Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today In History.......

In 1986....

The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 72 seconds into it's launch, killing all 7 members of it's crew.

Again, to challenge the unknown, to boldly go where no one has gone before, sometimes has a very high price. America has been blessed by having people who are willing to take the risk and pay that price to advance mankind's knowledge. May their brave souls find peace among the stars that they died trying to reach.

In 1596....

The English Dragon, Scourge of the Spanish Main, Navigator and Warrior, Sir Francis Drake died while at sea off the coast of Panama.

In 1915....

The modern United States Coast Guard was organized and named a military service. It's preceding organizations, the Lifesaving Service, the Revenue Cutter Service as well as the U.S. Lighthouse Service had been in service for some time before this, but it was decided that there was a need to combine the duties of lifesaving, as well as fighting the smuggling of contraband. While it is one of the smaller of our armed forces, it in no way takes a back seat to it's sister organizations. The motto of the Coast Guard is Semper Paratus or "Always Ready" The Coast Guard and it's personnel time and time again have gone in harm's way to rescue people and ships in peril on the sea. No matter what the weather or condition, the Coast Guard has always been ready to do it's duty. Brave men and women on the cruel sea.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Today in History

In 1945.... The Russian Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp. It has been estimated that over 1.5 million people (mostly Jews and others considered sub-human by the Nazis) died in this camp in the period of time of it's operation. Even today, I can not find words that I can use to describe my disgust with any person who would be able to participate in such horrors. Unfortunately this attitude and mindset still continues in various parts of the world, Africa, Asia and Europe have all had their moments of madness with "ethnic cleansing" much to the shame of of all mankind.

As Edmund Burke so well put it:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

In 1967..... Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died when fire swept through their Apollo I space capsule at Cape Canaveral Fl. The quest for space and the moon was always loaded with risk. These brave men were the first to pay with their lives the cost of challenging the unknown. Unfortunately, they would not be the last to do so.

In 1973...... The Vietnam cease-fire was signed. This was the war of my generation. A war that changed almost every thing America was and would ever be. I make no statement about the war, whether it was just or not, but to this day, I honor the warriors who went to that far away land and fought and died because their country called.

To our everlasting shame, we blamed the men (and women) who served and fought, not the war, for all the evils that have occurred since that time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Todays Birthday of Note..............

O.K. this one is VERY special but since there is a bit of confusion as to the true date of his birth, I have decided to celebrate from today until the 23rd.-grin-

John Moses Browning, one of the most prolific firearms designers in history. A partial list of his accomplishments in firearms design would include:


* M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun
* Colt Model 1897
* FN Browning M1899/M1900
* Colt Model 1900
* Colt Model 1902
* Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer (.38 ACP)
* Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless (.32 ACP)
* Colt Model 1905, the first .45 ACP
* Remington Model 8 (1906), a long recoil semi-automatic rifle
* Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket (.25 ACP)
* Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless (.380 ACP)
* FN Model 1910
* U.S. Model 1911 pistol
* Winchester Model 1885 falling block single shot rifle
* Winchester Model 1886 lever-action repeating rifle
* Winchester Model 1887 lever-action repeating shotgun
* Winchester Model 1890 slide-action repeating rifle (.22)
* Winchester Model 1892 lever-action repeating rifle
* Winchester Model 1894 lever-action repeating rifle
* Winchester Model 1895 lever-action repeating rifle
* Winchester Model 1897 pump-action repeating shotgun
* Browning Auto-5 long recoil semi-automatic shotgun
* U.S. Model 1917 water-cooled machine gun
* Model 1919 air-cooled machine gun
* Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) of 1917
* Browning M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun of 1921
* Remington Model 24 semi-auto rifle (.22) Also produced by Browning Firearms and several others
* The Browning Hi-Power, the last pistol that John Browning developed
* The Browning Superposed over/under shotgun was designed by John Browning in 1922 and entered production in 1931


In addition, the cartridges he developed are still some of the most popular in the world. They include:

* .25 ACP
* .32 ACP
* .38 ACP
* 9mm Browning Long
* .380 ACP
* .45 ACP
* .50 BMG

Heck of a lot of work in just one man's life.........

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief..........

Having the amazing command of the obvious that I am known for, I guess I should note the historic occasion that occurred today.

