Friday, December 31, 2021

In which this Author admits he is wrong... and an almost Earth Shattering Kaboom!

 So, well, some of you may know that I spent some time on Kwajalein Island, in Kwajalein Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, in the early 70s, as a kid, while my father was the Air Force liaison to the Army Base that the Navy supplied and the Air Force routinely bombed (or warheaded.)

Said island, and atoll, and region being relatively easily wrested from the grips of the Imperial Japanese in the first half of 1944, after a rather bitter struggle taking the Gilbert Islands away from said Imperial Japanese, re: Tarawa, Bloody Tarawa.

Having read the whole of the US Army History 'Green Book' on the seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, maybe 5-6 times (get the pdf here: Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls - U.S. Army Center of Military History or the whole entire catalog available here:  U.S. Army in World War II Series - U.S. Army Center of Military History Seriously, if you are serious about the US involvement in WWII, the US Army realized that they needed to get stuff down on paper before they started losing too many people, so the Army assigned historians to collect data and interviews and assemble one of the most awesomely expansive and complete history of military operations ever, though the writing can be somewhat academic and there are a lot of 'useless data' if you're only interested in actual shoot-shoot history) 

Where was I?  Oh, yeah. Having read the book on the Gilberts and Marshalls many times, I thought I got the part about Naval Gunfire as it pertained to the Gilberts (woefully ineffective) and the Marshalls (completely effective, no problems, worked like a charm) correct when I have commented upon Naval Gunfire as it was used in other places, like during Operation Overlord and other places.

The specific issue was the range of the firing used by the US Navy in the Gilberts vs the Marshalls.  And the issue came up with after-action review of the failures of said gunfire in the Gilberts and how to do it right in the Marshalls (and everywhere else, of course.)

So what went wrong in the Gilberts that they had to change to be successful in the Marshalls?

Well, here comes the point where I was woefully wrong, and I fully admit it. Time for ritual flogging and wearing of sack-cloth.

What I've assumed since the last time I read the Green Book (so called by historians because the hard copy versions were issued in, yes, green cloth covers (trivia, I know, but what's history without trivia?) was that in the Gilberts the US Navy stood way out of range and badly lobbed rounds upon the various islands and that is what made the gunfire ineffective while in the Marshalls the Navy sailed point blank up to the islands in the atolls and opened fired, point blank, and that was what made the Marshalls gunfire so effective.

Which, sadly to my ego, is woefully wrong.

Firstly, a discussion of what an atoll is.  And how it is possible to sail a ship almost right up to an atoll and perform point-blank gunnery.  This is possible because of the way atolls are formed.  Take a glass, top upwards, submerge in a full sink until the rim is barely above water.  That's basically what an atoll is. The rim of an extinct volcano that is poking mostly or partially out of water.  Said rim can be either actual volcanic material as is found in Truk lagoon, where the jagged caldera still mostly pokes above the ocean, leaving a deep harbor with many entrances available for ships and fish and water and sea monsters and aliens to go in and out if they can get over whatever lip still remains under water. Or it could be mostly submerged with basically coral encrustations poking out from when the sea level was 10' or more higher than it is now (so take that, globull warming conspiracy freakazoids, the sea levels have risen and fallen longtime before Man ever stood up and scratched his privates in public) and thus leaving low coral islands surrounded by coral reefs with the occasional pass worn into said rim by the actions of water or space aliens or maybe those ancient flying DC-8 space ships the Scientologists talk about that nuked all of Earth's volcanoes... no, not kidding, that's one of the beliefs of theirs.  In these style atolls the lagoon can be anywhere from barely passable for ships to really deep, and the passages can be anywhere from feet deep at high tide to deep enough to take battleships and carriers and other forms of naval ships.

Truk Lagoon, or Chuuk Lagoon as it's been renamed.
Notice tall portions.  That's the extinct volcano walls poking out.
While the outer ring is more like most other atolls, a build up of reef material poking out of water


Tarawa, Bloody Tarawa...
This is more what is normally found, the caldera ring.
Coral islands exposed due to lowering sea levels.
Center lagoon, deep enough to be used as a harbor
Passage to the deep ocean from the lagoon.
That outer rim?  Goes from sea level to way deep real quick.

In the Gilberts campaigns, such as Tarawa, Bloody Tarawa, the US Navy sailed right up to the islands and plastered them at point-blank range.  Possible because the outer reef rim goes from median sea level (almost exposed in low tide, covered completely during high tide, exposed during the neap tide and you can go walking on the reef that is normally underwater, done it, it's fun, great way to collect all sorts of sea creatures.) And because they were point blank, firing point blank, the rounds were bouncing off the coral and flying into the inner lagoon or beyond, which, when you think about it, is rather more dangerous to ships and people in and on the water on the other side of the island, rather than being dangerous to people on the island (unless your luck sucks so bad you happen to be the grease spot where some 14" shell went skipping across the island.)

