Saturday, November 30, 2019


Udvar-Hazy, 05 March 2017
Well, I'm back from visiting the homeland, the southern part of northern New England. Spent much of Wednesday, all of Thursday, and a bit of Friday in the Connecticut River valley. New Hampshire and Vermont, where I was born and raised, the land which is deep in my bones.

Saw my mom, both of my brothers, my sister-in-law, nephew, and my niece and her boyfriend Charlie. A decent guy by the way, he's from Down East (as some say) the state of Maine. We all went out to a very nice inn in Chester, Vermont for an excellent Thanksgiving buffet. Sure, it's not like eating at home, but it is sure a lot less work. (Though damme I miss those leftovers!)

Not as cold as last year, but still brisk. Some remnants of a snow storm a couple of days prior were still to be seen, but last year it looked (and felt) more like February. This year it was what folks call "seasonal." (As in "quit yer bitching, it's late November, it's supposed to be like this.")

It was good to go home.

What sparked all this? A profound (as they often are) Beans comment on my Friday recycled (i.e. "rerun") post. To wit...

The key phrase there is "home that once was." I disagreed, sort of, but as I've given it more thought, I have to agree. All things change, nothing ever really stays the same. You can get close to what was, but only so much. When the people who made it what it was have moved on, it ain't the same. You can perhaps hear echoes of what was, but that's about it.

Life is changing, sometimes more rapidly than I care for, but I'm only riding the train, I'm not driving. So far the ride has been awesome, sure, there have been rough patches, but I have no real complaints.

Life is what it is. I am blessed, probably beyond what I deserve, but there you go.

It was nice to go home, then return home again. Home is where one finds love.

That's all I really want.

November was a good month.

Time for a musical interlude, this song really speaks to me.


Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel & Dave Grohl

Wish I were with you
But I couldn't stay
Every direction
Leads me away
Pray for tomorrow
But for today

All I want is to be home

Stand in the mirror
You look the same
Just lookin' for shelter
From cold and the pain
Someone to cover
Safe from the rain

All I want is to be home

Echoes and silence
Patience and grace
All of these moments
I'll never replace
No fear of my heart
Absence of faith

All I want is to be home

All I want is to be home

People I've loved
I have no regrets
Some I remember
Some I forget
Some of them living
Some of them dead

All I want is to be home

Can't argue with that...

Friday, November 29, 2019

Recycling, It's Good for You

Yup, rather than scrap my old posts, I recycle them from time to time.

I hope you all saw through my pathetic attempt to make the old seem new again.

In what follows much remains the same, but the restaurant we dined in just four short years ago is now but a memory. As is the shrubbery to Kodi's right in the second picture. Something killed it, now it too is long gone.

I guess it's true, nothing lasts forever...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gone to the Dogs

Bear Patrols the Fence Line
Kodi On Overwatch

Hope you all had a great holiday, mine was awesome and continues. This is just a short post to let you all know I survived.

Ate far too much food.

Watched far too much football.

Had far too much fun with my granddaughters.

But I built up my strength the night before Thanksgiving.

Guinness at the Atlantic Beach Club, the eve of Thanksgiving. One of two with the meal. Had an Irish coffee for courage afterwards.

I was ready for anything.

Seeing a lot of spam coming in over the transom lately. I reckon that always follows when you open up the comments. Most, so far, are très amusant, though très ennuyeux. I'll share a couple of those this weekend, probably, POCIR.

Odd thing though, all the spam is coming in on older posts. Older posts about tanks and the Army. Perhaps they're friends of XBradTC?

Nah, he speaks English (quite well, I must say), the spammers obviously cannot.

More, later.

(BTW, Bear and Kodi are two of my granddogs.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you spend the day in the company of those you love.

May you have something to be thankful for.

Remember those who are far from home and can't be home for Thanksgiving. Be thankful that they are out there, keeping us safe and our world free from the nastiness which seems to inflict far too much of the rest of the world.

I have much to be thankful for, I include those of you who stop by here and read my pitiable offerings and leave your own thoughts for the rest of us to contemplate.

But most of all, I am thankful for my family, my freedom, and the Lord Above who made us all. (Whether you believe or not, He believes in you!)

Have a great time, see you here Friday.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tempest in a Tea Cup

Keel plate of the never completed USS United States (CVA-58)
Before we begin, Tuna surprised me (not with a casserole but with a post) with his "To Be Determined" Tuesday offering. On Sunday I had indicated "see you Tuesday" but as Tuna offered, I let him in, besides which, I had nothing ready to go.

