Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three Years Ago

My Dad
June 6, 1928 - February 28, 2010
On the 28th of February, 2010 I got a phone call. The kind of phone call which you never want to get, but if you live long enough, you'll get. Perhaps many times, but you hope not.

My Dad had been sick for a while, in fact the WSO and I had been up to see him in the hospital the weekend before. She'd been concerned enough about her grandfather's health to take leave and come home. But the visit to the hospital was a trial. The medical staff had him heavily sedated, trying to give his body a chance to fight the massive infection that was slowly eating away at him.

I do know that my Mom appreciated us going to see my Dad, and her of course. After seeing my Dad's condition for myself, and talking to his Doctor, I didn't have a lot of hope. The WSO was pregnant with my first granddaughter at the time, perhaps a month along. She told her grandfather that she was expecting, whether or not he heard that or comprehended that is not something I'll find out in this life. But it was something. Perhaps my Dad did know that he would become a great-grandfather for the second time. Perhaps not.

I went home, the WSO headed back to Oceana and we went into "wait and see" mode. My Mom said she'd let me know when Dad was well enough to be taken off the sedation. I didn't say anything to my Mom, but Dad's doctor told me that was a long shot at best.

So on the 28th of February, we went to church (the 28th being a Sunday) and I remember talking to our pianist about my Dad's condition. As I left the church she let me know she'd be praying for my Dad. Quite frankly, that's all I remember about church that day.

Not long after getting home, I got that aforementioned phone call.

It wasn't a report on my Dad's condition so much as it was a "How soon can you get here?" The news was not good. Told my Mom I'd get there as fast as I could (which would be about four to five hours, depending) then called my Dad's doctor. She let me know that they would keep Dad on the ventilator until I got there. I knew what that meant.

Let me tell you, that was one of the longest drives I've ever done. I was in Rhode Island, Dad was up in Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, New Hampshire. About a 4 hour and 20 minute trip following my normal route to those parts.

Roughly four and a half hours by car. Almost 57 years by memory. I probably relived every moment with my Dad, good and bad. Bad memories were very few. The good memories were many. I really hated for the drive to end, knowing what lay at the end of that particular journey.

I got to the hospital around 8:30 PM, it was cold, there was snow on the ground and there was a full moon. Normally an evening I would enjoy.

My Oldest Kid Brother (MOKB, the Old Vermonter) met me in the parking lot at the hospital. We both knew what we were there for, we knew it was time. I think he may have mentioned that one could never adequately prepare for these kinds of thing. No doubt I agreed. There was absolutely no doubt that I wasn't prepared for this particular event.

We went up to my Dad's room, my Mom was there, My Youngest Kid Brother (MYKB, the Musician) was there, as was my nephew (the Young Vermonter) and Missus Old Vermonter completed the group. We were waiting for the medical staff to come in and do what they had to do. Oddly enough, we talked about hockey. The Winter Olympics were in full swing and Canada had just defeated the USA in the Gold Medal game. So while we waited we talked hockey.

Eventually the medicos showed up (they'd been dealing with an emergency) and took my Dad off the ventilator. They also turned off most of the monitors he was hooked up to. Note that I said "most".

My Dad almost seemed to become aware of his surroundings for a few brief moments. Couldn't tell if he recognized anybody, but I swear his gaze lingered on my Mom just a bit longer.

His eyes had that glazed, heavily dosed with morphine look that I'd seen in my maternal grandmother during her last days. Dad was kind of there in the room with us, for just a brief moment, but I think his spirit was ready to move on. He closed his eyes.

We all kind of stood there, breathless, not really talking, waiting. Mom was taking it kind of hard (crying quietly) but I think she was readier than the rest of us for what was happening.

Like I mentioned, most of the monitors had been turned off. One had not and I think I was the only one who could see it. Perhaps it was just that I was the only one who looked at it. But it was the heart rate monitor, no sound, just the waveform.

Which hesitated.

Then moved up and down briefly...

...then stopped.

Readout was "Asystole".

Dad was gone.

It was three years ago.

Though the pain is not as intense, it still hurts like Hell.

I miss my Dad.

It was three years ago, today...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Bronze Rat

A Tourist walked into a Chinese curio shop in San Francisco. While looking around at the exotic merchandise, he noticed a very lifelike, life-sized, bronze statue of a rat. It had no price tag, but was so incredibly striking the tourist decided he must have it. He took it to the old shop owner and asked, "How much for the bronze rat?" 

