It was 47 years ago tonight that Apollo 13, having lifted off from their launch pad at Cape Kennedy three days earlier, suffered an explosion en route to the moon. It nearly cost the astronauts their lives.

There have been a lot of things written, and even a decent movie made about the mission. But nothing really compared to actually watching unfold live. Unless you were part of NASA trying to get the astronauts back. Or were one of the astronauts.

I was not quite a teenager, and I remember being glued to the TV as much as I could. I watched the liftoff that Saturday, but wasn’t able to see much during the week, what with school and the TV networks not that interested in “routine” moon missions.

The routine turned into anything but when the explosion happened.

[The YouTube]

Yes, it’s a long video. That’s why I waited until suppertime to post this. Enjoy.

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Check your doors when you leave

Got an unusual text from my sister — the Mean One — the other night.

Mean Sister (8:54 PM):
Are you in town?

Me (8:54 PM):

Mean Sister (8:55 PM):
Can you come to my house with your gun. I just got back in town, and my front door is open.

Me (8:55 PM):
On the way

Mean Sister (8:55 PM):
Thank you.

That’s not a very common request from her … or from anybody, actually. At least, it’s not a request I get very often.

I threw some clothes on, grabbed the gun, got my sister on the phone, and rushed that way.

A room to room search determined no one was there … or had been there. The front door was locked, but wide open. The conclusion was that she had pulled the locked door to but didn’t properly close it, and that it has blown open.

She admitted that she never checks the door when she leaves because she “always keeps the door locked.” I tried not to be too much of a jackass, but I did suggest that she change her habits. And, just in case you have … well, sloppy, to be honest … habits regarding securing your residence, rethink things.

Always check your doors when you leave. Go to every door, and make sure they’re locked. Check your windows regularly. If you ever open them, check them before you leave or before you call it a night.

When you leave out a door and you pull it to, turn the knob to ensure it’s locked. Push on the door to ensure it’s latched. And, if you have a deadbolt, use it. Sure, it’s a pain to do every time you leave. And it takes anywhere from 2 – 6 seconds. Take that extra time. Please.

The problem isn’t that my sister didn’t do these things and get me out. It’s that she wasn’t being safe. I’m hoping she changes her habits. I want her to be safe.

You be safe too, okay?

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Washington’s Birthday 2017

I’ve been posting this — or posts very much like it — for over a decade. And I’m gonna keep doing it until everyone gets it right. Because it’s important.

What’s the problem? Some people call today “Presidents’ Day.” Those people are wrong. Don’t be those people. Today isn’t Presidents Day. It’s Washington’s Birthday. At least, that’s the holiday. His real birthday is actually coming up on the 22nd, but today is the federal holiday honoring Washington’s Birthday. Check out 5 U.S. Code § 6103.

When George Washington was born, the date was February 11, 1731. You see, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was using the Julian Calendar back then. There is an issue with leap years with the Julian Calendar, so the calendar was always slowly getting more and more inaccurate. Also, in England and the colonies, New Year’s Day was on March 25. Go figure.

Anyway, in 1750, the U.K. changed to the Gregorian Calendar and fixed things. New Year’s Day was now in January. The calendar dates were adjusted 11 days, which meant that, retroactively, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But that was only the first time people screwed around with his birthday.

The federal government did try to do right by Washington in 1879 when they added a fifth national holiday. Washington’s Birthday, February 22nd, was added to the list of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Other holidays were added later, until we have the ten we have today.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, moving many of the holidays to Mondays instead of the proper or traditional day. Washington’s Birthday was one of those. And, just like the government, they made it so it would never be right. The holiday falls on the third Monday in February, which means it can be as early as the 15th, and as late as the 21st. It will never be on the 22nd, which is when it actually is.

Some states used to celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th. Around half the states have state holidays honoring both Lincoln and Washington today. And, states can do that. Still, the federal holiday is, and has always been Washington’s Birthday.

If your state celebrates more than just George Washington today, fine. Honor Lincoln and the other presidents that your state recognizes. But, there is a reason the federal holiday is simply Washington’s Birthday. Don’t forget to honor the man without whom we might very well not have this great nation.