The current brouhaha with Chief Gallagher, the Navy, the Department of Defense, and the President of the United States isn't anything new. While this episode of disagreements between the armed forces and its civilian leadership is, in the big scheme of things, rather small, there was a much more dangerous episode in 1949, it was known as the Revolt of the Admirals.

At the time the bomber generals in the Air Force were convinced that wars such as WWII were a thing of the past, the future belonged to the long range bomber loaded with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, President Harry Truman was concerned with the huge budgets of the armed forces and finding ways to cut those expenditures. (Sound familiar?)

When it all started the United States had a monopoly on nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. With the detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb in August of 1949, that began to change. (Note that left leaning assholes in our government and that of the UK helped the Russians a great deal in building that bomb. I don't use the term "asshole" lightly here.)

But before the hubbub died down, the Marine Corps came close to being disbanded, the Navy came close to losing all of its carriers (and certainly all, or most, of their aviation assets), and the Army came close to being reduced to a small, ineffective shadow of its WWII self.

A former corporate type became the Secretary of Defense (not McNamara, but Louis Johnson's appointment foreshadowed future idiocy of the type) and the US military came close to becoming a "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out force" because of the arrogant stupidity of the Air Force's bomber generals.

Yes, why rely on conventional military force when you can just nuke Moscow or Beijing?

Well, you can't can you? Especially when the other side also has nukes and the means to deliver them. Blowing up Moscow might result in "bye bye New York City." (Why nuke DC, when you can leave the morons in place in order to keep us doing stupid things? New York is a far more worthwhile target.)

Anyhoo, go read this and this and be prepared to comment below. I would flesh this out more but I am close to hitting the road for the homeland and three days with family. No doubt too much food will be involved, adult beverages, and no doubt a football game or two. As for...


Did someone say pie?

I believe someone did, and yes, if you wish to focus on pie in the comments, knock yourselves out. It's a Thanksgiving free-for-all!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

"To Be Determined"

To be determined.  I suppose that's a fitting title for this post, and it has a few different possibilities for what that means.  How this post will actually work out is somewhat TBD.  It'll probably be another stream of consciousness post, with my points being all over the map.  It worked for me last time though so why not?  TBD also works for how a Navy mission, one that's near and dear to my bank account, will turn out.

Sarge's post on Thursday showed a picture of the USS Independence.  I have fond memories of the Indy back when I flew off of her in Japan.  But that was when she was the venerable Aircraft Carrier CV-62.  The one he displayed was the much maligned Littoral Combat Ship Independence.

USS Freedom (top) and USS Independence (LCS 1 and 2 respectively)                                            USNI

"These two ships will be the cornerstone of our future Mine Countermeasures capability."* I could have written that same sentence back when I began a career as a Mine Warfare (MIW) Requirements Officer back in 2010, but we're still waiting.  I just finished up a conference at work where we discussed the status of the current systems and the transition to the future.  But because we've been talking about that transition for so long, the systems we're supposed to get have been made nearly obsolete by more modern sensors on improved unmanned vehicles. 

MK-18 MOD 2 UUV                                                               US Navy

Those old ships and aircraft are very long in the tooth.  However, they're actually doing really well for us considering how they're wooden vessels and high-time (flight hour) helicopters that we've had since the late 80's.  These '74 Buicks as we affectionately call them, are maintenance intensive, but we've got some outstanding mechanics that have kept them running for us. Unfortunately, the bean-counting sharks in DC want to get rid of them before the future systems are ready.  It would be one thing if the money saved would go right back into the MCM budget, to help upgrade the systems in the MCM Mission Package, but there's an Ohio Class replacement sub to develop, Joint Strike Fighters to build, and nuke carriers to refuel.  MIW is waaaaay down at the bottom of the list, just above the Sea Bees, and just below the commissary.

The problem with this plan is a little section that Senator John McCain inserted into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act:

Sec 1045:  PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR RETIREMENT OF LEGACY MARITIME MINE COUNTERMEASURES PLATFORMS.   WAIVER.—The Secretary of the Navy may waive the limitations if the Secretary certifies to the congressional defense committees that the Secretary has— (1) identified a replacement capability and the necessary quantity of such systems to meet all combatant commander mine countermeasures operational requirements that are currently being met by the AVENGER-class ships and SEA DRAGON helicopters...

MH-53E towing a MK-105 Electromagnetic Minesweeping Sled.

That means the Navy has to keep the old stuff until the new stuff can take over.  Except, they're doing it anyway, claiming to Congressional staffers that by decom'ing a few of them next year, they'll have lots of money and parts to keep the rest of them running.  The parts is a given, but the money?  We'll have to see (TBD).  This ain't my first rodeo so I think it'll evaporate into the Navy ether.  

