Monday, October 31, 2016

Behold the Power of the Chant!

So, last week I posted a bit of a rant about TXDOT and the highway improvement project that runs from where I turn on to that highway until just prior to where I turn off that highway on my way to work.  A distance of about 7 miles.  Prior to the project, that stretch would take me maybe 10 minutes door to door.  With the project at times, it's taken almost an hour.  Numerous single lane traffic detours on a well traveled 4 lane highway.  Planning?  Thy name certainly isn't TXDOT.

In any case, my chief gripe there is a sign that says "Expect Delays" then "8AM to 5PM".


I've been stopped at 7:30 AM and 6:30PM, waiting for the one lane and pilot car to change direction to the way I'm headed. That event  can take 15 to 20 minutes as the pilot car, regardless of circumstances, rarely exceeds 30 MPH and certainly not 45.

So, my gripe was "if you're going to work 7AM to 7PM, make the sign read 7 AM to 7 PM"

Behold the Power of the Chant!
Wait for it!

Don't know if that's an improvement but it certainly proves the adage "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hunkering Down

With the election right around the corner, nine days by my reckoning, there is a huge temptation to seal the hatch to The Chant, get in a hull down position, and kill the engine to reduce my heat signature until this whole mess blows over. I am certainly feeling the need to hunker down and prepare for the incoming propaganda and nonsense.



Did you know that there is a Tube O' You video which is nothing more than ten hours of the sound of distant artillery?

No, really. Search on "distant artillery ambience" - you'll see.

Not sure if that would help me sleep though, might even keep me awake. I'm more of a "surf on the beach" kind of guy.

Not the view on 09 Nov 16. (Source)
I don't want to comment on all the bovine excrement being spread by the chattering class, though it is surely tempting to do so. This election has pretty much cemented, in my mind anyway, the concept that all politicians suck. Sure, sure, there may be one or two who don't, but for the most part, once they get into office, that's all they care about. Staying in office.

That sucks.

So I'm gonna keep the hatch cracked open a little bit, try to navigate the next nine days without losing my mind, or my sense of humor, and hope that everyone keeps their cool. It's an election, the stakes are high but trust me, the world won't end on the 9th of November.

However, I won't offer any guarantees as to the 20th of January. I will say this though, that will be a Friday, so it won't be all bad.

No matter which way the election goes.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Get it right next time...


Get it right next time

Out on the street I was talkin' to a man
He said "there's so much of this life of mine that I don't understand"
You shouldn't worry I said that ain't no crime
Cause if you get it wrong you'll get it right next time, next time.

You need direction, yeah you need a name
When you're standing in the crossroads every highway looks the same
After a while you can recognize the signs
So if you get it wrong you'll get it right next time, next time.

Life is a liar yeah life is a cheat
It'll lead you on and pull the ground from underneath your feet
No use complainin', don't you worry, don't you whine
Cause if you get it wrong you'll get it right next time, next time.

You gotta grow, you gotta learn by your mistakes
You gotta die a little everyday just to try to stay awake
When you believe there's no mountain you can climb
And if you get it wrong you'll get it right next time, next time.

- Gerry Rafferty

Duty. Honor. Country.

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. 
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist. 
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. 
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way. 
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause. 
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America. Code of Conduct of the U.S. Armed Forces
A long, long time ago I first raised my right hand and swore the following oath -
I, Christopher Allen Goodrich, do solemnly swear 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.
I stayed true to that oath in the years that followed, nothing has changed which would make me violate that oath. Ever. I am still in the pay of the United States Air Force and still consider myself a Master Sergeant in that service, albeit retired. Nevertheless, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States until I no longer draw breath. I will obey my oath. The entire oath, not just the parts I like.

I will defend my family to the death, I will love my God, I will pay my taxes, and I will do my utmost to keep myself informed of the important issues of the day so that I might more efficiently and loyally perform my duty as an American citizen.

It is a duty, one I hold sacred and close to my heart.
America, The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Carry on.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Stop That! (Yes, Virgil, We're Talking to You)

Virgil's Old Ride
F-4C landing at Clark AB, Philippines

So Virgil dropped by today and left that comment. Scared me it did. Virgil you need to stay with us now, don't go wandering off. Here's what the crew over at koobecaF had to say -

So yeah Virgil. What they said!

No doubt there will be more...

I'll keep updating as the messages come in...

Surprises and Sentiment

From time to time The Missus Herself and I will make our way to a book store. She likes to browse, sometimes a book will catch her eye and, while I prowl the history and fiction sections, she'll find a comfy spot in the store and start reading. Most of the time the book heads back to the rack, sometimes the book will catch her fancy and she might, maybe possibly, buy the book. She's rather picky about what she spends her money on. She's the smart one in the family. (In case you haven't picked up on that yet.)

