Friday, August 31, 2012

The Road Ahead

When I sat down last night to write this, I had a bunch of thoughts on politics and politicians going around in the old noggin. Started to write one thing, trashed that and started to write something else. Trashed that as well.

Because I can't sit down and rationally discuss or write about politics these days.

All I know is that the last 3 and a half years have been an absolute mess. The people who are supposed to be in charge have no clue. Before the last election I had a sick feeling that the wrong man was going to be elected President. And yes, that's what happened.

A man with zero practical experience in real life had been elected to the highest office in the land. Most of the people around him were also totally unsuited for the jobs they were given.

Now where do we go from here? All I know is that the current occupant of the White House has got to go. He needs to join the ranks of the unemployed, hell he's responsible for most of those folks being unemployed in the first place. Seems he should have a taste of his own medicine. And take that loon of a Vice President with him. What they've offered is NOT working. And it ain't gonna work, not now, not ever.

It's time for America to get back to work.

It's time to look down the road ahead and get things back on track.

It's time for a change.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lorsque le Digue se Brise

A clue to the title of today's post:

Blog buddy Buck got me going with the French thing over at his place today. (Not casting blame here, just pointing out that it was Buck and his je ne sais quoi that got me started.) And the music? I just enjoy this tune. A lot.

Back in my "young and dumb" days, while stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, my buddies and I would listen to this song (and others like it) on stereo systems that would've cost an arm and a leg back here in the States. But over there, pretty doggone cheap.

So every self-respecting airman had a stereo system which could almost drown out an F-4 Phantom during it's take off roll. And folks, that's an F-4 with a full bomb load and a full load of jet fuel. That is, throttles pushed up all the way past the detent, in full afterburner. And that my friends, was LOUD.

It became a ritual of sorts that every Friday night we would gather at Airman First Class Jasbo's room, loaded down with a case of beer (or two) and with a pinochle deck close at hand.

Seats would be taken, that first beer opened and Jasbo would hit the music. Volume all the way up. And to that opening drum beat we'd have our first sip of the weekend.

Now it's not like we just played loud music all night and drank ourselves silly. No, we were not nose pickers (aka crew chiefs - plane captains for you Naval-types). We were not BB stackers (munitions/ordnance loaders). And we were most certainly NOT admin pukes (which needs no translation).

No sir, we were avionics maintenance troops. And not just any old avionics maintenance troops, we were WEAPON CONTROL SYSTEMS! (And yes, we were awfully full of ourselves back in those days.)

So after a couple of iterations of this tune and a couple of cans of beer, we would settle down and break out the cards. Pinochle and beer, that was our Friday night on Okinawa.

Ah, good times.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Geese and Seagulls

Geese, specifically Canada Geese (that big fella on the left), and seagulls, (that rather annoyed looking dude on the right). I see them all the time.

Living in New England I enjoy watching the great Vs of geese winging across the late summer and autumn skies. If they're low enough, you can hear their wings creaking. No, really, their wings make a creaking sound, kind of like my knees do early in the morning as I hobble out of bed.

If you get me away from salt water for any length of time, I get all melancholy. But if I hear the call of a gull, it perks me up and makes me think of the sea. No matter how far away it might be.

Perhaps you're thinking that if you can see or hear a gull, then the ocean must not be too far away. Right?

Actually you'd be wrong. Going to college in Ft Collins, Colorado, one of the first things I noticed was seagulls. Indeed, there was a rather large colony of gulls in the area. A local told me that they'd migrated from the Great Salt Lake in Utah, following (and devouring) a great swarm of locusts. About a century ago.

Don't know if it's true or not. Don't much care. It's a nice story.

So why (you may wonder) is the Old AF Sarge going on about aquatic fowl today? The answer to that one is easy.

Where I work is just a hop, skip and a jump from Narragansett Bay. So there tend to be a lot of seagulls who like to hang out in our parking lot. They particularly like to perch atop the light poles. Also atop some of the larger SUVs.

Also there are lots of Canada Geese in our neck of the woods. My company has a rather expansive lawn surrounding the buildings. Which the geese like to wander about on, consuming whatever it is that geese consume while upon terra firma.

Now guess what we see a lot of in our parking lot?

WARNING - If you have a weak stomach, look away dear reader. Oh lordy, look away!

We see this
and this

Disgusting isn't it?

But in our parking lot, imagine the above multiplied a thousand-fold!

Fortunately it is a very large parking lot. But, one needs to be mindful of where one places one's feet while navigating from the car to the building entrance. The asphalt is no place for the unwary.

You know those war movies where the patrol is making their way across a field, and suddenly there is a "click"? Everyone freezes, someone has stepped on a mine.

Well today, returning from lunch, I dismounted my vehicle and was warily making my way across the mine field parking lot. Something moved in my peripheral vision, like most would do I glanced in that direction. Just as I did, I heard a "squoooosh".

My right heel was no longer upon solid asphalt. There was something "smooshy" underneath my shoe. And like those soldiers in the mine field, I froze. Not because any movement on my part would cause an explosive device to discharge underneath me. No, I froze with the following thought in my head, "You have got to be sh!tting me!" (Literally the case, so to speak...)

Yes, there under my right heel was a patch of fresh goose dung. In all it's green and disgusting glory. When I got up the nerve to move my foot away from it, there was my heel print, embedded in the squashed pile of goose crap.

