Friday, July 31, 2015

What's Behind Door Number 2?

Okay, the picture of the door is rather melodramatic given the fact that I am about to have surgery to repair something. Let's leave it at that, no need for gory details.

So I am approaching this event with a certain amount of trepidation. Probably because of the number of folks who want to tell me all about their experience with surgery. Then there are the medical professionals who like sharing their esoteric knowledge of the human body and the various treatments, procedures, tests and what-have-you that the medical professionals can perform on that human body.

Interesting perhaps from an educational viewpoint. Not so much when one is to be the subject of said things.

I did chat with a buddy of mine who underwent this procedure a while ago. The surgeon who did his procedure was the same surgeon who removed my gall bladder. Small world neh?

He told me two things and showed me another thing.
  1. The surgery should be no sweat, it's rare to experience problems.
  2. He had 8 weeks off to recover. That's what the insurance people gave him.
  3. He showed me his scar.
Okay, thing three I could have done without. His lower belly on the left side looks like he took an anti-tank round. A rather large divot.Yeah, I could have gone through the rest of my life without seeing that. But it is what it is.

I did like the 8 weeks off thing. Though I'm sure now the insurance folks will just give me a leather strap to bite on and hustle me back to work ASAP.

Oh well. Let's talk about time travel.


An odd thing about the way I blog is that I sometimes get wrapped around the axle as to which tense to use in my writing.

For instance, as I type this, it is a Thursday afternoon. The post won't be published until Friday morning. Many of you will read this sometime on Friday.

My surgery is on Friday. After this post is published, I am writing this from the perspective of Thursday.

Confused yet? I know I am.


By the time some of you read this post I will (hopefully) be out of surgery and well on the road to recovery. Some of you will no doubt read this while I'm under the knife. Or perhaps before I even get to the hospital.

At any rate, from my perspective, the surgery is tomorrow, from your's it's either today, or maybe yesterday or who knows when...

I have received many a kind word, pleasant thought and heartfelt prayer from a number of you, My Loyal Readers. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate that.


Not to worry about what the weekend will hold, Juvat has three excellent posts scheduled for your entertainment, elucidation and enlightenment. History is involved, as it usually is around these parts. I've already sneaked a peek at what's in the queue and can't wait for you to be able to read them as well.

But wait you must.

Tuna may pop in with trivia, or a rant or some serious political commentary. Who knows, he comes and goes like the wind. I like the surprise factor.

As for me I am at this moment prepping for surgery. You don't want to know about it, I don't want to write about it. Suffice to say, anyone who has ever had a colonoscopy will be familiar with the process. The only difference is the need for me to swallow eight giant pills at 1900, then again at 2300.

Of course, for you, that's all water under the bridge. I haven't done it yet. But I will.

Oh boy.

See you all on the other side of door number 2. Whatever that might mean.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

In The Wild

A night in the forest by Randi Hausken from Bærum, Norway Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons (Source)
One day, long ago, I went hunting in the woods near my home. In those days there were fewer people in the place where I lived. The forest began behind my father's house and stretched up and over the road atop the hill, with its scattered farm houses, then spread out to the west.

I would walk up into those woods and turn to the south. There the wood stretched uninterrupted for miles, patches of open ground were many, especially where the great power lines marched from wherever they originated to wherever they ended. I didn't care. Though they were a blight upon the land, electricity and heat were much appreciated when the cold winds brought the snow and ice.

I walked a long ways, I was startled by a covey of quail when they burst from cover just in front of me. I had to laugh at how jumpy I was in that moment. I was not two miles from home but I felt as if I was the only human in that land.

I came across a large field near the top of the hill. We played there as boys, I skirted along the tree line. It was at that moment that I realized that I wasn't really hunting. I was out in the forest in the middle of November. The last leaves of autumn were long gone, there was a chill in the air from the remnants of the snow fall received two days earlier.

I sat and listened. The wind sighed through the trees, small creatures went about their business in the low brush, rustling and scurrying about, my presence long forgotten in their busy wee brains. They had winter to prepare for. The burrows must be stocked for the long sleep. Layers of fat must be put on, provender will be scarce for the next few months as ice claims the land.

After a while, I notice the shadows are getting longer. I have tarried too long, it is time to retrace my steps. I am not afraid, I have a powerful rifle in my hand and I am young, in my mind I am invincible. No harm can befall me, this is my forest.

As I enter the deep wood which lies between me and the hearth where my mother prepares dinner, I notice behind me that the fields are barely lit. Details are beginning to fade as the sun hides its face beyond the hills to the west.

