cocaine! (Actually, I think they got forced to change their name. Oh well.)

pic_monster.jpgMonster: Tastes like someone melted every flavor of Jolly Rancher ever conceived and then mixed it with an equal part off-brand cough syrup. It tastes sweet yet awful. It also was the harbinger of my worst energy day since the start of the experimentation — I was dead on my feet (or in my chair, I guess) at 11:30. (However, it should be noted that energy swung back up in the warm glow of a lunch at the Thai place off Muirlands.) Also, I’m not sure whether the Monster may be to blame for my only getting 5.5 hours of sleep Friday night — although in fairness, this lack of sleep didn’t seem to have a particularly damaging effect on Saturday’s activities or energy level. (OTOH, it might have had one had I spent all day Saturday going to meetings and answering emails rather than honing my furniture-making skills.) Finally, Monster has the plus/minus of including the word “taurine” prominently on the top part of the can, which, if glanced at too quickly, leads you to believe that the drink contains, rather, “urine”. And the flavor doesn’t do much to dispel that thought.

pic_fullthrottle.jpgFull Throttle Fury: The taste is not awful — it’s like a very sweet orange soda with chemicals in it, which makes it probably the best-tasting so far. As for the effects, the Full Throttle Fury has been consumed on the weekend, so it’s difficult to compare apples to apples here. There was a slight energy lull midday yesterday, but it’s difficult to know whether that can be attributed to the drink’s potency or to the aforementioned short sleep night on Friday (or to a cumulative effect of multiple consecutive days of self-dosing). But between the Full Throttle and Friday, I was actually asleep by 12:30 last night — sans melatonin. So, yeah, I’m totally screwing up the scientific nature of this study. Sorry.

So, while sample sizes aren’t large enough to be truly deemed significant (heck, this isn’t a decision about *war* or anything), here’s my rank order thusfar:

  1. Rockstar Juice — best energy, tastes okay, lists quantities of active ingredients.
  2. Full Throttle Fury
  3. Monster



(Yes, another title with a colon in it. I’ve gotten over worrying about it. For now.)

US War Deaths per Day by Conflict (War, Battle) and How Iraq Compares

These should be in order chronologically and it’s admittedly a little weighted toward the Pacific Theater of World War II. In case you don’t want to read to the bottom, Iraq: 3,973 deaths in 1,806 days, 2.2 deaths/day.

Event US Deaths Duration Deaths/Day
Lexington & Concord (Revolution) 50 1 day 50.0
Estimated death count (US only).
Battle of Saratoga (Revolution) 800 2 days 400.0
Estimated death count (US only, obviously).
Battle of New Orleans (1812) 37 2 days 18.5
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate).
Mexican-American War 1,733 730 days 2.4
Wikipedia doesn’t have such a good read on this one. Deaths include only killed-in-action combattants on the US side.
Bull Run/Manassas I (Civil) 847 1 day 847.0
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate).
Battle of Shiloh (Civil) 3,482 2 days 1,741.0
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate).
Bull Run/Manassas II (Civil) 3,000 3 days 1,000.0
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate). Death total is estimated.
Antietam/Sharpsburg (Civil) 3,654 1 days 3,654.0
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate).
Battle of Gettysburg (Civil) 7,863 3 days 2,621.0
Includes deaths on both sides (Union and Confederate).
San Juan Hill (Span-Am) 124 1 day 124.0
Estimated death count (US only, obviously).
Battle of Belleau Wood (WW1) 1,811 26 days 69.7
One of the most important battles in US Marine Corps lore, spawned the (reputed) quotes of “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!” and “Come on, you sons of bitches, you want to live forever?”. It’s also cited as the source of the nickname “devil dogs” often applied to US Marines (as German soldiers purportedly began to refer to the marines as Teufelhunde).
Battle of Midway (WW2) 307 4 days 76.8
Includes only US deaths.
Battle of Guadalcanal (WW2) 7,099 187 days 38.0
Includes all Allied deaths and nearly all of those were US. The majority of deaths were inflicted on naval personnel (4,911) — the US didn’t have the most universally brilliant admirals at the onset of WW2.
Battle of Tarawa (WW2) 990 4 days 247.5
Back when people had still heard of “Tarawa”, it was known as “Bloody Tarawa”. There was an Academy Award-winning short made about it, With the Marines at Tarawa.
Invasion of Normandy (WW2) 1,465 40 days 36.6
(Commonly referred to as “D-Day”, despite the fact that D-Day is a generic term. Oh well.) Deaths for all Allied combatants was around 2,700 (includes British and Canadians).As the Normandy Invasion wasn’t exactly a discreet action, I’m estimating the end to have been, as Wikipedia suggests, “mid-July” (I used July 15, 1944).
Battle of Saipan (WW2) 2,949 25 days 118.0
Includes only US killed-in-action (not missing).
Battle of Peleliu (WW2) 2,336 72 days 86.5
Note to military planners: don’t give an invasion a name like “Operation Stalemate” again.
Battle of the Bulge (WW2) 19,276 41 days 470.1
Includes only US deaths.
Battle of Iwo Jima (WW2) 6,821 35 days 194.9
Most iconic battle of the Pacific; but it was neither the most “intense” in terms of death rate (Tarawa), nor in terms of number of deaths (Okinawa). Still, 1.7x the number of deaths in Iraq in less than 1/50th the time.
Battle of Okinawa (WW2) 12,513 98 days 127.7
Deaths figure is actually “dead or missing” and includes all Allied combatants (although there were few non-American combatants involved among Allied forces), but no civilians.
Korean War 36,516 1,128 days 32.4
Includes US combatants killed-in-action only. Do people even remember that there *was* a Korean war?
Vietnam War 58,209 3,353 days 17.4
Includes only US killed-in-action (not missing).
Gulf War I 358 210 days 1.7
Deaths include only killed-in-action and are for all allied combatants.
Iraq War & Occupation 3,973 1,806 days 2.2
Duration and deaths are as of March 1, 2008 and include only US military deaths. “Start Date” for Iraq war considered to be March 20, 2003. If this is the current generation’s Vietnam, then the current generation is getting off very, very easily.

