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August 27, 2009

Dog days of Summer

Bogie and Roscoe have been enjoying the warm, dog days of Summer, tracking the morning sun across the floor. (Click on image for larger version)

Roscoe clearly has no problem getting close to Bogie; he's resting his head on Bogie's paws in this shot. (Click on image for larger version)

When it comes to the newcomer to the pack, Bogie has been a little less willing to press the flesh -- er, fur. But there had been some progress, especially this morning, perhaps a breakthrough in doggie detente. (Click on image for larger version)

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:18 PM

August 21, 2009

Military history buffs, rejoice!

If you're interested in military history, then why haven't you visited the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College web site yet? It's got links to hundreds of papers written by students over many decades, but of even greater interest are the original documents and publications -- most formerly classified -- from World War II and earlier.

From detailed operational summaries of some of the most famous battles, to the extensive interviews conducted by military intelligence types with Herman Goering, there are days -- no, weeks! -- of reading, all of which can be downloaded as PDFs, so you don't have to be online while perusing the materials.

I particulary enjoyed the field manuals, detailing the use and maintenance of all sorts of equipment, from Sherman tanks to jeeps, halftracks and armored cars. There's even a manual for the 50-ton M6 Heavy Tank, which never made it into battle, the War Department deeming the Sherman Tank "good enough," small solace to the familes of tankers killed in what the Germans ironically called "Ronsons" (after the lighter), for the Shermans' tendency to catch fire shortly after meeting a Panzer.

The Military Intelligence Division page features all sorts of assessments of the equipment and tactics of the Germans and Japanese, sometimes including detailed instructions on how to operate and maintain the enemy's kit.

I found an article by then-Captain Eisenhower (USA), published in 1920, detailing the lessons learned during World War I about the effective use of armor, and the type-written after-action summary by Major General John "Blackjack" Pershing on the Mexican Punitive Expedition he led in pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916.

This site is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in military history.

Posted by Mike Lief at 09:12 PM | Comments (1)

August 18, 2009

Most beautiful make you've never heard of: Horch

What? You've never heard of a Horch? Well, the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance top prize went to this 1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet. According to Autoblog:

August Horch had worked with Karl Benz back in the infancy of the automobile before leaving to form his own company, August Horch & Cie in 1899. Ten years later he bolted from his namesake firm to start up Audi. That didn't stop Horch, the company, from continuing to produce incredible motor vehicles.

In 1935 they introduced the 850, which featured a 5-liter straight-eight engine. The short wheelbase version was dubbed the 853 and it was a very popular car in its day because of its luxury appointments and competitive pricing. The winning 853 has coachwork by the Berlin coachbuilder, Voll & Ruhrbeck.

If you take a close look at the grill below, you'll spot the distinctive interlocking rings of the Auto Union -- Audi -- logo. From the sensuous lines of fenders that seem to go on for miles and miles, to the excessive-but-gorgeous chrome headlamp and signal marker housings that slide along those fenders, this is one seriously stunning car.

Posted by Mike Lief at 07:06 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2009


This fellow spent a few minutes resting on a bush -- or is that a shrub? -- just below the trumpet vines, before flitting over to another plant, further away from prying eyes. (Click on image for larger version)

Undeterred by his trying to pull a Garbo on me (I just want to be alone ...), I tracked the dragonfly to another resting place, where we contemplated each other for a moment from a more comfortable distance -- for him, if not me. (Click on image for larger version)

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:20 PM

The bees!

The bees seemed unusually agitated this morning, buzzing angrily about the Trumpet Vines. I took a series of photos of this particular fellow emerging from one of the blooms. In this shot he's cleaning his tongue. (Click on image for larger version)

This is a cropped version of the previous shot; you can see the structure of the tongue, with the prongs or spikes on the end. (Click on image for larger version)

The bee gives its tongue one last scrape with a front leg before getting ready to move on. (Click on image for larger version)

With a load of pollen on his back, it's clearly time for this worker bee to head back to the hive. (Click on image for larger version)

I mentioned that the bees seemed unusually agitated, constantly -- for lack of a better word -- harassing each other, whereas they normally wait their turn for a chance to load up. When I managed to get a look at them from above, I noticed that they seemed to be a different variety from the normal crowd. The body seems wider, less elongated, and the stripes seemed a paler shade of yellow. (Click on image for larger version)

Posted by Mike Lief at 11:10 PM | Comments (1)