Friday, November 30, 2018

La Guerre Civile

Still working on the third installment of Sarge's "Off the top of my head" History Lectures*... (Too dang busy answering comments last night!)

I want everyone here to bear in mind that I was born and raised in Vermont, if you go any further north, you're in Canada. So I was born and raised a Yankee. What, you may ask, is a Yankee? Well, this is the definition that I prefer -
  1. To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
  2. To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
  3. To northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
  4. To easterners, a Yankee is an New Englander.
  5. To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
  6. And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.
I heard a variation of that definition a long time ago. The version I heard is that the pie one had for breakfast had to be apple pie. And yes, I've done that but only when The Missus Herself isn't looking.

So I'm about as Yankee as it gets, though my brother, Ye Olde Vermonter, is even more Yankee than I. He still wears flannel shirts, chops his own wood, and talks like a Vermonter. Which is both an accent and an attitude, to wit -

Car pulls over, tourist leans out: "Say old fellow, can you tell me how you get to the local shopping plaza?"

My brother, tipping his flannel hunting hat back on his head: "Well, sometimes I walk, sometimes my sister drives me..."

And yes, that story might be apocryphal. I wasn't there, he claims it's true, though he's been known to stretch the truth from time to time.


A few more definitions are in order, for reference purposes of course -

civil- relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters. (Yeah, it can also mean courteous and polite. If you use the term "civil war," then neither courteous nor polite really apply.)

war - a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.

civil war - a war between citizens of the same country.

All that being said, it was sort of a "War Between the States," though technically it was a war between two groups of states. So I don't much care for that term. As to the "War of Northern Aggression" - we can probably debate that one from now until Kingdom Come (and yes, that was intentional) and we still wouldn't agree.

I always point to the buggers who fired the first shot when I say, "Well, you started it." The shooting bit anyway. But want to know a secret, it's always the politicians who scream for war. It's seldom politicians who do the bleeding and the dying. Part of the reason I care not for that breed.

Not to veer off on a tangent (which I love doing), while looking at Civil War** photos the other day I stumbled upon that fellow above, one Corporal Joseph Pierce, of the 14th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, born in Canton, the one in China, not the one in Ohio. You should chase this link and read more about Corporal Pierce. It's worth your while, chase the link under his photo as well. He wasn't the only man of Chinese descent to fight in the Civil War**. Chase this link to read about Thomas Sylvanus, born in Hong Kong, brought to the U.S. and enslaved in Baltimore. From said place escaping at the start of the Civil War** to join the Union Army. More on him at the link under the photo below.

There's even a blog called The Blue, The Gray and the Chinese! Hasn't been updated in a while, but it's interesting reading.

The things you learn from blogging!

* Meaning which, I don't do a lot of research before writing, picture me answering a question about a topic while sitting down, face to face, avec moi, perhaps over an adult-type beverage. Hopefully which the questioner is buying. (Hint.) Reader suggestions for future topics along these lines are welcome. Of course, the post might wind up being. "Hhmm, I know next to nothing about that." Hey, it happens.
** Insert whatever you like to call it in place of "Civil War."

Thursday, November 29, 2018

In a Festive, Though Tired, Mood...

The Christmas cactus is in full grunt, the holidays approach, and I am damned tired.

Has nothing to do with the holidays, it's the lack thereof which pains me at the moment. Work keeps my brain box hard at work, often into the night. I think too much. I think my psyche senses that we're getting close to the home stretch. The plan is for one more year in harness, then I'll put myself to pasture to write, travel, beat on the drums, and become a general man about town.

Or something.

I have an "Off the top of my head" history post brewing, about the Late Unpleasantness from 1861 to 1865. I find it incredible that so many older men still fuss about that. Not northern men mind you, but any number of my southern friends bemoan their storied past and wish it had ended differently. Puzzling to me. Then again, we won. No doubt we cheated. I'll get to that later this week.

I've been devouring Ralph Peters latest novel and am closing on Appomattox Court House very quickly.

I don't much care for Mr. Peters' views on some topics, but he writes very well. He puts you at the campfires, on the march, in the trenches, and in the surging hell of battle. This is the fifth, and last, of the series. I've read them all, highly recommend 'em.

Something I've noticed of late, hits here at the Chant on the individual posts are down by about 50%. I guess the Russian spambots are mad at me or something. Even the overall hits are down by a couple of hundred per diem from the halcyon days.

We may be down to the hard core Chanters. Or maybe this blogging thing has almost run its course. Who knows? I'm in it for the long haul. Heck, if I only have a couple of steady readers, I'll keep writing. Hey, it's free!

Found this in the archives -

That's Big Time, he's the wingman, and one of his squadron mates flying over a Dodgers game some time ago. My mother was asking if I still had that picture, and sure enough, I did. So I share it with you now. It's what I do. Sometimes. Me? Jealous? You betcha!

The WSO made these pies for the recent holiday feast.
Wish I'd been there, love pumpkin pie, love Dutch apple pie.
Heck, I just like pie.

