Monday, September 24, 2018

Ahhhh! The Weekend.....

Things are starting to settle down a bit as projects around the District are approaching completion. 

Finally.......

 It's still been much rainier than usual which is nice and the first day of Autumn had a high temp of 64o (yes, Fahrenheit, not Celsius) which was also very nice.

We had a great weekend. MBD and SIL came over for their first official Husband and Wife visit.  And a very nice visit it was. We had arranged to rendezvous with both chitluns and spouses  at "The Club". This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as Fighter Pilots, even retired ones, always rendezvous at "The Club".

This one however is just outside of the city limits and is owned by a Swiss gentleman who grows grapes in Texas.  (Gotta love diversity).  In any case, The Club  is a nice bar, with a covered patio, which sits  atop a hill with a great view of Hill Country sunsets.

Very relaxing.

Mrs J and I have begun making it our Friday, workweek recovery place.  Wine and Beer only, with a small sandwich/cheese tray menu.  For to keep the munchies at bay.

This past weekend, it was a good thing it's got a covered patio as it was raining Friday evening when we accomplished the rendezvous.  Not a gully washer, but a nice gentle slow rain which provided a nice side tempo to the musician.

Ryan Howard was the musician and hails from Austin.  He was playing light jazz on an electric keyboard.  (Yes Sarge, I thought of you at this point.  "Wouldn't it be fun to have Sarge up there playing his drums" was what I thought, yes, yes I did.  Yes, wine was involved.)

So, the six of us are sitting around drinking wine, eating cheese and doing something unheard of lately, actually talking.  Telling new stories, retelling old stories, asking questions,  you know, having a conversation.

A truly wonderful evening.

During which, I learned something I didn't know about my wife of 36 years.  Something she'd done in College.

As many of you know, I was born in California, but raised in Texas.  My wife was born and raised in Wisconsin.  (Yes, Oct 15th through Apr 15th are inclusive blackout dates for my visiting there. "Freezin's the reason.")  She went to University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Cue "On Wisconsin"

And as anybody from that part of the country is aware, the UW mascot is Bucky Badger.


Source

I'm not really sure how the subject of the UW Mascot came into the conversation, but it did. As it circulated around the table and arrived at my wife, she mentioned that at one time, Bucky had a girlfriend.


Source
 Said girlfriend went by "Becky Badger".

AKA my Wife.

As a prank, she had put together a mascot costume herself and showed up at the game.  This bit of audaciousness got her free admission. As she made her way to the seats, the crowd went wild.  To hear her tell the story, shortly thereafter she was passed down to the field to meet Bucky.  

Yes, exactly like happened to you at that Rock Concert you went to.

In any case, the University kept her on and actually bought her the costume pictured above.  They also never made it clear if she was the girlfriend or the sister of Bucky.  Hmmmm!

According to the source the picture was taken circa 1980.  I suspect it was taken during the '79 football season, as my wife came on active duty in 1980.

Saturday, the kids went to an A&M Football game watching party during which the Aggies had the misfortune of running out of time whilst still behind Alabama on the scoreboard.  Ah, well, Next Year.

Dinner was at our house, where I taught MBD the ancient family recipe for Chile Verde.  We then excused ourselves over to the Guest House where we utilized the fire pit for cooking S'mores and a wee dram or two.   More storytelling ensued til the wee hours.

Given that...  I'm going  to follow Schmedly's lead and attempt a practice nap.  Vacation is only a couple of weeks away and napping while on a cruise ship is not something to be taken lightly.
It was a great weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This and That - Musing, Muttering, and Moaning About Stuff


Poetry, music, film, even life itself means different things to different people. You can't understand where the other fellow is coming from unless you see things exactly as he does. (Or she as the case may be, it's inclusive we are here at The Chant.)

And yeah, lately I'm all about the music. It's been a long, long time since I've held guitar in hand and tried to put a few chords together to make my own songs. There were a few chord progressions that I really, really liked. But it's been over fifteen years and while I might remember a few things, much has been lost in the intervening days, weeks, months, and years. Time flies when one is having fun, but it also flies if one isn't paying attention.

I listen to a lot of music these days, at work and at home. I used to need quiet for work. Writing new things takes a bit of concentration. But now I'm documenting the work of others, manuals and such to let users know how the thing works. No deep detail, more of a quick reference sort of thing. I know how most of it is supposed to work, it's just a question of taking screenshots and tossing a few words at it to explain things.

