Monday, September 20, 2021

Sequins, Sequence, Seguin

 I had a really good Medal of Honor post all ginned up based on a recipient I recently read about in a post at Military.Com.  So I began researching it by searching Google. (Yes Beans, I used Brave as the browser, private mode through Tor, to attempt to throw Google off the scent.) Funny thing was, one of the first returns I got  had a address of oldafsarge.blogspot.com. Clicked the link and turns out it was the third one I'd published in the series. I still think it's a really good Medal of Honor post, but I didn't want to repost and that left me with no good back up subject.

So....There I was*..... early this month, suffering from Ground Hog Day syndrome which also seemed to be running rampant in the family.  Mrs J, being the astute observer and caring individual she is, started plotting  planning.  Any inquiries I made into her activities were shut down instantly with a "Top Secret, Need to Know only", comment.  I would return to my cave and rejoin my waiting Sudoku game.  After a few days of this, she presented me with a packing list and told me to get a bag packed as we were leaving the next day.  

Now, I have a strict rule in effect.  I am boycotting airlines until they lift the mask rule.  My boycott so far has taken out TWA, Braniff and Continental,  I think United will be next.

OK, maybe not exactly. But, I am not taking an Airline until they lift the rule.

When queried about that, she said travel would be by car and would be within a couple of hours drive.

"Well...OK then! Where to?"

"Seguin" 

Beans, it's pronounced si-GEEN. It's a middle sized town about 35 miles East of San Antonio.  It's named after Juan Seguin, one of the original men who helped Texas achieve independence.

 

Source

So, we leave about 3 the next afternoon, arriving in downtown San Antonio at 4:30.  San Antonio, much like Austin and Houston, has done a lot of growing lately, and not in a good way.  And...I-10 East is under construction, with several single lane construction areas.

Yes, Beans, many bad words were spoken, some even by Mrs J.

But we made it to Seguin. Mrs J had reserved an AirBnB house on River Oak drive,  so I assumed it would be somewhere near the Guadalupe River.

Pulled up to the house and parked.  We were joined almost simultaneously by MBD and SIL and DIL.  The front of the house was nothing special, so we went inside and were pleasantly surprised by the view from the back (upper) deck.


Yes, we WERE near the Guadalupe River.

Had to check out the water, so scurried down to see what was there. 


The view upstream which is to the left side of the landing, notice the light seems to be coming from that direction. That will be important in a short while.

The view from the dock.  Photo was taken the following morning.

I had arisen comparatively early (as compared to the rest of the clan), to capture preferred seating on the dock.



The sole living creature, other than myself, in sight was a heron across the river. Ahh, life in the fast lane!

So, what did you do, all day, juvat?

Funny you should ask, Beans.


I read.


I read some more...and napped


Properly rested now, I read and watched the world (ok the river) go by.

SIL discovered a Kayak in the storage room so decided he'd go for a paddle.  I thought nothing of it as he's fairly athletic.  So he takes off paddling quite speedily.  MBD has joined me at this point.  I ask her how long SIL has been kayaking.  She replies "As far as I know, this is his first time."

I am a bit concerned.

Here he is returning about an hour + later.

I'm standing on the right side of the dock

Notice that the light is coming from the left side of the picture. Why was I concerned?

Bonus Sarge Points to the first correct answer.

That evening we celebrated DIL's Birthday.



Little J didn't make it in time for the blowing out of the candles, but he did put in an appearance for the present opening.



The following morning we went our merry ways. No Beans, I didn't take the Interstate back.  I decided I'd take Texas FM12 and view the "Devil's Backbone".  My blood pressure was much lower on arrival home.

We had fun and it was well planned and executed by Mrs J. (No surprise there!)

Peace out, y'all!

*SJC

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Autumn

September Afternoon

The summer wanes, the light in the late afternoon takes on a different hue as the sun sets in the west, it's more mellow, softer if you will. One of the things I like about where I live is that we sit up on a small hill so that the sunrises and sunsets are easily viewed.

I don't care for the wide vistas of the Plains, sure you can see what's coming, but it can see you as well. Perhaps having grown up in the woods I'm just more comfortable there. I "feel" the forest around me, I know what sounds normal and what might indicate danger in the area. It's something I'm used to, a setting I'm comfortable with.

I've lived out there on the Plains, you can see for miles. Frankly, I feel exposed out there. I need the shelter of the trees, the protection of the hills and mountains. Yes, there are hazards in both places. Tornados, though rare here they do occur, are far more prevalent out there on the Plains. Here you have the occasional hurricane to contend with, lots of wind, lots of rain, so far we've been lucky in that respect in the twenty-two years we've lived here, a couple of close calls, but nothing like the typhoons I experienced on Okinawa.

But autumn is special here, soon the leaves will start to turn, the colors can be intense, the hills alive with bright colors can take your breath away. The air smells different, it's hard to explain, but those who know, they know.