The port we were drinking Thursday last. Yummy.
(As you can see we put quite a dent in it, and we weren't finished when I snapped the photo!)
And with that, I bid thee adieu.

I'll be back here, same time tomorrow, the Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Semi-Winterization of the Pond at Chez Sarge

Not quite the look of my frozen pond...
There was no submarine, and certainly no polar bears...
Other than that? Pretty close.
(U.S.Navy Photo by Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs)
As mentioned in the tale I bored regaled you with yesterday, The Missus Herself and Your Humble Scribe had not quite gotten around to winterizing the pond prior to the Thanksgiving festivities of Thursday last. Now normally this is a task we manage to do sometime in early November, I don't recollect ever having let it go this long, i.e. late November.

I also mentioned that it was bloody cold over the Thanksgiving holiday, as in 1° in New Hampshire, a balmy 14° here in Little Rhody. Which meant that being outside, the Pond at Chez Sarge would probably ice over in the period we were away. Which it did, to the tune of about an inch and a half of ice at the deep end. Also Manneken Pis, seen in the photo below, froze right up, his wee willie spouted not. (He did pile the ice high though, didn't he just? Note that, unlike his bronze counterpart in Brussels, our chap is made of concrete, almost stoned he is...)

Not a problem though as at the shallow end of the pond there is a waterfall. The constantly moving water kept it from freezing during the short cold snap. As the bitter cold lasted only about a day, I wasn't worried about the filter unit which resides in the ground next to the pond. It would take a lot more than one day of freezing temperatures to render the soil at Chez Sarge into something approaching the arctic tundra.

Now I had received my marching orders late on Friday (Black Friday to the shoppers in the crowd) that we would be cleaning the pond on the morrow. With a manly sigh, I accepted that it did need to be done, but I could still sleep late. Had a fine Friday eve, crashed late, awoke late as mama had fed the feline staff and was having a coffee in the dining room when I managed to stumble downstairs with all the grace of a poleaxed bullock.

"Good morning honey. What are you reading?" I asked.

"Good morning, I'm looking at an advertising circular from the Navy Exchange. Which is where I'm going after I wash up." sayeth the love of my life.

"Ah, so when you get back, we'll clean the pond?" thinking I had a few good hours of goofing off in the immediate future.

"Oh no, you need to start as soon as you've had breakfast. I won't be back until it's almost dark." sayeth the lady of the manse as she headed aloft to wash up.

I just stood there. Was this a good thing? ("He shouldn't screw it up too bad.") Perhaps a bad thing? ("He gave his mother a rough time, a little hard labor would help cure that attitude.") Maybe it was a neutral thing, division of labor and all that. She shops, I lift heavy things. The filter unit is kind of heavy and did need lifting out of its hole, so yes, I could see the logic of it. Then she called down from upstairs...

"Or you could come with me to the Exchange."

I nearly panicked, go shopping, on the weekend after Thanksgiving? No, that was not a fate I had imagined for myself. Quick, what to say, how to answer...

"No, that's okay honey. I really want to get the pond ready for winter."

She looked down the stairs at me and offered a most dazzling smile. I felt as if I had passed a test. I usually suck at those. I have spent lots of money on flowers in the past as penance for my sins. Not today! I was going to winterize the pond!

As she drove off, I headed out. I noticed that the ice on the deep end, the end which held the pump at the bottom, was really iced over.

As you can see in the photo above, I later broke out a chunk of the ice to get at the pump and noted that towards the deeper water, the ice was at least an inch and a half thick, tapering to not much by the "shoreline." (And yes, I used that photo the other day.) But at first the ice was too tough to attempt to break through and I needed to get the filter unit out first anyway. As it was warm-ish on Saturday, I figured the ice would weaken as the afternoon wore on. (Which as you can see, it did.)

Now I couldn't just go flailing away at the ice, for you see the fish were still in residence, they stay in the pond year-round, in the winter they are nearly dormant. Banging on the ice sends shock waves through the water (I learned this at pond maintenance school, no really, okay it wasn't a school, it was information online) and if y'all remember from your anti-submarine warfare days (ASW, also know as Awfully Slow Warfare), water is nearly incompressible, whereas fish are most certainly not. A big enough shock and it kills the fish. My fish. (And no Virgil, you can't go ice fishing in my pond.)

So, I had to wait. In the meantime I semi-emptied the filter unit of some really disgusting water, then got mad at it and simply yanked it from the ground. I am such a child at times. Though the filter unit had less water in it and was rather loose in its hole, it was still heavy, which I discovered when I yanked it from the ground. Though I did use my legs to lift, my back was still exceedingly pissed at me for a couple of days. Geez, I never learn.

After cleaning all of the various filter thingies within the filter unit, think little plastic spiky balls which agitate and clean the incoming water (see next photo), and large donut looking filter things which are made of some sort of foam, and which, of course, filter the water. (See the picture after the next one.)