Not wanting to, but needing to. I looked at the underside of my shoe. Yes, indeed, more goose crap. Slowly I moved to the nearest curb, to scrape off the bulk of the goose poop.

Good, the biggest part of the mess is gone. But there's still some of it adhering to the tread.

At that point I remembered an old trick our first cat would use when he had a bad case of, shall we say, the Hershey squirts. Montezuma's revenge. You know, diarrhea. He would drag his soiled butt across the grass. Having no access to toilet paper, and even if he did, he (like all cats) lacked opposable thumbs. Apparently dragging his soiled behind across the lawn worked well for him.

So I headed for a clear patch of lawn (that is a patch sans goose crap) and rubbed the remainder of the dung off of my shoe. Success! No goose poop to be seen upon my footwear!

I passed the true test of shoe cleanliness when I returned home to the family estate this evening. I entered my abode somewhat cautiously, awaiting my two cats to come rushing to the door to say "Hi Dad! Where is Our Food?"

Tentatively I pushed my right foot forward, expecting to see two very intrigued cat noses inspecting my shoe. They sniffed it and then looked at me with a "So what? Where's our supper?"

Now most cats of my acquaintance love the smell of dirty footwear. Not a wink, not a flehmen response did I see. Hunh? Shoes passed the cat scan. I must have got it all. Sweet.

All in all, this really sums up Mondays for me.

Very often a crappy day.

(I know. That was a crappy story. Some day I'll tell you the tail of the bat crapping on my hat, in the wee hours of the night. Yes, I'm full of crap stories.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Those who've been at this blog business for a while are no doubt familiar with the "anti-bot" concept as illustrated above.

A couple of days ago, over at Buck's place, blog-buddy Buck was up in arms about this eye watering torture that some bloggers subject their commenters to. While reading that post I said to myself, "Oh yeah, I HATE that crap!"

Then what do I see today in a comment to a recent post? On my very own blog. This:

"THREE attempts at word verification. Just sayin'."

My first reaction was, of course, "Say what?"

Oh no, have I been inflicting this on my commenters?

So I go to my blog and attempt to comment as "Anonymous", and sure enough the frickin' eye chart pops up.

Damn! How do I turn that sh!t off?

So I log in, find the offending setting and promptly disable it. A retest revealed no eye chart popping up.


My sincerest apologies, regrets, etc., etc. to those of you who in the past may have wanted to comment but couldn't get past that crap above.

Mea maxima culpa.

I am mortified.

Now the gates have been flung wide to all and sundry.

Hopefully no "bots" wander in off the streets.

I'll take that chance.

Stay thirsty my friends...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong 1930 - 2012

Astronaut and Naval Aviator Neil Armstrong

High Flight by John Magee

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunwards I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
 Of sun-split clouds – and done a thousand things
 You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air,
 Up, up the long delirious burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
 Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 Put out my hand, and touched the face of god.

Another hero, gone from our midst.

Godspeed, Sir.

I Just Don't Fit In

The Way I'm Feeling
Well, I'm back at the home office. No more long commute to the banks of the Merrimack River. I can look out the window of my office building and see Narragansett Bay. I now work ten miles from home as opposed to 100. So why do I keep thinking "Be careful what you wish for..."?

Perhaps it's going to take longer than a week to get back into the swing of things. Perhaps it will just take me some time to get used to the "old reality" (of what I used to do) as opposed to the "new reality" of the past two and a half years.

Or maybe, just maybe, I've re-discovered something about myself.

Back in the day, after my first year of college, I went out to seek employment. Found a summer job which, when it was time to go back to school, I decided to keep, rather than go back to school. I was toying with the idea of enlisting at the time. But needed to do some growing up. So I went to join the ranks of the employed.

First job was a handy-man kind of thing. Fairly typical entry level thing with nothing better than a high school diploma hanging on the wall at home.

That lasted about 8 months. My immediate supervisor was, shall we say, not that bright. But hey, we emptied the trash, painted stuff and lifted heavy things. There was no need for my boss to be smarter than a bag of hammers. But the intellectual stimulation of that job was sorely lacking.

So I moved on, to work in a factory. It was a bit of a step up from the handy-man job. But not much.

I worked in the stock room at first. Unloading pallets of small parts and such and stocking large racks of bins  with that stuff. Loads of fun, perhaps the most boring job I've ever had. (At least in the handy-man gig I got to spend a lot of time outdoors.)

From the stock room I moved up to become a machinist. Turns out this, while interesting at first, was even more boring than the stock room. Once you get the machine set up to do its thing, you're just feeding stuff to the machine.

Both I and the company realized that I was not a very good machinist. After that I worked in the receiving department. This was actually interesting work. After the goobers unloaded the truck, we had to inventory the shipments and then route them to the proper department. Downside was that this typically could be completed by lunchtime. The rest of the day we all sort of scattered and tried to look busy.

My innovation in that area was subsequently copied by my colleagues after I'd left the company to join the USAF (so my sources told me). That was to carry a clipboard with official looking paperwork on it. Then I would roam the plant "studying" things. Anything on a rack or in some sort of storage area was fair game. Everyone assumed that I was doing something official.

This activity did have some benefit to the company however. One day while exploring one of our two warehouses, I found an entire rack of stuff similar to stuff we'd received the previous week. So I went to my boss and asked him about the stuff. He said he had no idea why if we had the stuff in the warehouse, we would order more. He said to go see one of the purchasing agents. So I did.