So, between the Gilberts campaign and the Marshalls campaign, the various US Forces (US Navy, US Army, US Marine Corps, US Army Air Force (possibly even the US Coast Guard)) sat down and reviewed what worked and why, what didn't work and why, and how to make what worked better, and how to fix what didn't work so it did work.

The result?  Use more tracked amphibians, more amphibious trucks, get tanks on right away, get supplies landed ASAP even if that means landing bulldozers under fire in order to clear lanes and landing zones.  Capture secondary islands and turn them into artillery platforms for the support of the attack on the primary island. AND (getting to naval gunfire) move the ships back so they can do plunging fire and have the ability to move close to take on individual targets with point blank AP fire (like a particularly nasty bunker that just won't give up) but mostly lob and use the extremely accurate naval fire control to do its job of lobbing death and destruction.

So, well, in the Marshalls, starting with Kwajalein Atoll and the attacks at the twin islands of Roi-Namur on the northeast corner of the atoll and the attack at Kwajalein Island on the southeast corner of the atoll, the US Navy did what bitter lessons in the Gilberts and especially at Tarawa, Bloody Tarawa, taught.  Hanging back and blazing away with as much fire as possible and just flattening anything that sticks above the ground.  

Post battle analysis of the attack on Kwajalein Island came up with artillery killed probably 75% of the enemy, and shocked the rest of them into very broke resistance, while destroying most of the enemy's equipment and fortifications.

So, well, Mea Culpa.  My bad.

What made me change my story?  I watched a youtube video.  The "From the Battlefields" channel.  Channel here:  From the Battlefields - YouTube

And the video itself? Battle of Kwajalein 1944 - Applying Lessons Learned - YouTube

Sorry, our  wonderful hosting site won't let me bring up the video directly so you'll have to click on it.

Good history.  There's something for everyone on it.  

And the part about the Japanese torpedo magazine on Namur Island, well, subtle hint.  DON'T THROW SATCHEL CHARGES INTO A TORPEDO MAGAZINE!!!!  Seriously, watch the video and see for yourself.  Big kaboom, almost-Earth Shattering Kaboom.

Other than that, hope you all are enjoying the 6th Day of Christmas and the last of this year.  Let's hope the remaining 6 days are as good or better than the last 6 and the two previous to it and that the new year is better, safer, less stupid filled.

As to the font, I've been trying to find one that is readable.  "Normal" size is too small, "Medium" is barely any better, gonna try "Large" and may have to fix it 

Thursday, December 30, 2021


 So there I was, having fun, thinking up wonderful things to blog about, having fun with the dog, the wife, the neighbors not making wrong-noise in the parking lot and...

My right little toe decided to rotate outward and snag something.  Kersnap, yet another microbreak to the stupid toe.  Then, trying not to scream and curse and scare the wife, the dog, the neighbors not making wrong-noise in the parking lot, managed to whack my left chin, hard, right on the spot that has never really ever stopped hurting in 30 years (mayhaps I'll bring that up to the doc next time I go see him.)  Then my left little toe decided that the right was having too much fun and decided to snag itself on the carpet.

I am not having a good day.  Looking at my toes and thinking, do I really need you two?  I mean, get rid of them and I'd be able to buy normal wide shoes, rather than Triple-E wide shoes.  And, well, Lowes sells pruning shears, Publix sells hydrogen peroxide, I can buy sutures and needles off the internet, I could do this.  Heck, I could buy one of those surgical staplers off the internet.  Hmmmm... Hmmmmmmmm...

Yeah, right, like even if I wanted to, Mrs. Andrew would put the kabosh on it.  And probably rightly so, as it's always easy to get to my left foot as my left leg is highly flexible.  But the right?  Always been the less flexible one, and I kind of have to work to get my toe-nails cut or other footly things.  It's why I am very right dominated and I lead with my left side, shield forward so to speak.

At least I got both toes taped to their brother toes, and front of chin is patched up (and currently has the dog laying on it, so that feels good but not good and I hope he doesn't grind his elbows into the chin like he is wont to do.

As to the toes?  Well, my grandma used to put boards up at the end of the bed so that the blankets wouldn't touch her feet as she had pain in her feet all her life.  Something I also have had.  Really great when your doctor asks if your feet hurt and you tell them yes but that they've always hurt. Been saying it for 50 years and nobody seems to have listened yet so must not be important, no?

Quelle Bummer, n'est pas?

Durned toes... 

Hmmm... Got a Kukri.  A tomahawk.  A shingling hatchet.  Lots of knives.  The possibilities are endless.


I could just wear shoes in the house like Mrs. Andrew says I need to do.  Bleh.  Shoes. In the house. How uncivilized.  Bleh.


I have a cordless circular saw and a cordless sawsall.

I also have a meat hammer, several sledge hammers, and a variety of other hammers.


Shoes...  Bleh.