Bioballs (no, seriously, that's what they're called)
Foam filter "donut"
Now all of those things were liberally coated with thick, disgusting smelling, slimy, green algae stuff. No, I don't know what it's really called, but it's gross, trust me. (Pond scum is another term I've heard used, though that typically floats on natural ponds. On manmade ponds it collects in the pump and in the filter units. Which need to be cleaned periodically.)

So by now, I was rather agitated and pretty gross from cleaning all that stuff. So I went over to check out the ice thickness to see if I could retrieve the pump from the murky deep. Yup, ice fractured rather well with just pushing on it, no shock waves, no dead fish. (Again Virgil, no, just no. You cannot fish in my pond.)

While all of this was going on, Mother Goose and
her goslings looked on in utter fascination.
So, there I was (not the Standard Juvat Caveat, I'm just using it in its non-military connotation), filter out, pump out, filter elements (foam donuts and spiky balls) all cleaned up, and the bubbler (a device to keep the water oxygenated) was installed and the fish slumbered away, only occasionally moving away from me and my noisome activities.

Bubbler at work
Mother Goose inspecting the result, note the fish slumbering
under the bridge. Nearby lies another section of bubbler tubing.
Which, you will note, is bubbling merrily away.
Before retiring to my bath, I decided that refreshments were in order...

Refreshments consumed (note the saw horse in the background, there is another, drying between them are a number of foam donuts held aloft on a shovel handle, drying) it was time to wash up. Though it was nigh on to 1500 local, I even shaved. It's tidy I like to be. For those worried about my safety, I only consumed one porter before attacking my whiskers with a sharp razor. I won't say how many I may, or may not, have had after my ablutions were complete. Suffice to say, I had enough to satiate my thirst. Pond ready for winter, Sarge ready for whatever.

When The Missus Herself returned to our humble abode, it was indeed dark. But the next day, on our way to church, she complimented me on a fine job. Though she did remark that before winter set in, we needed to get all of those leaves off of the bottom of the pond. The pond being only semi-winterized. Of course. Therefore I said, and you guys know the drill...

"Yes, dear."

I may have sighed, I don't really remember.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Holidays Begin...

Urkel looked at Zoger, the beasts were moving towards the trap set by the men of the clan earlier that morning. If this hunt were successful, they would have one more feast before the warm season came to an end. They would then work hard to preserve the meat and the hides for the coming winter, and they would have lots of ivory to carve and while away the days of snow and ice.

A long time ago, shortly after the glaciers had receded far into Canada and the last mammoth had been hunted down and killed, I worked in a small town about six miles to the west-southwest of my hometown.

It began as a summer job between my freshman and sophomore years in college, it became the first of the jobs I would have between departing Norwich University in the spring of 1972 and entering Colorado State University in the fall of 1983. Yup, an eleven year "break" between my first and second years of college. Which covered two civilian jobs and eight years in the Air Force.

But before I made the decision to not return to Norwich, I spent a summer at the National Survey in Chester, Vermont as a handyman/painter/garbageman/shipping specialist/landscaper. Landscaper means I cut the grass around the office building and at the homes of the three brothers who ran the place. Garbageman was every Monday, collecting the trash at the office building and at the homes of the three brothers who ran the place, and taking it to the local landfill.

I know, I know, fun times.

Google Maps Street View
The red square marks the site of the old location of the National Survey. (No, no, no, I didn't work in Red Square, just using that to mark the map. Geez, maybe I should have used a different color...) Now the red arrow in the preceding picture points to the location of the topic for today's post. In other words, what we did for Thanksgiving.

Last week (which began on the 19th of November) I was rather out of sorts. My post here, which Tuna felt he had triggered and which I assured him wasn't really the case, though his post here may have been the catalyst, but he's not to blame, I had all those emotional explosives laying around, wasn't really his fault that he lit the match which caused the loud boom in my head.


Okay, okay, okay, let's back up a bit. Like I said, the week of November 19th I was really bent out of shape over a number of things, little things really, but enough of them (mostly work-related which is a pretty good indicator of why the little voice inside my head screams, "Hey, numb-nuts, you should retire!") to cause me to go boom and realize that there is far too much negativity floating around the universe.

Okay, economic predictions never sit well with me. I remember the "crash" of I think 2008, might have been 2009, where the meejah were screaming that "things are going bad, save your money for the hard times ahead" and I could see no hard times. Business seemed good, we were busy, but the meejah kept screaming that the sky was falling. So, and this is just my observation, people stopped buying stuff, they stopped going out to eat and doing other leisurely things as "hard times are coming."

Well, guess what? If people stop buying stuff, businesses close, restaurants go out of business, people lose their jobs because of that, and voilà, suddenly times are hard indeed. Yes, I blame the herd panicking for that whole "crash." I might be wrong but when professional entrail readers, er, I mean economists, try to predict how people are going to behave, well, it sets me off ya know. Not Tuna's fault, I have never banned certain topics here at the Chant, and I was feeling rather obstreperous that week. Looking for a fight dontcha know. My bad, my apologies, mea culpa.