Turns out some knucklehead had sent the stuff I had found to the warehouse the previous month. Had forgotten about it and then when the job needed it, ordered some more. The purchasing agent dude was both ecstatic and furious. Ecstatic that I'd found the stuff and furious at the guy who'd stashed the parts and then forgotten about it. Bottom line was that we were able to send the newly ordered batch back to the shipper and probably saved a few thousand bucks (which was serious money back in the early '70s).

That was all interesting and such, but I did not see myself doing this kind of work until I was old and gray. So into the Air Force I went.

And found my place in life. Order and discipline. Immediately knowing who you were dealing with by the markings on the uniforms we all wore. Very little ambiguity in my line of work there. I was given things to do and resources to accomplish those taskings. I fit right in.

Then eventually it was time to retire and (as a buddy of put it) "get a real job". Which I did.

The civilian world does not suit me very well. There isn't much of a clear hierarchy, at least not in my company. Here we use a matrix management system. Basically means you have multiple people in charge of various things regarding a project but no one who will actually take responsibility for getting things done.

If, heaven forbid, something goes wrong, there is a lot of finger pointing and hand waving over who should have taken care of it. Everyone is in charge, no one is willing to make an actual decision. Everything carries on according to "the process". I rather imagine the old Soviet Union being like this. Oh and one other thing, "ass kissing" or "drinking the Koolaid" is a prized skill in my company. Oh, and being diverse. Especially being diverse. I'll just say that and leave it alone.

So I've come to realize that I just don't fit in this civilian world. It's one of the things which drove me to enlist and leave all that crap behind. Should have known that I would have to come back to it at some point in time.

I need to win the lottery and retire. I am really tired of being a civilian.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


With a tip of the hat to long time reader (and prominent member of the Commentariat) Tuna. He gave me the link to this article in one of his comments and I liked it so much that I decided to reproduce it here, in its entirety. (Another note: The book by LTC Grossman noted below? An excellent work and I highly recommend it to people who wish to understand war and what our brave fighting men and women have to go through.)

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman
By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing."

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...


This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Sound wisdom.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Herding Cats

Sometimes dealing with people is like trying to herd cats.

This may be an impression I have from dealing primarily with civilians for the past 13 years. Prior to that, on active duty, I had no such problem. When given an order my response wasn't exactly "Yes Sir, Yes Sir Three Bags Full", but in general (unless my superior was a complete fool, and yes I had a few) the orders made sense and concerned something that needed doing. So it got done.

And when I mentioned something to a subordinate that was, shall we say, directive in nature, you'd better believe it got done. (I have given a dumb order once or twice in my career. But those were the exception, not the rule.)

I am reminded of a Staff Sergeant (SSgt) who worked for me in Germany. My Colonel asked me for some data which I knew the good SSgt had been processing over the past few days. By processing I mean entering into our database.

Me: "SSgt X, I need you to drop what you're doing and make some queries in the database."

SSgt: (Turning in his chair) "That's not my job."

Me: (Taking multiple deep breaths before speaking) "I beg your pardon Staff Sergeant?"

SSgt: "My job is to enter data into this computer. That's it."

Me: "Your job, Staff Sergeant, is whatever I say your job is. If I tell you to grab a broom and sweep the parking lot, you will by God grab a broom and commence sweeping the parking lot."

SSgt: "I don't think so. Sarge."

At this point I was stunned beyond belief. Say what?

Me: "Let me see your ID card Staff Sergeant."

SSgt: (Looking puzzled, but humoring me by handing over his ID card) "Sure."

Me: (Gazing at the ID card) "SSgt X, I am  placing you under apprehension for disobeying a direct order. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to ..."

SSgt: "What? What are you doing?"

Me: "Weren't you paying attention? I gave you an order, you disobeyed that order. That is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I am placing you under apprehension prior to turning you over to the proper authorities for possible prosecution. Am I getting through to you Staff Sergeant?"

SSgt:, "Uh, what kind of data did the Colonel need? Are we cool?"

Me: "Here's the list of what the Colonel wants. And no we are NOT cool. If you ever question an order again, mine or anyone else who out-ranks you, I will see you in Leavenworth. IS THAT CLEAR STAFF SERGEANT?!"

SSgt: "Yes Master Sergeant, very clear."

Blunt, simple and to the point. In the military things can be real simple. Do your job. If not, you might go to prison. Or die, if the job is combat. But everyone for the most part understands the ground rules. Like the Centurion in Matthew, "For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."

Working with civilians ain't so easy for me. I'm always hearing things like "well, we can't just make a decision like that, we need consensus from the team." Or "well, that's not a bad idea but the process says..."

Yeah, herding cats would be a lot easier.

Perhaps you can sense what kind of day I had. Oh yes, it was one of THOSE days. When I got home and mowed the lawn, it was almost pleasant. A nice mindless activity that made me sweat. No thought required, no people to deal with.

No cats to herd.

Friday, August 17, 2012

On Ancestry and Ancestors

Like most Americans I am a mix of different cultures. My ancestors were primarily European, though there is some evidence (perhaps apocryphal) that there is just a wee bit of Native American in there somewhere back in the mists of time. Unlike Elizabeth Warren though, I won't be claiming to be a "Native American" anytime soon. The story goes that my 9th great-grandmother was a Seneca, of the Iroquois Confederacy. To put that in perspective:
Note the arrow. If the legend is true, that would make me 0.048828125% Native American. Yes, rather statistically insignificant. I don't think I'll be applying for a casino license any time soon.

