Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Miscellany

'Tis a cloudy, somewhat dreary day here in little Rhody. Autumn is here, winter can't be too far behind. I offer the following evidence in support:

View to the Southeast from Le Château du Vieux Sergent

View to the West-Southwest of Le Château du Vieux Sergent

To the Nor'east

The Leaves, They are a' Falling
As today's post title might indicate, I will be "all over the map". While there is much in my head these days (as evidenced by the very political nature of my last few posts), I decided to try and keep things on the lighter side. While that is the "plan" who knows where my muse may take me today?

Yesterday's weather looked much like this throughout the day. Towards afternoon, it felt more and more like rain was on the way. And of course, it started raining just as I was leaving work. A veritable downpour ensued. It let up a bit, allowing me to dismount my vehicle and proceed with great dispatch towards the castle gates without getting completely soaked. Just a bit damp I was.

Later in the evening it poured buckets. Felt more like a typhoon (minus the wind) than an autumn rain shower. Which takes me back in time to my days in Tech School at Lowry AFB in Colorado. (Picture one of those reminiscing type scenes from film, where the protagonist looks up and away and goes all glassy-eyed as the screen dissolves to a scene from the past...)

We marched most places in Tech School when in a group, when proceeding solo, we just walked. I seem to remember a lot of rainy days in Colorado in the Fall of '75. So on very rainy days I remember trudging across the base in my fatigue uniform, rather cheap issue raincoat and fatigue cap, going from place to place in pursuit of entertainment. With the rain pouring down, soaking my fatigue cap and, of course, my head and neck. Not exactly a bad memory per se, I was young in those days and the rain didn't irk me so much back then. Not sure why, but there it is. (Dissolve back to the present...)

But on Friday night I was inside my dwelling, my humble abode, my place of residence, (ya know, my house) and settling down to watch the season premiere of one of my favorite TV shows, Blue Bloods. And of course, because of the rain, the satellite dish was having a great deal of trouble pulling a signal out of the ether. Before starting to rant and rave (as my Missus will tell you, I am wont to do) I figured I'd just go read if the signal didn't return. But I was in luck, just before my show started, signal was up, reception was good. So I watched my show.

Now I don't watch a lot of TV. Just a few select programs for entertainment purposes. I seldom watch the so-called "news". The local stuff is alright I suppose, the national stuff blows. Not to put too fine a point on it. My "respect" for the MSM has always been somewhat lacking. They're trying to sell me that Id-jit in DC for President, and I ain't buying. (Ooops, went a little political there didn't I!)

Enough about television. Suffice to say that I spend maybe four hours a week in front of the idiot box. Unless it's football season, then the time wasted spent watching TV goes up quite a bit. What can I say, I enjoy football, especially the professional variety. I am also pleased that members of the current administration the replacement officials have returned to their day jobs. (Perhaps we can send the other inefficient, clueless boobs packing come November. Ooops, political again. Can't help it, still awfully steamed about what those a$$hats and their fellow travelers have done to my country. The boobs in the current administration that is, not the other boobs replacement officials in the NFL.)

Oh, while I'm thinking about it, I'm also completely pi$$ed off at SECNAV (Secretary of the Navy for the acronym-challenged).

Now, I'm a smoker. A terrible habit, I know. A habit I picked up while serving in the military, didn't start smoking until I got to Okinawa. But I digress. I went down to the Navy Exchange (NEX) this Friday last, for to purchase a carton of cigarettes. There to discover that SECNAV had, some months ago, decided that as smoking and the consumption of alcoholic beverages were "bad" for us, prices would be increased. No longer would I pay a cheaper price for my very bad habit than what the civilians have to pay. No, SECNAV decreed that the NEX would now charge prices of a competitive nature with the civilian economy (i.e. a lot higher than the prices were). Figuring, I suppose, that our sailors and Marines would now (being unable to afford smoking) stop smoking. Ergo, producing a much more healthy force. I suppose.

(Hhhmm, I wonder where that extra money will go that the NEX now gets for a carton of cigs? I do know, and am here to tell you, that most of the money spent for a "civilian" carton of cigarettes is tax. Money to the politicians and other "do-gooders", money that doesn't go to those who grow tobacco and make cigarettes. Whom I'm sure are viewed as "minions of Satan" by those trying to impose a "nanny state" on us reprobates.)

What will probably happen is that those who smoke will bitch about it, spend the extra money (out of an already not-so-large paycheck) and keep smoking. I'm sure a small percentage of the force will actually stop smoking. A very small percentage. That way they can stay healthy and go on to man ships with names such as USS Murtha, USS Cesar Chavez and USS Lyndon B Johnson. (That last name really fries my not insubstantial derriere. LBJ should have his picture in the dictionary next to the definition for "King of the A$$hats".) (What? That's NOT in the dictionary? Well, that sucks.) Oh, and while I'm at it, let's just start naming all of our ships, USS Useless Politician. We could then just number them, you know

  • USS Useless Politician I
  • USS Useless Politician II
  • USS Useless Politician III
  • ad nauseum...

Yes, in my humble opinion, the SECNAV is a political hack, a jerk-off of the highest order and a complete a$$hat. But that's just my opinion and certainly NOT the official position of the Department of Defense nor any other Officially-Sanctioned Organ of the United States. (Looks like a cool name when you capitalize every word, doesn't it?)

No smoking? No drinking? The next thing you know they'll expect the Navy and the Marine Corps to not blow things up and kill bad guys. (Oh wait, that doesn't meet the image of the "Global Force for Good" does it? Arrgghh!)