I don't think that the important thing is that a black man was sworn in as our president. But rather, I once again marvel that there has been a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another. Compared to the last party in office the current administration is almost 180% in opposition to what I believe in. However, unlike most of the rest of the world, we do not take our opposition or dislike and turn it into unauthorized target practice at the presidential palace. The system once again works, as it has for over 200 years.

It was said that when George Washington resigned his command at the end of the American Revolution, that King George of England could not believe that any person would willingly give up that kind of power. By that act, Washington set the standard and pattern for a quiet and safe transference of power that we enjoy to this day.

Do I think that America made the right choice? No. Do I think that Mr. Obama will do a good job as President? No. Will I work against him and his party 4 years from now in the next election? Damn right. Will I support him as my president? Damn right, as a American it is my duty to do so. Will I bitch if I think he is wrong, or does something I don't agree with? Yep, again, it is my duty to do so as a American.

America is strong, tough and resilient. It will survive no matter what man or woman is in the White House. Because America is more than just one man or woman. It is the sum of ALL the people.

Winter Wonderland?

O.K. folks, I live in North Carolina, NOT North Dakota. It's snowing, we have 3" on the ground and more is falling.

It's pretty, but now that I've seen it, it's time to go back where it came from.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Member of the Clan.......

Clan W. has a new member, a 8 week old Schnauzer pup. He has better blood lines than me, is bright eyed and semi-bushy tailed, smart as a whip and will no doubt bring a bit of life and excitement to this quiet old house. However, the cats hate him with a passion, since the pecking order is changed.

I named him Rudolph the Gallant Hun, but we will call him Rudi for short.

Now for the art and mystery of house training......

Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain....................

I have been reading a bit on the Napoleonic wars lately, particularly the battles that were fought in Spain. I discovered that a anniversary of sorts had just occurred that I would like to share with you.

On January 16th 1809, General Sir John Moore died of wounds that he received at the battle of Corunna. Most people have never heard of Sir John, nor what he accomplished in his lifetime, but without him, the history of Europe may have been quite a bit different than what we are use to today.

To begin with, Sir John was one of those rare leaders of men that only happen once in a great while. He inspired love and affection from the men under his command because of his concern for their welfare. He also shared in the hardships of his soldiers. His men trusted him. Moore turned this ability to lead men and have them trust him into a valuable tool to use in the education of his soldiers and was considered the father of the British light infantry because of his training programs and organizational plans. In a time of brutal discipline in the British Army, Sir John was widely know as a humane commander.

Sir John's moment came in November of 1808 when he took command of British forces in Spain. The British had been sent to support the Spanish and Portuguese armies in their fight against the French. The sudden collapse of the Spanish armies, left the British forces in a dangerous position. Sir John organized a fighting retreat to the north of Spain in the dead of winter, with next to no supplies, which almost destroyed his army. However his leadership skills were such that he was able to call upon the last reserves of his soldiers and accomplish the march and also the fortification of the town of Corruna from which the British Army could be evacuated by sea. The French Army attacked Corruna and were repulsed. In this battle, Sir John was struck by a French cannon ball and was "struck in his left breast and shoulder by a cannon shot, which broke his ribs, his arm, lacerated his shoulder and the whole of his left side and lungs" In the several hours it took him to die, Sir John was clear headed and composed. He told a friend of his "You know I always wished to die this way" His last words were "I hope the people of England will be satisfied! I hope my country will do me justice!" Moore died knowing that he had won the battle and that his army would survive to fight again.

This battle could be considered the Dunkirk of the war in Spain. With the withdrawal of the force that was commanded by Sir John, seasoned troops would be available for Wellington to command when he came back to Spain. This was very much like the British evacuation of Dunkirk in WW II. The seeds of the French defeat in Spain were watered with the blood of Sir John and the soldiers who died and suffered under his command.

Sir John was buried by his soldiers that loved him so well, in the ramparts of the city. He was wrapped in his cloak that had kept him warm in the terrible retreat to Corruna. He was buried at night so as not to alert the French that he had been killed. After the British evacuated Corruna and the French took possession of the town, the commander of the French forces Marshal Soult had a monument placed over Moore's grave as a mark of respect for a brave, fallen foe.

A poem was written later to commemorate Sir John's death.

The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna

NOT a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light
And the lanthorn dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed
And smooth'd down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that 's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him--
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But we left him alone with his glory.

Charles Wolfe

Two More Birthdays of Note

In 1943, Ms. Janis Joplin


In 1946, Ms. Dolly Parton

Ladies of different styles, backgrounds and histories, but both could reach into you and sooth your soul with their music and singing abilities.