When the Mission Package does finally limp across the finish line, it will be underwhelming.  The entire system was only supposed to provide the Carrier Strike Group with an organic MCM punch-through capability, not the full capability of the ships and aircraft.  But then the CNO decided it will be the sole replacement for the legacy systems.  It may replace them, but it can't fill their shoes. How it will do for us is also TBD.   

As much as I join in the maligning of LCS, it's the future of MCM, warts and all, so I'm reluctantly on board.  Once we get the systems, I'm confident the sailors will figure out the best way use them- how to deal with the warts.  And I'll continue to work on the needed improvements and what comes after.  After what you might ask?  After we decide they aren't good enough, after we can't afford to upgrade them, and after we FINALLY decide to put the EOD community's vasty superior unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) on the ship.  In OPNAV's defense, they are outfitting us with additional UUV systems in units known as Expeditionary MCM Companies, but that's barely a stop-gap.

I read a great article this week about fake, fabricated and/or slanted news.  Here's a few lines from it:

"The story made Obama look bad. Hence the story was removed. Not updated or corrected, removed."

"Try to remember this one, because it’s instructive. People think news organizations flat-out fabricate stories. That isn’t often the case. Fake news is a problem that pops up here and there, but the much more systematic and deeply entrenched attack on truth is the casual, everyday bias of reporters."

And finally:  "News outlets have six ways from Sunday of getting you to think what they want you to think, none of which involve making up stuff."

Something else I wanted to mention is a few shows I've been entranced with recently.  Amazon Prime has a new season of Jack Ryan out now.  It's very good.  Jack Ryan could almost be considered the American version of James Bond, but Jack is a more reluctant hero.  Almost an antihero.  The opening sequence is really well done.

The only issue I have with that clip is the dog tags.  In the Tom Clancy books, Jack was a graduate of Boston College and he was from an Irish-Catholic family.  Hollywood, continuing in its Godless ways, replaced that denomination with "No Preference."  I just bite my tongue and let it go.  

Sarge and I both enjoy the character Mitch Rapp in Vince Flynn's novels.  He's more the James Bond type than Ryan, but while the books sold well, the lone movie adaptation  American Assassin didn't break any records at the box office.  So Bond's place in movie history is secure.  I think the fact that Vince Flynn, another Irish-Catholic, passed away at the peak of his career didn't help Mitch's future.  Interestingly enough, Tom Clancy died the same year.  I don't think he'd be enamored by what Hollywood changed.  The character's religion wasn't an integral part of the books, but it wouldn't hurt the TV show either.  

Another show I'm watching is Treadstone on USA network.  It's a spin-off of the Jason Bourne movies.  Slick production, lots of action, worth a look.  The Man in the High Castle is out with its final season as well.  One movie I plan to view over the Thanksgiving break that might interest Sarge and Beans is The King (Henry V) on Netflix.  Speaking of royalty, my wife and I enjoy The Crown which just had its latest season released.  Episode three had some hilarious limericks.  Listen to them below if you dare.

Here's mine:  
There was an old Prince from Great Britain,
who illegally became totally smitten.
He thought nothing was finer
than sex with a minor.
So in the royal family he's no longer fittin'.  

By the way, it's Thanksgiving week.  I hope you remembered last Sunday to set your scales back 15lbs.

Anyway, enjoy your pie.  Yeah, the turkey too I suppose.

*I discovered that I actually wrote about MIW in my very first post here at The Chant.  My first foray into pithy part-time political posting. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mild & Bitter

In my post from a couple of weeks ago about our Udvar-Hazy visit, long time Chanter Virgil Xenophon (affectionately known as VX) commented about a B-26 that had made history other than "Flak Bait"

She was the US aircraft that completed the most combat missions (202) in WWII.  However, she also was hit over a thousand times, lost an engine a couple of times, lost electrical power once and hydraulics twice.

So, juvat, you say she got beaten up a bit, huh?

¡Sí, oh hombre sabio de muchos siglos, viejo sargento de la Fuerza Aérea!

And because of that, she wasn't a favorite of the aircrews.

However, VX did mention another aircraft that had a bit better luck and, in fact, had a record of her own.  (One never knows where posting subjects are going to come from, so thanks VX!)

That bomber was named "Mild and Bitter"

 Given the circumstances of the war (meaning loss rate) in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), bomber aircrews were required to fly a specified number of missions before they could rotate home.  For the B-17s and B-24s, that was 25 initially, then as the war progressed and escort fighters arrived in theater, that was raised to 30.  However for medium bombers, the rotation number was 100.

