Friday, May 31, 2013

I Had to Share This

I've been following Brigid for quite a while now.

The lady is an awesome writer.

Go read. I'll be back in June (which is, after all, tomorrow).

The Story of LUSH

Once upon a time there was a young Naval Flight Officer, a lowly Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Not too far removed from the tender loving care of the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (that's the RAG for you purists) VFA-106, the Gladiators. The squadron where those who have earned their wings of gold move on to the next step in their training in the aircraft they will be using out in "The Fleet". The WSO had passed through the RAG and was now an FNG. (Truly, it said so on her name tag!)

So she was now a brand-spanking new member of the mighty Fighting Swordsmen, the much lauded and often envied Gypsies of VFA-32. Those masters of mud moving and aerial combat, those...

(Okay, okay. I'm going for dramatic effect here. Geez!)

So yes, we're talking about The WSO. My youngest daughter, mother of my oldest granddaughter and (as we like to say) the female version of Your Humble Scribe. She inherited my incredible wit, good looks, striking intelligence and extremely loud command voice. (Okay, the looks and the brains she got from her Mom. She also inherited my metabolism. She and I can gain 5 pounds driving by McDonald's. Perish the thought of what would happen should we actually go inside. She is not thankful when reminded of this. She told me so, recently.)

As a bit of an aside, true story, no sh!t, there I was - while Yours Truly was in attendance at the U.S. Air Force NCO Leadership School at Yokota AB, Japan, I was noted (and yes, praised) for my ability to drill the troops. (As in march them around, what were you thinking?) My command voice was impressive. Much honed over the years of calling for my brothers in the woods of my native Vermont. So powerful was this voice that one day I was drilling my flight when an instructor from another group came over and asked me to "tone it down a bit, eh Sarge?" As my commands were also being executed by our sister flight, some 150 yards away, Like I said, powerful.

Now I'm not sure that a young lady would find such a voice to be a good thing. But it never bothered the WSO, nor myself. It does, however, bug the hell out of the Missus Herself. She has indicated that the youngest of the progeny is just too damn loud, at times. But (let's say it together now) I digress.

Now at some point in the life of a Naval Flight Officer or Naval Aviator, there will be that very first trip to Naval Air Station Fallon, in Nevada. Not near Vegas and from what my sources tell me, not near anything!

Ah, Fallon...
Lovely Fallon...
Oh yeah, where was I?

Yes, The WSO's very first trip to NAS Fallon. Air Wing Fallon they call this evolution. Where the young flying types hone their skills. Drink too much and tell each other tall tales. (At least that's how the Air Force does it!) Now bear in mind, this is her first time to NAS Fallon with her operational squadron and this, gentle reader, is her very first night at NAS Fallon.

Out she and her shipmates go. Out to the NAS Fallon Officer's Club to bond and come together as a fighting unit should. From what I was later given to understand, a good time was had by all. From what I 
was later given to understand, one young Naval Flight Officer had too much of a good time. As she related to me the other day (when the authorization came down from "on high" to release this tale), it was an epic drunk. Truly epic. (She used that word, "epic", multiple times. So I'm guessing it was indeed, epic.)

Apparently, at the close of the evening's festivities (and she's a little hazy on the details here mind you, some of this was related to her second hand) a couple of her squadron mates transported her safely back to the Bachelor Officers' Quarters (BOQ) as she was, shall we say "intoxicated", "three sheets to the wind", "in her cups", "blasted" and, well I think you get the point.

Trouble is though, she was incapable of navigating from the lawn of the BOQ to her actual room. Later that same evening, she was awakened by base security and ambulance folks who were somewhat concerned with her condition. Sleeping as she was on the lawn of the BOQ. Rather covered in vomit (no one said this tale would be pretty!)

Now there may be some of you who are horrified by this tale of drunkenness and sleeping on lawns. But in many ways it was a rite of passage for The WSO. But, as you may well imagine, there were consequences from that "epic" evening.

The WSO's squadron mates had their butts handed to them for not ensuring that the FNG made it all the way to her room. The CO was most displeased with all of the parties involved. But he had some special consequences for The WSO, seems she was banned from the O-Club for the remainder of the squadron's time in Fallon. There was no "official" fall-out from that night. As there shouldn't have been, no harm, no foul and there were lessons learned all around.

On the other hand, The WSO was now accepted as "one of the guys". Now I know some of the ladies might find that distasteful. "One of the guys? I'm a lady, I'm not one of the guys!" However, the military is still very male-oriented. One cannot change hundreds (if not thousands) of years of tradition overnight. For The WSO she was now truly a member of the squadron. She still cherishes that moment when the male Gypsies told her that. She was no longer a chick in a flight suit, she was a Gypsy.