So, it's time to ramble on (as Led Zeppelin might put it). What's next in these senseless, absolutely random thoughts running through my brain?

Ah, I have two new blogs which I follow daily and which you should too. (No, not you, the guy behind you. Yes, I see you, the dude in the blue t-shirt and the Yankees ball cap. I'm talking to you. Oh, hey lady! Yes, you too, stop chatting with the lady next to you and pay attention. There's going to be a quiz later. What? No, the quiz is NOT going to be about hamsters. But I'll tell you now, hamsters will be on the final.)

Yes, the two new blogs. One is RememberedSky.com, written by a Naval Aviator who flew the unfriendly skies over North Vietnam. Well written and excellent. And yes, okay, it's about fighter aircraft, flying and aerial warfare. Three things I have a passion for. Check it out. (Yes, lady, you'll get extra credit. No, Yankee-ballcap dude, there are no hamsters in it. To my knowledge.)

The other blog is The DiploMad 2.0 written by an honest-to-God retired diplomat. A diplomat who also (it must be said) is most unlike other diplomats of my experience. He doesn't have his head up his you-know-what. Obviously he must have retired before the current batch took over Foggy Bottom and became Official Diplomatic Embarrassments to the Planet. He has a lot to say about the "current regime" in DC, mostly not very flattering. He also has a lot of insight into the way things work in that world. Having "been there, done that". Many of his recent posts concern the murders of American citizens in Libya and just how badly DC has been lying to us about that. (Darn, went political again, didn't I?) Anyway, check him out.

Both of the preceding fellows are solid writers with many (excellent) tales to tell.

Well, that's it. My fingers are getting tired from all this keyboard bashing and I've about run out of steam. "See" you all next time, enjoy the day. (Or seize the day, if you prefer. Just put it back the way you found it when you're done.)


Old AF Sarge is bingo fuel and is RTB at this time.

Out...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The American Crisis, Redux

The American Crisis by Thomas Paine
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
The immortal opening lines to Thomas Paine's The American Crisis still ring true over two centuries later. We are again faced with trials and tribulations. We are assailed from within and without.

Terrorists actively seek to kill our citizens without mercy. Innocent men, women and children are slaughtered around the globe by those who would seek to dominate their fellows. It is not just we who are under assault, civilization itself is being attacked.

Our own government lies to us. The denizens of Washington DC seek more and more of our hard-earned wages to finance programs that do not work. That have no hope of working. Programs based on a faulty understanding of both history and human nature.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The government is handing out fish, it seems as if the goal is to make us all dependent on government. This is completely opposed to the way things are supposed to be. What we should have, and President Abraham Lincoln said it best, is a:
government of the people, by the people, for the people
Bear in mind, elected officials work for us, we do not work for them. We pay their salaries, they are supposed to do our bidding. But they must also operate in a manner which is for the benefit of the entire nation, not just their district. While this is not by any means an easy job, it is an important job. Too important to be governed by sordid party politics and far too important to be governed by whomsoever contributes the most money to a candidate.

Our politicians seem to be for sale to the highest bidder. The back room "movers and shakers" jockey for power and prestige, deciding who will be the latest "pretty boy" to be put up for election. Which candidate looks best on TV, which candidate can parrot lines from a Teleprompter the most naturally, which candidate appeals to the most voters.

Now it's not all the fault of the politicians. If the voters themselves would just wake up and pay attention to the issues. Would just wake up and look beyond Twitter and Entertainment Tonight to see what is really going on in the country and in the world at large. If only the voting public would get off their butts and understand just how critical things have become.

Are we at the point where all we're interested in is "Bread and Circuses"? Is this Grand Experiment, this thing  called Freedom, doomed to fail? Are we in the last days of the Republic?

There are times when I despair for the future of my country. Is it too late? Will we finally wake up and take back our heritage, our freedom? Will we squander the many lives lost, the vast amounts of blood shed in the past to preserve our way of life? I cannot answer this to any reasonable certainty. All I can do is pray and hope that we, as a people, realize that democracy, that freedom is hard work. Freedom, most certainly, is not free.
America, Wake Up!
Before It's Too Late...

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Long War

Overwatch in Afghanistan
By some accounts, the Vietnam War began for the U.S. on 1 November, 1955. It ended with the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. 20 years and six months exactly. A very long war.

Now we are engaged in a new long war. A war which could result in the destruction of our civilization and the loss of all we hold dear. For that is what's at stake. Make no mistake about that.

I personally consider this war to have begun on 23 October 1983, with the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Now it is September of 2012. Nearly 29 years later. The Long War continues.

This new Long War has been ongoing, with many fits and starts. I think we, in the West, don't see it this way. We have seen what seem to be disparate events, which don't seem to make up part of any whole. Perhaps this is the fault of the Main Stream Media (MSM) with their concentration on the here and now. Perhaps it is our own fault. Many of us only pay attention to events which impact us directly. Otherwise it's just something on the news. To be replaced by a different story tomorrow.

Unless it's an event like 9/11. That was so big as to get everyone's attention. All of us felt like this was an event which had impacted us directly. This was not, to many people, "just another news story". Many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the events of 9/11 unfolded. Some have likened this to an earlier generation's memories of Pearl Harbor.

Unlike an earlier generation, many of our generation have gotten on with life. It's only a very few who serve in Harm's Way. There is no mobilization of the Nation to support our troops. Life for most of us goes on much as it did before the Twin Towers came down, before the Pentagon was hit, before United Airlines Flight 93 slammed into a field in Pennsylvania. Yes, for some, life goes on as if that day never happened.

