Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Mini-Rant

The Zaporozhye Cossacks Replying to the Sultan - Il'ya Yefimovich Repin
There are many views of the Cossacks, some view them as free men, roaming the steppes, answerable to no one but their chosen leaders. Others view them as tools of the oppressor (the Czars used them for suppressing revolts from time to time). The French who invaded Russia some 206 years ago saw the Cossacks as cowardly soldiers, unwilling to stand against them in a "fair" fight. Which just tells me that Cossacks were not idiots. Who wants a fair fight? Ever?

There is much going on in the world which makes me livid. I cannot watch the mainstream media as they lie to us all of the time. I find no truth in their words. That applies to both "sides" of things.

There is no civility left, each side wishes to shout down the other, each side holds to the misbegotten concept that only they know the real "truth." Both sides are pushing an agenda, both sides spew propaganda. Both sides appeal mostly to people unwilling to think for themselves. (Perhaps they are incapable of doing so. Who knows?)

I say screw them all, all I wish is to walk free, to worship (or not) as I see fit, to speak the things I wish to speak (and if you don't want to listen, that's cool, but I probably will stop talking to you), and listen to the voices of my children and grandchildren. Oh yeah, and music, the world needs more music. Something Skip commented about yesterday, we need more music  in the Blogoverse. I do write musical posts from time to time, yesterday was one such post, and I shall do so again. A number of the folks I follow do music from time to time.

Music is good.

What's up with the painting? It concerns a possibly apocryphal incident in history where an Ottoman sultan sent a letter to the Zaporozhye Cossacks demanding that they submit to the sultan and that they should stop attacking the sultan's interests. (You can chase the source of the painting for more details.)

The Cossacks essentially told the sultan to go fire truck himself. Or words to that effect. Their reply was insulting, coarse, and (to this old sergeant) very humorous. I gather that the sultan was not amused.

There are days that I would respond to the world, and the many bellowing idiots therein, much as the Cossacks replied to the sultan.

Dear World, Leave me and mine alone. I'm tired of your bull crap. Love, Me

Yeah, I cleaned up my reply, just a bit...

And so's not to be a total Debby Downer...

Music, which our John noted in the comments yesterday.


And. I. Love. It.

Ah what the heck, John posted two links, here's the other, two of my favorite genres. Call it East meets West, or Scotland in the Punjab...

Anyhoo, it's good.

And the lassies ain't too hard on the eyes neither.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Warrior Music

Kenneth Mackay, 79th Highlanders at Waterloo
No, I didn't forget that Monday was the 203rd anniversary of Waterloo. Not at all. But Mondays belong to Juvat, and what with the stress of his MBD's pending nuptials, I didn't want to upset the apple cart. Then there's the imminent (shudder) dance lessons and...

Hey Juvat, perhaps you should learn this dance -

I'm sure Mrs. Juvat would approve. (Or not.)

Anyhoo, to commemorate the battle, I offer some music. Warrior music!

During the assault on the Anglo-Allied center by the French Corps, the 8th Brigade of Sir Thomas Picton's 5th Division advanced as the British heavy cavalry drove the French back. They were forced to halt and form square to repel a counter-attack by the French cuirassiers (heavy armored cavalry).

The 79th (Cameron) Highlanders were starting to waiver, assailed by cavalry, hit with cannon fire, so Piper Kenneth Mackay stepped out of the 79th's square and began to play this tune (WARNING - Bagpipe Music! *)

Nothing like a rousing tune on the pipes to get the blood pumping!

No doubt somewhere on the field a French band was playing this tune, in English "The Victory is Ours!" (Not so fast there Bonaparte!)

No doubt this old British march was heard upon the field as well!

And as the Prussians rolled into action on the French right flank, "Prussia's Glory" might be heard over the rattle of musketry and the boom of the guns. (Though on the march from Wavre across muddy farm tracks, the Prussians were heard to sing old Lutheran hymns!)

And just because I like it -

Another Old Air Force Sarge favorite -

Loves me some military music. Stirs the soul and puts a little spring in one's step.

