Friday, November 30, 2012

History, Departing

Tomorrow she sails into history.

USS Enterprise is being decommissioned on 1 December 2012, you can read more over at Steeljaw Scribe.

I don't really have the heart to comment on this other than to say that The Nuke served on her with 1st Deck Division as a midshipman, Big Time was there for her last two deployments - flying off her flight deck into the wilds of Afghanistan.

If any ship can be family, it's this one.

Farewell Big "E"...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 26

So it's been, let me see now, Saturday would have been 21, so today is...

Ah yes. It's been 26 days since I've had a cigarette. Twenty-six long days of being nearly-out-of-my-head-insane-at-times-from-nicotine withdrawal. TWENTY SIX TIMES HAS THE EARTH ROTATED... (Okay, okay, I'm good. Just get a little testy at times.)

I have cooked off a couple of times. What I mean is that no big explosions have occurred, just a couple of minor *POPS*, like random shots heard in the dark. Not so close as to be looking for cover, but close enough that you want to stay alert.

One night I was in the kitchen, fumbled something, grumbled a bit. Might have mentioned fudge, or something similar mind you. The Missus sang out from the other room "What is all that mumbling and complaining?"


Crap, I'm doomed. Dead man walking. Surprisingly enough, she let me off with a warning. She used to smoke (a long, long time ago), she remembers.

But there have been days like this:

And visions of other motorists on the road suffering this fate:

And every so often, I have one of these days.

But as the Beatles sang, "It's getting better all the time..."

One day at a time. I AM feeling better. My children, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends and my wife and my Mom are all very pleased. I can do this. Dammit, I AM doing this.

Oh, one more thing. Tuna, if you're reading this, thanks. Thank You Sir! <Said while sitting rigidly at attention.>

You see, during my military career I was, early on, no angel. It was a Chief who got me to pull my head out of my you-know-where and propel me on to become a useful Non-Commissioned Officer.

I should have known that one day, it would be an Officer who would verbally slap some sense into me. Kinda surprised me though that it was a Naval Officer, a retired one at that. Again Tuna, thanks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Administrative Types

I had an interesting experience today with what we (that's a collective "we", as in the place where I work officially designates them as such) call an "administrative assistant". This experience got me to thinking. Especially as how this particular experience with this particular administrative assistant has been ongoing and has been humorous. (Humorous to me and to a select few of my exiled colleagues at any rate.) To the place where I work, not so much. More on all these various and diverse threads momentarily. (For those who enjoy my tangents, diversions and ramblings, you're in for a treat today. For those who don't, perhaps you should waste your time elsewhere today, because I will be rambling on rather randomly today. It's all connected but in a rather disheveled way. Expect a lot of alliteration as well.)

So, let us begin. First of all, I have a number of stories which involve people of this ilk. Call them secretaries, clerks, administrative assistants, receptionists, usw. (First tangent: "usw" is an abbreviation in German standing for "und so weiter", as in "and so forth", think of it the same way you would et cetera, commonly abbreviated etc. I'm just so tired of using "etc", it's so de rigueur don't you think?) Now where was I? Oh yeah, people who do forms of administrative work. For the purposes of this post let's use the term "Admins"? Capitalized of course. Everybody good with that? Kris in NE?

Before proceeding I have to make one thing perfectly clear: a good Admin is worth their weight in gold/stock options/Treasury Notes. A bad admin (note the lack of capitalization) is, on the other hand, such a detriment to an organization that, that... (no, I just can't go there, the concept is far too horrible.)

As many of you know, I like to start my posts with a photo of some sort. Kind of a tone-setter. Something to get me in the mood to write and something to put you in the mood to read. Works for me, YMMV. (And I am seriously thinking of starting up an acronyms page, my nephew (The Young Vermonter) and old school buddy Greg (in Fla) chastise me from time to time for my abbreviation and acronym usage. This will (might?) happen soon, as in maybe before the decade is out. Maybe not. We shall see.) So I go to Google Images (Safe Setting On of course) and type in "administrative assistant". Now I am an old-timey kind of guy and certain things don't annoy me as much as they may annoy your more modern fellow, but seriously? Google Images provided me with images of Administrative Assistants which were like 95% WOMEN? (And the very few men shown were, to my mind, not exactly the type of guy who would answer to "rugged and tough looking". If you get my drift. In a NTTAWWT kind of way.)

Also the female admin types were generally all rather attractive in a physical sense. I guess the folks who programmed the Google Image search function must generally be white guys of a certain age, OWGs I call them, ya know Old White Guys. Now I feel that I can use that term without hesitation or any sort of fear of consequences. Because I am an OWG. Not only that I am of the subset of OWGs known as OBWGs. (Old Bald White Guys, sometimes abbreviated OBG, a term coined by my work daughter and which encompasses older gentlemen who are follicly-challenged yet non-specific as to race, creed or color. I personally prefer OBG to the more specific OBWG.)

All that being said, I felt that none, repeat none, of the photos presented by Google met my requirements. So, knowing full well that an Admin's deadliest weapon most useful tool is the computer, I went with a stock line drawing of a computer. (A rather archaic computer now that I look at it!)

And the story today revolves around computers, in a peripheral sort of way. (Heh. Lame software geek humor.)

While exiled to the Far Northern Reaches of my company's vast holdings I used a laptop computer. But a simple laptop would be woefully insufficient and inefficient for the needs of your typical engineer. After all we do more than check e-mail and surf the web. Sometimes we look at "technical manuals" and "engineering drawings" which are a tad hard to read on a laptop screen. So I was issued with what I referred to as a "docking station".

To me a docking station encompassed the actual piece of equipment to which the laptop "docks", a full size monitor, a full size keyboard and a mouse. Four separate items make up what I refer to as a "docking station". Peripheral equipment really... (pregnant pause, laugh here, or groan, the choice is yours.)

Now when I began to split my time between Up North and The Home Office (THO), I decided that I needed another docking station. One for there, one for here. I tried working off of the tiny laptop screen for a while, it was painful. So I put in a requisition with my department's admin. (See what I did there. Think about it...)

My request was approved by my department manager and the order was placed. Our admin gave me a long involved explanation as to how previous equipment orders had been lost, misplaced and otherwise fouled up. So she has the equipment shipped directly to her. Rather than to me, the guy who needs the stuff. But she said "not to worry" she would stay "on top of things". (Key point, the admin is at THO, not Up North, where I was.)

A few weeks later I received a partial shipment. Just the bit the laptop plugs into. This came to me Up North and NOT to the admin at THO. So I called her and told her what happened. She told me to look inside the box again, perhaps there was a monitor, keyboard and mouse in there and I'd just overlooked them.

