Tuesday, February 28, 2023


Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Francisco Goya
The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance. - The Duke of Wellington

There are, to my knowledge, two, rather large, terrain models of the Battle of Waterloo on display to the public, one at the Royal Green Jackets (RJG) Museum in the UK (website here) and the other at the National Army Museum, also in the UK (website here). Both are pretty big and both are, in my opinion anyway, pretty cool.

The model at the RJG Museum is on a larger scale (figure-wise, think HO) and was put together in 1970, the other was put together by a serving British officer (Captain William Siborne) in the 1830s. Both give a nice picture of the terrain and various stages of the battle. (All taking place at the same time, an anachronism but saves having to build multiple models!)

A portion of Capt. Siborne's model
The detail of the terrain is striking, one of the motivators for the project was the Dutch tearing up a large section of the field to build the Butte du Lion. The thought was to build a model of the field before those who had fought there forgot the details.

For the most part Siborne succeeded, though he went broke working on it. Also the Duke of Wellington didn't like it at all. (That opening quote might give us a hint as to why. Also Siborne's model depicts events at around 1900 on the day of the battle, just when the Prussians were throwing their forces in. Wellington, it is speculated, didn't like the idea it gave that the Prussians sealed the victory. Though in this man's view, they did indeed seal the win!)

A portion of the model at the RGJ Museum
In the photo above there is a lot going on, seemingly at the same time, but in reality the attack of D'Erlon's corps came first, followed by the charge of the British heavies. The French cavalry charges took place much later.

Fighting around Hougoumont was continuous, the fighting around La Haye Sainte ebbed and flowed until it was captured by the French late in the afternoon or early evening. (The defenders, a German rifle battalion, had run out of ammunition. Legend has it that their sole ammunition cart had overturned on its way to the field. No doubt apocryphal, most battalions had more than one vehicle for ammunition. But they did indeed run out of ammunition for their Baker rifles.)

As the video at the RGJ Museum site wouldn't load for me, I reproduced it here (found it on YouTube) -

I highly recommend reading the stories at the links under the photos, interesting reading (though the one from the Daily Mail gets a lot of it wrong.)

'Tis all I have for now, long day at the mines of Moria, didn't see the balrog today but those bloody drums were pounding down in the deep.²


¹ No, not that kind of model ... (For those of you expecting a Victoria's Secret post. Won't ever happen here.)
² Tolkien reference, of course. I am such a bloody nerd.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Ain't Got Much!

 Holy Cow! Is February the longest month of the year or what?  Sure seems like it down here.  I also was going to kvetch about the weather, but since some of you dear readers are in the Northern Midwest and Snowmaggedon has descended upon you, prudence encourages me to avoid that subject.

But...I had to wear a sweater to Church this morning, it was 58o but the forecast is for more Texas Winter Weather this week. Highs are forecast in the 80's,  I'll probably carry the sweater with me just in case I get the chills.  

The saying is true.  "If you don't like the weather in Texas, wait a minute, it'll change."

On a similar note, it sure does look like an awful lot of people have decided to make Texas home lately.  Lots of out of state plates and a lot of those are expired.

AOOOOGGAAAA! Rant warning ahead!

Folks, you left that other state because you didn't like something about it.  Fine, Welcome!  Two things.  First, Register your vehicle in your new state.  Roads ain't free.  

Second, Never, Ever, start a conversation with this opening line, "Well, Back in (insert old state name here), we did things this way."

WHOGAS?  You left because you didn't like the way things were.  Why do you think we didn't choose to live there?

That happens quite a bit more frequently than one would think.  Enough that somebody is making a fortune selling this T-Shirt.


Ok, got that out of my system, feel much better now.  Thank you.

On the Techie side of things, my good buddy, Elon, kinda let me down over the last few weeks.  Man, it doesn't take long to get really, really used to ~100MBPS up/download rates.  Then, much like crack cocaine (from what I've heard), the cold turkey part is really painful.  Seems my StarLink Router went kerplunk.  No lights, no power, no nothing.  Yes, we've got a backup wireless access account, but 4 MBPS just ain't the same.

