Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Day At The Beach

Last week the Navy Blue Angels celebrated their 71st birthday and the Air Force Thunderbirds celebrated their 70th. (For those of you paying attention, the Thunderbirds are, technically, older than the independent Air Force itself. When they were created, it was the Army Air Force.

The two teams were together at the Blue's home station, NAS Pensacola. Something which hasn't happened since 2002 I believe. Pretty cool, both teams in the same spot!

Of course, our man Frost (well, his daughter anyway) was on the scene!

Frost's daughter said that it looked as if "half the population of Pensacola" was out there.

Local news footage -

Somebody tell me what, if anything, they noticed about the Thunderbird solo pilot in that interview. I noticed, loved it...

Why yes, I wish I had been there. Next time, next time...

The Thunderbirds' CO, must be a great guy. Based on his first name alone.
Happy Birthday to the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds!!

The COs share the stage.
The first two Thunderbird photos were taken at an airshow at MacDill AFB last year. But they're still pictures of fast jets, so who cares when they were taken right? Frost also sent along some more pics from the Naval Aviation Museum. Which of course he insisted I share with everyone. Nice!

Oh, one more thing, Juvat asked about the back lot at the museum, Frost had this to say -
BTW - Not sure, I saw one of your readers comments about the back bone yard being open. I am not sure if it is open on a daily basis, but definitely during Blue Angels practices that are open to the public as that's where they let us in to watch. And the old planes are roped off in the back and some do have ID signs, so it must be open for some occasions?
Hey, hey, hey!
 Spied in the back hanger. An SBD-5 Dauntless. If you read a close-up of the sign, this one was fished out of Lake Michigan and restored after 50 years. Looks in better shape today than me after 50 plus years! (LOL) -Frost (Yeah, me too!)
Ooh, Hellcat. What's she doing there with those helo-drones?
NC-4 Flying Boat
Carrier aircraft galore!
FJ-4 Fury (What we Air Force types might call an F-86.)
Who let that MiG in?
Blue Angel A-4s in the Atrium. One of my favorite places on the planet.
Curtiss-Wright SNC Falcon
If you look real close, you might notice there's a German loose on the floor.
Hey, it's a T-33 "Shooting Star"! Isn't that an Air Force bird? Yes and no, Navy called it the TV-2.
Columbia Aircraft Corporation J2F-6 Duck
Good stuff, yes?

Once again class, what do we say?

Thank you Mr. Frost!

Oh, one more thing from our own Mr. Frost...

Hershey's Ice Cream Parlor and Cafe
10427 Sorrento Rd Suite 103, Pensacola, FL 32507
Last but not least Sarge, I suggest you suggest to your readers if they are up NAS Pensacola way that they stop by after the museum and get some Hershey's Ice Cream and if they are MARINE tough enough, they can try the Blue Angels "Fat Albert" Sundae Challenge!
I did not, due to being to full already from dinner. But I did have a really great coffee cappuccino with chocolate chucks cone.
You will notice the last person on the defeated Blue Angels "Fat Albert" Sundae Challenge list is listed as "completed-but disqualified". That's because there is a minimum 5 minute after completion time to shall we say, keep from having ice cream gear drift. This challenge should be a lock for any ex-old fighter pilots. I mean if you can keep things down in a 5+ plus G turn, a  salad bowl of ice cream, brownies and all the fixings is, if you will pardon the pun, a piece of cake!

I need to be on that list!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

History and the Art of Muscle Car Maintenance

History has a prominent role here on The Chant.  Sarge is a self-professed amateur historian and often writes about famous people and battles.  Juvat regularly regales us of flight ops as an Eagle driver, and every once in a while I'll pontificate about a sea-story.  All tales of what once was- History.  This being the blog of three older guys who once served, there's more time behind us than in front of us, so we write what we know.

I think some of us spend a fair amount of time reminiscing about the past.  That's possibly because we don't necessarily like where things are going in this country- remember all my pithy political postings?  Living through the last Administration was tough for a patriot who values limited government and believes that the best way to raise everyone up is to allow an economy to flourish under un-burdensome regulations. Things are hopefully getting better, but the jury is still out of course.

Or maybe we reminisce because for those so honored to serve, we really enjoyed our lives in uniform, looking back on those days fondly. Naval Aviation was a blast and life as a Lieutenant in a fleet squadron is probably the best job, in any service, anywhere.  Period.  Bold text. Underline. Exclamation Point.  Flying in a seat with a view out the front of the airplane really can't be beat, in my no-so-humble opinion. Skimming the clouds, riding a 30 million dollar roller coaster, and getting paid quite well to do it, all the while with limited responsibilities or family duties outside of flying, is an incredible opportunity, one I'm so glad to have had, and I know I was fortunate to get.

