Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lighten Up Already

August Full Moon

Okay, so the country seems to be going to Hell in a hand basket. The gubmint is evil, cops are monsters and if only we could all get along.

Yeah, right.

Now I believe that I have fessed up to being a Facebook kinda guy in these spaces on more than one occasion. Lately it's almost painful to go there to see what is offered for my viewing "entertainment." It's enough to make a fellow a pessimist.

Now there are a lot of bad things going on in the world and right here at home. Doesn't mean there haven't always been a lot of bad things going on in the world. It's just that these days nearly every person out there has a cell phone with video recording capability and access to YouTube.

Bam! Instant news story.

Sarge! That's my line! (Source)

(Hhmm, is it just me or does The Chant seem to have a number of chefs lately?)

Now how about what's happening at home, right now. Well, unless you live in or near a major city run by a bunch of nitwits, my observation is that not much is happening "at home."

Sure, our local community has its issues and problems to overcome, but if I was to believe half of what I see on line, then I would have to figure that -
  1. The police want to kill me, because I might be suspicious.
  2. I'm white therefore I didn't have to earn anything I have. It was given to me.
  3. Black folks are all downtrodden and are victims of the white patriarchy.
  4. Women folk are all downtrodden and are victims of the white patriarchy.
  5. Asian folk are good at math and suck at driving.
  6. Most types of food are bad for you and will kill you. You need to buy a book written by a doctor to teach you how to eat. (Why our species didn't die off thousands of years ago I find puzzling. I mean, ya know, SCIENCE!)
  7. Climate change is all caused by humans and we're all going to die. The polar bears are all dying and chunks of ice the size of Montana are melting everyday. Why New York City will be under water by 1995. (Yeah, not really.)
  8. The latest <insert trendy name here> diet is the only way to lose weight. Yes, you need to eat that crap for the rest of your life.
  9. The only way to go is vegetarian. Which confuses me because we are optimized to eat damn near anything. Kind of like bears. Only without the fur and the attitude.
  10. Meat is bad. So why do we have teeth designed to tear meat?
Okay, let's address those ten things point by point.

The first one, okay I know a lot of law enforcement types. They are not bloodthirsty craven fools. Yes, some LE types aren't as good as others. Tell you what though, imagine yourself on a dark street and you have someone behaving erratically. They reach for something, what do you do? Tell them to stop, don't move, that kind of thing? Or are you ready to open fire?

Oh yeah, you have two seconds to make that call. Make the wrong call and you might be dead.

Suppose the officer just barely passed through the academy. He might make the wrong call. Regardless, if your life is on the line, you tend to err on the side of "I want to go home after my watch."

The second bit, yes, I am officially classified as "white" or "Caucasian" if you prefer. Though I consider myself to be kind of a pinkish-beige in tone and not a single ancestor of mine ever got anywhere near the Caucasus mountains. Truth be told, I identify as "Chris," for that is the name bestowed upon me by my parents. (Well, that's the short version of my given name.)

It pisses me off every time I have to check off what "race" I am on some idiotic form. The concept of race is bullshit and pretty non-scientific. In Basic Training I checked "Other" and specified "Celt" as to what other was. My instructor started screaming at me that I was white and I had better gorram check "white" on the form. Didn't do it. No doubt I was marked down for "playing nice with others." Ever the rebel...

I'm still waiting for all the "hey, I'm white, where's my privilege package." Though I get what the people who spout that "privilege" nonsense mean. There have been times where the non-pinkish beige folks have been shafted. The Democrat Jim Crow laws spring to mind. Of course, I was in the Air Force and we were all treated equally.

I have to admit it's tough to stay unbiased with all the race baiters running around, those of ALL shades. But I just think back to the folks I served with and worked for. All good, righteous folk. The only color I saw was blue. (Well, actually olive drab but you get my drift.)

Third and fourth thing. Okay, there is some truth to this. But I would change that "white patriarchy" bit to "wealthy old white dudes, particularly the ones in Congress."

I mean my daughters have faced that, "Did I get a good eval because I earned it? Or are they scared that I'll complain to the diversity-nazis?" Women did and do have an uphill battle succeeding in traditionally male occupations. Some though will play "the gender card" in order to get ahead. Which screws things up for the others.

I think blacks have the same problem but to a greater extent. I cannot fathom how you can hate someone based on the color of their skin. It makes as much sense as hating someone because of the color of their eyes.

Improvements have been made but there is still a long ways to go towards Dr King's vision:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Suffice to say, we're not there yet and a word to Obummer, Sharpton et al, you guys are making things worse, not better. IMHO.

Now that bit about Asians being good at math and sucking at driving? That's my kids' personal pet peeve.

Heading down I-264 one day, bound for Virginia Beach, we saw a car kind of weaving between lanes and going painfully slow. As we passed this vehicle, we saw an Asian guy at the wheel, The Nuke just looked at the guy and sighed, "Yeah, thanks dude, thanks for reinforcing the stereotype."