* A warning Buck always counseled me to provide.

Monday, June 18, 2018


OK, First the Important Stuff!
  • MBD's dress is at the fitter's requiring minimal alterations.  As is Mrs J's.
  • Dance lessons for mois are scheduled to begin this week.  
    • While I think I dance like this.

    • I really look like this. (and dance and sing) 

    • I'll probably end up still looking like Frankenstein.
  • The rest of the wedding stuff is coming together nicely.
So we might just get through this after all.

In other news,  my computational device has failed.  It freezes a couple of minutes after logging in, and requires a hard shutdown to recover.  It's 6 years old, so probably time for a new one.  

In case anyone is asking, I'm writing this from the computer in my office at work.  Yes, I'm working.

Or rather Powershell and Sql Server are working, querying every computer in the district for their name and service tag.  We'll be using that information to rename every computer in the district with a new naming convention which will, of course, make everything "bigger, better, faster".

Or so they say.

Dang, juvat! What an exciting job you've got!  Nothing boring like this.

Ahhh...Those were the days.

Sarge forwarded an email from Ox saying that he also had been a passenger onboard the USNS Hugh J. Gaffey a few years earlier than I.  Which led me to do some Binging on her history (sounds kinda weird saying "her" on a ship named for a guy, but I'm Air Force... wadooino?)

Anyhoo, here's the info packet distributed to passengers on the ship.

Copied, almost verbatim, from this site.  The Gaffney was a Admiral W. S. Benson Class Transport:

  • Laid down, 15 December 1942, as a Maritime Commission type (P2-SE2-R1) hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 679), at Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard Inc., Alameda, CA.
  • Launched, 20 February 1944
  • Acquired by the US Navy from the Maritime Commission, 18 September 1944
  • Originally commissioned USS Admiral W. L. Capps (AP-121), 18 September 1944, CAPT. Niels S. Haugen, USCG, in command
  • During World War II USS Admiral W. L. Capps operated in both the Asiatic-Pacific and the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theaters
  • Following World War II USS Admiral W. L. Capps was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East for the following periods:

    Navy Occupation Service Medal
    22 to 29 January 1946
    20 to 25 March 1946
  • Decommissioned, 8 May 1946
  • Struck from the Naval Register, date unknown
  • Returned to the Maritime Commission for transferred to the US Army Transportation Service, renamed USAT General Hugh J. Gaffey
  • Reacquired by the Navy, 1 March 1950 and placed in service by the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) as USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey (T-AP-121)
  • In 1956, a 10 month old boy saved the ship by reporting an Iceberg while enroute to Okinawa.
  • Placed out of service and struck from the Naval Register, 9 October 1969
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet
  • Reacquired and reinstated in the Naval Register, 1 November 1978
  • Placed in service as a barracks hulk, redesignated Miscellaneous Unclassified IX-507
  • Laid up in the NISMF Pearl Harbor, HI., date unknown
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 25 October 1993

  • Given that she was laid up in Pearl Harbor at least until '93, I've probably laid eyes on her again since the area where those ships were stored was visible from my off base house when first assigned to Camp Smith.  Small World.
    Apparently, on June 16, 2000, she had a rendezvous with a missile and can now be found about 2700 fathoms down as a reef.

    "Hugh Joseph Gaffey, born 18 November 1895, in Hartford, Conn., attended Officers Training School at Fort Niagara, N.Y., and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Reserve 15August 1917. Assigned to the 312th Field Artillery at Fort Meade, Md., he went to Europe in August 1918 and served in France and Germany before returning to the United States in August 1919. During the next two decades he served at various posts in the United States and served with the 15th and 18th Field Artillery and the 7th Cavalry Brigade. Assigned to the I Armored Corps in July 1940, he served with them until July 1942 when he was assigned to the 2d Armored Division. Appointed Brigadier General 5 August 1942, he was sent to the European Theater in November. From 1943 to 1944 he was the Commanding General of the 2nd Armored Division. In April 1944, he was designated Chief of Staff for General Patton's 3d Army fighting in France. He then assumed command of the 4th Armored Division in December. From 1945 to 1946 he was the Commandant of the Armored School. Major General Gaffey was killed in a B-25 crash at Goodman Field, Ky., June 1946." 