I went through a long period of not really caring for the fall season. Part of that was having played high school football for four years and then not playing any more. I missed it a great deal. But as the years passed, I began to love fall once more.

It's almost here, I can nearly smell it in the air. Yes, I know what follows but I enjoy winter. I know it sounds odd but I am like a little kid when it starts snowing. It's exciting, the world becomes bright and shiny.

I know, it gets cold too, but here in Little Rhody it's nothing like where I grew up. I've seen temperatures as low as -40° in Vermont. I've been outside in -30° weather, delivering newspapers. Mind you, that's without any wind chill. The smoke from the chimneys in the valley would rise straight up into the air. Just seeing that you knew that it was cold outside, you only referred to a thermometer to see what number was associated with the cold.

At -40° school would be cancelled, often you couldn't get the buses started anyway. Safer to just stay home. At -30° you just had to be careful, one day I came close to not taking Mother Nature seriously. Might have cost me a few toes if I hadn't recognized the signs and got indoors. It can kill you if you're not paying attention.

But for now I'll enjoy early fall, it's usually pretty mild here at this time of year. We may see a day in the mid to high 80s, but that's rare enough.

Today though, is magnificent, so I enjoy it. Let tomorrow worry about itself.

This weather makes me smile.



Saturday, September 18, 2021

Where Did the Summer Go?


It hit me Friday morning, well, it was close to morning, when I awakened from an exhausted, dreamless sleep. It's mid-September, past mid-September really. Based on the southern march of the sun, summer ends in four days. Based on my personal calendar, it ended almost three weeks ago. Based on the weather, well, let's just say the summer goes, then returns for a bit and will do that here in Little Rhody until October sometime. Further north there is already a bite in the air at night.

For me it's been a year without summer. Since I heard the words, "she's in the early stages of kidney disease," it became a time of waiting, followed by a time of mourning, which continues in varying stages.

Going out to Sandy Eggo to work on the ship has been a big help, busy, busy, busy. No time to mourn really, no time to wallow in the agony of loss. Which has helped me keep my sanity. Every now and then I find myself dwelling on loss, my own, that of others, and what it means to me.

Staggering down the stairs to get a cup of coffee, I was still groggy and only partially awake. I expected to see a familiar face look up from the back of the couch where she liked to sleep. It hit me, hard, she's gone. Her sister remains, and don't get me wrong, she's an awesome cat, but she doesn't have her sister's passion. Sasha lived life to the fullest, she was more than a cat, she was a friend, she was a constant companion for nearly eighteen years. Her not being here is a physical thing, something is missing. Anya knows this as well, she still looks for her sister, then looks to me as if to say, "What have you done with her?"

There are things we do for our companion animals, good and not so good things. The last decision one must make for a beloved companion is often the toughest decision one must make. I've had to do it, I'm sure you all have as well. I always wonder if it truly was the right thing to do. They come to me in my dreams to reassure me that they bear no grudge. But is that real, or is it my brain trying to comfort itself?

I don't know.

I'm looking forward to going out to the ship again, knowing that it might be the last time, retirement looms and I'm not getting any younger. The next few months will determine whether or not I really will hang up my virtual spurs at the end of next year.

I remember when it was time to retire from the Air Force, it was nice knowing that there were certain things I wouldn't have to do any more. Then there were the things that I knew that I would miss. But staying wasn't an option, it was time to move on.

Just like the summer, I will eventually move on from the massive sense of loss I'm  currently experiencing. But all things must pass, new things come, old things go.

But for the moment, the pain of loss is nearly overwhelming...



On the Mend
Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel & Dave Grohl 

One more day that I've survived
Another night alone
Pay no mind I'm doing fine
I'm breathing on my own

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Wake me when the hour arrives
Wake me with my name
See you somewhere down the line
We're tethered once again

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Was it you
Sat alone
Here we go

Close your eyes and stay a while
To take me where you go
Single file we walk the mile
Who's wandering back home

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Was it you
Sat alone
Here we go
Here we go
Here we go
Here we go


Friday, September 17, 2021

Dame Bramaged

 Oh, boy, so sorry for this, gotta toss something together and you're getting brain leftovers tonight.  

Mrs. Andrew has a rather nasty tooth infection that flared up at the last minute and now we're dealing with that.  So tomorrow first thing call the doc and get some antibiotics and then go hunting for functional dentists who will be willing to rip out said tooth and maybe another tooth without charging an arm and a leg.

Until such time as she can get relief from the pain either by antibiotics or ripping the tooth out, we'll just have to muddle along using hot compresses, hot tea, tea-bag poultices on the area (the tannin helps draw out the infection) and excessive flossing to keep the infection going out, not in.

The reason for needing to find a new dentist is because the dentist that last worked on the tooth promised oh so heartily that she'd be able to 'save' the tooth, when Mrs. Andrew was ready to get it yanked out four years ago.  Lack of decent follow-up care or giveadamn by said dentist has us now scrambling for another one.  And hopefully one who will be willing to listen to us.

And the dental insurance doesn't take effect for another 6 darned months.  Darned it.