Shoes win. For now.  Hate adulting.

And, no, I am not taking pictures of my ugly toes to show you people.  I respect you too much to show you my hideous feet on a good day.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The 12 (Or 13) Days of Christmas, sorry, no rant today

 Okay, it's (checks calendar) still Christmastide, being the 4th day of Christmas as all y'all read this, so something our noble host said in a comment the other day or so struck me as reasonable so no ranting during Christmas.  I'll save it till after the 12th (day of) and we'll go from there.

Sooo... what to talk about?

How about the FAA delaying Starship for two whole months?  Er, no.  That's Silicone Greybeard's territory, along with The Angry Astronaut (over at yousetubes.)

Covidiocracy and the Brain-Dead animatronic finally saying it's not the Fed Gov's responsibility, after saying for two years that it was?  

Or Putin holding Europe hostage over Russian gas because some idiot cut off American gas?

Rants, all rants, but this isn't a rant, soooo...

Well, what about the days of Christmas?  A lot of my non-Catholic acquaintances, obviously never raised Catholic, never really understood the whole Advent-12 days of Christmas thingy.

Advent being the whole month or 28 days or whatever, the leadup to Christ's Birth, well, the time to start walking across all of Judea for the holy family and for all the portents (like the Star) and such to get into place and line up and such (and, coincidentally, a time of fasting amongst monks which presumably meant also abstinence from strong drink and thus the first detox clinics were set up.)

Hmmmm... Maybe... Maybe not... As Mediocracy said, "Eh, good enough."

And then the days of Christmas begin, with:  (some dates change because of liturgical calendar stuff, so kind of like Chanukah or Hanukkah or that Jewish Festival of Lights that moves around the Gregorian Calendar because it's tied into the lunar calendar because they're Jewish and not Christian and think Gregor was a nice goy, but Oy, vey, hands off the calendar there, sport.)

Format will be

Day of Christmas - Date - What it represents from the song (yes, that song) - Feast or meaning

0th day of Christmas - Dec. 25th - (blank) - Jesus born in a manger (in a cave) and then goes to the town of Bethlehem, or born in a manger in Bethlehem, depending on which Gospel one thinks holds the truth.  Hah, a trick. Not a day of the 12 days of Christmas

1st day of Christmas - Dec. 26th - Jesus - maybe this was the day Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, if you follow that born in a cave thingy in the early Gospels.  Seriously, Mary was a real human woman, who'd want to ride into town after popping out a kid, she took a rest, right?  Otherwise, the Feast of St. Stephens, who was the first Christian Martyr, stoned to death in 36 AD or 36 CE if you're being politically correct (or you could look at it like it was 36 CE (Christ's Era which totally destroys the whole politically correct thingy, and the whole BCE being, of course, Before Christ's Era.  Whoot.  Stick it, politically 'correct' people! Whoot!)

2nd day of Christmas - Dec. 27th - The Old and New Testament - Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. No earthly clue why it's here except well, gotta feast, dontcha know?  Or... if you're one of the Eastern Orthodox, then it's St. Stephen's Day.  Gee, being on the wrong side of the early date line sucked back then just as much as it does today, I guess.  Maybe the holy day of leftovers?  Nobody consulted me on this, happened long ago, no control over it.

3rd day of Christmas - Dec. 28th - The Three Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity - Holy Innocents' Day, upon which we celebrate Herod ordering the deaths of the boy children one year after Jesus is born.  Why is this part of the Christmas Story?  Because it's part of the Mysteries (oooh, waves and waggles fingers in the air) which are those things about Christianity that are, well, mysteries (like the Trinity, which is 3 parts of a whole One God. No, I am not making fun of Christianity.  There are things we are not to truly know and understand because mysteries.  Hey, if you can say "follow the Science" and make it mean the complete opposite, then I can believe in the inherent mysteries of God.)

4th day of Christmas - Dec. 29th - the Four Gospels that talk about Christ's Birth, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - Feast and Memorial of St. Thomas of Beckett, who had the juevos to tell Henry II that he was wrong.  Today, instead of a few rando knights doing the deed, it's the enemedia and the three-letter-agencies who do the dirty work.  More the times change, more they stay the same.  Still don't know what this has to do with Christmas, except that's when supposedly Thomas got gacked.  Suckethed to doth be Himself. 

5th day of Christmas - Dec. 30th - First Five Books of the Old Testament -  Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Or not, depending on that Liturgical calendar thingy. Celebrates who again?  Oh, that's right, the Holy Earthly Family.  Simple, no? (see liturgical calendar depending on whether or not the 30th is a Sunday or not or not depending on how Holy Mother Church decides on how to interpret (or not) the liturgical calendar rules.  Did I just drink some bad eggnog?  Am I hallucinating?  Is this that 'mysteries' thingy I was referring to earlier?  Dunno.  My head's starting to hurt now...)