Me? I'll usually head for the checkout stand with at least three, oft times five or six, books which I have determined that I simply must have. Quite often these are offerings from a favorite author (think Coonts, Clancy, Flynn, Child, Shaara, or Dale Brown), though lately I have been completely addicted to history. I go through these swings where fiction simply won't cut it, at other times I've had my fill of hard history and want a good story.


There are times where we get home, the new books go onto the chair in front of my son's old roll top desk (which I "inherited" and where I seldom sit) to await their turn to be devoured by my almost insatiable appetite for the written word.

Then I start to read them, one by one, slowly working my way down the pile until they've all been read. Then they go onto the book shelves, which are starting to get a bit overcrowded, (hold your thoughts on that for a moment, I do have a Nook, but...).

Perhaps half of my books, I'm not altogether sure just how many books I own. I read them, I don't count them...
Time for an aside (what you might call a digression, but this one was planned, sort of...)

The observant among you will see a few things in that last photo which might make you question the old Sarge's sanity, maturity, and perhaps even his masculinity. Let me explain a few things before you go running off...

The panda, the pony, and the puppy on the left: the pony (according to my Mom) was a toy I received at my very first Christmas in 1953. She was going to throw the old boy away! As a sentimental old softy, I couldn't have that. I mean he's a pal from way back, right?

The panda is nearly as old and is a pleasant reminder of the days of my childhood. Back when I had a full suite of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. A lot of those folks are gone now, so is my childhood, but, truth be told, I like to remember those days. They were good days and had a lot to do with who I am now. (And my panda's name is Andy. Good name, Andy Panda. No, I wasn't the cleverest lad to ever come out of Vermont, not the dullest but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer either.)

As to the puppy, that little guy is actually a coin bank, his name is Sandy. Actually says that on his tag. My two brothers and I all had one. The Olde Vermonter's bank was a black dog and The Musician's was a brown dog. All shaped the same as Sandy. We received those one Christmas a long time ago. Again, Sandy was slated for the dumpster if I didn't want him. How could I let that happen? So there they are, and there they shall remain.

The sharper-eyed among you might have noticed the penguins, not too far above the toy kitchen (which the grandkids play with when they come to visit, I blog, and the grandkids prepare me imaginary meals, which I devour with great relish, if you have grandkids, you'll understand). I have written about the penguins before, you can read about them here. In truth, I really am a sentimental old git. Not ashamed of it either. (And the bass guitar is indeed a Fender, just not the expensive one, but it suits my needs. I'm an "okay" bass player, I can pick out a note or two and maintain a rhythm. Paul McCartney or John Entwhistle I'm not.)

Alright, I see I've wandered far enough afield on this aside, time to get back on topic, the original reason for this post and which explains that opening photo. (If you have questions about other things you might "spy with your little eye" in, on, or about my book shelves, leave a comment, I'll answer you.)

Back on topic in 3...2...1...

So, that pile of books I mentioned up there near the beginning, sometimes, when I'm working my way through the stack, the lady my wife, SWMBO, ya know, The Missus Herself, will decide that my room must be tidied up. Why, I don't know. My command center room has a comfortable, shabby, disheveled look to it. I like it that way, but periodically, command will decide "this just won't do!"

Then she falls upon my comfortable hidey-hole and "cleans" and "arranges" things in a manner which, although nice, leaves me rather out of sorts because now I can't find anything.

"Honey, where did you put those books I bought?"

"I put them away."

"Um, where exactly is 'away'?"

"Where they belong..."


So I usually assume, unless "where they belong" is obvious (usually it's not), that I had read all of the books in the new book pile and move on with my life. Usually by searching for a book which I haven't read in a while. As I do have rather a lot of books, that's not usually a problem. And yes, I do read my books over and over. For instance, my copy of Swords Around A Throne (by Colonel John Elting) has been read at least ten times over the years and is starting to get rather dog eared and loose in its binding, so to speak. (And I actually sprang for the hard cover. Probably because I don't think it was ever published in paperback. At least not when I decided that I just had to have it. Yes, I get that way with books.)

On occasion, rare occasions I must add, I will stumble across a book that I bought at some time in the past and never actually got around to reading. I will think, "Hhmm, I haven't read this one in a while." And then discover that I've actually never read it. It's one of those books from the new book pile which got put "where it belongs" at some point in the past. (And which I never discovered exactly where that "where it belongs" was, until now.)

Such is the case with Rorke's Drift by Adrian Greaves. I thought it would be a good idea to refresh my memory on the Battle of Rorke's Drift as I still wish to write about the Siege of Jadotville. Two similar battles where a company of infantry, armed with modern weapons, withstand attacks by 3 to 4 thousand rather angry indigenous personnel. And win.