VS-21 JOPA, probably on a no-fly day.  Yes, I once had hair.

If you're like me, you sometimes wish you could be a kid again, just for a day though.  I think I'd enjoy experiencing the the fun that was had, to live in the blissful ignorance of a child again, free from the heavier burdens that adult life carries.  Sometimes in that squadron though, you don't have to act all that grown up anyway.  When you're not flying, ready-room life can be fun- the camaraderie, the banter, the non-so-PC talk that comes with living in a steel can, far from those that feel they have a right to judge us.  And Navy life allows the occasional port visit to foreign lands.  These respites from work allow squadron members to let down their close-cropped hair, cut loose and de-stress. Maybe even a chance to imbibe a little.  What would I give to do that again?  Probably more than I have and less than it's really worth.

While it's fun to think bout being a 20-something aviator again, I'm quite happy with where I am in life, and have been very content at each stage of that life.  It helps having my beautiful wife at my side, as she makes life fun and keeps me from being too serious and set in my ways. And every once in a while she surprises the heck out of me, encouraging me to do something that the straight-laced, by the book rule-following conservative wouldn't normally do.


Remember Sarge's post about his childhood toys- the ones that he and his brothers still have up at the old homestead in Vermont?  They're in surprisingly good condition.  I took good care of my own toys as well, keeping nearly all of them in one of my dad's old footlockers.  But after I moved away and my mom's subsequent move to an apartment closer to her work, I expect she helped them find their way to someone who would appreciate playing with them.  My Hot Wheels collection was undoubtedly the favorite of all my possessions.  I'd set up the vinyl tracks in some elaborate fashion all over the house, usually starting with some elevated launch position on a bookshelf or the TV cabinet, for the gravity assist of course.  I never played with them in the dirt, nor did I crash them together like some kids are wont to do.   So I vividly remember the day I parted with them, feeling like quite the grown up, giving them to a young boy my older sister babysat.  I also remember feeling almost sick when I visited him a few years later as my younger sister took on that part-time caregiver role.  I saw how most of my treasures were ruined- axles bent, wheels missing, paint chipped, some with smashed roofs- all evidence of hard play that they didn't deserve.  When E-Bay came around, I slowly rebuilt part of my collection, often paying far more than what I spent as a child.

Cars have always held my interest.  In addition to my Hot Wheels, I had a subscription to Popular Hot-Rodding, both fueling my appreciation for muscle-cars that I still hold today.  Now it's the more refined Car and Driver, which I've enjoyed since my 20's.

1967 Mustang Convertible

A year before I was born, my mom bought a '67 Convertible in downtown San Diego.  It was Lime-Gold, had a 289 V8 putting out 271hp, with factory A/C and the optional center console.  I loved that car and dreamed of the day when I'd get the chance to drive it, making no secret of the fact to my folks that I hoped it might be mine someday.  In the early 80s it came under disrepair, to include a shredded ragtop, and my family wasn't able to afford the repairs.  It sat under a tarp in our yard for over a year.  Unfortunately, that yard was in Southern Oregon now, a much wetter climate than San Diego, and I saw my dream car slowly deteriorate.  Then on March 29th, 1983, needing money for bills my parents sold it.  That day is memorable because it's the day before I went to the DMV to get my learners permit.

Years later, as I began to buy my own cars, the timing of my car needs, available funds, family requirements and Mustang styling never matched up.  With the '67 as my dream car, few of the other Pony bodies met my tastes and none could come close to that first model redesign- a perfect mix of styling, muscle, sport, and trim.  After that, they just got too beefy for my tastes ('70-'73), too WTF? (Mustang II), too divergent from the original (Fox Body), and just not retro enough ('93-'04).  Now I've grown to love any classic Mustang, but that one year has always been my favorite.
Ugly Mustangs through the years,  '73, '75, '84, '93
I finally realized that if I wanted something like a '67, I'd have to quit dreaming and lay down the cash for an actual '67 convertible.  With almost 45 thousand convertibles sold that year, there are plenty out there.  The internet (E-Bay again) was very helpful in finding quite a few that were affordable, and relatively comparable to or cheaper than, a new one.  But most of the affordable ones (for me) would still need work to put them into stable road-worthy condition, or to make them look like they once did.  I've never been all than handy in the garage and needing a daily driver, I soon figured out that my desires outweighed my needs and skill-sets.