In school The Naviguesser was often asked "Do you know kung fu?" Yeah, he got a little tired of that. For what it's worth, all three kids are really good drivers, two of the three are really good at math. None of them know kung fu. Besides which, they're half Korean, if anything they would know tae kwon do or some other Korean martial art.

Item the sixth. Anything if overdone has the potential to kill you. My favorite is "wheat is murder," which a good friend mentioned one day. I have to admit I did get rather spun up over that one. I've gotta admit, I'd never heard of that one before. I mean I like wheat. Bread is good, wheat beer is good. Well, they taste good. There's also a market out there for diet books and the like so whatever hook will sell a book seems to be the key.

Just another way for someone to harvest people's hard earned money.

Moderation in all things. Works for me. Now if I could just get someone to define what's moderate. The Missus Herself says one beer is moderation. I say two. Guess who gets to make that call. (If you guessed me, you lose.)

Climate change. The sky is falling. The ice caps are melting, all the polar bears are dying. Hokum. (And I don't mean a Soviet era helicopter.)

Not this Hokum. (Source)

The climate has been changing on this planet since it was formed. While it's an awesome idea to not screw things up by dumping crap into the water or pumping filth into the sky, it's not the West that's doing this. Try breathing in Beijing.

But I'm sure Algore made a lot of money through his environmental chicanery.

Number eight, if a method of losing weight has the word "diet" in it, it ain't gonna work. Again moderation is the key. The Air Force once had a series of fad diets that they would put us fat-challenged types on. None of them worked. Or they would work until you were down to where the higher ups wanted you, then it was break out the cheeseburgers and beer.

One thing I like about Weight Watchers is that they don't like using the word "diet." Rather they sell it as a life style change (which panicked the Hell out of me at first). Learn to eat a certain way, get off your duff and the weight comes off. It's also easy to stick with. Essentially you can eat whatever you want. It's all about the points. (In the interests of full disclosure, I have lost thirty pounds on WW, it's not that bad. Perhaps the first weight loss program I've ever been on where I don't feel hungry all the time. That is, it doesn't suck. High praise from me!)

Nine and ten go together. Why didn't I combine a few of the items on my list? Well, once I got started I wanted ten things. Has to be ten right? Going all metric I am. (NOT!)

One of my relatives once announced (when she was still a sprout, pun intended) that she was now a vegetarian. Apparently all she could eat was fried cheese sticks. Sometimes chicken fingers because apparently chickens don't count as "meat." My supposition is that veggie fanatics don't like beef. I've heard that there are some who won't eat anything that was once "alive." Hhmm, I though plants were alive. Maybe they just won't eat fellow oxygen breathers. I dunno.

So the basic premise of this post is that things are never as bad as they seem. (Unless of course you're on an old twilight zone episode where a genie gives you one wish and you ask to be an absolute dictator. Presto, it is so. Turns out that the genie made you Hitler. In April 1945. Another case of "be careful what you wish for.")

While sometimes things can be very bad indeed, stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself cui bono? To whose benefit? I find that in many cases someone, on either side of the political spectrum is pushing an agenda. Think for yourself. Don't trust the media (and Facebook is indeed part of the media), think for yourself.

Don't believe everything you read or hear. Someone else's perspective may not be actual reality. Even though Miyamoto Musashi* did point out that perception is reality. From the viewer's perspective, of course.

So my watch words are "Hey, lighten up already!" Serious people are the real troublemakers in the world!

Seriously...






* Author of the Book of Five Rings, a book which a number of Western business types bought because it was all the rage with business types in Japan. Another idea which didn't translate all that well from East to West. Of course, remember what Rudyard Kipling said...
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the  late  deceased,
And the epitaph drear:  "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

That time I met the President

Source
Full disclosure- I've never met a sitting President.  Nor have I met  an ex, former, or even dead President for that matter, but that's a hell of a teaser don't you think?  I have been in an audience for two Presidents however- 41 and 42-  George H. W. Bush, and William H. Clinton.  It was so long ago for both of them that I'm shaking off a lot of cobwebs for today's post, but I remember enough of the details to make it worth your time.

In the summer of 1985, I participated in the American Legion's Boys' State program, where we set up a mock government to learn about local, state, and federal government as well as the legislative process. That led to my Senior year in high school when I took a Social Studies elective about current events.  I was hoping to get into the Naval Academy so I was packing my schedule with all kinds of academic rigor, hoping it would make me a better candidate.  Fortunately it didn't help, as the academic rigor at the Boat School would have surely done me in, at least that's what my Calculus and Physics grades in College tell me.  In the class we discussed US and global politics, the election process, and whatever were the major news stories of the day.

The hijacking of TWA Flight 847
Terrorism was one topic we drilled down into specifically because of airplane hijackings, the Beirut Barracks bombing, and others.  Terrorism was brutal back then, but mild in comparison to today's horrors.  The discussions included the event depicted above, which occurred in June of '85 and resulted in the murder of Steelworker Second Class and Diver Robert D. Stethem, of Underwater Construction Team ONE.  He posthumously received the Bronze Star for his heroism and USS Stethem (DDG-63) is named in his honor.




