Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mystery Solved, and Other Nonsense

So, I have often mentioned the twits, er spammers, who leave ridiculous comments on old posts, which automagically go into moderation. I have often pondered into the wee hours of the night, just what the point of doing that is. Well, seems they ain't so stupid after all. Not calling them smart, just acknowledging that there is a method to their madness. Go, RTWT*, I'll wait here.
Along with each of these comments, the commenter included a URL link to some web site. The URL in a typical spam comment links to a web site that advertises cheap "name brand" merchandise, Russian brides, or get-rich-quick schemes. The spammers get paid for each link that they can successfully embed somewhere on the web, such as on my blog. As you might know, internet search engines use the number of "incoming links" as a measure of how important a web site is, and therefore how high it should appear in the search results. The goal of the blog spammer is to embed many links in many blog articles so that internet search engines rank their sponsoring web site highly when someone searches for something like "cheap viagra." (Source)
Kind of interesting. Now if they only had a method of detecting when a site has moderation for old stuff turned on. So they would LMTFA.** Though some of those comments are, at best, slightly amusing.

So yes, another mystery solved. Now if I could just figure out why Blogger occasionally eats perfectly good, non-spam, FDA-approved comments. Alas, some things will ever remain beyond our ken.

Alright, so much for the mystery, on to the other nonsense...

The President's signaling of an intent to issue an Executive Order to end "birthright citizenship." Which probably will run afoul of the Supremes, as Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states -
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Pedia of Wiki has this tidbit -
The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Arguably one of the most consequential amendments to this day, the amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, including those acting on behalf of such an official.
The amendment's first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship, nullifying the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had held that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. The Privileges or Immunities Clause has been interpreted in such a way that it does very little. (Source)
(I added the bold text, just in case you're wondering.) So yeah, that amendment was basically added to correct an earlier mistake by the Supremes. One of the biggest problems with this amendment is that the former states of the Confederacy couldn't rejoin the Union until they ratified this amendment.

What this tells me is that the Founding Fathers were very smart guys and that most of the politicians that have followed them were mental pygmies, at best. (Can anyone here say "Prohibition," how about the direct election of Senators? I knew you could. Two very bad ideas used to "fix" problems which would have sorted themselves out over time.)

My take, "birthright citizenship" is an inherently bad idea, in these days and times. However, I don't think you can override it via Executive Order either. If you could, we wouldn't have the 2nd and we'd have a highly modified 1st (think hate speech). Article V Convention anyone? No, please, no. Let the LIVs loose on the Constitution? No, just no.

Boston Red Sox win the 2018 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers...

Now I'm not taking the credit for this, but since The Missus Herself and I moved to Little Rhody from Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the New England Patriots have won the Super Bowl (or would you prefer I called it "The Big Game" Monsieur Goodell) five times. Something they had never done before. Also, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series four times. Prior to our arrival here, the last time they had won that was 1918. Just before Kaiser Wilhelm was ousted!

As I grew up in New England, I can't really take credit for those championships, not to mention the fact that I didn't actually play on any of those teams. Perhaps it's The Missus Herself? I know she made me a winner.


So yeah, other nonsense.

Call this "The Post Where the Sarge Takes Credit, sort of, for the Success of the Patriots and Red Sox." Or something...

Oh yeah, almost forgot...

Happy Halloween!
For those who indulge in such things.

* Read the whole thing. Yes, I added it here.
** Leave me the (ahem) "fire truck" alone. Yup, added that one as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Post No. 2696, in E♭

Eight Bells - Winslow Homer
Sometimes coming up with post titles can be challenging.

So today I got clever.

Well, I thought it was clever. YMMV.

No, the painting has naught to do with the post. I just really like Winslow Homer's work.

I dumped another listing from the blogroll today. Even Lex thought the chap was slightly unhinged, but I followed the guy, retired naval officer, liked the Far East almost as much as I do. But his latest post really "jumped the shark" as far as I'm concerned. I think the dude hates being an American. I really do. So I had to let him go.