For Thanksgiving it had been decided by the clan up north that we would go out to eat. Something I really don't care for but understand that it's easier for those who actually have to organize and prepare Thanksgiving dinner (which I used to do on a small scale until the year I burned the mashed potatoes). I have oft been voluntold for the clean up afterwards, though not since The WSO and I spent one Christmas night doing the after Christmas Dinner cleanup with loud rock music blasting from the kitchen while The WSO and I sang along (quite badly mind you) and danced like crazy people who had somehow manage to get into the liquor cabinet (which indeed we had). So there are some in the clan who think that letting The WSO and Your Humble Scribe anywhere near the kitchen when there's booze on hand, and loud music as a possibility, is a bad idea.

A very bad idea. Perhaps they're right.


On Wednesday, the 21st of November, The Missus Herself and I loaded up The Missus-mobile and pointed the nose of the vehicle to the north, back to the home country and the tribesfolk who still dwell near the banks of the Connecticut River. (Which would be my Mom and my oldest kid brother, Ye Olde Vermonter, and his tribe.)

Within hours of our arrival at the dwelling of the matriarch, somehow politics came up. As my mother and I do not see eye to eye politically, the holiday nearly flew into a mountainside, killing all on board. That is until The Missus Herself told me to "calm the firetruck down" and I decided that my mom's views on things, in relation to mine, need not destroy the holiday season. She wouldn't budge, so I did. Essentially I "calmed the firetruck down." Eventually...

Crisis narrowly averted, and yes, The Missus Herself has commented, more than once, that I, "can be an asshole at times." Um, well, yes, yes I can. Though I try hard not to be. I tell you, last week was a bad one for me. But after a lot of porter and port on Thanksgiving Day itself, I felt much better. But I'm getting ahead of myself, a danger when I often have no idea where I'm going but "damn it, we're making good time."

So for dinner Friday night, Mom made a favorite dish of mine, meatloaf, and we avoided discussions of current affairs and we all had a good time, that night before Thanksgiving. Now Thanksgiving Day itself, while nice, was also bloody damned cold. I mean single-digit-and-dontcha-know-the-wind-is-blowing-as-well cold. Snow, did I mention that New Hampshire had snow? Lots of snow? Well, yes, yes, it did.

As we headed north (to back up a bit) we noticed that as we passed Worcester (pronounced "Wuster" as I am led to believe) we were seeing more and more snow. In the area of Winchendon, also in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we noticed that a lot of the white stuff was fresh, as in "it stopped snowing an hour before you got here" fresh.

So Thanksgiving Day, snowy and cold. Bitter cold what with the wind howling down from Canada, no, I'm not blaming the Canadians for the cold, well, okay I am, a little.

Eventually The Musician (my youngest kid brother) arrived from Somerville (also in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) Thursday morning and at a bit after 1300 local we set off for the location of our Thanksgiving feast. Depicted below...

Google Maps Street View
It's a nice old inn, The Fullerton. A nice roaring fire in the waiting area (contained in a fireplace mind you), with big soft sofas about, and a tidy dining room within which they had a table for ten set up for us, ready when we were. Now there was my Mom, The Missus Herself, City Girl, her beau Charlie, Charlie's mom, down from Maine those last three, The Young Vermonter, Ye Olde Vermonter, Missus Olde Vermonter, The Musician, and (of course) Your Humble Scribe.

The meal was nice - a choice of steak, ham, and turkey (yes, you could have all three - so I did), all the fixings you could imagine, and a dessert table stocked with pies for all tastes, chocolate mousse, multiple types of cookies, and dontcha know they had two fellows whose sole task was keeping that table full. Those guys were very busy, I had no small part in keeping them gainfully employed, I can tell you. We all had our fill, my end of the table also put a sizable dent in the inn's stock of Moscato and porter (the vino for the ladies, porter for the lads).

After heading back into the cold after a wondrous repast, it was back to Mom's for sitting about, reminiscing, drinking port (my brother had brought a bottle) for the lads, while the ladies tucked into another bottle of Moscato, which I had procured here in Little Rhody. We watched football of the professional variety, none of the games were competitive that I saw and the early game saw Big Time's Detroit Lions fall in defeat. I won't say more than this - Big Time also roots for Michigan. A bad football weekend for the lad from VFA-146.

As for myself, I had a delightful buzz by the end of the evening, I had partaken of rather too much port, but damme, I love the stuff. We awakened Friday morn, headed out to a local breakfast emporium and were on the road by 1100 local. Back in Little Rhody by 1430 local to spend a quiet weekend before returning to the lists yesterday. Oh, how little I care for Mondays after a long, long weekend. No doubt I shall like 'em a bit more when I finally listen to that little voice in my head.

Oh yeah, Valory, I winterized the pond on Saturday, the ice, while thick, was fragile. Temperatures were back in the 40s by Friday in the PM and Saturday was nice as well. See Sunday's post for the thickness of the ice. More on that later, no doubt. But I'm drifting into the "TL;DR" category on this post, so I'll leave you with the Chant's official welcome to the holiday season...