Oh, well, woe is me blah blah blah.  Life sucks, deal with it.

Instead, enchiladas.  Made by a fat white guy.  Wanna get all stroppy over cultural appropriation?  Then give up your cars, your refrigerators, your air conditioning, electricity, modern indoor plumbing, modern clothes, European style houses.

Enchiladas - Beans style

1 chicken breast, cut up into little bitty pieces.
1 clump of cilantro chopped up real fine (warsh the darned stuff first or you'll be eating sand)
1 can Pinto Beans
1 large or 2 small cans enchilada sauce
1 large or 2 small cans petite diced tomatoes (oh, sure, you could use fresh, but why?)(drained, drink the liquid, it's tomato juice for God's sake.)
Ground Cumin
Ground Chili Pepper
20 corn tortillas
2lb bag of shredded Cheddar cheese (or whatever your favorite mix of cheese for Mexish food you like)

In a large fry pan, brown the chicken in oil (I use bacon grease because IT'S THE SOUTH!)(and tasty) and adding Cumin and Chili Powder as you like it, lots if you like it, not so much if you don't.  Me?  Cover the chicken with Cumin and half the chicken with Chili Powder.)

Once brown and not sweating out liquid no more, add the cilantro, the Pinto beans and half the enchilada sauce and boil that stuff down until it's nice and thick and almost a paste (stir lots.)   If you want, toss in about a cup of cheese and melt it in.

Meanwhile, get a really large pan, or 2 smaller 8x8 pans, and grease that pan (or pans) up (with bacon grease, or butter, or, well, whatever, just not car grease)

Take a couple paper towel sheets, moisten, place 10 tortillas on the paper towels, wrap, place on plate, microwave for 1 minute.

Get a large plate, place between your fry pan full of goodness and the oven pan(s).  Plop the 10 hot tortillas on your large plate.

Add the other 10 tortillas onto the paper towel, wrap, toss in the microwave and cook for a minute.

Now, take 1/16th of the mixture and put it in a line in the center of the top hot tortilla.  Roll it, place it in the oven pan.  Continue for 7 more per side of big pan or 8 total in one small pan.  You should have 2 tortillas left over.  Plop the next 10 on top, finish off the filling and placing them in the other side of the pan or in the other pan.  You should now have 4 tortillas left over.

Pour your remaining enchilada sauce on top of enchiladas.

Pour your drained tomatoes on top of enchiladas.

Pour remaining cheese on top of enchiladas.

Smoosh down on the cheese to even everything out.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then bake at 424 for another 10-15, until the cheese is browned to your liking.

Now is the important part.  Your pan is full of sticky enchilada waste.  And you have 4 tortillas left over.  Waste. Tortillas. Hey, you're the cook, wipe that waste up with the tortillas and enjoy a snack while you're cleaning up.

Serve with your favorite sauce and sour cream and some Spanish or Mexican rice (in those neat microwave bags.)

2 enchiladas per person is a good serving.  That leaves, for two people, 3 more nights' worth.  Reheat 4 enchiladas in a microwave pan for another night's dinner (nukes for about 6-7 minutes.)  And then freeze 2 night's worth of 4 tortillas each wrapped in plastic wrap within a tight ziploc bag (thawed takes about 7-8 minutes of nuking, frozen takes more...)

Udder dan dat, I gots nothing.

So, well, here's a tune from the America I grew up in.

Neil Diamond's "America"
It's a good tune, full of hope and love for this country

Far, we've been traveling far
Without a home but not without a star
Free, only want to be free
We huddle close, hang on to a dream

On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again
They're coming to America

Home, don't it seem so far away
We're traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm

Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

Everywhere around the world
They're coming to America
Every time that flag's unfurled
They're coming to America

Got a dream to take them there
They're coming to America
Got a dream they've come to share
They're coming to America

They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America today
Today, today, today, today

My country 'tis of thee (today)
Sweet land of liberty (today)
Of thee I sing (today)
Of thee I sing today
Today, today, today
Today, today

Songwriters: Neil Diamond


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lagged...

I can appreciate the sentiment.
The view from my hotel window.
As in jet...

So yes, it's only three hours difference but...

I go to bed at "way too early" Sandy Eggo time (but is a tad late for Little Rhody) and get up "way too early" Sandy Eggo time, but which is perilously late here at the Home Office.

Work has also been very busy, in a good way. Trying to straighten out what is supposed to be in the system and what we had on the ship. Let me just say this, there were a couple of disconnects. We accomplished what the Navy wanted but the civilian side of the government has their own ideas as well.

The two don't always match, guess who gets to make sure it all comes together by December?

I don't get to pick and choose, but I do get to advise. Woe to those who don't listen, the Navy remembers when you don't give them what they need. I mean the guys wearing uniforms and actually under way, not the desk jockeys. The desk jockeys often want their cake and eat it too, which upper management seems to think is possible. But many in upper management are like the Bourbons of France...

