From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 19 Dec 02 - Fleas Navidog!
Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, the northern end of the earth's axis of rotation, a point in the Arctic Ocean.
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On with the show ...
With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to return our little bus of Internet happiness to a site we visit every December: NORAD Tracks Santa at
Those of you who are fans of movies like Dr. Strangelove or War Games will remember that NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is the joint military organization responsible for aerospace warning and control of Canadian and United States airspace.
As one would expect in this time of heightened security, the soldiers at NORAD will be carefully tracking Santa as he makes his Christmas Eve journey around the world. And, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and some really special satellites, the NORAD Tracks Santa site can help you pinpoint not only Santa's location but also count how many cookies he's consumed along the way. The site also displays recently declassified photos of Santa's last trip, including fly-bys of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and (my personal favorite) the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.
This year's Santa tracking program is the 47th conducted by NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command. The tradition started when a department store invited kids to call a Santa hotline, but they accidentally gave out the number for CONAD's Operations Hotline. Fortunately, Colonel Harry Shoup was in the holiday spirit and children who called in were given an update on Santa's position.
The tradition continues today on the Web, and the NORAD Tracks Santa site is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Japanese.
On a more serious note, with over 300,000 American servicemembers -- and hundreds of thousands of coalition forces -- deployed overseas this holiday season, you may be wondering what you can do to send a little encouragement and holiday cheer to our troops. Well, wonder no longer. If you point your Web browser to
you'll find a United States Department of Defense news release telling you how to donate calling cards to, send email greetings to, or sign a virtual thank you card for US servicemembers.
The Pentagon warns, and I want to repeat here, that you should *NOT* flood the military mail system with letters, cards, and gifts. Also,
Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, the Department cannot accept items to be mailed to " Any Servicemember ." Some people have tried to avoid this prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual servicemember's address, which however well intentioned, clogs the mail and causes unneccessary delays.
If you want to contact a US servicemember, please do it through the Internet using one of the Web sites listed in the Department of Defense news release.
How can you send a holiday message to a coalition servicemember? I honestly don't know. But I promise you this: if anyone sends me the Web address of a site where you can email coalition (non-US) servicemembers, I'll make darned sure to include that address in my Christmas Eve post.
It should come as no surprise that for the past two years the White House has been closed to public tours. From what I have been told, the US Secret Service has closed the White House to everyone but school, military, and veterans groups ... and those groups can only get in if they're sponsored by a member of congress.
The extra security is understandable, but that isn't much consolation to the 125,000 people who visit the White House each December to see the Christmas decorations. That's where the Barney-cam comes in.
Barney, the Bush's black Scottish terrier, recently recorded a hounds- eye view tour of the White House Christmas decorations, and you can view the tour online at
Just click on the Barney Cam picture to launch the four and a half minute show. And if that link doesn't work (it didn't for me), you can launch the video automatically in Real Player by visiting
Enjoy -- that's it for today! Have a safe and happy holiday, and we'll talk again soon! --Patrick :)