To make matters worse, filing a trouble ticket is done online.  See a problem yet?  So, we finally get the trouble ticket filled out and submitted.  Then we wait,  a week,  10 days...Resubmit the trouble ticket with a bit more trouble shooting info.  (We actually stuck a voltage draw meter on the Router.  It wasn't drawing any power at all. ) That was added to the ticket.  Then we wait...another week...10 days.  Finally, a very nice person named Maddie answers the ticket and asks me to photograph the router and power panel and attach the pics to the ticket.  

Interestingly, the front cover is a map of the Earth, Moon and Mars (or so I was told).  There are no lights on this face of the router.  The only light on this entire router is underneath and is the size of a pinhole.  Easily missed when it is not functioning.


Believe me when I say, attaching multiple pictures to a trouble ticket from an old, soon to be replaced, iPhone, is very much my definition of  "Fun".

With a NOT in front of it.

However, that round at least got an answer from them about solving the problem. 

"The Router is Dead."  November Sierra, Sherlock!  

Sarge has tender ears, had to clean up what I meant to say.

In the e-mail, she said she'd be sending a replacement router and we should send the broke one back.  All well and good, however, it's been another week and no presents in the mail...

UPDATE: Behold the power of the Chant!

Sarge even has power over the Post Office! I know what I'm going to be doing for the next couple of days.

 So, to switch subjects to the main attraction in our life, Miss B had a bit of a downturn since last we spoke.  She's been primarily consuming formula and doing a pretty good job of taking it from a bottle rather than a feeding tube.  All well and good.

However, over the last couple of weeks, she's been having some prodigious "spit ups".  Initially, we thought it was just that she was overdoing the amount ingested.  However, the episodes got more regular and more importantly, her weight was going down.  

The latter is "muy no bueno".  LJW brought the issue up with her local pediatrician who recommended a different baby formula.  Apparently not available in our area, LJW had to drive half way to San Antonio to find some of that version.  Little Juvat, managed to find some online (he's 14 hours ahead, so awake while we're sleeping) and get some delivered the next morning. Nice "Around the World" save!

Miss B seems to be doing better with the new stuff.

But as one can see, it's been a bit tense around here.  I have managed to make it out into the wood shop a bit.  Current project of interest is turning Pens.  A while ago, I had seen a video of a guy that managed to put a Celtic Knot on a pen and made it look easy.

So...I thought I'd give it a try.  I cut the blank and inserted the soda can aluminum strips in as instructed.  Glued them up.  Got it mounted on my lathe.  Got to turning and burning with the tools, but the lathe seems to be turning a bit slow.  

OK, juvat, time to cool the Fighter Pilot "kill 'em NOW" mentality and relearn that patience thing.  So, I'm taking very small cuts and it's taking a while,  but I'm making progress.

Looking pretty good if I do say so myself.  Yes, Beans, my elbow is a bit sore from patting myself on the back.   

Just as I'm thinking this isn't that difficult, I feel the lathe give a lurch and the gouge is now "hard to hang on to."  I pull it off the tool rest and hit the power switch.  The blank comes to a complete halt.  

Several bad words were spoken over the next few minutes.

Well, the guy on the video did say "Don't skimp on the Glue".  I think the problem was I had used two pieces of the soda can in each of the cuts because one strip was just too thin.  I'm pretty sure that where it came apart was a section where I "skimped on the glue".  Not intentionally, but I don't think the glue got sufficiently between the two pieces to adhere them securely to each other as well as to the blank.  

Live and learn.  So...I'm about to start Celtic Knot Pen V 2.0.  It's going to be a Purpleheart Blank with the inserts being cut from remnants of the white wood blank from V1.0 of the Knot. 

The inserts will go in where the X is to the left of the label.  Each one will go in from the top left to the bottom right, one on each side.