It was shortly thereafter that The WSO got to turn in her FNG name tag and was given one with her actual name and rank. Also she received another new name tag, one every aircrewman has. What in the Air Force would be called her "party" name tag. This one simply had the following embroidered under her wings of gold:

One word, all caps (to steal a phrase from the master himself) which stands for (drum roll please) -

Little Unconscious Sh!t Head

And that's how the Old AF Sarge's baby girl got her call sign.

Oh yeah, and at the in-brief the morning after? Let's just say that The WSO got tired of everyone commenting to her (in very loud voices) -

"Gee, LUSH, did ya know ya smell like vomit?"

What every lady wants to hear.

The Friday Flyby - 31 May

The Century Series of United States Air Force fighter aircraft. Just hearing the name takes me back to the days of my youth.

The Century Series is a popular name for a group of US fighter aircraft representing models designated between F-100 and F-106 which went into full production. They included the initial successful supersonic designs in the United States Air Force's service and would continue in active service manned aircraft well into the 1970s and 1980s with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. Three later variants, the QF-100, QF-102 and QF-106 would also continue in drone service, primarily as aerial targets, until the late 1990s.

As it evolved, the attribution of the Century Series moniker reflects models designated between F-100 and F-106 which went into full production:
  • North American F-100 Super Sabre
  • McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
  • Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
  • Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
  • Republic F-105 Thunderchief
  • Convair F-106 Delta Dart

The F-100 Super Saber, the "Hun", was my favorite of the Century Series. Most likely because the first time I saw the Thunderbirds, they were flying the Hun. A beautiful aircraft. According to the OAFSSRFTOTN: "The Thunderbirds used the C-model Super Sabre from 1956–1963." I turned ten in 1963 and I'd be willing to bet that I first saw them in the Hun when I was either 9 or 10 years old. (Mentally I'm a bit older than that now, say 12-ish. Physically, a lot older.)
The Hun in the Thunderbird's Livery

Now I don't know a lot about the F-101 other than that the reconnaissance version, the RF-101C, did see service in Vietnam. By my day in the Air Force it had been superseded by the RF-4C Phantom. (Of which we had a squadron on Okinawa. I liked those birds. Probably because I didn't have to work on 'em!)

I always thought them an odd-looking bird because of the way the tail seemed to be hanging way out there on the back.

Now when I was a young lad I did see an F-102 in the air. Don't remember the exact circumstances but it was probably at an air show. My parents liked taking us to those. I enjoyed going!
Dagger on a Bear Hunt

I won't say much about the F-104. Or Pilot Killer as it was known by some. When the highest scoring ace of all time* doesn't like an airplane, then there's something wrong with that bird. YMMV.

Missile with wings. And a pilot.

Though it is kind of neat (and scary) looking.

The next bird was a real war bird. She cut her teeth "Going Downtown" with air warriors like Ed Rasimus at the controls. The F-105, the Thud.

Major Ed Rasimus,
United States Air Force

(I'm sure Buck was thinking he could get through a Friday Flyby without any "squidly propaganda". Nope, Thuds and Scooters. Neat, neh?)

Now my first Tech School in the Air Force was at Lowry AFB in Denver. My first room mate was in training to work on the F-106. He was a cool guy. One time he was in need of some spare coin. Needed to sell his guitar, a Gibson Les Paul, for which he wanted the then princely sum of 200 American dollars.

I look back on that with regret. Somehow I could have come up with that money. Somehow. But as a young one-stripe airman, $200 was money I could use for other things. Like beer.

Yes, I was stupid back then. Thank you for asking. (A Les Paul, damn it!)

To wrap it up, some more Thud action. These are for you Major!

Love those old war birds.

* Oberst Erich Hartmann, Luftwaffe, 352 confirmed kills in WWII.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Another milestone achieved!

Another day at the blog.

Um, yes. I am slightly excited.

But, after all, I am spoiled.

Call Signs

Certain personnel within the Clan of the Old AF Sarge 
are assigned duties which involve flying. And I mean actually operating the controls within said aircraft and not just using it as a mode of transportation to go from point "A" to point "B" in the performance of their assigned duties. Said aircraft also being painted a certain shade of grade and having the capability to take off from and land on aircraft carriers belonging to the Naval Services of the United States of America. Said aircraft also having the capability to carry death-dealing ordnance and go very fast.