But on the bright side I added a new blog, fellow named Aaron. (Dang, does he pronounce it that way? Or is it A-A-Ron? Sorry, old Key and Peale bit.) I mean you have to love the title of his blog - Sticks, Stories, and Scotch. I think he's gonna fit in well here.

And yes, it's that easy, if you reciprocate, and you ask, and your blog is something I like to read. All ya gotta do is ask.

I don't like dumping someone from the sidebar, but damn it, I'm just about done with all the contrary types out there. I don't mind if you disagree with me (if we all thought alike, we'd be doomed, especially if everyone thought like me, I mean, who would do all the heavy lifting?) but I do mind if you decide that my opinion/Weltanschauung/what-have-you somehow makes me a lesser being. An Untermensch if you will.

A couple of times at my chosen place of worship (Baptist if you must know, but not the Southern variety, I'm not sure of the difference but there it is) our new pastor has semi gone off the rails when it comes to current events/politics.

When he does that, I try to hold my tongue (though that gets messy if I do it literally, and The Missus Herself will kick me if I do) but Sunday last I came close to losing it.

"We need to pray for our Nation, that new leaders will arise..."


Bear in mind, this was the same pastor who was offering comfort to those distressed by the results of the Presidential election. The one in 2016. Yes, the rise of the anti-Trumpites. No, seriously, I know people who were quite literally "OMG!" freaking out over that.


Okay, some people were really nervous, probably because they are fed a steady diet of lies, half-truths and fairy tales by the meejah (I have stopped capitalizing that, gave them too much gravitas it did). Both sides really, and since when does factual reporting have a side?

Well, you and I both know that it doesn't. Truth is truth, what happened happened. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and whoever holds the highest office in the land ain't the one responsible. Be it Trump or Obama.

The other day, Faithful Chanter STxAR referred to our own Beans as Señor Frijole. No, no, not this guy -

Nope, our Bean, the Chanter/Blogger guy late of Kwajalein, currently dwelling in Florida. But the Spanish moniker is rather humorous, though our own Bean has yet to chime in on that. I mean once bestowed callsigns are almost never changed unless an event of such momentousness has occurred rendering the need to convene a callsign review board. Which for we simple enlisted was our sergeant, we went by whatever he wanted to call us, which is how I received first Bambi, then Chuckles. Yes, I did know a few guys who were called Numbnuts by their respective sergeants. I dodged a bullet on that one, rather narrowly on more than one occasion.

Anyhoo, as Juvat argued, Señor Frijole is just Mr. Bean in Spanish. Believe me, the same thing in German sounds almost rude. Glad STxAR doesn't speak Deutsch! So we can run with that.

But Faithful Chanter PLQ asked how does one do the tilde thing over the "n" on a standard U. S. of A. keyboard. So, as a public service, I have published a new page for your viewing and typing in foreign languages pleasure, Alt Codes. A resource to use as you see fit. It's been in my "Draft" pages for a while, I used it occasionally, now I make it available for tout le monde. Die ganze Welt, ya know, everyone.

So in parting, I'll leave you with this as well...

Blogging ain't for the faint of heart. Hey, you come up with new material every day!

What? You do? Okay then, never mind.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to...

Monday, October 29, 2018


Yogi Berra once said "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."  Evidently he was giving directions to Joe Garagiola to follow to get to Berra's home.  That notwithstanding, I've always liked the quote in its simplicity.

Lots of Forks in the Road upcoming this week.  Indeed, a veritable plethora of forks in the road, some may even be silver (also referenced in the attribution to Berra).

The first fork deals with Mrs. J.  That lady is a smart business woman.  She's run 3 small businesses, a wine store, a wine tour company (the first in the region, now there are dozens) and a Bridal and women's wear store, all from Main Street in our little town.  She sold the first two over the years, profitably, and has been operating the latter for 5 years.

But, as the title of the post would suggest, there have been some changes lately and it's time for one of our own.

Seems there have been some large scale migrations here.  Certain states have had mass emigrations, I believe based on politics, but YMMV.  In any case, these folks move here after selling their 1200 sq ft. bungalow for a cool $1.6 million and move here to buy their dream home.  