Ils n'ont rien appris, ni rien oublié.¹

- Attributed to Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand by the Chevalier de Panat, speaking of the Bourbons after their return to France after the fall of Napoléon. 

Ah well, I'm going to bed.

I got nothing.



¹ They have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Say What?


Life is getting too absurd.

The man is possibly a traitor.

Go read.

Of course it's possible that it's journalistic nonsense. Woodward isn't my "go to" guy for truth. But given Milley's track record, I wouldn't put it past him.

We are led by effing clowns.

Dangerous effing clowns.


I almost didn't post that "news flash" above, I don't care for politics at any time, but this one seemed too egregious to ignore. Who does this man think he is? There's a reason why the Founders instituted civilian control of the military. Milley is the poster boy for that.

But enough of that, this story just supports my theory that the current crop of stars needs to be retired, at the O-6 paygrade. There may be one or two who are worth spit, but I doubt it.


Things are back to "normal" for the time being. I returned from Sandy Eggo at a reasonable hour on Sunday, but took Monday off to try and beat the jet lag. It's only three hours, but...

Went to work yesterday, still groggy and on West Coast time in some respects. I did pile up a lot of extra hours out there, so I made the command decision to make this week, and the next, three day work weeks. I think I can live with that.

Working on the ship is more focused and with very clear objectives. Though the days are long they go by relatively quickly. At the end of the day you can walk down the pier and feel like you've accomplished something.

I guess I did okay as word on the street has me going back out in December, a shorter trip this time, only five days. But I will get to go underway and I'm all about going to sea for a few days. I didn't join the Navy as they always seem to go out for months at a time, not days. The beauty of an Air Force base is that they don't move. Well, at least not under their own power.


Some of my colleagues think I'm nuts and should be thinking about retiring. Believe me, I am, the new corporate masters have decreed that the pension shall change at the beginning of 2023, I don't plan to stick around for those changes. Word has it that the new plan is "more reflective of the competition." That translates to "their plans all suck, so should ours."

Ah, the life of a defense contractor, it ain't all beer and skittles.


The Internet is becoming less and less fun, everybody's bitching about something and many of my friends find no end of joy in announcing the latest stupid thing in our society. Particularly the escapades of the current administration, unconstitutional assholes all in my book, but hey, we let 'em get away with it. I daresay I have no idea on how to stop them, I'm too effing old to take to the streets anyway.

Ah, enough of this.

I'm doing precisely what I'm complaining about...




Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Word of the Day: Authoritarianism


Biggest news of the week, outside of Sarge coming out to San Diego just to visit me, is President Biden's executive order mandating vaccines for federal employees, and for employers to require the vaccine.  Check out the epic twitter thread hereI'm guessing tweeps are twitter users.

Now, while I have chosen to get the vaccine, and it's definitely a good thing, especially for those with comorbidities or the elderly, I am wholly against mandatory or forced vaccination of Americans.  No one should have to chose their job over a decision in which there's so much unknown about the vaccine or the virus over the long term, and Doctors are wholly in agreement that pregnant women and young children should not get it.  If someone can show me the Article, Section and Clause in the Constitution that gives the President the power to control private businesses, I'll give them 13.5 Juvat Bucks and a year-long subscription to Chant du' Depart!  

I am also frustrated and a little scared about these constant power grabs from the left. Trillion dollar recovery bills, trillion dollar infrastructure bill*, federalizing student loans, federalizing control of elections, the CDC directing an eviction moratorium, attempts to expand or extend the eviction moratorium, threats to expand and pack the supreme Court, eliminating the filibuster, ramming through the affordable Care act with zero GOP votes, H.R. 51, turning DC into a state, and there's probably more.  Feel free to suggest them in the comments.

Several of these other grabs are just wrong- bad policies that don't look at the secondary and tertiary effects.  Others like the facts requirement and eviction moratoriums are completely unconstitutional.  I'm quite sure that the administration knows this but they do it anyway, with a legally ignorant voter base, a divided nation through empowering victimization, and a complicit media that seems to have abandoned its role to help keep corruption in check, in favor of their own personal views as citizens vice their responsibility as news people. 


Your postman is exempt as well.  Is this getting a lot of press?  Nope.  While I'm not supportive of a mandate, the fact that the mandate isn't universal across the government just reeks of hypocrisy and "do as I say, not as I do."  Yes, I know the majority of Congress is vaccinated, but Biden made a point of calling out their exemption.  I guess it's something to do with Executive vs. Legislative Branches of Govt.  But the USPS?  Unions.  Yet another example of what George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, this captured from the animated film: 

Since it was the pigs running the farm, I think "Some Pigs are more equal than others" 
is quite apropos, especially considering we're talking about Congress.
 


The mandate for employers is almost surely unconstitutional, and once it gets challenged, the Supreme Court will have to strike it down.  Technically Biden asked the Dept of Labor to issue an emergency order, vice declaring it himself, which might just be a bit of legal trickery, but we'll see.  Either way, it's still an overreach.  