"Ahhh, you have chosen wisely! It is $12 for the rat and $100 for the story," said the wise old Chinese man.

The tourist quickly pulled out twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story".

As he walked down the street carrying his bronze rat, the tourist noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the alleys and sewers and had begun following him down the street. This was a bit disconcerting so he began walking faster.

A couple blocks later he looked behind him and saw to his horror the herd of rats behind him had grown to hundreds, and they began squealing.

Sweating now, the tourist began to trot toward San Francisco Bay.

Again, after a couple blocks, he looked around only to discover that the rats now numbered in the MILLIONS, and were squealing and coming toward him faster and faster.

Terrified, he ran to the edge of the Bay and threw the bronze rat as far as he could into the Bay.

Amazingly, the millions of rats all jumped into the Bay after the bronze rat and were all drowned.

The man walked back to the curio shop in Chinatown.

"Ahhh," said the owner, "You come back for story?"

"No sir," said the man, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Democrat.

H/T To Katherine, The Work Daughter

While Technically True...

Please write " To Mohammed, You Da Man! Love - Chuck"
I am being your biggest fan.
Bigger than Farrakhan even.

I'm not Chuck Hagel, I'm John Kerry.
Whatever, just sign.
I just wish our new Secretary of State wouldn't constantly practice what he preaches.

Right to be Stupid.

So yes, I do understand the point he was trying to make. I get that, I really do. As Americans we absolutely have the right to be stupid.

I mean, look who we elected to the Presidency. Twice.

But Mr Secretary, please cool it.

You actually make me miss Hilary...

Sorry, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

I feel so ... dirty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

...In a Bucolic Kind of Way

I tell ya, the grizz is on a roll.

Sometimes the blog writes itself.
I just put in the links.

Note to future self (and others), doesn't matter where or to what date that link goes, if it's Rumbear, it's all good.
And quite frankly, the thought of a grizzly bear shooting hoops just tickled my fancy. The rest is, as they say, history.

Life In The Air Force

You probably know this already, but I am a retired Air Force Master Sergeant. The other day I shared "Life in the Navy" as related to me by a buddy who is retired Navy. So, in the interests of fairness and full disclosure, I give to you "Life in the United States Air Force - a Photo Essay" -

As our Lex might have said:

"Which it’s my story, innit? So I get to tell it any way I like and that’s the way I remember it, as far as you know."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Life in the Navy

I'm sure many (if not all) of my Navy readers (both of them) will be familiar with the following. A Navy buddy of mine sent it to me long ago, before I had a blog. After this morning's roof repair adventure, I am feeling very non-creative. That means it's "sharing time". Because I'm a giver. I give. So, without further ado:

Life In The Navy
1. Buy a dumpster, paint it gray and live in it for 6 months straight.

2. Run all of the piping and wires inside your house on the outside of the walls.

3. Pump 10 inches of nasty, crappy water into your basement, then pump it out, clean up, and paint the basement "deck gray."

4. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go the scummiest part of town, find the most run down, trashy bar you can, pay $10 per beer until you're hammered, then walk home in the freezing cold.

5. Perform a weekly disassembly and inspection of your lawnmower.

6. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays turn your water temperature up to 200 degrees, then on Tuesday and Thursday turn it down to 10 degrees. On Saturdays, and Sundays declare to your entire family that they used too much water during the week, so all showering is secured.

7. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling.

8. Have your next door neighbor come over each day at 5am, and blow a whistle so loud that Helen Keller could hear it and shout "Reveille, Reveille, all hands heave out and trice up".

9. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in the back yard at 6am and read it to you.

10. Eat the raunchiest Mexican food you can find for three days straight, then lock yourself out of the bathroom for 12 hours, and hang a sign on the door that reads "Secured-contact OA division at X-3053."

11. Submit a request form to your father-in-law, asking if it's ok for you to leave your house before 3pm.

12. Invite 200 of your not-so-closest friends to come over, then board up all the windows and doors to your house for 6 months. After the 6 months is up, take down the boards, wave at your friends and family through the front window of your can't leave until the next day you have duty.

13. Shower with above-mentioned friends.

14. Make your family qualify to operate all the appliances in your home (i.e. Dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.).

15. Walk around your car for 4 hours checking the tire pressure every 15 minutes.

16. Sit in your car and let it run for 4 hours before going anywhere. This is to ensure your engine is properly "lighted off."