The forest is silent at first. The only sound comes from my footsteps as I carefully tread through the tall pines, the wind is moaning in the tree tops which I can just make out by the starlight overhead.

To my front I can just discern the dim glow of the streetlight near my home. I still have a ways to go. And it is dark and the forest seems to be awakening, almost as if it is disturbed by this being who walks its halls in daylight, but who is out of place as the night deepens.

An owl hoots in the distance. I remember a story told by my grandfather how bears will also hoot, just like an owl only deeper in tone. I pause, I finger the safety on my rifle. The sound doesn't come again. There are bears in these woods, my father has seen one, I have seen their scat way up on the hill.

Still, that must have been an owl. I think.

The forest seems alive with sound now, a dripping noise as the wind picks up causing the pines to shed the little snow left on their boughs. The noise is almost deafening and I can barely see my feet on the forest floor. But I have my guiding light up ahead.

It seems brighter and I quicken my pace. I can smell the smoke from a neighbor's fireplace. I am almost home.

I break out from the forest on the bank just behind our house. I can see my mother in the kitchen window, supper isn't far off.

I look back over my shoulder into the deep dark beneath the trees. It seems so lonely and alien after the sun goes down. But I know these woods. They were the playground of my brothers and I and our friends. They hold no fear for me.

Still and all, it's nice to be back in the warm kitchen. My mother chastises me for being soaked. Seems there was a lot more snow falling out of those trees than I realized.

I go upstairs to change and wash my hands.

Turning off the light in the bathroom, I open the blinds and then the window itself. Looking up at the woods, I sigh. It was a good walk, one I will remember until the day I die. I am getting older, soon I must leave this place and go out into the world. When will I see this forest again?

I did not know it at the time, but it would be eight years before I walked there again. That time was with my wife, my young son waited at home with his grandmother. I showed my wife the deer, four of them passed near us amongst the pine. The wind was in our faces, they didn't notice us, we simply watched them glide silently through the wood, like so many brown ghosts.

Those were my woods. Now they are someone else's. Though my brother bought the land immediately behind the house so no one could build there, others did, further down the street. What once was a stand of pines is now a street, with houses.

It has now been over twenty years since I walked those woods. I doubt I will ever walk them again. That time is past.

Time marches on. But what lives in memory can never be destroyed. It may fade but will remain as long as I take the memory out from time to time and think on it. Cherish it.

Sometimes I share those memories with others.

This is one of those times.

It was pleasant sharing this memory with you.

I hope you have a forest, a field, some mountain perhaps where you once wandered free and without care.

Go there sometimes in your mind.

You won't regret it.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Up The Long Slope

The British landing at Kip’s Bay, New York Island, 15 September 1776 by Robert Cleveley (Source)
Though the passage from Boston to the foot of Breed's Hill is a short one, the boats are not all that steady. The red coated infantry stand in silence under the watchful eyes of their Sergeants and Officers as the sailors row the long boats towards the strip of gravel and sand lying just ahead.

The sailors ship their oars just before the boats ground, though the men bob slightly, they hold their ranks. Then the Officers disembark and the Sergeants begin the work of getting the men on shore and in their ranks.

The day is hot, some of these men remember the long march to Lexington and Concord not that long ago. There is a desire to pay back these sneaking colonials. Men lost friends and messmates that long hot spring day. Now, perhaps, it is time for revenge.

The long lines are formed, near the crest of the hill the men in the front ranks can see the earthworks thrown up by these farmers and shopkeepers. How dare they make a stand against their rightful king?

The drums roll, the Officers order the advance and the lines step off, through the tall grass and up the long slope.

It is hot, oh my Lord it is hot. Every man can feel the sweat soaking their shirts and undergarments under the heavy woolen coats. The Brown Bess seems heavier with each step. But the drums roll and the implacable march of the British infantry continues.

The Battle of Bunker Hill, by Howard Pyle, 1897 (Source)
The smell of smoke is heavy in the air as Charles Town burns off to the left flank, the crackle of burning buildings can be heard over the thumping drums. Then there is a new sound, a buzzing, a snap in the air, then thuds as the colonials open fire on the serried ranks of men in red.

Many men drop, blood and bits of bone fly through the air as the heavy leaden balls take their toll.

The lines stagger and pause. Slowly the men begin to edge backwards. The Officers see this and command the men to fall back. Maintaining order all the way as the hiss and crack of incoming fire continues.

Soon the British are out of range. The hill is no longer a long sheet of green grass. Here and there it is stained red from the blood of the fallen. Many bodies lie in the grass, unmoving and limp where life dwells no more.