Now before you get all riled up with that whole hyphenated-American thing, I consider myself an American through and through. I don't introduce myself with "Hi, I'm Old AF Sarge, I'm French-Scottish-English-American." I'm not a hyphenated anything.

But one thing we did learn growing up was to remember and honor our ancestry. Perhaps it was because my paternal grandmother was born in Scotland and came to this country around the age of 12. She still had a bit of an accent (though not near as strong as some Scots of my acquaintance) and Scotland was definitely in her blood.

As a teenager I discovered the music of the bagpipe. Gram was delighted when I told her my love of pipe music! This music had and still has, shall we say, an interesting effect on me.

If I hear the pipes in the distance, I will stop whatever I'm doing and listen intently. I feel compelled to head towards the source of the music. It has to be something ancestral, though it may have skipped a generation. My Father could not abide the sound of the pipes. But for me, it sharpens the senses and gets my blood all a-boil, in a manner of speaking.

An event which occurred when we'd returned to the States from my four year assignment in Korea is perhaps illustrative. Though my wife and son had been to the States once before, it was a visit at Christmas time, this was their first time coming to the US to actually live.

Now I may have mentioned this but the Missus was born and raised in Korea, a country I have a great love for. My son, of Naviguesser fame, was born in Korea. My son was young so the return probably did not have such a big impact on him. For the Missus it was all a bit overwhelming.

So yours truly, in an effort (however misguided) decided to show off a bit of my native land by dragging the Missus and a wee Naviguesser to upstate New York to see Fort Ticonderoga (depicted below).
Fort Ticonderoga (that's Carillon, en français)
I had visited the fort as a youth and loved the feel of the place, the history which seemed to ooze from the site and the surrounding forests. I could almost picture Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas traveling through the woods en route to save Colonel Munro's daughters.

When we arrived at the fort, unbeknownst to me, there was a festival of sorts underway. In reality, it was a bagpipe competition. Upon stepping from the car I could hear the skirl of the pipes not far away. This was my wife's first experience at seeing the effect pipe music has on her otherwise normal husband.

The Naviguesser was bundled into his stroller and I hurried my small family unit up to the fort and down to where the pipe competition was underway. To her queries of, "Where on Earth are we going? What's the hurry, slow down!" I would just grunt and say "Hurry. This way. Oh my gosh, they're playing The Black Bear! Hurry, hurry!"

Well, the Missus suffered through that stoically, like the trooper she is. But mention of that day will cause her to mention that I'm an idiot. "Middle of the summer! So hot! Did you think to bring water or sodas or perhaps food? What an idiot!"

Okay, guilty on that count.

My maternal grandmother was also very proud of her Scottish heritage and would constantly remind us that her people were Gordons, dammit, and don't you ever forget it!

Now my paternal grandmother was your typical grandmother. Always baking cookies and other goodies in the kitchen and making sure her grandchildren were well-spoiled. My maternal grandmother was cut from different cloth.

One of my earliest memories was of my maternal grandmother's hunting stories. Yes, in her youth my grandmother was an avid hunter. Of course back then it was not for sport, it was to put meat on the table. Somewhere at my Mom's there is a picture of my maternal grandmother kneeling next to a rather impressive buck, holding her rifle with one hand and the deer's antlers with the other.

Now my paternal great-grandfather was born in Quebec, Trois Rivières to be precise, of French parents. He emigrated to Vermont back in the day and the family has lived in New England ever since (primarily Vermont and New Hampshire).

I remember it was only a few years ago that my Dad mentioned that his grandfather had been born in Canada. Only he said "Three Rivers", not Trois Rivières. When I (ahem) corrected him, my Mom laughed and my Dad accused me of being a "snooty Frenchman". I did not argue with him. Sometimes I can be quite the snooty Frenchman, if the mood takes me that way. Which it oft times does.

Now my maternal grandfather never gets talked about. I've never met him. Seems he and Gram divorced when my Mom was rather young. Seems that that gentleman was no gentleman, bit of a lady's man so the story goes. And with my grandmother's skill with firearms, I'm sure he made himself scarce with good reason. But his people were English, very English if my nephew's research is even remotely accurate.

I say that because some of these ancestry sites seem to be more about, "Hey, if people think they have really cool ancestors, they'll continue to subscribe. And pay us money." In my review of the alleged family tree, there seem to be far too many knights littering the landscape. In light of my blood grandfather's later conduct, either his innate code of chivalry was long expired, or our ancestors were simple peasants and countrymen. Like most peoples' ancestors are. (Really, pay for a coat of arms which you may or not be eligible to bear? Thank you, I'll make my own way in this life and not pretend great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa was some sort of baron or knight or what-have-you!)

All that being said, I consider myself to be an American. Pure and simple.

But lurking beneath that Yankee exterior lies a Scotsman, a Frenchman and an Englishman.

At any rate, I figure the Scots blood makes me (ahem) thrifty. The French blood makes me passionate (and subject to wild swings in morale). And my English blood?
Probably explains my rather unorthodox sense of humor.

All those nasty knights running about the ancestral tree. Rescuing damsels in distress. Seeking the Grail and all that.

No doubt.

But if you ever want to get my attention? Play something along the lines of that tune in the video up top. No doubt I'll come running.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Can't Believe This - IT WORKED!