17. Empty all the garbage bins in your house, and sweep your driveway 3 times a day, whether they need it or not. (Now sweepers, start your brooms, clean sweep down fore and aft, empty all shitcans over the fantail)

18. Repaint your entire house once a month.

19. Cook all of your food blindfolded, groping for any spice and seasoning you can get your hands on.

20.Use eighteen scoops of budget coffee grounds per pot, and allow each pot to sit 5 hours before drinking.

21. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item.

22. Spend $20,000 on a satellite system for your TV, but only watch CNN and the Weather Channel.

23. Avoid watching TV with the exception of movies which are played in the middle of the night. Have the family vote on which movie to watch and then show a different one.

24. Have your 5-year-old cousin give you a haircut with goat shears.

25. Sew back pockets to the front of your pants.

26. Spend 2 weeks in the red-light districts of Europe, and call it "world travel."

27. Attempt to spend 5 years working at McDonalds, and NOT get promoted.

28. Ensure that any promotions you do get are from stepping on the dead bodies of your co-workers.

29. Needle gun the aluminum siding on your house after your neighbors have gone to bed.

30. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone,and shout at the top of your lungs that your home is under attack, and order them to man their battle stations. ("General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations")

31. Make your family menu a week ahead of time and do so without checking the pantry and refrigerator.

32. Post a menu on the refrigerator door informing your family that you are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for at least an hour, when they finally get to the kitchen, tell them that you are out of steak, but you have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they don't pay attention to the menu any more so they just ask for hot dogs.

33.When baking a cake, prop up one side of the pan while it is in the oven. Spread icing on real thick to level it off.

34. In the middle of January, place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4-hour intervals.

35. Lock yourself and your family in your house for 6 weeks. Then tell them that at the end of the 6th week you're going to take them to Disneyland for "weekend liberty." When the end of the 6th week rolls around, inform them that Disneyland has been canceled due to the fact that they need to get ready for Engineering-certification, and that it will be another week before they can leave the house.

36. In your grim, gray dumpster (refer to #1), with 200 of your not-so-closest friend (cite para. 12) regardless of gender, suffer through PMS!

37. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have you wife whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep. She should then shine a flashlight in your eyes and mumble "Sorry, wrong rack."

38. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of your bathtub, move the shower head to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you shut off the water while you soap down.

39. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, find a wobbly rocking chair and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.

40. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.

41. For ex-engineering types: leave the lawn mower running in your living room eight hours a day.

42. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.

43. Once a week, blow compressed air up your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot onto your neighbors house. Ignore his complaints.

44. Every other month buy green or red marine primer and put it in a paint sprayer. Spray it over the roof of your house onto your neighbors car. Ignore his complaints.

45. Lock wire the lug nuts on your car.

46. Buy a trash compactor, but use it only once a week. Store the garbage on the other side of your bathtub.

47. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread.

48. Set your alarm clock to go off at random during the night, jump up and get dressed as fast as you can making sure you button up the top button on your shirt, stuff your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose.

49. Once a month, take every major appliance apart and put them back together again.

50. Install a fluorescent lamp under the coffee table and then get under it and read books.

51. Raise the thresholds and lower the top sills of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through one of them.

52. Every so often, throw the cat in the pool and shout "Man overboard, starboard side" Then run into the house and sweep all the pots and dishes off the counter. Yell at the wife and kids for not having the kitchen "stowed for sea."

53. Put on the headphones from your stereo set, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck with string. Go stand in front of your stove. Say ... to no one in particular "Stove manned and ready" Stand there for three or four hours. And say again to no one in particular "stove secured." Roll up your headphones and paper cup and place them in a box.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Joys of Home Ownership

Yes, This Sucks
When I came home from church today, I was pretty excited. I had take-out from one of my favorite local restaurants, the day stretched ahead with not much on the agenda. (Well, there is laundry to do, but the machines do the real work, I just load, unload and fold.)

As I was going from the living room to the upstairs, I felt a certain wetness on the floor. Something which drives me nuts when I'm only in my stocking feet. So I do the standard pause and look down at my foot. Yes, my sock is wet. From there my gaze went to the floor. Where there is a puddle. (Why wouldn't I have looked at the floor first? I could FEEL that my foot was wet. Why did I have to look at it? Odd the way my mind works.)

At any rate, there is a puddle. On the floor of my living room. First thought was that perhaps one of the cats....? No, the wetness passed the smell test. Besides both cats were looking at me like "We had NOTHING to do with that!"

So then my gaze travels to the ceiling, where I behold that which you see above. More or less.