But the attacks continue. They're not caused by an obscure video. They're caused by a group of people who stopped progressing sometime during the Middle Ages. They're caused by so-called religious leaders inciting uneducated young men with lots of time on their hands to kill themselves while taking the lives of as many "infidels" as possible. These attacks are caused by pure, unmitigated evil. This enemy wants to kill us. This enemy celebrates the deaths of Americans. This enemy deserves no pity. This enemy must be destroyed.

And at this critical moment in American history, no even more, at this critical moment in the history of Western Civilization, what do we have leading this great nation? A group of unqualified, inept, inefficient self-serving idiots. Community organizers and others of that ilk.

The leader of this pack of fools, our President, travels the globe apologizing for us. Apologizing for what? Apologizing for our service men and women spilling the blood which has soaked the ground of places from Normandy to Khe Sanh? From Iwo Jima to Fallujah? What the hell do we have to apologize for?

I am sick of it. Sick to my stomach.

We are approaching a critical point in this coming election. Will this be a turning point, where we return to the ideals and hard work with which our forefathers built this great nation? Or will we continue as we have, take the hand-outs, the freebies and the "bread and circuses"? In my book, that way leads to a descent into a new darkness.

The enemy is at the gates. This new wave of barbarians will overwhelm us unless we make some changes and make them soon.

Where is the outrage? Where is the disgust with the direction we seem to be taking? WHERE ARE THE MEN AND WOMEN WILLING TO TAKE A STAND?

Where will YOU stand this November?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grandpa x 3


On the 20th of September, in the year of Our Lord 2012, at approximately 14:27 Pacific Time, yours truly became a Grandpa for the third time.

The little one is the daughter of the Naviguesser and the DIL and is cuter'n all get out.

She joins Big O and Little Bit in the grandchildren ranks and I can hardly wait to see her.

Don't have a blog alias for her yet, but it'll come to me.

Gotta run, time for dinner with Mom and the Missus by the sea-side rapidly approaches.

I have a hankerin' for fried clams tonight. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

Blogging on a more extensive level should re-commence tomorrow some time. I have some stuff rolling around the old brain housing group I need to get out of my system.

Standby for heavy rolls!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buck Made Me Do It

Iron Tom Roberts (aka Buck) over at EIP "inspired" me to run out and do this.

But it all worked out as I think my pirate name is rather neat. Perhaps I am officer material after all. (And that my friends is a story for another time!)

So mateys, have ye the stones to get yer own pirate name? Arrr! Get thee hither, be ye man (or woman) enough. Arrr!

(And ye can share yer pirate name with yer shipmates here in these spaces. If ye have the guts fer it!)

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Off Station


My Mom's in town for a few days. So...

Blogging may be a little light for the rest of the week.

Not that I've been burning up the blogosphere lately.

As Lex would've said, "Talk amongst yourselves"...

...Guinness is in the fridge, Jameson's is under the sink.

The Sarge is Off Station at this time...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday

Michigan Won, Packers Won
The Rest? Bah, Humbug!
On the whole a rough weekend for my teams. Air Force didn't play this weekend, so at least they didn't lose.

Rough outing for Army, in a high scoring game like that, to lose by one point. Geez.

And I don't even want to talk about the Patriots right now. Defense comes through, chip shot field goal, missed. So close, yet so far. Cardinals seem very improved. I was impressed by their defense.

It's always fun to watch a Bears - Packers game. A very long rivalry. Also nice to see the Pack get back on track.

Michigan? Go Blue! (Sorry UMass, but I have family that went to Michigan.)

Navy versus Penn State. Won't even go there. 'Nuff said.

Colorado State. Two disappointing outings in a row. Of course CSU is a much better team than when I was in school there. Back in those days, the football program was bad. Very bad. Program has improved a lot since the mid-80s. But not looking good this year, yet.

That's all I have right now sports fans.

After going all geopolitical over the weekend, I needed to lighten things up a bit.

Hard to say what tomorrow will bring. I feel a rather serious post brewing inside me right now.

Or maybe it's just the Buffalo Chicken I had for dinner. Only time will tell...

Update:

Ouch!
Is it just me? Or has Peyton lost some arm strength? Last week and this it seemed that a lot of his passes floated and were kind of wobbly. Three picks in the first quarter. And a fumble. Broncos started off badly. Based on the final score I'd say that cost them the game. Just a bit.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Hero

Dan Murphy, Father of LT Michael Murphy stands alongside USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) at Naval Station Newport.
The official commissioning of the ship will take place Oct 6th in New York City.
Saw this photograph over at The JOPA. Just had to share it. In that picture is the father of a true American hero.

I recently read Marcus Luttrell's book, "Lone Survivor" in which he tells the story of the mission which cost the United States the lives of three of their best: LT Murphy, Danny Dietz and  Matthew Axelson. Marcus was the lone survivor of the title. If you have not read this book, do so. It will give you some idea of the challenges faced by our men and women who are out there, for us.
So this post is a short one, a tribute to one man who gave his future for our today. And in remembrance of all of those brave men and women who answered freedom's call. Especially those who gave everything.

LT Murphy's Awards and Decorations

LT Michael P. Murphy, USN
LT Murphy's Medal of Honor Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare task unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. 
While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

The World Around Us


The person in the foreground, she represents a lot of people in this country now-a-days. She's just going about her business, blithely unaware of her surroundings. The sun is shining, everything is good.