" much are you asking for your home?"  

"$350K"  (5 years ago it would have been $200K).

"Well, I can't pay you any less than $600K"

Pause (for exactly 1.2 nanoseconds)


Which sounds like a great place to be.

If you're willing to move.

We're not.

So our property taxes go up to reflect the price of the most recent "comp".

This also happens to the buildings on Main St.  The owners usually don't maintain a business in them themselves, instead rent them out.  Property taxes go up, guess what follows.

5 years ago, Main St was almost exclusively populated by Mom and Pop stores and had a very eclectic variety of shopping choices.  It's now mainly populated by Wine Tasting Rooms and boutique wine bars.  The feel of the town has changed and not for the better.

In this environment, Mrs J has decided to close he store.  Seems Wine Drinkers aren't all that interested in women's clothes.  More's the Pity.

The silver spoon?

She's gotten her Travel Adviser certificate and is looking at setting up Designer Vacations for people.  Those of you who've read my travelogue posts over the past few years (and enjoyed them) can credit that to Mrs J.  She did all the planning and coordinating.

She's going to do fine.

Fork # 2

Tuesday, we become official "empty nesters".  While MBD and Little Juvat left for college in '07 and 02 respectively, one or the other always seemed to migrate home on a regular basis.  With MBD's wedding in July, she's wrapped up with that.  Seems to want to spend a lot of time with him rather than us.

Wanting Grandchildren, we're encouraging that.

Little Juvat is doing well in his career and has completed two tours in the Sandbox, solo.  While he was doing his bit for "God and Country, the DIL elected to move here and teach school.  While Little Juvat was on his first tour, she experienced an unnecessary tragedy which took a while to recover from emotionally.  We filled the parent role during the recovery process.  We got pretty used to her coming over for dinner and stuff. It also prevented "empty nest syndrome" from setting in.

But Little Juvat and she are deploying back to the sandbox, albeit a somewhat less unfriendly area than his last posts, and which, obviously, allows dependents to accompany.

So, Mrs J and I will be empty nesters and given that she will be working from home vice having a place of business, face time between us will be greatly enhanced.

Which is a polite way of saying, the honey-do list will be 1) long and 2) supervised.

So....I've got that going for me.

Fork #3

Wednesday, I will put my papers in.  No turning back, sink or swim.  Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.

That will give them 2 months to find a replacement.

Hope it goes better than the launching of the Principessa Jolanda.

So, 3 forks in the road.  All, or none, could be silver.  Just takes a little elbow work to find out.

But there will be changes.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Movies and Other Things

When I first saw the trailer for The Foreigner, of course I was immediately interested, I'm a big fan of Jackie Chan. This film seemed out of the ordinary for him, which made it all the more interesting. Also there aren't all that many films where guys in their 60s are plausible stars in action films. Jackie Chan is one of the few, he's always done his own stunts. In this film, with one exception, he continued to handle the rough stuff himself.

It's a dark film, make no mistake. Anything involving bombings and the Irish Republican Army tends to be. I won't give away any spoilers, but the film brought out some strong emotions in me. It's well made, Mr. Chan does a great job of playing an aging guy who still has the moves, even if he's a step or two slower with age.

See it.

Every now and then, well okay, a couple of times, another blogger will leave a comment with a "Hey, could you add me to your blog roll?" with a link to his/her blog. Unless the blog is absolute crap, I usually do. (Those absolute crap links? Those are usually left in spam comments which you readers, fortunately, never see.)

Anyhoo, I got one of those today. At first I was going to just delete the comment, but not permanently, just leaving the infamous Comment deleted note with my snarky response. Then I thought, why bother. It's like wrestling with a pig, you get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

So whammo, I blasted the whole thing into the bit bucket. Gone, history, it's an ex-comment, and I didn't even bother nailing it to the perch.

Odd thing, and the thing that really pissed me off, is that the chap left a comment which was a link to "his" latest post and asked "Hey, can you add me..." blah, blah, blah. Well, Einstein had left that sort of comment before, I checked out the blog, wasn't disgusting or weird or anything, so I says to meself (the first time), "Ah, what the Hell..." I added him to the blog roll.