Let me explain. The box was just big enough for the docking thingy. I explained that to her. She bade me "go look again, sometimes those other items are actually underneath something else". I was sore puzzled and confused. I tried to explain to her that nothing else could possibly be inside the box, unless the box was somehow an "inter-dimensional portal". I actually used that term mind you, "inter-dimensional portal", the admin said, "No, I'm pretty sure Hewlett-Packard makes all of the equipment we lease."

At that point, I say, "Let me check. Okay, nothing else is in the box. Nothing."

Admin: Are you sure?

Me: <dead silence>

Admin: Hello, are you still there?

Me: Yes, I'm still here. The box is empty, devoid of everything except air.

Admin: So there's nothing else in the box.

 <dead silence>

Admin: Hello...

Me: Yes, I'm still here.

Admin: Hmm, I'll look into that for you.

And with that we went our separate ways. Now a couple of weeks went by, no further equipment arrived either Up North or at THO. Then the miraculous occurred and I returned from exile.

<Telephone ringing...>

Me: Hello?

Admin: Hi. Do you still need that extra monitor?

Me: Not really.

Admin: Do you want me to cancel the one on order?

Me: <Desperately wanting to say something snarky but...> Yes, please cancel it. I don't need it. I don't want it anymore.

Admin: Okay. I'll take care of it.

Weeks go by. The seasons change. My phone rings.

Admin: Hi. They received your monitor Up North. Do you still want it?

Me: Not really, but I'll take it.

Months go by. The seasons change. Thanksgiving comes, then goes. First snowfall occurs. Then, my phone rings. Again.

Admin: Those guys Up North won't answer my e-mails and won't answer the phone. By any chance did you receive the monitor?

Me: Uhhhhh, No.

Admin: Are you sure?

Me: Yes. Very sure.

Admin: Do you want me to cancel the order? I shouldn't be wasting anymore time on this issue.

Me: Yes. Cancel. The. Order. Please. And yes I'M SURE!

Admin: Okay. Hope to see you at the "Year in Review Luncheon"! <That's the company code-phrase for Christmas Party, by the way>

Me: Yes. Bye.

I fully assume that I have not heard the last of that monitor. Not to mention the keyboard and mouse. I'm guessing that sometime in the spring I will receive 20 monitors and an equivalent number of keyboards and mice. And the admin will ask me why I needed so many. I don't know what I'll tell her.

I feel as if I have somehow fallen into The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners' hollo!
And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

The monitor is MY albatross. 

Where Have I Heard These Before?

Oh yeah, substitute "WIFE" for "PILOT" and substitute "HUSBAND" for "CO-PILOT".

Stolen Borrowed from  the JOPA.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Had A Gut Feeling About This...

I didn't really need to see this article, I think I sensed this all along.

But still, to see it spelled out like this? I guess Rhode Island COULD have been dead last.

But seriously?

Only California is lower?

Gee, how do we compare with say, Greece?

Or perhaps Afghanistan?

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It Was Sublime

Crossing the Connecticut
Returning to work after an entire week off can be, shall we say, "challenging". And so it has come to pass, that after a week of pretty much doing whatever didst please me, I have returned to my normal mode of operation. Get up, go to work, work, come home, go to bed. Monday through Friday. My it certainly looks depressing when you write it out like that. Oh well.

But I'm not here to talk about being back at work. No, the purpose of this post is to regale you with tales of Thanksgiving and my travels to the more northerly bits of New England. By "more northerly", I mean farther north than my normal haunts. Not so northerly as to be almost in Canada, I have not been that far north in New England in quite some time. (I believe the last time I was that far north was circa 1973. In the vicinity of Lake Memphremagog it was. Said lake being depicted below.)

(Hhhmm, first time I've done an aside which had a pictorial component. I may do that more often. I rather liked it. Also I enjoyed the way Google reacted when I attempted to search for "Memphremagog". Another aside: if you spell it "google" then Blogger indicates that it's misspelled. It does however like "Google". Well, it is a proper name I suppose. And Google and Blogger are stable-mates. But I see that I have gone way off topic at this point. So let's get back to it. Shall we?)

Yes, Thanksgiving was a time to gather with family, eat far too much food, watch football and be thankful for one's blessings. All four of which I did. It was sublime, as in "not to be excelled; supreme". For you see, I had not been in the ancestral homeland for Thanksgiving since the early 70's. I have many fond memories of the Thanksgiving holidays of my youth. Perhaps an attempt to recapture those memories was doomed to failure. There was only one way to find out and that was to head north for Thanksgiving. North to the land of my youth.

So on Wednesday last (the 21st of November by my reckoning) the Missus and I bid the feline inhabitants of Chez Sarge a fond "see you in 3 days", boarded the vehicle (for those in-the-know, that would be "Big Girl", for those not in-the-know, do your research, much is revealed on one's right), started the engine, backed into the street and headed North. North to the land of my birth. North to see my Mom, my two brothers and assorted relatives.

We arrived at my Mom's house with an hour or so of daylight still remaining. Being as how it was the day before Thanksgiving there were no volunteers willing to step up and prepare a meal. So, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays, we naturally headed out to a Chinese restaurant. While the Missus and my Mom saw nothing at all humorous about going to a Chinese restaurant on "Thanksgiving Eve", I (having watched "A Christmas Story" perhaps one too many times) was nearly horizontal, so consumed by laughter was I. The Missus explained to my Mom, "He's been like this ever since he quit smoking."

And the Missus is correct. It seems that since I've kicked the habit I am somewhat, shall we say, "unrestrained" in some emotional aspects. At work I have a "self-evaluation" form sitting in my e-mail In Box. Every time I look at it, I begin to chuckle. Because I have filled it out as follows:

Summary Comments: I think that I’m wonderful and am the greatest thing since sliced bread. To say anything less about myself would be both dishonest and questionable. I sometimes believe that I am from a more highly evolved species than the rest of my co-workers.

Key Strengths: Smart. Quick learner. Although taking 36 years to quit smoking would seem to indicate that I’m not actually a quick learner, this is about work, not personal life-style choices. And I did actually quit smoking which is apparently effecting my tolerance for this “self-evaluation” nonsense. I do know that the lack of nicotine in my system has certainly increased my tendency to be brutally honest.

Key Development Needs: Unknown. I don’t know what I don’t know. By definition.

I'm thinking that I may need to reword this before I submit it to the "powers that be". Not sure that they would see the humor in this. (Oh crap. I see I've wandered off on another tangent. Sorry.)