6th day of Christmas - Dec. 31st - Six Days of Creation before God rested on the Seventh - Feast of St. Sylvester I, who, apparently, was responsible for building some really nice churches, of which he got his sainthood for, so not a 'Christmas feast day,' but a feast day during Christmas.  Eh, it works.

7th day of Christmas - Jan. 1st - The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, being Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of God -  Feast of the Solemnity of Mary (or, Jesus's Bris, what a good Jewish boy he was.)  A day to celebrate Mary's motherhood, and the day she had Jesus circumcised.   An explanation of the Seven Gifts is:  Wisdom: helps us judge what is important, meaningful, purposeful, etc.  Understanding: to know something is different from truly understanding it. I can know a lot of facts about someone, but that is different from truly understanding that person.  Counsel: helps us differentiate between right and wrong.  Fortitude: courage and endurance.  Knowledge: helps us to know God.  Piety: proper reverence for God, helps us obey God out of love.  Fear of the Lord: proper disdain for sin and awe of God’s goodness and love.

8th day of Christmas - Jan. 2nd - The Eight Beatitudes (from the Sermon on the Mount)Feasts of St. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nanzianzus (or Gregory the Theologian) so two more big names in the early Church but not directly related to Jesus's birth and early life.  For the breakdown on the Beatitudes - The Eight Beatitudes - List 🗹 (

9th day of Christmas - Jan. 3rd - The Nine Fruits of the Holy SpiritFeast or Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus.   Breakdown of the Nine Fruits - The 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit - Detailed Bible Study (

10th day of Christmas - Jan. 4th - The Ten CommandmentsFeast of St. Neophytos, who was martyred on the 4th for not giving up Christianity, and thus she was murdered and then martyred (along with 9 other young women). As to the 10 Commandments, just like it sounds.  And, no, juvat, the day does not commemorate the movie.

11th day of Christas - Jan. 5th - Eleven Faithful Apostles -  As to the Apostles, well, Judas, you had one job, and you did it darned well and you got shafted for it.  Seriously, always felt sad for Judas, who basically was pre-ordained to turn on Jesus and how was he treated?  He hung himself, so since that's suicide, he went to Hell.  I seriously hope upstairs took pity on him, especially on the 2nd day of Internment when Jesus went to Hell and rescued all those who were sent there before having a chance to hear his word.  Seriously, Judas, a sacrificial goat, what did he really do wrong?  Where's the redemption story?  Why?  Was he secretly working for the Morningstar (the devil) or was it just his lot in life to betray and get screwed for it?  Deep thoughts, will accept discussion on him as I really do wonder what other people feel about his role in the whole passion play (secret name for Easter Story.)(ohhh, another mystery or two?  maybe, maybe not.)

12th day of Christmas - Jan. 6th - The Twelve Points of Belief in the Apostles' Creed - The Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men show up (with loot, lots of loot, said loot used to pay for the escape to Egypt before Herod's proclamation of death to male children (see Dec. 28th.)  For a run-down of the 12 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed - What are the 12 beliefs in the Apostles Creed? - Daily Rosary Family

So I hope I didn't bore all y'all, but I did learn lots doing this, as I always messed up the 'Day' count as I often counted Christmas Day as Day 1 rather than Day 0.  Whodathunk.  Hope this wasn't too preachy or religiously or something.

And now a musical break.  A good Christmas carol (carol in my definition being a song referring to religion and not to earthy things.)  So, "Oh, Come, oh Come Emannuel."  With a twist.  Because I'm Beans and that's how I roll.  Emmanuel done in Hebrew.  

Kind of neat and pretty, no?

After all, Jesus was a good little Jewish boy who became a Rabbi, 
shame on him he didn't get married, how disappointed his mother must have been...

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Post-Christmas Post

Happy 3rd or 4th day of Christmas, depending on what day Sarge (and Beans) lets me publish this. I was inspired by Beans' post about holiday cooking as well as one by Juvat where he spoke about doing some of his own work on his mancave/workshop.*  About 10 days ago our oven stopped working.  The burners worked fine, but the oven itself would not preheat, or any function using the panel.  I went online to our Next Door app, which is useful and entertaining with posts of dog poop anger, parking woes, or sketchy people walking through the neighborhood.  It's also helpful for getting recommendations for handymen, contractors, and in my case- reputable appliance repairs.  I used the app to click a link and contact one company, but apparently Next Door uses something called Thumbtack- posting my request to several appliance repair places.  Minutes later I was on the phone with one of them and got two calls waiting from other companies.  Each of them was $10 more than the next for a service call, a charge that is waved of course if a repair is needed and purchased.  One of them was able to come over in about an hour, and after pulling the oven out from the wall and removing the back panel, he fiddled with some wires and it started working again.  It was some sort of short, or maybe something else.  I wasn't really sure as his Russian accent was thick and he mainly said the panel was going out.  A repair might be a workable solution, but a replacement panel wasn't possible since they are out of production, with our oven being fairly old, installed back we had our kitchen renovated in 2008.