Men in the ranks can see movement up the slope. Men, wounded, desperately trying to crawl back down the hill, to their regiment, to safety. More still lie screaming as the pain of the wounds begins to overcome the initial numbness.

The heat grows.

To the rear the sun plays on the water, sparkling and lovely, in stark contrast to the affair on  Breed's Hill. Then the Officers again bark out commands, the Sergeants shove the reluctant back into line, the drums begin to rumble and thump. The red lines move forward again.

Near the crest, sheets of flame leap from the muzzles of the rebel muskets. The sighing bullets again slash through the ranks, men tumble to the ground. Some stagger on for a few steps, not realizing they are hit until their legs are no longer theirs to command.

An Officer begins to raise his sword and urge his men on, as his mouth opens, his hat flies off as if taken by the wind.

The men are aghast as they see their beloved major sag to the ground, most of his head gone. The Sergeants push and shove, "Advance you stupid bastards, press them!"

Another volley is fired, the lines stagger and seem to melt back down the hill. Staggering, bloodied and bowed but as yet unbeaten, the infantry stream back down the slope, quickly reforming once out of range.

Grenadiers (Source)

There are fewer Sergeants now, familiar officers are nowhere to be seen. They are still on the hill, dead or dying, perhaps only wounded but for now, they are out of the fight.

Then the order rings out, "CHARGE YOUR BAYONETS!"

At last, at last. The men growl as the long bayonets affixed to their muskets slant forward. Muskets at the hip, the men are ready to advance into Hell once more.

"GIVE 'EM COLD STEEL LADS!" a young ensign, barely 17 years of age cries out.

The drums roll, the command to advance rings out once more. Up the long slope the infantry advance with determination, with resolve, with murder in their hearts.

Up the hill, up that damned long hill as Charles Town burns and the sunlight dances upon the Charles River. Perhaps a gull cries in the distance. They and the crows know that a feast awaits them once the humans are done killing each other.

As the crest is reached the rebel fire is desultory and sporadic. Here and there another redcoat collapses to the blood soaked earth. But the men realize, the rebels are falling back, they are not firing. They are out of ammunition!

The earthworks are assaulted, the long bayonets thrust and stab into the roughly clothed men defending Breed's Hill.

The colonials attempt a stand, it is no use. The lobsterbacks are not in a forgiving mood. They have come up that hill three times and paid dearly for the privilege. Now it is their turn to call the tune.

The death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull (Source)

No quarter is asked, no quarter is given. It is a British victory.

But at what cost?

For the remainder of the war, the British generals, particularly Lord Howe, will avoid frontal assaults at all costs.

The rough and tumble colonists have given the Royal Army a bloody nose.

Neither side will ever forget that June day in 1775.

Oddly enough, the battle, though fought on Breed's Hill, will ever be known as the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Thus are legends born.

Thus was the Spirit of a Nation conceived.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sturm und Drang

"Staccato Lightning" by Griffinstorm - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons (Source)
The other day I had a few reminiscences concerning thunder storms I have witnessed. Around 0130 Monday morning I had cause to remember that post.

I was awakened at that time when off in the distance I heard the rumble of thunder. It must have been fairly loud to hear it over the air conditioner roaring in the window not ten feet away.

Whether it was the thunder or the call of nature (I am, after all, 62 years of age and starting to feel it) I ambled off to the head.

There I could see constant flashes in the sky, no distinct bolts just flashes. As my view out of the sanitary facilities is to the north I could not see directly west, the direction from which all those flashes were emanating. The rumble of thunder off to the west confirmed the direction.

It being deep in the dark of night, and Monday being a work day, I headed back to my rack to continue my slumbers. My cat Sasha was on the bed, looking at me as if to ask what all that noise outside was.

Like me, she too went back to sleep.

There's something about a distant thunderstorm in the night which makes for a pleasant sleep. Perhaps it's the thought that the storm is far away and not affecting you. Perhaps it's just the background music of nature which somehow comforts me.

At 0330 (two hours later for those of you who may be arithmetically challenged) the thunder was most certainly not in the distance. The flashes of lightning through the curtains was nearly continuous and the crash and rumble of the thunder seemed to be directly overhead.

Sasha went over the side to seek cover elsewhere. For my part I decided to head for the head (see what I did there?) to see what I could see (and again).

Before continuing I have to apprise you of a couple of things. One is that I have pretty good night vision, two is that the parking lot behind the estate is lit to prevent the ne'er-do-wells of the town from pursuing certain nefarious activities in said parking lot.