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain took some heat on social media on Thursday after he retweeted a post that appeared to praise the Biden administration for making an end-run with their vaccine mandate plan.  Source
 


The White House retweeting her probably shows they know will have problems with the constitution, so there was clear intent to bypass it.  And the exemptions weaken the whole issue.  Then again, it could be political theater, so they can claim we're anti-vax when it goes to the Supreme Court.  And where does the CDC get off declaring anything to do with how rental property is managed? Where's the local, state or federal law to back that up?  Fortunately Biden's extension of that eviction moratorium was blocked by the Supes, but it should have never come to that.  They don't care that it is clearly or potentially illegal or unconstitutional, but as we've seen time and again, they don't care about the law, only their power.  "Never let a crisis go to waste," or "By any means necessary" have been the guiding principles of the left for many years.  Why did we allow this to happen?  We accepted it by doing nothing. 

I realize that we didn't all sit idly by, I ranted quite prolifically as I am wont to do, here in the blog, in my social media, and in conversations with others.  Maybe some of you used your vote to express discontent, or you wrote your Congress person, or engaged in dialogue with others.  These are all well and good, but they seem to be ineffectual when the left uses fear to control us.  

I have an old squadron-mate friend of mine who seems to constantly counter my conservative posts on social media with a less than conservative perspective.  Regarding the mandate, he admits it is an overstepping of authority, but he's supportive because "it will save lives." That to me is one of the most egregious statements, giving up your rights in an "emergency" because of fear.  Do 16 year olds really need to be vaxxed?  My 25 year old nephew got COVID and shrugged it off like a bad cold.  If we're vaxxed, we're probably protected, so don't worry too much about the others.  I probably had it early, but was asymptomatic, since I rode in the car with my wife for 2 days earlier this year while she had it, but then I had a negative test 5 days later.  I tend to believe this emergency was man-made, for the express purpose of fear and control, and yet another power grab, but that is for another post.

I discuss, complain, and rant, even if they only fall on like-minded or deaf ears, because I can't stay silent, and I hope that maybe my voice will be joined with others or change someone's mind.



The power grabs seem to be out of some sense of responsibility for our behavior, as if they know better than us.  We are treated like children who are incapable of managing our own behavior.  The call out the unvaxxed in a way that is reminicient to how the Nazis referred to Jews before WWII.  They silence dissent by doling out billions (trillions?) in supposed aid, while put millions out of work, many of them poor young and minorities.  So we see those videos of young people being asked thinks like "Are you proud to be an American?" or "Do you think America is a good country," and they often answer in the negative, claiming we're "so racist" and unfair.  They are fed a constant stream of that in their youth, so they grow up to be compliant adults.

Of course, none of these power grabs are looked at as to how it will affect future generations, or our economy, or future employment. The trillions in aid has caused the worst inflation we've had in decades.  And this is felt most greatly by the poor.   The unemployment assistance has been a huge anchor on the economy even though we are all mostly back to work, but employers can't find workers.  This isn't because they aren't there, it's because they don't need to work when the government is giving them money.  Our great-grandchildren will be paying off these stimulus bills, if our country and our economy survives.

I tend to believe that Biden's declarations are partially just a smoke screen to cover up the fact that their darling Dr Fauci has clearly lied to Congress about the origins and funding of COVID-19's development.  He created a virus, that created a different virus, that has turned into Pandora's box.  We'll see how things go during and after the mid-terms.

So if the media, the politicians, and a very vocal minority don't want to face facts, what can we do?  Keep speaking out, don't be afraid of what others might say and think.  Ask your employer why he or she is or isn't going to comply and why having natural antibodies aren't a factor.  We don't have to be rude and angry about it, just point out the facts and mention the secondary and tertiary effects of these policies.  I like to ask those who are less than conservative what they think our debt ceiling should be, or if they think we can ever afford it, or what they think might happen to our economy.  The vax issue is pretty polarizing, but I asked someone why does a young adult, or even a 16 year old kid, people who won't get very sick at all, need to get the vax?  The dialogue then progressed to the typical talking points which are actually fairly easy to counter- If they won't get very sick, is it so they won't spread it to you?  But aren't you vaccinated?  Oh, it's the Delta Variant?  Can't we still spread that if we are vaccinated?  I also ask why those previously sick need to be vaxxed when we're seeing that that natural immunity is better than being vaxxed.  Etc.**  They may not have answers, and I may not change their mind, at least not right away, but sometimes they need a dose of reality when nobody else will give it to them.      

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke 

*And one that turns every illegal immigrant into an automatic citizen!
**And why were treatments suppressed when we're now finding out that they work?  
 


Monday, September 13, 2021

Situation Awareness---Act on it!

 Murph has posted a couple of post-Ida stories over the last few days.  He's always had pretty good posts over the last several years, (even if they have been getting fewer and farther between-hint, hint) with a lot of good thoughts and stories.  If you haven't read him, you should.