Boys' State and that course really piqued my interest and were probably the catalyst for a lifetime of fascination with politics and current events, not to mention a well-shared hatred of terrorists.  However, my interest has waned over the years, probably due to a better understanding of - and disgust with - the process, hence my periodic pithy political posts that I force upon you from time to time.  

But I was supposed to be telling you about that time I met the Presidents.  Fast forward to my first year in Flight School.  The National Museum of Naval Aviation was honoring President George Herbert Walker Bush with a tribute recognizing him being a Naval Aviator.

N2S KAYDET (aka Stearman) flown twice by then-Aviation Cadet Bush.
I was sitting in the VT-86 Ready Room when an instructor came in asking who wanted to go see President Bush.  With my interest in politics, and Bush being the first President I ever voted for, I quickly accepted.  I really don't remember much more about this event than where I was seated or standing- high up and far away, and that he mentioned how cold it was flying that open cockpit in the winter.  They dedicated the above airplane to him, and have his logbook nearby, showing the Bureau Number listed for two training flights.

Source
Seeing Bush might have been more memorable had it been more difficult.  I think we just showed up about an hour early, went through a metal detector, and took our places.  I don't remember the security being all that rigorous, but then again, we were on a Navy base, we were all Naval Aviators or students, and the political discourse was a bit more civilized than it is today.

I think it started to get less amicable when this guy was elected.  In 1996, President Clinton visited the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62) which was  docked at her homeport in Yokosuka Japan.  What I remember most is how much of a pain in the ass that event was.  And while I didn't vote for Clinton, It would be unfair to blame him for the misery incurred that day.

A week or so ago, I read a post somewhere regarding some Air Force leadership that had completely overstepped their authority by administratively punishing some pilots they thought had taken drugs, even when the evidence didn't support it.  While not exactly the same sort of situation, it made me think about the crazy decisions each step of the chain of command might make to either impress, or eliminate concern from- the next higher link in the chain.  If their immediate superior isn't happy, then nobody is happy.  Unfortunately, making the lowest rung of that ladder happy isn't part of the equation.


"We had to get dressed up for this guy?"
Several of those decision were probably made in the days leading up to President Clinton's visit.   Leadership wanted to ensure a big crowd for the President so each squadron was given a quota for participation based on the number of personnel.  The VS-21 Fighting Redtails comprised the largest squadron in CVW-5 so we had to send the most men to the Indy.  I don't remember exactly how many of us were on the bus, but I do remember it being quite full.  The CO had asked for volunteers, but only had a few, and I was not one of them.   I had no interest in seeing President Clinton, maybe because we didn't share a set of politics, but probably because putting on a dress uniform and taking up half or more of my weekend wasn't high on my list of things I like to do.  Whether I was just unlucky, or I had ticked off the OPSO, I have no idea, but my number came up.  The wife even decided to accompany me, which only allowed some other lucky bastard in my squadron to get off scot-free.  I should have figured out some sort of angle where I could have profited from her decision, but I guess I was too bummed out to think of it.

Even though the President wasn't due to show up until around 1400, we had to show up for the bus from Atsugi to Yoko, usually a 90 minute drive depending on traffic, at 0900.  I'm not sure who made that decision, but I'm sure it wasn't anyone who had to go.  We arrived at the bus on time, only to find out that it wasn't scheduled to leave until 1000.  Apparently at least a little common sense was found by someone, but not by anyone who thought to tell the unlucky few.  Traffic was unremarkable on the freeway so we arrived around 1115.

Another bright idea from someone was that we were told not to bring a single solitary thing except our ID cards.  That meant no wallets, keys, change, or more importantly- water bottles and sunscreen.  I don't remember what time of year it was, but we were in Service Dress Blues as you can see in the picture above, and it was quite warm. Standing in the sun, on a steel flight deck, wearing SDBs and Corfram shoes was damn hot - Africa hot.  I remember getting a sunburn on my face because I quickly sweated off the sunscreen I had applied before leaving the bus.  

The lack of water was somewhat of a problem since it was warm, but probably a good idea since we weren't allowed to go inside the skin of the ship to use the head- we had to go back to the pier to use the porta-johns they had set up for the occasion.  I guess allowing us in the ship was too much of a security risk.
Source
The President's helo was over an hour late.  I have no idea who to blame for that once, but I remember actually getting a little excited when he landed.  Not to see him, but that I knew our misery was that much closer to ending.  After the requisite donning of the flight jacket that you see below, he made some remarks about us out here on the tip of the spear, being a valuable part of National Defense Policy.  Other than that I don't recall.




Well, to paraphrase Forrest Gump- that's all I got to say about that.  Would I do it again if I had a choice?  Absolutely not.  While the opportunity to see a sitting President might sound exciting, it's far more trouble than it's worth.  Because of the precautions were were ordered to take, arriving so early to get through security lines didn't take any time at all.  If we had been seated while waiting, it probably wouldn't have been as rough as it was, but we were there to mob the flight deck and it was standing room only, no sitting allowed.  Hmm.  This was probably when my opinion of politics started to turn.