But asking a second time? When he'd never checked to see if maybe he had already been added? When the chap obviously never read my post, and a check of his place  revealed that he had not participated in blog roll reciprocity, a simple courtesy, enraged me. Irked me it did. The bollocks of this fellow. So I deleted the comment, and the link to his blog. Which I won't bother to mention. His blog fu is weak. Very weak.

If you want a link, give a link. And at least read the damned post!


Wet and cold here in the 401. Seems we're having a bit of a nor'easter. So yeah, it's windy too. A good day to vegetate. So I did.

Got some drum time in though, my two left hands and two left feet have started to resolve into their proper left and right roles, but I'm still deuced awkward at it. I can keep a decent beat for a few minutes then I'll cross sticks or miss a cymbal and it becomes a complete dog's breakfast.

Practice, practice, I tell myself.

Silence, silence, The Missus Herself pleads. But even she might have to admit, I'm getting a bit better. Or as I like to say, I don't completely suck.

She might even agree.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Time Travel

The Missus Herself and I had the occasion to head north for my Mom's birthday a couple of weeks ago. At the time I was still monocular of vision so m'lady was handling the driving chores. Gave me the chance to see more of the countryside than I normally do when making that trip. Through necessity, while driving I tend to pay more attention to the traffic and the road itself than I do the scenery.

This year the foliage, for which so many leaf peepers flood the northern parts of New England at this time of year, wasn't as nice as it sometimes is in mid-October. For instance, there are three to five big maples at this one bend of the road as one travels up Route 12 towards Bellows Falls, town of my birth, which turn a magnificent gold color in some years. This year, they were a faded green. They may not change much at all this year. It happens like that.

Growing up on a hillside in Vermont, with numerous hills and a distant mountain on view outside my window, I have to admit, there were years I took the magnificent display of autumn colors for granted.

That's the ancestral dwelling of my clan. I was raised in that house which my brother, The Olde Vermonter, now calls home. My Dad built that stonewall, our cat Tommy, black as night, would sit on that corner of the wall in the foreground to the left of the telephone pole and wait for us to come home on those days we visited my grandparents.

As we'd come onto our street (at the bottom of the hill in the photo above, typically at night), we could see Tommy's eyes glowing from the headlights of Dad's car. He'd wait until we drove by and into the driveway before he would run to greet us. That cat was dog-like, some would say, in his devotion to his human family. While I'll be the first to admit that not all cats exhibit that sort of behavior, the ones I've lived with always seemed to.

But as you can see, I grew up surrounded by trees. As I said, some years the magnificence of the view from our front window was taken for granted. But every now and then, you'd just stop, look out over the hills and it would take your breath away. The golds, the deep reds, the lighter shades of red, contrasted with the dark green of the fir trees and pines, made a young lad feel good to be alive.

Some years it would be like this...
...and some years the colors were more muted.
The opening photo, taken in Winchendon, Massachusetts, is a town about 100 miles north of where I live now. We always pass through there going to Mom's and returning home again. I remember going through Winchendon as a child, probably when we would head to Massachusetts to visit friends of my parents who lived in Sudbury. The first time I went through Winchendon after retiring from the Air Force, I noted that the rocking horse was still there. But it seemed different. Through the magic of the Internet, I found this -
Morton E. Converse started his business career in Converseville, New Hampshire, manufacturing acids. In 1873, he purchased a nearby mill to make wooden products. Apparently he started making toys there, but soon teamed with Orland Mason of Winchendon to form the Mason & Converse Company, which lasted until 1883. Converse then partnered with his uncle, Alfred C. Converse, and Converse Toy & Woodenware Company was formed. In 1887, the company changed its name to Morton E. Converse & Company. It remained in business until 1934.

Converse made a great variety of toys, including Noah's Arks, doll furniture, kiddie riding racers, hobby horses, floor whirligigs, drums, wagon blocks, building blocks, pianos, trunks, ten pins, farm houses, and musical roller chimes. Such a large number of toys were made in Winchendon that it became known as Toy Town.