2005 Mustang                                                                    Pinterest

It was after the 2005 redesign that I saw something that matched my dreams.  Unfortunately the timing still wasn't right.  I had kids at home and a sporty Mustang just wasn't practical enough to justify my wants.  A Minivan, a 4 door sedan, and a double cab pickup were the family vehicles for the next phase of life.  There was the occasional dalliance with a pony car- a rental in Hawaii during a port visit, my father-in-law getting one on loan from the Ford Dealer in town when his F-150 was in the shop, but I had pretty much put my desires out to pasture.

It wasn't until a very late-at-night landing at an airport on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2015 that I rekindled by dream.  Every rental car was already taken and my reservation for a (government authorized) compact car could only be filled by a brand new Mustang, the last car in the lot.   I came home re-energized from that 5 day trip, feeling like quite the kid again, or at least a Fleet LT, telling my wife how much I loved driving that car.  She then did something very "unwifely" in my opinion, saying "You should get one!" What?  Did I hear that right?  She's encouraging me to do something completely impractical?  She had to tell me more than once, but a little over a year later, with an almost empty nest, the stars aligned enough for me to finally get my  own '67 Mustang, (50th anniversary edition)- a 2017 Ruby Red Metallic fully loaded 2.3L Ecoboost Premium Convertible.  My own Hot Wheels that I can actually drive.

My only regret is that it didn't come in Lime Gold.

Ok, now what else is on my bucket list?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hhmm, What's That?

Today Shaun had a pretty good offering regarding the natural world and homo sapiens' place therein. At any rate, that was my take away. (To use a phrase from corporate speak, which I will use from time to time just to show the suits that I'm wise to their antics).

Now today was a long, tiresome day. I got more done job-wise than I expected. Some days, regardless of how tired you are, things just flow. But I was glad to "down tools" and head out the front door at quitting time.

Had to go foraging for my supper on the way back to the cave house. No, I wasn't out in the fields clad in loin cloth toting flint tipped spear (I have entered the bronze age). I was in my Element (Honda that is) and off to the grocery emporium. Where I acquired the fixings for my evening repast.

Yesterday being Thursday, I half expected that the lawn crew might show up. Then again, the morning had been rather wet, so maybe not. The day had turned fine and things looked dried up enough for grass cutting activities but, the crew usually comes Thursday evening, sometimes Friday. Anything could happen. And usually does.

Returning from Stop & Shop (quaint name innit?), I hit my turn indicator to begin to make the turn onto the street leading to my street. (Yes, many Little Rhodians stared in wonder at the flashing light on my vehicle, wondering what manner of sorcery was afoot. No, many folks in these parts don't normally use their turn signals. I'm not sure they know that those things come as standard equipment.) Anyhoo...

As I slowed to make the turn, their was a rather ancient looking pickup truck wishing to enter the main thoroughfare from the street I was turning on to. Now my first thought was, "I say you nasty bugger, ye dinna have the right of way here. It's my turn, not yours." My second thought was, "Oh, that's my lawn crew. What the heck..." Checking traffic behind me and to my front I realized that giving them the "go ahead" sign would not cause any accidents, and as he was blocking me from making my turn, I really didn't have much choice in the matter. Just submit with grace and drive on I suppose. So I did.

After making the turn, I realized, "Damn, I just missed the lawn boys, now they'll have to wait until next week to get paid." But as past history has shown, they're okay with that, they know I'm good for it.

Rolling up the street...

What? What's that? No, I don't mow my own grass anymore. I'm somewhat well-off in comparison to some of the other members of my species and if I can spend a bit o' money to free up my Saturday and perhaps put food on another man's table, well, I'm good with that. There comes a point in life when you want to take it easy. I have nothing to prove.

Now where was I? Oh yes...

Rolling up the street I saw that my grass had indeed been cut and the lawn looked mighty fine. As I brought the trash cans up from the street (Thursday being trash day in my neighborhood) I noticed something amiss on the front steps of Chez Sarge.

Hhmm, what's that? I mumbled sotto voce then took the groceries from the car to the kitchen. First things first, dontcha know?

Returning to the front of the manse I saw something odd right up next to the house. Right where the railing ends in the leading photo. At first I thought it might be a dead bird, perhaps one of the avian race had mistaken one of my windows for a tunnel to the back side of my house, it happens from time to time. "Damn, I hope it's not a dead thing."

