Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Day Dawning

(this originally was "End of the Month", but that title sucked... bad)
And So Did the Opening Photo
Okay, so yesterday's post was a bit whiny and bitchy. (A bit? Are you kidding me? It was all like "wah, whoa is me, I'm in a hotel, my software sucks, I don't like using a laptop." Blah, blah, blah. Okay, suck it up buttercup. Put on your big boy pants and do something meaningful and fun.

And are you kidding with that opening picture? Are you trying to drive readers away? (Oh, sorry. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm kind of talking to myself. Er, typing to myself? At any rate, I'm hoping this proves to be humorous. We shall see.)

Come on, let's have a better photo. And what a boring title! "End of the Month"? Seriously? Why don't you just name the post "Don't Read Me, I Suck". That should draw the readers in. HA!

Now there's an awesome picture. That's something that'll get the juices flowing and get people excited. F-15's, flares, flying and tales of high adventure. Now that will draw people in and engage them.

Oh, I also changed the title of the post for you. Now it's "New Day Dawning", sounds exciting doesn't it? (End of the Month, might as well be a blog for accountants. Not that I have anything against accountants. I did an accounting course in college. It was, well interesting is not the word I would use. But it wasn't boring either. Just not that exciting.)

Speaking of entertaining. Six (of the Warrior Class) had an excellent and most humorous post the other day. Go read this, you won't be disappointed. Unlike my post from yesterday eve. Which disappointed me greatly. I promise to do better today. Hopefully this is a start...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dans l'Hôtel

Here I am, the same hotel I used to stay at during the long exile of '10 to '12. Some people are new here, some are the ones I knew before. It's not wonderful and fantastic that I'm mobile again, but it ain't half bad neither.

Like the Missus Herself put it, "At least it's familiar surroundings". And that is the truth of the matter.

But while I  spend time away from the Palace, I will be blogging on a laptop. Something that takes getting used to. Normally when I use the laptop there's really  not much difference from using my desktop at home. It's attached to a docking station while at work, full size monitor and keyboard. But after hours it's just me and a wee screen and small laptop-type keyboard. Easier to type on than, say, my cell phone, but still the keys are all in slightly different locations.

Let's just say, that when I use the laptop in its undocked state, the backspace key gets a bit of a workout!

Had a rather productive day at the office, considering I had perhaps 4 hours of sleep last night. You know how it is, those of you who have traveled, getting to used to sleeping in a strange place takes a day or so to get used to. So there's that.

Also the software we're using on my project (which was released sometime during the Pleistocene epoch) decided to eat one of my code files. One of the most important code files. But I have a back-up so it wasn't a disaster. Just a pain in the a$$. Reload from back-up, re-compile and try and determine why the interface decided to go rogue on me.

So that's all for today. This tiny screen and cramped keyboard is making me crazy. Perhaps I'll find some time at lunch tomorrow while I'm on the grown-up screen and real keyboard.

I'm out...


I'm traveling again. Back Up North I am.
(To my Canadian readers - I'm still well south of your lovely country, I'm just further North than I am normally. What passes for normal around these parts that is.)

So bear with me, I will be posting this week. Just the frequency of said posting will be down somewhat. As in, "Geez, you didn't post at all on Sunday!"

Yup, my bad. Got lazy. When I got to the hotel I thought about it. Then realized that the hotel has HBO. And HBO had a movie on which I had not seen. One thing led to another...

But, enough excuses. I'll be back in the thick of things later today. I hope.

We shall see.
(I'm getting too old for this traveling schtick!)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ah, Spring...

Friday Morning
The weekend has arrived. It's a gorgeous day. I do have to mow the lawn (as the more discerning among you may have gathered from today's opening photo) but that activity has not yet begun to wear me down. This will only be the second time I've cut the grass this year. Today's kind of a pictorial day. (Which means I'm not feeling all wordy don't you know?) But hey, while it may not be precisely mathematical, one picture is worth a lot (but a thousand words? Really?)
Our Fish Are Enjoying the Weather
The View from Upstairs
The Neighbor's Bonfire Peach
(Couldn't Resist It. Beautiful, Neh?)
Daffodils and Bleeding Hearts
One of Our Two Weeping Cherry Trees
Lots of Color!
Our Sundial
Out Front
Still Out Front
One of the Weeping Cherries
You May Remember Him from Last Winter...
Yup, That's Him
(Just One Month Ago!)
The Pond at Chez Sarge

Yeah, I like Spring. (But I need to go cut the grass! Be back later!)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Challenge Flag

If there was any doubt in your minds that we are being led by complete idiots, go read this. Methinks The Chief is onto something!