    Sunday, June 17, 2018

    Breed's Hill 1775

    Boston, 1775
    "What say you Major? Time to give the bloody colonials the bill for Concord I would think."

    Major John Pitcairn simply nodded at the man, that march through the Massachusetts countryside back in April still rankled with him. Too many fine men lost, and to what purpose? Here we are again, marching to the colonists tune, what will be the butcher's bill this day?

    "Sergeant Barnes!"


    "Prepare the men, we will advance shortly."


    Major Pitcairn watched the first wave falling back down the slope, gaps in the ranks, the men a bit shaken but quickly recovering themselves. Drawing his sword he walked down the ranks of his Marines, gauging their readiness for this advance. Fine lads, he thought to himself, I almost pity those men on the hill.

    As the British fell back from the galling fire the militia had poured into them, one man stood atop the breastwork...

    "Huzzah lads! We've shown the lobsterbacks what for! Huzzah!"

    "Get down from there Wheelock, some redcoat might shoot you for making all that racket."

    "Certainly Nathaniel, but we gave them a thrashing didn't we?"

    "Yes we did, Private Wheelock. Need I remind you that when we're on active service, you're to call me captain? Is that too much to ask of my darling wife's idiot brother?" Though said with a smile, young Jason Wheelock took the hint, his older sister was always chiding him for being 'too frivolous.'

    "Yes sir, Captain Sir! I shall try and remember."

    "Good now, get ready, I hear the drums, seems like the lobsterbacks want to try again."

    "Marines! Shoulder your FIRELOCKS!" Pitcairn barked out as he moved to his position near the drummers in front of the battalion. Turning to his son, he said...

    "Mind yourself well today William, we don't want your Mother to mourn either of us, do we?"

    "No Sir, I shall tread cautiously this day!"

    Drawing his sword, Major Pitcairn raised it aloft and barked, "Battalion! To the front, MARCH!" As the drums began to rattle, the 2nd Marines stepped off. Looking to his right, the major could see that General Howe's troops were rallying and were starting to advance back up the hill themselves.

    Captain Nathaniel Jones looked over his men, they were nervous, he could tell by the way they fidgeted and brushed the sweat from their foreheads.

    "Steady lads, steady! Wait for it, don't fire too soon. Wait for it..."

    The rattle of the British drums was most unnerving, the men advancing on their position appeared to be Royal Marines, Jones had served with them in the war against the French, not lads to be trifled with. Well then, I think that is close enough.


    The British seemed to stagger as the smoke rolled down from the freshly turned dirt, chasing the hail of lead balls which had smashed into the redcoated men advancing up the hill. They faltered, but only for a moment.

    Then another volley rang out, more men went down.

    Captain Jones heard the British officers and sergeants commanding their men to fall back. Perhaps we have won this day, he thought to himself. At that point his neighbor and sergeant tugged at his sleeve.

    "That's it Sir, we are dry, there is no more shot, nor powder to propel it. What are your orders Nate?"

    He could see that some of the men were reloading, some of them with pebbles scooped from the ground beneath their feet.

    "Alright lads, if they come on again, we'll give them one more volley, that should do it. But be ready to pull back towards Cambridge if need be. Steady now, here they come."

    As the Marines approached the breastworks before them, Pitcairn saw the colonials leaning forward, ready to give fire, but the volley was weak, uncoordinated. Damn my eyes, they are out of ammunition!


    As Pitcairn stepped forward, looking back at his Marines, he saw motion in the corner of his eye, to the left. Some fellow was actually aiming at him! How quaint...

    The ball hit the major hard, he was down, barely conscious as his battalion dashed past him and into the rebel works. His son William had seen him fall and was quickly at his side.

    "I have lost my father!"

    A few Marines faltered and came back to where William knelt by his father. A few of them dropped to their knees and wept openly. Major John Pitcairn was a popular officer.