Now that lion in the background? That lion represents a lot of people "out there". Both within this country and especially beyond our borders. A predator sensing an easy kill, confident that the target is paying no attention whatsoever, confident that there will be no retaliation, confident that no danger will come to them.

Most predators will not go after their prey if they sense there is the possibility that they could somehow be injured or even killed in making an attack. The price of the meal isn't worth the risk.

Right now, our freedom, our way of life and our belief systems are under attack. The predators can sense weakness, they sense that there is no risk to themselves at all. American citizens and interests can be attacked at will.

Recent events seem to bear this out. The enemy senses that they can attack us at will and that our government will do little, if anything, to retaliate. In essence, we have given them free reign.

What we need to do is make it clear, both in words and especially in deeds, that if you mess with the United States, if you kill or harm American citizens, then there will be a horrible price to pay. You will be made to pay and you will be made to pay dearly.

We need a return to the days when the following held true:
"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Right now we stumble from one crisis to the next. No one takes the U.S. that seriously anymore. We need to change that and we need to change it NOW!

The following should be our motto as regards the way the rest of the world sees us:
"No better friend, no worse enemy"
Mess with us at your peril but if you stand with us, we've got your back.

Cross posted at The Lexicans

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where Do We Draw the Line?


The U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans murdered in Benghazi!!!

How much more of this anarchy in the world will we tolerate? Where do we draw the line and say, "That's it, not one step further."

It's impractical, if not impossible, to declare war against a frenzied mob. Especially a frenzied mob in another country. Another country where you get the feeling that no one there is really in charge. They've only recently been through a "regime change" which was achieved by blood and bullets, not ballots and babble. Certainly doesn't appear to be a stable, established government.

Perhaps that recent blood-letting has given that bunch a taste for that kind of thing. It's "Hey, we're pissed off and offended! Let's go blow things up and kill people we don't like." It's barbarism I tell you. Civilization does not seem to have taken root in that region of the planet. There's a patina of culture and civility, but scratch the surface and there lies the wolf.

I have no answers which involve diplomacy, talking or negotiating. One does not reason with savages.

We have emboldened these new barbarians with our peace talks, appeasement and "gee why don't they like us" naïveté. They feel that there are no boundaries which they cannot cross, no new atrocity they cannot inflict. There are no limits for them.

We fight with one hand tied behind our backs. We need to start fighting fire with fire.

"Why, doing that would bring us down to their level", it is said by the ivory tower dreamers.

Oh, really?

Is it better to let them slaughter diplomats or continue to blow up children on school buses in Israel? Murder and rape women in Afghanistan? For their so-called honor?

We're at war dammit! They know it and are exploiting our innate goodness and sense of fair play.

Where do we draw the line against this descent into a new Dark Age?

Where?


Cross posted at The Lexicans

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sharing the Awesomeness

This video is well worth 9 minutes and 49 seconds of your life...

H/T to Edward Olsen over at The Lexicans.

I just have to mention that I got the shivers after seeing the tail code on that first jet. "ZZ" is the code for the 18th Fighter Wing, at Kadena AB. I was stationed there for 2 and a half years back in the day (mid '70s). But, I must confess, the video also made me feel a bit old. Back in my day, the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) flew the F-4C, long out of service.
 
But really, all I can say, is, that after watching this video, I am so jealous of what Big Time and the WSO do for a living.

Seriously...

Never Forget


I won't...

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Muse Seems to Have Fled


A Rather Mixed Bag
An entire weekend gone and I didn't post anything after Friday. Over the weekend I thought, "Hhhmm, I should sit down and post something. Anything." But I had nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.

Monday dawned and I set out for my place of employment. Got a late start. No big deal, my company does flex time. You get in, you do your eight, you're done. So I adjusted accordingly. But then...

At my local Dunkin' Donuts, had the old guy with two fistfuls of change. Seems one of his buddies sent him on the coffee run. One hand held the buddy's money, the other held his money. As he was ordering he seemed to have a crisis of confidence over which hand held whose money.

Of course, that occurred while the nice lady behind the counter was trying to get him to place his order. After having a prolonged sotto voce conversation with himself, old guy got things sorted out. Until he realized that he couldn't remember what his buddy wanted. Eventually he remembered, placed his order (as I wondered if it was actually possible for him to do so any slower than he actually did) and the rest of us poor slobs got to get our coffee and head out for work.

Aside: There are a number of "old guy behaviors" which I have alerted my progeny to be on the look out for in me as I age. The above, that's one of them. Another is driving in the left lane on the highway at 20 miles under the speed limit. (Or any lane for that matter!) A third is taking a corner in one's vehicle as if you have a trunk full of nitroglycerin. That is, if you go around a corner at greater than 5 MPH, your car will explode. If the kids notice me exhibiting any of these behaviors, they have my authorization to put me in a home. The caveat here is that the Missus has no vote in this process. She already claims that I act like I'm 80 years old. Or 12 years old. Kinda depends on the time of day I guess.

(Yes, yes, yes, I'll get to the opening graphic eventually. Patience. Patience.)

So I'm on the road, coming up on a "right turn on red" intersection. 'Lo and Behold! A gigantic truck pulling a trailer which appears to be loaded with about a bazillion tons of cast concrete objets d'art. Wonderful. As the truck accelerates at approximately 10 feet per day up the road, I'm thinking, "Maybe I should just take the day off. Turn off the road at the next intersection and just go home!"

But no, I'm in luck, Mr. Big Truck turns off the highway, clearing my path. 'Lo and Behold! Now I have a school bus in front of me.