I figure this will solve two of the problems I had from V1.0.  One, I can cut the inserts to fit in all three dimensions (L-W-D) rather than the two the can provided (effectively no depth to fill the slot).  Second, I will use plenty of Glue. I think I'm going to use wood glue rather than CA glue, primarily because I'm using it on wood for both pieces and, also, I got real tired of having to use nail polish remover on my fingers to get them apart.

Oh, and why did the lathe seem to be turning slowly?  Well,  the cheat sheet I'd made and hung on the wall behind the lathe to facilitate my setting it up for the proper RPM was backwards.  So the lathe was doing exactly what I'd told it to do.

See...who says Fighter Pilots can't learn from their mistakes? (In the rare instances that they make them of course.)

Peace out, y'all!

Can't we all just get along?


Sunday, February 26, 2023

About the Bird in the Header (Feb 23)

As far as I can determine, she's still airworthy as of this date. Here's the background on this beauty - 

She's a Vought-Sikorsky F4U-5N Corsair, Model V-1668, built in 1951. According to Joe Baugher's site:

BuNo¹ 124692 Assigned to VC-3 onboard USS Essex, from Nov 1951 thru Feb 1952 flew combat missions over Korea.  After this tour, served on USS Leyte as well as USS Tarawa and USS Boxer.  SOC² in 1956. To Honduras AF Mar 27, 1956 as FAH-607.  Recovered incomplete in 1978. Returned to USA under civilian ownership in 1979. To Collings Foundation 1988 and rebuilt 1988-1997.  Restored and flew as N45NL Feb 20, 1997. Ditched off New Smyrna Beach Apr 4, 1997 and recovered Apr 13, 1997.  Restored again by Collings Foundation and first flew Sep 22, 2003.  Made wheels-up landing at New Smyrna Beach Sep 24, 2003 when right undercarriage leg failed to extend.  Recovered after 2 weeks underwater  Repaired.  Seen at Sun'n'Fun, Lakeland, FL Apr 2004. Seen at Corsair Fly-In in CT May 29, 2005.  Seen at Langley AFB 2009 Air Show Apr 26, 2009.

Apparently after one of those mishaps they used parts from a Vought F4U-5P Corsair, BuNo 122179:

122179 to Honduras AF as FAH-604 Mar 1956.  To Houston, TX Dec 1978 and registered as N4903M. Damaged in forced landing near Houston, TX in 1984. Wreckage parts used in rebuild of 123168/N179PT.  ID transferred to N179PT. Other parts used to rebuild 124692/N45NL.

That FAA registration number, N45NL, led me to this. It claims she's still owned by the Collings Foundation but their website shows no listing for an F4U Corsair. So her exact whereabouts are unknown to me.

As I do periodically change the blog header, this is the one in use during a big chunk of February 2023 and depicts the aircraft in question.
She was a night fighter. In both of the photographs above she is carrying a centerline fuel tank and on the right wing is a radar pod containing the AN/APS-19 search and intercept radar.

Cutaway diagram of a U.S. Navy AN/APS-19 radar. The AN/APS-19 was an X band search and intercept radar by Sperry Corporation for night fighters. It was used on McDonnell F2H-2N Banshee, Vought F4U-5N Corsair, Grumman F7F-4N Tigercat and Grumman F8F-1N Bearcat.
U.S. Navy - U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News/(Archive) September 1946, p. 26.
Here's some video of the old girl in action³ -

It's good to know that she's probably still flying, if anyone has any further information on her, let us know in the comments. I love the old warbirds and the mighty "Whistling Death" is no exception.

¹ BuNo = Bureau Number
² SOC = Struck off charge, similar to decommissioning for a ship
³ Hey, I can say that, she's two years older than me!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Art and Life

Winter Landscape by Peder Mørk Mønsted
A friend of mine posted that opening painting on Facebook the other day. It made me stop and think.

I've been there, not that exact place, but many just like it.

I remember the cold air upon my face, the smell of the air in my nostrils, and yes, even the taste of the air in my mouth.

I can hear the winter birds chirping and flitting from bush to bush. The painting sets a mood, a scene, which I feel deep in my bones. The painting sings to a part of me that remembers being a kid, with no worries, no plans, only the capacity to enjoy each new day. Regardless of the weather.