In any case, his last few posts have been about the situation in the New Orleans area after the hurricane.  He made the decision early to ride the storm out and then proceeded to act on that decision, procuring the  necessary supplies (food, water, fuel, protection (not that he needed much of the latter) etc.) before the crowd went berserk.  As such, he successfully rode out the storm and was in a position post storm to help others not so lucky or not so ready.

Good on ya', Murph!  This post is about another couple of examples of good SA, if for no other reason than the participants are still alive and kickin'.

For purposes of this post, let's use Wikipedia's definition of Situational Awareness.

"Situational awareness or situation awareness is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status." Emphasis mine.

 

As many of you know, Mrs Juvat and I have a couple of guest houses on our property.  One is being used by our DIL to quarantine their dog Tex in preparation for a move to Hong Kong. The other we advertise on AirBnB and VRBO for short term rental.  It has been fairly regularly occupied so far this year, in the 70-80% range. Yay us!

But, because school has started back up in Texas (Yay, Gov Abbott!), during the week occupancies have slowed a bit.

In any case, it's Sunday, Aug 29th and we're stripping the beds and washing sheets, when Mrs J's phone gives the VRBO ding.  She looks at it and it's a reservation request.  She opens it up and it's for that night.  We've done quick turns before, but we've always known about it before that day.  In the request, the people said they were evacuating New Orleans and wouldn't be arriving until 10PM.

Ahh, No Sweat, plenty of time.  Usually, it only takes us an hour or so to turn it.  We approved the request.  Get up the next morning and take the dogs for a walk, happen to notice our guests on the porch, so we go over and introduce ourselves and ask if they need anything.  We get to chatting and I asked what time they'd gotten in. (We didn't see their vehicle parked when we hit the rack at about 10.)  They said about 2AM, I asked when they'd left New Orleans. About 7AM.  

19 hours!

Source


They were a younger couple, early 30's I'd say. Very nice.  He had EMT plates on his car and I asked him about that. He said that an EMT certification was required for what he did.  He's a Dive Medic for an oil company and works on the drill rigs in the gulf, providing medical assistance if needed to divers in the water.  They were an interesting and friendly couple and we talked for quite a while.  

I finally asked what prompted them to leave and why relatively late in the process.  He said they had originally planned to wait it out and had all the supplies and stuff they were likely to need to do so.  However, the last few hours before they left, they started getting an uneasy feeling about "things".  Nothing they could actually put a finger on, but things were different.  Different people in the neighborhood, strange phone calls with people hanging up when they answered, just strange.  Both of them had picked up the same vibes separately. Somehow it came up in conversation and they both said they thought the neighborhood was being cased for looting.

And that my friends, is a very good "real life" definition of Situation Awareness. That's the first part of the process. The second is acting on it.

So they loaded up their valuables, supplies, extra gas and food and their pets and left.  Took them awhile, but...they made it to safety.

Did they need to leave?  Who knows?  Could they have stayed? Again, who knows.  The only thing that matters is they're alive and safe now.

They stayed for the 3 nights we had open. Rented a climate controlled storage unit in town, parked much of their good stuff and a car in it and are going to spend the next week or two touring the west until things calm down and recover in New Orleans.

Sounds like a plan.

So...There I was* (and I may have told this story before, but that was pre-Beans, so here goes)

I'm a newly qualified Eagle Driver stationed at Kadena.  We've deployed down to Clark for Cope Thunder.  I'm only a wingman, so my duties are pretty easy. Fly formation, stay off the radio (except for "two", "Mayday" or "Lead you're on fire") so I don't have a lot of mission prep planning to do for the next day's morning go.

I decide I'm going to go shopping in downtown Angeles City.  Mrs J had given me a long list of items that she'd like me to pick up for her as well as gifts for the family, and the PI was the place to do that.

It's Oct 29, 1987, I take a taxi from Chamber's Hall (the visiting officers quarters (VOQ) for Clark) to the main gate.  The shopping district starts on the other side of the street.  Start making my way down the street and it's the usual PI routine.  Vendors coming up asking what I'm looking for, promising the lowest prices for the highest quality.  I work my way through them fairly quickly as the shop I want to get to is on the other end of the road, probably a quarter mile.  Lots of traffic on the streets and sidewalks.

AKA normal Angeles City activity.

Substitute Day for dusk and this is essentially what it looked like
Source

I get to the shop, say hello to the proprietor, and spend some time looking at the things she's showing me from Mrs J's list, haggling a bit, buying most.  Maybe half an hour has past.  Done shopping with a large bag of goodies in hand, I step back outside and start heading for the main gate.  I've gone about half a block when I get a nagging feeling that something's very wrong.  There are not anywhere near the same amount of people or traffic on the street as there was when I left the base. Also, the people that I did see seemed to be in a very big hurry to get somewhere.