Okay, so you know I'm talking about Big Time and The WSO. A certain married couple of my relation and acquaintance living out California way in the vicinity of NAS Lemoore. Who wear flight suits to "work". (The word "work" is in quotations because what they do does not primarily involve a cubicle, it's flying for Heaven's sake! How can that be termed "work"? But, I digress.)

Both of these stalwart individuals have what are known in the military as "call signs", what the civilian world might call a "nickname". But that's like calling Dom Perignon "booze". Technically yes, it is. But it's so much more. As is a call sign.

Big Time is my son-in-law. Big Time is his call sign.

Among the unread messages on my cell phone this morning was the photo above. A message from The WSO.

You have enough information now to puzzle out what The WSO's call sign is.

What makes things even more fascinating and wondrous (from my point of view) is that acronyms are involved.

Let the guessing and postulating begin!

(I'm working on authorization to share the back story on all this. It's good. Sorry to tease, but we shall see.)

Not Sure How I'm Supposed to Take This

Had a phone call from The Nuke the other day. Regarding a situation which I was aware of, yet was trying not to think about, deal with or otherwise contemplate. It's also a situation that she and the Missus Herself have been keeping me in the dark about except for some very broad and vague pieces of data. Apparently so that I wouldn't be completely blindsided when what would be, for The Nuke and the Missus Herself, the inevitable occurred. They also both know that I'm an emotional guy and tend to get too easily attached to people, places and things.

The phone call from The Nuke started with "Hi Dad, I got divorced this morning." Stated with her usual sang-froid, perhaps with just a touch of puckish amusement therein as well.

Okay, so you know something is coming. Something for which you're not really prepared to deal with, yet it's something you don't really need to deal with. Except perhaps at an emotional level. So now I'm dealing with this. As are all of those impacted by this event.

Both parties to this particular divorce seem to view it as perhaps I would view the need to purchase a new car. Well, no, actually that's a bad analogy. They seem to be viewing it as would a normal person view the need to buy a new car. For you see, I get very attached to my vehicles. To me, selling or trading in my car is equivalent to having to shoot a beloved old horse. Something like this -

But you get my drift, neh? To T-Rex and The Nuke this seems to fall into the category of "this is no big deal, things just didn't work out". At least that's the way I perceive it. There may be deeper emotional currents involved but the ladies hide these things very well. And I'm a guy. I don't do subtlety, I don't do nuance.

So I yeah, I feel bad for my daughter. But am I supposed to? She doesn't appear to be overly upset about it. I think that stage passed a while ago. She's a very practical and logical young lady. (When she was young I used to say she was part Vulcan. Her temper, which is fearsome to behold, suggests she may also be part Klingon. Okay, enough of the Star Trek references, some of my older audience may not grok those.)

So I' not sure how I'm supposed to react to this news. I kinda liked T-Rex. But it's not like we ever really bonded. Except for one brief trip to pick up pies for Christmas dinner one year.

And the pies turned out to be disappointments. Was that some sort of cosmic foreshadowing? I don't know.

I just know that I'm down one son-in-law. Not sure what I'm supposed to "feel" or how I'm supposed to react. Guess I'll just support The Nuke. I am her Dad, she has always had my first loyalty.

Blood is thicker than water.

Still and all, this kinda sucks.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gala Night! - Revisited

What with all the hoopla, chaos, hurly-burly and churn involved with our recent Gala Night!, a grievous omission has come to my attention.

I've gone back through all of the invoices, nominations, carrier pigeons, ravens from the Citadel (they were not white ravens), bits of hand-scribed papyrus from the great swamps at the delta of the Nile and various bits and sundry pieces of paper, sticky notes, cocktail napkins (with phone numbers and blueprints for some kind of Death Star) and even a couple of clay tablets which appear to be from the Assyrian Empire. And have discovered that my staff neglected to list a recipient of the Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval, with "Special" Mention.

I am mortified, embarrassed, speechless and ashamed to admit that "We missed someone". This missed blog should have been one of the awardees on Saturday last and somehow did not make the final list.

The person responsible has been sacked. Black-listed, banned and proscribed from ever again having a hand in the...


Who did we miss?

Oh, you want a name?


Certainly, here it is.

As I am a huge fan of c w's blog and as he has brought me numerous readers (as can be seen in one of the boring graphics here) I am heartily sorry to have missed this one.

I will use the Uncle Leo Defense - "I'm an old man, I got confused!" and throw myself upon the mercy of the court.