The original Giant Rocking Horse was built in 1912 by Morton Converse. The 12-foot grey hobby horse was named Clyde, and made from nine pine trees. It was a copy of the company’s #12 rocking horse. In 1914, Clyde entered the local parade to celebrate the town’s 150th anniversary. Clyde was moved to the railroad station for about 20 years. Then in 1934, he moved to the edge of the Toy Town Tavern for about 30 years. After that, he was put in storage and fell into disrepair. A replica, Clyde II, was sculpted in 1988 using the original as a model. He is now on display in a covered pavilion. (Source)
Never knew his name was Clyde.

Heading up north to visit the family is a lot like time travel. In Winchendon there is a McDonald's where we always stop for a break on the trek north. One year, when heading home for Christmas, we brought our cat Pat along. He rode in his carrier in the back with the girls and was content. He'd always protest for the first few miles, but then he'd settle down and enjoy himself.

When we stopped at that McDonald's that Christmastime, I went in to acquire some beverages for the tribe. I remember that there was fresh snow on the ground, it was cloudy and cold. There was a hint of more snow to come, perhaps later that day. As I walked out to the car, I could see that the girls had let Pat out of his carrier and he was sitting in the back window of our little Hyundai, just watching the world go by.

Now every time we stop there, I look to the spot where we parked that day, and in my mind's eye I can still see Pat in the back window, with the girls behind him, laughing with the joy of it all.

That had to be sixteen years ago. That was also Pat's very last Christmas. He was born in Germany and came home with us to New England. He only lived ten short years, but gave us all an entire lifetime of cherished memories. I can't believe he's been gone fifteen years now. Time, it flies. (I daresay I've mentioned that before.)

So going home, it's like time travel. There are shades of the people, pets, and things that once were, but are no longer. They live on though, in my mind, and in my heart. Like the river which flows to the sea, that which was is no more, yet lingers. It's different water, but it's the same river.

The Connecticut River from Route 12 in New Hampshire, that's Vermont on the other side.

No matter the changes, no matter the time which has passed, I will always remember those who have gone before, and the way things once were.

Memories, I cherish them. With my family, my wife, my children and grandchildren, we make more everyday. I am truly blessed. That, I never take for granted...

Friday, October 26, 2018

I Did Not Know That (Well, Some of it...)

Rough day, long week, I'm operating at about 25% capacity.

So yes, you get a video, "The Top Ten Battles Won in Odd Ways."

I know six of these, four I had never heard of, but need to read up on. Soldiers fighting against the odds. But like Juvat always says, these guys "Never quit, never surrender."

Fortune favors the bold.

And on an editorial note, the name of the French Marshal (not Field Marshal) who won the battle of Auerstedt is pronounced Da-voo, not Da-voh. (Les Anglais never could speak French properly.)

To steal one from Suldog, back tomorrow with, hopefully, more better stuff.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The One Ring

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Yup, big Lord of the Rings (LoTR) fan here. The books and the movies. But they have to be the Director's Cut versions of the films. Each one of those is roughly three and a half hours long, IIRC. While it's possible to watch all three in one day, though I've never attempted that, it's best spread over three days. And yes, I'm still a bit miffed that Tom Bombadil and the barrow wights didn't make it into the films.

The first one of Tolkien's books I read was The Hobbit (as an aside, didn't care at all for those movies, too long, not faithful to the book, and too long, yes, I mentioned that twice), this must have been in the early 70s. A friend of mine recommended it to me, loaned me his copy he did. I don't really remember how I got from there to the three volume series, but it happened in the early 70s for sure. Frodo lives and all that.

The first film in Peter Jackson's trilogy based on LoTR came out in 2001, The Naviguesser was home (it was his first year in the Navy) and the whole family headed off to the theater to watch The Fellowship of the Ring, the name of the first book and the first film. We went shortly after Christmas, not long after the film came out.

After that, for the next two years, we would go to another LoTR film. Walking out of the third film, we all felt a bit like, "Man, that was the last one. What are we gonna do next year?"