It didn't take me a second to realize that I needed to be elsewhere. I ducked into the next store, walked to the back of the store, and sat down on the floor.  It was a Ladies Lingerie store.  Sat there for about 10 minutes then heard some sirens and the sound of a tracked vehicle going down the street, another 5 minutes or so, the Lady who owned the shop came to where I was seated and said "You can go now, the police have secured the area." I thanked her, dropped a $20 on the counter (for taking up valuable floor space), and hot footed it back to the base.

Asked the Security Policemen what had happened, after he VERY carefully checked my ID before letting me in.  He said that three Americans had been killed less than a half mile from where I'd done my shopping.

That night, at the Club whilst sipping on a medicinal Scotch, I came to believe that my Guardian Angel didn't want to go through Eternity being heckled by the other Angels as the one that didn't protect his assigned Fighter Pilot from being assassinated in a Lady's Lingerie store, so gave me a little heads up.  

I whispered a "Thank You!"

Turns out that one of the guys that had been in my squadron from Moody and now assigned to Clark, had been driving home from Clark and approached the normal checkpoint for his housing area when his SA alarms started going off.  He recognized none of the armed guards and their uniforms were "not quite right." He decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that it would be better to apologize the next day for being wrong than to be dead.  (Simple and inarguable logic there.) So, he floored his Camaro and leaned over into the passenger seat and ran the gate.  Turns out his instincts were right.  A communist "sparrow" (hit squad) had killed the guards and were going to kill any Americans that came through the check point.

He was the captain mentioned in the article I linked to a couple of paragraphs above.

Situational Awareness, if something doesn't seem right, act as if it isn't right. The worst that can happen is you act slightly foolish. Failure to act can be much worse.

Peace out, y'all.



Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mission Complete


So yeah, Sandy Eggo, was out there in July and August, went back again in September. Above is the view from my hotel room, pretty nice, neh? Odd thing though, I can see where I work from my room. See the arrow below? That's where USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) are tied up. The latter is where I've been working over the past few months.


Now don't bother to zoom in (it's all rather pixelated) I did that for you...


The two angular looking things under the bridge? That's the two ships, 1000 is on the left, 1001 is on the right. (Last time I was here they were swapped.) The big flat top, well, bigger than a Zumwalt-class destroyer, that's USS Makin Island (LHD 8), she's having some work done on her flight deck I believe.

So when I get up in the morning, provided the maritime layer (think fog/smog/mist) isn't too thick, I can see whether or not the ship is still there. That is, "Oh yeah, she's still there, guess I gotta go to work.)

This trip was half as long as the last one, the first trip was to exercise the systems in preparation for the testing we did over the past week. From what I could tell, that first three weeks was time (and money) well spent, the past week went great. Sure there were the occasional glitches and "WTFs?" but all in all, things went well.

So well in fact that we finished a day earlier than expected.

I could, in theory, have flown home on Saturday. But, I did not, check your calendars. I decided not to tempt fate. The Missus Herself said, "Good call." So I flew Sunday instead and spent Saturday chillaxing, sittin' on the dock of the bay, watchin' the tide roll away...

Okay, Beans started it, I mean c'mon man, two music posts in a row? Now I have to get home, fire up the computer and listen to all those videos. Sigh, my work is never done...

Just heard that there might be a return engagement out this way come November. But it goes over Thanksgiving...

That I'll have to think about.


Managed to make it to Shakespeare's twice on this trip, to make up for not going on the last trip. Monday night was a team building thing, dinner with the team as it were, with special guest star Tuna.

Thursday night was a meet-up with fellow Lexican BigSoxFan and an old Air Force buddy of mine, Greg, who I hadn't seen since 1978 (for those of you playing at home, that's 43 years ago). As Greg said, "We were airman once, and young."

Yes we were. Gotta say though, Greg has aged far more gracefully than I, must be that SoCal life style. Had a great time chatting with Greg and his wife.

Hadn't seen BigSoxFan in ages either, I think not since the last Lexican Sandy Eggo gathering I went to some years back. He's doing well, fellow New Englander he, not sure how he wound up in Sandy Eggo, but he's been here a while. Good man.

Left Shakespeare's in plenty of time to get back to the hotel and hit the rack before the standard five o'clock start on Friday. Too bad that one of the longest (and slowest) trains I've ever seen was between me and said hotel. Felt like I'd been transported out to the road from Lemoore to Fresno where the miles and miles of nothing gets interrupted by a train track, complete with long slow train to wherever.

But I got a solid four hours of rack time before having to get up and go to work (maritime layer made the ship invisible, I guess that stealth stuff works... Oh, wait). Thank goodness Friday was a short day.


Around the time you're reading this, I'll probably be airborne and winging my way back east.

I'm getting kinda old for this, but hey, I actually live for this kinda thing.

Yeah, I am a little nuts...




Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years Ago...

(Source)

American Airlines Flight 11 - 87 passengers and crew.

United Airlines Flight 175 - 60 passengers and crew.

The World Trade Center - 2,606 civilians and first responders.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson)
(Source)

American Airlines Flight 77 - 59 passengers and crew.