If it had been another Republican President I might consider going to see him or her, but probably not.  If it's Clinton's wife someday?  Take a guess.  If it ever came down me to being told that I have to go?

I'll pay someone to take their wife.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Uniformity


Every so often (ok, quite frequently), one of Sarge’s posts triggers a memory of a similar issue at some point in my life.  This is usually followed by a feeling of relief that I don’t have to rack my brain for a posting subject and quick trip to the computer to make some notes before RAM in my brain is overwritten to perform some other function such as breathing.

Such was the case on Saturday when Sarge wrote a fabulous post that ended up being dominated in the comments by the subject of military uniforms and the foibles of their procurement and wear.  I read the post and the comments and felt the tap on the shoulder from what Sarge would call his Muse, but in my case was my Wife who said “Juvat, Remember that time….”.  So, yes, I’m blaming her.

So,  There I was…..*

Kadena.  The mid-80’s, a glorious time to be in the Air Force.  Flying time was plentiful.  Jets were relatively new.  We were cleared supersonic from just about the time we could get that fast and from sea level to as high as the jet would fly.  Leadership was gradually clearing itself from its death spiral during the reign of the, then worst, now second worst president ever.  They were not overly afraid to try new things.  (Just in case you’ve been asleep or lost in the jungles of Papua New Guinea for the past decade or two, that’s not the case anymore.)

I had been asked by the Boss to stop by his office when I got done with my afternoon flight which didn’t bother me, much.  If he’d said, “stop by my office instead of your afternoon flight” that would have been different.  

Adversary Air (because "Aggressor" is a Microaggression)


So, having lead my four ship and kicked the ever living snot out of some Aggressors (it’s my story, I’ll tell it like I want), I stop by his office. 

Now remember my three prior assignments, two in F-4s and one at Lead-in.  All of which involved both air to air and air to ground.

After I reported in, (yes, the Air Force does that, stop gasping in shock) he proceeds to tell me he’d like me to get with 3 of the other squadron members who had air to ground experience and begin building a program to do air to ground from the F-15.  Develop the standards, figure out the weapons system, the whole nine yards.

Knock me over with a feather!  

Whatever happened to “not a pound for air to ground”?  

Well, turns out, that there was an air to ground mode on the radar, but it wasn’t enabled.  We were going to have to do it the WWII way, with iron sites, and mils and depression.  Still, it would be fun.

So, we’re pretty deeply into this for a few weeks and getting close to actually dropping some practice bombs.
 
It’s a Friday and flying on Friday usually terminated at noon or so.  (That would allow the Air Force to get an early start at the Beach and/or golf course, getting the best spots before the other services could get there.)

It also allowed us to participate in Pilot meetings, to comply with all the ground training requirements and any equal opportunity training that was levied so on and so forth.
In any case, for this pilot meeting the CBPO (Consolidated Base Personnel Office) chief would be speaking.  This guy happened to be my wife’s boss.  Since he knew she was married to a fighter pilot, he asked her what he should talk about.  

The Air Force had just changed up the officer promotion system as well as instituted the pilot bonus (Poorly implemented IMHO, although I took it.  It extended my commitment to active duty by 30 days for $8000/year.  Also, I intended and did make it for 20 so I agonized over that decision for a second, maybe two.)

Anyhoo…

She told him he would probably generate some interest by discussing those subjects. 

So the big day arrives and I’ve spent most of the morning trying to figure out some issue with dropping bombs because we’re scheduled to drop them for the first time on Monday, but it’s time for the Pilot meeting.  I flush all my problems out of my brain so I can focus on Personnel things, expecting to hear about promotions and bonuses. 

Yeah, right.

The CBPO wienie (he really was, he eventually got relieved and my wife took over) begins his talk and almost instantaneously, I’m very confused.  He starts out by introducing his topic as “The proper wear of BDUs”.
BDU-33 (Source USAF photograph)

Now, the bombs I’m concerned with dropping have the nomenclature BDU-33, but are commonly referred to as BDUs.  I spent the first part of the meeting trying to figure out why the heck he’s talking about wearing a 25LB practice bomb, when it dawns on me.  He's talking about a uniform!

At this point, I've been in the Air Force 8 or 9 years.  I've worn my Class A's (bus driver outfit) twice since commissioning.  Once at UPT graduation and once on the plane ride to Korea.  I've worn the Class C's (short sleeve, open neck shirt) maybe a dozen times.  Other than that Uniform of the Day means Flight Suit.
US Air Force Photo

Upon completing his discussion to an audience completely comprised of persons who have the similar uniform expectations and which focused solely on wearing the BDU, he asks if there are any questions.  Unsurprisingly he gets none, so he then leaves.  That's 45 minutes I’ll never get back.