Yes, indeed it did!

Those of you who have been following my rambles and rants about this, that and everything know that I had a cunning plan. The plan was to work my way into the good graces of the home office and not have to work 100 road miles away from Chez Sarge.

This entailed working two days a week Up North and two days a week at the home office. Just to make sure that they remembered who I was and what I looked like you see. Every week was two "road games" and two "home games". It was starting to get rather wearying. But...

As the bit above indicates, the cunning plan has borne fruit.

It has succeeded.

I make my triumphant return to the home office this Monday, next.

I am as surprised as my colleagues, who felt that my quest to return to the home office was rather in the vein of Don Quixote. Well, it seems that I was not tilting at windmills.

Warning - Tangent Alert!
Speaking of windmills. When la famiglia Sarge had the opportunity one summer (long ago) to spend time in the delightful state of Mississippi, we rented a condo. Which was furnished. Which had maid service. It also had a pool and was just across the highway from the beach (Gulf Coast doncha know).

As the Missus is no slacker when it comes to order and cleanliness in the family quarters, the maid had very little to do at our place. My wife convinced her to set a spell and take her ease when she came to our place. For you see, the maid was in her sixties and my wife felt bad about her having to work so hard. So instead of cleaning for 30 minutes or so, the maid would sit and chat with the Missus and the progeny.

Now the Nuke and the WSO took to the maid as she was funny and had lots of good stories for to enchant the young ladies. Now the maid had a very old-timey, Deep Southern accent.

While the WSO was still in diapers and wasn't really at the coherent speech part of her life journey, the Nuke (being two years older) was learning language at an unbelievable rate. But to this day, her voice will still (with some words) come out sounding like a sixty-year old black woman from Mississippi.

What does this have to do with windmills you ask? Be patient, I'm getting there.

Four-ish years later when we were assigned to Germany, we found a home in a very lovely little village. The village of Waldfeucht. (Which translates loosely to "damp forest". It was mostly farmland when we lived there, I guess back in Roman times there was probably a forest there. A damp one.)

At any rate, I came home from work in the early days of our life in the "damp forest" and when I walked into Unser Hause, the Nuke came running up to me and announced, "Daddy, daddy, our town has a wint-meal!" (Do that last bit slowly, it has to be drawled out. If y'all know what I mean.)

"A wint-what?" I queried.

Well, the Nuke repeated herself once or twice, then stomped off absolutely convinced that I was as stupid as the day is long. (She still thinks that. I have to admit, I have given her lots of evidence to support that particular theory over the years!)

Finally I puzzled it out. Wint-meal equals windmill.

Wow, that was a long tangent.

Back to Our Saga...
Alright, it's not much of a saga, more of an epic tale. No, no, no, that's not right either. Oh, I've got it, "Back to Our Story".

So this coming Monday, the 20th of August in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Twelve, I once again am assigned to my home base on a permanent basis. I may still need to go Up North on occasion during the transition from the old project to the new project.

But I'm home. That's what really matters.

But truth be told, I shall greatly miss the Folks Up North. They are good people and I had a great time working with them. Today was my last day of being "on loan" up there. It was bittersweet as I had to say Au revoir to some awesome people. Perhaps we'll meet again. I truly hope so.

But I'm home!

But for the Folks Up North, I give you one of my favorite pipe tunes, The Skye Boat Song. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Nuke

For those who don't know, the Nuke is my oldest daughter, she is the middle child of our three offspring. She is a Surface Warfare Officer (Nuclear). That's right, she's a SWO. Nuclear propulsion is her thing. Which should immediately tip you off that she is WAY smarter than me. Not that that's a really big surprise, all of my kids are smarter than me. That's the way it's supposed to be.

The Nuke once asked me, "So Dad, how does it make you feel that all of your kids make more money than you?" Well, I was up front about it, "It makes me proud kiddo. Kids should be more successful than their parents. Otherwise, I'd feel that your Mother and I did a crappy job of raising you."

Occasionally I take credit for helping to raise the kids. But, to be quite frank about it, the Missus did all the heavy lifting. I was there for moral support and to provide funding for all the necessary child-rearing requirements. So I did, kind of, help raise the kids.

Now the Nuke is what we called a "hard charger" back in my day. She has always worked hard for everything she's accomplished. And to be quite honest, in this time of (shudder) "Diversity", she's had to go out of her way to prove herself. Diversity (with a big "D") is one of the things that drive her to distraction. She's had to wonder at times whether some great eval she received was based on her performance, her gender or a combination of the two.

I like to think that it's based on her performance. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her Dad. Back in my active duty days I had females that worked for me, and females that I worked for. Saw both good ones and bad ones. I could also tell the ones that were where they were at because of their gender, not because of any particular skill-set they brought with them.

And I'm here to tell you, the Nuke made it based on skill and native talent. Quite frankly, some of the men she's worked for have told me that sometimes the Nuke scared the living "you know what" out of them. If she scented any of that "Diversity" crap around her, she would let all and sundry know, in no uncertain terms, that she demanded to be judged on her performance, not her gender.

Her first Department Head once told me that when she first reported aboard her first assignment (DDG-74, USS McFaul) that he was a little leery of having a female Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer (ASWO) in his department. He assured me that after a few days, he wished he had a few more just like her. The following vignettes all came to me by way of her Department Head and/or Leading Petty Officer (LPO).