According to this source, a statistician in WWII named McNamara (yep, it's him) determined the loss rate of bombers in the ETO was 4%.  Doesn't sound like much, but over time... Mathematically that works out to 36% chance of survival. (0.9625=0.36)

 The other consideration for 25 for the heavies was mission duration.  It was quite easy for a mission to last 15 to 20 hours.  10 of those would be in Flight, the other would be pre and post flight planning and briefings. This left little time for mundane things like eating or sleeping.  Burnout was a common problem.  Medium bomber missions tended to be shorter, though not necessarily less harrowing, allowing a bit more time to recover.

So.  "Mild and Bitter" claim to fame.  It was the first B-26 to complete 100 missions.  It did so on its original engines.  Aircraft engines at the time were not known to last all that long.  She flew 449 and 1/2 hours on them.  Which is note worthy.


However, she also never had a mechanical abort, again, very note worthy.
Left to right, 1st Lt. L.W. Rice; 2nd Lt. H.R. Harp; Capt. P. Shannon; SSgt. W.J. Bond; Sgt. R.E. Johnson, SSgt. J.K. Brandemihl

But the record she broke that stands out in my book is she never had a crew casualty.


It's always nice to come home to the ones you love.

For those interested in Aviation Trivia History, here's a pretty good source on the B-26 and here's a series of pretty cool pictures

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Memories of Exile

Google Street View
From the 4th of January, 2010, to the 23rd of August, 2012, I lived in that building (or it's twin to the left, off camera) over the course of 963 days, on Mondays through Thursdays. For two years, seven months and some 19 days. It was meant to be a one year assignment. I almost felt like I was back in the military. Though the pay was much better.

Work at the home office was slow, very slow (not the Home Office, I'm sure they were busy enough). Some of my colleagues were laid off, some left to find work elsewhere, but the head of our software department found enough of us to be sufficiently useful in all manner of endeavors (not just software) to find other work for us. I found a spot integrating a certain missile system, a system for which my company is somewhat famous, but it was a hundred miles away from Chez Sarge. Rather than commute, the company was amenable to putting us up in a hotel for four days a week.

So I worked ten hour days in order to "get it over with," so to speak. They were long days but the work was interesting so the day went by fairly quickly. This was in the days before the Chant existed so early on I had not much to do after work. As the hotel had HBO and a fairly large suite of cable channels, I watched rather a lot of television.

Law & Order (I think I saw every single episode over the course of those two and a half odd years, it was on every day, sometimes twice) was one show I spent a lot of time watching. The Sopranos was another, at first I wasn't all that thrilled with watching another mobster tale (The Godfather trilogy had seemed enough for me at the time) but then there wasn't much on one Sunday night (I would often go up Sunday afternoon rather than get up at 0400 Monday for an 0500 "go"), I watched one episode, the first of course, then another, then another, then "Oh dear, is that the time?" So yes, I went to bed.

Then in 2011 Game of Thrones hit the airwaves (a tale I told here), that one hooked me, watched the entire series right up until the bitter end. (An ending I was not happy with and I'm still hoping the old codger finishes writing the last two volumes before he heads west.)

Thing is, the music from that show takes me back to that long exile. Music has a way of evoking strong memories in our species, at least for those who look up from the mud occasionally to gaze at the stars and wonder.

I may have posted this clip by 2CELLOS before, but I'm posting it again. It reminds me of where I was some seven long years ago and reminds of just how good I have it now. Regardless of how the series ended.

It sucked being away from home, but I could go home on weekends and no one was shooting at me. Many of my brethren and sistren can't say that now, couldn't say that then. Many never came home, I did and the only danger I faced was traffic on the interstate highway system. Which while nasty at times is nothing in the big scheme of things.

Have a pleasant day, count your blessings, I'll see you Tuesday, right after juvat's regular Monday post. (I tell ya, you can set your watch by the guy. Or would that be calendar?)


FWIW, the video was shot in Dubrovnik, which I understand stood in for King's Landing in Game of Thrones.

Speaking of thrones...

Operation Marble Throne Room commences on or about 02 December 2019. Logistic preparations are complete, material is in hand, and we're poised on the brink of a major bathroom renovation*.

Yeah, I can hardly wait...

* More on this later, POCIR.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Last Ace

Then-Captain Cesar "Rico" Rodriguez of the 58th TFS, the Gorillas, during Operation Desert Storm.
He ended his career with three kills, making him the highest-scoring US pilot in recent history.

There are a lot of veterans where I work. Occasionally something comes over the transom in the corporate email which makes me sit up and take notice. An article on one of our higher ups, retired Colonel Cesar "Rico" Rodriguez, USAF, caught my eye recently.

