Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I'm What?

Looking out over Torr Head in Ireland, across the North Channel of the Irish Sea, you can see the coast of Scotland. I've always known that Ireland and Scotland are very close culturally and geographically. What I didn't realize, until a few months ago, was just how closely related genetically the Scots and the Irish were. In fact, one could make the argument that in essence, we are the same people.

I use the word "we" somewhat loosely. I am an American by birth and consider myself to be an American through and through. I am not an <insert ethnic group here>-American. I don't tell folks that I'm an Anglo-French-Scottish-American. I was not born "over there" and naturalized as a citizen of this great land. However, I am inordinately proud of who my ancestors were, and where they came from.

I was born and raised in New England, specifically Vermont, I spent 24 years away from my native soil while in the Air Force so I don't really consider myself a Vermonter anymore, especially when I consider the political leanings of my native state.

While I live in Rhode Island, I don't consider myself a Rhode Islander either. Especially considering how the natives around these parts are somewhat clannish and very particular about who calls themselves a Rhode Islander. As if it's an accomplishment to have never left the nest. I'm really just a generic American, who's been around the block a couple of times. Lived here, lived there. Four countries on three continents have been where I called home at one time or another. But I digress.

My paternal great-grandfather hailed from Trois-Rivières in the administrative region of Mauricie in the Canadian province of Quebec. Oui, l'arrière grand-père parlait le français comme sa langue maternelle. My grandfather, born and raised in Vermont, later lived in New Hampshire, had only a few words of his father's native French when I knew him, most of them not used in polite society, at least when the ladies were present. One of his aunts, whom I never met, had no English at all.

Great-grandfather had an interesting life. Emigrated from Canada to the U.S., specifically Vermont, and when the War Between the States started, he enlisted in a New York regiment. Not sure why, there isn't much documentation left concerning the founder of the clan in this country. He married late, my grandfather didn't come along until Great Granddad was in his sixties, as I recall.

Now my paternal grandfather married a lady who drew her first breath along the banks of the River Dee in Scotland, not far from Aberdeen. So the paternal side of the family are relatively new in the United States, but the Canadian parts go back to the days of fur trapping and Montcalm, from what I understand.

The maternal side of the tribe have been here rather a longer time, since before the Revolution. One distant relation was a governor of Connecticut and signed the Declaration. Mostly Scots with the odd English relation thrown in on the maternal side of things.

So for years I've considered myself, at heart, a Scot, with a bit of English and a lot of French thrown in for seasoning.

Now my brother, The Olde Vermonter, went and paid for a DNA test, just for the curiosity and the "why not" that was in it. The results, while somewhat surprising, aren't really that surprising when you look at the relationship between the Scots and the Irish. (See where I'm going with this yet?)

The results of the DNA test show that my brothers' and my ancestors (going back millennia, not centuries) came from:
  • 27% Ireland
  • 24% Great Britain
  • 22% Western Europe
  • 15% Scandinavia and (this next one has a large uncertainty associated with it)
  • 4% West Asian (?!?!?!)
The green stuff, that's West Asia.
Interesting that West Asian bit, uncertain though it be. I guess if you go back far enough? (I have a great great uncle, killed in action in the Great War, buried in Gaza. So there's another connection. Yes, Middle East and West Asia are, as some of my relations might say, "Same same.")

Now historically the area we know as Scotland today was populated originally by the Picts. The west coast of Scotland was settled by the Irish. The Romans called all the folks north of Hadrian's Wall, the Scotti. See where I'm going?

Now the Great Britain part of the ancestry no doubt includes the Picts and the Celts of pre-Roman Britain. Western Europe, well that's the French bit. As to the 15% Scandinavian?

Let's just say that Lindisfarne wasn't the only place in early Britain raided by the Norsemen. Their depredations occurred throughout the British Isles and Ireland. Many Scots clans have a great deal of Viking blood in them. One example springs to mind, the MacIvers have relatives across the North Sea, the Iversons. (Mac or Mc prepended to a name in Scotland or Ireland means "son of." MacIver, Iverson, "Same same GI.")

So a great big chunk of my ancestors hailed from the British Isles.

Does this change anything about me, who I am? No, not really. But guess what?

I'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a bit more enthusiasm than I have in past years. After all...

Just don't expect me to spring for a round, the Scots is still there, muted though it might be. Also, be careful not to rub me the wrong way...

I'm not sure if Onkel Olav has a sense of humor...

Monday, October 16, 2017


So, It's Friday night and the end of a lonnnnnnnngggggg week.  Mrs Juvat and I are settling into our easy chairs after enjoying an excellent steak, baked potato and salad accompanied by a good bottle of Nebbiolo.