It had become a short-lived family tradition to go to a LoTR film. Okay, it was only for three years, but after the first one, we couldn't wait for the next. I think I wanted to rush right out and buy the first film on DVD, but the progeny talked me out of it.

"Just wait Dad, wait until all three come out on DVD. Then we'll wait for the Director's Cut versions. Then we'll binge watch all three!"

Yes, we did that. The Missus Herself thought we were all nuts. She sees no need to watch a film, or read a book, more than once. "What? Weren't you paying attention the first time?" Mind like a steel trap that lady. (And I'm the one always stepping in it!)

I've read the books many times, though to be honest, I skipped trying to read the Elvish poetry after the first. Each time I found another facet of the story that I had missed before. I have a fascination with these type of stories, the End of Days genre if you will. When all seems lost a free people will arise and preserve what they can. But each time, something is lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien knew this, he had seen the horror of the trenches in World War I, the West had survived, not triumphed, simply survived. We managed, as a species, to survive the horror that was World War II, though millions perished. Something again was lost, never to be recovered.

To my way of thinking, Mordor is on the march once more. There are those among us who seek to rule us all, through outright lies, false promises, and dreams of "free stuff." We have to guard against the evil which stalks the planet, and always has. Someday the final victory will come.

But we're not there yet. And yes, I associate socialism with the One Ring.

The opening scene of the first film still sends shivers down my spine.

Keep your guard up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Time and Tide Wait for No One...

'The Boneyard Project: Return Trip' was created by Eric Firestone and used retired military aircraft from Tucson scrapyards as canvasses for contemporary artists. This ex US Navy C-117D Super Dakota became 'Time Flies By' by How & Nosm. US Navy serial 17102, c/n 43330. Converted from C-47A Skytrain '42-100804' c/n 11888. The exhibition is housed by the Pima Air & Space Museum. Tucson, Arizona, USA. 10-2-2014 (Source)
Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!*

Been out of sorts lately, maybe it's the eye tribulations, maybe it's the steroid drops for that eye, I'm not the patient type. I keep wondering when that eye is going to be "all better now." The Missus Herself, who pays attention to such things, told me that the Doc said that it could take up to a year before it's fully healed. Or it could happen sooner.

A year.

But it beats no vision at all, I'll take that. Prior to the surgery that eye really bugged me, some days I could see just fine, others, not so much. Still and all, the consulting Doc did say that in 20% of cases, the eye doesn't get better at all.

Argh! (Channeling my inner pirate. Or Popeye, if you will. Muesli indeed! Which I think should be The Chant battle cry. Juvat's mileage might vary. JMMV.)

Anyhoo. Had a wicked bad night of sleep Monday last. Yup, slept like a baby, woke up every couple of hours fussing and whining. Finally said "zum Teufel" and got up at 0530. Which these days is indeed the proverbial "butt crack of dawn," as The WSO would put it. So naturally the work day felt like 12 hours, but wasn't really. Time did not fly on Tuesday.

It's been a strange couple of weeks, bizarre dreams, such as driving to work and hitting every single car coming from the opposite direction (the direction the left eye is responsible for). Dreaming of people that I haven't seen in years, thinking of aging and what lies at the end of the road.

I don't so much worry about myself as I do about others. As I age so do my friends and my family, every time I hear The Missus Herself cough or sneeze I ask, "Are you okay?" Which I think she might find a tad annoying from time to time.

"Yes, I'm fine, quit asking."


Heard on Tuesday that Lex's little dog Gus crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the past few days. Oddly enough I had been thinking of that wee dachshund over the weekend. I knew that he must have been getting long in the tooth, it's been six years since Hizzoner passed through the veil. Time flies, I don't care what the theoretical physicists say.

Death, it's part of life, but it still sucks.

I'm sure Lex is glad to see you little guy.

* From Rock Me to Sleep By Elizabeth Akers Allen
The lead in photo is apropos of "not much." But it's kinda cool, like something Tuna would find.
If this post seems somewhat incoherent, well, so am I.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


No, I don't know what all of those symbols are. Let's get that out of the way right up front. The only social media I use on a regular basis is Facebook, it's a pretty good way to keep in touch with the kids without running up a phone bill. (Is that even a thing anymore?)