Something I can almost do in my sleep. I've been working on this system for a long, long time. Some of it has changed, most of it looks the same as it did ten years ago. The little nuances and improvements that the coders have made don't alter how it looks. Does alter how it behaves, but it's like putting a better engine in your car. It looks the same, the controls are the same, it's just faster maybe, or more efficient.

So I put the ear buds in, head for YouTube and play 50-song mixes while I explore the mysteries of the system and document it all. With the music playing in the background, I'm in my own little world. Lately I seem to be in some weird zone, I spot things that aren't quite right, call them out to the developers and keep moving on. Last week I even worked on a project I hadn't looked at in two years. A bug had been spotted in another chap's code. As he's left the company, I had a look.

Simple fix really, while fixing that, I found a much more potentially serious problem, for which the fix was also simple. Like I said, for some reason the music has put me in the zone. And I'm enjoying the Hell out of it.

There is a price though. Listen to music all day and it tends to stick in your head, long after you kind of wished it had stopped. Like while trying to sleep. But that's starting to smooth itself out now. I expect the music, it's almost necessary now.

Learning to play the drums is, in itself, very interesting. Back when I played the bass, that's the part of a song I would concentrate on, seeing the fingers on the frets in my head. Then trying to figure it out on my own guitar. Sometimes I'd nail it, sometimes (with the advent of the Internet) I had to look it up. But playing it correctly was awesome. If just for my own enjoyment and satisfaction.

Now I listen to the drum bits. I'll hear something and try to reproduce that on my own kit. I still have two left hands and two left feet (you southpaws think of those as right and right, I know) and my efforts are still pretty uncoordinated. But I'm getting there, there's a guy online who has a bunch of recorded lessons, so I'm not trying to do this all my own. I've actually learned some good stuff from this chap. (Jared Falk for those who want to know.)

Maybe it's old age setting in, maybe I'm trying to recapture lost glories which never were, but man, I can't get enough Foo Fighters. Their music really speaks to me. I haven't found a song of theirs that I don't like, haven't heard all of them yet, but listening to those 50+ mixes on YouTube, I find a new "favorite" song every day.

The blog is still necessary to my sanity so that's ongoing, though I have to say that there are days when it's a bit frustrating. I seem to be in a bit of a slump lately.

Par example, those stats above. Three days out of five with less than 200 page views. Comments on those posts are kinda low too, dontcha know? Maybe I'm getting too big for my britches here, expecting all y'all to eagerly gobble up every post, commenting wildly. Of course, Beans tends to boost the comment count, man gets on a roll and the comments go through the roof. As I writer I love the attention. Because I really am an attention whore in some respects. I believe in being honest with myself.

The eye thing is a bit of a downer, no word on the surgery yet. But my doc is competent and confident. Things I look for with folks about to mess with my optical sensors.

Also, the feline staff is aging, one of them visibly. I mean fifteen is pretty old for a cat. Anya is still pretty spry, Sasha is starting to slow way down. Yeah, this concerns me. They've been my furry buddies for a long time now. I am terrified of anything happening to them.

Maybe as I age, I just "feel" more. There are days that I get a bit emotional. I mean this is all new territory for me ya know? I mentioned a bit of an ache in my back to my regular doc the last time I saw her. She seemed a bit concerned. gave me all sorts of exercises and the like, mostly stretching. Wondered why I hadn't mentioned it before. I told her I just figured it was part of getting old.

There are days that I get up and everything hurts. Not screaming agony or any of that, just a sit up in bed and say "ouch" as if some part of the body is yelling, "Dude, not so fast, slow it down, ya ain't 20 anymore."

No, no I am not. But mentally I'm still thinking of what I want to be and do when I "grow up." The Missus Herself has indicated on more than one occasion that me "growing up" would be really, really nice, though she has no fear (hope?) of that happening anytime soon.

And I'm good with that.

So this and that. Mutterings. musings, and moanings of a Saturday evening. Here's some Foo for you.

It's what I do, I share...

Peace and love y'all.



FWIW, I think their drummer (Taylor Hawkins) is freaking awesome. You should see him in concert, he's the freaking Energizer Bunny!

Oh yeah, Happy Autumn. Perhaps I'll add pumpkin spice to the blog.

Not.