Back to Our Story
Okay. Dinner on "Thanksgiving Eve" was at a Chinese restaurant.

Thursday morning (Thanksgiving Day for those of you not paying attention, don't try to hide, I know who you are) dawned chilly and rather foggy. The fog burned off eventually, it also warmed up quite considerably for the two or three hours of daylight we have this time of year. (Yeah, yeah. I know there are more hours of daylight in New England than 2 or 3. I was being dramatic.) And my youngest brother arrived from his current area of operations, slightly north and west of Boston. We were now ready to head over the river to my oldest younger brother's house.

Now another short digression is in order here. I have two younger brothers. Younger at this point being a very relative term. We're all over 50. My dear Mom does NOT like to hear that the ages of her three sons adds up to 167. As in, "Hey Mom, your kids are 167 years old!" Sure to garner a dirty look from my mother that would kill a lesser man. At any rate, I have two brothers, both of lesser years.

It feels wrong to refer to either of them as a "kid brother". None of us are "kids" any more. At least not physically. So I refer to the younger of my two younger brothers as my youngest younger brother. And the older of my two younger brothers as my oldest younger brother. Typing all that out made my head hurt. Reading it must surely be as painful. So, to make things easier I will refer to the eldest young'n as "The Vermonter" and the youngest young'n as "The Musician".

The Vermonter is truly an old time Vermonter. Non-liberal, loves to hunt and is also a very talented carpenter and builder of things. Now The Musician is a truly talented fellow. Plays the guitar like nobody's business. And I mean CLASSICAL guitar. Oh he can rock with the best, but he can make an acoustic guitar sing like a choir of angels. So those are my two brothers. It is The Vermonter's home we are traveling to for Thanksgiving dinner.

That picture up yonder? That is the bridge between the New Hampshire side of the family and the Vermont side of the family. I've been crossing that bridge since I was a sprout, as a matter of fact, I think that bridge has been there since my Dad was a teenager. He and his two brothers had some stories about that bridge. Did I mention that this used to be a toll bridge? Owned by (ahem) THE RAILROAD. Note the use of all caps. This is intentional, this bridge was owned by 
THE RAILROAD when the railroad was truly a big deal. A big powerful deal. By again, I digress.

So we're at The Vermonter's house. There's him, his wife (Missus Vermonter, AKA Queen of the Yard Sale), my nephew (The Young Vermonter), my niece (City Girl, after all she went to college up at the University of Vermont in Burlington - Vermont's "big" city), my niece's boyfriend (The Chef, man that kid can cook!), The Vermonter's two dogs (both mostly black lab, both the size of small horses, both friendly as the day is long), Missus Vermonter's two cats (who apparently are not visible to the naked eye), my Mom, my Missus and of course, Yours Truly.

Now I have to tell you that The Vermonter's home is the ancestral dwelling of my tribe. My Dad purchased this home in the Way Back for the princely sum of 15 thousand American dollars. (My maternal grandfather exclaimed that blowing that much cash on a house would surely ruin the young couple that was my Ma and Pa! Not so much, but we came close a couple of times.)

The ancestral palace looks only a little like its original configuration. The Vermonter added an in-law suite a while back, said in-law, sad to say, is no longer with us. The upshot is that the manse is bigger than it used to be. (So am I and I catch hell for it constantly!) The Vermonter and his Missus have really gone to town decorating the place so that now it looks just like one of those quaint old-timey homes you see in Yankee Magazine. Only lived in, well lived in.

So we all sat down to an incredible dinner. Lovingly prepared by the ladies and The Chef, lovingly consumed by us all. The Young Vermonter and I had a grand time berating The Musician over the relative merits of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in print versus the version presented on the big screen by Peter Jackson et al. My brother bemoaned the loss of the trilogy's "quaintness" he remembered from the books. The Young Vermonter mentioned that perhaps the lack of Brazilian music in the movies were perhaps off-putting. (The Musician has quite a thing for Brazilian music. Even taught himself Portuguese after a fashion, his accent sucks but 
ele entende muito bem! Muito obrigado!

So we somehow managed to twist things such that The Musician didn't like the Lord of The Rings movies because they didn't have Portuguese subtitles. The Vermonter understood, none of the ladies had the foggiest idea of what we were on about. The Chef (wisely I might add) stayed out of it. But there was an unfortunate side effect to our lunacy. Missus Vermonter and Missus Sarge determined that quite enough beer and wine had been consumed and that all and sundry would now have coffee. And watch football.

We watched the Lions lose (sorry Big Time, but when's the last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving?) We watched the Cowboys lose (much to my Mom's delight, she hates all things Texas since the Kennedy assassination, go figure. She condemned the entire state. But especially the Dallas Cowboys! Not me, I can't bring myself to "hate" the Cowboys. Not sure why...

So coffee was savored. Pie was eaten. Football was watched. As evening deepened we eventually recrossed the Connecticut back to Mom's place. There to watch the New England Patriots crush the New York Jets. The Musician left the TV for less than a minute, thus missed the "three touchdowns in 52 seconds"  moment. The Missus and Mom kept exclaiming "that has to be some kind of record, doesn't it?"

Me, I just sat back and soaked it all up.

Yes, it's been the best part of forty years (and more!) since I last had the chance to spend Thanksgiving with the "folks back home". It was well worth waiting for. It was superb. It was fun. It was fantastic. Yes, indeed...

It Was Sublime.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Blogging has been light to non-existent this week. I have the entire week off and I've been engaging in some of my favorite pastimes. Reading, watching football, reading (I like reading), watching movies and doing as little as possible. What I like to call "The Perfect Vacation".

Tomorrow we go over the river and through the woods, literally to grandmother's house we go. Not my grandmother mind you, my kids' grandmother, my Mom. Haven't been to Thanksgiving in the ancestral lands for quite some time. I'm looking forward to it. A lot.

To all of you out there: I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I hope you get to spend time with loved ones. Eat much, make merry and enjoy the holiday. I know I will.

There is much that I'm thankful for. A roof over my head, food on my table, a wonderful wife, great kids and grand-kids, good friends and talented colleagues at work. God has truly blessed me and my family.

But most of all I'm thankful for my Freedom and the men and women who keep us free. Spare a thought for them this day. I will.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Japanese Musings

Of course, upon arrival here at Chez Sarge you may wonder if the old boy has gone off his meds again.

Negative, I assure you that I am fine. A little tired perhaps after a long week, but in full possession of my faculties, thank you very much.

Two things set me off on this particular road. Item the first: I have been re-reading Stephen Hunter's most excellent novel The 47th Samurai. Set in modern Japan, it tells the tale of Bob Lee Swagger and a sword. A sword which came into the possession of his father during the fight for Iwo Jima.