Monday arrives and we crank up the jets, taxi out to the arming area, get armed and are waiting for the AWACs on short final to land, when I get a call from the Supervisor of Flying.  Seems he just got off the phone with the PACAF commander, General Merrill McPeak. (He evidently went by Tony, but I think Merrill better reflects my respect for the man.)

Seems HE had not approved this endeavor and our demonstrating this capability would most certainly endanger the funding for the F-15E.  Therefore we were to abort the mission and forget it ever happened.

Not a pound for Air to Ground.

Shortly afterward, the selfsame PACAF commander came for a visit.  Some of us Majors were invited to talk listen to him face to face.  I was one of the lucky ones selected.  

One of the other Majors is sitting in the front row and his flight suit legs have ridden up, revealing his socks.  He was wearing white cotton socks with a colored ring around the top.  (So did most of the guys in the room, that was the style the BX had that month, but he’s the stuckee.)  The meeting begins with an O-10 to O-4 reaming about being out of uniform because of his colored socks. 

When McPeak asked for questions later.  Dead silence.

But a new Air Force Tradition was started that Friday at the Squadron Bar. (I wonder if they still have Squadron Bars?  Somehow I doubt it.)  At some point after all the members, which frequently included wives, had arrived, someone would yell “Sock Check!”  The front zippers of all flight suited patrons would be undone and the flight suit dropped to the floor, so the inspecting officer could check that socks were completely white.  It was always hilarious, especially after a couple of beers.

I’m positive that tradition has been exterminated nowadays.


*SJC

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday at Chez Sarge

Sunset, Saturday 29 August 2015
I am blessed to live in a place of great beauty, some of it natural, some sculpted by my wife's own hand. Her work in the garden seems to never end and in a week, that all becomes my responsibility.

For The WSO is with child and her due date rapidly approaches, so her mom, The Missus Herself, will be winging out to California to babysit Little Bit and provide moral support.

Dear Lord, I will have to tend to the plants, entertain myself and feed myself. Should be quite a challenge as I am an indifferent cook. I think I better dust off the cookbooks and prepare myself to be Gordon Ramsay. I am so going to screw this up I fear.


But somehow, much like those ancestors of mine who were English, I shall muddle through.

On the upside I'm still grounded, medically speaking, no work for at least another month, so I needn't worry about that. I am afraid though of going stark, raving mad. While I do manage to find things to do to keep the mind occupied, somewhat, being semi-housebound is getting wearisome. Well, I am recovering so I guess I can drive myself now.

I admit to being a bit spoiled at this point in time.

I really don't have much to say today. Too beautiful to stay inside on Saturday so I did wander the grounds. Took some more photos.

I did watch a movie or two on Netflix. That well is starting to run dry though. My kingdom for some new content!

Oh well, I guess I'll show you the photos. I've got naught else to share. Maybe the Muse will stop by Sunday afternoon. You never know, she can be fickle at times.

Feeding time for the koi.
Not exactly a feeding frenzy, but they do get a bit excited at meal times.
Flowers, just inside the west fence.
Miniature Japanese Maple
One of our Asian style stone lamps.
The neighbor's pool. He has a nice setup. I love the quality of the light in late afternoon.
The trees just beyond the north fence.
Nearly the same shot but with a sunburst. (Yeah, I like those, so?)
Again, that lovely late afternoon light.
The sun is going quickly.
Some of The Missus Herself's indoor plants.
Our waterfall. Gives me peace it does.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Blogging Thing of Ours

Try getting the camera to focus on the clouds, it so wants to focus on the leaves.
There has been a bit of confusion in the ranks of Our Loyal Readers as of late. So, in order to alleviate all sources of future confusion and consternation, I present the following introductions.

Now I am The Sarge, more precisely The Old AF Sarge. I am, as my nom de plume might suggest, a sergeant who once wore the blue uniform of our nation's Air Force. Back in the days when jets made lots of noise, spewed lots of smoke out the back of their engines and we wore very plain work uniforms which were known as fatigues. They were olive drab in color and had a name tape above the right pocket and a tape which proclaimed that we were "U.S. Air Force." I reckon that was to make sure that we weren't confused with one of the other services. (Like someone could possibly confuse an airman with a sailor, soldier or Marine.)

Now the name tape was not so that we would know who we were but so that others might be able to yell at us using our rank and last name. (The rank was on the sleeves for we enlisted, on the collars for the officers in the maintenance units. The zipper suited sun gods wore, well a flight suit. Hence the "zipper suited" etc.) Rank, name tape and the service tape were all silvery-whitish lettering / insignia on blue.

These uniforms were neither fancy nor good-looking, but they were practical as Hell. No need for lots of fancy pockets, bloused pants, cool headgear or any of that. No need for camouflage, we worked on the flight line, so having some sort of woodland patterned uniforms was just kind of dumb.

My first hitch we were required to sew reflective tape onto our uniform shirts. A stripe down the back and one on the front. I'm guessing that's so we wouldn't get run over at night while plying our trade in the near dark. Most Air Force flight lines of my experience were not well lit. Not wise to show the bad guys where all your jets are. I guess. There were still lots of lights around the periphery of the field.