While I know that death comes to all things, I still don't like it. I particularly hate seeing something which once flew and sang songs outside my window in the morn lying dead upon the turf. Or the front steps as the case may be.

But no, it wasn't a bird, it was something small. And furry.

Dear me, I thought, it's a baby rabbit. How the heck did the wee creature get up there? The steps seem rather high for such a young'un to make its way up them. Ah, maybe the lawn guys saw the little guy cowering in the grass and just put him up there, out of harm's way.

Then a couple of odd, disconnected facts suddenly connected. See that tuft of grass in front of the pot, on the next step down in the first picture? Looks rather nest-like doesn't it? I had noticed that last weekend and thought it an odd place for a bird to make a nest. But it obviously wasn't a bird's nest, especially when I checked after dinner and noticed that in the pot were more baby rabbits. At least two that I could see.

Hhmm. I guess the rabbit on the steps had maybe fallen out. Obviously he couldn't climb (or jump) back up, he's way too tiny.

So modern man starts thinking. If I leave the rabbit on the steps, he'll most likely die. No one to take care of him, easy to spot for a predator, and there are lots of crows and hawks in the area. Not to mention the occasional feral cat wandering through.

Part of me doesn't want to interfere with Nature, another part of me thinks that it's not really interfering if I just reunite him with his siblings (who number three at this point, plus the rabbit on the step makes four. So I decide to intervene. I felt like Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, or Jim, the guy who always did the dangerous stuff...

Okay, so there was no frigid air, no deep snow, nor helicopters involved. There was a dust pan and a very soft dust broom though. I didn't want to handle the animal, for various reasons, so I figured that if I could coax him into the dust pan, I could then transport him back to the nest. Without getting hyoo-mon scent all over him.

At first the little guy looked like he might have a seizure. Normally baby rabbits won't move if they feel threatened. Well, he didn't move at first, then he looked a little panicked, then he got sort of a "WTF" look on his little rabbit face as I brushed his butt with the broom and tried to coax him onto the dust pan.

Oddly enough, it worked. After a couple of gentle pokes, Jim fell onto the deer, I mean the rabbit kind of hopped onto the dust pan. As I lifted it up, the little guy kept his eye on me, wondering just what sort of deviltry I had in mind. When we got to the LZ, I kind of tipped the pan a bit and the wee bunny just hopped into the nest with his mates. Who were all frozen in place wondering just what the Hell was going on as their sibling dropped in from the sky.

All seemed well as I left the cottontails to their reveries and ponderings of rabbits from the clouds.

The bunny top left is the one I airlifted in, you can see his (her) siblings huddled together in the bottom center of the photo. If you look close you can see that the ones in the huddle number three, not four, two is right out, the number is three in the huddle. Cute little buggers aren't they? All have a tiny white flash on top of their little noggins.

I wonder what the future holds for them. I prefer not to think about it as there are, as I said, any number of predators about who would love rabbit for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For now I'll just marvel at the beauty of the little ones and wonder what possessed their mother to give birth in one of The Missus Herself's flower pots.

And that lady is not all that pleased with the rabbit clan this year, they ate most of her tulips. Good thing for them that she's in California.

Nature. It's everywhere.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Secession? Bad Idea.

I've been meaning to comment for a while now on the topic of California seceding from the Union. The so-called "Cal-Exit." A hare-brained cockamamie scheme if you ask me. Someone tell the leftist loons out there that it's called "Balkanization." Yes, let's go ahead and break the country into smaller pieces. That way all of the snowflakes can have their own little fantasy land.

Until someone comes along and scoops up those bite-sized pieces.

Yes, I'm a Federalist at heart. I believe in a strong central government but I also know (and support) that the Constitution lays out what the Feds can and cannot do and indicates that the individual states have rights and duties which the Feds can't touch.

I do believe that in 1861 I would have been a staunch Union man, even if my own state had been one of those to secede. I swore an oath, as did many back then, not all stayed true to that oath.

All that aside, this is a great country, these here United States, and those states should stick together through thick and thin. Tear down one piece and the whole structure might eventually collapse. And wouldn't the Commies and jihadis love that? Easier pickings for them.

Anyhoo, I regard California as being part of the United States, while Californians should decide their own destiny, it has to be as part of the U.S.A. Perhaps the multi-state solution is best. But that's for Californians to decide.

Anyhoo, I haven't had any more sleep than I had the other day so I'm still a bit at sea as to providing you folks with a semi-coherent, well thought out post. (I know, I know, when did I start doing that?)