Saturday, September 22, 2018

Who They Are, Part V - The Enlisted

Left to right - CMSgt Duane D. Hackney, USAF. SSgt William H. Pitsenbarger, USAF. CMSgt Richard L. Etchberger, USAF.
Truth be told, I get teary eyed when I look at the pictures of these three men. They epitomize everything that is noble and right with the Air Force. While they seem to be few and far between these days, there are folks just like them still on active duty, still fighting the good fight. They shall have my gratitude forever.

Why teary-eyed Sarge?

I wore the same uniform they did, went through some of the same training they did, ate the same chow, marched under the same hot sun at Lackland AFB, TX. In a very deep sense, they are my brothers. I didn't serve with them, but I served with guys like them. The enlisted folks are the people who get the work done in all of the services. The sergeants make sure of that.

I've written about Chief Hackney before, here and here (the second is one of my favorite Friday Flybys). He is the most highly decorated enlisted man to ever wear the Air Force blue. Might be a while before anyone passes that. You can see the Chief's awards and decorations here.

Sadly Chief Hackney didn't really get to enjoy his well-deserved retirement, he died two years after retiring of a heart attack. He was only 46 years old.

RIP Chief Hackney...


We've met SSgt Pitsenbarger (the promotion was posthumous) before, Juvat wrote about him here. He, like Chief Hackney, was a pararescueman, or PJ as we Air Force types like to call them. (I had a deep cut over my right eye once upon a time, a story I told here. Two PJs sewed me up, and provided running comedic chatter while doing so. Awesome guys. A PJ trained The Nuke at a JROTC summer camp she attended in Germany. She was impressed.)

He was one Hell of a warrior...
Flying on almost 300 rescue missions in Vietnam, Bill Pitsenbarger risked his life almost daily during the war rescuing downed soldiers and fliers. On April 11, 1966, the 21-year-old, known as "Pits" to his friends, was killed while defending some of his wounded comrades. For his bravery and sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military decorations, the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross, becoming the first enlisted airman to receive the medals posthumously. (Source)
RIP SSgt Pitsenbarger...


Juvat also told the story of Chief Etchberger's actions which resulted in his death and a posthumous Air Force Cross here, which was later (much later) upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Buck told that tale shortly after it happened, here. (One of the things, there are a few, which the last President got right.)
In the early morning hours of March 11, 1968, the site (Lima Site 85) came under attack from North Vietnamese soldiers who had scaled the surrounding cliffs. By 3 a.m., Etchberger and six others were the only surviving Americans out of the original 19. Etchberger tended to the wounded and fought off the advancing North Vietnamese troops until a rescue helicopter arrived. He then helped load the wounded onto slings to be lifted into the hovering aircraft before coming aboard himself. As the helicopter headed towards an air base in Thailand, an enemy soldier below fired his AK-47 into the underside of the aircraft, fatally wounding Etchberger.

John Daniel had been shot twice in the legs and was taking shelter amidst the bodies of other casualties when Etchberger recovered him and fitted him into the helicopter sling. Upon regaining consciousness and learning that Etchberger himself had been killed, Daniel voiced his disbelief: "Hell, he hasn't been injured, he hasn't been shot. How is he dead?" Decades later, when Etchberger was awarded the Medal of Honor, Daniel, in an interview with Stars and Stripes, suggested: "It should have happened 42 years-plus ago, and he should have gotten a damn 55-gallon drum full of them if he wanted them." (Source)
Killed in action just 6 days past his 35th birthday.

RIP Chief Etchberger...


There are many heroes who wore stripes who deserve to be up there on the masthead, these three must represent them all. I get pretty choked up thinking of those guys...


REMEMBER ME

This long black wall is somber, true. 
Name after name of those who died for you, 
And as I sit and weep beneath a tree 
I hear them scream, 'REMEMBER ME'.

I touch the granite stone.  It's cold. 
Their average age was but twenty years old. 
They hardly left their mother's knee! 
"Remember me.  PLEASE,  remember me".

Vietnam was so very far away. 
Their call was duty, not for play. 
Our country had a pledge to keep. 
They answered it.  We stayed to weep.

I reach to touch each name I can. 
Some left, a boy; returned a man. 
The others are upon this wall I see 
I hear them whisper, "Remember me".

--Esther B. (Campbell) Gates




Friday, September 21, 2018

You're Kidding, Right?