Back in my day, there was one bus stop for an entire neighborhood. Nowadays I swear there is a bus stop every fifty feet. But we're on the main thoroughfare through my quaint New England seacoast village, so there aren't THAT many residences. But of course, there's at least one with a very young boy waiting with a very old lady to catch the bus.

Now people that age just aren't that spry. And of course the boy was rather young and small. So grandma had to assist him onto the bus. Once the little guy was aboard and grandma had mosied back down off the bus, the driver now just had to get up and do something within the vehicle. All the while I'm sitting there wondering if I'm going to make it to work before the first snow.

Eventually we're rolling again and fortunately the bus had no more stops and turned down the next side street. So eventually I get to work. Of course my colleagues, clever lads they are, all greet me with "Good Afternoon!" It's about 0745, not even close to lunch. But those are my work-mates, keeping me honest. (Smart a$$es!)

So I get the old computing device booted up, I log in and, as is my wont, I head over to The Lexicans to check out the "Daily Lex", then it hits me, I've missed three days in a row! Unprecedented. Unbelievable. Unconscionable. What, did I fall off the planet over the weekend? Did I even turn my computer on over the weekend? Actually I did but only for a few moments before the love of my life yelled up "Are you going to cut the grass today? Or should I go ahead and notify the state that they can turn our yard into a wild life preserve?"

So we cut grass. With a broken toe. (Now there's a story I could have blogged about!)

So Saturday was occupied with forced labor yard work.

Sunday, of course, we go to church. And now, of course, the NFL season has begun. So I, like many others, will be spending these last, lovely waning days of summer, glued to the idiot box watching football.

Yes, now I'm going to talk about the lead graphic. Geez, have you folks no patience at all?

For college ball, we have two "frowny" faces and a neutral. Colorado State lost. Army lost (and yes I follow the service academies as much as possible and root for those future officers). Now the neutral face you may have questions about. You may be saying, "Aren't you glad Michigan won? I thought you rooted for Michigan?"

Well, yes, I do, normally. But do you see who they played? Air Force! And I am retired Air Force. So I had real mixed feelings about that one. Yes, my son-in-law Big Time is a huge Michigan fan as is blog-buddy Buck. But still, they did beat a service academy and it was Air Force. Just sayin'.

Now as far as the pros go. New England won big and looked impressive, particularly on defense. But it was against the Titans so we'll reserve judgement for now. But dammit the Packers lost! I've been a fan of Green Bay since the Lombardi days. You know, Vince Lombardi, the guy the Super Bowl trophy is named after?

Of course, as I went to college in Colorado I also love the Broncos. (State law back then said you got in state tuition if you rooted for the Broncos. I kid.) Also the Nuke is a HUGE Denver fan, she was born when we lived in Denver so that must be in her blood somehow. I also really like Peyton Manning, even when he played for the Colts. And for a New England fan, that's saying a lot.

So the weekend was rather a mixed bag. And...

Excuse me, I hear someone knocking on the door...

Ah, it's my muse! Apparently she's back.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

The Bard
That is the question...

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The spam and snarks of outrageous comments,
Or write a post to slam the trolls
And by counter-snarking end them?

Not that this has ever happened to me, mind you. Not yet anyway.

I did get one spam comment which didn't show up on the blog but in my e-mail. The comment itself made no sense in the context of the post and invited me to visit his/her blog. With excellent security software on board, I clicked on the link, confident that this software would warn me of a "dangerous" link. (It is very good at "protecting" me.)

The link had something to do with "How to buy land illegally in Spain". Not something I was interested in. Breaking the law isn't really my style. Nor do I wish to wind up on Interpol's "bad boy" list. Were I to consider becoming a law-breaker, I think I would do so on the domestic front. Avoid the whole international crime thing altogether.

I certainly would not want to force Hogday out of retirement to chase me down and "bring me to justice".

All that aside, it's been an interesting few weeks. Being back at the home office is better than traveling by far. Though one of the chaps I work for is a bit addled I think. Rather like working for this fellow:

Inspector Clouseau
He's a nice enough fellow, just seems a bit, shall we say, disorganized.

Well, I seem to have absolutely nothing else to say today. Pity really. I had such high hopes for today's post. So I'll quit now and leave you with one of my favorite Python bits, the Cheese Shop. (When in doubt, post a video, at least give the readers something to look at!)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Problem Solving the JOPA Way

Hat tip to the JOPA over on Facebook.

This was just too funny to not steal borrow.

Gotta love the JOPA!


Proud Father of Three JOPA Members. Father-in-Law to Two More.
Supporting the JOPA Since 2001

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Memphis Sky... and the Vah-Too

video
Sunday night, or Labor Day Eve as the Nuke might term it. There I am, sitting in CIC (Combat Information Center) at Chez Sarge, fooling around on the computer as I am wont to do, when the phone rings. It's the WSO.

Me: "What's up sweetie?"

The WSO: "Oh, we're all huddled in the closet. Waiting for the storm to pass."

The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I order that the Intellicast weather site be brought up on the main display.

Imaginary Subordinate (IS): "Intellicast coming up on main viewer Captain!"

Me: "Center the display on Memphis."

IS: "Memphis as in ...?"

Me: "Tennessee of course. Make it quick!"

IS" "Making it quick. Aye!"

(Some of the events in this post have been overly-dramatized for, hopefully, comedic effect. No imaginary watch standers were injured, abused or otherwise perturbed in the writing of this post.)

As the weather display comes up, I can see that there is a tornado watch in effect for much of the area around Memphis. And to the southeast there is a tornado warning in effect. As you may gather at this point, I have family in Memphis.