Lo and behold, Rorke's Drift was one of those happy surprises where the book in my hand, while not new right from the store, was still new as in "new to me." (And as no one had ever actually read it, it was in "mint" condition. So it really is new, for all intents and purposes. Probably as a point of law as well.)

So I'm reading that now, a most excellent account of the battle. And to my surprise, the original receipt was still lodged in the pages. Seems I bought the book back in 2007!!! Yes, nine years ago. At a Border's Bookseller, an establishment, to my knowledge, which went out of business some time ago. I also note that I picked up a copy of a book titled Wellington's Rifles (which I have to track down, I remember reading that one, but nine years ago, so it's due a re-read). Oddly enough, it seems we also purchased a bottle of ranch dressing. At the bookstore. Hhmm, that's curious. (But it's there, on the receipt so it must be true. As there are no bottles of ranch dressing on any of my bookshelves I'm assuming we actually consumed that. Back in 2007. I'm sure it wouldn't be any good now. Maybe.)

Anyhoo, that's the kind of surprise I like. Sort of like putting on a jacket that you haven't worn in a while and finding money in one of the pockets. (That has happened a couple of times. For which I always get questioned, "Why did you put money in your jacket pocket?" And I have no idea.)

So I like the occasional surprise and I'm sentimental.

Eventually you'll know all about me.

Then what will I write about?

I forgot to mention the Nook, rather I forgot to explain the Nook. I have one which the progeny gave me as a gift back when I was on the road. Was very handy in the hotel, didn't take up a lot of space, and when one book was read, I could purchase another, electronically, right then and there.

Still and all, there's nothing quite like the feel, the smell, and the heft of an actual printed volume in one's hand. For military history that's almost a requirement. Why? It's the maps you see. (And the good ones ALWAYS have maps.) Those are deuced hard to make out on a Nook. So for history, it's nearly always paper. I say "nearly always" because I do have Six Frigates on my Nook. Which reminds me, I need to re-read that one too. Haven't read it since 2011 I think...

That is all....

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Contemplating the Eternal

I started writing this post back in April. After ORPO and I rode the REAGAN. I'm not sure why I didn't finish it at the time. Perhaps it was too soon. The mug The WSO bought for me triggered the memory. So I'm finishing it today. Keep that time frame in mind as you read. So here we go...

"Today" (as referenced above) was the 30th of August 2014. Two years ago. Another, recent, event triggered the need to finish this post. Maybe I'll actually finish it and publish it this time. You'll know soon enough. Bear with me, parts of this will seem disjoint and I might be all over the map. Lot on my mind lately. Stand by for heavy rolls, as a Lieutenant I met once liked to say. Yeah, he was a SWO. So here we go... (again)

I know people who don't believe.

Apparently their existence has no more meaning than that of a leaf on a tree.

Once it falls to the forest floor, its existence is over. There is nothing more. Tout est fini...

The other day Some time ago (in the hazy, distant past), over on Facebook, I had mentioned my visit to Shakespeares Pub in Sandy Eggo on one of my last trips out there. Someone asked me if I had used Lex's Mug.

Now Lex's Mug is a beer mug which had been the property of CAPT Carroll "Lex" LeFon, U.S. Naval Academy Class of '82.

Some time after Lex's passing in 2012, his wife Mary (aka The Hobbit) brought this mug to Shakespeares. A new custom was established whereby Lex's friends and fans of his blog would drink from Lex's Mug when stopping in at Shakespeares.

I have never had a Guinness from Lex's Mug when visiting Shakespeares (twice four times since the custom was established) and most likely never will. (I still have not.) This is not so much out of a fear of breaking Lex's Mug (of which Mary has another at home and I would indeed be terrified of dropping it or otherwise damaging it) as it is out of respect for Lex as a man, as an officer and as a writer.

So when asked if I had used Lex's Mug, I answered "No, I am not worthy of that."

There were comments regarding worthiness to drink from Lex's Mug and such but as I said at the time, "Others can drink from Lex's mug, I don't mind, I prefer to just sit and contemplate the Eternal."

Or words to that effect.

So that was then, this is now (sort of). What sparked this post? (Those long ages ago...)

There are two things I will always usually do when visiting Sandy Eggo: (1) stop at Shakespeares for at least one pint of Guinness and (2) pay a visit to Fort Rosecrans (situated on Point Loma), where Lex's ashes are interred. (The last time I was out there in January of this year - 2016 - I didn't make it out to Ft. Rosecrans. The press of time didn't allow for it. I did look in that direction - more than once - and render a silent salute.)

In Last week August of 2014 I was in Sandy Eggo and I did both of those two things. The latter is what sparked this post (though the former gave me the title). (Actually based on that aforementioned exchange on koobecaF*.)