I say more or less because at first there was just moisture on the ceiling, dripping from that one spot. The crack came later when I was exploring the extent of the wetness. Seems there was another puddle in the house, just above the ceiling it was.

So it has been raining here, a lot. While I was in church it was coming down hard.

Another data point is that the leak wasn't there yesterday. I'm guessing that the big snowstorm we had a couple of weeks ago somehow damaged the front roof. Now when it rains, water gathers under the roof and eventually puddles above the ceiling. Eventually that water made its way through the ceiling and into my living room.

Wonderful. I called my roofing guy, he's coming tomorrow morning.

Just what I wanted to do. Spend more money on repairs.

I remember when we used to rent. Something broke, you called the landlord. He fixed it and he also paid for it. There are times when I miss those days.

The joys of being a home owner.

Are sometimes overrated. Vastly overrated.

Lest you think the day was a complete disaster, the take-out I brought home was good. Very good.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Uh, Yeah. Sure. He'll Be A Great Sec State...

Ketchup Boy Takes the Oath
(Any bets as to how quickly he violates it?
Ya know that whole "support and defend the Constitution" thing...)
If you still think the current administration cares even one iota for this nation, go read this.


Global warming?

Thought he was the Secretary of State.

Not the Secretary of the Interior.

Maybe I'm the one who's confused.

But I doubt it.


It is the middle of the freaking night here at Chez Sarge. Someone wanna tell me WHY I'm not in bed, enjoying a well deserved kip after a LONNNGGG day at work? (Yes, that time on the old chronograph IS 0235 on Saturday morning!)

Yeah, why aren't you sleeping? Enquiring (and slightly annoyed) cats want to know!

Went to bed at a reasonable time. Was completely unable to sleep. Checked the phone, noted two comments on my last post, decided to get up and answer said comments. Started playing around with Ye Olde Web Cam and that's when Anya decided to join me.

(Sasha, smart feline that she is, is off sleeping. Somewhere.)

Perhaps it's loneliness, the Missus Herself is out in California visiting with the chilluns and grand-chilluns. I be stuck in Rhode Island, having to go to work and all. Now if you head on over to Buck's place, you'll see he's got a post up regarding the best and worst states for retirement. There you'll discover a comment I've left bemoaning the fact that Rhode Island is the 10th Worst Place to retire in these here United States.

Oh wonderful. That should help me get to sleep. Maybe I'll go collegiate here and pull an all-nighter. Uh, no, probably not.


This. Is. Not. Fun.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm
Georges Michel
And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6)
What is going on in this country? The Constitution is either the law of the land, or it is not. If it is not, then we are no longer living in the United States of America. If that be the case, then the current civilian leadership in Washington D.C. and the military leadership of the Armed Forces have decided to set aside their oaths of office and govern by fiat. Can the use of armed force to enforce the will of the current political regime be far behind?

A while back I was doing some research regarding the oaths sworn by both officers and enlisted upon entry into the Armed Forces of the United States. Well, I have been doing some further research on this topic and found something interesting, to wit:
One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.
Before going any further, let's take a look at the oaths. Here is the officer oath:
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
And the enlisted oath:
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Note that in both instances, the "So help me God" portion of the oath may be omitted for persons who desire to affirm rather than to swear to the oath. Yes, I have a bit of heartburn with that bit but Article Six of the United States Constitution states:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The underlined bit being that which relates to the phrase "So help me God".

So those are the oaths sworn by the members of the Armed Forces of the United States. The President, Vice President, members of Congress and federal judges also swear oaths. All of which make reference to the Constitution.

The President:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The others:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]
Now as regards the current President, he may actually not be in violation of his sworn oath. I say this because the oath does state "to the best of my Ability". It's quite possible that he is doing the best he can. It's possible that he's just not that capable and the office of the President is beyond his competence. If so, then the electorate is at fault for electing an incompetent to the office.

Now the oath as taken by members of Congress, the judiciary and the Vice President don't cut them any slack as regards "ability". Their oath states "
I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office". My guess would be that if they are unable to do that, then they should step down.

Now all of that aside, there seems to be a hue and cry in this country for a "conversation" regarding firearms. Exactly which part of the 2nd Amendment don't these clowns understand? It's right up there in my header, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". No "conversation" is necessary, we have the right to keep and bear arms. The government is specifically prohibited from infringing upon that right.

The 2nd Amendment does not specify the type of arms. Various legislative acts and court decisions down through the years which have prohibited citizens from bearing certain types of arms are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court does make mistakes and has since the country was founded. I need only refer to the Dred Scott Decision.