Remind me someday to regale you with some of the nonsense, hi-jinks and downright stupidity I have witnessed in that parking lot in the dead of night, when normal people are abed, the wicked roam the land and old guys get up to pee.

Too much information? Well, sorry, it's all part and parcel of today's tale.

Anyhoo. (I note that Juvat likes that little "digression flag." Good man that Juvat.)

Point being of all that, good night vision, lit parking lot to my north and The Missus Herself not liking to close curtains for to let the night air waft through the upper floors of the manse means I seldom, if ever, need to turn a light on when I feel the need to perambulate down the passageway in order to, shall we say, attend to matters of a personal nature.

So Monday, at or about 0330 local, I was headed down the hall and looked to my north, out the bathroom window adjacent to the parapets. (Okay, we don't really have parapets, but it sounds kind of cool. Or not. YMMV.) And what to my wondering eyes appear but a massive bolt of lightning not a thousand yards north of my position.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi...

Crash BOOM! (Sayeth the clouds.)

While not "danger close," the sucker is not that far away.


One Mi...

CRASH BOOM, rumble, rumble, rumble!

Seems like God's forward observer is walking those rounds right onto my position and "Fire for effect!" cannot be that far off.


I head back to the bedroom where Sasha is waiting for me. Seems that hiding somewhere is not improving her morale and she wants my company to weather the storm. She is happy, though nervous, as I calm her down by petting her constantly and informing her just what a good girl she is. I'm sure it's the tone of my voice and not the actual words that calm her but it works.

Sasha falls asleep. The thunder is constant, the flashes are persistent and now the rain is moving horizontally against the Western ramparts. I do believe the wind was trying to snatch the air conditioner out of the window and beat me about the head and shoulders with it. Water was coming through the seams around the unit (which The Missus Herself attributed to my lackadaisical taping skills, she was not amused when I informed her that I had used packing tape, not 50-knot hurricane proof "EB Green."*)

Though perhaps my taping skills have deteriorated over the years, I defy anyone to tape a window in such a manner as to resist gale force winds. Well, except The Missus Herself, her skills in home decor and window sealing are perhaps unmatched in modern times. Perhaps the ancient Roman engineers...

Um, yeah. Anyhoo...

Cat is asleep, I'm listening to the storm which is making it hard to go back to sleep, and wondering all the while if we might wish to man the lifeboats.

Nope, storm subsides, I see I have two hours in which to return to dream land and I know full well that there is no way I'm going back to sleep. My senses are pinging, my brain is churning and of course the pleasant thought of surgery on Friday pops into my weary noggin.

Oh well, I've gotten by on far less sleep and will only be at work for half a day. Then it's off to Pre-Op testing.

When I walk into that office I announce to the nurse that I had not studied at all.

She informed me that the questions were very simple and I should have no trouble at all. Though they would need to draw some blood.

"Good I brought some, just in case."

The nurse kind of sighed and said "Follow me."

Which I did. Life goes on.

*EB Green. A type of duct tape used by Electric Boat in Groton which is green in color and which will apparently form a water tight seal on an opening in the hull of a diesel submarine good to about fifty feet underwater. So an old submariner and Navy diver of my acquaintance once told me. He swears it's true and he was on the boat during that dive.

Monday, July 27, 2015

So, What did you do this summer?

So,  There I was....*  In a meeting with the Technology Director brought about by a question I'd made in passing a week or so before.  "So, what are we going to be doing this summer, Boss?"  Summertime, in IT in a K-12 School District is when we finally get to do the proactive things that really need to be done vs the reactive things that sprout up when the phone rings.

Proactive things = prevent the destruction of the universe and the extinguishing of all life therein.

Reactive things="my printer jammed and printing my document two classrooms down is inconvenient."  ("My driving across town to pull the stuck paper our of your printer is inconvenient too, Missy!  Deal with it!" not being an acceptable response)

Summer time allows us mostly uninterrupted time to redo databases, update servers, rewire network connections, etc.  All intensely fascinating, deeply enriching exercises that nerdy IT types alone appreciate, until they stop working at which point all concerned learn to appreciate.

Anyhoo (to use an anti-digression term from Sarge),  There I am in this meeting.  "So,  what are we going to be doing this Summer, Boss?" is hanging out there in the breeze followed by a pregnant pause.

"Well...Funny you should ask."

Uh-Oh,  "Funny you should ask" is always followed by something that is not funny and, in retrospect, I wish I had never asked about.

"We're going to forklift the entire network."