Then last night On the night of 29 August 2014, I had a dream. A very odd dream. (And revisiting this post brings that dream back. In spades...)

I was visiting Sandy Eggo and noticed that no matter which way I turned, I could see two things: Point Loma and a Naval Air Station chock full of Super Hornets.

First of all, to see Point Loma, you need to be facing west. For that's where Point Loma lies in relation to downtown Sandy Eggo.

Secondly, while there is a Naval Air Station in Sandy Eggo (North Island) it is devoid of Super Hornets. Unless there are one or more transiting the area and are there for a stopover. For some time ago, Big Navy (read Washington DC and/or the Pentagon whenever you see that term, many add a sneer of contempt to the saying of that phrase) decreed that the United States Navy would no longer base their West Coast Carrier Air Wings in Sandy Eggo. Henceforth, those wings would be based at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Way out in the dust and heat of California's Central Valley.

Now in the dream, Whisper (another friend of Lex's, that's his callsign) handed me a silver plaque. He told me that this plaque would allow me to see reality in Sandy Eggo. Point Loma would always be to the west and I would not see phantom F-18s parked all over North Island.

Unbeknownst to Whisper, that plaque would also transport me to the deck of an aircraft carrier passing out to sea from where I could see Point Loma. I had to but wish it. (No mention of how I was to get back!)

Okay. Dreams are pretty weird experiences. Mine, when I remember them, are weirder than most.

From what I've heard, dreams are the brain's way of taking disparate information, mashing it together and then (having categorized it) throwing it away. Okay, sure. I'll buy that.

Now let's look at the evidence.

When I visited Sandy Eggo, I rode an aircraft carrier out to sea. We passed Point Loma, I made a point of mentioning Lex up on that ridge line, the two people I was with know Lex as well, they get it.

I remember thinking how nice it would be if after riding the carrier my son-in-law and granddaughter had not had to drive down from Lemoore (Hanford actually) to pick us up. That is a very long drive. Takes you through L.A. it does with all of the traffic woes that entails. And you need to retrace your route to get back there.

Now many of the air crew in REAGAN's Air Wing will fly off the boat and head on up to Lemoore. But there are those who don't fly off. Like the maintainers. How do they get back to Lemoore? I'm sure they don't have to drive (I hope they don't have to drive). But really?

So my frustration that these folks (and me in this instance) have to travel a long distance to get home from Sandy Eggo is obviously where the magic transporter plaque comes in. (Or so I surmised back when I had the dream.)

As to the rest? Who knows, certainly 'tis beyond my ken.


Anyhoo. This post was started a couple of years ago. I have often looked at it, sitting there all dusty and forlorn, in the "Drafts" section of the blog, and wondered if I would ever finish it. Well, I am doing that now. Why? (You might ask...)

When I got to work yesterday morning I checked in on koobecaF, which I often use to keep track of the progeny, and saw something which gave me pause. There was a post from a friend which read as follows...
To all FB friends--the family of Scott _______ regrets to inform you that Scott passed away on Oct 20. To all of you, he says "so long".
Now given the current political climate there has been a lot of strife, angst, nasty language, and lots and lots of bitterness (even among friends) on koobecaF, I know of a few people who have decided to give up on koobecaF for now. Perhaps forever. So at first I thought Scott's post was one of those "I've had enough, bye-bye Facebook" posts.

No, my friend Scott actually passed away on the 20th of this month.

Yes, I was stunned. For one thing Scott was younger than me, born the same year, I was born in May, he in November. When one gets to be a certain age I suppose one must get used to the idea that death is no longer a possibility, but an absolute certainty. The young tend not to think about that. As you age, you do.

So while casting about for a way to remember Scott, I came across this unfinished post. Seemed like now was the time to finish it and put it "out there."

Scott was a fellow Lexican. Since the passing of Hizzoner Himself, four Lexicans have entered the path at the end of the clearing.
  •     John
  •     Marianne
  •     Buck
  •     and now Scott
So for Scott, for John, Marianne, and Buck (and of course Lex, always) -
Through many countries and over many seas
I have come, Brother, to these melancholy rites,
to show this final honour to the dead,
and speak (to what purpose?) to your silent ashes,
since now fate takes you, even you, from me.
Oh, Brother, ripped away from me so cruelly,
now at least take these last offerings, blessed
by the tradition of our parents, gifts to the dead.
Accept, by custom, what a brother’s tears drown,
and, for eternity, Brother, ‘Hail and Farewell’.

- Gaius Valerius Catullus

For what it's worth, I still don't consider myself worthy.