Now the reflective tape went away about the same time as somebody way up the food chain decided that our uniforms needed to be "subdued." I guess we stuck out too much, I mean if we had to go into the woods, or a jungle to work on an aircraft (how the Hell it would wind up out in the bush escapes me) then we would blend in better.

So off with the reflective tape, all the crap you had to sew on to your fatigues was now dark blue on olive drab. Now we could blend in a bit better. Blend into what though I'm not all that sure. (For what it's worth, the uniforms the Army wore in World War II blended nicely into the brush on a Colorado hillside. Our fatigues were of a similar color. Truth be told, I never needed to work on a jet on a Colorado hillside. But if called to do so, I would have blended in quite nicely, thank you very much.)

Eventually the fatigues went away and we were all kitted out in camouflage uniforms. Odd thing though, when we wore plain old olive drab fatigues, our jets were camouflaged with dark green, tan and olive drab mottling on the upper surfaces, pale gray / dirty white underneath. Once we were issued uniforms with a similar camouflage pattern, they started painting the aircraft various shades of gray.

Once I had been in the Air Force for a while, I noticed that about every four years we would get a new Air Force Chief of Staff. This is a four-star general who is the head airman and sits on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, advising the President and all that.

Now our guy would make his mark by convening a uniform board. This bunch of  ass clowns group of professionals would investigate what our new uniforms should look like and make recommendations to the four-star, who would then inflict new uniforms on us.

And those sum-bitches were not cheap! We enlisted pukes did get a uniform allowance (for maintenance, not to buy all new sh!t every four years) so it wasn't as painful for us as it was for the officers. They did not get a clothing allowance.

I just wanted to throw all this uniform stuff out there to let you know that back in the day the Air Force of my time did have it's quirks. Nothing like nowadays but still.

Now another thing on my mind (yes, this post is kind of all over the place and disjoint, and your point is?) is the number of "hits" we get on the blog every day. This is all over the place, some days we have trouble making 500, other days we'll get over a thousand. Do the spam-bots in Russia take days off? You'd think they'd be more consistent.

Oh yes, I said "we" for there are three of us who write for The Chant (I started on this way up above and then went off on that uniform tangent. I tell ya, this convalescing thing is turning my brain to mush. Not that it had that far to go to get there. But I digress...)

I am the proprietor, the Colonel of the Regiment so to speak, what the Teutonic types of old would call der Inhaber. That would be the guy who raised and equipped a body of troops for the king. He gets to be in charge and design the uniforms and...

Hhmm, didn't I just rant about that? (Don't worry lads, no uniform changes in the offing.)

So yeah, I am the head bull goose loony in charge. And then there are my partners in crime, Tuna and Juvat.

Tuna was the first of my co-bloggers, he sent me ideas and told me his tales and I would write 'em up. Eventually I smartened up and said, "So Tuna, why don't I give you a set of keys for the blog and you can write or not write at your whim?" He agreed and he will post from time to time. At the bottom left of each post the author will be listed, like this - Posted by OldAFSarge at 4:00 AM. Sometimes it's me, sometimes it's Tuna. Damn near every Monday it's Juvat. He'll do other days from time to time but Mondays belong to him. (Tuna has a lease with an option to buy on Tuesdays. He too will spring up on other days as the mood strikes him.)

Now the later addition to the staff is that fellow yclept Juvat. A former Phantom Phlyer and Eagle Driver. (He flew the F-4 Phantom as a lad and flew the F-15 Eagle just before he was exiled to a staff position at the Pentagon.)

Myself and Juvat are both retired Air Force. We were both assigned to Korea, same base, for a year. His assignment was a year, I kept extending my tour. The tricky bastards finally got me to leave by retiring the F-4 and replacing it with the F-16. I tried to cross train to the F-16 and stay but they weren't having that. Seems, like many of the guys in my old shop, I was starting to "go native."

At any rate I actually tuned the radar on all of the jets Juvat flew. (Actually all of the jets we owned.) As they all came back in one piece, I guess I did okay on the radar.

Juvat's nom de plume is derived from his old F-4 squadron the Juvats. Of which celebrated and storied unit I wrote here. Yes, at one point in his career, Juvat was a Juvat. There is sort of a difference, but not really, go read the post, it may or may not clear things up.

Now Tuna's nom de plume may be his call sign, for Tuna retired from the Naval Service where he served in a flying capacity. He was a Naval Flight Officer, a position which did not require him to learn to fly the aircraft just operate all the other systems on board. (My daughter The WSO is also a Naval Flight Officer.) Now Tuna used to comment over at Lex's place as "Tuna" so I'm guessing it was his call sign. (Nickname if you will, Tuna actually posted about this back in June, here.)

So there are three of us, just like the Three Musketeers, just like the Three Stooges. Well, not "just like" either of those really. Similar perhaps? On some days?

Anyhoo...