As it turned out that repair only lasted about 3 days so my wife and I made the expensive decision to buy a new oven, not confident that a more in-depth repair would last or that a used or refurbished part could be found.  We also didn't want to wait seeing how I had planned a big Christmas dinner.  More on that later.

A quick trip to the Navy exchange was unsuccessful as the COVID-supply chain woes must have also affected their offerings.  None, of only four available in the Navy's second largest Navy Exchange (Norfolk's is larger), were compatible with our kitchen.  We were needing a slide-in gas range, vice the freestanding or electric ones they had.  We then checked out our local Best Buy which had some decent sales and several ranges that we were interested in.  I asked my boss who had recently replaced one where that purchase was made and was reminded that Lowe's has a military discount which saved us $100 on the one we purchased. Best part of that is that it was available (one of the main reasons it was chosen), local (Escondido - 30 min north), and could be delivered on Wednesday the 22nd.

My command has been allowing liberal leave and telework schedules over Christmas so I took the afternoon off to meet the delivery man, also paying Lowes for them to connect the gas line and haul away the old range.  When it showed up one of them disconnected the gas line and removed the old range while the other brought the new stove off of the truck. Unfortunately once it was opened I realized it was the wrong oven. The correct one wasn't even on the truck. He made a phone call and then I got both an email and a text saying that the order was canceled.  They left, I called Lowes Customer Service, and after 15 minutes finally found out that Lowe's had canceled it because the stove was no longer in stock. I thought this was absolute horse$#!% not quite right because there were three of them in stock just two days before.  I then called the store, asking for a manager, explaining that the reason I had ordered this particular model was because it was in stock and I needed to cook Christmas dinner.  He said he would look into it and call me back right away.  The lady in charge of appliances and called me back shortly thereafter stating that they found another stove in stock at the nearby Lowes (5 minutes away) and they would be delivering it on Thursday the 23rd.  Christmas Dinner crisis averted!  Or was it?

Fortunately that delivery went without a hitch other than them telling me that they wouldn't install it since the gas line was in the back of a cabinet next to the stove.  When we had the kitchen remodeled we had removed a wall oven which was directly above that gas line.  That must have been easier for our contractor to just route a new hose through the back of the cabinet, vice moving the gas line about 6 inches to the left.  So I had the delivery guys just leave it in place and I said I would hook the gas line up myself.

To be honest I was a little out of my comfort zone with that one, but I took the necessary precautions, securing the gas to the house, securing the line at the stove connection and ensuring everything was well ventilated just in case. Unfortunately the old stove was at a lower BTU then the new one so a new gas pipe nozzle would be needed. I later found out that the new line I ordered that was recommended with my purchase didn't have the adapter so off to Lowe's again. The guy in appliances was very helpful and gave me the correct adapter because it was supposed to have been in the box already.  If you've ever noticed at those big box stores, packages seem to get rifled through and sometimes you'll find them on the shelf ripped open with screws or parts missing, or other irregularities.  Our box was no exception.

Thanks for the parking spot Lowes!

So, after one Lowe's trip for the fitting (and installation fee refund), and one Home Depot trip for the larger gas valve, I was finally prepared.  Then I wrenched my back as I twisted on the floor to reach into that cabinet, not to mention climbing behind the stove which had little room to spare due to the short length of the gas line.  Turns out righty tighty, lefty loosey is a little complex when you're upside down on your back with your hands over your head.  Anyhoo, after several tries I finally got it all hooked up in time for dinner.*  

Christmas dinner was amazing. I made a prime rib for the first time in my life and it turned out perfect. The instructions were very interesting to me as I had never cooked something like this before. It said to season the roast with a garlic, salt, and pepper rub, lay it fat side down in the pan, and cook it at 550 for only 5 minutes per pound**, then securing the heat and leaving in the oven for 2 hours without opening the door.  I guess it seared the outside allowed it to just slow cook on the inside. It was delicious and I will be making that again.

I paired it with some seasoned potatoes, grilled asparagus, and both a Pinot noir and leftover champagne from our Christmas morning mimosas.  My wife broke out the China as we don't use it often enough, and Christmas Dinner is a perfect opportunity to use it while breaking bread to celebrate our Lord's birth.

I'm familiar with songs using this lyric, but I didn't realize that "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day" was a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It's a nice one for the season, but also gets semi-political at the end if you want to read it that way.  Fortunately Longfellow is a bit of an optimist, knowing that what's good and holy will win out in the end.  Enjoy the poem, then a musical variation which is one of my favorites of the season.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Season.  I will be keeping it going, trying to keep my wife from dismantling the house before Epiphany.