The Nuke lives in Memphis. The Missus, the WSO and Little Bit are visiting Memphis. So some people who are near and dear to me were, potentially, in harm's way.

Now the huddling in the closet bit? We learned that while stationed in Omaha, Nebraska. An area prone to tornadoes and such. For some reason, base housing did not have basements. A very useful thing to have in tornado country. (Ah, I know the reason! Cheaper to build base housing if you don't put in a basement. Probably a fiscally sound decision made by some spreadsheet cowboy in the Pentagon. But when you're observing a funnel cloud on it's way ground-ward a mere mile from one's position, it feels like they SHOULD HAVE BUILT THE HOUSE OVER A DAMN BASEMENT! But I digress...)

Those who know such things will advise those without basements to head for an interior room in the house. A closet under a staircase is good. (We had one of those.) A bathroom on a lower level is also good (all those pipes and such provide reinforcement, I guess.)

So there were a number of times in Omaha that the Old AF Sarge Tribe huddled in the closet, listening to storm reports on a battery-powered radio. I'm very pleased that the Nuke and the WSO did not forget their early Air Force training. (Yeah, yeah, I know. The Navy probably teaches that stuff too. Just trying to give my old service SOME credit.)

While talking to the WSO, she informed me that the "All Clear" had been sounded and the troops were returning to their positions. In front of the TV, watching a movie. And as she normally does, the WSO said "Well, Dad. I've got to let you go."

She always says that like I imagine a supervisor would tell someone that they've either been laid-off or fired. "Gee Jonesy, you've been a good worker. But times are hard and we're gonna have to let you go."

And yes, she does it intentionally. She thinks it's funny. And really it is. It's just part of the shtick for me and the WSO. As I've mentioned in the past, her sense of humor is as goofy as mine.

So the WSO let me go. So to speak. And I returned to my computing activities. (Well, I wasn't actually doing any computing. Just goofing around you know. Surfing the web, reading my blog-buddies' latest posts, etc., etc. - May have been a game of Free Cell or three in the mix as well, I dunno.)

Then the Nuke calls. Immediately I'm thinking the storm has intensified or some other natural disaster is about to commence. Nope. She just wants to know if I received the video she made on her cell phone of the lightning gracing the Memphis sky.

Checking the old e-mail account, sure enough, there's a short video. Upon watching it, I can hear my wife, daughters and granddaughter in the background. And I catch something which always gives me a chuckle. (That's a hint that I'm about to address the second part of the title of this post. And I'm sure you're all wondering, "What the heck is a Vah-Too?")

At about the five-second mark of the video, you can hear Little Bit exclaim "My Vah-Too!" And for a second or so she's trying to get the attention of the adults in the room.

Now a "Vah-Too" is what Little Bit calls her pacifier. Don't know why. We've consulted the family's linguistic expert (that would be me) and other sources and we cannot for the life of us figure out why Little Bit calls her pacifier a Vah-Too. But she does.

For amusement she likes to fling her Vah-Too away from her to make the adults fetch it. Normally she will fling it into anything nearby which is dirty, dusty, unswept or otherwise unclean. So of course, part of the game of fetch involves cleaning the Vah-Too off prior to returning it to Little Bit.

On family outings, each member of the family is detailed to carry a spare Vah-Too. Sort of like carrying extra ammo for the machine gun I suppose. WSO, as Little Bit's Mom, acts as the Assistant Vah-Too. Which means she usually has a zip-lock bag with 4 or 5 spare Vah-Toos. Believe me, on a long outing Little Bit can go through a lot of Vah-Toos. Primarily because of the inability to rinse off the Vah-Too (once it's been flung) on an outing around town, or at the beach, or at the zoo. (When we rode the train at the zoo in Virginia Beach, Little Bit threw her Vah-Too from the train. Not to make us play fetch, but because she was perturbed and annoyed at being made to ride the train.)

Now in the video (corroboration was provided by the Nuke post facto) apparently, when Little Bit proclaims "My Vah-Too!", she had just flung the Vah-Too off of the balcony of the Nuke's apartment. Where they were watching (and filming) the lightning. As the adults continue to chat, Little Bit again indicates that her Vah-Too has gone over the side. As it were.

Eventually the Missus (Grandma) realizes that something is amiss, and asks Little Bit if she has lost her Vah-Too. The "oh oh" you hear in the video is Little Bit indicating, "Why yes Grandmother. Apparently I have tossed my Vah-Too off of the balcony. And at the moment I am sans Vah-too. Be a dear and get me another, would you?)

Well the Nuke tells me that she dashed out in the storm (which was winding down) and rescued the discarded Vah-Too. Little Bit caught everyone's attention in time in order to activate the family "Vah-Too Overboard" drill and the jettisoned Vah-Too was rescued. And apparently none the worse for the experience.

I forgot to ask the Nuke if it was necessary to perform a "Williamson Turn" during the Vah-Too Overboard evolution.

Probably not. I don't think that would be a reasonable or even possible maneuver in an apartment building. I'll ask her later. Just for the record, I like keeping my facts straight.

It's the amateur historian in me I guess.

Update
Apparently I did not have all of my facts straight. While debriefing the Nuke and the WSO it was made clear to me that the Nuke did not personally rescue the Vah-Too. Seems she was the Officer-of-the-Deck (OOD) during the storm viewing evolution and actually saw the Vah-Too go over the side.

At this point she ordered a fellow watch stander to recover the Vah-Too. Which he did.