Huh?  Forklift and network are not generally used in the same sentence.

"Sounds fun.  What's the scope of the operation?"  Being totally clueless on the forklift terminology, I fall back on known technical geek speak hoping to hear terms I'm able to understand.

"We're going to replace every computer, thin client, server, and switch in the network and bring it back up before the Teachers return in August."

"Holy S**t!"   (Yes, that slipped out.)  We going to have some help?"

"We will have a few contractors to help with the programming the switches, but primarily it'll be us.  We'll hire some hourly types to help with the lifting and carrying, but the setup is going to be your team."

So,  That is what I've been doing since June 4th.

620 client computers removed and replaced.  200 Thin Clients (terminals where the operating system runs on a server and is displayed on a monitor) removed and replaced.  50 servers replaced or updated.

This in addition to the normal recocking activities needed to put to bed one school year and prep for the next.

I'm tired.

Mrs. Juvat, being the wonderful person she is, decided the clan needed down time. So it is decreed, so it shall be! The beautiful daughter will interrupt her job search in the Peoples Republic of Austin and join us.  Little Juvat and his Bride will provide intricate knowledge of the highways and byways of San Antonio, since that is where Mrs. Juvat has decreed the weekender will take place.  The Forces are ready.

We (she) have made reservations at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch Residence Club.  I've gathered that this is part Time Share and part overflow for the Hyatt Hill Country Resort next door.  We're not in the market for a Time Share, but the room was VERY nice.  

After a braising (102 degrees, 73% humidity) commute in traffic, we're settled in and head to the pool for a dip.  Then Dinner and we're ready to hit the rack.  Up the next morning and over to the Resort, where we find a place by the Lazy River.  Just enough sun to work on a little color, plenty of shade to keep from over doing it and nice cool water to maintain body temperature.  Oh, did I mention they had minions who when summoned would bring adult recreational beverages?
Minions, being given the Ops Brief for the mission
Minions departing on a raid on a purveyor of Adult Recreational Beverages

Their beloved leader relaxing and finally getting a chance to read Old NFO's new book  The Grey Man: Changes
A most excellent read!

After a relaxing day, we head back to the room and get cleaned up for the main event.  Little Juvat and his Bride had given me 5 tickets to see Patriot's Tour with Marcus Luttrell among others.  Let me tell you in no uncertain terms.  Go. See. This.  Program!

Dinner at Zocca on the Riverwalk was excellent
A fairly steamy. if beautiful walk to the TheaTah!

Wow!  Held at the Empire Theater in Downtown San Antonio, it was awesome.  The theater seats 2264.  We checked ticket availability before the show started.  There was one ticket unsold.  The thing that got me was the wide range of age groups that were there.  A lot of old folks, but also a bunch of families with kids in their early teens.  The couple that sat next to me were in their very early 20s.

The show got going when Mary Sarah came on stage for the National Anthem.  Standing in front of a Patton sized flag, she began singing and she really hadn't gotten started when the whole audience was singing.  I realized at that point, this was going to be a great evening.

She's done (and did a fantastic job), and the first speaker came on.  Capt. Chad Fleming, a Ranger with 6 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  He walks on stage in a pair of shorts and one can see immediately that his life is different than most.  On his first deployment, he received injuries to his left leg which eventually required amputation.

He described the events without remorse or self-pity rather with humor (the story of the saving of his $40 Under Armor underwear was hilarious) and grace.  I was impressed!  He served as the MC for the first half of the show.

Capt. Fleming then introduced Taya Kyle.  She also told her story about her life after her husband, Chris Kyle, was murdered and what it took for her to pull herself up and carry on.  Not a dry eye in the house when she almost lost it in the middle. 

Finally, he introduced Pete Scobell, a Navy Seal.  Mr Scobell sang a few songs for which the lyrics reflected the releasing of a lot of internal pain.  Given that he had been a Seal for 19 years, that should not be hard to believe.  The music was very good and it doesn't surprise me that he and his band are touring with a Major Headliner, in this case, Wynonna Judd.

After the intermission.  Capt. Fleming introduced David Goggins, also a Navy Seal.  Mr. Goggins, had a different story about his overcoming difficulty.  He has been a USAF Tactical Controller, an Army Ranger, and a Seal (with two Hell Weeks).  He decided, after the Lone Survivor episode, to try and raise money for the families of those killed by competing in the most extreme physical endurance competitions in the world.  OK, this guy is officially a bad a$$ machine.  Running 200+ miles in 48 hours?  4000+ pullups in 24 hours?  125+ miles in 24 hours in Death Valley, in the Summer?  YGBSM!