George Washington. February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.

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On the Decommissioning of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65)

I’ve had a couple people (Jimmy and James) bring to my attention that the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) was decommissioned on February 3rd, 2017.

While I was attending Naval Nuclear Power School in 1987 (then located in Orlando, FL), I was given the opportunity to put in my request for what ship I wanted to go to when I completed my prototype training in about 7 months. Someone said the Enterprise would be going in for a refueling soon, so if you asked for it, you would get it.

I’d been watching Star Trek since I was 5. Of course I wanted the Enterprise.

So I asked for it. And I got it.

Reported aboard in October of ’87. Stepped off her for the last time in November of ’91

Living in a floating iron box is mostly a series of bad smells and lifestyle inconveniences. I’m an honest man, so I’ll say that any pleasant memories I had of the experience are probably corrupted by time and nostalgia.


I can never forget the color of the Pacific Ocean when it’s 1000 miles to the nearest land, not counting the muddy bottom that’s 3 miles below your feet.

It’s an inky indigo color. Nearly black, but unquestionably a shade of blue. I wish I could show it to you, but film (digital or analog) can never capture it. Never do it justice.

That color seeps into your soul. You can’t unsee it. It’s the reason some men chose to spend their lives sailing on wooden ships.

It haunts you forever, and sometimes it calls to you in whispers.

I can’t go back again. The military is a young man’s calling. But I’ll always be grateful to the Enterprise for taking the naive Wisconsin boy I was and turning him into the man of discipline and honor I am today.

She will be missed.

And bless CVN-80 for carrying on her good name.

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I got better

After a bout with … well, whatever it was … I’m much better now. Actually, I’ve been better for a bit. Only, it was one of those things where I wasn’t sure if I’d suddenly relapse or otherwise need to see the inside of a hospital again. But, I’m pretty sure I’m better. I even have the word from a doctor that I’m doing better.

Briefly, I was hospitalized … twice, or maybe three times … with the same symptoms but for apparently different reasons.

First time, I passed out at work on a Friday, possibly from food poisoning. The following Monday, a visit to the doctor turned into a visit to the hospital, and a stay for a few days because of an apparent intestinal blockage. After a few days out, and a quick return to a normal diet, I went back in on Christmas Day with the same symptoms, but with no blockage found.

So far, there has been no definite reason found for all this, which means it could be a combination of things, or a thing still not determined. I’m going with a combination: food poisoning, followed by a temporary blockage exacerbated by a hernia, followed by my body not ready to process regular food.

I’ve continued my soft diet — mostly stuff that you can either either with a spoon or with no utensils — and slowly adding items from my normal diet. So far, so good.

Now, all that explanation accomplished one thing: it gave me time to think about what it is I really want to say. I want to say “thank you” to all that expressed concerns and offered prayers, kind words and thoughts, and wished me well.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

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How I spent my Christmas vacation

In the hospital

I do hope your Christmas and holiday time were joyful and a blessing. I know mine was, despite a couple of things: two hospital stays.

This post isn’t to ask for any sympathy or anything, but to explain where I’ve been. For those that noticed I’ve not been online much.

On the 15th, I had supper at Atlanta Bread Company in Columbus. I got sick. How sick? The store is now closed. Really. Apparently many Atlanta Bread Company stores have been closing during 2016, if my Google search is an indication.

Anyway, I got sick at work the next day, passed out, and they called EMS to take me to the hospital in Columbus. They released me that night. Unable to eat the entire weekend, I went to the doctor on Monday, and he sent me back to the hospital with specific instructions. They said I had an intestinal blockage. Stayed there for a few days, then was released after it was cleared. After spending Christmas eve with many of the grandchildren, on Christmas morning, I drove to southeast Georgia to spend time with the other grandchildren. And went back into the hospital that night.

After a few days, I was released and have appointments with my doctor and a surgeon this week. We’ll see how it goes.

So, despite spending many days in the hospital over the last half of December, I got to see all the grandchildren.

It was a good Christmas holiday.

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Oxford U Uses “Ze” in Show of Tolerance

The new official symbol for either gender neutrality or women on windy days.