Oh wait, I almost forgot about Christmas Eve Mass.  There's no midnight mass anymore apparently, and my own parish has only a bilingual service at 5pm, and the same at 9am on Christmas morning.  So we attended a lovely service at 9:30PM at the even more lovely Carmelite Monastery here in San Diego, just a few minutes away from our house.  If one googles it, it says that it's permanently closed.  In a way it is, as it's not an active parish in the diocese, but they (Discalced Carmelite Nuns) do hold daily and weekend masses which are technically open to the public.   We invited a friend to join us, and when she arrived she was amazed that such a beautiful place was so unknown. "It's like a secret church" she said.  It only has eight or so rows, with seats for 6 people on each side, so we were surprised it wasn't more full, but our government has definitely ramped up the Omicron fear.  I hope you have a fear-free New Year and see you 'round the Chant!




Final final note-  Juvat wanted me to call attention to an important update to his Monday post- that he had incorrectly stated that the unvaxxed were allowed onboard.  Other than small kids, everyone had been vaxxed.  So any of you unvaxxed hopeful cruisers will have to re-think your plans.

*Turns out I didn't use enough plumbers' putty so the next day we smelled a little gas, but I just removed all the connections and reapplied more, but with plumbers tape as well.  No asphyxiation so far so wish me luck.

**5 minutes for rare, 6 for medium, 7 for well.  I went for medium rare.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Practice Cruise AAR

 So...There I was....* Galveston, Texas, Mrs. J and I, about to embark on Liberty of the Seas for a 7 day cruise of the Western Caribbean with port calls at Roatan Honduras, Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico and three sea days.  Just the two of us (and about 2000 other passengers, capacity is 3634, but still under WuFluLu restrictions), Mrs J had received 2 "free" tickets by signing up with a travel agent organization.  


Yes, Beans, "free" is a misnomer.  The tickets were free, but we still had to pay all the other charges.  Essentially it was one free ticket and one normal price when it all worked out. Still, not a bad deal.

She decided we needed to go on this so we could experience what ever WuFluLu** is in force on a cruise. We would be better able to advise the guests going on our two upcoming wine cruises Mid-January and Mid-February.  That goal was a success. 

And, other than a fairly rocky start, we had a good time and gained a lot of useful info on cruising under current conditions. 

We traveled to Galveston the night before departure.  Traffic headed towards Houston is always crowded, and unpredictable, so didn't want to arrive on the day of departure.  Had a nice dinner at Landry's Seafood and an early turn in.

Got up the next morning and headed towards the ship around lunch. That was when the festivities began.  I've got a silk neck gaiter on, covering my mouth and nose.  Haven't needed it much around the house, but that's my go to when I've got to play the game.  Well...I get stopped by one of the Port Authority people and told that my "mask" is not acceptable. Then starts the "gummint shoeclerk" rant and rave.  

I'm dangerously close to turning around and leaving when one of the Ship's crewmembers walks up and hands me a paper mask.  The crewmember leads Mrs. J and I to our next station leaving the shoe clerk sputtering behind us.  

That next station happened to be travel documents.  I've got my documents, including my credit card sized passport in my wallet.  I present them to the agent and get waved through.  Mrs. J is thumbing through her purse and wallet looking for something.  She can't find the special wallet where she'd placed her passport for the trip. I talk to the custom's guys to let me go back out and check if it's fallen out in the truck.  They OK that.

While I'm headed back out to the truck, Mrs. J is evaluating options.  Turns out, a Birth Certificate, even a photocopy thereof, is good enough to prove citizenship and allow entry.  Mrs. J calls my Sister who lives on our property and talks her through getting a copy of the Birth Certificate E-mailed to her.

Turns out, that was a good idea, as after close inspection of our truck, I could not find her passport.  So...Lesson Learned #1.  Bring both the credit card sized passport and the regular passport and a photocopy of your Birth Certificate, when exiting the country.  Don't put them all in one place. 

With Birth Certificate photocopy in hand, we complete the boarding process and make our way toward our room.  At the elevators, we encounter a sign saying elevators are limited to 5 guests or one group of people traveling together. There are 12 available elevators,  AKA 60 people at a time, 60 into 2000 people = 30+ trips per elevator to transport all passengers.   Fortunately, our stateroom was only 3 floors above the boarding deck.

That 5 person rule very quickly evolved into "Group traveling together".  I mean, we were in the same elevator which is a group, it travels up and down, and we are together, therefore....

Got to our stateroom, unpacked the bags and sat out on our balcony until sail time when we made our way to the Olive or Twist Lounge.  Get it?

Had to laugh at this Lady's Outfit.

  If you don't speak Fighter Pilot, well Sarge will have to relax the rules to explain what that expression is in non-Fighter Pilot-ese.  Suffice it to say the first two words are "What the...".   She hadn't known what the acronym stood for.  Mrs. J tactfully explained it to her. 
They ended up joining us for a couple of drinks laughing about it.  Saw her several more times on the cruise, never in that blouse however.