But there's a couple of interesting posts out there regarding the subject of Cal-Exit. I need to read up more on the subject, but apparently the ee-jit who really wants California to secede now lives in Russia. Anyone know that parts of California had been colonized by Russians back in the day? Well, 'tis true. Ya gotta know your history.

While I don't always read Chicago Boyz, this recent post caught my eye. (Hat tip to Keeper of the Flame Bill Brandt over at The Lexicans, he's the one who first drew my attention, indirectly, to this site.) Another article here looks at some of the curiousness of "Cal-exit."

While some conservatives might say "Buh-bye California, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." I say, you're all welcome to leave the U.S. we'll even pay your airfare to wherever it is you want to go. And no, you can't have the land. That stays with us.

My two cents. FWIW.

Sarge, out...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


77th Bomb Squadron's B-25 Southeast of Attu Island, Alaska, 1943 Photo Courtesy of Army Air Corps
So I woke up the other day convinced that H. L. Mencken had been killed in the crash of a B-25 Mitchell. Along with somebody else who I actually know but won't name here as he's still alive and well, last I checked.

The dream felt very real, when I woke up it took a few moments to realize that it had been a dream.

While I did know who H. L. Mencken was (and no, he didn't die in a plane crash, or aircraft "mishap" as we used to say in Uncle Sam's Aerial Follies, he died in his sleep at the age of 75, way back in 1956) I had no idea why I had a dream with him in it. Well, not "in" it per se, but he was mentioned.

So of course, after regaining my wits (such as they are) I went to my trusty cell phone and, of course, Googled Mr. Mencken. Apparently he's a rather quotable fellow.

So, because I am exhausted, AND my post from yesterday was (to me anyway) semi-coherent, AND because I was a bit snappish in the comments, I realize that attempting to write anything which might possibly make sense might well be futile. So, here are a few of Mr. Mencken's quotes, for your edification and enjoyment -
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
Now, I don't really agree with all of those, but I can't say I disagree either.

That second one is used by a blogger I read from time to time, I just can't remember who right now. (For what it's worth, I have my driver's license in front of me so that I'll remember who I am. Yes, I am that tired.) If someone would refresh my memory on that, I'd be much obliged.

Here's an actual conversation I had with The Nuke the other day, who is very concerned that with The Missus Herself being away, there is a perceived danger that I will no longer be quite house broken when Mama returns to Chez Sarge.

TN: "So Dad, have you gone feral yet?"

YHS: "Why yes, yes I have. Right now I'm running through the woods clad in naught but a loin cloth carrying a flint tipped spear of my own making."

TN: "While talking on your cell phone..."

YHS: "You'd be surprised how good the reception is in this part of the forest."

And people wonder why I haven't been put in a home yet...

I'm off to bed, I really need the sleep.

Y'all talk among yourselves...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Last Good War

General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with paratroopers of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, shortly before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. (US Army Photo)
Over the weekend I started watching Band of Brothers, again. I'm not sure how many times I've watched it before. At least twice from start to finish and certain episodes I've watched more than that. In my estimation it is perhaps the best, and most accurate, depiction of World War II in Europe. At least from the standpoint of the airborne.

For those of you not familiar with this mini-series from HBO, the ten episodes are based on the book of the same title by Stephen Ambrose. The book, and the series, follows one company, Easy, of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. From the days of their initial training at Camp Toccoa in Georgia to the immediate aftermath of the end of the war in Europe, we follow these men through the war.

After I watched the first two episodes on Saturday last, I found I just could not continue. The emotions I was feeling were, to say the least, overwhelming.

Many of the men portrayed in the series, like most of their generation, have passed away. Some died during the war, some died afterwards but before the making of the series, and some of those interviewed at the beginning of each episode have since passed.

As has the guy I first watched the series with, my Dad.

But beyond all that, one thought I had on Sunday as I watched a few more episodes was this, was World War II the last "good" war? And what do I mean by that?

World War II was fought against a cruel and evil regime in the case of Nazi Germany. The Japanese Empire was  also cruel, and certainly demonstrated a great capacity for evil. No one can argue that the Nazis were not evil. When your stated goal is to destroy an entire group of people, the Jews, how can you be anything but evil? (That particularly virulent disease has yet to be eradicated from the world. The Israelis are still fighting for survival, every day.) With the Japanese, their evil was more casual than it was calculated. Which is almost worse. Yes, their culture was, and is, very different from ours, but they must have known how we would perceive their actions. They just didn't care.