BTW, since Sarge has branched out in several different journalistic directions, thereby claiming them as his own, I've decided to capture the foodie vector before he gets that one also.  I got the basic plan for the dinner from here. 
I've tried several of his recipes and they're almost always pretty good. 

Having now captured the foodie vector, where was I. 

Ahh.  Nebbiolo and easy chair.  

I've settled down and am reading "The Last Fighter Pilot" by Don Brown whilst sipping a snooter of rum (strictly for medicinal purposes of course).  The book is about the Fighter Pilot who led the last P-51 combat mission of WWII, Jerry Yellin.  Captain Yellin flew from Iwo Jima, escorting B-29s to attack Japan AFTER Nagasaki.  

(I think that puts paid to the argument that the A Bombs were not needed, that Japan was about to quit.  But, then I read history, not rewrite it.)

Learned quite a few things that I didn't know before reading that book.  Highly recommended.

Now, where was I again?  Oh yeah, reading and rum.

So, I'm winding down the evening when my phone announces that I have a text message.

"juvat, you have a text message from a Tuna."

My wife collapses on the floor, in laughter.  Sometimes Cortana adds a little to the message.

"Read it."

"juvat, I'm in Texas,  if you don't have anything planned, could we meet up tomorrow."

My wife collapses on the floor in laughter, again.

"A Tuna in Texas?  Isn't that a play?"

Why yes it is. And a rather funny one at that.

If given the opportunity to see it, you should.

So....after the paroxysm of laughter ceases from Mrs J, Tuna and I work out a meet for the following morning.

I had a few chores to do in town, to include recycling boxes accumulated in my wife's store.  However, it's Saturday in a Tourist Town.  Parking is sparse, so I'm carrying a load of flattened cardboard down the block to my truck while trying to dodge passers-by.  I successfully maneuver past one guy and am progressing down the street, when my mind clicks.  

I recognize that guy.  That's Tuna!

Drop the cardboard in my truck and return to the store.

Make the introductions and discuss the battle plan for the day.  He's in San Antonio visiting his Dad who's recovering from a fall so he can't stay very long.  I suggest a quick visit to the Nimitz Museum.

And we're off.  

I've been to the Museum several times, but never with a fellow veteran and a Navy dude and an Aviator.  

Suffice it to say, there was a furious exchange of stories and things the other did not know.  One of the things I appreciated hearing about was his family's involvement at Pearl Harbor on that day.  I'll leave that to him to relate should he choose.  

I thought it was interesting however.

The visit was over way too soon as he had familial duties to attend to.  As did I.
No, that's not me, that's the Farrier.  The Paints are getting a pedicure.

 But I had fun.

Now.....Sarge?????  Austin Bergstrom is only 1+15 away.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Déjà Vu

As I'm up in the homeland for the weekend, thought I'd share this post from three years ago, when I was, yup, up in the homeland. Same time of year, same reason. My mom's birthday.

Buck was still around back then. I miss him...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In The Valley of the Connecticut

Memorial to the men of the Great War
It never ceases to amaze me, the memories which come surging forth every time I set a course for the land of my birth. This weekend The Missus Herself and I went up to New Hampshire to see my Mom for her birthday. (Which is still a couple of days away, but the weekend prior to that day worked for us and my brother The MusicianThe Olde Vermonter? Not so much, he was working. There's a lot of projects he and his crew need to complete before the winter sweeps in. It ain't that far off ya know!)

We drove up on Friday after lunch, yes I did take the afternoon off, thank you for asking. Had good weather, noted that the fall foliage was sketchy at best. There are spots where the leaves are all gone, some trees are a riot of color, while others still sport their summer green. Sometimes all within a few hundred yards of each other. Still and all, it was a lovely day for a drive up to the homeland.

Now there's a restaurant we went to on Saturday. Right across the road is that war memorial you see in the opening photo. On one of those stones is engraved the name of my grandfather, Louis. The memories are everywhere.

Just up the hill is where my Father lies.

It's a lovely spot, but my heart is always heavy when I visit there.

For I remember a cold day in March. Myself, my two brothers, my son, my nephew and my parents' dear friend Mike carried Dad's casket from the hearse to the grave. I was offered the lead, I declined. I always followed my Dad's lead, I learned at his feet, I would carry Dad to his final rest, in trail, at his feet.