I won't say more than that. If you like tales of action it's just the thing. It is also a tale of honor. Something sorely lacking in modern society.

Item the second: I was visiting over at Buck's Place and noticed an ashtray in one of his photos. The logo on the ash tray was Japanese, katakana characters to be precise.

Of course being an avid amateur linguist, I had to know what the ash tray said. (Well, not what it "said" per se but what was written thereupon.)

Having lived on Okinawa for 2 and a half years, I have some passing acquaintance with Japan and many things Japanese. (Honto! ホント)

Anyway, whipped out Google Search, found a table of the katakana characters and puzzled it out. But of course the logo was (in English characters) Kirin Biru. Which is, of course, Kirin Beer. Appropriate as the topic of Buck's post was beer. A topic near and dear to my heart.

So those two things kind of set me off down this Japanese path. Once again, I blame Buck. No, that's not right. I should say that Buck inspired this post. Or more properly Buck's ash tray I guess.

Ah ha! (I know some of you are thinking this.) The Sarge quit smoking, now he's starting to notice anything connected with tobacco products and smoking! Well, hate to rain on your parade (those of you having a parade that is) but no. That's not it.

Speaking of smoking, it is now DAY THIRTEEN of The Great Smokeout at Chez Sarge. I'm not getting cocky, but this is the longest I've been without a cigarette since about 1989. I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

What's that?

What about the pictures? Oh yeah, right, the pictures! Glad you mentioned those.

The first picture is of Mount Fuji with, of course, cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in the foreground. I must raise a rather pedantic point here. You can say "Mount Fuji" or "Fujiyama". Don't say "Mount Fujiyama". What you're saying is Mount Fuji Mountain, redundant. Mountain in Japanese is , pronounced "yama".

The second picture is of Miyamoto Mushashi (宮本武蔵), perhaps the greatest samurai who ever lived. He is also famous for his Book of Five Rings (五輪書). This book became something of a "must have" for trendy American businessmen in the 1970s as I recall. Somehow they thought that reading this uniquely Japanese book would somehow enable them to compete more effectively with Japanese business.

I read the book back in the day. I found it fascinating on many different levels. The thought that your average American business-type could somehow read this and suddenly out-Japanese the Japanese was, of course, ludicrous. You could put a bear in a Brooks Brothers suit, but the bear couldn't suddenly start working effectively on Wall Street. (As much fun as that might be to watch, I have too much respect for bears to put them through such a thing. Though who knows, they might be more effective than the current lot!)

To understand the Book of Five Rings, you'd need to understand Japanese culture and history. You would have to think like a Japanese. Nearly impossible for a Westerner to accomplish, the book Shogun and the movie The Last Samurai notwithstanding.

So I confess to a great liking for many things Japanese. The samurai period fascinates me. The swords made in those days were exquisite. Both as weapons and as works of art. I saw a sword on Okinawa which IIRC was produced in the 16th Century. A very old and still very lethal weapon. But it was magnificent to behold.

My wife (who you may recall is Korean) tolerates my fascination with Japan. You may not know this but the Japanese and the Koreans traditionally do not really get along all that well. Think Greeks and Turks. Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. (Though my Dad rooted for the Yankees and my Mom is a Sox fan, somehow my brothers and I survived.) That kind of thing. But she tolerates this quirk in my character.

Come to think of it, there is much she tolerates in me. What a marvelous woman. How great is that, I married perhaps the one female on the planet who could actually put up with my antics, quirks and outright character flaws. I am one lucky guy.

Before leaving you to ponder these ramblings, I wanted to show you a picture of a Japanese sword. Well, I found one that was pretty good and I found one which was humorous. So guess which one you get?

Good night.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


New England Autumn
While driving home from my place of employment today I started to reminisce. After a few moments of this, it struck me "What caused me to suddenly travel down memory lane like this?" Then I realized what it was. It was a smell.

Now one thing I remember about being a wee lad in the Fall is the leaves. (Bear with me, I'll get to the smell thing momentarily.) They were, at first, slowly changing in color as the days grew shorter and the nights grew colder. Then one morning you'd wake up and spread across the valley was this amazing riot of color.

We lived on a hillside facing what my Mom and Dad always called the "Seven Hills of Springfield". (Never counted them, but Mom and Dad said it, so I believed it. (Parentes sunt veritas!) To our North, well beyond one of the hills, loomed Mount Ascutney. Due east was a long ridge running alongside the Black River as it flowed down to the Connecticut River.

Over yonder was Elm Hill where I once watched two airmen die when their T-33 rolled over on its back and plunged to the ground, exploding first in the air and then again as it hit the ground. (Not all childhood memories are pleasant.)

Now each of these hills/ridges were a good 3/4 of a mile to a mile and a half away from where the family abode perched on the side of our hill (Craig Hill, if I rightly recall), so we had a pretty good view. And in the Fall there came a certain time when those hills were ablaze with multiple shades of red and gold. Here and there was the deep green of a stand of pine or evergreen.

Looking back on it, I am amazed. People actually travel long distances and pay money to see this sight which was mine, for free, while I was growing up. I never took it for granted, though seeing it everyday was kind of routine. But what a memory!

Now eventually those leaves fell from the trees. They went from being gorgeous and breath-taking to being a chore, a task which must be accomplished. Somebody had to rake all those leaves. They were not going to rake themselves, unlike Rhode Island where I think they DO rake themselves. (I do very little raking in my yard. The wind blows constantly from October to June, nearly always from the southwest. Leaves I see in my yard when I leave for work, have moved on when I come home. Off to the small forest which lies due east of Chez Sarge. It's rare for me to actually rake leaves. Mind you, I'm not complaining!)

Now at some point in time, all those leaves lying about are bound to get wet. It's not all sunshine and apple cider up here. No, sometimes it rains in the Fall (and in Vermont, we usually saw snow before Thanksgiving, sometimes even before Halloween.) And wet leaves, if there aren't too many of them and if they're well ventilated, have a distinct aroma. A smell which I find pleasant. A smell which never fails to take me back to the days of my youth (cue Led Zeppelin).

That's the smell which triggered the reminiscing on the drive home. The smell of wet leaves. Thanksgiving approaches, I see deer in the fields in the gloaming. Fall is moving along, winter is not far behind.

But for now, I think of getting to spend a holiday with my Mom and my two kid brothers. Unlike some, I can go home again. Because in my heart, I never left. My roots are deep in the soil which lines the banks of the Connecticut. My ancestors lie buried on either side of that old river, in New Hampshire and Vermont. It is my home, it always will be my home.