I did a bit of research, the good colonel was an Eagle driver (did you know him juvat?) who served from 1981 to 2006, which makes him a contemporary of mine. (We also went from the same outfit then to the same outfit now, small world.)

His bio over at Veteran Tributes has the citation for his third Distinguished Flying Cross (with "V" for Valor) -
Lieutenant Colonel Cesar A. Rodriguez, Jr., distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight at or near the Former Republic of Yugoslavia near Pristina, Kosovo, the first night of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's air campaign, Operation ALLIED FORCE, on 24 March 1999. On that date, as Deputy Mission Commander of an Offensive Counter Air sorties, Colonel Rodriguez escorted the lead flight of 25 combat aircraft in the first strike against the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, striking targets near Podgorica. Informed of an airborne contact, Colonel Rodriguez immediately placed his element between the threat and the strike package. The bogey, a MIG-29, made a sudden turn and headed directly towards Colonel Rodriguez placing him in mortal danger from its long rang radar missiles. Colonel Rodriguez employed a single air-to-air missile and observed the fireball of the exploding MIG. His actions directly ensured the safe return of all allied aircraft that night. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Rodriguez reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
At that time the aircraft I supported, the E-3A AWACS, were very busy in that neck of the woods. I wonder if it was a NATO bird which informed LtCol Rodriguez of the airborne contact. Could well be...

I had no idea that we had pilots with multiple airborne kills post-Vietnam. A very excellent article over at The Atlantic (you really should read the whole thing) has this in the opening of its story of Colonel Rodriguez's feats -
OVER CESAR RODRIGUEZ’S desk hangs a macabre souvenir of his decades as a fighter pilot. It is a large framed picture, a panoramic cockpit view of open sky and desert. A small F‑15 Eagle is visible in the distance, but larger and more immediate, filling the center of the shot, staring right at the viewer, is an incoming missile.
It is a startling picture, memorializing a moment of air-to-air combat from January 19, 1991, over Iraq. Air-to-air combat has become exceedingly rare. Even when it happens, modern fighter pilots are rarely close enough to actually see the person they are shooting at. This image recalls a kill registered by Rodriguez, who goes by Rico, and his wingman, Craig Underhill, known as Mole, during the Gulf War.
A special-operations team combed the Iraqi MiG’s crash site, and this was one of the items salvaged, the last millisecond of incoming data from the doomed Iraqi pilot’s HUD, or head-up display. It was the final splash of light on his retinas, probably arriving too late for his brain to process before being vaporized with the rest of his corporeal frame. Pilots like Rodriguez don’t romanticize such exploits. These are strictly matter-of-fact men from a world where war is work, and life and death hang on a rapidly and precisely calibrated reality, an attitude captured by the flat caption mounted on the frame: THIS IS AN AIM-7 AIR-TO-AIR MISSILE SHOT FROM AN F‑15 EAGLE DETONATING ON AN IRAQI MIG‑29 FULCRUM DURING OPERATION DESERT STORM. (Source)

I have to say, I'm awfully proud to work alongside men and women like Colonel Rodriguez: Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army, Coast Guard - still doing their bit to keep America safe. (Though the pay is quite a bit better than when we wore the uniform!)


Friday, November 22, 2019


So on Wednesday I went to see my PCP, ya know my Primary Care Physician, what in olden days was known as "my doctor." Okay, I don't actually refer to her as my "PCP." I see that in health insurance paperwork a lot. I've also been asked, "Who is your Primary Care Physician?"


"Who is your PCP?"


"Who do you see when you're sick?"

"Usually I just stay in bed until I feel better, maybe take a couple of Advil."

At this point the questioner develops a tick under one eye and begins to tap their foot.

"Who. Is. Your. Doctor?"

"Ah, why didn't you just say 'doctor'? I thought PCP was a type of drug..."

"It is."

"So, no I don't take PCP. Do I look like a druggie?"

At this point the questioner has to be sedated and the supervisor takes over.

"So, who is your doctor?"

"Dr. Soandso."

Anyhoo, I digress.

On Wednesday last, I went to my doc for an annual physical, with all the wonders which that entails. (Hhmm, I should have picked a different word. But in the end does it really matter? Uh, again, bad choice of words.)

Now I get again along great with my doctor, she's a good sort who has a great rapport with her patients. Even me. But as we were chatting she asked me if I was still working.

"I keep showing up, they keep paying me."

"When do you plan to retire?"

"Whenever the job is no longer fun."

She chuckled and then related the story of her friend who is also close to retirement.

"He says his retirement is TBD."

"To Be Determined?"

"Nope, Three Bad Days. If he has three bad days in a row, he's putting in his paperwork."

Three Bad Days. I like it, like it a lot, really. So that's my new plan.