Then he tells us he did all that with a silver dollar sized hole in his heart!  

Mr. Goggins concludes his portion of the program by introducing Marcus Luttrell.  I confess, I have not read his book nor seen the movie, and I'm glad I hadn't.  I had a general understanding of the circumstances, but hearing him tell it first hand was awe inspiring.

I've always had a strong belief in the power of the mind to overcome physical circumstances, these folks did an outstanding job in showing me how much more the mind can accomplish than I ever imagined.

Go. See. The. Program.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Swedish Walmart

"IKEA Frisco TX" by Rainchill - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons (Source)
Friday afternoon, The Missus Herself reminded me that we had some stuff which needed to be returned to its place of origin. This stuff was either the wrong stuff or stuff which had been purchased for a particular contingency but which was now excess to requirements. That is, it was no longer authorized on the Chez Sarge TO & E*.

Now the latter stuff consisted of: kennel, dog, heavy duty, two each. Back around the Fourth, The Nuke and The Sea Lawyer had planned a visit up to Little Rhody. Now you might recall that those two have a couple of pooches, Kodi and Bear. They are not small pups. They can ride up in the back of The Nuke's off-road vehicle (seats out) but once here they would need a kennel in which to chill out.

Who knew that dogs need "their space" from time to time?

At any rate, due to an illness (Kodi got sick, she's okay now) the trip was cancelled and we were left in possession of:  kennel, dog, heavy duty, two each. As we have felines who make their space wherever the heck they please, the kennels were excess to requirements and had to be returned.

Now the former item in the aforementioned stuff requiring return to its place of origin consisted of a bunch of bed curtains.

"Bed curtains Sarge? Who are you Ebenezer Scrooge?"

No, no, I'm not Scrooge and don't think big old heavy Victorian bed curtains. The ones we have (and which require replacement, due to having two felines who make their space wherever the heck they please) are lacy and light. They are in The WSO's old room on what a young daughter of a friend of ours refers to as "the princess bed."

At present those curtains now have the look of a tattered set of sails off an old schooner which has been through a blow in the North Atlantic in winter.

Okay, they're not that bad, not to mention which I need to throw in a nautical reference from time to time to keep the nautical readers of the blog amused.

As The Nuke likes to say, "Yeah Dad. You're real salty."

"Arrrrr and shiver me timbers." says I.

Anyhoo. The replacement sails, er curtains, were much too long for the bed we have. I would not have noticed but I'm a guy. We don't notice when curtains are tattered, too long or otherwise unserviceable. We also only see in primary colors and everything is either black or white in terms of "nuance." Subtlety is not our strong suit. At least many a female of my species has informed me of these "facts."

Which reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw once up in Vermont...

"All Men Are Idiots. And I Married Their King."

I found that greatly amusing, the three females of my tribe along for the ride looked at me as if I had just laughed at Newton's Third Law.

Apparently facts are just that, facts. Period. Full stop. Not to be laughed at, mocked or trifled with. And here I thought I was the king of the idiots.

Anyhoo, I see I've wandered off topic once again.

The curtains needed to be returned. I asked The Missus Herself where she had purchased them.


"We have an Ikea?"

"No. But there's one on the way to Boston."

"Boston? As in Massachusetts?"

"No, you great lump. Boston in Westphalia. Of course, Boston in Massachusetts."

Checked the map, and good googly-moogly, that Ikea is some forty miles from our permanent encampment.

"Hhhmm, I didn't know they sold curtains at Ikea..."

"Yes, it's kind of like a Swedish Walmart."

Well, it was the first time in my entire life that I had ever entered an Ikea. I was familiar with the store's purveying of "inexpensive" and hard to assemble furniture but had never actually been in one.

Upon arrival we wended our way to the Ikea parking garage and found a spot. We were almost backed into by some freaking loon who wanted to back his car into a space instead of just pulling into it like a normal person.

I didn't really get a good look but I'm betting he was driving a Volvo and wearing Earth Shoes. While my first instinct was to drive him before me and hear the lamentations of his women, The Missus Herself told me to "calm down, there's a space over there."

It's mortified I was, being deprived of my prey like that. But as the kids like to remind me, we don't live on the steppes back during the days of the Great Khan. If we did, they like to point out that I would probably be a lowly foot soldier. Made to march in camel dung and...

Digressed again, didn't I?

So we enter Swedish Walmart Ikea and The Missus Herself starts marching through the store. I was noticing the low ceilings, the lack of sight lines and the curious throngs of aging hipsters all gawking at the cheap inexpensive merchandise.