From Wikipedia:

Dred Scott (1795 – September 17, 1858), was an African-American slave in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, popularly known as "the Dred Scott Decision." The case was based on the fact that although he and his wife Harriet Scott were slaves, they had lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal according to both state laws and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, including Illinois and Minnesota (which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory). The United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, which the court ruled unconstitutional as it would improperly deprive Scott's owner of his legal property.
While Chief Justice Roger B. Taney had hoped to settle issues related to slavery and Congressional authority by this decision, it aroused public outrage and deepened sectional tensions between the northern and southern U.S. states. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the post-Civil war Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments nullified the decision.
So the Supreme Court made a mistake, they are, after all, human. Any decision made by the Court which infringes at all upon our 2nd Amendment rights is unconstitutional, period, full stop. One does not need a law degree to figure out the Bill of Rights. One just needs to be able to read and comprehend English.
The way I see it, the President, the Vice President and a large number of congress-critters are in violation of their oath of office and should either correct that behavior or resign their office. Any officer in the US Armed Forces who supports the infringement of the 2nd Amendment needs to reconsider that stance or resign their commissions. They are morally and legally bound to do so.

Enlisted soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen need to understand that any order or orders which may cause them to infringe upon the rights conveyed by the 2nd Amendment are illegal orders and should not be obeyed.

Why are Progressive Elements in this country so intent upon dismantling the Constitution, or at least the parts they don't agree with? Because they think they know what's best for the rest of us.

Beware America. Once your 2nd Amendment rights are taken away, the rest won't be far behind.

Say goodbye to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances, freedom to peaceably assemble, in short, say goodbye to the United States. You might as well learn how to speak Chinese. You'll need it when the new rulers take over.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Got Nuthin'

Work has been kind of crazy busy, sapping my creativity. In a manner of speaking. As I was wandering through the vast forbidding wasteland that is the Internet, I stumbled across the picture above.

What's not to like? It has jets, it has what appears to be a giant cat riding that F-15 in the background and it has the phrase "WTF, over?" Can't think of what else you'd want in a photo and still keep things nice and wholesome.

Okay, chocolate was missing. Fixed that.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll be feeling more creative. Who knows?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This Day in History

On this date in 1839, Congress prohibits dueling in the District of Columbia
Sometimes, when pondering what to write about, I will wander out to the Internet and type in random date or topic related ideas. Just to see what comes up. Sometimes I will be presented with a topic upon which I can expound and perhaps entertain my vast audience of readers.

For those who are wondering, I define "vast" as any number larger than three. I base this on the old saying "two's company, three's a crowd". Now a crowd can be large, in fact a crowd could be "vast". Now I'm not claiming that I have a "multitude" as my readership, nor am I making any claims as to having a "horde" or "host" of readers. I'm happy with "vast". For the moment.

(Yes, you've just been through a tangent. Once we reach altitude the cabin attendants will circulate and see to your needs. We have snacks available for purchase but as change is limited, please try to have exact change. A very tiny bag of peanuts is $350.00. A can of Pringles which an average adult could inhale in five seconds is also available. That will run you $500.00. There are no beverages on this flight, but paper cups are available for rent in the galley for $19.95. Act now and we'll throw in a second paper cup for free. You just pay the extra shipping and handling. Approximately $55.95 for each cup.)

(Yes, that was yet another tangent...)

So back in 1839, Congress decided that dueling was to be, henceforth, an activity not allowed within the confines of the District of Columbia. Here are some more interesting tidbits regarding the practice of dueling (from the OAFSSRFTOTN) - 

State and territorial laws prohibiting duelling 
20 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have some statute(s) (including constitutional provisions) specifically prohibiting dueling. The remaining 30 states either have no such statute or constitutional provision, or limit their dueling prohibition to members of their state national guard. This does not necessarily mean, however, that dueling is legal in any state, as assault and murder laws can apply. 
States which specifically prohibit members of the state national guard from dueling are Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Hawaii, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and New York. 
States and territories which have statutory prohibitions on dueling for all citizens are Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Utah. 
California previously prohibited dueling, but this was repealed in 1994. 
Virginia passed the Anti-Dueling Act in 1810, creating civil and criminal penalties for the most usual causes of duelling, rather than for the act itself. It is still on the books. Virginia Code §8.01-45 creates a Civil Action for insulting words. Virginia Code §18.2-416 makes it a crime to use abusive language to another under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace. Virginia Code §18.2-417 makes certain slander and libel a crime.
I also saw this in the OAFSSRFTOTN under dueling, note the caption.