I have a Twitter account, I think I've used it less than 20 times. It's basically there so I can "follow" people, read their tweets, some of 'em are pretty hilarious. It's also fun to hear how the Prez's latest tweet has made heads explode. But maybe that's just me.

I've been awfully ill-tempered as of late, I blame the steroids I drip into my eye thrice a day. But those are almost gone, so next week I'll blame a lack of sleep, or the never ending political ads which seem to be everywhere. (Yes, Facebook, I'm looking at you too.) Soon that will pass, 6th of November, neh?

Anyhoo, Facebook. While I enjoy it most of the time, I've noticed lately that there is a certain type of person on Facebook who just has to comment on everything. What, a simple "like," "laugh," "love," "wow," "sad," or "mad" just not expressive enough for you?

One of my favorites is something my fellow veterans do, and yes, I'm guilty of it from time to time. Bitching about the state of "today's" military. Uniforms, attitudes, training, and the like were all better/smarter/tougher in "my day." Maybe they were, maybe they weren't.

I'm sure the Roman legionaries who left the legions before the Marian reforms were instituted whined about how "soft" the new legionaries had it. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (And yes, I'm going to make you look "Marian reforms" up yourselves. Like I said, ill-tempered.)

Also, I get a kick out of the "if you remember this, like it and share it!" Which I don't. My account is where chain messages, lists, and "share this" memes come to die. Do you really think that you will go to Hell if you don't type "Amen" and share every Jesus-meme which comes over your feed?

Nope. Not gonna happen.

Occasionally someone will do one of those "about me" lists, which can be kind of fun. But share those on Facebook? Nah, not when I can get a blog post out of it. (If you go through the archives, a post or three exists which I "stole" from Facebook. Well, the idea anyway.)

Facebook has this Messanger thingy which you can have on your phone (calm down, calm down, I have a point) which lately has been amusing in an unintended way. I received one message from a very nice looking middle-aged white woman, think someone's grandmother, with an indication of a desire to communicate with me. Facebook actually suggested that this was a bad idea, as the phone message originated in Nigeria from an account created that very day. No, I didn't answer it.

Happened again a day later, from a guy I'd served with in the Air Force. I thought it odd that he was in Nigeria. Also that we'd been friends for a while on Facebook, yet his account had been created that very day. A lot of people think they've been "hacked" when that happens. Only sort of, hacking is way more sophisticated than that. What these assclowns are doing is copying someone's profile photo and using that to create an account, often using the same name as the account they copied, or cloned if you will. (A term some have used but isn't really accurate in computer terms.)

After they do that, they start messaging all of the "cloned" account's friends list. People respond, and the mess spreads. Stop the mess, don't respond to odd messages, never copy something and send it to all of your friends. Ever.

Anyhoo, I use Messanger on my phone because it's easy to stay in touch with people without giving one's phone number away. Not that every scammer on the planet doesn't already have my number. Oh, that "No Call List"? Yup, kind of a waste of time. Most scammers ignore it because they know most people won't report it. Also, it was a program set up by Congress. Just how effective have they been over the past couple of decades? If your answer was, "Not very," you get my point.

At any rate, I am getting tired of some of the crap on Facebook, even from some of my friends, who I won't mention, who should know better.

But hey, it's the easiest way to get pictures of my grandkids. So there.

I've got that going for me.

But hey, how about those ridiculous uniforms the [insert your service here] are wearing these days? Why I remember when all we had was a loincloth and sandals. Dammit. If it was good enough for us back then, it should be good enough for the young whippersnappers these days.


Monday, October 22, 2018


Much like Sarge, last week was back to the grind week for me.  Unlike him however, I am returning from a very nice two week vacation at various ports in the Canadian Southeast and American North East.  Sarge, during this time, was practicing for Halloween where he's going trick or treating as Popeye.  Muesli indeed!

In all seriousness, he's doing much better and we had a great, albeit short, time with them.