Cow standing in front of members of the 115th Congress.
(Original)
The Kavanaugh hearing, interview, circus, whatever-it-is, should embarrass every American citizen who has at least two brain cells to rub together.

A U.S. Senator sits on a potentially embarrassing revelation for how many months? And then springs it on us at the last minute like some freaking circus clown?

Gee, thanks California, thanks for sending those two fecking ee-jits Feinstein and Harris to the Senate, what fine human beings they are.

I'm sure there are one or two, maybe even a handful of decent human beings in the Senate and the House. But they are overshadowed by all the preening morons which the Meejah loves to quote.

I don't follow things in Washington all that closely. Events there kind of remind me of the time The Naviguesser and Your Humble Scribe were trundling down a road in Germany at the ridiculous speed of 25 mph, speed limit was 100 kph, which equates to 60 mph, ballpark. But it was very foggy, as it tends to get in that area of the world, so 25 was good enough for me.

We rounded a corner and there it was, a tractor towing a tank of liquid congress-critters, er, I mean cow manure. The Germans and the Dutch in that neck of the woods used that to fertilize their fields, very organic it is, awfully smelly it is.

Now the tractor may have been going 10 mph, tops. Tractors don't move all that fast, especially towing a tank full of crap. Liquid crap.

(Source)
We tried to back way off of that fellow. Do you see in the photo where the liquefied bovine excrement sprays from? Let me tell ya, the guy must have just done one field, reloaded and was heading back for another go. Traveling behind that was an ordeal. There was a car full of nuns right behind us, I tell ya, I'm positive those nuns were swearing a blue streak.

So, events in Washington? I try to stay aware of them, but like being behind a manure sprayer, I try and keep my distance.

What a bloody embarrassment. To our government, to our history, and most especially the people who voted those asshats into office. And believe me, the Dems have no monopoly on ass-hattery and stupidity. When's the last time Congress passed a budget? Done something in a timely manner? Done something for the good of the country? Done something which wasn't intended to lead the nightly news?

Jackasses. Most of 'em.



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Who They Are, Part IV

Marine Aviators: John Glenn, Ted Williams, Jerry Coleman
So let's start with the biggest name of those three Marines. John Glenn. When I was a kid, I didn't know that John Glenn had been a Marine fighter pilot, I knew him as an astronaut. One of the first astronauts, John Glenn was also the first American to orbit the Earth. When I was a lad, being an astronaut trumped everything. Including being a fighter pilot.

When Senator Glenn passed away in December of 2016, I felt he deserved a spot up on the masthead. In truth, he represents all of the American men and women who have gone into space, pushing back that final frontier.

Yes, he became a politician, a Democrat no less, but I still respected the man and his accomplshments. No list of American heroes would be complete without him.


Ted Williams and Jerry Coleman went up on the masthead back in March of 2016, I wrote quite a bit about that here. (Joe Foss went up on the masthead around that time as well, and I wrote about him in that same post. But I'm going to mention him again when we get to the Medal of Honor holders, officer category, later on. Yes, there's a separate category for the enlisted MoH holders. Note that I didn't say MoH "winners." It isn't a prize, most of those who have been awarded that medal were dead when the medal was awarded.)

I also mentioned Ted and Jerry the other day, so I don't feel the need to go into any more detail on that. Suffice to say, both men impressed me enough to make the header.


This series of posts, for those who are wondering, will eventually be combined into one big post which will have its very own page (over on the sidebar) for those of you who like to keep track of such things. Also a good place to refer the newbies when they pose the question of who are those folks up there? Why are they up there?

I'm still mulling over Beans' idea of the Hall of Heroes, again a separate page over on the sidebar. For those who access the blog with a smart phone, you need to go to "View web version." which is what the Android calls it, Lord knows what the iPhone calls it. We no longer have one in the house. I'm tempted to call that page Valhalla. But some of the folks in the Hall of Heroes are still alive, so no go on that thought. (I just finished the latest season of Vikings on Amazon, hence the Valhalla reference.)


The eyeball surgery has not been scheduled yet, though I have given Doc One the "go" sign. That will no doubt occur within the next couple of months. But not mid-October as my Mom's birthday is in that region. Also I hear tell that Juvat will be in my AO during that time frame. As we have never met in person, I don't wish to miss that. (Tuna has been in my AO more than once, I've been in his. We've met multiple times.)