I have no remembrance of what the minister said by the graveside. While the sun was shining, the snow lay deep on the ground and the wind was bitter cold. I remember coming to attention and raising my hand in salute as taps was played. I jumped a bit at the first volley of the honor guard, but quickly settled in as the rifle shots echoed in the crisp cold air. Everything glittered. I claimed it was the wind causing my eyes to tear, everyone knew that was not the case. There were many wet eyes that day.

Mom took us to the Senior Center near where she lives. There is a memorial garden with benches and a fountain. The benches have plaques, with names. One of the names on those benches there is that of my grandmother, my Mom's Mom.

Entrance to the garden.

Often these trips home are somewhat bittersweet. But with the shadows there is also light. My Mother is still doing well at 84 and has the joie de vivre of a woman half her age. Dinner on Saturday was fun, the time at the Elks Club afterwards even more so.

Oh, once again we also went to the Apple Festival in the home town. Remember last year, I bought a new USAF hat (yeah, yeah, I know, be still my heart, too much excitement) so in order to establish a new tradition, I did the same this year.

Take note Buck, it is an Air Force hat. Pretty fancy I thought. Only ten bucks!


I'm back in Little Rhody and woefully behind in my perusings of other people's blogs.

Also, I am much appreciative of Tuna for his superb post on Saturday. My lads Tuna and Juvat always seem to have my back.

It's back to work tomorrow. Yes, I know it's Columbus Day, that's one of the holidays we don't take off. We get it back between Christmas and New Year's when the whole place shuts down. I'll take it. Ten days (or so) off at Christmas beats the odd Monday here and there.

So, I'm off then.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Красный Октябрь - Weekend Open Thread

Oddly enough, what NATO calls the Typhoon-class is called Акула (Akula, or shark) by the Soviets, er, I mean the Russians. Pretty big freaking shark. (And yes, loved the book and the movie. Read the former at least six times, watched the latter at least four. A single ping Vasily!)

The post title? Ah, the Russians are boosting my stats again, thought I'd throw 'em a bone. Give Ivan something to chortle about.


I'm on the road for Madame Mère's natal festivities. Up to New Hampshire for some leaf-peeping, birthday-celebrating, beer-drinking old timey New England fun.

So, I've got a rerun queued up for Sunday, but today dear readers is Saturday. I leave things up to you. Comment about whatever you want, I'm sure Andrew can think of something. Make it controversial, make it funny, just clean up the mess when you're done.



Friday, October 13, 2017

242 Years

Continental Sloop Providence (1775-1779) - W. Nowland Van Powell
Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.

That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.

Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence. (Source)
As I am a retired Air Force Master Sergeant I'm sure there were one or two of you wondering why I did not commemorate the Air Force's 70th birthday back in September. Well, there are a number of reasons for that, some of which will no doubt have Buck fuming over his beer and cigar in the afterlife. Sorry my old comrade but our old service has lost its way. Some say that the new kids in charge will make it better. Let's just say, I'll believe it when I see it.

More importantly, I now feel very connected to the Naval Service for any number of reasons.  All three of the progeny wore the uniform of our nation's Navy. My son-in-law is still on active duty (filthy hinge though he be) and The Nuke herself remains in the Navy Reserve. (She's also a lieutenant commander but I won't call her "hinge," truth be told, I'm told that's more of an aviation "term of endearment" than a term used by the shoes, er, I mean Professional Surface Warfare Officers. And she scares me, she's tough as nails and salty as Hell. If'n you get my drift. Why she's scared senior chiefs right off the ship! Yup, I'm awfully proud of her. All of 'em to tell the truth. But, you guessed it, I digress.)

I retired from Uncle Sam's Aerial Forces in 1999, after 24 years of service. Reported for work at the current job two months after I hung up the blues. Now I've been with my current employer (who we affectionately refer to as "Uncle Ray") for a shade over 18 years. Most of that time working on projects for the United States Navy. I work with quite a few veterans, most of whom wore sailor suits for their time in the service.

Uh, no, wrong graphic. (Damn it Schmuckatelli! Where's the picture I asked for?)

Yeah, that one.

I've been to sea on two aircraft carriers and been aboard a bunch of other ships, both old and new. Heck, I even speak a little "Navy" lingo. (Have to in my line of work!) In fact, there are a number of ships I consider "mine." You can read about that here.

The family has been associated with the United States Navy since The Naviguesser received his commission back in '01. (Yes, I would pronounce that "ought one," never as "oh one." Because ought one is a year, oh one is an ensign, or 2nd looey depending on one's service.) So while I am a retired Air Force guy, I'm really a Navy Dad.

And don't you ever forget it!

Happy Birthday Navy!
Non sibi sed patriae.