It seems to me that the politicians in this country are either incredibly stupid or incredibly evil. Is it possible for them to be both? Of that I'm not sure.

If you're still wondering about our "leadership", go read this. Kris pulls no punches, the language is a little rough, but hey, these are rough times.

So I'm throwing out the challenge flag America. Are we going to let this new class of royalty decide what's best for us? Or are we going to stand up and make them cease and desist. They work for us. Not the other way around.

At some point in time, these benighted fools in Washington and in each and every state capitol got it into their pointy little heads that they're better than us! How dare they!

It's time to start writing letters and sending e-mails. Let these jackanapes know that we've had enough of their unconstitutional antics and are fed up with the way they squander our money.

Yes, I said it. Our money. Those tax dollars they so love to waste came from us, it's our money, it's our country.

Let's take it back. Let's resolve to vote the ba$tard$ out of office in the next election. Let's get rid of them before it's too late. Make them go out and get real jobs.

I've had enough.

Oh, one last thing. It's about Boston, and Patriot's Day, and the Constitution of these here United States. Boston Maggie says "I believe in America". So do I, she makes some excellent points.

That's all I have. Rant complete.

The Friday Flyby - 26 April

Lockheed P-3 Orion
From the OAFSSRFTOTN: A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), also known as a patrol aircraft, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, or by the older American term patrol bomber, is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles—in particular anti-submarine, anti-ship and search and rescue.

To be a crewman on one of these birds I would think that you'd need an a$$ of 
iron. Long hours over the ocean, searching, searching.

Just looking at the ocean for hours on end can be, shall we say, less than exciting. I've done it on my various trips across the big waters (both Atlantic and Pacific) and it is monotonous. Of course, from the altitude of a commercial airliner, everything is really, really tiny. Though I have seen the occasional wake from altitude.

The modern MPAs have come a long way from this - 

Supermarine Stranraer
Between the Wars MPA
Let's have a look at some of the old birds and the new birds.

World War II
PBY Catalina

Kawanishi H8K "Emily"

Focke Wulf-200 Kondor

P2V Neptune

Hawker Siddeley Nimrod

Deutsche Marine Breguet Atlantique

Soviet IL-38

The New Kid on the Block
P8 Poseidon

And a Little Something for Us "Cold Warriors"

Tupolev 95 Bear Escorted by a Tomcat
Yes, Boys and Girls, Those Are Warshots Under the Wings!
Let's give the guys and gals who patrol the oceans (from the sky) a big round of applause!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Defense contracting firms are made up of different types of people. From one perspective there are three groups: executives, managers and the Others.

I am one of the Others.

From my perspective, the system is designed to meet the following criteria (in descending order of importance):

  1. Provide post-retirement jobs for GOFOs
  2. Make lots of money for the stockholders
  3. Provide life time sinecures for executives and managers
  4. Provide jobs for the relatives of executives and managers
  5. To provide the US Government a venue to test their absurd processes and theories
  6. To justify elaborate and huge Pentagon and Department of Defense bureaucracies
  7. Provide a place for people with MBA degrees to be useless until they can find a sinecure (see item 3)
  8. Provide equipment and services to the armed forces of the United States.
Engineers (a subgroup of the Others and to which subgroup I belong) are lowly creatures. They don't understand the Earned Value Management System, nor do they care about budget or schedule, they don't even care about that most holy of holies, The Spreadsheet.

In other words, we engineers are viewed by managers much the same way as British infantry were viewed by their officers. "Enlisted for drink, the scum of the Earth." For if we were upper class wannabe types we would not have gotten an engineering degree. What's the point of that? Don't the fools realize that we don't build anything in the US of A anymore?

Silly ba$tard$, they might as well move to India and work in tech support.

If you wish to succeed in this country you need an MBA, right?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Got Nothin', Nothin' at All

So to speak...

I was reminiscing, something I do from time to time. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's not. Tonight was a mixed bag.

I was remembering back in the day when lonely was my middle name. When my roommate's girlfriends would stop by the apartment. I'd take a walk. No girlfriend, no point in hanging out.

It was interesting walking the streets at night. Behind the windows there was light, there were people enjoying each other's company. There was life.

But in the stillness of the dark, there was magic as well as life. The sigh of the wind through the trees. The way the moonlight painted the houses and yards, giving them otherworldly colors, so different than the way they looked in the bright sunshine.