It's TBD.

In other news, after the (ahem) probing, and my doc's pronouncement of my health as "stable," which I felt was rather non-committal but probably accurate enough (and yes, I'll take it), I was sent down to the lab for the usual suite of blood tests.

When I arrived at the lab, I found this...

While the decor wasn't quite as shabby as in the picture, no one in the room was smiling. Well, who likes getting poked and prodded by medical technicians? Not I, nor most folks I'll wager.

After about a ten minute wait I'm thinking seriously of bailing and coming back another day. Just then I hear, "Whoever is next..." As there was no one standing in front of me, I bellied up to the bar, so to speak.

Beginning with the usual pleasantries, "Hi, my doctor sent me down for some lab work..."

Did someone say lab?
Cute, but no.
"You folks look pretty jammed up."

Bless the young lady for not saying aloud what her face communicated. (Which I read as "No shit, Sherlock.") But she did admit that the wait was about an hour. As I heard a number of folks coughing and hacking behind me, and I had to return to work rather quickly, I decided that coming back another day was an excellent idea. Which the young lady agreed would probably be way less stressful.

So Friday it is, I'm off that day (well, this day if you're reading this on the date of publication) so I can waltz on in at any old time and linger for as long as they wish. Not to mention which, I have all of next week off. So I've got that going for me.

You may be wondering what's in those boxes at the top of the post. So did I when I saw them sitting on my desk.

"So Muse, what's in the boxes?"

"Ideas, boss, lots of ideas."

"For posts?" (At which point The Muse had this "No shit, Sherlock" look on her face.)

"Uh yes, for posts, for the blog. You know, that thing you obsess over."

"Oh! The blog! Awesome! Why two boxes?"

"One is full of good ideas, one is full of bad ideas."

"Why the bad ideas? Why would I use those?"

"Well, you've done so before without my help."

"Ah, I see. How will I know then, which are the good ideas and which are the bad?"

Now she's looking at me like I just fell off the back of a turnip truck*.

"Don't worry boss, your readers will let you know. Trust me."

Sometimes I think she just doesn't like me...

* Falling off a turnip truck means that one is either dumb, or naive. Read more here. (So does this second reference to turnips in one week make this "Turnip Week"? I dunno...)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

In My Experience...

The graphic above pretty much says it all.

It seemed like a good idea at the time
At least it ain't one of these...

I suppose it could be worse?


Yeah, I got nuthin'...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Confession Is Good for the Soul...

It is?

All kidding aside, another title for this post could have been "Things I Suck At" but it would have to be part 1 of 1026, so yeah, I picked a different title, I simply don't have time to go into all of the things I suck at. For instance...

The Missus Herself: We should take up golf.

Your Humble Scribe: Uh, no thanks. I already have a number of sports I suck at, I don't need to add another.

The list of sports I suck at is a very long one. Some I only semi-suck at, in other words I was seldom the last guy picked when choosing up sides in grade school. (Seldom as in it did happen occasionally.) Some people sucked at every athletic endeavor known to mankind, most of them grew up to be multi-millionaires or better. They sucked at sports so they studied.

Anyhoo, the point of all this is that I am not very good with discussions. There are times that I wish to throttle the people I'm discussing things with, it's not that they're wrong, it's just that they tend to be smug about being right. (What's worse are the smug ones who are absolutely wrong, but are still smug about it. They tend to be politicians.)

So the topic of the Zumwalt-class of ships came up over at koobecaF t'other day. A buddy of mine had a link to a nearly year old article regarding some of the problems the class has had. Well, okay, mostly the gun system. As usually happens, a number of folks began to chime in with their thoughts/opinions/arguments - mostly against the class.

So yeah, I work for a defense contractor, won't say which one, and have been involved with the Zumwalt class for a number of years. Too many years probably. It's been an on and off sort of thing. The Navy is like a kid with a paper route (or so it seems to me, having been there and done that as well, I only semi-sucked at that), they don't always have the money they need to pay for stuff. In the early days of this project that meant that the work would stop, often for months at a time, then pick back up again.

When the work stops one of two things happen, I mean if you don't have work on a project you need to find those people other work, or you have to let them go. (Those being the two things I mentioned.) Now unless the timing is perfect, those sent to work on other projects don't automatically come back to Zumwalt when the money spigot is turned back on. Nope, the bosses on that other project don't want to let those folks go until their project is done.

So unless the return of Zumwalt coincides with other projects being done (or their money getting turned off - hey, it's what happens when contractors "miscalculate" and/or Congress doesn't pass a budget) then you have to find new people to work Zumwalt. Often people fresh out of college or people with zero experience on a military project. So in some ways you have to start from scratch. All of which adds to the cost of a project and the time it takes to complete it.