Be of good cheer my fellow Chanters!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Gettin' in a little practice

Hope all had a Happy Thanksgiving.  We sure did at Rancho Juvat.  I took M-W as Comp Time, so had an extended break.

Visited Moscow on the Colorado, on Tuesday for dinner with MBD and SIL.  MBD had been given a Insta-Pot for her wedding and wanted some instruction on how to use it.  So, she requested help from a long time (as in never) user.  Me.

We stumbled through it together, having a good time with lots of laughs.  The coq au vin was quite tasty.  Spent the night over there as we're not enthusiastic about driving at night in general, and during deer season, especially. 

Thanksgiving we made the trip back to Moscow on the Colorado, well Cedar Park anyhow, and had Turkey Dinner with my Niece and her family.  Again, a good time was had by all, and the turkey did NOT survive.

However, the majority of the week was spent in practice mode.

A practice retirement, as it were, to see what changes are needed. 

Grocery shopping is going to be completely different now.  Currently, I do the shopping on the way home from work.  I'm the cook, so I know what's needed for the meal.  More importantly, it gives me a bit of time to unwind from work.  I can talk or not talk to folks as the mood takes me and not take it out on Mrs J.  (A good thing.)

But it no longer makes sense to do a 15 mile round trip every day to pick up coffee and eggs, so...Grocery list. Check.

Second thing I noted.  Thank goodness for those daily pill boxes.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have a clue what day of the week it is.  Even with those, it was difficult to keep track of the dates and we "fumbled" the handoff of guests at our guest house.  Not in a bad way, the house was reset, but we thought we had an extra day to hang Christmas lights, and woke up surprised to see our next guests had already arrived.

Not sure I'm up for X'ing days off the calendar though, seems kinda fatalistic.

Speaking of chores, Mrs J's "honey-do" list got shortened each day, but seems to restore its overall length frequently.  This restoration seemed to happen during rest breaks.  Not sure exactly how that happens. 

I actually enjoyed being productive with her, Light's are up on all structures at Rancho Juvat  (first time in years) and Christmas woodworking projects are in progress,

However, all work and no play, makes juvat an even duller boy than is naturally occurring.  Did get in a few practice naps and...

Did everyone know that Google Earth has a flight simulator built in on the tools menu?  Your choice of which airplane to fly, a Cirrus or an F-16.  You get one guess on which one I picked.  Dusted off my Flight Control and went to Nellis.  Got out over the ranges and found that I could still hold my own at low level in the mountains. 

875 Knots Woo Hoo!

 Even flew down Las Vegas Boulevard, supersonic and below the hotel roofs.

Did crash on landing though.

Might need to practice a bit more.

So, I'm optimistic about this retirement thing. 20 work days and counting.

On a sadder note,  most of you know that we had an accident here a week ago last Saturday.  A P-51 flown by Cowden Ward Jr. crashed.  Mr Ward and his passenger, 93 year old WWII Veteran, Vincent Losada, were killed.

Given that the crash occurred in the parking lot of an Apartment Complex, it's a miracle no one else was injured.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating, but the P-51 "Pecos Bill", had been performing simulated CAS at a re-enactment put on by the Nimitz Museum.  After pulling off from a pass, the aircraft started losing altitude and witnesses reported the engine sputtering.

Mr Ward was very well regarded in the area and was known to seek out WWII veterans and offer them rides in his P-51 in appreciation for their service.  Which was what he was doing at the time of the accident.

Rest in Peace, Gentlemen!

Here's Mr Ward describing his mission.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


What are you doing here?

I reckon I'll be back Tuesday, as I enjoy the remainder of my Thanksgiving holiday. But hey, you got a bonus Tuna post and there's the archive.

See you in a couple...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Little Drummer Boy

No, this isn't a Christmas post, although now that I've digested my turkey and pie, the moratorium over all things Christmas has been lifted in the Tuna household.  The title refers to the young man in the picture below.  Is he a brave man?  Yes, but calling him a man is a stretch.  More on him later.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and shoes

We've all heard of young teenagers running away from home to join the service.  My uncle Paul Blossfield, was 14 on Dec 7th 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  He was out walking on the beach that morning, near the home my mom's family lived in.  The Japanese had started their attack on the island targeting the base near Kaneohe Bay, strafing Lanikai Beach, but missing him.  My grandfather, a graduate of West Point, but commissioned in the Navy, had left the service after his first wife had passed away.  After remarrying, he was working in Hawaii for the Army Corps of Engineers.  He re-upped the next day and my uncle tried to join as well.  Being only 14 though, both the Army and Navy rejected him.   

My uncle was a difficult lad, somewhat of a rebel who didn't get along with his stepmother very well.  My grandfather was away shortly after Dec 7th and my grandmother had her hands full with 4 other children.  While he was too young for the Navy and the Army, another service was scrambling to fill their ranks due to an expanding mission and being put under the authority of the US Navy.  My grandmother reluctantly signed the paperwork and the US Coast Guard accepted a motivated 14 year old to be a deck seaman.