Now bear in mind, this was after we had returned the aforementioned curtains. My assumption was that m'lady was on the hunt for replacement curtains.

"No, you great goof. Flower pots. I need flower pots."

Not wanting to ask many questions I stayed in trail and followed her through the store. I was beginning to think we were lost and meandering through the store in hopes of somehow finding the Northwest Passage, er, I mean the way out.

Seeing a pillar with a cache of maps, I snatched one.

Swedish Walmart? More like the Cretan bloody labyrinth.

I half expected to encounter the Minotaur and was keeping my eyes open for something to use as a weapon.

Me at Ikea.
Actually: Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth by Edward Burne-Jones (Source)

My first trip to Ikea.

I'm rather hoping I'm not forced to repeat the experience any time soon.

Rather an odd place.

Yes, we bought flower pots. No, we didn't buy any curtains.

And there wasn't a meatball in the whole place.

Not that I could have found them even if there were.

*TO & E = Table of Organization and Equipment. For those of you who chose not to chase down that link and wade through The Acronym Page. I'm cool like that, those who want to chase the link can. Those who don't, well here you are. I don't always do this. I'm feeling accommodating today. (See what I did there, gave you a second chance to hit the link. Just in case you missed it up there.)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Social Media and Me

Yes, this really happened...
Okay, so maybe I do get carried away with the whole blogging thing. I like doing this and it keeps my brain in gear. Thinking about what to write, what kind of photos I want to include, whether to be serious or silly (you might notice that I lean rather heavily towards the latter) and whether I wish to reveal certain aspects of my life and times to you, My Faithful Readers.

I am kind of an attention junkie. I don't believe that I should get a trophy for just showing up but I will demand your attention and try all the harder the next time.

Now social media is a most interesting phenomenon. I wasn't all over Facebook as soon as it came out. The progeny got me hooked on that, with kids scattered all over the continental U.S. of A. it helps to keep track of what they're up to.

I also belong to a closed group on Facebook in honor and remembrance of the fellow who inspired me to start blogging. I mostly hang out there, we are generally folks of like mind but we're not all conservatives, there is a liberal or two over there, but I'm pretty sure there isn't a "progressive" in the bunch.

I also post pretty much everything from the blog over there as well.

Like I said, I'm an attention junkie. (Note that I'm not an attention whore, that would indicate some sort of remuneration for services rendered. I do this for free. Just wanted that to go into the record. FWIW.)

While I do have a Twitter account, I seldom use it.

Just checked, I have "tweeted" precisely nineteen times.


A sample of my scintillating brilliance on Twitter...

Sorry, where was I? (I was over at Twitter, "Draft Biden"? Seriously? For what?)

Another important thing you need to know about me is that I didn't get a cell phone until the late winter of 2010. Up until then I hadn't really seen the need for one. Then the company which provides me employment, a regular paycheck and fairly interesting work, decided that my services were needed temporarily at another location.

So The Missus Herself suggested that I take her cell phone "up north" with me so that I could stay in touch with the progeny and home base.

"Hhmm, what's this thing on the cell phone?"

"Sarge, that's a GPS tracker..."

Okay, so she wanted to keep tabs on me as well. Can't say I blame her, I do tend to go feral when left away from the family for too long.

So in the late winter I purchased a cell phone. Just a little flip phone. For phone calls mind you. While it did have a camera, I think I could store about five photos. Small photos.

And the fruit of my loins (oh my word do they hate that term, probably why I insist on trotting it out from time to time) kept sending me videos and photos. Which necessitated me deleting the stuff already on my wee phone. Stuff I wanted to keep.

Okay, so it's more than just for phone calls.

Now I have a big fancy "smart" phone, which thinks it knows better than I how to spell, try this on for size Mr Smarty Phone - 'Allo 'Allo => Allowed Allowed. See, I'm smarter than it.

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."



Alright, neither of us is very mature.

So I could be tweeting as I do carry about the technology to do so. But from the samples offered above, perhaps it's best if I avoid that particular venue.

And yes, I really did release the date of my surgery before the Public Affairs Office at Chez Sarge had officially released that information.

The Nuke refers to me as being a member of the media. She has a cool job in D.C. and many of our conversations start like this...

"Dad, this is off the record..."


"You can't blog about this."

"Oh, okay. Are you sure I can't..."


"Well, alright."

And so it goes.

I have some material I need to clear with the front office. See you later.