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it while you can and praise the Lord for each cherished moment with family, friends and loved ones. I do.

It's also nice that I have ALL of next week off. Sweet.

The Sarge, 12 Days, Smoke Free. Woo Hoo!

Old AF Sarge Approved, Old AF Sarge Recommended...

The Marines Don't Quit
Why Should We?
Sun Rise at the Marines Corps War Memorial
I HIGHLY recommend you go here and read these words of wisdom from a guy I respect a great deal. Believe me when I tell you, this guy can write. Trust me, you'll feel better. I know I did.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just a Couple More Things I Just Gotta Share...

Blog-bud Suldog (from whom I "liberated" the graphic above), other bloggers and Yours Truly are campaigning to remind everyone that Thanksgiving Comes First. Now we have a new monster rearing it's ugly head. Seems there are those in the Bay State and other locales that want you to come out and shop on Thanksgiving Day. Seriously?

Stay home on Thanksgiving folks. Be with your family and friends. It's a special holiday, not a day to go out and shop. Lord knows we have plenty of those. Trust me. Shopping on Thanksgiving Day is NOT going to mend the economy.

One more thing, I was over at blog-bud Buck's Place and noticed something cool. Well, to be honest there are a number of things that I find cool over at EIP. But this stood out.

Seems Buck has some kinda newfangled advertising thang going on at the old blog. Now ever since I've been visiting at EIP (not that long, I'm kinda late to the blogoverse) Buck has had a picture of him and his two sons, all in uniform. Yes, they are that kind of family. (When you get a chance, thank the Pennington Boys and others like them for your freedom. I do.)

Any hoo, I kinda scrolled over that photo and the following magic appeared - 

No way will you find a better deal on the product depicted. No Sir/Ma'am, a better deal for your tax dollars you'll NEVER find.

Very few in this country are interested in protecting the freedoms others have paid for in blood. Nice to see that some families still have what it takes.

So a shout out and a big hand salute to the Pennington Boys. Thank you for my freedom gentlemen!


"Lay down your arms, you damned rebels..."
As most of my readers may have noticed (save those of you high-tech types who access my blog exclusively via your Smart Phones, which may or may not show it) the Chant du Départ header has changed in recent days.

To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo "I got some 'splainin' to do".

As you are all aware (unless you've been living under a rock or have just recently arrived from another planet), the United States recently held elections. There are a rather large number of American citizens who came away from said election, shall we say "Not Amused". No, not even a little.

I am one of those disgruntled citizens. Not happy with what occurred on the Sixth of November in the year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Twelve. No, not amused at all.

(Side rant: The year is 2012 A.D., that's right, A.D., as in Anno Domini, as in "in the year of our Lord". Those who would like to, may take that C.E. crap and blow it out your barracks bag. Just sayin'...)

Ah, now where was I? As yes, the blog header or banner if you will. Let me preface my explanations first with some rumblings I have heard/read about. For instance, I spotted this gem on the ol'WWW:

In the wake of last week's presidential election, thousands of Americans have signed petitions seeking permission for their states to peacefully secede from the United States.
Perhaps an over-reaction, but not as bad as some I have seen. Also, I thought that particular concept had been more or less settled in the "Great Blood-Letting of 1861 to 1865".

(Note that that last bit is something I'm going to try and use in the future as opposed to the more common: Civil War, War Between the States and War of Northern Aggression. No matter which moniker you personally might want to hang on that particular conflict, I think we can ALL agree that it was a rather "Great Blood-Letting" and it occurred from 1861 to 1865. Note that "Great" means pretty damn big in this context. NOT in the "good" or somehow "wonderful" connotation of the word "great". For instance, World War One is sometimes called The Great War, not implying any pleasantness of wonderfulness there. It was just big. Again, just sayin'...)

Rather than petition the government to secede, or head into the wilderness to join some nut-job right-wing militia, I prefer to stand my ground. This is MY COUNTRY. I do not like what's happening to it. However, I once swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". I still stand by that oath. There are ways and means to change things in accordance with the Constitution, and that's where I'll stand. For now.

(I'm sure there are those of you out there who are thinking of the phrase in the oath which follows that bit given above. You know the one. I keep that in mind. But for those of you who were paying attention when you raised your right hand and swore that oath, there's more to it than just the constitutional part. If you were/are enlisted, you know what I mean. You former/current officers out there, let your conscience be your guide.)

Now after reviewing all of the above, I realize that I've provided a lot of background but very little explanatory data vis a vis the change in the blog header. So let's get down to it.

On the left is a photograph of the Minuteman statue which stands in Lexington, Massachussetts. In the background is the American Flag, at half-mast. After finding this photo and incorporating it into the draft header upon which I was working, I noticed the position of the flag. "How very appropriate", I thought, the country I grew up in, the country I gave 24 years of my life to, is (apparently) dead. So the flag should be at half-mast. Also note that the sky in the background is darkening and grey. To me this symbolizes the gathering storm over the ultimate fate of our Nation.

On the top right is the First Navy Jack, this design is traditionally regarded as that of the first U.S. naval jack flown in the earliest years of the republic. This is also the jack currently used aboard US Navy ships and has been since shortly after 9/11. "Don't tread on me". Need I say more?

On the bottom right is the text of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. If that needs explaining, then perhaps you're reading the wrong blog.

Oh, one more thing. In answer to the caption for the picture above, "Never!"

So there it is, a new look for a new era. Questions?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Look, New Attitude

Some of the liberal nonsense I've seen over the past few days has enraged me.

So I'm changing my look...

...changing my attitude.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm Still Angry

I have tried to put the last election behind me. I have tried to just move on and hope for the best. Then I realize that this is a futile course of action. In fact, it is not an action at all, it is doing nothing and hoping that somehow, something changes. In other words, I'm hoping that someone else (somewhere) does something.

Perhaps I could say (as Maximus did in the movie Gladiator) -
I am a slave! What possible difference can I make?
But I am not a slave. Or, am I?

I need to work to put food on my table and to keep a roof over my head. I do not grow my own crops nor do I own a herd of livestock with which to sustain myself and my family. I did not go forth into the wilderness and construct my dwelling with my own two hands. Those days are long past. The insecurities and dangers of having to make one's way in the world, shall we say, "the old fashioned way" are long gone.

We have traded the dangers and insecurities of living on the frontier for a modern society. A society where someone else grows the food and slaughters the livestock for us to feed upon. A society where most of us are really just small cogs in a big machine. Everyone does their part, everyone who does their part gets paid. And with that pay, we can purchase food and a place to live and transportation and what-have-you.