And Bataan will not be forgotten by those who remember such things. (God forbid we ever forget.)

We were attacked, yes, though there was some provocation on our part towards Japan, but that was mostly due to their actions in China. Japanese actions in China were pure evil. As the people of Nanjing could attest to.

So there you have it, a vast struggle against great evil. I also know that one of our Allies exhibited as much evil as the Nazis. Communism is on a par with National Socialism, as to who was more evil, Hitler or Stalin? Take your pick. But as Churchill famously put it, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."

Germany and Japan had to be defeated immediately, Stalin and his evil minions would have to wait.

So in those terms it was a good war, a necessary war. The country was united as never before and has not been since, not even after 9-11 were Americans so ready to step up and do their part.

Now Korea was, in my mind, a good war, a necessary war, but it was made necessary by stupid political statements as to the United States' defensive perimeter (which an idiot Secretary of State outlined in a speech and which did not include Korea), perhaps making the Communists think they could get away with it. Also they thought that as the U.S. had done virtually nothing to prevent Mao from taking over in China, why would we fight for Korea?

We did though, with one hand tied behind our backs due to the possibility of a wider war against the Russians. We were fighting the Chinese, just not "officially" I guess, letting those bastards pretend that the Chinese troops fighting in Korea were volunteers. Anything to avoid another world war I suppose.

Vietnam remains a mystery to me. The politicians demonstrated, once again, that they know nothing of war. Doesn't matter the nationality, politicians, once war is decided (which is their job) should let the soldiers fight it. But they don't, they meddle, they send "messages."

And soldiers die.

While we were in Vietnam for the right reasons, we certainly didn't act like we knew what we were doing.

Desert Storm? Fought for oil, pure and simple. Yes, Saddam should have stayed out of Kuwait, didn't belong to him. So we went in, kicked his ass, then left him in power. I blame Colin Powell for that. I did at the time, I still do. Bad advice in my opinion.

So we had to go back. And we're still there.

Afghanistan? Another bad idea.

Libya, Egypt, and now Syria. Is our goal to piss off the entire Middle East? Intervention in those areas was a very bad idea. A criminally stupid idea.

What's the goal? How do you define victory? If you can't define what victory is in concrete terms, then you have no business expecting American troops to go there and bleed for some nebulous concept of turning those folks into democrats or republicans. Our way of government isn't for everyone.

There are days when our way of government isn't fitting any more for certain elements of our own society. Some idiots out there still think socialism works.

Some of those fools need to visit Venezuela.

So yes, World War II was the last "good" war. I have no idea what the next one will be like, Hell we're still in the middle of the one which started back in 2001. Which is maybe simply a continuation of the first Gulf War.

I don't know. Only time will tell.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Take your seats!

Mrs Juvat were having our little "reconnect" time Thursday night as I was cooking dinner.  We were sipping a nice little Montepulciano to grease the skids into the weekend.  With State required testing going on, and the summer approaching (our busiest time of the year, what with the teachers and students gone, we've got all the big projects to get done), "us" sometimes requires a little work.

So, we did a little "how'd your day go?" and during the "what's on tap for tomorrow?" portion, she brings up our guests for the weekend asked for an early check in. I asked her what she said.  She replied they could check in after 1PM.

I asked why she picked that time.  She looked puzzled.  I explained, why not just say "You're welcome to check in whenever you get here."  We don't have an elaborate check in procedure.  Open the unlocked door, step inside, hopefully "ooh" and "ahh" a bit, put your bags in the rooms, pick up the key from the table and begin your stay.

Since we didn't have guests the evening before and the place was cleaned and ready for guests, we incurred no cost whatsoever in telling them that.  More importantly, we extended a courtesy to them that would enhance their enjoyment of their stay and might just lead to a return reservation or, even better, good word of mouth.

Every once in a blue moon, I get something right.

Good shootin' juvat! Don't get cocky

Thinking about that episode about customer satisfaction lead me to the thinking (ok, visceral reaction) behind this post.

"What the firetruck is going on with the airline industry specifically and customer service in general?

United Airlines?  Talk about taking a pistol, pointing it at your foot and squeezing the trigger. (No, that analogy isn't correct, "talk about taking a Vulcan 20mm cannon, pointing it at your foot and squeezing off all 940 rounds" That's better.)  Good Lord!


They have a full flight (not overbooked and that's while they'll lose the case, guaranteed) and decide they need to kick 4 already seated customers  off the plane to make room for some employees that need to be at a different airport.