I'm Getting Spoiled

I remember the early days here at Chant du Départ
, I was ecstatic if my statistics showed 50 hits in a day. Then as time went on, new readers came my way, a few people "joined" the blog (that whole "Join this site" thingee over there on the right). Seems that I was becoming somewhat "popular". (Whatever that means. I'm still a neophyte in the blogoverse.)

Then things started to take off. A couple of other bloggers linked to a couple of my posts (and to them I am most grateful) and more people started visiting. The following (exceedingly boring) graphic gives a break down of where my traffic comes from. This is probably interesting only to me. But I share. It's what I do.

So my advice to rookie bloggers is to try and get linked at other, more established blogs. You can do this by writing "good stuff". It will get you noticed.

Or you can have friends in high (or low) places... (So Buck, can I get a "Heh" on that one? Murph? Anyone? Bueller?)

So there it is, know people who blog, write good stuff and be humble. (Or not, YMMV.)

My point here (as if I ever really have a point) is that I feel I've come far from the days of "woo-hoo, lookee there! 50 people visited today". Except now I'm kind of spoiled. Ever since about Friday when The Lonely Libertarian sent some folks my way, which led to this -

Now that's an all time high for me. But you see what happened after the 24th? I seem to be sliding. But if you look close, the visits are over 300 for each day. Except today, which isn't over yet.

So for a while I was happy with 50 or so visitors a day.

Then thanks to a few blogging buddies, those hits were averaging around 150 a day for most of May. Then WHAMMO! May 24th.

Like the title of the post says, I'm getting spoiled. Now I expect the magic 300 a day, every day. And this isn't even Sparta. (Come on, you knew I was going to go there eventually dincha? At least I didn't do this - 

Oh wait, I did, didn't I?)

Ah well, these things happen when you're spoiled. Which I am.

While I'm busy singing my own praises, let us not forget to welcome a new member into the fold:

Standard speech applies, New Guy buys the beer, etc. (By the way, I like the name "The Daily Smug", it's kind of how I'm feeling today. Smug.)

Oh, before I forget. Some of you have not picked up your awards from the other night. (Here.) I know some of you may have missed that post. If you're like me (self-centered and a bit of a prima donna) you need to go read that post. (You too Suldog!)

I'm an attention hog, I'll admit it.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So there I was all of a Monday night, footloose and fancy free. The Missus Herself was in the Big Apple and I was at home (having to work on the morrow and all that.) Now when I'm traveling (which I am this week) I normally get up at 0400 on Monday, for to drive the 100 miles to work. Note though that I was home on Monday, due to the holiday. So Monday's travel would not occur until Tuesday. (If all this seems confusing to you, imagine how I felt!)

So I'm thinking (always a dangerous endeavor for Yours Truly) that seeing as how I had Monday off and I normally get up at 0600 on Tuesday, why not do that this week as well?. After all I have about ten hours of "modified" time built up, let's spend a bit of that and not get up at the butt crack of dawn on Tuesday. Let's "sleep in", as it were. (Though getting up at 0600 almost never qualifies as "sleeping in", when the alternative is 0400, it'll do for me!)

Before going any further with the description of Tuesday morning's debacle (there's a bit o' "foreshadowing" for you!) let's describe what "modified" time is. At my place of employment you're expected to work 40 hours a week. You can, if authorized, work overtime. As an engineer I get no extra cash for overtime, it's at the normal hourly rate. Still though, it's extra money. But there are rules attached to overtime. And you may know how I feel about rules. If not, I'll tell you now, I don't like rules.

I lived by the rules for 24 years on Uncle Sam's dime. Didn't mind it, most of the military's rules made absolute sense and are tried and true. At least they made sense when I was on active duty. One of the first things I noticed upon my entry into the corporate world was that the number of rules was much greater. And, from my perspective, many of those rules were unbelievably stupid. (And many of those rules were imposed by our primary customer, the Federal Government. One of the most inefficiently run bureaucracies ever created. And yes, the rules got even stupider once the current maladministration took over.)

One of the rules regarding overtime is the number of hours necessary in order to get paid for overtime. Right now it's eight hours a week. So in order to get paid overtime, I would need to work 48 hours a week. Um, no. Not going to happen. At my age I'm pretty well all used up at the forty hour mark. Primarily due to the travel. That 100-mile drive to start the week kinda takes it outta me, ya know?