The next afternoon, the Captain gets on the intercom and announces that we are making an unscheduled stop in Cozumel to off load a passenger with medical issues beyond the ship capacity to handle. Ruh-Roh!  The ship docks, the passenger and her companion are disembarked and the ship sets sail again.

That evening at dinner, the maitre' d seats us at a 4 top and then comes back and asks if we'd mind moving to a 2 top right next to where we were sitting.  Pretty soon a guy is seated there by himself.  I overhear him tell the waiter that his table mates had been the two some that left the ship and were admitted to a hospital.

A couple of days at sea passed without incident. I read and worked on tanning my legs.

Finally we pulled in to Roatan, Honduras.  We didn't have any excursions planned, but per our mission statement, we got off the boat to see what the WuFluLu level was in this port.  Yes, this did mean visiting the duty free shop and checking out liquid refreshment pricing.  (Pretty good actually, however we couldn't get a straight answer on how much we could bring back with us.  Turns out it's a gallon each.  Important info for next cruises.)  Other than that, we didn't see anyone from Roatan wearing facemasks and not many of the passengers either.


Back on the boat, next stop was  Costa Maya, which is a Royal Caribbean built port.  Wandered about a bit. Prices were high, choice was limited, but they did have an interesting "floor" show.

They climbed up to the top of the pole, wrapped the rope around the top, got the platform rotating, then wrapped the rope around their legs and gradually lowered themselves head first to the ground all while playing their instruments.  

I got dizzy watching. And felt the need for an adult recreational beverage.

I thought the local limeade would be tasty.  I wasn't wrong.  Yes, Beans, they added something to the drink to kill any bugs that might be in it.    I think they named it after somebody named Margie or Rita or something.

Back on board, it's dress up night.  Even the crew got in on the game.

They also had a subtle way of thumbing their nose at "the rules".

The little button has a picture of him without a mask.  All the service crew had it.  Subtle way of communicating "I'll comply because I need the job, but this is dumb."

That evening at dinner, the maitre' d seats us next to the guy whose table mates had been the two some that left the ship.  We chatted with him for a bit and asked how his friend was doing.  He said "Not Well, she needs a transfusion, but there didn't appear to be any of her blood type available."  We asked and he answered "O negative".  

I glanced at Mrs. J.  She happens to be that blood type.  She mentioned that to him and offered to donate if needed.  He said he'd contact them.  However, we, not being related to her, could not get any info on where she was being hospitalized.  Unfortunately, before we got back into Cozumel, she had passed with a ruptured Aorta.

We didn't go into Cozumel, per se, just stayed in the port facilities, had a burger and margarita at Jimmy B's place (Yes, Beans, Margaritaville.) and watched the floor show.

Then we headed back to Galveston.  On arrival and clearing customs (no problem with Birth Certificate only), picked up the truck and headed out.  Hadn't reached Houston yet when we both decided  to swing by and spend some time with MBD, SIL and hold MG our Grand Daughter.  

Two months old.  

Good and Bad, Happy and Sad, Life goes on.

Taken from our back porch, Christmas Day.  I think I'll name this picture "The Lord's Eagle".

Have a Happy New Year, y'all!

Correction! I was wrong about vaxxed/unvaxxed passengers.  I based my assumption that there were unvaxxed pax on board by the "Vaxxed only" signs in some areas of the ship.  Mrs J, when she read this post corrected me.  The ONLY unvaxxed passengers were those under 5 years old.  I will ritually disembowel myself at my next opportunity.

*Standard Juvat Caveat

**Wuhan Flu Lunacy

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sunday, Lazy Sunday...

 So here I sit, quietly enjoying silly holiday movies, snoring dog at my feet.  And absolutely nothing worth writing about, really.  

Christmas was good.  Quiet, peaceful, good food, low stress.  Just what I needed after the last month of hectic stupidity and idiocy (seriously, Bank, you thought people buying presents was out of the ordinary during Christmastime and so you shut the card off right as Baby needed a new set of wheels?  Jerks.)

Ommmmm.  Nommmmmm... Nommmmmmmmm....

Peace and tranquility, that's all I have for this 2nd Day of Christmas.  Quiet, solitude, and LEFTOVERS!!!

So, to spread the joy and peace, here's probably one of Bach's top 10.

E. Power Biggs playing J. S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"
on the organ like God and Bach intended

Other than that, catch you on Tuesday or so for a potentially controversial rant-o-the-season full of vim and vigor, will and woe and stuffs.  But safe for work, weak men, women of all ages and children.  Just mellow ranting because I can.  Forewarning and foreshadowing and "FORE!"

And maybe some plane stuff...

Always have had a thing for Republic's overengineering...

Saturday, December 25, 2021

And It Came to Pass ...

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:1-20, KJV)

I wish you time with your loved ones, health, and (most of all) happiness. Peace on Earth my brothers and sisters ...

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Sugar and Spice!