The days of rugged individualism are past. Now we are, in reality, simply worker bees in a very big and extremely complex hive. My freedom is somewhat limited with respect to society at large. I am free to worship, free to speak my mind, free to bear arms and free to associate with whom I will.

I am NOT free from taxation in all of its many forms. I am not altogether sure that my interests are properly represented in government. At any level. I live in a very liberal state. Republicans are as rare as a virgin in a bordello in this state. Democrats, as you may suspect, are as thick as fleas on a dog.

I do not begrudge the government a tax on my income. We need to somehow pay for infrastructure, the police and fire departments and the military. I will willingly contribute what I feel is my fair share. So far the government and I have been in agreement as to what constitutes my fair share.

What I do begrudge are the myriad other taxes I encounter everyday. Sales tax, hotel room tax, excise tax and others.

If I buy something, I pay sales tax. The money I use to buy things is taxed. The gasoline my car burns to go buy things is taxed. My car itself (at least in my town) is also taxed based on its value. The property on which I live is taxed. There is a 1% tax on "prepared food items" in this state. I'm sure the sum-bitches in Providence are working hard right now to figure out a way to tax even more things. Or raise the existing tax rates.

The only thing a politician will work harder at then thinking up ways to raise "revenue" is thinking up ways to spend that so-called "revenue". Doesn't matter if they take in $100 in taxes, they'll spend $110. Then raise the rates to cover the $110, and then spend $120.

A friend of my commented the other day that "a lot of people seem really angry about the election". The implication was that he was not and he couldn't understand how others could be. Of course, he has a Rhode Island state employee pension. For those who don't understand what that means, let me put it this way, in this state you can actually retire at a relatively "young" age and actually afford to live on your pension.

This friend of mine drove a city bus as his career. Now he owns a rather plush RV with which he and his wife travel to Florida for the entire winter. No investments, just the state pension. I'm paying for that. Me and all the other Rhode Islanders who have the misfortune not to work for the state.

Yes, many of us are angry about the recent election. We see our pockets being plucked for another four years. We see the prospect of continuing to have a job get smaller and smaller.

We (those who ARE angry) also see that there are those in this society who do NOT contribute to the common weal. That bunch seems to be calling the shots right now. At least at the ballot box. So yes, I'm angry.

I'm just not sure exactly who to be angry with. The politicians? Those who voted for them? Those who didn't bother to vote at all?

How about: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Guess I'll just soldier on and see what happens next. I'll pay my taxes and do my civic duties. Right now I have to say that both political parties have failed the American people as a whole. The Democrats with their "tax and spend" habits and the Republicans who don't seem to know how the game is played anymore. Four years from now they'll put another decent nonentity up for President, try and play nice. And lose again.

This country hasn't been right since the Kennedy-Nixon debates. The televised ones. Yup, we elected the guy who looked better on television. Least that's the way I see it. That's the way I saw it when it happened. (Of course, I was only seven. Not exactly politically sophisticated.) But still. Some historical accounts agree with my assessment from that year.

So go back to watching Jersey Shore America. Go back to nodding your head at whatever the MSM tells you. Just don't be surprised when someday you wake up and all of our freedoms are gone.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Marines!

Semper Fidelis


May God Bless the
United States Marine Corps

Smoke Free for 7 Days - 
The Old AF Sarge
Just Sayin'...

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Man

Captain Carroll "Lex" LeFon, USN (Retired)
Happy Birthday Lex!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Something to Lighten the Load

It's been a rough week. Lots of bad luck and trouble. I don't have much for you tonight, just a little something from a band I'd nearly forgotten about. And DAMN, they were good.

So with that, how 'bout a little Traveling Wilburys?

Ah heck, might as well throw in some clips from one of my favorite movies. I HAVE been projecting too many negative waves lately.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!

John Paul Jones
United States Navy
Like the title says, this fight isn't over.

I for one do not intend to go quietly into this coming Socialist nightmare. I was inspired to write this post after reading this over at Simply Because It Is. I read it and said, "Hell yeah. Let's go to Plan B." The Progressive Elements in this country may have won a battle, but they have by no means won the war.

To quote Sir Winston:

Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning to the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Or as Rumbear said:
Mount up......

The battle for liberty begins anew this morning.

So conservatives, libertarians, taxpayers, Americans, throw down your sorrows! Forget the frustration of another squandered chance, another disappointing election. Awaken! Let us go forward together and fight the good fight! Keep on with your lives, support one another, cherish your freedom and hold fast to it. Let no one take it away from you!

Before I go, let me leave you with one final quote, attributed to Edmund Burke ...

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Four More? YHGTBSM...

Words fail me at this point in time.

Apparently it is all about bread and circuses.
The Moron Apocalypse is upon us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Yup, Did My Civic Duty

Got off work, drove home and picked up the Missus.

We went to our polling place and voted.

Wasn't too crowded around 5:00 PM local, and that was good.

Noticed that there were a lot more Republicans on the ballot than in past years. That made me sit up and take notice.

For Lil' Rhody is perhaps the bluest of the blue states. Rhode Island makes Massachusetts appear to be somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan, the far right. So seeing more than just a few token Republicans on a Rhode Island ballot was somewhat inspiring! Whoda thunk it!

Anyway, I'm going to relax and not get too wrapped up in the election hype coverage. The MSM makes me want to vomit almost as much as seeing a photo of The One, His Hope and Changiness.

So Bonne Chance to the Republicans. I'll leave you with a little tune which always perks me up. The Beatles' cover of a little Chuck Berry number, enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day Two

I am in the process of attempting to quit smoking. Note that I say "in the process" and "attempting". I've been down this road before. To date my success rate has been, you guessed it, zero.

I once quit for six months. Ruined that by going to an establishment in the panhandle of Florida where they served adult beverages and the staff included a number of ecdysiasts. Smoking in bars was allowed back in those days.

I went with my wife's brother-in-law (Smitty, of Uncle Smitty's Hamsters fame). The conversation we had (after a few beverages containing hops) went something like this.

<To Set the Scene: Envision low level lighting, lots of noise (both "musical" and verbal) and lots of tobacco smoke in the air>

Me: Smitty, give me a cigarette.

Smitty: No. You haven't smoked in six months. Your wife might kill me if I give you a cigarette.

Me: Okay, Smitty, let me explain this to you. My wife might kill you if you give me a cigarette. On the other hand, I will kill you if you don't give me a cigarette.

Smitty: <Thinking for a moment...>

Me: <Tapping fingers on the bar...>

Smitty: I need to go to the bathroom. Watch my stuff...