    Death of John Pitcairn
    Somewhere over the crest of the hill, men were cheering. But to the men around John Pitcairn, it was a bitter day, a day many would remember to the day they died. The day their officer fell leading his Marines against their fellow Englishmen.

    The Battle of Bunker Hill, as we call it, though in truth it was fought on Breed's Hill was a British victory, but a very costly victory. One thousand and fifty four British soldiers fell taking a hill from colonial militia. The breakdown of the casualties:
    • 19 officers killed
    • 62 officers wounded
    • 207 soldiers killed
    • 766 soldiers wounded
    Nearly 49% of the force. With victories like that, British hopes of quelling the rebellion were slim. Though they persisted in trying for eight more years. Sir William Howe, who was to replace Thomas Gage as commander in the colonies, was forevermore shy of assaulting American positions head on. Henry Clinton, also on the field, would succeed Howe and have even less success, content to sit in New York and let the rebels come to him.

    So in the long run, it was a British victory that sowed the seeds of eventual British defeat.

    But for William Pitcairn, it was the day he lost his father.

    Major John Pitcairn, of His Majesty's Royal Marines, born in Scotland, died in Massachusetts within sight of Boston, where he lies interred in Christ Church Cemetery to this very day.

    Perhaps 'tis fitting to remember the son, and the father, on this Fathers Day, which is also the 243rd anniversary of the a Battle of Bunker Hill.

    It is well to remember, that history is made by people, that the casualties suffered in battle are not just numbers.

    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    The Last Victory

    On the 6th of April, 1814, the Emperor Napoléon abdicated his throne as Emperor of the French and went into exile on Elba, a small island off the coast of Italy. Less than a year later, Napoléon returned to France, within days he had reclaimed his throne. While he stated that his intentions were peaceful, the Allies had him declared an outlaw at the Congress of Vienna.

    So the Emperor prepared for a renewal of the wars which had plagued Europe, nearly without cease, since the French Revolution of 1789.

    I have always been fascinated by apocalyptic tales, in history and in science fiction. The Hundred Days of Napoléon have always held a special fascination for me. From ruling a major portion of Europe, sitting on the ancient throne of France, to ruling a small island, the Emperor had returned for one last roll of the dice.

    Victory for the French may indeed have allowed the Emperor to keep his throne. Though nearly all of Europe was marching on France, only two of Napoléon's enemies were close at hand, the British (with their Dutch-Belgian-German allies) and the Prussians, both quartered in Belgium, just to the north of the French border, scattered in cantonments across the countryside.

    If the French could move fast enough, and stay concentrated, they could separate and then deal fatal blows to both the Anglo-Allied army and the Prussians before they could concentrate and long before the distant armies of Austria and Russia could close with the French border and march on Paris. Shattering the British and the Prussians could well dissuade the Austrians from continuing the war, after all was Napoléon not the son-in-law of the Austrian Emperor?

    Who knows what the Russians might have done, but with long supply lines and no friends willing to continue the fight, they may well have drawn back into the Motherland.

    It all came down to the campaign which is now known as the Waterloo campaign, from roughly the 14th to the 18th of June in the year 1815. Four battles, most people only remember the last one from which the campaign takes it name - Waterloo.

    But on the 16th of June, the army of Napoléon engaged the Prussians in those fields shown in the opening photo. Near the Belgian town of Ligny, the battle of the same name was fought. It was the Emperor's last victory.

    On the same day, the Anglo-Allies fought a detachment of the French army to a draw at the small Belgian crossroads village of Quatre-Bras. I have written of this campaign every year since I started the blog, I've covered the events in any number of ways, here are those posts from 2012 to last year.

    In 2012 I told the tale of our trip to see the reenactment of the battle. Much mud in that story.

    In 2013 some paintings and a few videos (some of them sadly no longer available) is how I commemorated the 198th anniversary of the campaign.

    In 2014, Prelude, a number of paintings interspersed with some text to put the days leading up to Waterloo in perspective

    In 2014, Le 18 Juin 1815, again a number of paintings, some miniatures, and enough text to give the reader a feel for the ebb and flow of the Battle of Waterloo.