The new official symbol for either gender neutrality or women on windy days.

(OXFORD) Oxford University is encouraging students to use the gender-neutral pronoun “ze” instead of “she” and “he”.

The students’ union wrote in a leaflet that the move was intended to reduce the risk of transgender students being offended.

Peter Tatchell, an LGBT rights campaigner, said: “It is a positive thing to not always emphasize gender divisions and barriers. This issue isn’t about being politically correct or censoring anyone. It’s about acknowledging the fact of changing gender identities and respecting people’s right to not define themselves as male or female. It is good to have gender-neutral pronouns for those who want them but it shouldn’t be compulsory. Giving people the ‘ze’ option is a thoughtful, considerate move.”

Jordan Peterson, a professor in Canada, uploaded a video on YouTube discussing his refusal to use gender neural pronouns.

He said he was heckled and his office door was glued shut.

FULL DISCLOSURE: this is actually fake Newsish Fakery – all I did was directly quote select portions of the original article

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President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

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Link of the Day: True Story – Reusable Grocery Bags Are a Menace to the Environment

[High Praise! to Moonbattery]

Reusable Grocery Bags Are a Menace to the Environment

I might have to go out, buy a bunch, and start using them.

[Think you have a link that’s IMAO-worthy? Send it to harvolson@gmail.com. If I use your link, you will receive High Praise! (assuming you remember to put your name in the email)]

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In Case You Need Something to Get Angry About

(Submitted by Granny Boo [High Praise!])

Oleg Atbashian, of The People’s Cube, was arrested for putting up anti-terrorism posters on campus at George Mason University.

Whole story at American Thinker.

Now the hard part.

I like People’s Cube, but I read the article closely and Oleg wasn’t arrested for protesting terrorism, he was arrested for gluing posters, without permission, to property he didn’t own.

I’m sympathetic to his opinions (I’ve mocked Hamas plenty myself), but I’m not sympathetic to vandalism. His argument that he was willing to remove the posters himself doesn’t absolve him of the fact that he didn’t have a right to hang them in the first place.

He could have glued them to his own front door, his car, or even his forehead, and been perfectly right. He made a different choice. One with consequences.

I wish him better luck (and better choices) next time.

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Understanding the Electoral College

A lot of people don’t understand the Electoral College. It’s their own fault. I mean, it’s been around since 1789, so there’s no reason to not know about it. But, a lot of people still don’t.

Briefly, it’s the group of people that actually elect the President of the United States. And, it’s been that way since the Constitution was first ratified.

The thing that should really be understood is the “why.” Why in the world would we have such a system. Well, you need to learn a little history.

When the Founding Fathers decided to set up a new government, there was a great disagreement about how to do it. They finally decided there would be three branches of the government: a Legislative Branch to make the laws, an Executive Branch to carry out the laws, and a a Judicial Branch to interpret questions regarding the laws. Each branch of the government would be populated by different people, all in different ways.

Before we get to the Executive Branch, let’s quickly cover the Legislative Branch.

Legislative Branch

The branch that makes the laws were to be representatives of the people. But there was great disagreement over how to select the representatives and how to apportion them.

The delegation from Virginia, the most populous state at the time, wanted each state to get representatives in proportion to their population. The more populous states would get more representatives. The problem with that, though, is that four of the 13 states would be able to push through anything despite objections from the other nine states. (Actually, the four largest states were one shy of a majority, so they would need to convince one, but only one, representative of the other states to go along.) The smaller states didn’t like that.

The delegation from New Jersey, one of the smaller states, wanted each state to have an equal number of representatives. That meant the concerns of New Jersey or Rhode Island carried as much weight as Massachusetts or Virginia. The problem with that was the seven smallest states, which had only one third of the population, could push through legislation that two-thirds of Americans didn’t want. The larger states didn’t like that.

So, the solution was to implement both plans. The Legislative Branch would consist of two bodies, representing both the people and the states.

A House of Representatives would be have members in proportion to population. It would be the representatives of the people, and chosen by the people every two years.