Missed this one............

On the 18th of January in the year 1778 Captain James Cook, one of the greatest explorer of the 18th Century made landfall on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. As Cook was the first European to land on these islands he named them the Sandwich Islands after one of his patrons, The Earl of Sandwich. Of course, the good earl was famous for a item that was named after him other than the islands, but that is a story for another day.

Today's Birthday Of Note

200 years ago, Edgar Allen Poe.............

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Just drifting along......

I know I have been rather slack in my blogging as well as my personal life. Sorry 'bout that. Not much worth writing about lately. A few weeks back, I went down to South Carolina to attend a retirement party for a friend Eric Williams, who pulled the pin and retired from the National Park Service after 32 years service. He was the Chief Ranger/Historian at 96 Historic Site and he will be missed.

I am set up to go under the knife once again this coming Friday for more repair to my knee. This will make two surgeries for each knee. I swear that the doc has seen me naked more than my good wife lately. I am working up a punch card with the hopes that I can at least get one surgery free in the future, much like the coffee club at the local stop and rob.

I have been doing some small knotwork, I have a few sailor's needle cases made up and I hope finished before the end of the week.

So that's my story, and I am sticking to it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

For The Glory Of Rome.......

On this date in 49 BC Gaius Julius Caesar, leading the 13th Legion crossed the river Rubicon and began a civil war which ended with his victory and his being declared dictator of the Roman Republic.

Caesar, who had been involved in political infighting with the senate as well as Pompey was faced with the choice of laying down the command of his legions and coming to Rome to stand trial for various charges that had been made by politics enemies in the senate, or be declared a enemy of the people of Rome.

Caesar who had been campaigning in Gaul refused to surrender to the senate and marched on Rome. When he reached the Rubicon, which was the border of the republic, he hesitated. One of Rome's most sacred laws was that no general would ever march on Rome at the head of his legions. It is said that Caesar, looking back at his legion commented "iacta alea est" or "The die is cast" and crossed. When Caesar did this with his legion he committed both himself and his troops to conquer or die. After three years of civil war, Caesar was made dictator so his gamble paid off.

To this day, the term, "To cross the Rubicon" means to cross a point of no return.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Birthdays Of Note

Now tell me that there isn't some kind of cosmic alignment of the stars to have these three folks birthdays fall on the same day, January 9th............

In 1913 Richard M. Nixon

In 1941 Joan Baez

In 1944 Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin

Now can't you just imagine being the host of a birthday party thrown for these three folks? -grin-

Thursday, January 8, 2009

But Jackson, He Was Wide Awake, And Was Not Scared Of Trifles; For Well He Knew What Aim We take With Our Kentucky Rifles;

On this date in 1815 outside of the city of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, commanding a mixed group of U.S. Army regulars and Artillery, Tennessee and Kentucky militia, Choctaw Indians, Free men of color, Creoles and almost anyone else who could carry a firearm stood behind fixed fortifications made of cotton bales, dirt and anything else that could stop a bullet and proceeded to cut to pieces a British Army sent to take the city. The casualties from this battle tell the tale better that anything else,

American Forces
Killed 13
Wounded 58
Captured 30
Total 101

British Forces
Killed 385
Wounded 1,186
Captured 484
Total 2,055

I think the thing that stands out most about this battle is the generalship of Jackson. Not that his tactics were superior to the British. (Most of the British Officers had fought under Wellington in Spain and knew how to fight) But rather Jackson WILLED himself not to lose and this was transmitted to the men under his command.

A study of Jackson's life leads me to believe that he had a almost pathological hatred for the British. He had been slashed in the face with a saber by a officer at the age of 11 while being held as a prisoner of war by the British in the Revolutionary War. His brother and mother died as a result of a disease picked up in a British prison camp. So pretty much everything he knew and loved had been taken away by the British. Jackson was NOT a forgive and forget kind o' guy and throughout his life would revenge himself on anyone that he thought had done him harm, injury or had insulted him. I think he sorta felt like he owed the British a little payback.
Well, he got it at New Orleans.

New Orleans was a strange battle in that it was fought AFTER the war was over. A peace treaty ending the war was signed in Ghent, Belgium on December 24th 1814 but the news didn't reach New Orleans until February. While it wasn't a big battle it's effects were all out of proportion to it's size. The effect on the American people was electric. The War of 1812 was pretty much a draw. The news of New Orleans changed that perception and gave the average American the feeling that they had won the war that some in America called the second American Revolution. The troops under Jackson's command because of the interesting mixture of backwoodsmen, Indians, Army regulars, Sailors, and even Pirates caught the imagination of the public and ushered in the "age of the common man".