The Pentagon - 125 civilians, soldiers, and sailors.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Mark D. Faram)
(Source)

United Airlines Flight 93 - 39 passengers and crew.

Shanksville, Pennsylvania - 1 police officer on the ground.

(U.S. Government photo)

The youngest was 2 and a half, the oldest was 85.

How many years of life experience were erased that day? How many years of potential were erased? We will never know. We can only mourn the dead. Not bring them back.

I wish I could forgive those who perpetrated these heinous acts twenty years ago. But it isn't in me, God forgive me, but I cannot forgive this, ever.

I remember, I mourn.

Woe to those who would let such a thing occur ever again. That too will not be forgotten, nor forgiven.

(Source)
(Source)
(Source)


Note: In the casualty figures above, I do not include the perpetrators. May they rot in Hell for all of eternity and may their names never be spoken again. May they be forgotten, unforgiven, and unmourned. Forever.


From last year's repost of the above - 

Upon reflection...

I posted that four years ago.  It was an election year, as is this. At the time I was not very confident in the outcome of the election. Needless to say I was surprised. Pleasantly as it turned out.

Once again I am not very confident in the outcome of an election. For many reasons which I won't go into. You have your opinions, I have mine, they probably differ. And I respect that.

I say above that things would neither be forgotten, nor forgiven. It seems though that those that remember grow smaller in number each year. Every time I drive near New York and see the skyline, I remember what it used to look like. It's a constant knife to the belly.

Many just don't care, and that grieves me.

Not all have forgotten, read this.

Those who forget the past are not necessarily doomed to repeat it, but they are certainly doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again.

I fear for my country...

 

11 September 2021

Upon further reflection...

All of the above was posted last year. We all know how last year's election went. The word "travesty" springs to mind.

My country is in far worse shape than it was and shows no sign of getting better any time soon. There are rumblings though, my experience with my countrymen is that they'll put up with a lot before they say, "Enough."

I think we're getting there.

But once again, never forget. Far too many already have.




Friday, September 10, 2021

Random Emotions

 So yesterday was a smattering of what Old Beans listens to, partly on suggestions from a writer and partly just because.

But metal/dark emo/baroque/medieval aren't the only things I listen to.  I also listen to, what my death metal friend (who basically for all purposes is a Mongol) Emo music.  Which isn't really, or is it.  There are other ways to describe the music but since we run a polite house here, I won't go into all that.


So.  First up is Amethystium, whch is an ambient/electronica/neoclassical music project created by Norwegian producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Øystein Ramfjord.

Strangely Beautiful - from the Isabliss album


Next is Mandalay, which was a trip-hop duo from the United Kingdom, composed of multi-instrumentalist Saul Freeman (formerly of Thieves) and multi-instrumentalist-composer-singer Nicola Hitchcock.

This Life - from the Empathy album


Are we more in touch with our emotions yet?  No?

Delerium is a Canadian new-age ambient electronic musical duo that formed in 1987, originally as a side project of the influential industrial music act Front Line Assembly. Throughout the band’s history, their musical style has encompassed a broad range, including dark ethereal ambient trance, voiceless industrial soundscapes, and electronic pop music. They are best known for their worldwide hit "Silence". The band is known to feature several female guest vocalists on their albums since their 1997 album Karma.

Aria, from the Poem album


Enigma is a German musical project founded in 1990 by Romanian-German musician and producer Michael Cretu. Cretu had released several solo records, collaborated with various artists, and produced albums for his then-wife, German pop singer Sandra, before he conceived the idea of a new-age, worldbeat project.

Silence must be Heard - from The Scream behind the Mirror album


Are we amused yet?  Or do you think this is all garbage.  Garbage, hmmm....

Garbage is an American rock band formed in 1993 in Madison, Wisconsin. The band's lineup—consisting of Scottish singer and musician Shirley Manson (vocals) and American musicians Duke Erikson (guitar, bass, keyboards), Steve Marker (guitar, keyboards), and Butch Vig (drums, production)—has remained unchanged since its inception.

Only Happy when it Rains - from the Garbage album by, well, Garbage


Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Beans, you must have been hit in the head one too many times..."  Well, yes, I have been.  But these are all groups and songs and pieces that my lovely wife, Mrs. Andrew, has introduced me to.  Though we both prefer, when mellowing, the more chill versions of said music.  

In fact, Amethystium, Delerium, Mandalay and Enigma are groups we often listen to while sleeping (Mrs. Andrew needs pleasant noise to drown out bad dreams, and I can, and have, fallen asleep to fireworks, so...)

All of this, this shortness, was due to having to load up the whole Beans' Family Circus and go to her doctor's appointment (regular checkup, everything's okay) which takes, due to various reasons, way too long to get ready and then do and then come home and un-get ready.  Me?  Going to an appointment by myself?  5 minutes extra prep (changing to going out clothes and brushing teeth) and travel time, plus 5 minutes recovery time (washing hands and face and changing to futzing around clothes) afterwards.  Ah, the circus life I lead...