A Senate would provide equal representation of the states. Each state had two Senators, and they would serve six year terms. Every two years, one third of the Senate would be chosen. Since the Senate were representatives of the states, the Senators were chosen by the legislatures of the states. (More about that here.)

The Executive Branch

Of the three branches, one part of Legislative Branch was the one selected by the people to represent the people. But the Executive Branch? How to deal with that?

It was decided that each state would be granted Electors to choose the President, equal to the combined number of Representatives and Senators. Each state would determine how to select the Electors. Some were chosen by the state legislature, and some were selected by the people. In the first election (1789) of the ten states that participated, half the states voted on the Electors, and half were appointed by the state legislatures. In the second election (1792), of the 15 states, ten selected Electors by the legislature and five by votes of citizens.

One other thing. Originally, the Electors cast two votes. Whoever got the most was President and whoever came in second was Vice-President.

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court was then filled by the other two branches of the government. The President appointed judges to the Court, but the Senate had to approve the appointments. Justices served for life.

But, The People…

There are complaints by some, or by many, about how unfair it is that they don’t get to elect the President. Well, that’s the whole point. The Founding Fathers gave me, you, and all citizens our voice in government through the House of Representatives. They gave the states (us collectively by state) a voice in the Senate. They gave the states the ability to choose those that would choose the President.

That’s the genius of the system we have in place. The Electoral College is a combination of the voice of the people and the voice of the states.

If you think you should have the say directly, keep in mind that George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the Founding Fathers said otherwise. Take this any way you want: I trust them more than I trust you. Or me.

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I’ve not written anything about the passing of Lactose the Intolerant, mostly because I don’t know what to say. I feel helpless.

Please pardon the breaking of character, but I never met Mr. Siddoway. And I’ve not had direct one-on-one communications with him. There have been email threads that included others, particularly Harvey, but he and I never communicated on a personal level. Yet, I feel as if I knew him, at least a little.

Part of that comes from the few communications here at IMAO, and part comes from reading his writings at Nuking Politics. Still, in those brief and quite indirect encounters, I thought, “Gosh, I’d like to meet this guy. He seems like a quality person.”

From his obituary, I think that’s borne out.

None of what I’ve written has alleviated that feeling of helplessness. But should it? It’s not about me and what I’m feeling. It’s about Mr. Jonathon David Siddoway and the family he leaves behind. This online family at IMAO isn’t feeling the grief his actual biological family or his church family is experiencing. They are the ones directly affected by his loss, and have a huge hole that will never be filled. But they have memories that will never be lost.

[If you have comments, please offer them on Harvey’s post.]

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A note of thanks

Everything’s finally back to what passes for normal at la casa de Basil. The power was finally restored this afternoon, and Comcast service resumed tonight. The tree is out of the tree, thanks to a neighbor and some hired help.

Oh, and thanks to you.

The comments you left regarding my tree in a tree predicament were truly hilarious and put a smile on my face. The responses to Harvey’s “Where’s Basil Really Gone” Straight Line question were also enjoyable to read.

Things are all better now, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you. Thank you all for the encouragement, the kind thoughts, and the many laughs. I do so appreciate you each and every one. Thank you.

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I really need to get my tree out of the neighbor’s tree

Hurricane Matthew came by for a visit this weekend. Friday, actually. I was out of town anyway, and had events in Perry on Saturday and Millen on Sunday, so it was Sunday night before I got a chance to see what all Matthew had wrought.

I did know that the power went off at 8:36 Friday night, because, well, I have it tell me things like that. And here it is Monday afternoon, and the power isn’t back on yet. Georgia Power says I’ll have service by 10:00 tonight. They, as well as the local EMC, have had workers out all day and all night working on things. I have no complaints. Sure, I wish my power was one of the first back on, but I can understand them focusing on nursing homes, restaurants, grocery stores, and such. Or so it seems.

Now, we’ve had hurricanes before. When David came through in 1979, it hit closer, but it had already weakened by then (thanks, Florida). When Hugo came through in 1989, it was more powerful than David, but further away. We even managed to get in some football during that Thursday night strike.