Jackson of course became a national hero, who's popularity soon was to sweep him into the White House. But that's a story for another day.........

Birthdays Of Note..........

Today's birthdays of note are of two southern icons.......

In 1821 James Longsteet was born. He is considered by many the most effective corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia after the death of "Stonewall" Jackson. Called "ol' Pete" by his friends and "my old warhorse" by Lee, was the commander who gave the order to advance to the confederate troops involved in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.

After the war Longstreet committed two unpardonable sins. (At least to his fellow southerners) He joined the Republican party (The party of Lincoln) and he criticized Lee's generalship. For this blasphemy, he was attacked by the press and his fellow generals, even to the point of being blamed for the loss at Gettysburg.

Longstreet however continued on with his life and ended up serving in several government post as well as the US minister to Turkey. Longstreet lived until 1904, outlasting most of his critics and enemies.

In 1935 Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. I suspect that everyone knows who Elvis was, what he did,and the various parts of his life to include his death at a much too early age. I am not ashamed to say I like some of Elvis's music (Early stuff mostly) My fascination with Elvis is the hold he has on southern culture, even today. I wonder what it is that draws so many people to him? His talent? The poor boy who makes good story of his life? His obvious burn out at the end and the train wreck of his personal life? Perhaps a little mixture of everything.

To me, Elvis was like a meteor in a dark sky. his coming was unexpected and to a degree shocking, but nothing was ever quite the same afterward. As John Lennon said,
Before Elvis, there was nothing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby, I'm Back.......

Ya miss me? -grin-

First of all, a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you out there in Blog land. I spent the holidays at the Randall's (my adopted family) in the northern neck of Virginia and just didn't bother to do much of anything computer wise.

Christmas has never been a big holiday for me. My family is a bit scattered and dysfunctional so I never spent a Christmas without watching at least a small fistfight breaking out at the dinner table. (One of the best ones I ever saw was between two uncles debating as to whether or not Davy Crockett had Indian blood in him. It was settled in the back yard. And no, I don't remember who won -grin-) When I got older and married the good wife, we were never able to have kids so I would always end up working on Christmas eve and Christmas so the people on my squad with kids could spend the days off with their little ones. I did like to cook so I would do a holiday meal for my troops as well as the staff of the ED and other officers in neighboring police departments.

This year the good wife took her sister and mother on a cruise around New Zealand and Australia thus leaving me to my own devices. (I was offered a chance to go with them, but the three of them together would have driven me right out of my mind. Good wife's mother and sister are what you might call "high maintenance" -grin-) The Randall clan asked if I would like to spend some time with them, so on Christmas day morning, up the road I went. Of course, the very best part of the trip is Miss Susan, who sometimes seems to be a thirty year old woman in a three year old body. Damn that kid is smart. In comparison I would hate to think what I was like at three. Either still hanging from tree branches or painting things on cave walls.

I forgot how much fun Christmas can be if you look at it through the eyes of a three year old. I had a absolute ball. I guess over the years I got a bit jaded about the holiday but spending the time I did with these good folks and that little cutie made me feel a lot better as well as more positive about the whole season. It is amazing what changes the littlest things can bring to your mindset when you least expect them.

Another thing that I would like to mention is that the 25th was the one year anniversary of Doin' The Time Warp. I first started this blog as a chance to practice my writing skills as well as having a chance to spout off about things that interested me. It has taken a life of it's own and I have had a really good time with it. I have learned a heck of a lot from other bloggers, made some friends, a few enemies, and got to spout off. What more could I ask for? -grin-

I would like to thank all those who take the time to read these words. I hope that I have not made people think that I felt a overwhelming need to blow my own horn for my self gratification. I also hope that I have shared a few odds and ends with folks to make them think a bit and maybe helped them learn something they didn't know. That's the closet teacher in me. But most importantly, I hope that once in a while I caused you to smile, even if you really didn't want to. I learned a LOOONG time ago not to take either life or myself too seriously and I try to share that belief with everyone I meet. Life is much too short to pass through without smiles and laughter.

So dear readers and friends, once again, thank you for your most kind attention and I hope you will stick with me in 2009. It should be a very interesting year.