CWO4 Paul Blossfield, USCG (Ret) wasn't the first to join young, nor was he the last.  Calvin Graham was 12 when he lied about his age and joined the Navy in August of '42. Audie Murphy was 16.

Audie Murphy                                             Wiki

On the other side of the front lines, both Germany and Russia employed child soldiers.  The Nazi Youth numbered just over a million during WWII and were trained for what were essentially suicide missions.  When the war turned badly for the Germans, they conscripted boys and men 16 or older, but children as young as 8 were captured while manning artillery batteries and anti-aircraft guns to defend against an invasion. The Soviet Army was far more humane, only using 16 and 17 year-olds in non-combat roles.


"In May of 1861, 9 year old John Lincoln "Johnny" Clem ran away from his home in Newark, Ohio, to join the Union Army, but found the Army was not interested in signing on a 9 year old boy when the commander of the 3rd Ohio Regiment told him he "wasn't enlisting infants," and turned him down. Clem tried the 22nd Michigan Regiment next, and its commander told him the same. Determined, Clem tagged after the regiment, acted out the role of a drummer boy, and was allowed to remain. Though still not regularly enrolled, he performed camp duties and received a soldier's pay of $13 a month, a sum collected and donated by the regiment's officers.

The next April, at Shiloh, Clem's drum was smashed by an artillery round and he became a minor news item as "Johnny Shiloh, The Smallest Drummer". A year later, at the Battle Of Chickamauga, he rode an artillery caisson to the front and wielded a musket trimmed to his size. In one of the Union retreats a Confederate officer ran after the cannon Clem rode with, and yelled, "Surrender you damned little Yankee!" Johnny shot him dead. This pluck won for Clem national attention and the name "Drummer Boy of Chickamauga."

Clem stayed with the Army through the war, served as a courier, and was wounded twice. Between Shiloh and Chickamauga he was regularly enrolled in the service, began receiving his own pay, and was soon-after promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was only 12 years old. After the Civil War he tried to enter West Point but was turned down because of his slim education. A personal appeal to President Ulysses S. Grant, his commanding general at Shiloh, won him a 2nd Lieutenant's appointment in the Regular Army on 18 December 1871, and in 1903 he attained the rank of Colonel and served as Assistant Quartermaster General. He retired from the Army as a Major General in 1916, having served an astounding 55 years. 

General Clem died in San Antonio, Texas on 13 May 1937, exactly 3 months shy of his 86th birthday, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery."

That piece on "Johnny Shiloh" came from a Civil War page I found after seeing something on Facebook.  I had not heard of him prior to that, but I'm but a wee amateur compared to Sarge when it comes to military history.  As I found out from Sarge after drafting this, the story of John Clem was brought to life on screen in a 1963 Disney movie.  Although this film was before my time, Clem was played by Kevin Corcoran, a busy child actor who had roles in several Disney films, including one of my favorites, Swiss Family Robinson.  That one too was before my time, but I remember it well from either The Wonderful World of Disney, or Saturday afternoon TV.  

Sarge is taking a well deserved day (or two, or ?) off so I was happy to step up.  Hope you survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  I only indulged in one of them. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Travel Day

I trust you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving. I hope you were able to spend it with family, friends, and loved ones.

Remember, if you should despair, we are the descendants of Abraham...
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:15-18 (NIV)
Have a nice weekend.

I might post, I might not, as the mood strikes me. As you might discern, I've been a bit pensive as of late.

We shall see where this leads.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wishing You All a Blessed Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell
That painting is how I remember Thanksgiving growing up. I do believe that my paternal grandmother had that very dress and wore the same apron over it. She's been gone since 1972 but she lives forever in my heart.

Times change, customs change, not everyone had the same kind of wonderful childhood I did, but my memories are mine and mine alone. Sure my brothers were there, no doubt some of their memories duplicate mine, no doubt they also diverge from mine in many ways.

My Mom and my Dad were both the youngest children of their respective families, perhaps that's why I remember my grandparents, both sides, being at our home on Thanksgiving and at Christmas as well. The WSO will tell you, if she's being honest, that the youngest is forever the "baby" of the family and is often just a little bit spoiled. I was the oldest, I got blamed for many things, most of which were indeed my fault as "I should know better, being the oldest."


I've had Thanksgivings in the service where there was no special meal with family. Sure, the chow halls would do their best to prepare something resembling the traditional Thanksgiving meal - turkey, stuffing, and the like - but it was never the same. Perhaps had I been deployed over a holiday it might have seemed special, but I was fortunate in that respect. Never been shot at, hope to maintain that record.

I think about the guys and gals out on the line, somewhere far from home, somewhere where you do get shot at. I think of those folks often, they are one of the things I am thankful for, them and the so-called first responders here at home. Medical personnel, police, fire fighters, you know who I mean.

"First responders" has become a popular term, no doubt because those are the folks who are the first on scene at fires, accidents, crimes, etc. But that's not all they do. They are out there, doing their jobs every single day. It's not just a "first response" kind of thing, it's a ready to respond in the event they are needed. You may gather that it's a term I'm not all that fond of. Makes it sound as if that's all they do. They also train constantly in the event they do have to respond.