Matthew, though, was more of a problem than either of those. At least, it seemed to put down more trees and tree parts in very inconvenient locations. Driving out of Millen, for instance, there were several traffic lights out on U.S. 25 in Statesboro. Most people knew to treat such circumstances as a four-way stop. But some didn’t. You know what you call dumbasses like that? Dumbasses.

Anyway, same was true for Claxton (the place famous for fruitcakes — the kind you have at Christmas), Glennville, Ludowici, and Jesup. Yes, those are all real places. Brunswick, where my son lives, is in pretty good shape. They have power, at least.

Me? No power. But I do have a tree in a tree. The tree that’s in the ground is actually the neighbor’s. It just hangs over into my yard. Free shade!

The tree in that tree is my tree. Well, actually, it’s part of my tree. A good chunk of it, at least. And, I need to get it out of the neighbor’s tree. The neighbor isn’t there, so the neighbor doesn’t know my tree is in their tree. I’d kinda like to keep it that way.

So, any tips on getting a tree out of a tree? I’ve tried offering it treats, but it just won’t … leave.

[Comments also welcome at BasilsBlog]

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Dream Land Part 3: Papa’s House

[Previous: Dream Land Part 1: Grandma and Papa’s House, Dream Land Part 2: Grandma’s House]

Part 3 of 3.

Grandma’s House, the Dream Land from our childhood, had sat unoccupied while Grandma lived at the guest house at my mother’s. This went on for four years, until after she celebrated her 100th birthday. Before the year was up, my uncle made the hard call that something needed to be done with Grandma’s House.

My mother, never one who wanted to be told what to do, even if what she was told was right, was unhappy with the suggestion. It wasn’t that my uncle was wrong, it was something that she had dreaded doing, and now had to do. And no one was happy about it. Not Grandma. Not my mother. Not my uncle. Not my sisters. No one.

My sister had mentioned about buying the house, but wasn’t sure she wanted to take on that expense. She already had a house that was too big for her, and that she couldn’t sell.

My mother finally decided to buy my uncle out. She gave him half of what he said he wanted to sell it for. Since the idea was they’d split it — they actually had title to the house, not Grandma — my mother simply gave him his half, and assumed full ownership of the house. She knew she’d need to dispose of it in some way, but wanted to do it on her own schedule, or at least when she was ready.

Grandma celebrated her 101st birthday worried that some stranger would end up with her little house. She understood that the current situation couldn’t continue, but she still was saddened by that prospect.

My sister decided to buy the house after all, and began doing the work to get it fully livable again. After four years sitting unoccupied, it needed a little work. Heck, it needed a lot. And, truth be told, a lot more than they realized.

During the whole remodeling process, my sister changed her mind and decided that she needed to not buy the house. My mother wasn’t happy about that, but that’s not the first time one of us made her unhappy about something. Anyway, I made a couple of phone calls, and, when I was happy with what I heard, approached my mother about buying the house. She was surprised, but welcomed my offer.

This is a good time to let you know that when my first grandchild was born in 1999, there were several suggestions made about what she, and the other soon arriving grandchildren, would call me. I wasn’t thrilled with any of the suggestions. I knew, though, that whatever the grandchildren called me would be how I was to be known for the rest of my life. If I didn’t like it, I’d change my mind and embrace it. It’s what grandfather’s do.

When one of them was able to call me a name, it came out “Papa.” I hadn’t thought about that. No one had thought about that. But I loved it. And, to this day, I’m Papa to all the grandchildren.

Now, back to the house. The whole process of buying a house was what you would expect: the unexpected popping up and such. It was much frustrating, as you can imagine, but finally, it was done. I bought the Grandma’s House, formerly Grandma and Papa’s House.

It’s a little different inside than before. Some of the same furniture is there, some arranged as always, but some arranged a little different. Just enough like it always was to make it very familiar. Just enough different to make it someone else’s house.

Grandma was thrilled last year when she found out that I bought the house. She told me she was so worried someone she didn’t know would get the little house. She celebrated her 102nd birthday last September knowing that her little house was still in the family.

Grandma died this week, and we’re burying her today. She’s gone. Her house is still around. It’s Papa’s House, now. But, in many ways, it’s still the same Dream Land we all loved as children.

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