Evidently, company procedures give priority to the employees over the customers.

You all know the rest of the story.  One of the "chosen" gets his face bashed in and dragged off the flight.  Video is available to the one person on the planet that still hasn't seen it.

I've read all the quibbling in the commentary about "you can't refuse the orders of the flight crew", "It's in the legal wording of the travel document"  blah, blah, frickin' blah.

You can't beat up (or have someone beat up) one of your customers for a mistake you made.  Not unless you want that customer to own your airline and not if you expect other people making travel decisions to choose other means of transportation other than your airline.

But, hey, they doubled down on their error by pointing out that the guy traded drugs to get his jollies.

Completely irrelevant (and also not known by United or its employees at the time).

So, that's strikes one and two against United.

Strike three occurs a few days later.  A couple gets on the flight from Houston to Costa Rica for their honeymoon.  They go to their seat and since this is the continuation of an existing flight, there are already passengers on board.

As they get to their seat, the see someone sleeping stretched out over the entire row.  They elect to choose another empty couple of seats on the half filled flight.  The flight attendant asks them if they are in their assigned seats.  They say no and explain the circumstances, she tells them they must take their assigned seats.  They ask for an upgrade and are denied.  No place I've read indicate they were argumentative, however a US Marshal gets on board and escorts them off the jet.

Strike three, United.

But, then, their biggest competitor, evidently decides that bad publicity is better than no publicity and gets in the act.

A lady gets on the plane with 2 babies and a stroller.  There doesn't appear to be video of the initial portion of the spectacle, but the lady gets hit in the head with the stroller.

Yeah, I got it.  The stroller has to be in checked, or gate checked, baggage.  The audio of the lady indicates she probably wasn't a native English speaker, so she may not have understood the problem.

Instapundit summed it up perfectly today "I’m not sure what additional facts might come out that would make hitting a woman with a stroller okay."

Other people were criticizing the guy that got up and stood up to the steaming pile of fecal matter dressed in an airline uniform.

Meekly sitting there and not "interfering with the flight crew" is exactly how these wannabe dictators get to act like that.  I would hope I stood up also, and, Please Lord, put me on that jury.  "Not Guilty!"

Does anyone understand customer service anymore?

Richard Branson said "“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”. I agree.

If true, United, and now evidently American, must really treat their employees unbelievably well /sarc.  The Doctor didn't want to get off the airplane, but apparently the other 3 actually deplaned.  There's not a spare jumpseat for the employee to ride?  I don't think they even tried.  They just KNEW they were in the right and this impudent pipsqueak must be taught to obey their "Authority"

The Honeymooners, did they not know that by purchasing the cheap seats, they had given up all rights to be treated as a human being?

"Of course, you may not move to an open seat.  That seat must remain empty as it was not ticketed.  We will incur extra costs if you move, and ...and....and... you must respect our authority!"

Good Lord, people!  "The guy's sleeping in your whole row?  It's your honeymoon?  Yeah, just take any seat, they're all going to arrive at the same time."  

How much would that have cost United? It's not like they tried to move up to First Class.

That little act of human kindness might have bought United a bit of loyalty in the purchasing of their next ticket.  As it is, I'm sure the Doctor and the Honeymooners will use the ABFU** method of travel planning in the future.

American's situation, while every bit as heinous and a direct result of existing policies that don't reflect customer satisfaction as a priority, was at least handled better.  The employee was suspended (hopefully upside down by his toes) and the family's trip was upgraded to first class.  That's all well and good, but after the fact.  Again, IMHO it's doubtful that family will be booking American for future trips. A policy review, followed by training and a restructuring that pushes decision making and authority as far down the chain as possible are all called for (at both companies).

The really sad part about this is it's no different in many other areas.  Employees treat customers as a distraction at best and an imposition otherwise.  Folks, if your business doesn't have customers, you don't have a business.  Just because the IRS can get away with that business model, doesn't mean you have the law enforcement assets to make your business work like they do.

We had already booked a flight on United for the end of June before these debacles happened.  It may be our last flight on that airline.  We'll see.

*Adaptation of a quote from a movie.
**Anyone but (fill in the F) United.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gray Day. Gray Thoughts.

Though the gardens are starting to blossom and color is bursting forth, we have had a lot of wet, gray days as of late. Well, it is spring, it's only April, 'tis to be expected. Can't have those May flowers without those April showers.