When I started writing this post I was going to whine and say "I got nothing" but I had something to say after all.

Fancy that.

Oh, I took some pictures for you!

Everything in Little Rhody has been lovely lately. All green and blue with some high wispy clouds.

The garden is producing tons of peppers.

The squash plants are starting to take over the entire west side of the garden. They cover the neighbor's chicken coop. The chickens seem to enjoy the shade.

The old Roman road through the water garden. Okay, not really old, not really Roman.

Gee, I sort of went all "stream of consciousness" today didn't I?

Perhaps tomorrow I will have my thoughts more properly organized.

Then again, probably not.

As I convalesce and slowly go to seed...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Strange Start, Fine Finish

Sunset, looking towards Mary's Seat
Thursday was a bit of an odd day, which started in a rather bizarre fashion and ended on a high note.

So Sarge, how did your day start?

Glad you asked, it began with a dream, some might call it a nightmare, I don't. It was simply put, bizarre.


I'm on this supertanker, somewhere off the eastern seaboard of the United States. Now this supertanker has been hijacked by bad guys unknown. In the dream I'm wandering about below decks with a bloody paint scraper in hand and my right arm is dripping blood, not mine.

It seems I've managed to eliminate most of the hijackers except for two. These two spot me at the foot of a ladder well and yell at me to "Halt!" Of course, rather than halt, I dash up the ladder and slam the door at the top. It is a very crappy door, not a proper hatch but some week foam-filled plywood big box store special.

Of course, the door doesn't secure. Well, just so happens that there is a wheeled office chair sitting nearby in the passageway. Now I know where that part of the dream came from. Back when I got to spend a day at sea on the Ike, USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, CVN-69, The Nuke was taking us around the ship and every now and then we'd come across a sailor sitting (in an office chair) by an entrance to the engineering spaces, strictly off limits to non-nukes. So that's where the random chair came from. But, yup you guessed it, I digress...

Quickly I jam the chair against the door. Of course the chair is on wheels, it's just going to roll away with one good shove. Which it does when the first bad guy gets to my level. He shoves the door out of the way, I pop him in the face, he goes down and bad guy number two stops on the ladder well. Why? Who knows, it was a dream.

So I fling the chair at him. Bad guy number two and the random office chair clatter noisily down the ladder well. Chair seems fine, bad guy number two seems badly broken. Then I turn around and outside these large picture windows (they have those on super tankers, right? Yeah, I doubt it too.) is most of the United States Navy and what appears to be one Soviet-era Yankee class submarine.

One of these. somehow I recognized that hump aft of the sail and the sail itself. Perhaps I read too much?

Well, with all those American destroyers around, that submarine got underway and underwater very quickly. At that point I realize that this supertanker is about to be boarded, I'm standing there covered in blood with my bloody paint scraper and a lot of dead guys on board. Out loud I said, "Hhmm, this might be hard to explain."

At which point bad guy number one regains consciousness and says, "Don't worry Sarge, I'll tell them I did it." Bad guy number one has quite a shiner around his left eye.

Now at this point Sasha, the alpha cat, pokes me into wakefulness, which she does if I'm muttering or tossing and turning, both of which I guess I do when I'm dreaming.

So that's how the day started, round about 0730.

I decide to get up and immediately wonder where The Missus Herself has got to. Well, there she is, outside weeding the garden. Seems she wanted to get it done before the day got too hot.

Being convalescent and all that I felt a bit guilty for getting up so "late." (Morning people at this point will groan and say "Yup, that's late." Night owls like me will mutter something about the butt crack of dawn and go back to sleep. Ah, it is what it is.)

Wondering what the Hell the dream was about, I head down to the kitchen to brew a cuppa Joe and kick start the old brain. The Missus Herself comes in, I explain the dream and she says that in Korea, if you have a violent dream and you see blood, that's a good thing. If it's violent and no gore is in evidence, that's bad.

Thus comforted, I toast a bagel. Then I finish Bernard Cornwell's non-fictional account of the battle of Waterloo (see this post). I have to say that it was one of those books you're sad to see end. Very well written and I learned a couple of facts about the battle which amazed me. I mean when one has studied a battle for over thirty years you think you know it all. Not true. I give the book...

Five outta five Phantoms!

A bit pricey but well worth the cost (it's printed on really nice glossy paper, which is good because of all the wonderful battle art contained therein).

So that was that. What was the rest of the day like?

Went to the surgeon's office, first time I'd seen him since being discharged from the hospital, time to discover what the next few weeks held.

I had jokingly mentioned that if I saw my shadow that it would mean four more weeks of convalescent leave. Well, the day was bright and sunny so...

"So Sarge, I will see you again in four weeks. You are healing nicely, no complications. The pathology on the tissue I removed showed diverticulitis, scarring, no polyps and no cancer."

Of course, when one hears the "C" word, one sits up and takes notice. Then I realized that he said "no cancer." Excellent thinks I. I reckon that's always a good thing to be told there's no trace of that nastiness.