A fictional pistol duel between Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky.
My first thought was "Really? A painting of a fictional duel, which these guys never fought. What the...?"

Then I followed a link to discover that these guys were fictional characters, who apparently fought a duel in a work of fiction. And Repin decided to do a painting of it. (I wonder if paintings of duels are prohibited in DC as well?)

Back to the anti-dueling in DC thing. In the same place where I found those references above, I looked around to see whether or not dueling was allowed outside of DC. I wonder if Congress enacted the law because many constituents were wandering into Washington and challenging their Representatives/Senators to duels.

I need to research this further. Were there a number of congress-critters shot down (or sabered maybe) in the years leading up to 1839? What sparked this particular piece of legislation I wonder?

Or were things back then something like they are now? That is, most congress-critters are either anti-firearm or seem to be deathly afraid of firearms, so they don't now how to use them. Therefore, challenging a congress-critter to a duel would be like shooting fish in a barrel, so in order to preserve the legislative branch of our government dueling had to be prohibited. Wouldn't be sporting otherwise, would it?

Otherwise no one would want to be a congress-critter. Or they'd have to do a better job.

And those other notes on dueling? I really liked the statement "This does not necessarily mean, however, that dueling is legal in any state, as assault and murder laws can apply." That tells me that in many places in the US, dueling is okay. As long as no one gets hurt. Or something like that.

No wonder lawyers require so much education!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Close Encounters of the Turkey Kind

Uh, no. Not that kind...*

Yup, that kind.

While on my way to work this morning I found myself momentarily in formation with a somewhat annoyed male turkey. That would be a "tom" (but not a "Tomcat").

There is an intersection on my way to work which is sometimes terrorized by a wild turkey gang which apparently lives in the vicinity. I have seen them on other occasions, strutting around in the road, daring the motorists to go ahead and try to get through.

I mean these birds are really arrogant.

But today there was only one, a young tom who apparently felt that the roadway belonged to him. Which wasn't quite the way I saw it.

Now the road at the point of the turkey encounter is four lanes. Mr Turkey was using the outer of the two southbound lanes, I was using the inner. I decelerated so as to deconflict myself with the turkey in question, him not making his intentions known as of yet. But he seemed content to maintain a course roughly parallel to mine. I continued to decelerate as my calculations indicated that the bird's CPA** would be about two feet. Ample separation I thought, given my rather slow speed at this point.

As I came alongside the turkey, he seemed to notice my vehicle for the first time. And it seemed that Mr Turkey was somewhat displeased at my overtaking him while he was out for his morning constitutional. No, he seemed not happy at all.

For his tail feathers, which had been spread, suddenly swept back and the turkey began to open his throttle to match my speed. He was also, as I sat there, somewhat astonished, gobbling. Yes, gobbling, the noise turkeys make. It was unmistakable.

So there I was, proceeding in a very tight formation with a tom turkey. He had to be within a yard of my port beam, moving quickly and gobbling his fool head off. I'm sure the turkey felt we were hurtling down the road at breakneck speed. But I checked my instruments, we were doing 10 MPH, tops. I guess to a turkey that's moving along pretty sharply, while on foot.

Well, this little tableau lasted less time than it takes to tell the tale. Because suddenly a young loon (wolfing down a donut AND talking on a cell phone) decided that he would waste no more time watching the old dude and the turkey doing their formation-thing.

(Not this kind of loon...)

(This kind...)

This ee-jit blew past us. Almost hitting Mr Turkey, who was no longer mad at me mind you, the loon had drawn his full attention in a major way. I, for my part, was not that surprised. Many young males in this neck of the woods drive like the road is theirs and how dare you impede their donut-munching, cell phone-chatting progress. They're in a hurry!

Whilst I was bemoaning the lack of a surface-to-surface missile system in my car (for to send the young donut-munching, cell phone-chatting heathen spinning in a ball of fire into the nearest ditch...) the aforementioned turkey was now face to face with a car behind me.

The bird's tail feathers were again prominently displayed and he was NOT MOVING. The car which he had selected to take his anger out on was at a dead stop. It was a face off, machine versus bird. Neither seemed willing to yield.

Had there been a place to pull off and watch, I would have. That turkey? Oh yeah man. He was PISSED!