    This series of four posts from 2015 are some of my favorite posts on the campaign (some of my favorite posts out of many here at The Chant, not just the Waterloo ones) -
    In 2016, books about the battle and the Napoleonic era were the topic.

    Last year, I began experimenting with writing some historical fiction. These posts were fun to write, and hopefully gave the readers a feel for what, perhaps, it felt like to actually be there. I really enjoyed writing these -
    A very good account of the Battle of Ligny, "The Last Victory," is here, you should read that, it's pretty accurate and entertaining as well.

    The campaign of 1815 is very popular with wargamers, particularly those recreating wars using miniatures. I wish I had the time to create the terrain they fight their "little wars" upon and collect and paint the many figures needed to recreate these battles on the wargaming table. If you travel here, there is a series of ten posts (which you can page through, see near the top right of the text, Page 1 of 10, etc.) depicting one man's recreation of the Battle of Ligny in miniatures. For me, it's simply breathtaking to behold, the chap did a superb job. (And I'm not saying that just because we share the same first name...)

    I can almost hear the thump of cannon, the rattling of musketry. and the chink of horse furniture as I look at those photos. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

    A sample photo from the aforementioned series of posts.
    While your interest in those days may not be as intense as mine, ask The Missus Herself, she knows this campaign is an obsession of mine, I visited the field of Waterloo many times whilst stationed in Germany, far too many she will tell you, it's a fascinating period of history. Often the future of nations was decided in just a few short days.

    Waterloo ushered in a fairly peaceful period in European history. No major wars would be fought in Europe for almost a hundred years after Waterloo. Not until 1914.

    When once again the Prussians (now called Germans) marched on Paris. This time the British fought with the French.

    History, I am fascinated by it.

    Friday, June 15, 2018

    Bond of Brothers

    As I read Sarge's post last week about the D-Day Landing, and the video from the most excellent TV series Band of Brothers, it inspired me to write about a similar connection I had while serving in Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5 or CAG-5) in Japan.   Not to take anything away from our own little "Band of Bloggers" here at the Chant, but we don't have the same opportunity for acquiring interesting sea stories as actually serving at sea. 

    CAG-5 flew off the USS Independence (CV-62), and I was with VS-21, flying in the right and right rear seat of the S-3B Viking, conducting Anti-Submarine Warfare for the Battlegroup.  While I was  very close to my squadron-mates, and still am today, CAG-5 was also a very close-knit unit; we Brothers-in-Arms, who lived, ate, slept, flew, and played together for three years.  I lived about three kilometers from Atsugi Naval Air Facility, which was about a 30 minute drive, but at sea, my commute was less than 1000 feet, so they were close neighbors as well.

    Indy had an all male crew, which allowed for some different experiences than what sailors are getting today.  And it led to some interesting incidents.  Men could be men, which is a very subjective statement on my part I realize, but there was familiarity without the need to keep behaviors and speech in check.  This is something  which we rightly do when in mixed company, but there, our language was probably a little more crude and direct, we told dirty jokes without the desire or need to be politically correct, and it wasn't uncommon to have a small stack of Playboys or other reading material in a stateroom.   Some Chanters may bristle at these facts, but they didn't make us any less effective as war-fighters.  Nor did it turn us into men who objectify women or develop unrealistic expectations of them in society. 

    During that tour, I tallied up two years and 11 days of sea duty, which is a lot of time away from home.  While that meant a lot of flight time, it also meant for us married guys, a lot of separation from our wives.  Some of those marriages didn't survive.  There was CB, whose wife not only left him during one underway period, but she sold every belonging, even his clothes.  And when I say every belonging, that even included his car which was parked on base, leaving him unable to get back to their apartment.  However, it turned out that she had also terminated their lease so he didn't really have a place to go anyway.  Of course she also raided their bank accounts, leaving him broke as can be.  However, the most egregious offense, one for which forgiveness is difficult, if not impossible, is the fact that she put down their three dogs before moving back to the states.