You can read more about the birth of the Navy here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not So Fast There, Uncle Sam

Stand Your Ground - Don Troiani
Every now and then, I like to pull out the Constitution and peruse those first ten amendments. Perhaps better known as the Bill of Rights. Which is something of a misnomer, the first ten amendments to the Constitution do not grant the citizens of the United States any rights. The Declaration of Independence describes quite nicely where our rights come from -
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
These ten amendments limit the government's power to infringe upon or disturb those rights.
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. Written by James Madison in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, the Bill of Rights lists specific prohibitions on governmental power. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, strongly influenced Madison.

One of the many points of contention between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific limits on government power. Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights, because the people and the states kept any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists held that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty.

Madison, then a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, went through the Constitution itself, making changes where he thought most appropriate. But several Representatives, led by Roger Sherman, objected that Congress had no authority to change the wording of the Constitution itself. Therefore, Madison’s changes were presented as a list of amendments that would follow Article VII. (Source)
Yes, the Bill of Rights is written in an older form of the English language and is much more formal than the way the language is used today. However, it was not written in legalese or in a form that only lawyers would be comfortable with. Which is probably why so many politicians (many, if not most, of whom are lawyers) think it needs to be "interpreted." Fools they be.

Quite honestly, it is what it is. To me it's as clear as a day in early spring after a shower...

...and smells just as sweet to lovers of liberty.

Behold ye tyrants, and tremble.

The Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

No more need be said.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Whoa! Let's Not Go There!

Many moons ago I decided to become a blogger. To be honest, at first, I had no idea what the heck I was doing. My first post read:
I decided to get into blogging for one reason: the untimely departure from this veil of tears of CAPT Carroll "Lex" LeFon, USN (Ret), known in the blogosphere as Neptunus Lex. He was a husband, a father, a naval aviator, an outstanding writer and a man I called friend. Though I never met him in person, I mourn his loss as much as if I'd known him all my life. Therefore, I created this here blog for Lex and for all of us who call ourselves Lexians. So tread carefully here, this is meant to be a place of dignity and respect. I will not tolerate abusive comments or personal attacks. Though things may get heated at times, I expect a certain amount of civility and decorum. So please, play nice. But definitely, let's have some fun with this. We'll see how it goes. For now, we're kind of "under construction" so bear with me as I decorate, elaborate and experiment wildly. As Lex would say, "Talk among yourselves" while I run down to the hardware store to get some paint and stuff to fix this place up.

Here's to Lex - For Strength!
Over the years The Chant has become more than it was in the beginning. Tuna and Juvat have come on board and done yeoman's service. (Okay sailors, it's an old expression, and it's a different sort of yeoman.) So far LUSH hasn't been able to chip in, it's amazing how much work it is to raise two kids. And a pilot.

But I digress.

I've noticed that it's easy to get a lot of hits on posts with a bit of controversy. Giving Up the Gun has 384 hits and counting, the average post gets maybe 200. Yesterday's only had 76 late Tuesday. I still liked it, a lot. Perhaps Tuesday was a slow news day or something. This blogging thing has its fits and starts some days.

Now on that post that had well over 300 hits, I actually had to turn commenting off. The comments were getting a bit contentious. Remember that bit from my first post, this is meant to be a place of dignity and respect, well some folks just have to get upset and toss insults around and quote, quite frankly, bogus statistics. While that doesn't normally bug me, the other day it did.

That was the first time I ever said, "fire truck this" and turned commenting off for a particular post. I have actually deleted two non-spam comments in the time since I started this place up. One was insulting, came from some nitwit who wants to re-fight the Civil War, nope, not here, not ever. Insult one of my heroes and I will consign you and your comment to the outer darkness.

Using a racial slur to illustrate a point gets your comment deleted. Using it in another context will get you banned. Not that that has ever happened.

There was an interesting blog mentioned (in a comment somewhere) the other day, so I checked it out. Amusing in a ranting kind of way, so I added it to the blog roll. The very next day one of this guy's post titles had a racial slur, used to attack a person of a different complexion than mine. Yeah, that blog came off the blog roll in record time.

I will not tolerate racism ever. Condemning an entire group of people for the actions of a few is just wrong, short sighted too. While race relations have soured over the past eight years, things will get better. If they don't, well, we don't really deserve this country do we?

My goal here is to entertain, educate, and amuse. Sometimes I need to rant, but not all of the time.

Life's too damned short for that.

Vía con Dios, mi amigos. Mañana es otro día.

(YouTube used to have a very nice version of Ian Anderson singing that song accompanied only by his own guitar. Sadly the people who own that won't allow it to be shown in the United States. Sigh...)