But this is the third weekend that The Missus Herself has been away and damn it, I miss her. Sure the cats are good company, but brilliant conversationalists they're not. Well, I'm not either, perhaps that's why we all miss her. But missing the love of my life isn't the only reason I'm feeling a bit down today.

Yesterday's post with those pictures from Frost of Pensacola was a great deal of fun to put together. After all, I get to look at all the aircraft pictures first. But it reminded me of just how long ago my baby girl got her wings.

Nine years.

Now that phase of her life is over and she's moving on to newer things. While she won't be wearing a flight suit and strapping on an F/A-18F anymore, she's still involved in Naval Aviation. Working in the sim out at NAS Lemoore. So far it sounds like a great job, and the pay ain't half bad as well. I'm tempted to head out there myself, but I'm a New Englander born and bred, so I guess I'll stick around.

I am a bit jealous though.

I used to wonder what was next. Now I know what's next, retirement. No new careers to pursue, just looking for the chance to "down tools" and enjoy life. Spoil the grandkids, that kind of thing. First though, gotta pay off the mortgage and clear a few other debts, a couple of years should do it.

At least work keeps my mind busy while my missus is out west, doing what she has always done, support our kids. I'm glad she's of a mind to do so. She's a good Mom. Pretty fine wife as well.

So, it's me and the cats and time to curl up with a good book.

It's a gray day and I'm feeling a bit down.

Hopefully it will be sunny tomorrow. The plants might need the rain, but my morale needs the sun.

This too shall pass.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NAS Pensacola

It was a while ago, that day back in '08 when a young LT(JG) got her wings of gold. Your Humble Scribe and The Missus Herself were on hand for the occasion and, if you look real close out the window over our heads, we're being "photo bombed" by an F/A-18 Hornet wearing the colors of the Blue Angels. (Excuse the fuzzy scratchy-look of the photo, it's a photo of a photo. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...)

I have often had the itch to head back down to sunny Pensacola and revisit that place. Because, and you may know this already, Naval Flight Officers receive their wings of gold in the atrium of the National Naval Aviation Museum. (Which you can take a virtual tour of here. I highly recommend you do so. We'll wait right here until you get back. Cool, neh?)

I should also note that the atrium has, hanging overhead, four full-size A-4s in Blue Angel livery in the beautiful diamond formation. It's pretty cool.

Anyhoo, a buddy of mine (let's call him "Frost," which, in truth, is his name, or part of it anyway) was down in Pensacola over the Easter weekend. As he likes to do from time to time, he sends me pictures of really cool stuff. This time was no exception. He also suggested that I might share those photos with you. So, here we go.

Did I forget to mention that the Blues were practicing when he was there?

Well, they were and lucky us, he took those two photos above for our viewing pleasure!

Hey! Who let the Air Force in? Oops, never mind, that's a Flying Tiger P-40, so technically not an Air Force bird...

Hey Murph! He even got a Corsair for you!

Somewhere, deep in the archives of The Chant, I have a picture of myself with that Phantom. I'll get the staff to dig it up. What? I gave the staff the weekend off? Okay, perhaps I need to go find it myself...

One thing that I did not know when I was down there, is that there is this, out back of the museum -

Google Maps
Those are birds waiting to be refurbished and put on display (so we all hope). I see a Tomcat, some P-3s, a Neptune, a couple of C-130s (including Fat Albert's daddy, the Hercules in Blue Angel colors top left), I see Stoofs (Grumman E-1s), I see a "Stoof with a Roof," (WF-2 Willie Fudd, an E-1 with a radome on top), a C-47, some cool helos, a few Scooters and all sorts of wonderful stuff. Including these two -

Loves me some PBY! And his little buddy, the PV-2 Harpoon -

Rockets and machine guns, oh my!

Other cool stuff which (I hope, I hope) will be restored someday.

Hey, Shaun might recognize that last one!

Whoa! Is that a pirate I see?

Why yes, yes it is. A Vought F6U Pirate that is.

And that googly-eyed guy, what is that?

Wow, 'tis a CH-37C Mojave in HMRM-461 (Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461) colors!

Last, and most certainly not least, an RF-4B of VMFP-3, Marine Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron 3. No such thing as too many Phantoms, even if she is a recce bird. (When I was on Okinawa we had an entire squadron of RF-4Cs. I liked them because I didn't have to work on them. No weapons system. Yeah, the guys who flew those has brass ones. Clangers.)

So, nice huh? Now what do we say class?

Thank you Mister Frost!!

Yes, thanks indeed!