"Now still take it easy, no lifting anything over ten pounds, take it slow, try walking a bit more every day and remember to breathe deeply from time to time. When you open the window in the morning, take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh air."

"Take time to smell the roses," says I.

"Exactly!" says he.

So four more weeks of semi-idleness. I can live with that, though truth be told I do get bored from time to time. (Yes Valory, I'll work harder on the book. I have been lazy on that score. In my defense I have been doing research, but I need to get some stuff down on paper. The book, much like the blog, ain't gonna write itself. And I can't have Tuna and Juvat work on it for me. Can I?)

Anyhoo. The doctor's appointment was scheduled for 1415 (2:15 PM for you civvies, Mickey's big hand on the three, Mickey's little hand between the 1 and the 2 for you gravel agitators, non-flyers and non-maintainer types.)

I got in to see the doctor close to 1520 (c'mon do the math, okay, I'll help, an hour and five minutes after my scheduled time).

Now at first I was a bit annoyed at this delay, for we had a dinner engagement at 1715 (sigh, 5:15 PM) and rush hour in Providence, Little Rhody, typically commences around four in the post meridian and we were some 30 miles away from the location of said dinner engagement. (And The Missus Herself asked me, no check that, told me to stop muttering "WTF" under my breath, which yes, I was doing. No, I wasn't using the initials, I said it right out but as I like to try and stay family-rated, I say "WTF" here. Capisci?)

When we actually got into the exam room my annoyance was assuaged by the nurse, who told me that the doctor was accompanied by a medical student and was I okay with that. I told her that I was exceedingly fine with all that as I am a big proponent of higher education and doctoring is a most useful skill.

I assume that as students ask questions and doctors explain things in detail to med students that was what led to the delay in seeing the doc. Not a problem, my surgeon is a super guy and a great doc, also the med student was a very decent chap who chuckled appreciatively at my many witty remarks. Good bedside manner and I am a sucker for those who at least pretend to laugh at my jokes.

So the doctor's appointment is done and we dash back to the manse to prepare for dinner. Time is tight but still exists abundantly enough where we don't have to commit any moving violations nor take shortcuts across country.

We get home, feed the cats, wash our hands, check the mail and then pile back into The Missus-mobile and head down to the Atlantic Beach Club for to partake of some excellent seafood, the salt air and the rumble of the surf on the beach next to the parking lot.

Dinner was superb as was the company, old friends who we met when we first got to Little Rhody and whose company we have enjoyed 'lo these many years.

Sadly we discovered the the Atlantic Beach Club will be changing ownership and will no longer operate as a restaurant come the end of the year.

Sigh. Another victim of the lackluster state of the economy, my favorite restaurant, soon to be but a memory. I guess nothing lasts forever, all things must pass but I'm sorry, this just sucks. Oh well, I suppose I'll find another favorite. Somewhere.

One last thing, leaving the restaurant I saw a familiar face. It was the guy who used to run my favorite gas station in Bristol, Little Rhody. He decided to retire some years ago and now downtown Bristol is sans filling station.

I used to stop there often. Joe is about my age, perhaps a year or three younger, but was a real old fashioned kind of gas station guy. He'd do repairs on vehicles and he was my go to guy for tires. He always had good suggestions for my car and his prices were more than reasonable. A great guy. I used to stop and chat with him and his Dad at least once a week.

Well, I was stunned when he remembered me, called me by name and asked how the kids were doing. He even remembered that The WSO was a back seater in the F-18. He then went on to tell The Missus Herself and our friends how he missed the business because of customers like myself. Made me blush a bit I can tell you.

I asked after his Dad, also named Joe, and was saddened to hear that he had passed about a year and a half ago at the age of 87. Really sad, older Joe was a really nice guy. His kind soul is reflected well in his son and namesake.

It was really good to see him and his kind words really made me feel good. Not enough folks like Joe around but there are enough of them that I still have high hopes for this country of ours. Solid citizen that Joe.

That was my day, started strange, ended nicely. I wish I'd brought the good camera, all I have is these slightly out of focus cell phone pics. Ah well, having been convalescing nigh on four weeks, the Guinness I had at dinner made me slightly out of focus and a bit fuzzy round the edges as well. (Even at my best I'm a cheap date, give me a six pack and expect to have me dancing on tables and wearing a lampshade on my head. Like The Missus Herself says, "You can dress me up but you can't take me anywhere." Actually getting me to dress up is a bit of a chore as well. It's "why we can't have nice things...")

In essence, you see what I saw, without having to partake of adult beverages. I took care of that for you. It's what I do, I'm a giver...

Moon rise over Easton Point.

Fuzzy close up of same, almost looks like an impressionist painting. Or a fuzzy cell phone pic. (Bet on the latter.)

The mighty Atlantic lies beyond Easton Bay

A flock of seagulls. (No, not the 80's band, actual seabirds.)
Again all impressionistic looking.

All in all, a good day.

Now where did I put the draft of my book?

[Mutters to self, exits stage left.]