There, a darting shadow, pausing to see what manner of beast am I. Ah, it's the neighbor's cat, out prowling. What mouse will not see the dawn because of you fair feline?

As I walk, I think. I'm young, there is nothing but promise in front of me if I look at things the right way. The military beckons, when will I pull the trigger on that plan? I don't want to work in a factory my whole life and live in the same town until I'm old and grey. I want to see the world.

Eventually I wander back to the apartment, Charlie's girlfriend has gone home. Rick and his lady are in the living room watching television. I grab a beer and join them. We chat, we laugh, I eventually leave them to it. In the loneliness of my room I pull out a book, I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.

But eventually I have to go out and live life. Not observe it, not read about it. And I eventually do. I join the Air Force. I see the world.

One day, back in the old home town, I run into a friend, he asks where I've been.

"Oh, Japan. I just flew in from Tokyo last night, still trying to get over the jet lag." The look on my friend's face makes me realize, I've just got back from someplace he will only dream of. Perhaps read about.

I've watched the sun set over the East China Sea. Rode out typhoons in a concrete barracks, eating C-rations and playing pinochle with my buddies. Had a beer (or three) with guys who flew jets. They bought us the beer, for we maintained their fiery steeds.

Our skills kept their aircraft flying and their weapons systems deadly. They took the birds we sweated over (and sometimes cursed) and made them instruments of war. We watched and waited for their safe return. They didn't always come home.

I've strolled down the Champs-Élysées with the love of my life. Years later rode a gondola through the canals of Venice with her. In between we raised three incredible children, watched them grow, watched them struggle and watched them eventually become adults with lives of their own.

I've watched the changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace with the WSO sitting on my shoulders so she could see. The two of us chuckled as we watched two radio operators of the Welsh Guards chatting at the rear of the formation in the courtyard of the palace. The WSO daring me to yell out "NO TALKING ON PARADE!"

As I'm still welcome in the United Kingdom you can infer that I did not yell out, much to the WSO's disappointment.

I've watched the sun rise over the Atlantic, well out to sea. Watching the water and wondering just how deep the ocean was at that point. Marveling at being completely out of sight of land.

I watched my son with pride as he graduated from Surface Warfare Officer School. Chuckled with him as we swapped stories. His are called "sea" stories, mine are called "war" stories.

I watched my oldest daughter with pride as she explained the operation of the sonar systems on board her destroyer to a group of defense contractors. Sailed on her carrier for a day. Seen the fast grey jets vault from the deck and then trap back aboard. Watched them drop their practice bombs and heard the low moan of their cannon.

I pinned wings of gold on my youngest daughter and watched with pride as she and her shipmates celebrated their accomplishment. Had more than a few beers with her and those same shipmates as the Missus Herself shook her head watching the old guy trying to keep up with the young'uns.

I've held my grandchildren in my arms and felt the tears of joy as they smiled at me.

I've buried my father. Carried him to his final rest with five other good men, two of whom were the brothers of my blood. One of whom was a brother-in-arms. I've felt the tears roll down my cheeks as the salute of the firing party echoed over the snowy Vermont hills. But I held my salute as the final strains of Taps faded. For my Dad too had worn the uniform in his youth.

So yeah, reminiscing can be a mixed bag, like the song says "Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share...". But all in all, the vast majority of my memories are good memories.

Nothin' at all? Not quite. No, not even close.

Still Here, Just Busy...

I hate it when real life cuts into my blogging time!

Well, not really. But I had to say something.

Hey look, an airplane!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yeah, This is Fun

Okay, so I'm going to be up north for a couple of days this week. (
At least that was the original plan.) And the week after. And probably the week after that. Because they moved all the equipment I'm working on to another facility. I'm sure they had good reason to do so. I'm sure this is all being tracked on a spreadsheet. Somewhere. To someone this all makes sense.

But they didn't take all of the equipment. A couple of cables were "overlooked", "forgotten" or "missed". Can't do the job without them. No problem they said. We'll box those up for you they said. We'll let you "hand carry" the items with you when you go up north.

So we're all set right? This was all taken care of last Friday, right?


No one did the correct paperwork last Friday. Everyone just agreed that I'd be taking the stuff up north. I guess the test equipment fairies would take care of the paperwork.

Checked the status of that stuff on Monday.

LadyOfThePaperwork: "Well, I've printed out all of the documents. Now I need ThisGuy to go pull the equipment. Then I need QAGuy to verify that the equipment matches the paperwork. Then ThisGuy will get ThatGuy to move it all down to the shipping dock. Where ShippingGuy will box it up and load it in your car when you get here."