For the same reason I abhor the term "warfighter." Corporate types in the defense industry love this term and throw it around constantly. But while the folks at the tip of the spear do all the dirty work, the kids in the rear areas making sure the trigger pullers get fed, get paid, are clothed, and have something come out when they do need to pull the trigger are just as important. They too are a long way from home in a place, while safer, sucks almost as bad.

Some military folks like to whine about civilians, I don't. Every time someone thanks me for being a veteran, I thank them for paying me, feeding me, clothing me, housing me, and training me for all of those years. I like to say it's a team effort, and it is, also, without a civilian population, what need have we of a military to protect them? Both are needed, one supports, one protects, does anyone seriously think that war will end one day?

Sure, right about the time of the Second Coming, certainly no sooner.

So enjoy your Thanksgiving, I'm sure you have something to be thankful for, even in a country where everyone seems at loggerheads over politics. It's never as bad as the meejah likes to paint it. It also looks far worse for you city folk than it does for us folk out here in suburbia. What's on television isn't real, the people you deal with every day are, care about one another. Be thankful for the little blessings as well as the large.

Peace be with you...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Render to Caesar

If you put your faith in the doings of men, in the things of this world, you are bound to fail.

I grow increasingly weary of the negativity in the world, on this blog and others, on Facebook, even in my very soul. It it time to say, "Enough."

Do not speak to me of politics, nor the economy, nor of the many evils which you perceive in the world. There is much to be thankful for, far more than we see in the negativity which surrounds us.

Politicians and businessmen will not save you, they never could, they never will.

Lighten up Francis, enough with the negative waves already.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Matthew 14:28-31 (KJV)
Have a little faith, neh? Your time here will end soon enough, the sky is not falling. It will fall when He wills it.

And not one single day before.

The wind is boisterous as of late...

This too shall pass.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Let's Talk Turkey

Image result for F-14 Tomcat Turkey
The National Interest

No, not that kind of Turkey

Full disclosure here, this is not really a Thanksgiving post.  Sure, I'll sprinkle in a little bit of holiday seasoning, but this is brass tacks time again for me.  

Related image

So it's not about this Turkey either.

The Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions defines the "Talk Turkey" phrase like this:  To talk serious business; to talk frankly. We've got to sit down and talk turkey—get this thing wrapped up. It's time to talk turkey and quit messing around.

Ok, that works.  So let's talk.

Just after the mid-term elections, Sarge titled a post “Life, It's Too Short to Worry About Politics.”  While I am in violent agreement with that statement, that doesn’t actually help me not worry about it.  I’ve just been too attentive to current events throughout my life to not be interested and invested in politics.  I’m fascinated by the role of government and the workings of the economy, but I’ve recently realized that I’m thoroughly disgusted by actual politics.  I once thought I’d find my way into the political game as a career, but haven’t felt that way for 25 years.  There’s too much selling of your soul and putting your principles aside for me to want to even consider it.

Sure, I would like to be very happy with blissful ignorance- watching no news, working only for a paycheck, plus vacations and time with family, but I care too much to avoid the news.  I have a few friends that are almost completely unplugged- no TV, no newspaper, just the internet for whatever they do on there, which doesn’t include much email, since I rarely get a timely response.  I don’t know how they do it.  I’m too invested in the state of the union to not worry about the state of our economy, our political discourse, the path our country is on, how one side treats the other, etc.  The reason for this is two-fold.  The first and most obvious reason is my past military service, during which I put my life on the line for our country.  When you sacrifice your time with family, not being there for countless birthdays and anniversaries, as well as possibly sacrificing your actual life, one tends to believe strongly in what you’re standing up for.  Another reason for investing heavily into the health and welfare of our country is because I’m not going to leave this earth with nothing to my name or with my name.  I have sired two children who deserve the same opportunities, freedoms, and joys that I have had.  So I continue to fight, one pithy political post at a time, in an attempt to perpetuate those freedoms.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe my kids will live in a world that was the same one I grew up in. 

The kids are why I tend to pay close attention to current events, despite it being a challenge. The news can make you angry, frustrated, and upset if you let it.  I often do.  Anger might be too strong of a word, but frustrated, perturbed, and a little scared are good alternative adjectives.  Although, after the Kavanaugh hearings, and those amazing gains by certain Dems after the elections were over, ones that didn’t track at all like all the previous results, anger isn’t far behind.

What I’m afraid of, is that those horrible political tactics, the constant bashing in the never unbiased media, the media and politicians perpetuating lies and accusations, even when they are known to be false, the claims of racism everywhere, people playing the victim, identity politics, and a political platform that is based solely on those tenets, all of this rings true and loudly with so much of our population these days.  Our youth are indoctrinated and brainwashed early, and college kids get absolutely no critical debate or thought, nor a healthy exposure to different opinions  They are slammed with the idea that the right is evil and racist, that the rich must pay, and absolutely nothing about how conservative policies are good.  They only ask if something makes them feel good, not whether or not it does good.  They believe in instant gratification, but not that hard work is something good, moral and effective, resulting in making themselves and society better.  They only see the far left side of the political spectrum, where social issues are paramount, and the right isn’t permitted.  That’s where anyone that doesn’t view things in the same narrowly defined way, is wrong, heartless, and evil.  They are not taught that personal responsibility is a moral and upstanding concept, blaming only others for the negative consequences that they see.  They are told they can be whatever they want to be, despite the fact that there are no jobs at the end of that dream, or that the cost to get there, via out-of-control tuition, is not worth the return on that investment. 