*Pilots called the F-14A the "Turkey" because of its profusion of control surfaces on carrier approach.
** CPA = Closest Point of Approach (Yes, I put it on The Acronym Page.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Women In Combat

I've had this particular post percolating for quite some time now. Not just because Leon Panetta (in his "infinite" wisdom) decided (on his way out of office) that the Pentagon was now in favor of this. Quite honestly I wasn't altogether sure of where I stood on this issue.

I have two daughters. Both on active duty in the United States Navy. Both extremely capable in their chosen career fields, both better than many of the men in their fields. I'm not just saying that as their father.

I've talked privately to their peers, subordinates and superiors. All of whom had very complimentary things to say about my daughters. All of whom were warned that if they tried to feed me bullshit in their answers to "How is she doing?" I would recognize it immediately. I am a retired Master Sergeant. I was trained to recognize BS and have a certain amount of experience at detecting BS.

In fact, I have a lot of experience in the field of Bullshit Detection. Not only was I on active duty for 24 years, I also have three kids. I've also had the opportunity to work with lawyers. That lot is very good at both dishing it out AND detecting it. Bullshit that is. (Someday I will tell my "I was a bailiff at two military courts martial" story. And a sordid tale that is, involving lieutenant colonels and various indiscretions of a personal nature. Hhhmm, I may tell that story sooner, rather than later.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. So to continue, both of my daughters had to meet the same standards as the men in their chosen fields. The exact same standards.

So by now you're no doubt wondering just what it is my daughters do in the Navy. The oldest daughter is a Lieutenant in Nuclear Propulsion. Did her first tour on a destroyer, her second on an aircraft carrier.  Why yes, those are both classified as warships. Meaning that if a war breaks out, they don't pull over and let all the girls off before sailing into harm's way. No, not at all.

My youngest daughter is a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the F/A-18F (aka Super Hornet or Rhino), assigned to a Fighter-Attack squadron out west. Yes, the Rhino is an aircraft used in combat and no, the girls don't stay on the ground when they launch these aircraft on combat missions. If called upon, they climb into the jet and go forth to do aerial battle just like their male counterparts.

So women have been in combat roles in the US military for quite some time now. (In case you were confused by the verbiage spouted by any one of the various sources currently expounding on this topic.) The big stink is allowing women into what are known (in the Army) as the combat arms. Infantry, armor and artillery. Which also happen to be the most traditional of the military specialties in both the Army and the Marine Corps. These are also the military specialties most likely to see people wearing different uniforms than our folks. Who are shooting at our folks. (Well, nowadays if they're wearing uniforms at all!)

So really, the big stink is having women in direct contact with the enemy. On the ground. Face to face with the bad guys, so to speak. Intentionally. In a military specialty which by its very nature is intended to seek out and kill the bad guys. Officially.

The point I'm trying to make here is that American women have already been face to face with the enemy. American women have already been killed and wounded in action. American women have already been captured by the enemy. So it's a "been there, done that" scenario for American military women in a certain sense. So what's the problem?

The problem, as I see it, is that there are standards which have been set for those seeking entry into the combat arms. If an individual does not meet those standards, they do not get the job. Period. The problem is that the people who want to see this program "succeed", want it to succeed at any cost. Even at the cost of getting young Americans killed in combat.

If one lowers the standards so that more women will qualify for, let us say the infantry, what does that mean? What's the big deal? Of course, this could mean that now more men would also qualify for the infantry, who couldn't make the grade before. Where does it stop? Do we really want men and women in the infantry who can't carry 100+ pounds of ammunition, rations and other equipment, plus their personal weapon over rough terrain. I think not.

But if you lower the standards to make more women eligible, all you're doing is setting them up for eventual failure. Most of the people making the most noise over the "women in combat" issue will never be one of those women in combat. They may be women who served their time on active duty and have since retired or otherwise gotten out. Perhaps they wish they could have had those combat arms "opportunities" when they were still wearing the uniform. I'd be willing to bet that's a pretty small percentage of the women who have served.

Another argument I've seen advanced for allowing women into the combat arms regards promotions. As in "gee, only the combat arms guys have a shot at making general". Uh, yes. That's true. The job of the Army and the Marine Corps is to close with and destroy the enemy. The old "blow things up and kill people" mission statement. So you'd want the people in charge to know how to do that. Right?

Would you want to have the person in charge of an upcoming battle have come up through the ranks as a personnel specialist? Or a supply officer? I mean why should we limit their chances of commanding a mechanized infantry division simply because they're not infantry? Because they have no idea what they're doing from a practical standpoint.