That Nuke. A Surface Warfare Officer through and through. Someday I'll have to tell the story of the Nuke and "her" sonar dome. Entertaining. But as I said, a story for another time.

September Is Here


Yes, it's September. The NFL season begins later this week and the college football season has begun. It's not something that I'm over-excited about, but as a New Englander and given how poorly the Red Sox season has gone so far, it's something. I guess.

Now I'm not a huge sports fanatic. But I do enjoy the games. My enjoyment is somewhat diluted given how things have gone so far for some of the teams I root for. See the graphic above. The frowny-faces kind of tell the story.

Michigan getting blown out by Alabama is a bummer. Big Time's Mom and Dad are both Michigan Alumni and huge fans of the Wolverines. I became a fan of Michigan a couple of years back when the Missus and I flew out to Michigan for Little Bit's baptism.

Ma and Pa Big Time arranged an excellent weekend for this momentous occasion in our granddaughter's young life. We were to go to the Big House to see Michigan play UMass. As we'd never done the college game live and in person thing before, we were intrigued and kind of excited to go.

First of all there was the tail-gating. That was a lot of fun. Seems that Ma & Pa Big Time have had the same seats at the stadium for a long time. They also have been tail-gating in the same spot for a similar length of time. I mean they literally knew everyone. And introduced us to everyone. We had an absolute blast.

The game itself was actually competitive with the issue not being decided until the second half. But the atmosphere of a Division I game was something to behold. And the stadium (which is known, as noted above, as the "Big House") was very nice. We had an incredible time. Absolutely incredible.

Now that Notre Dame - Navy score? Well, those of you who are new to the blog should know that Son-in-Law #2 (aka TRex) is a graduate of the Boat School (aka the Naval Academy). That aside, I've been a Navy fan for a long time (with three kids and two kid-in-laws who have or are wearing the uniform of the Naval Service, it kind of comes with the territory). So losing to Notre Dame, sucks. Heck Navy losing to anyone sucks.

Now we finally get to the one happy face on the board. Colorado State versus Colorado. I am a graduate of Colorado State, so it's only natural that I would root for them. Especially versus their in-state rival Colorado. So that was good to see. (I actually did catch some of the game on TV, in between doing other things.)

Well, enough about sports, for now. No doubt I shall someday wax eloquent upon this topic, having been a bit of an athlete in my youth. But that is for another day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ma Vie Militaire (Part V)

AN/APQ-109  Radar Set
That beast in the photo above is the reason I was at Lowry AFB, Colorado in the summer of 1975. (Was that really 37 years ago!) For I was to be trained in the care and feeding of the Weapon Control System (WCS) as mounted in the F-4C and F-4D aircraft.

While refreshing my memory of those days of  yesteryear, I came across something called the "Harpoon Database". For those who don't know, "Harpoon" is a naval simulation. The database I came across is apparently associated with the simulation. In the interests of full disclosure, the database claims that the AN/APQ-109 was only used on the F-4D. Wrong! It was also used on the F-4C. I would know as I worked on both variants of the F-4 while assigned to Kadena AB, Japan. Just thought I'd mention that.

Update: I do believe I am incorrect. F-4C carried the AN/APQ-100, so that there Harpoon DB is correct. My bad, the Sarge, 20 March 2013.

Oh, and for the acronym-challenged. AFB = Air Force Base. AB = Air Base. Don't know why, but Air Force bases in the good old US of A were called Air Force Bases, those overseas were called Air Bases. Don't know why, don't much care. It is what it is. Or perhaps was. Now-a-days I keep seeing references to "Joint Base Something-Or-Other". Guess that's for when multiple services occupy the same geographical location. I also would guess that this kind of thing also requires a staff of 30-40 people at the Five Sided Puzzle Palace (the Pentagon) to keep track of. That office is probably right down the corridor from the Office of Acronyms and Obscure Terminology. Your tax dollars at work. (There is, to my knowledge, no  such thing as the "Office of Acronyms and Obscure Terminology". If there is, it probably has a less obvious name.)

Now the Tech School at Lowry was rather long. I arrived there in July of '75 and departed in January of '76. While much of this time was consumed with technical training, I did manage to find time for youthful hi-jinks and other forms of entertainment.

But as I mentioned in my last installment of this series, the staff at the school actually treated us like human beings and potentially valuable members of Uncle Sam's Aerial Follies. I say potential because Basic Training didn't really give us any, shall we say, "marketable" skills upon completion. To my knowledge there are no paying jobs which require the ability to fold underwear to exacting specifications and the ability to march. For the former, they have machines. For the latter, you usually need another skill to go with that, such as being able to play a musical instrument.

The first part of the school covered basic electronics. How to follow a wiring diagram. What a resistor is, what a capacitor is, etc. etc. I don't remember all too much of this phase. Other than that for me, it was fairly simple. Of course, the intent of the course was not to make us all Electrical Engineers, but to give us enough knowledge to complete the second part of the school. Which was learning about WCS on the F-4.

My memories of this second part of the school are somewhat misty after all this time. But I do remember the odd bits and pieces.

The strongest memory was of my instructor. He was a Staff Sergeant (paygrade of E-5 for those of you keeping score at home) and as I recall, he was a very big dude. The kind of guy you don't want to piss off, the kind of guy you want to have your back in a donny-brook. He was also one of those "gentle giant" types. Amicable and genuinely interested in having us succeed at our chosen profession.