First of all was her, shall we say, "colorful" use of the English language. One of the first things she did upon becoming the McFaul's ASWO was to visit her sonar spaces. She was not very impressed with the housekeeping in that space. So she instructed her sailors that they had two hours to get the space cleaned up and ship-shape.

When she returned, she discovered that her sailors were not taking their brand new female ensign very seriously. The space was still a mess. So she gave them unshirted hell in a language that they all recognized and promptly announced that they would be standing port and starboard watches (six hours on duty, six hours off duty). They were a bit stunned. But they sucked it up, cleaned up their spaces and came off that duty rotation after only a couple of days. But the sailors knew that the new ensign was serious.

Her Department Head told me that story when I first visited McFaul. He said that he'd asked her where she got her "salty" vocabulary. When she replied that her Dad was a retired Master Sergeant, he said that that explained a lot. Asking what he meant, he told me that her sailors were rather impressed with her vocabulary and somewhat dismayed that she seemed to know many enlisted tricks for "putting one over" on the new ensign.

At the risk of being ostracized by my fellow NCOs, I must admit that I did give the kids a few tips and tricks of the trade. For the "good of the service" and such. Nothing they wouldn't have learned after a few months anyway.

Her LPO related to me the story of how the Nuke canned her Chief Petty Officer. Yup, fired his lazy a$$. Seems that the good Chief would only be around when he had the watch. Otherwise he'd be in the Goat Locker, taking his ease. Well, the Nuke got tired of doing her own paperwork and his paperwork. SO she let him know that he was NOT pulling his weight and he needed to start doing so.

Well, the Chief called her bluff. So she told him to report to the Department Head for reassignment as he was no longer her Chief. She made her LPO the acting Chief. Well, seems the Chief didn't take her seriously and went to the Skipper instead of the Department Head.

Well, by now the Nuke had a reputation on board for getting stuff done. When the Chief told the Skipper that he'd been canned and didn't like it, the Skipper's response was, "ASWO fired you. I see no reason to countermand that order. Looks to me like you need a new job Chief. Why are you talking to me?"

Now the Nuke was not all fire and brimstone. On a stop over in Newport, RI (where I got to spend 6 days on board, on and off) the Nuke had me take her, the Systems Test Officer (STO) and the First Lieutenant from the pier up to the Navy Exchange. When we left, the Nuke had like four shopping bags chock full of Halloween candy. I knew they were putting out to sea the next day (and would be at sea for Halloween) and asked her, "Uh, you're going to be out for about a week before you head back to Norfolk. Isn't that a bit too much candy?"

The Nuke just looked at me and said, "The candy's not for me Dad. It's for my sailors." At that point the STO (a former chief himself, now a Lieutenant) just looked at me and nodded. He later told me that the Nuke's sailors loved her. Sure she was tough on them, but she took care of them too. That was one thing I did teach her, always take care of your people and they'll take care of you.

Now this is what the Nuke is normally like. Cute and cuddly like a baby panda. All innocent looking and the like.

But she can be ferocious when she needs to be. Also panda-like, but more like this:

The Nuke. My oldest daughter. I am so damned proud of her.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Way! You Have Got To Be Kidding...

There I was, minding my own business, thinking about what I was going to post tonight. As per usual, I open up the old blog and then wander through my blog reading list. Getting warmed up so to speak.

And then I hit Buck's place and the above crashes into my brain and completely blows me away. My beloved Air Force now has a ceremonial uniform authorized for wear by only two people in the entire Air Force. The Air Force Chief of Staff (CSAF) and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF).

For all my civilian readers out there, that's the top ranking general and the top ranking enlisted guy in the entire Air Force. And they are the only two authorized to wear this comic opera nightmare from a Hermann Goering drug-induced fantasy.

Now some of you are probably saying to yourself right now, "Hey, wait a minute Sarge, you said two, I count three."

Nothing wrong with your math skills my friends (nor with mine). These photos were taken at what I'll call a change of command event. The general in the operatic costume on the left is the outgoing CSAF, the one in the middle is the incoming CSAF. So it's really two positions in the Air Force authorized to wear this clown costume.

Anyone getting the subtle nuance here that the Old AF Sarge does NOT like this uniform? Or the idea behind it?

Time for a little grade school English. The definition of uniform:
1. Always the same, as in character or degree; unvarying.
2. Conforming to one principle, standard, or rule; consistent.
3. Being the same as or consonant with another or others.
4. Unvaried in texture, color, or design.
1. A distinctive outfit intended to identify those who wear it as members of a specific group.
2. One set of such an outfit.
tr.v. u·ni·formed, u·ni·form·ing, u·ni·forms
1. To make (something) uniform.
2. To provide or dress with a uniform.

Okay, uniform, as in "all the same". Each branch of the military has a distinctive set of uniforms. Uniforms for specific tasks and/or circumstances. But generally everyone engaged in a specific task will be wearing the same uniform. Back in my day there were no special uniforms for wear by only one or two guys. At least not outside of the Air Force band.

Now we need a uniform for just two guys? Why? Isn't their job special enough? Don't they get enough recognition by virtue of the unique positions they hold? What a$$hat came up with this idea?

Yours truly is flabbergasted, disgusted, annoyed, ashamed and bamboozled. All at the same time.

Like the other services don't make enough fun of us already.