So I'll do 45-ish hours a week and everything over 40 goes into the modified-time bucket. In theory this means that when things settle down I can take some time off, using that modified time. But of course there are rules attached to this as well. Such as "must be used up within a two week period". I guess it messes up the payroll records. Though the company makes extensive use of computers, most of our support software (not to put too fine a point on it) sucks. It's cumbersome and apparently is designed to be most user-unfriendly.

At any rate, all that being said, where was I? Oh yes, Tuesday morning. Sleeping in. Now how did that all work out?

Alright, at first things went well. Went to bed at my normal time, which is approximately 2200 hours (local) which would yield a solid eight hours of sleep with a wake up time of 0600. Actually was sleepy when I hit the hay, so lights out happened very smoothly. (Both the electrical type and the Old AF Sarge type. I was pretty much gone as soon as the old noggin hit the pillow.)

So far so good, right?

Um yeah. A good start doesn't necessarily make a good finish.

One bad thing I did before going to bed was say this to myself, "Yeah, Ill get up at six, be on the road by seven, get to the work location by nine. Not a problem. Of course, if I wake up earlier, I'll just get up and go." Note that phrase: "If I wake up earlier". Yes, I've planted the seed of destruction which would eventually bring my vaunted plan to its knees and completely mess up my Tuesday morning.

So there I am, sound asleep, having a most bizarre dream in which I am negotiating the fate of Westeros with Tyrion Lannister. (There's a story all by itself. For those who don't know, that's a Game of Thrones reference. The mini-series on HBO and the series of books by George R.R. Martin. Said mini-series I am watching, said books I am re-reading - I'm on Book Five, again.) It's at that point, I awaken. Wondering if the Imp and I had ever settled on sending this annoying guy at work to The Wall, or not.

I'm sleepy-ish, outside is dark-ish. I figure, if it's close enough to four to make no never mind, then I'll get up and go for it. I check the clock. It is five minutes before two in the morning. Pretty damn early mind you. But I'm thinking, "Cool, I don't have to get up for another four hours." Yeah. Right.

So I turn over and try (in vain) to go back to sleep. Somehow my brain is convinced that roughly four hours of sleep is more than enough time to hit the road, drive 100 miles and put in a ten hour day. I do manage to fight the urge to get up, but my sleep is restless. Mostly of the "toss and turn" variety. At 0330 I finally give up and drag my tired carcass out of bed and prepare to face the week.

Which is going to be a long one.

How can I tell?

From the e-mail first thing this morning saying that we will probably be working weekends in June to "get this project done". Uh, sure. Foxtrot Tango. We shall see.

Yup, the week is going to suck. But that's okay. It's a short one. Maybe. Depending on that whole "work weekends in June" thing.

If I could I would retire. But last I checked, the mortgage is not paid off. When it is, then I pull the plug. Until then...

I work.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Price They Paid

I had only planned on one post today, then the WSO told me about the PBS Memorial Day concert. She asked me if I knew Charles Durning. I indicated that I did. She told me that she had seen a film clip of him talking about his experiences on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944. So I did some research and I found the clip she was talking about.

It's a few years old, but if there has ever been any doubt in your minds as to what America's sons and daughters have endured in war, this should remove that doubt.

Charles Durning, though he would never admit to it, was a hero. One of many from the World War II generation who are fewer and fewer every day. Watch this and remember them. And all those who have given the last full measure for our freedom.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We Remember

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Robert Bain
Royal Army
Killed In Action, Western Front, 1918
He was my  grandmother's
favorite uncle. My Dad was
named for him.

LCpl Kurt E. Dechen
United States Marine Corps
Killed In Action, Iraq, 2006
His mother and my mother sing
in the church choir together

CAPT Carroll LeFon
United States Navy (Retired)
Killed in the line of duty, NAS Fallon, NV, 2012
Lex. He was a friend.

Officer Sean Collier
MIT Police
Killed in the line of duty, Boston, MA 2013
He was the friend of a very dear friend.

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there... I did not die...
From here.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
From "For the Fallen"
By Laurence Binyon

Spare a moment today to remember them. Pray for our country, let not their sacrifice have been in vain.

Memorial Day Sunday

Got a little something in the mail from my old buddy Greg. Had me sobbing like a baby it did. Have a look. It's good, real good. Thanks Greg.

More New Recruits, er, Members

Let's have a big round of applause for the New Guys -

Showers are down that hallway there. Men's room on the right, ladies to the left. (Your other right!) Laundry pickup is every Tuesday at noon. Breakfast is at 0600 sharp. Wednesdays are field days. The others will tell you what that entails. As the New Guys you're expected to buy the beer. Just sayin'...

At any rate welcome aboard!