So as I mentioned yesterday, posts are gonna be short in nature for a while. My morale is high, it's not that I'm antsy about the surgery (much), I am kinda short on material and I'm not ready to inflict share more of my fictional efforts with you.

Remember, I'm trying to learn how to play the drums as well. Renaissance Man, that's me.

Kinda, sorta.



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Harbinger


After Tuesday morning's madcap adventures at the ophthalmologist (far too many "h"s in that word if you ask me) it was back to the familial encampment for to pick up my lunch and ascertain if it would be wise, even prudent, to drive myself to work.

The Missus Herself had arisen early for to take Yours Truly up to the big city of Providence, what with the anticipated dilation of eyes and the like which had been foretold by the seer. (Actually a letter came in the mail indicating that I should expect to have my eyes dilated and for the visit to take up to two hours. Which it did.)

While Doc One has a very competent staff, good lads all, they are, nevertheless, lads. While I adhere to the Seinfeldian philosophy of non ut illic 'mali nihil quod*, I don't swing that way. Now at Doc Two's office the very second thing** I noticed was the comeliness of the receptionist. Very hübsch she was, as was the other receptionist, as was the lady who first examined my optical sensors.

I noted that, other than Doc Two, all of the staff were female. Made the visit much more pleasant, though my eyes were numbed and dilated, I looked rather owlish, truth be told.

But the visit confirmed the findings of Doc One, of the mostly male staff, so it is to be surgery. No magic elixirs, no potent potables, no sorcery will bring back clear vision to my oculus sinister. Until such time as he can be mended (the technique to be used has yet to be revealed to me, perhaps a trip to the Oracle at Delphi is in order, or I could just call Doc One, which I shall do Wednesday, as in domani), oculus dexter will have to soldier on as best he can. Good lad that Dex.

Anyhoo, that rather long winded preamble leads me to the title of the post and the vision which inspired it. As I was saying, went home, grabbed my lunch (lovingly made by the love of my life, Virginia ham and a bit of Hoffmann sharp cheddar on dark bread, plus grapes, a bunch of grapes) and determined that with the use of sunglasses I was more than capable of driving myself to the salt mines. As I went out from the location to the vehicle (cop talk, love it) I noticed that various and sundry leaves on one of the weeping cherry trees were donning their fall coloration.

"What ho?" cried I. "Looks like a sign that autumn doth approacheth!" (I really do talk like that at times, not generally in public, and usually when there is no one listening.)

"A harbinger of the turn of the seasons!"

I really like the word "harbinger," it does not get used enough in my opinion. While I knew the meaning, I was curious as to its provenance, so I looked it up, and here's what I found -
Middle English: from Old French herbergere, from herbergier ‘provide lodging for,’ from herberge ‘lodging,’ from Old Saxon heriberga ‘shelter for an army, lodging’ (from heri ‘army’ + a Germanic base meaning ‘fortified place’), related to harbor. The term originally denoted a person who provided lodging, later one who went ahead to find lodgings for an army or for a nobleman and his retinue, hence, a herald (mid 16th century).
Figured Beans would like that, him being all Medieval and the like. Speaking of Beans, here's the scene where I explain to Captain Vacation what he and Juvat are to do with Beans while I'm recovering from the surgical adventure. Not sure how LUSH feels about all that...



Yes, expect short rations while this eye thing is going on, when I am truly hors de combat, the lads will have lots of good stuff pour vous, so they tell me.



* Sorry, but you'll have to look up all of today's foreign words and phrases, here. And yes, I am feeling a bit lethargic today, thank you for asking.
** The first thing being what a nicely architected building the offices were in. Couldn't notice the content until I'd seen the packaging now could I?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lack of Focus

(Source)
From the ophthalmologist visit last week, diagnosis for the blurred vision in my left eye. My "good eye" mind you - macular schisis from vitreous detachment. In layman's terms, the boat (macula) has pulled away from the pier (retina) without all the lines being cast off. Part of the pier has been detached. Fixable, yes. Surgery according to Doc One, second opinion being sought from Doc Two at this very moment (if you're reading this Tuesday morning). Second opinion is Doc One's idea, just to make sure.

Visit with the regular eye doc on Monday after work. Oh boy, glaucoma, both eyes.

Yay me.

It's tough to focus right now. Literally and figuratively.

Stay tuned.

I suppose there's always this. As a third career...*
(Source)


* Hint: Google Navy LSO.