* It has become the fashion among certain folks to refer to Facebook as koobecaF, as a way showing a bit of disdain and/or disrespect for that bastion of social media. It's a petty conceit, I know. But there it is, it's even (as of yesterday) on the Acronym page. Along with rettiwT. That one you need to look up yourself. Though it's easy to figure out. Once you know the secret.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hard Times?

Citizens of Leningrad fleeing their homes, destroyed by the Germans. (Source)
Election Day is less than a fortnight away and I am still refraining from political commentary. Those of you who come here often know my leanings and I honestly couldn't state things any better than Tuna did yesterday. My slightly left of center colleague at work remarked recently how amazed he was at my apparent equanimity as regards current events.

No, I'm not seething on the inside, as I really feel...

Well, what say you, General Lee?

Though I daresay I might be as dumbstruck as J.E.B. Stuart in two weeks time, depending on the outcome of the election. Dumbfounded, shocked, stunned, and not a little peeved described my feelings on the day after election day the past two cycles.

But, I am confident that the ship of state will eventually right itself. We are, after all, a constitutional republic, not a democracy. I presume that eventually enough honest men and women will find their way into government to halt the rising tide of idiocy that seems to be all the rage throughout this fair land.

Things might get uncomfortable for a while, but they're not going to get Siege of Leningrad bad. Or so I really, really hope.

Anyhoo, let's have a bit of a rant on one of my favorite topics.

Crappy drivers!

On the way home from my place of employment this week I have observed on the roadways of Little Rhody behavior which, to me, is symptomatic of "what's wrong with our country." I am, of course, speaking of the blatant disregard for the law and, no doubt, a certain ignorance when it comes to operating a motorized two-ton death machine on the public thoroughfares.

On Monday, and again on Tuesday, I watched as two moronic scofflaws followed the path depicted in the following photo (courtesy, as always, of Google Street view)...

The red arrow marks where two folks from the shallow end of the gene pool went from the far left lane, across traffic and down the off ramp at a very high rate of speed. Note that the entrance to the off ramp is well behind us in that photo.

The car on Monday, with the California plates, might be excused for realizing at the last minute that this was indeed their exit. Being a non-local, as it were. However, traveling, at a conservative estimate at upwards of 70 mph seemed a bit much. Perhaps the relative lack of traffic in these parts led them to go "hog wild" regarding the application of pressure to the accelerator. I don't know, just seemed a might fast for my tastes. Also this idiocy occurred not ten yards from my port bow. Startled me just a bit I must say.

Tuesday's poor excuse for a human couldn't use the "I ain't from around here" excuse. That rather large pickup truck (even bigger'n Juvat's new ride) had Massachusetts plates. He was going even faster than that feller from California. (Yes, both perps were men. Women typically, at least in my experience, don't drive like they have a death wish.)

He left a cloud of debris in his wake as he entered the off ramp just in front of the exit sign (which can be dimly perceived in the preceding photo). Then at the bottom of the ramp, which is a T intersection, he was determined to execute a 90° right turn at the bottom of the aforementioned ramp without backing off even a teensy wee bit on the throttle.

Physics and inertia forced him to give her a bit o' brake just before he rolled his late model truck. Which no doubt would have been nasty. Odd that this is one of the few times in the past couple of days that there wasn't a cop car parked underneath the overpass. While the speed limit on that road is 30, folks like to push that well past 50.

Okay, ee-jits trying to inadvertently end it all by driving like complete a$$clowns is annoying to a certain extent. But nowhere near as annoying as having someone of questionable ancestry talking on her cell phone while driving as close to one's back bumper as possible without actually contacting said bumper. And yes, I had the pleasure of that experience on the way home yesterday. While still pondering the complete stupidity of the alleged human in the pickup truck.

Said grande dame of cluelessness stayed glued to my bumper all the way into town. Apparently I wasn't exceeding the speed limit to an extent she found to her tastes. Speed limit 35, I was doing a tad over that. How positively gauche of me! When she had the opportunity to get out from behind me (red arrow below) she did so at roughly twice the speed limit. (That's me under the green arrow, traveling at a law-abiding 25 mph.)

Google Maps
Was she really in a hurry? Or simply oblivious to her surroundings. Some Little Rhodians (and denizens of the Commonwealth as well) will travel right up your kiester as a signal to "go faster or get out of my way!" Some will simply keep pressing on the accelerator if there is nothing in front of them, or until their vehicle won't go any faster. And I'm only exaggerating a little. On the interstate you can almost see the color shifts as they slip in and out of light speed.

So for now, I'm still not gonna bitch about politics, not when I can bitch about my fellow motor vehicle operators. Elections are ephemeral, seeing and complaining about crappy driving is a year-round sport.

Though I am currently under a ban on bitching about other drivers when The Missus Herself is behind the wheel. Hardly seems fair, when I'm not driving I can see so much more inanity and lack of skill.