Problem was, those higher up the food chain thought this knowledge was best acquired by tracing out schematics with colored pencils. I kid you not. We spent very little time actually doing hands-on things with the actual equipment. Most of our six-hours in the class room evolved around "now take your red pencil and starting from plug J5, trace pin 5 down to where it goes into plug P5." I mean we did learn some, but not enough to actually work on the system. We wouldn't gain that knowledge until we were actually standing in front of the jet, with a crusty sergeant asking us, "So which unit would you check first if such-and-such is not working?"

Our instructor did try as much as humanly possible to get us on the system trainers. These were composed of actual aircraft hardware mounted on a test bench. Now as you may well imagine, the schools did not have the same priority as the actual fighter wings when it came to getting replacement parts. So when a trainer broke down, it would typically stay broke for weeks, if not months, at a time. So time on the trainers was much sought after, but hard to get.

Nevertheless, learn we did. At least enough to graduate from the school and at least enough for those crusty sergeants on the flight line to have something to work with. (At the very least I could tell the difference between a Synchronizer and a Target Intercept Computer, and so on and so forth.)

Other things which occurred at Tech School were more memorable due to the humor involved.

In those days my best buddy from high school was also at Lowry going through a different (and much longer) Tech School. We would hang out as much as possible given our being in different squadrons and having different schedules. Typically this was on weekends.

One weekend we went forth to downtown Denver. (I should also note that he had a car, I did too, but it was still in Vermont.) We found this hobby shop and there I found something I just had to have. It was a non-firing but very accurate reproduction of one of these:
Maschinenpistole-40
This bad boy (the MP-40) was the standard weapon carried by German Army infantry sergeants during WW-Deuce. This sucker looked and felt like the real thing. Even field stripped the same way as the real thing. (Note: Having had the opportunity to handle the real thing, I know of what I speak.) So of course, I had to have it. So I bought it for the then princely sum of 100 American dollars.

When we got back to base I just had to show it off. My buddies all thought it awesome and cool, etc. etc.

Now we had this one a$$hole who lived on our floor in the dormitory (that's Air Force-speak for barracks by the way). Seems like every Saturday he liked to go out and get completely messed up. Then return to the dorm and make lots of noise regarding his dislike of the Air Force and all who were in it. (Why the hell this punk ever enlisted is beyond me. They should have thrown this clown out a lot sooner AND put his recruiter in jail. He was that bad!)

So there it was, a Saturday night (actually it was probably Sunday morning) and our local a$$hole comes back from downtown with a snoot-full and decides it would be funny to wander up and down the corridors banging on doors and shouting at the top of his lungs. Bloody hysterical, to him, I'm sure. But his reign of a$$holeness was about to end.

My roomie and I both woke up, unhappy campers at having our beauty rest interrupted. As we're about to go deal with His Royal Pain-in-the-Ass, roomie says to me "Hey, grab your fake MP and let's scare the crap out of this a-hole".

So yours truly grabs his MP out of his locker and out into the hallway we went. 'Lo and Behold, Airman A$$hole is just about ready to pound on our door. He's right in front of us. He's paused in mid-knock when the barrel of the faux machine pistol is presented to his drunken mug. As his alcohol-addled brain is trying to process just what the heck is going on, yours truly racks back the charging handle and says, "Prepare to meet your Maker, you drunken bastard."

At this point, Airman A$$hole literally wets his pants. Then crumbles to his knees and starts begging us not to kill him. This is how the rest of the conservation went, near as I can recall:

Roomie: "What do you think? Should we let him off this time?"

Moi: "Why, so he can just do the same thing next weekend?"

Airman A-Hole" "Please, please, please don't kill me. I'll never do this again, I swear!"

Moi: "I dunno roomie, he seems really sincere."

Roomie: "Ah screw it, just blow his head off so we can all go back to sleep."

Airman A-Hole: "No, no, no, no, please."

Moi: "Ah what the hell. We can clean the mess up in the morning. We'll tell the First Sergeant we caught him trying to break into our room."

Airman A-Hole" "Please, please, please don't kill me."

Roomie: "Hold off for a minute..."

My roomie grabs the guy by his shoulders and says, "We're tired of this crap. If you ever pull this sh!t again, we will kill you. Now beat it!"

At this point Airman A$$hole scrambles to his feet and heads down the hallway at near-Olympic qualifying speed.

Upon returning to our room, my roomie realizes that we could be in awfully deep doo-doo for this night's little episode. Pondering this, I realized that yeah, we could be facing some pretty serious crap. We both went back to bed a wee bit nervous over what the "Powers That Be" might do to a pair of airmen who had threatened the life of a fellow airman. Even though it was with a fake weapon.

The next day, Airman A$$hole was telling everyone about the seriously weird dream he'd had the night before. Seems that he'd had a dream that the German Army had taken over Lowry and that the GESTAPO was just about to execute him when he woke up. As he told it, the dream was so realistic that he'd actually wet his pants.

Dude did not stop drinking. But he did stop his antics in the dorm upon his return from his drunken sojourns downtown. He was later dishonorably discharged for drug use. I suppose that's a happy ending for the Air Force, if not for him.

Oh, and we never ever ever told anyone else who wasn't there about that night. But I think the First Sergeant knew. Especially after he'd asked to see my new toy. After praising its coolness and authentic look, he turned to roomie and I and said, "Just don't shoot any drunks with it. Okay?" And walked off.

I'm hear to tell you, a good First Sergeant doesn't miss anything. He hears all and sees all. But he also knows when to let things slide. Usually after a nod and a wink which means, "Don't you EVER do that again."

Roger that First Sergeant.

Roger that.