Gala Night!

The show is about to begin!

It was a very big night here at Chant du Départ last night. The behind the scenes maneuvering, the last minute negotiations and the outright threats and hard-to-believe promises are all behind us now. It was the moment that so many of you had been waiting for.

That's right, it's time to announce the winners of the Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval from last night's gala event. Many went home in tears last night, vowing "There's always next year!" But for many last night was the night their dreams came true as they received the much coveted 
Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval!

That moment had been in the works for long months. Thousands contributed, millions were impacted. So who won?

(Ah, who cares? It's just a silly graphic. Hey! It's more than that!)

From the Old AF Sarge's Opening Remarks:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the first annual Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval Awards.

After spending many hours thinking of what sort of criteria should go along with this award, I realized something. There should be no criteria. Other than that I like your blog. Period. If your blog is listed over there along the starboard rail, pat yourself on the back. You are hereby awarded the Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval.

So what do you need to do? Nothing. Nothing at all. You can post the award somewhere on your blog or ignore it completely. I like reading your stuff. That's all that matters to me anyway. You entertain me. This is good.

But in addition to the standard award of the 
Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval, another grade of the award has been approved by the staff here at Chant du Départ. It is the Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval, with "Special" Mention. This grade of the award comes with the name of your blog hand engraved on the award. Very special is it not? (Again, it's just a JPEG, we shouldn't get too excited now, should we?) Um, so anyway...

Without further ado, the recipients of the Old AF Sarge Seal of Approval, with "Special" Mention are:

Buck gets it because his blog is freakin' awesome, he's a fellow MSgt and it will annoy the Hell out of him. Heh.

Kris gets the award because of her style, her grace and her encouragement of a certain old fart (that would be me) to continue this blogging thing.

Pogue gets the award because he was one of the first to link to my blog from his. Also, because he's a great photographer.

Jeff also gets the award because of the linkage I got at his place. I don't remember which of Pogue or Jeff was first but they both brought me a lot of readers.

Rumbear has the distinct honor of being the first grizzly bear to comment on the blog. Besides which he awarded me his Seal of Approval.
Six gets the award because of his writing. Because he's "been there and done that". And because of Angus, who kinda stole my heart. Good dog Angus, good dog.

Brigid gets the award due to the lady's unbelievable talent. She is perhaps one of the best writers I have ever read. And I read a lot. She can make you chuckle and guffaw with her stories. She can make you weep from the sheer beauty of her words.

Angel gets the award because she brought a crap ton of new readers to the blog when she linked me at her place. And I really like her material. For those who don't know, a "crap ton" is a unit of measure used by Surface Warfare Officers (Nuclear) to describe a large quantity.

Joe is a superb story teller. He makes me laugh but he also makes me think. Something  which the Missus Herself tells me I should do more of.

Skip is another quality story teller. He writes about real life, his real life. And I tell you what, he makes you care. His passion comes across in his writing.

IT is a hoot. You never know what he's going to come up with next, but ya can't wait to see it. Here's to you Ivan Toblog, you magnificent ba$tard!

The DiploMad is a retired Foreign Service Officer and his stories of his assignments overseas will make you either cringe or roll out of your seat laughing. He's a brilliant raconteur. (I've also gotten tons of readers from his place, including one of my favorite commenters, jib.)

Well what can I say? How could Suldog not get an award? A brilliant writer and general all around good guy. If I didn't give Sully one of these, the awards would be somewhat pointless.

SKK is what ya call a "professional writer". I mean she gets paid to write and I hope they pay her very well as her writing is just that good. She's a great supporter of the troops as well. She's also my virtual blog cousin. So yes, there is some nepotism involved in these awards, but hey, Susan earned this!

Murph has also brought me a lot of readers thanks to the linkage at his place. Which is awesome by the way. You should definitely read his stuff. If you're pressed for time, skip my blog and read his, I'll understand. Besides which, he's that good.
For all those blogs along the starboard rail, here's your award - 

All of the blogs I have listed over to starboard are well worth your time. If they weren't, they wouldn't be listed. And I do update the list. Seldom has a blog been removed from the list, but one or two have. If you're listed it's because I enjoy what you have to share. Thanks!

(Hint: If you're ticked because you didn't get a personalized award, don't worry, there's always next year and I'll still read your blog. ALL those blogs in the "Stuff I Like to Read" area are damn good.)

Thank you ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the awards ceremony. Unfortunately the truck carrying all the free booze and food is broken down somewhere between here and Dallas. Sorry...

Oh my. This could get ugly!