With that, Smitty got up and left for the Men's Room. Leaving his cigarettes and lighter on the bar. In my keeping. Smitty was (and still is) a very smart guy. You see, by leaving his cigarettes on the bar, unattended by himself, he has given himself plausible deniability.

"What? You took one of my cigarettes? Your wife is gonna kill you!"

Clever guy. In this manner Smitty has protected himself from my wife killing him. And put the onus on me. Where it clearly belonged.

But I digress...

Much as I hate to do so, I must give partial credit for this latest attempt to cease and desist smoking to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Mabus. He of the edict that the Navy Exchange shall charge prices for tobacco products similar to that available on the local economy. Which, while not putting cigarettes beyond my ability to afford them, did price them well beyond my willingness to pay for them. In other words, SECNAV was the straw which broke the camel's back.

Now there has been a vast murmuring crowd which has been on my back for a number of months to quit smoking. Whilst I know well the perils of smoking and the hazards to one's health, I have been reluctant to give up the bad habit for a number of (admittedly lame) reasons:

1) I can't quit now. Not with all this traveling for work and its attendant stress.

2) But I enjoy smoking.

3) I'm still young, there's plenty of time yet in which to quit.

4) My grandfather smoked until the day he died. At the age of 81.

5) My Dad didn't quit until he was in his late 50's. He lived to be 82.

Etc. Etc. As I said, lame excuses all.

So what were the things that really motivated me to really attempt to quit once and for all? (Note that these are not in any particular order.)

1) My grandchildren. Blog-buddy Tuna remarked once that his Mom had died from lung cancer. It really pissed him off that his daughter could not really remember her grandmother. I now have three grandchildren. I am, hands down, the goofiest SOB in the entire family. How can I deprive them of knowing (and fully appreciating) their grandfather's goofiness and semi-sophisticated sense of humor? I want the chance to act up and perhaps semi-embarrass them at their weddings!

2) My wife. She used to smoke. She just up and quit one day. I asked her if she wanted a cigarette one morning and she said "No, I quit." When I asked her "since when?", she responded with "since today". The lady has amazing willpower. When she sets her mind to something, it just happens. She has her mind on my quitting. Therefore I must quit. While her willpower is truly awe-inspiring, her wrath is also amazing and terrifying to behold. I do not wish to face said wrath. No thank you.

3) My Mom. Enough said. After all, what lad does not wish to please his mother?

4) My kids. They give me crap about smoking from time to time. And as I get older, I realize that they are a lot smarter than me. By several orders of magnitude. So perhaps it is time for me to start listening to them. The student becomes the teacher and all that. But they're right, God Bless 'em.

So this is day two of the Old AF Sarge's Smoking Cessation Campaign.

I mean to fight it out on this line if it takes all winter.

We shall see. But so far, so good. Two days and I haven't had a cigarette. And I have neither killed anybody nor yelled at anybody.

Perhaps this time, it'll stick.


Day Three is well underway. No cigarettes have been smoked. No one has been harmed by my nicotine-withdrawal symptoms.

This is hard.

Carry on...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving Comes First

I have joined the crusade to remind folks of the order of the holidays, post-Labor Day as it were.

Fellow crusaders are my old pal Buck of Exile in Portales fame and a new addition to "Stuff I Like to Read" who we refer to 'round these parts as Suldog. Kinda like a Brazilian soccer star. Just. One. Name. Though Suldog is way funnier than a Brazilian soccer star.

Not that I personally know all that many Brazilian soccer stars. Perhaps they really are hysterically funny guys. But I digress.

Yes, after Labor Day, you have, IN THE EXACT ORDER SHOWN:

Columbus Day,



and Christmas.

Now you might be wondering at this point, "What strange brew has the Old AF Sarge been dipping into?"

Nothing, I am completely sober.

The point is that in many retail establishments, the Christmas stuff starts coming out shortly after Halloween. Yup, you spend your hard-earned money on all that Halloween candy and spooky decorations, then it's time to start getting ready to spend all your dough to celebrate Christmas.

Whoa, stop the presses!

What gives? What about Thanksgiving? A sublime and wonderful holiday where family and friends get together to enjoy a sumptuous repast and give thanks for all they have. (Oh yeah, and watch football, lots of football.)

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. Of course, growing up in New England where I did was (in my memory) like being in a Norman Rockwell painting. Especially around Thanksgiving. Here's a perfect example of how I remember Thanksgiving growing up:

Freedom from Want
Norman Rockwell
My paternal grandparents dressed pretty much like the older couple serving the turkey. (In fact I do believe my dear old Gram had that same dress! And Gramp was a bit thinner than the chap in the painting.)

My memories of Thanksgiving are special and will always remain so. But what's up with these here United States these days?

It seems to me that Progressive Elements in our society have been working doggedly for years to destroy our uniquely American way of life.

(Now don't get yourselves in an uproar. I'm not saying that the American way is the best way of all. I'm just saying it works for me and for most other Americans. To me, it is the best way. Of course if I'd been born in Uzbekistan or some such place, I'd probably think that was pretty good. YMMV. Just sayin')

When I was a wee lad, school started with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Worked for me. Then at some point in time you had these "people" raising a ruckus about school prayer. (I don't think they even do the Pledge anymore.)

Hello! "Separation of Church and State" does not exist in the Constitution. The intent was to prevent the government from deciding what religion everyone should have and then shoving it down our collective throats. That's what the Constitution intends. I don't care what some hi-falutin' asswipe "Constitutional Scholar" thinks. I can read. And the Constitution is written in English. A fairly archaic form of English I'll grant you. But I have no trouble with it at all. (Of course in my day we also had to study Shakespeare, which is an even older form of English.)

Again, I digress.

Thanksgiving should be an important holiday in its own right. Most cultures have a Thanksgiving-like holiday in the fall. Normally it's to celebrate getting the harvest in and being thankful for that. I know it's celebrated in Canada (different date though - of course Canada, being farther north they'd have to get that harvest in earlier than we here in the USA. So makes sense that their Thanksgiving would be earlier).

It's also celebrated in Korea, where it's known as Chuseok (추석). As in the US, it's a time for family to come together and enjoy a special meal. (Chuseok is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar. So the actual date moves around from year to year. But again, it's a harvest festival.) I'm sure there are others but being American, married to a Korean and living next door to Canada, those are the ones I know about. (Have I mentioned that my paternal great-grandfather was born in Canada? Trois Rivières, to be precise.)

So that's my spiel regarding the crusade to remind folks that Thanksgiving Comes First.

Let's keep all of our holidays special and not let the Progressive Elements, retail types and such spoil them. For that is precisely what those 
Progressive Elements want. To destroy our way of life. So be on your guard and foil the nasty Socialists by remembering:

Thanksgiving Comes First!