Me: "Cool. What time should I come down?"

LadyOfThePaperwork: "Umm, tomorrow morning. Probably."

Me: "Probably?"

LadyOfThePaperwork: "Yes, ThisGuy went home for the day."

Me: "Seriously? It's not even lunch yet."

LadyOfThePaperwork: "I'm sorry..."

Me: "Well, not really your fault is it? I guess it is what it is."

"It is what it is" is one of New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick's favorite phrases. It must be, he says it all the time. I find myself saying it a lot lately. It sounds better than me saying, "Well, that sucks." At least management seems calmer with the former. I think I make them nervous at times. But I am mellowing with age.

I don't talk as much about fire trucks* as I used to.

So I haven't "gone North" yet. And I won't be going tomorrow either.

The big "emergency" I mentioned in my last post turns out to be a real problem. It's something that needs to be fixed before other things can happen. I did manage to convince the "powers that be" that as the new units behave differently (not in a good way) from the old units that perhaps the new units are the problem. Not the software on the test equipment which has only had minor changes. None of them even remotely related to the problems we're seeing. That whole evolution was like herding cats.

No, I take that back. Herding cats is easier.

Had a meeting regarding this problem today. One guy wanted to talk about a different problem that he saw recently.

Management Type: "There's another problem with the software?"

Out West Guy: "Yes, if you don't follow the test procedure, then the test will fail."

Me: "So you want me to change the software so that if the operator makes an error, the software won't fail?"

Out West Guy: "Yeah, can you do that?"

Me (to Management Type): "Can I have a few hundred thousand dollars and a year to do that?"

Management Type: "Of course not!"

Me (to Out West Guy): "No, I guess not. But you might want to tell the operators to follow the instructions."

Out West Guy: "It would still be a nice feature..."

Me: "Yes. And the people in Hell want ice water..."

Management Type: "Let's move on, shall we?"

So tomorrow I get to sit down with a hardware guy and try to figure out a way to fix this annoying problem which may or may not be a problem.

Just like that growling you hear in the darkness may or may not be a wolf.

Then again, better make sure.

I'm convinced it's a hardware problem. I just need to convince the hardware guy.

Yeah, convincing a hardware guy that the hardware he designed might have a problem.

This should be fun.

*Minus the "ire tr...s", of course.
I used to mention "fudge" a lot too.
I'm much better now.

Hang Fire

Was supposed to travel today, trigger was pulled, nothing happened. Big "emergency" at the home office. Management trying to troubleshoot technical problems.

It's been (ahem) entertaining.

Perhaps I'll be on the road tomorrow.

Perhaps not.

I remain...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Han Solo and Chewbacca - Together Again

Yup, I'm a Star Wars geek. (Loved the first three* movies.) I stumbled across this clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live. I'm still laughing!


The last three, that whole prequel thing? Meh.
I blame Jar-Jar Binks.

A Little Help?

Get Well Soon Heather!
Our Prayers are With You
I mentioned last week (here) of a co-worker of mine who was severely injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. She's to undergo a below the knee amputation, today I believe. Her medical bills are going to be significant. Now and in the future. I don't ordinarily ask folks to donate to anything. I'll make an exception today.

Heather is bright, talented and a pleasure to be around. Let's do what we can. You can go here to donate.

Let's keep her in our prayers as well.


Sur la Route, à Nouveau...

In August of last year, I returned from exile.

In January of 2010, due to a lack of work at the home office, I was "loaned out" to another of my company's facilities. About a hundred miles from home. Required staying in a hotel, long days while "on station" and a long drive to get on and off station. But it beat the alternative. I was still getting paid every other week. Some of my colleagues weren't as fortunate.

They were invited to seek employment "elsewhere".

That year "on loan" turned into two years, seven months and two weeks. Ballpark. Not that I was counting. It is what it is.

So in August of last year, a project opened up at the home facility and I was lucky enough to get on that project. I'm still on that project. Problem is, my part of the project has moved (this was planned, sort of) and now I need to travel again. Back to where I was. Sort of.

The place I need to go now is roughly five mile from the place I used to travel to. Same neighborhood in a sense. Upside is, I'll be staying in the same hotel I used to stay in. Most of the staff there know me, I know them. It's a nice place, they're nice people. I am looking forward to seeing them again.

There is another upside here, in that this traveling road show will only be for a few weeks. So I'm told.

But I've heard that song before.