Damn but this is upsetting. That's all I've got tonight. I'm going to go invent a time machine, head back to 1975 and join the Navy.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Can't Get Enough of This Stuff

I saw this a couple of years back. Stumbled across it again tonight. I just love this stuff. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More Travel Tales of Woe

Looked Even More Impressive from the Air!
As I had shared with you, the past weekend was another trip to Virginia Beach, perhaps the last for some time. But this was a most pleasant occasion, 'twas my granddaughter Little Bit's Second Birthday! And there would be a party. Of course the party was aimed at the younger set, kids about Little Bit's age plus or minus 2. (A long and tedious way of saying from newborns to four year olds!)

However, though being of advanced years (well 59 ain't too old I guess), I still am very much in touch with my "inner child". If you're thinking that sometimes I act like a two year old, go to the head of the class! The party was awesome, the kids (and myself) had a great time. Though it was over far too soon, it already has a place in my favorite memories.

Even though the airlines and the weather conspired to make the weekend a miserable experience. Ah, yes. The weather and (ahem) the airlines. I'm sure theirs is a difficult job, with few rewards and lots of stress. And I must admit, I added just a tad to one poor individual's stress. T'weren't his fault really, he was just a target of opportunity. Sometimes I tend to strike out at things with all the logic and clear vision of a pissed off rhinoceros.
That's Me Without my Glasses and My Navy Ballcap
But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday, the day I was outward bound, dawned clear and glorious. Got myself to the aeroporto with time to spare, a leisurely check-in was expected.

"Sir your flight has been delayed approximately 13 minutes."


"Well, you'll only have about 30 minutes to catch your next flight out of Reagan."

"Well... Oh, whatever. What you got for me?"

And so it went. I would leave 30 minutes later and fly into Philadelphia rather than Reagan. And there should be plenty of time to catch my next flight out of Philly. Sure. You can sense what's coming, can't you?

Aircraft rolled down the runway, lifted into the air, gear came rumbling up, all sorts of whines, thumps and bangs occurred in their proper sequence, we were flaps up, headed for altitude.

Going due west...

Now I'm no Vasco da Gama, but I do know that Virginia lies south of Rhode Island. It appeared our aircrew had a different destination in mind. We were headed west, and were still headed west some 20 minutes after take off. Hhhmmm? Perhaps there is nasty weather out there? Perhaps we're just swinging around it?

As I pondered this, the pilot banked to port. I mean really banked to port. I was sitting on the left side of the aerospace vehicle and I swear I was looking straight down. Mind you, I like that kind of thing. Heck if he started doing barrel rolls and hammerhead stalls I would'a been tickled pink. (As long as the wings stayed on and we stayed airborne that is.)

Now, as I studied the terrain and the position of the sun, I realized two things: we were now southbound and I had no idea where the hell we were. (Not that I really needed to know, but I'm funny that way. I always like knowing where I am on the face of the Earth. No need for a precise navigational fix, just a kinda sorta "hey, we're over Connecticut" position will do.)

To make a longish story short, we got to Philly. Not with an hour to my next flight but 15 minutes. That's 15 minutes to take off, not 15 minutes until boarding time. I guess the aircraft's wandering journey westward caused the flight to take a tad longer than normal. (Well, quite a bit more than a tad but there it is.)

There's the Old AF Sarge "sprinting" through the airport in Philly, the PA announcement telling me "This is the final boarding call for Flight 1234 at Gate such-and-such." Damn! That's my flight!

"Warp Seven Mr Data..."

"Warp seven, aye!" (I probably wasn't running all that fast, while quick on my feet, I'm no speedster!)

I arrived at the gate just as they were wrapping things up. Made the flight, made it to Virginia Beach at the originally planned time.

Whew. Well, I guess if the trip down was screwed up, I guess the trip back North will be smooth. Right?


Remember the picture up there at the top? Oh yeah, that's what you call "foreshadowing".

Now as I mentioned, Little Bit's birthday party was a lot of fun. It was at the Virginia Zoo. The zoo folks brought out "farmyard animals" for to show the children. That bit was in quotes because we're not talking about your normal farmyard animals. No, no indeed.

The first creature was a hissing cockroach (what farm did they pick this guy up at?) And it actually hissed, therefore it had an element of "coolness".

Next was a corn snake. (The Missus, exit stage right, looking rather green around the gills. My better half has no love at all for serpents.)

Next was your standard domesticated rabbit. (Enter the Missus, stage right.) The kids loved the bunny, it was soft and all peaceful looking.

Finally was a chicken. But not your garden variety chicken. I forget what type of chicken it was, but it had a real interesting pompadour. Feathers were extraordinarily soft.

Oh yeah, the kids all got to touch the various animals under the supervision of the zoo lady. I proudly can say that I did touch them all. Just to show off for the kids no doubt.

One young fellow, son of Googer (a Naval Aviator of course, that's his call sign), when they brought the snake out, announced to all and sundry, "I am NOT touching that!"

After the show and tell, we had pizza and cake. Lots of pizza and cake. When that was over, the zoo people told us that we had free run of the zoo for the rest of the day. Awesome!

But it was also hot that day. Surface of the sun hot.

We strolled over to the tiger enclosure. Saw two tigers, both lying in the shade and looking at us as if to say, "No wonder you humans are easy to catch and eat. You're not very bright are you? Standing out there in the hot sun."

What to do, what to do? It was really screaming hot. One of the WSOs friends suggested that we ride the train, we could see the whole zoo from the little train. Sure why not?