So I've been at this Zumwalt thing for a while, I've seen many stupid decisions made (by us, by other contractors, by the government, and yes, even by the Navy). I've also seen some brilliant work go into this thing. Yes, it's big, it's expensive and yes, probably could have been done better. But it is what it is. A lot of money has been spent on this thing.

Point being, do we just say "fire truck it" and drop everything, realizing that a lot of money has already been spent and just say "Oh well, that didn't work." Or do we suck it up, spend a bit more (that bit having a quite a few zeroes after it) and get those three ships finished and useful?

After all, we've already spent a lot of money on the LCS program (the gift that keeps on giving precisely nothing) a "ship" which can't do anything and probably never will. Zumwalt, at the very least, has a useful radar and sonar system and the capability to carry a whole bunch of missiles. Something LCS is incapable of.

I vote for finish it, learn the right lessons and move on. Some of the Zumwalt technology is pretty slick, far more complex and interesting than some dumb ass writing articles for UPI will ever understand. A lot of the stuff is also classified and not something well known even inside the Navy. If you don't work Zumwalt, you don't know, and if you do know and aren't in the Zumwalt world, someone has committed a serious security violation.

But I shied away from further discussion over on koobecaF as I really do suck at discussions and don't want to piss anybody off (especially friends) over a "tilting at windmills" scenario. In other words, some of us know things, some of us don't. I am actually required by law to keep it that way.

So if my departure from that discussion seems odd, well, I like my job and really, really want to keep it. So I have to stop talking.

In other news...

I've added The Gormogons to the blogroll, been reading them for a while, figured I'd share. It's what I do. (Okay, I suck at sharing, but you probably knew that.)

At any rate this recent post of theirs I found very educational, it's about taverns, bars, saloons, beer halls, and the like. Good stuff.

I had no ideer...

And for what it's worth, I suck at drinking.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Uh, What? (Perhaps I Should Ask WHO?)

Saw the above at Ann Althouse's place, made me shake my head. Say what?

Apparently, this truly is a thing, observed on the third Sunday of November since 1993 (started by those RoadPeace folks). Of course, the UN has the answer. (FEVR is a European thing, RoadPeace is in the UK.)
WHO, FEVR and RoadPeace have jointly developed a book, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims: a guide for organizers, to provide practical guidance to people or groups on how to plan and organize events on this day. The book gives a brief history of the day, offers suggestions on how to plan the day and provides examples of specific activities that can be organized. We encourage all those concerned with road traffic crashes and their consequences to use this guide to organize annual events in different parts of the world to ensure that the advocacy opportunity of this day is fully realized. (Source)
What are the facts, here in the U.S. of A?

According to statista -
Between 2011 and 2017, road traffic injuries in the United States grew by about 530,000 incidents to some 2.7 million road traffic-related injuries in 2017. Over the same period, fatalities had also increased by about 5,000. This follows two decades of a general decrease in the amount of traffic-related injuries.
They go on to say -
In the United States, male drivers are behind the wheel in the majority of fatal crashes. Speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol have often been to blame, neither have led to a rise in traffic fatalities in the U.S. Instead, cellphones are primarily the cause. Smartphone ownership has become almost omnipresent in the U.S. since 2011, and drivers are likely to be distracted by texting and using social media. Young drivers are the ones accounting for the highest share of cellphone use fatalities. Another reason why fatal accidents are rising in number is that non-occupants’ exposure to risk is also increasing. As residents become more encouraged to walk or cycle in cities, the extra time amongst traffic has led to higher rates of fatalities and injuries amongst cyclists and pedestrians. Lastly, poor infrastructure and lack of awareness by motorists is prevalent in large parts of the United States.
They even have a chart -

Do chase that source link under the chart because on statista's website the chart is interactive. Also note, if'n you don't wish to chase the link, while the number of fatalities appears steady on the graph, the numbers look like this-
  • Year Fatalities
  • 1990 44599
  • 1993 40150
  • 1996 42065
  • 1999 41717
  • 2002 43005
  • 2005 43510
  • 2008 37423
  • 2011 32479
  • 2014 32744
  • 2017 37133
So traffic accidents are indeed a major source of deaths and injuries, something like 1.25 million people a year die in traffic accidents worldwide. (Where I got that is here.) Another interesting chart is over at Wikipedia, so yes, take that with a grain of salt, but it seems valid based on my personal experiences in driving in different parts of the world. (As expected - by me - the Germans rank low in fatalities per 100,000. They really are pretty good behind the wheel and their driver education is also top notch.)