I'm also not going to regale you with how the shortened work week went when I returned to the saddle. (But...since you asked.  Fine actually, we had a team discussion on what they did not have appropriate permission levels to handle things while I was gone.  So an appropriate dry run for something that occurs in 40 work days.)

Nope.  It's another travelogue.

Hello....Anybody still there?

One of the things I really like about traveling with my wife and our friends (aka The Pharmacists) is we plan the trip, but that plan isn't set in concrete.  We do quite a bit of wandering around. That has led us to some spectacular discoveries over the years.

And it didn't fail us this trip either.

Our primary objective on our stop in Halifax was to take a "foodie" tour of the town, which we did, but that started in the afternoon.  To occupy the morning, we decided to hike to the Maritime Museum which was about a quarter mile from where the ship was moored.

Mrs J had heard they had a Titanic exhibit there and she wanted to see that. I was kinda "Meh" on that exhibit, but ships are cool. So....

Arrived and went through the Titanic exhibit and it was solidly ONG (Ok, Not Great).  They had an actual deck chair, but the rest was mostly models, and old photos.  

They had a fairly interesting section that talked about how they had documented the descriptions of the bodies recovered.  The result there was that many bodies were identified and returned to Next of Kin, years after the fact.  As a Data Guy, I thought that was kind of cool. YMMV.

But Mrs J and the Pharmacists were entranced by the exhibit, so I wandered on ahead after deciding on a rendezvous place.  

Well, it seems the museum was hosting a display discussing the Halifax Explosion.  Not knowing anything whatsoever about this, I went inside.  

There went the rest of the morning.

Well it seems that on December 6, 1917, two ships collided in a portion of the Halifax Harbor known as "The Narrows".  One was a Norwegian ship, the SS Imo, carrying grain to Belgium.  The other was a French ship, the  SS Mont-Blanc, carrying ammunition to Europe.
Explosion took place inside the blue rectangle

Due to a series of unfortunate events, the Imo was sailing on the wrong side of the waterway and neither Captain was willing to give way until too late.  The Imo hit the Mont-Blanc gashing her hull and splitting barrels of benzole, a highly flammable fuel.  Sparks from the collision ignited that fuel starting an uncontrollable fire.

The Captain of the Mont Blanc ordered the ship abandoned and the crew rowed to the opposite shore where all, save one, survived. The Imo was not so lucky.  Only 4 survived, two were undersea divers underneath the water.

The ship drifted up against the docks and burned for about 20 minutes.  Just enough time to allow people to come and look at it.  Unfortunately, because of security concerns to protect the ship from U-Boats, very few people knew what the cargo was.

Finally, about 9:05 in the morning, the ship exploded.  

The exhibit stated that the force of the explosion was ~3 Kilotons.  I've sat alert with weapons that are measured in Kilotons, 3Kt would not have been the smallest of them.

Virtually all structures within a half mile radius were destroyed and 1600 people killed instantaneously.


A large total, which could have...should have...would have been higher except for the actions of one man.  The ship was on fire very near the train station.  

A passenger train due to arrive during that twenty minute window.  The dispatcher Vince Coleman was one of the few who knew the cargo of the Mont Blanc and stayed at his post telegraphing messages to get that train stopped.   His last message was "Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys."

Not only did the passenger train get stopped successfully, but that was the first indication the outside world had of the disaster.  Trains from all over were rerouted immediately to Halifax to bring supplies in and wounded out.

Mr. Coleman died at his post.

In a somewhat macabre portion of the exhibit was a box with glass eyes in it.  I stopped by to see what that was all about.  Evidently, one of the more common, if survivable, injuries incurred was blindness caused by looking at the light of the explosion.   An Ophthalmologist named George Cox removed 79 eyeballs during a 48 hour period after it.

A final factoid that I found interesting was that the Mont Blanc's 1140 lb anchor was found 2.35 miles from the site of the explosion.  Gardeners in the area still routinely find pieces of broken metal from the ships while digging in their gardens.


All things I wouldn't have known if I hadn't wandered off from the group.

I found this computerized re-creation of the event educational.