Also worth considering is that the US was a much smaller country (population-wise) in these earlier conflicts. The US population in 1940 was 132 million (less than half of today’s estimated population of 303 million). The US population in 1860 (just prior to the Civil War) was only 31 million.

If you need a finer point put on this: the number of American troops killed in our (almost) five-year adventure in Iraq is about the same as the number of American troops who died in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) IN ONE DAY. Given that today’s US population is just over 9x that of the 1860 population, the current Iraq conflict has about 1/15,000th the relative death intensity of the Battle of Antietam (= 1 / ((3654.0 deaths/day / 2.2 deaths/day ) * (303.1 million population / 33.4 million population)) = 1/15,072 ). Or, other way around, the Battle of Antietam was relatively 15,000 times as bad as the current Iraq war (in terms of death rate and impact on the relative population).

If we wanted to go deeper, I could figure out what the death rate for civilians between 18 and 25 has been during the years of the Iraq war and discount the rate accordingly — but I’d also have to do that for the other battles and wars and I’ve spent enough of my Saturday on this already.

My point: I think the media should be required to report all of the above any time they report the number of deaths in the Iraq War+Occupation to date. Even better, news consumers should DEMAND this (not that they ever would). But perspective should matter. The rational reason Iraq is a crappy situation has more to do with how we’re destroying our own economy for the sake of making everyone in the world hate us than it does with the ferocity of the fighting and dying. As war deaths go, Iraq’s been relatively gentle. Our country should be making its foreign policy decisions based on clear objectives, rational analysis, and items of statistical significance, not on the media’s unwillingness to disseminate reason.



(Virtually all figures are from Wikipedia and are sourced there.)

Experimenting with Drugs: How Alternating Doses of Energy Drink and Melatonin Have Kept Me Alive Another Two Days

One big upside to having a widescreen laptop is that you can do ridiculously long blog post titles without getting to the end of the input form. Just FYI.

The last couple days I’ve been dosing myself with Energy Drink in the morning (8 oz./morning, Rockstar Juice variety) and then loading up with melatonin to get myself to sleep at night. Two days in and I’m not yet seeing the downside — although, if memory serves, I should probably be watching out for the inevitable onset of Red Bull breath. I’ve been wide awake the last couple of days (seriously — *me*, *awake*!) and slept fine enough at night — although I’m still not sure if the dream-appearance of my shadow aspect should be considered a positive or a negative. Meh. If it’s feeling under-served, it’s gotta be positive that it got its licks in, right?

Gonna try some different brands for the next couple of days. Loaded up with Full Throttle, VitaminWater Energy, and some other brand I forget. I can’t tell if the stuff tastes as off as it seems to — it’s not Tahitian Noni bad, but it’s in that direction — or if I just shouldn’t drink it right after brushing my teeth.



(And if I die tomorrow of respiratory failure, I hearby bequeath my military stuff to my newphews and my work shirts to the DLF. Heck, if I die any time in the next *seven* days, that probably still holds.)