But rules are rules. Not for everyone mind you, just for a select few. It's just one of the things which fall into the "what's wrong with this country" category.

Or so I think. What say you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

I’m sure you’re familiar with the title I’ve chosen for this post. It’s from scripture of course, Proverbs 13:24.  The full verse, depending on your particular chosen version of the Bible is as follows: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

I think that’s prophetic in so many ways, for parents, for the military, for regular citizens, and…for voters.

With that being said, you can probably tell where I’m going with this post. While I’m just as tired and frustrated with this election season as most of you probably are, I’m not so frustrated that I’m at a loss for words. I guess I’m posting a piece as your pithy part time political blogger again. So here goes:

Hey candidates- Pthbbbbbbb!

That’s right- a great big slobbery raspberry to both of them, even the one I’m going to vote for. They’ve turned this election season into the most vitriolic one I’ve ever seen and I’m disgusted by it.  While one of them can't seem to stay out of the mud, or keep his muddy foot out of his mouth, the other seems to live in the mud, not only surviving on the seedy underbelly of politics, but thriving. It’s not just the candidates, but some voters as well. I heard conservative political columnist Maureen Dowd tell about a wife who angrily stated she would divorce her husband if he voted for Trump. I don’t know if I’ve lost koobecaF friends over my own beliefs, not that I really care, but I've heard that others have and that just shows how powerful politics can be on our psyche.

There were other potential titles I was considering. I thought about “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Sure, it’s a little comic-book-ish, but both candidates have experience with power, and the Presidency is possibly the job with the most responsibility on Earth. Trump is a very powerful businessman, used to multi-million dollar deals, building great things. He’s responsible for the lives of many- the people he employs who need him to make careful calculations in his business dealings. Doing so ensures projects get built, people remain employed, and the economies surrounding the projects continue contributing to society.

Hillary has had power since her husband came into office, if not before, and it just continued when she carpet-bagged her way into a NY Senate seat, followed by SECSTATE.  Big jobs there, lots of responsibility, but I can’t really say she did anything to improve our country, or its stature in the world.  I consider that responsibility squandered, as were lives in Benghazi. After giving up on the Presidency in 2008 in exchange for a Cabinet position and future support, she’s been the coming messiah for the DNC.   And that mantle has given her nearly free rein to operate outside the margins of both ethics and the law.

What do you call that free rein? That leads me to another title that would have worked so well- “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” Here’s another saying- “Knowledge will give you power, but character- respect.”* She definitely knows how to work the political game, her donors (foreign and domestic), as well as her base, but her character is lacking.  As for the last group, it unfortunately includes the media, who don’t even try to hide the fact that they are solidly in her camp and will do anything to help her win.

Because the media has abdicated its responsibility to be neutral, they are no better than Pravda, supporting the regime without question, and covering up the truth of its misdeeds.  This just strengthens the Executive Branch so that the three branches are no longer equal.  Add to that a constant barrage of negative media against Trump and almost none against Hillary, the power becomes more absolute and ever more corrupt.

The liberals in the country are enabling the corruption- spoiling the child per se, because they either hate Trump so much, or love Hillary so much, that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the ethical lapses and criminal behavior of their candidate.  The DNC obviously believes the ends- stopping Trump and remaining in power- justifies the means.

Robert Creamer, who is connected to the Democratic National Committee and is the husband of Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, was busted in a video bragging about the alleged unethical methods the Democrats use to “rig elections.” These illicit activities include:
  • Paying mentally ill people to instigate fights at Trump campaign rallies
  • Acting as hubs of information to coordinate campaign and Super PAC activities
  • Sabotaging Trump press events
The Democratic operative then punctuated his view on the purported unethical activities with a memorable phrase: “It doesn't matter what the friggin' legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherf...”                                                                       Source 

The ends justify the means, even if the means are completely unethical, lowdown, dirty, nasty, and highly illegal.

And it appears that the money given to Hillary by foreign governments and the power she's handed by an apathetic public and a complicit media, has enabled her to infiltrate or influence the very institutions responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal behavior.

FBI Agents say Comey stood in the way of Clinton email investigation

And they're not happy about it.

FBI Agents are ready to revolt over the cozy Clinton probe

The media plays an important role in democratic society with its duty to report wrongdoing, keeping bad behavior in check.  But when that's done in a biased way, the full truth isn't told and democracy suffers.  The truth is sometimes hard to face however and if ignored, our society has to deal with the symptoms, unable to treat the root causes of a problem.