Turns out that Little Bit, who loves most forms of conveyance, does not particularly care for trains. After we'd paid our money and taken our seats, she commences to screaming bloody murder. I mean my granddaughter has a loud voice, a good strong command voice, and the other people on the train looked as if any minute their ear drums were going to burst.

Well, after the train started moving, Little Bit calmed down. Guess trains aren't so bad after all. But I think she was rather bored with the whole thing. The train was slow, really slow, and Little Bit likes to go fast (after all, Daddy flies the Super Hornet and Mommy is a Super Hornet WSO) and that train obviously had no need of a Mach meter.

Also, you could NOT see the whole zoo from the train. In fact, one sees very little of the zoo from the train. A couple of monkeys and a sun bear, that's about it. And the train ride lasts all of 15 minutes! So much for that idea.

"So should we visit the rest of the zoo on foot?"

"No, no way!"

"Hot, it's too hot!"

"Shut up Dad."

Bottom line, we jumped in the car and headed home, to air conditioning and cable TV. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Sunday dawned, clear and hot. Very hot. I checked the weather on line and there appeared to be no problems, at least none that Sunday morning. But there were little patches of rain bubbling up around the region and to the north.

Let me see, very hot, humid air and a cold front moving this way. This is not looking promising.

Got to the airport, flight has been delayed. Again I'm not going through Reagan, but through Philly. No problem, plenty of time to make my connecting flight.

I get to Philly, fortunately my flight landed at Terminal F, connecting flight was to leave from Terminal F. Like two gates away. Finally, finally, something seems to be going well in the air travel business.


Not gonna happen.

"Uh, what happened to the flight to Providence?"



"Go to the Customer Service desk, they'll have to re-book you."

Slowly I turn towards the Customer Service desk. And see a line of what has to be 400 people. No seriously, 400 if there was one.

I get in line, pissed like you would not believe. And here comes a young fellow in the livery of the airline handing out little cards with a phone number on them.

"Here sir, call this number and they'll book you on another flight..."


Dude kind of drifted away, handing out his little cards. Hoping the myopic pissed off rhino is not following. I felt bad about it later, but hey I was in Philadelphia. No flight, no clue.

Alright, I call the number on the little card and actually get someone who knows what they're doing. I'm booked on a later flight. Like 5 hours later. Geez.

Originally I should've been home around 7 in the evening on Sunday. Plenty of time to grab some chow, get some sleep and arise at oh-dark-thirty to head North. North to the banks of the Merrimack River. Nope, I rolled into the driveway at Chez Sarge a little after midnight. Reset the alarm to 0500 and pressed on.

But it was an interesting flight, again we took off and flew due west. And there I was, doing my best Vasco da Gama again. But this time I could see the storm. OMG. Huge cell, nearly continuous lightning. And well aft as we headed west.

After a while we did a hard right (hey, I'm looking straight down again!) and assumed a northerly track. The entire way I was able to see that storm (well to our south now) and it looked really awesome from the air. Even when we began our descent into Providence, I could still see the flashes of lightning on the horizon.

It was lovely. But again, commercial flying has left me wanting.

But on the whole, I would rather NOT be in Philadelphia.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Whoa! When Did August Get Here?

The Old AF Sarge's Favorite Band
Best Band Evah! 
As I logged into the old blog tonight, I realized that it's the 2nd of August and I haven't posted a doggone thing since last Saturday. Yes, I've been busy keeping the world safe for democracy, brooding in my Fortress of Solitude and working on the Cunning Plan.

But I haven't posted, not once. And here it is, August. The 8th month of the year. If you get up early enough (like four-ish), you can see the constellations that will grace the early evening come December. I'm starting to wander about like Ned Stark muttering:

"Winter is coming..."
In a very cool accent of course. (Sean Bean - I've always liked that actor, even when he plays awful, non-sympathetic bad guys.)

And last month saw a flurry of posts as the month wound down. Seventeen posts, I was rather proud of myself. But now, holy crap, I've already wasted a day. And I'll be out of town this weekend (down to Virginia Beach, it's gonna be a birthday party for Little Bit - she's turning 2!)

So in my guilt I felt I had to throw something out there, anything. Well, not just anything. I do have standards ya know. (Even if those standards aren't all THAT high. Still and all, they are standards.)

First things first. The Beatles. I was in the third grade when the lads from Liverpool came to the U.S. Watched them on the Ed Sullivan Show, live. Listened to my father muttering darkly about how the world was going to hell in a hand-basket. (Of course he was right in so many ways. I just didn't agree that it was the Beatles who were responsible for that. The Stones on the other hand...)

I was listening to some stuff from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (hey, we sergeants stick together), a selection of tunes from Help and of course my favorite album (do they still call them "albums"?) Revolver. Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

Alright, alright, alright. What's all this then?
I'm sure Hogday will assure us that working as a police constable in the UK was exactly like this.

Now that was just silly.

I guess I'm in a very British mood tonight. Much more pleasant than my Scottish moods, whereby I get the urge to listen to bagpipes and raid villages in Yorkshire. Or my French moods, whereby I go from being belligerent, to moody, to sad, then say the hell with it and get belligerent all over again, usually with a snoot full of vin rouge!

Well, that's all I've got tonight. I'm sure the Family Quality Assurance folks will be all over my ample derriere for the low standards I've managed to set for August. On the bright side, it can only get better. Right?

I bloody well hope so!

Move along now, nothing to see here...