Not holding my breath as to the duration of this assignment, but I foresee it being fairly short. It's also going to cut into my blogging time. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Your mileage may vary.

I shall keep you all (ahem) posted...


Earth. The planet where we live. About which there is much hype today. Mostly from left-leaning socialist ee-jits. And we listen to them because?

Okay, so today is Earth Day. BFD.

Here's what Rev. Paul has posted about that, Way Up North.

To borrow a phrase from the Immortal Bard, this is all "Much ado about nothing". Though YMMV.

But yeah, don't dump your trash on the road, that's just nasty.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Law Enforcement

Now I've seen and heard some criticism online and in face to face venues regarding law enforcement in the Boston Metropolitan area over the past week. I've read some nastiness which made me sick.


These folks have a tough job to do and they do it very well. I have friends in law enforcement. Cops don't live in some remote camp or fortress. They live in the same cities and towns as we all do. They're our neighbors. We go to ball games with them. We go to church with them. Our kids go to school together. They are Americans. Just like us.

Yes, things were tough in Massachusetts last week. Yes, areas of Boston were pretty much shut down. Yes, it was tough to travel into or out of the city. But guess what?

They caught the bastard.

No more innocent blood was shed. The professionals did their job. They, like they do EVERY DAY, put their lives between us and evil. They, like they do EVERY DAY, went out and DID THEIR JOBS.

God Bless the men and women of Law Enforcement. May He protect them and watch over them always. Their job is hard. They do it for us.

Here's the image which will stay with me long after the scenes of death and destruction have faded.

One of the less publicized impressions from the stand-off. A family with young children in Watertown was out of milk during the lock down...

Gives a whole new meaning to "Protect and Serve", doesn't it?
Boston Cops...
We Love You!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

To Honor Their Memory...

Officer Sean Collier MIT Police EOW 4/18/2013
Fallen in the line of duty

There are no words. Just the memory of what could have been a lovely week.
And the memory of four lovely young people who will not have the chance to grow old.

Prayers for those they left behind.
Prayers for the injured.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Had some bad news from a friend tonight. Reminded me of two little guys that shared our lives for a while. That's them up above, Tiger (pronounced tigger) on the left, Pat on the right. Our German cats. Tiger was with us for five years, Pat for ten. They've been gone for quite a long while. I miss them still.

Before them, when I was young, there was Ulysses, the wild little cat we had when I was in high school. He of the one blue eye and the one green eye. Before him was Tommy. Tommy joined us when I was five, left us when I was 17. Tommy was jet black and one of the smartest, most loving beings I have ever met. He'd follow me to school and be waiting for me when I got home.

My grandmother with the farm always had dogs. I've mentioned them before, Tippie and Bimmie. My brothers and I always felt like those dogs were our cousins. They loved us, we loved them.

Some people like dogs, some people like cats. For others it's birds, or a bunny, maybe even a hamster or a guinea pig. But a great many people in the United States have pets.

Those of us who have pets know the love they give us and that we give them. They don't ask for much really. They share our lives, for far too short a time. When they go, it hurts.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3)

And then there's this...

In life there is joy and there is sorrow.

But tonight, there is sorrow. Sorrow for a friend and his family. This post is dedicated to my buddy Pinch, and his buddy Boxer.

Peace be with you both, you're in my thoughts, and in my prayers.

May God watch over you.

Oh. My. God.

First thing in the morning. Had to call into a meeting at one of our facilities up north. For which no one had provided a phone number. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I try to use the company's chat software to ask a guy for a call-in number. Chat to our other  facility was down. No response whatsoever. Did get a message indicating that there was a problem. Please try again. Did so. Nothing. No response. Nada. So I send an e-mail.

Finally I get an e-mail back. Giving me the call in number. Yay! At the same time my cell phone chirps. What the heck? As I'm trying to dial in to the meeting, I'm also checking my cell phone, I have a voice mail.

It's from one of the guys up north, telling me they sent me an e-mail and would I call in?

Uh, duh! Really? You have to waste my cell minutes to ask me to call in to a meeting for which I requested a call in number? What did you think I wanted the number for? My freaking archives!

Okay, so I'm cranky. The meeting is intensely boring. Like most corporate meetings they invite a bunch of people of whom only perhaps half are needed for the entire meeting. The rest of us are simply listening, wishing we were anywhere but in the meeting.

I hate meetings!

And this meeting is even more boring than usual. Scheduling. We're talking scheduling. I'd rather watch paint dry. At least you can see progress.