We've seen Greece and Venezuela collapse because Socialism is unsustainable.  It might take a while, decades in fact, but eventually their failure is inevitable. No matter how much the government intrudes in their markets, it can’t hide the reality that Socialism just uses up other people's money, and both countries give away far more to their citizens than they produce.  Here in the U.S., race relations are at an all-time low, at least since before the civil rights movement, because ignoring the reality of the root causes just exacerbates the situation.  We have welfare serving as a never ending crutch, and divisive politics that pit one side against another, blaming the specter of racism.  Sure, racism exists, but its not the ever-present beast that the left likes make it out to be.  And our Chief Executive, instead of calling for calm, fans the flames of it when police do their duty in the face of violent resistance to arrest.  Those issues, when coupled with high rates of divorce, abortion, and irresponsible sex result in the collapse of the American family, and just deepen the cracks in the very foundation of our country.  And shoring that up requires hard truths to be told and acted upon.

When parents refuses to discipline their kid, they raise an incorrigible child.  If a Captain allowed a Sailor to slide when he violates the UCMJ, he will be unable to maintain good order and discipline on the ship and lives could be at risk.  If voters, over a 30 year span, turn a blind eye to terrible ethics, to violations of the Oath of Office, and to criminal corruption, you raise an entitled politician who thinks the rules don't apply to her.

Early in my career, ethics training became part of the annual training requirements.  Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety was the direction.  However, the Clintons don't seem to care.  Pay for play scandals, private servers, $1M birthday gifts from Qatar, $600+K speaking gigs from Goldman Sachs, $12M from Morocco, $25M from Saudi, withholding evidence from congress, destroying evidence under subpoena, etc., even having a foundation in your name while serving in a government capacity- they're all tremendous conflicts of interest.   None of these sound like she cares even remotely about avoiding the appearance of impropriety. 

As I was researching this post, I found a quote by Jonathan Swift: "Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent."  I picked up on that one because of the abortion issue brought up during the last debate.  There's no protection for the most innocent from Hillary.  It's the exact opposite what we’re seeing from her, and her power is a curse to the unborn, considering her stance on abortion even for babies on the last day of gestation.  Here's another quote, this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson:  "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." And it’s a dark soulless pit of despair inside Hillary.

We still have power however, through the ballot box, but we choose to promote the same bad behavior.  We spare the rod, and spoil the nation, essentially condoning bad behavior, when we reelect the same politicians that make up our legislative branch, an organization that we overwhelmingly believe aren’t serving us.   If Hillary wins the election, it will not be the result of her qualifications. It will be because the mainstream media refused to report her many failures.  Failures of character, failures of foreign policy, failures of morality, failure to be a decent human being.  And the voters, supported by a corrupt media, allow it.

I’ll repeat what I wrote in a comment to one of Sarge’s posts last week. “One of my high school friends, a great many of which are either trending Bolshevik or weak in their fortitude to actually listen to an argument from the right, sarcastically commented on one of my many koobecaF posts about Hillary.  He said "Thanks Tom, you really changed my mind on that!"  I responded that I don't do it to with that in mind, I do it because I like posting.”

I realize that I’m preaching to the choir here at The Chant, but writing about politics is somewhat cathartic for me, whether or not someone’s position is swayed.  koobecaF?   It’s become a slimy cesspool for political discussions, mainly in the comments section of public posts.  But even if I won’t change anyone’s mind, I want them to be at least better informed about an issue.  If a segment of society isn't given a chance to hear the truth, or refuses to do so, we're becoming less free and losing the power given us in the constitution.  While the truth sometimes hurts, that's part of the rod we shouldn't be spared- whether it's why we have urban decay, what an ultrasound reveals to a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, or how corrupt our politicians really are.  Voters should be fully informed.  Knowledge is power, whether it be for a human life, crew morale, or in politics.  We'll all be better behaved children because of it.

*Bruce Lee

Monday, October 24, 2016

"There is nothing permanent except change" *

As I've gotten older, I've noticed I'm ever increasingly resistant to change.  I've got my routines and I get irritated when I have to change them.  I like things to be predictable.  

For instance, I want to leave home at 7:15, drive 70-75MPH and arrive at work NLT 7:30.  It bugs me that the highway has been getting upgraded for the last 18 months without a lot of noticeable progress.
TXDOT=Capt Obvious!
Even though the sign says "expect delays 8AM to 5PM", I still get stopped for 1 lane traffic at 7:15.  It bugs me even more when I hang around the office until 5:30 then head home, only to get stopped in 1 lane traffic again.  I mean c'mon!  If you mean you're going to be working on the road from 7-7, say "Expect Delays 7AM to 7PM"

But....I digress.

So, a few weeks ago, Mrs Juvat announces that she has sold my truck.  Just like that...

"Honey, I sold your truck."

I'm dumbfounded.