Friday, July 24, 2015


While this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post it is here because I like it. There are many photos of roses but this one is mine.
Well, I had a chat with the surgeon's office on Thursday. I will be checking into the hospital next Friday for to undergo the "procedure."

I put it in quotes because the medical people keep trying to explain things to me.

I have assured them, more than once, that that is quite alright. I don't really need to know.

Nor do I really want to know.

I guess it would be like me explaining the radar on the Phantom to the aircrew just before I open the toolbox and have at it.

I mean sure, they were highly educated men (for in those days the flyers were all men, though we had a number of ladies doing maintenance, to fly one needed to be male, not "identify" as male mind you, but actually be male) and I have no doubt that they would have understood completely the intricacies of the AN/APQ-109A radar set and the AN/APA-165 intercept computer.

Well, other than the WSO who showed up at the neighboring jet and wandered over to my jet where we were industriously (and quite professionally) tweaking, aligning and adjusting the radar synchronizer. The radome was open and the radar package was fully extended. Okay, minds out of the gutter, it's not as erotic as it sounds. [Oh, it's just me who was thinking that? Never mind...]

Well, this fairly junior officer in a flight suit wanders over and stands there contemplating the radar in all its naked glory. After a while we noticed him staring intently.

"Can I help you Sir?" my SSgt inquired.

"Gee, that looks pretty complicated..." the lieutenant said.

At that point, the pilot came over, grabbed his back seater by the elbow to lead him back to his own jet.

I imagine there might have been one of these installed in the back seat...


Or not. I mean eventually these fellows look back on their junior days and remember some of the dumb things they said or did.

Like the WSO who wrote the radar up for not functioning in the O.F.F. mode.


At any rate, I prefer to remain somewhat ignorant of what the doc plans to do once he has me under. I trust he knows what he's doing. After all, it's not like I'm going to be awake to ask such things as...

"Why are you cutting there?"

"Gee, that looks complicated."


"Oh my screaming blue heavens that bloody hurts please knock me out!"

Or words to that effect.

I trust the experience won't be anything like the following.

But ya never know...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pure History

Last Stand of the 44th at Gandamak, 1842
William Barnes Wollen (Source)
My brother-in-arms across the pond had this great post the other day. Made me think it did.

The West has had its great empires: the Macedonians of Alexander, the Romans, the Spaniards, the French, the Germans and of course our own forebears, the British.

Some exploited the lands they conquered, some brought peace and prosperity and a legacy of freedom to the lands they held so long.

Great Britain was once the Motherland to our own land and to our brothers and sisters to the north. Think of some of the countries where Tommy Atkins soldiered and where British commerce held sway.

The United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the largest democracy - India.

Yes, there was strife, there were iniquities and no small measure of suffering for the native population. The original peoples of most of those countries were displaced and marginalized for the most part. With the notable exception of India.

Commerce followed the flag in those days. The never ending search for new markets and new sources of raw materials drove this small island nation ever outwards.

Leaving many a legacy for those who followed.

Of all the empires which ever flourished and then passed into history, the British Empire, for all its faults, was, in my opinion, the best. Mankind has benefited greatly from the legacy of those shopkeepers, sailors and soldiers.

History is fact. People may have opinions but what was remains and cannot be rewritten by those with an agenda.

The Brits paid the price on many an occasion.

Still they soldier on...

Remnants of an Army
Elizabeth Butler
Depicting the arrival of assistant surgeon, William Brydon, at Jalalabad on 13 January 1842. (Source)

The story behind the paintings...
The 44th Foot fought in the First Anglo-Afghan War and the regiment initially formed the advance and later the rearguard on the retreat from Kabul. After a continuous running battle in two feet of snow, the force had been reduced to fewer than forty men. On 13 January 1842, the few survivors of the decimated regiment made a last stand against Afghan tribesmen on a rocky hill near the village of Gandamak. The ground was frozen and icy. The men had no shelter and were starving. Only a dozen of the men had working muskets, the officers their pistols and a few unbroken swords. When the Afghans surrounded them on the morning of the 13th the Afghans announced that a surrender could be arranged. "Not bloody likely!" was the bellowed answer of one British sergeant. Only a few men survived the massacre. Most notable was Captain Thomas Souter, who by wrapping the regimental colors around himself was taken prisoner, being mistaken by the Afghans as a high military official, also Sergeant Fair and seven other soldiers were taken prisoner. One more, Surgeon William Brydon, made it back to the British garrison at Jalalabad on the afternoon of the same day. The only member of the 44th to get away... W&W

May there always be an England!

(And a Scotland, an Ireland and a Wales for that matter.)