Yeah, I'm totally killing the pre-Thanksgiving buzz here, but waxing political here is my shtick.  This is Sarge's blog, not mine, and I don't write here daily, so I can't very well show pictures of my yard (it's a steep overgrown canyon) or discuss my trip up to Oregon to visit relatives, like Sarge does with Old Vermonter posts.  You and I just don't have that kind of relationship.  Besides, visiting Vermont is like a 30 minute drive for him.  For me, visiting my Oregon family involves four solid days of driving, or two grand in plane tickets, so it doesn't happen often.  So bear with me a little while longer.  I'll get to my point eventually and it'll all make sense.  Or not.

Thanksgiving Buzz

By the way, I'm pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year, and not just for the food.  My niece and the Grants Pass High School Marching Band, winners of the Oregon State Band Competition, were invited to participate in the Macy's Turkey Day Parade.  I'll have to ensure I'm up early enough to see it.  She's short and plays the Trumpet Trombone French Horn Baritone if you can pick her out.  She actually plays all of them, but she traveled with the Baritone.

Back to the point of our youth indoctrination.  Because of this, they are easily susceptible to far left ideologies that support their views.  They listen to politicians that repeat the same empty promises over and over that make them feel good, but do nothing for the real problems of the world.  While they truly want to help solve those problems, making the lives of people better, they have no understanding of fundamentals, of what it really takes to develop and effect solutions to our toughest challenges.  They only believe that big government and taxing the rich is a panacea.

The result is that we now have a populace that sees themselves as having absolutely nothing in common with anyone on the right.  To be honest, because of their views, I see myself as having nothing in common with them either, but I’ve been ranting for two pages now and I need to get on with it.  When there’s no common ground, it’s us versus them, right vs. wrong, black against white.  So we're left with a political system that does nothing to help keep the other side truly in check.  It’s now brute force politics, demanding absolute consensus of one party just to get a single simple thing done, since the opposing party is absolutely opposed to anything the other side says or does.  There’s no room for bipartisanship when the left is so full of hatred for our President, that they can’t even see how people are actually doing better than they were even two years ago.  I’m not enamored by our President, but I can’t deny the results.  Does he need to STFU sometimes?  Sure, but the conservative policies and their outcomes speak for themselves, and pretty loudly at that.   

Feds Collect Record Taxes in October; Still Run $100B Deficit

Did you see that headline?  Probably not, but anyhoo, let's think this one through for a minute. The Federal Government collected more in taxes last month than it ever has, a new record. So what does that mean? It means that the tax cuts put in place have spurred the economy and now businesses are keeping more of their money to reinvest in themselves, therefore making more money and thus the Government is taking in more in taxes. Even though it's a smaller portion of the pie, the pie is now bigger. Art Laffer is now taking a bow.

Ooh, I talked about pie!  It's my second-most favorite part of Thanksgiving, my most favorite holiday.  What's my topper?  Stuffing.  Not the dry stuff, just the cooked-in-the-bird moist stuff, which my mom prepped in what was probably a pound of butter.   

Sorry, I got hungry and had to get a snack.  The second part of this story is that the Government is still running a $100B deficit. So, despite the fact that they've never had so much money coming in, they still have too much going out. I'm no economic genius, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and it sounds to me like a spending problem, not an income problem. Stop spending so much money! There, I just fixed our country.

However, but, alas... the other shoe is about to drop, the reason I think my kids will grow old in a world vastly different than the one I grew up in is that I believe we're heading for an inevitable collapse of our economic system.   Why?  Because we cannot stop spending!  We're addicted to deficit spending and all that comes with it- the big defense budgets, the entitlement programs, ever growing government salaries, Obamacare, etc.  Everybody wants their free stuff and "How dare you cut my program?"  Meanwhile, both Russia and China are gobbling up gold and the dollar to attempt take over as the world's top currency. We've relied on the strength of the almighty Dollar forever,  and the rest of the world wanted it, so we could float those bonds at leisure.  At some point though, we will not be able to continue selling (at bond auctions) the current account deficit in bonds (currently over a trillion), which includes new debt, and the expiring bonds. And politicians are finding that they can't get elected by promising to make those tough decisions on our finances.  Especially when the other side just says "I have a better plan, and we don't have to buckle down!"  Nor do we hold them accountable- either party.  The personal responsibility, the adult decisions, the paying now for what you buy now, etc. are not politically expedient and won't happen until we collapse.  

Welcome to to Greece, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.