I like my truck.  It's just like me.  Not pretty to look at.  Needs a bit of coaxing to work.  Runs better with a little encouragement and TLC. However, it's comfortable and mostly reliable.  Yep, pretty much exactly like me.

Oh, yeah.  It's 15 years old and has 223K on it.

One other thing.  It's paid for.

I like my truck.

"Did you hear what I said? I sold your truck."


"My sister needs it for the contractor who's building her house."

I recognized immediately, with logic like that, I've already lost the argument.

So,  that means I'm going to engage in one of my least favorite activities, buying a car.  With respect to WSF, I truly loath the whole car buying process.  From the "let me go talk to the manager" then disappear for 30 minutes to let you stew, to the "do you want to add this option, it's only $20 per month?"  No, it's $960 plus interest.  

I don't hold it against the salesman, they're trying to earn a living.  I just want them to tell me what the price is.  

When we bought Mrs. Juvat's car, in 2006, we bought it through USAA's car buying service.  We "built" the car on their site.  USAA then gave us a price for THAT car.  We tinkered with options to get it down to where we wanted.  They then gave us a certificate and we walked into the dealer and drove out with that car. 

So, that's where we started last weekend.  I'm on their site and "building" my truck.  Except, I don't get to select the options I want.  Just the Make and Model.  Then I select which packages I want, except there's not really any explanation of what is or is not included into each package.  So, I've got multiple pages open and am looking at package contents, finally getting something I think I want.  

I push the button and I get a certificate that says I can buy any truck in stock for $8800 off MSRP.  


I'm a bit confused, but not to worry, as soon as I pushed the button to get that certificate, my email and contact info got released to the various car dealers within a 100 mile radius of home.  All ready to answer any questions I might have.

Seriously, the first email arrived before I'd logged out of the USAA site, asking me to call and set up an appointment.  They had a vehicle that had 81% of the features I wanted.  What does that mean?  

In any case, I get one from a dealer in San Antonio that's got 95%, so I give them a call.  The lady that handles the USAA car buying program for them takes down the information about what I'm looking for, but I notice she doesn't ask for a VIN for the vehicle I'm interested in, which the car buying program included.  

The appointment was for a week ago Saturday.  Little Juvat is in town, and as my truck is no longer MY truck, I'm sans wheels.  He graciously offers to provide a lift for his old man.  We get to San Antonio around noon and decide to postpone the agony for a bit by having lunch.  

BTW, the Yardhouse, in La Cantera is a great place for Lunch.  The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was a nice complement to the fish and chips.

Now fortified, we arrive at the dealership and meet up with our sales person.  We introduce ourselves and she says she's got several trucks for us to look at, are we ready to go?


Truck #1 is a VERY nice truck.  Fire Engine Red, 5L V-8.  The dashboard was outfitted like the cockpit of an F-22.  We take it out for a spin.  Interestingly, pushing hard on the gas pedal, there's a very noticeable pause before the truck begins accelerating.  But it's quiet, smooth and well equipped.  In other words, expensive.  List price was north of $53K. 

Which, BTW, is the loan amount I'm pre-approved for.  Wonder if that's a coincidence there?

And before, any of you start with the Ron White "Loadddddddddedddd!" routine, No, that's about 45% more than I want to spend.

I mention the acceleration and she suggests a different engine.  So we test drive Truck #2.

Truck #2 is also very nice.  A bright metallic blue with a 3.5L V-6 ecoboost engine.  We take it out for the same circuit.  Out of the lot, about a mile on the access road (50-60MPH), on ramp with a quick acceleration to traffic speed (mach .93) out to DeZavala, back on the interstate back to the lot.  

#2 accelerates a lot faster.  The turbocharger really helps.  #2 still has a lot of bells and whistles which contributes to a MSRP and resulting sales price much higher than I'd like.  Nice vehicle though.  Solidly in contention for "when I win the Lottery."

We are getting nowhere fast.  The salesperson is showing cars that are more expensive than I want to buy, and I'm trying to tell her that I don't need all the bells and whistles.  Finally, I just tell her that I'm not going to spend any more than X dollars driving it off the lot.


I do want the ecoboost engine, I don't need any of the Star Wars cockpit.  I would like my phone to connect to the music system and I do want a crew cab.

Finally, she shows me the right vehicle with most of what I wanted.  It didn't have heated seats, which are very nice around here on winter mornings, but....I'll live with the hardship.

No, Sarge, I don't have a name for it.  Suggestions may be left in the comments below.  Right now, I'm leaning towards "My Truck"

First time in the 16 years we've lived on this property that we've had Green Grass the end of October.  Need to get the Hay Guy here for another cutting.
Just to continue that scene.  This will be where Sarge will be staying when he comes down to visit.  Nice little firepit in the front, by the barbecue.

* Heraclitus - Some dead white Greek Dude