    There was also the guy in my squadron whose wife wasn't at the hangar with all the other wives, after a 5 month deployment to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch.  She too had pulled up stakes and moved back to Florida.  This wasn't a huge shock at first because during our underway periods, she would return to Florida to work as a pharmacist.  When he called her shortly after the fly-in, she not only asked for a divorce, she wanted to get it done ASAP because in 30 days or so, she was marrying another pilot IN THE SAME AIR WING. And a squadron-mate of Lex.  Turns out she had been carrying on at least an emotional affair with him since she and my friend had been dating while he was in flight school in Kingsville Texas.  It continued while the two guys were both going through their respective Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) training at Cecil Field near Jacksonville FL.  Unfortunately for my friend, both happened to also get sent out to Japan.  One might say those two new lovebirds were destined to be together, but I later saw the offender at Lex's funeral and they were now divorced.  So much for wedded bliss and destiny.

    Being a ship built long before aviation equality was considered, Indy actually had a urinal on the back side of the island.  Aviators and flight deck crew could quickly relieve themselves without needing to return below decks.  Air crew wear a lot of survival equipment, including a harness for strapping into the ejection seat, a survival vest, and for the Fighter and Attack guys, a G-Suit.  It's all rather heavy and tight, which can reduce how well you feel stuff down there.  That led to one humorous incident after one guy in the air wing forgot to zip up.  He was walking down the flight deck towards his jet with a certain appendage hanging out, leading to his new call-sign, Silver.  As in Long-John(son) Silver.

    CVW-5, sans VA-115 and VF-21

    For my first year out there, CAG-5 had F-14 Tomcats, A-6 Intruders, and SH-3 Sea King helos, (among other birds) which were later replaced by more F-18s, and SH-60F helos.  Our air wing was so close that a loss of an aircraft, or more specifically, the loss of the aircrew, was felt by all.  It hit home, and it hit hard.  During my time there we had two Class-A Mishaps.  A Class-A is a loss of or damage to an aircraft totaling over $1M, or the loss of life.

    VA-115 Eagles, loaded for Bear.

    We had both during this mishap where we lost Hambone and Chowda out of VA-115.  They were on a low-level flight, jinking back and forth along a winding river, but they didn't jink back.  We also had a helo doing planeguard fly into the water one night, ejecting both pilots through the windscreen.  Both lived, but the senior one turned in his wings.  The two rescue swimmers in the back, probably, or at least hopefully, died  on impact.  I later worked with the co-pilot when he commanded the helicopter wing, so he had recovered well.

    We also had a minor mishap when an SH-3 landed hard and pranged the tail wheel.  While it could have been fixed, we were losing those aircraft anyway, and none of them were going to be flown back to the states.  So leadership decided to just push the old bird overboard. 

    It wasn't just the time working and flying at sea, but the port visits and detachments as well.  My squadron conducted some of our annual ASW training from Barbers Point, which meant a couple weeks in Hawaii, with an annual luau to cap it off.  Hong Kong was visited a couple times a year, Pattaya Beach Thailand was visited twice during my tour, as was Manila, all of which meant time together in town and in the Admin*.  More opportunity to enforce friendships.  In Singapore (2 visits), most of the air wing reserved them in the same hotel, which made for an an entire tower of camaraderie.  One opportunistic JO made up flyers which he gave to the ladies in a few bars, insuring that we were the envy of the air wing. 

    CBW-5** Hangar on Iwo
    Our detachments were yet another opportunity for CAG-5 to bond.  For noise abatement around Atsugi, we conducted all our FCLPs (Field Carrier Landing Practice) on Iwo Jima.  I though it was a strange, but nice gesture on the part of the Japanese Government to build us an exact replica of each squadron hangar back in Atsugi.  I guess nobody told them that an air wing detachment doesn't need all that space, but I digress.  Iwo was a really interesting place with plenty of WWII era caves to explore, and a particular mountain (Suribachi) to scale.  From the 60s through the 90s, the US Coast Guard maintained a LORAN navigation transmitter on the island.  While it had been closed just prior to my arrival in Japan, the Coasties had left a huge trove of VHS tapes which helped us pass the time after flight ops had secured.  There was also great food and drink.  Either due to available supply or temperance reasons, each person on det was "limited" to a 6-pack of beer per day.  With all the folks who couldn't or wouldn't drink their daily ration, there was never really a limitation.  If you had completed your FCLP requirements early or weren't on the next day's flight schedule, movies and beer were the night's entertainment.  That detachment was twice a year and always something we looked forward to.