As for Fauxcahontas' tweet...  Seriously, #EndTrafficViolence? How about any of the following instead?
  • #EndStupidityNow
  • #TeachPeopleHowToDrive
  • #PayAttentionBehindTheWheel
  • #ShutUpLiz
You might gather that I am not a big Elizabeth Warren fan. You would be correct in that assumption.

I find the inability of many people to correctly operate a motor vehicle somewhat appalling. Seeing examples of complete stupidity and woeful failures to actually pay attention every single day, it rather staggers the imagination when you wonder how some people were ever licensed to drive. Perhaps on the day they were tested, they actually knew what they were doing, but over time they've developed some very bad habits it would seem.

Yes, it's a problem but it's not a problem that's going to be solved by observances, sanctimonious tweets, and the like. Not to mention that the mourning of a lost loved one is a very personal affair, not sure how all of that WHO stuff will fix anything or comfort anyone. I dunno, maybe it will, no doubt YMMV.

But seriously, #EndTrafficViolence? Like the bad drivers are doing this intentionally?


Monday, November 18, 2019

Mos Eisley-The Cantina

So...A couple of Weekends ago, Mrs J and I traveled to what I had believed to be THE most wretched hive of scum and villiany in the universe.  Well, turns out...I was wrong.  The only remaining reliable news source has determined that DC is in fact third worst.

Having lived in DC, but not in the first and second place winners (losers?), I still have my doubts, but that's neither here nor there.

As I said, we traveled to the east coast WHOSAV* and checked in to the Airport Hilton arriving there in the early evening.  After dropping off bags at the room, contacted Little J who was headed our way along with an overabundance of other souls fleeing WHOSAV.

He would be delayed.

We decided we would have an adult recreational beverage while anticipating his arrival. That momentous decision was unanimously decided, so we proceeded to the  hotel's Cantina.  Fortunately our arrival therein was recorded.

I'm the one in the Gold outfit.

Turns out that not only was the hotel hosting the Juvat Clan reunion, it was also hosting an Online Gamers Marathon.

As we were boarding our flight from Austin, (which was an adventure in itself.  It took us an hour and a half to transit a little over a mile due to traffic light malfunction at the Y at Oak Hill.  Anybody who's transited Austin East-West knows that intersection.  Yes, we OJ'd through  the airport.)

You were saying something about "Boarding your flight", juvat?

Lo siento, mi sargento de la Fuerza Aérea increíblemente viejo, ¡me distraje!

As we were boarding our flight, I noticed a young guy, scraggly beard, T-shirt, flip flops, with a computer under his arm.  It looked pretty expensive, and he treated it with a bit of care placing it in the overhead compartment.  I had wondered what that was all about.  Most people travel with a laptop, not a CPU.

In any case, this guy was with us all the way to the hotel.  It was only when I saw the above sign did I begin to understand.

But, Mrs J and I walk up to the entrance to the "cantina", music is playing, people are talking.  Sounds like fun is being had.

We walk in, and much like the video above, the music stops and someone growls, "We don't serve that kind here".

OK, maybe not the latter.  but I'm pretty sure the music stopped.  

And I KNOW everyone was staring.

I also know Mrs J and my presence in the fairly crowded bar raised the average age in it by 20 years.

Fortunately, the hostess took pity on us and led us to a table near the bar.  Where we ordered our adult recreational beverage,  a single malt Scotch, in this case, The Glenlivet

While the Bartender is fixing our libation, Mrs J and I are looking at all the peeps, and glancing at one another and starting to chuckle.

It's every cliche about millenials ever one room.

If this threesome had walked in to my wine tasting room, I'd have asked for at least two forms of ID.

Actually, the bar wasn't all that noisy, Mrs J were able to carry on a conversation, although we could overhear some of the others near by.

My favorite?

"How did you do on the Final Fantasy Round?"

 "I heard Karbo won the round."  (Coulda been Carbo, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt)

"Yeah, so did I, I heard he was maxing out the game using only 30% of his CPU capacity."

Drinks have arrived, that is a glass of water.  I was thirsty and elected to chug a glass of water rather than a glass of expensive Scotch.
Well, as the evening progressed, more of the tournament players started to show up.  The group at the bar picked up a few more and expanded in our direction.  Turns out, as I overheard an introduction, Karbo is the guy in the middle with the black T-shirt.

Their conversation quickly devolved into techno-geek babble which was untranslatable to mere mortals like ourselves.  Fortunately, right around this time, Little Juvat arrived and we went to dinner.

As Little Juvat's wife is wont to say.  "It was HIGHLY entertaining."

-->  wretched hive of scum and villiany