So yes, not having women in the combat arms certainly does limit their promotion chances. So let's make sure women can be in combat for that small percentage of girls who want to grow up to be tank generals. Let's get lots of our daughters killed so little Molly can command Hell on Wheels someday. Or not.

Let me diverge here a moment for an example. Now all three of my children wear glasses. (My fault, the Missus Herself had perfect vision until fairly recently. And yes it is important to this tale.) When my son was looking at going into the military, he had three ROTC scholarship offers. One Army, one Air Force, one Navy. Being a good son he came to the old man (moi) for advice.

Now the Army scholarship was rejected pretty much out of hand. Not because of any disdain for that fine service. My Dad, his brothers, my Gramp, various and sundry great-uncles etc all were soldiers in the Army of the United States. I once toyed with the idea of becoming a soldier. The reason the Army ROTC scholarship was rejected was that it was for three years. College (for most of us) lasts four years.

Now the Naviguesser, loyal son that he is, asked me what I would do, were I him. I asked him who he figures runs the Air Force. He correctly guessed that it was that class of magical beings known as "pilots". Yes, the job of the Air Force is "to fly and to fight". As my son wears glasses, I recommended that unless he was enamored of spending his time in a support role, the USAF was probably a bad idea.

Now the Navy was different. Should he have decided to make it a career, flag rank was attainable. All things being equal, like "was he a good ship driver?" (And yes he was as a matter of fact. Just sayin'...) So he chose a service based on where his abilities and physical abilities might stand him in good stead. There shouldn't be waivers or exceptions made in the ranks of the aerial warriors for those requiring corrective lenses. And there aren't. (At least not yet.)

Another example I like to trot out as to physical ability and providing waivers for things and lowering standards is the two, rather petite female airmen who worked for me in Korea. Before I go further I must say that both were qualified for the job as determined by the standards of the time. Which applied regardless of what wedding tackle you were equipped with.

One of those standards was the ability to lift 60 pounds, all by your lonesome. Keep this in mind. Another key piece of data, for later, is that the radar receiver-transmitter (R/T) as installed on the F-4D Phantom II weighs 120 pounds. Now how much is 120 divided by 2? If you came up with 60, go to the head of the class.

Now one dark and stormy night, whilst engaged in my duties as the NCOIC of the swing shift at the 8th Component Repair Squadron (part of the immortal and renowned Wolf Pack by the way) I was called to the phone by one of my flunkies subordinates. It seems my two female airmen were requesting assistance with dismounting a malfunctioning R/T from the Weapon Control System on the jet they were in the process of performing radar calibration on. (Remember that little math exercise above?)

Well, as a firm believer and proponent of equal rights, equal pay, blah, blah, blah. I asked Senior Airman Cindy what the problem was? Was there a stripped bolt perhaps? Was something broken?

Why no Sarge. The thing is too heavy for myself and Airman First Class Delta to lift.

Hhhmm, I asked her if the unit was different somehow than it was on the other aircraft. No, same as usual. I see, I said.

"So, Airman Cindy. You have two choices. If the R/T was indeed suspect, then bring it here, down to the shop. OR *long dramatic pause* I'll send Staff Sergeant Dave up to help you. And I'll go with you tomorrow to the commander's office to explain why you need to be transferred to other duties. As apparently you are no longer capable of doing this job."

"Your call."

Airman Cindy, "We'll figure it out. If we're not there shortly, send Dave up."

Approximately 30 minutes later, my two female troops showed up with the R/T. No one was hurt, the unit was intact. Seems they pulled out the tech manual and followed the instructions contained therein. Like they should have in the first place.

Now the ladies learned two valuable lessons. One is that I expected them to do their jobs. Two is that I would treat them as another cog in the Big Blue machine, no special treatment because they lacked a "Y" chromosome. They actually appreciated that. At their last assignment the powers-that-be treated them like delicate flowers, NOT like full-fledged members of the United States Air Force.

Bottom line is, if the ladies can cut it and meet the EXISTING standards, then let them play war with the boys. But if they can't, and the ee-jits in Washington want to lower the standards for the sake of (D)iversity or political correctness then be prepared to watch our daughters come home in body bags.

As to making women sign up for the draft as men have to? I'm not prepared to go there. Not only do I have daughters...

I also have grand-daughters.

If they want to volunteer, more power to them. I don't think the government should have to compel people to serve. If they do, then perhaps it ain't a good fight to be in. But that's this Old Sarge's personal opinion. As always, YMMV.