    Mount Suribachi                                                                      Pinterest
    For me, working, flying, and drinking together, and doing so much of it, really made that time in my life memorable, and gave me a bunch of life long friends.  I can't really compare it to the guys who actually fought and died together in Easy Company, but the bond is no less meaningful.

    * Admin: When a carrier pulls into a foreign port, the crew gets liberty.  If the boat will be in port for more than a couple of days, the squadrons officers plunk down cash for a crash pad/party spot. A J.O. or two is given the responsibility to reserve that place and keep it well stocked.  an apartment or hotel room for the in-port period. A most useful custom.
    **CBW-5 is what the sign on the hangar stated.  Trying saying it with a Japanese accent.

    Thursday, June 14, 2018


    I spend a lot of time online*. Writing posts for the blog. Checking Facebook for pictures of my grandkids. Watching (and ordering stuff) on Amazon, watching a bit of Netflix (though far less than I used to), and playing computer wargames via Steam.

    Now as far as work goes, even though I'm on a computer all day, I'm not really online as I'm mostly doing work stuff on the company's intranet. Though we can get out past the dreaded firewall, and while it isn't forbidden, nor frowned upon, we are allowed "reasonable" usage, for certain, and variable, meanings of that word. No, I don't spend a lot of time on the company's dime surfing the web.

    We have Internet Explorer and Windows 7. When I go to work I feel as if I've gone back in time. That cartoon above really does seem to describe IE to a fair-thee-well. It's slow, it's cumbersome, but oh-my-gosh it is super secure. (So the company IT wonks claim. Or are told to tell us, I'm not sure. The real IT guys don't like it but the besuited IT people like it. As they pay the bills, they get to make that call.)

    I most assuredly don't care for it. We used to be able to use Chrome, still possible but you have to know the right magical incantations and Google shoots themselves in the foot by insisting on attempting to install Chrome directly from their website. Our security software always says, "Whoa, not so fast buddy! What is it you want to do? I don't think so..."

    Mozilla is a little more clever, you can download the "install package" and then load from that. The problem is is that our IT folks have circumvented that with two new tactics:
    1. Uh-oh, you don't have the latest version of Firefox, click here to get it. If you click where they tell you, you get the exact same message again. You have to know to press the link, not the button.
    2. Now that it's downloaded, 90% of the sites you want to hit give you a "404 - Not found." But if you use the exact same URL in IE, bingo! Works fine. IT is playing me, like a cheap fiddle.
    So I'm sorta stuck with IE, don't care for it but it's what I have to live with.

    As for Windows 7? I have never liked it, had Vista (which is sort of 7-Lite) at home and it was "okay." For a long time I had to use Windows XP, which was more "okay" than Vista. What do I use at home now? Windows 10. Is it the best OS I've ever used? No, of course not, but it's better than Windows 7 and it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

    Oh yeah, at work I get to use Windows XP as well but only on this one network which has no connection to the outside world. There are days I find myself asking, "What is it about XP that I liked?" Argh.

    Don't speak to me of Unix or Linux (which I call Unix-Lite), that's an OS I use for real work, both now and back in the Air Force. Not at home, no, no thank you.

    So work is often a trial. Monday I had to reboot my computer twice, for software "updates." (I think it's just more spyware the company dumps on us, the suits don't seem to realize that it's the engineers bringing in the profits, not the spreadsheet cowboys.)

    But hey, it's a paycheck and the work itself is interesting. Yes, there are times that I feel like we're using flint knives and bear skins but hey, it pays the bills and keeps the Guinness flowing.

    Yup, I've got that going for me.

    * Technically speaking my computer is online, I'm just driving. When it lets me.