 No, juvat, they are not two of the Solid Gold Dancers. Though it would be funny if they were.  That thought brought to you by me recently watching "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, one of the better 'modern' retellings of Charles Dickens' Christmas Tale.  I really wish they had made "The Night the Reindeer Died" starring Lee Majors (the Six Million Dollar Man himself.)  I mean, any movie that has the immortal lines "This is one Santa who's going out the front door" would have to be cheesy and fun and still 100 times better than most of the SciFi channel productions like "Sharknado" (of which, yes I watched, but not the sequels, oh God, the sequels.)

Yes, "The Night the Reindeer Died" is an actual 'promo' from "Scrooged."
Seriously, this would be fun to watch, no?

Okay, seriously, sugar and spice. Think of it.  What do most of us Americans and lots of foreigners have ample supplies of pretty much at all times that less modern people wouldn't? (Well, besides modern health care and indoor plumbing and safe food and decent transportation and dyes that won't poison the wearer nor cosmetics that won't poison the wearer and I could go on and on and on but you get the point.)

Sugar and spices.


I've got enough cinnamon of both flavors to last a couple years, ground nutmeg, cloves ground and unground, pepper, chili pepper, cumin, poultry seasoning, sage, and many much more, in quantities that would flabbergast anyone pre-WWII, unless that someone was quite rich or worked for someone quite rich.

Think of it.  A cask of peppercorn, maybe three feet high by about one and a half in diameter, that's enough peppercorn to, prior to the late 1700s, be enough to significantly impact the FINANCIAL structure of a large town or small city.  A small ship's load of peppers, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices, weighing in at about a ton or a tonne in total (not including packaging) would be enough to upset the finances of a whole kingdom.

What launched the great European navigation race?  Wasn't gold, no.  Spices.  What partially spurred the formation of the Hanseatic League and gave rise to the first mega-corporation, the Dutch-East Indies Company?


The Spice must flow.

In a medieval great-house, the lady of the house would be the one in charge of the spices and seasonings.  Oftentimes a nook in the kitchen, if not a whole room, with locked cupboards and boxes of which she had the keys for, hanging often off of a chatelaine (a broach or large thing that would hook under a belt of which descended all the keys and other accoutrements of a great lady.  The Victorian brooch from which a watch dangled from is, yes, a version of the chatelaine.)  She wielded great power because SHE controlled the spices and other expensive components of cooking (and she controlled the still room which, yes, had stills in it for making tinctures of various items, and also a place where herbs were hung to dry.)

The quaint medieval custom of a Royal Procession through the countryside, where the King checks up on the actual goings-on rather than relying on reports, was also a way of graciously bankrupting the local nobles said king was visiting.  Quaint.  Yeah.  I wonder how many ladies considered suicide or other means of ending it all as their carefully hoarded stashes of precious ingredients were used up by a royal ass dropping in for a vaca?

Why spices?  For the flavor, for the preserving power, for the ability to cover up substandard foods.  Same reason we use spices today.  Think of the common talapia fish.  Bland, almost flavorless.  What do you have to do to make that piece of piscine shoe leather taste good?  Ah, spices.  Of which Europe is remarkably unfavorable for in climate to grow said spices.  Got herbs, but herbs only go so far.  Spices are the way to go.

Seriously, before the world petrochemical thing, there was spice.  Pushing and pushing and pushing the expansion and exploration of trade routes.

That cinnamon roll you just scarfed?  That's a reasonable portion, in cinnamon, of a noble's ransom in early medieval times.

And it's not just spices.  Sugar itself was a huge luxury item until the widespread production of sugarcane in various African colonies and especially the West Indies.  Before that it had to be carried or shipped from India or Asia.  

Which, to tie it into the holiday season, is one of the many reasons why such sweet treats were and are popular around holidays.  And have been part of holiday celebrations ever since spices and sweeteners were first discovered.

So, on this Christmas Eve (checks calendar, yes, actually Christmas Eve today,) enjoy your kingdom's ransom of wonderful spices and seasonings.  Eat foods so flavorful even a Roman Emperor would be jealous.  And think about what you have in your cupboards and pantries.

Think about, in troubled times, how comforting a good spiced drink or confection can settle one's disturbed soul (so, well, don't just stock up on rice and freedom seeds and staples, stock up on some spices (especially cheap spice containers from Dollar Tree or such for trade goods.))

So Merry Christmas you wonderful people out there.  

And now for some music of the season.

Oh, oops, how'd that slip in there.
Bad Beans, Krampus will get you!

Hey, how else to keep your little monsters under control than to scare the pants off of them.
Or... Krampus is real...
Come on, it's Germany.  Where the original Hansel and Gretel get cooked in an oven for being over-indulged fat greedy food-shoveling little self-centered piglets of children.
Seriously, the original Hansel and Gretel is a daaaarrrrkkkk tale, really daaaaarrrk tale.

Okay, for real, here's some better music and video.