One of THOSE Weeks...

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, months and/or years?

Where it seems that you are one of the last sane, rational people on the Earth?

Where it seems that one is living through a "Moron Apocalypse"?

Imagine this. You wake up one morning and everything seems perfectly fine. You get ready for work, you're not exactly happy about going to work, but what the heck, it pays the bills.

You get on the road and head to your favorite coffee emporium to get your morning caffeine boost. You're used to the same folks being behind the counter every morning. The folks who know exactly what you get every morning. No need to go through the whole "Good morning. Welcome to insert name of your coffee place here. How can I help you?"

No, normally you just walk in, everyone says "Hi" and they get you your coffee of choice. The same one you get every day. Every. Day. You pay, you say "have a good day" and you're back on the road. Back on your way.

At my favorite coffee emporium, there are two people who work there who are, shall we say, less than optimal when it comes to customer service. One of them, the younger one, is nice enough, she's just not what you'd call Mensa material. Now don't get me wrong, she gets me my coffee with no problems at all. When she is properly supervised, she's great. You just don't want her flying solo or, heaven forbid, to be in charge.

Now the other individual, who I absolutely dread seeing behind the counter, is another story altogether. She's the older one. I'm not even sure she is of the same species as the rest of us. Now I refer to these two individuals as the Dysfunctional Duo.

To really explain this, I need to go back in time a bit. Not exactly a tangent, more of a flashback.

Back in the summer I headed to my favorite purveyor of caffeine delivery beverages on a lovely Saturday morning. Normally the place is kind of crowded on weekends. I don't mind. It's Saturday and I'm in no hurry. I'm, while not exactly content to wait in line, not very perturbed to wait my turn.

So I walk in. There are two new people on Team Coffee. But the veteran members of Team Coffee are also there, things are moving along just fine. Then I note that the younger newbee, while somewhat slow and unsure of herself, is operating as well as can be expected for someone new on the job. I'm hoping that when it's my turn, she'll be the one to wait on me.

Of course not.

It's now my turn. I'm faced with the older newbee. She is staring at me. I'm trying to determine just what the heck is going on. Isn't she supposed to ask me what I want? Is she trying to communicate with me via telepathy? Is it my move?

Now all of this went through the old brainbox in far less time that it takes to relate the story. Eventually, I realized that this lady was staring at me the same way a cow would look at someone. Not exactly all there if you know what I mean. So I'm a reasonable guy. At this point I politely seize the initiative.

Me: "Hi, I'd like a large ice coffee with milk and three Splenda please."

Older Newbee: <Blank Stare>

Me: <Puzzled look>

Older Newbee: <Blank Stare>

Me: "Uh, a large ice coffee..."

Older Newbee: "Decaf?"

Me: "Uh, no. A large ICE coffee. With MILK. And 3 Splenda. Please."

Older Newbee: <Grabs a large ice coffee cup and heads for the ice coffee dispenser. Fills the cup and then turns to me.> "How do you want that?"

Me: "Milk, three Splenda." <Holding up three fingers as a visual aid.>

Older Newbee: "Cream and sugar."

Me: "No. Milk and 3 Splenda."

Older Newbee: "Milk and two Equal."

Me: "Grrrr. Three Splenda."

Older Newbee: "Do you want milk or cream?"

Me: <Patience exhausted> "MILK!!!!"

Older Newbee: <Blank stare>

Me: <Extremely annoyed, nearly homicidal maniac stare back.>

Older Newbee: <Completes the coffee preparation and walks back to the counter. Hands me my coffee and starts to walk away.>

Me: "Aren't you forgetting something?"

Older Newbee: "What?" (And we're back to, you guessed it, Blank Stare)

Me: "Is the coffee free today?"

Older Newbee: "No."

Me: <Blank stare>

Yes, it was quite an adventure that day. Now flash forward to the next weekend.

I walk in, the place is packed. The line is nearly out the door. Then I notice that Younger Newbee and Older Newbee seem to be the only employees present. Oh no. This does not look good.

But again, it's a Saturday and I'm in no particular hurry. Besides, this might be fun to watch. In a sick, kind of perverted way. Kind of like slowing down to see a car crash. Something I never do. Those that do this are very high on my list of People Who Piss Me Off. (That's the PWPMO list for those of you at home keeping score.)

As the line moves with glacial slowness, I notice people come to the door, start to open it, notice the line and then turn away. Most of them are shaking their heads and saying something. I'm not a great lip-reader but I get the impression that most of them are going home to make fudge.

As I observe this disaster unfolding, I notice that younger newbee appears to have taken the helm. While older newbee utilizes a lot of Blank Stare Fu. Eventually younger newbee announces that she will make everyone's coffee and take all of the food orders. While older newbee is relegated to preparing the food. (Apparently older newbee is quite capable of following the directions given to her by a computer. Next time she waits on me perhaps I should bring a laptop. Then I will type my order on the laptop and then show her the screen.)

Next thing you know, there are about twenty (empty) coffee cups of various sizes lined up on the counter. Older newbee is frantically trying to fulfill food orders. Younger newbee has completely lost track of who gets what size coffee, what flavor, everything is chaos. Things are not going well.

At this point, a manager-type walks in. Stops, looks around with a look of impending doom and mutters, "Oh my God, I leave for fifteen minutes and things go completely to hell." Then she dashes around behind the counter and starts organizing. Begins to bring order out of chaos. Sort of the coffee emporium version of the big bang, only sped up like a gazillion times.

As orders are filled and people leave, I hear managerial-type ask younger newbee what happened. Younger newbee explained that she thought things would go smoother if she made the coffee, took the orders and let older newbee do the food orders. The following ensued:

Managerial-type: "Is that how we trained you to do things?"

Younger Newbee: "No"

Managerial-type: "So why did you do it?"

Younger Newbee: "I thought it would be a good idea."

Managerial-type: "Don't think. We don't pay you to think. If we did, you would not be making much money. Do what we trained you to do. Okay?"

Younger Newbee: "Okay"

What you might call a "teaching moment".

Flash forward to today. I head into the coffee emporium and there is Younger Newbee. I nearly panicked and fled. I looked (and felt) kind of like the gazelle when he first spots the pride of lions lying in wait. But as I hesitated, it was too late. Younger newbee greeted me and asked me what I wanted. It went well, no delays. But I couldn't help but feel a <Blank Stare> boring into me. I shudder to think of it.

No, the "Moron Apocalypse" hasn't quite started yet. But they're lurking out there. Waiting.