It's sunny, but it's cold. The painting feels like late winter to me, most of the cold and the snow is behind those folks in the painting. Spring isn't far away, but far enough that they know there is still much to endure before they feel the warmth of spring.

Art should evoke a pleasant feeling, it should sing to something deep inside of you. At least that's how I feel about it.

We have much to endure before spring comes again.

And I'm not talking about the weather.

We live in troublesome times.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Glory ...

Cavalier¹ Antoine Doucet was sitting on a crate alongside the road, his helmet was lying upturned on the ground, its horsehair mane soaked by the mud. His horse was grazing nearby. Brigadier² Charles Duplat had come around the corner on his way to collect his small detachment of dragoons when he beheld the sorry sight before him.

"Doucet, what is the meaning of this?" Duplat was a reasonable man and Doucet was a good soldier, a veteran of three campaigns, the corporal sounded more puzzled than angry.

Doucet looked up from the ground, Duplat was surprised to see that his eyes were moist, as if he were on the verge of crying.

"The Emperor is dead. I was talking to a peasant who came here from Nivelles, the cannon fire we heard yesterday? The Emperor and the main army engaged the English and Prussians at a place called Mont St. Jean, they were defeated. The army is dissolved, the Emperor died in a square of the Old Guard. All is lost." As he said that, the weight of it struck him and he sobbed aloud.

"Stand up man," Duplat hissed as he reached down and jerked Doucet to his feet.

"Are you a soldier or a useless fool?" Duplat knew that what Doucet said could be true, but as far as he was concerned, it was just a rumor until the officers told him otherwise.

"Where is the person who told you this nonsense?"

Doucet gestured towards a small house set back from the road, "He went in there."

"Get your helmet out of the mud, get your horse, be ready to move, but for now stay right here." With that Duplat walked briskly towards the house Doucet had indicated.

As he approached the open doorway, he heard two men speaking inside.

"Are you sure? Bonaparte dead? How would you know that?" One of the voices, an older man, was asking someone inside. Duplat paused.

"I wouldn't know, I avoided the battlefield, skirted it to the north I did. The Soignes³ was full of Dutchmen and Germans, all refugees from the battle. First man I talked to said that Boney was defeated and he'd heard that he'd died in one of the last squares of the Imperial Guard. Those men acted as if they'd won the battle, what do I know? I'm a simple man."

"Have you told anyone about ..."

Duplat entered the house, one of his horse pistols in hand, "If I were you lot, I wouldn't be spreading such tales."

The older man raised his hands in front of him, he had dealt with angry soldiers before, "No offense soldat, but we know there was a battle to the west, rumor says the Emperor was defeated. Alphonse here was told the Emperor was dead ..."

"I heard all that, I'm just saying do keep that to yourself. Do you have any idea how my soldiers might react if they thought the Emperor was dead? All discipline would be lost and the countryside would be filled with marauders trying to return to France by any means."

The man named Alphonse lowered his head, "I heard this ..."

"So you decided to tell the first Frenchman you met that his army has been defeated and his Emperor is dead? Are you completely insane? I know many in my unit who would cut you down for saying such a thing."

The patrol had remounted and was headed back to the main army. Doucet had managed to collect himself and had said nothing to the others. Duplat was worried, though it was true that they had defeated the Prussians yesterday, the lack of any word from the main army was troubling.

As they approached the picket line just north of Wavre, Duplat saw the squadron commander talking with their own lieutenant. Neither man looked particularly happy. The lieutenant took Duplat aside.

"Brigadier, have your men get ready to move, we're falling back to Charleroi. The left wing under the Emperor has suffered, shall we say, a reverse, and has fallen back towards France. We must do the same."

"Mon lieutenant, one of my men has heard a rumor that the Emperor is dead and that the left wing has dissolved in the face of overwhelming enemy strength. Is there any truth ..."

"Non, the Emperor is very much alive, but yes the defeat at Mont St. Jean was bad. We need to withdraw so that the Emperor might reform the army around us. We have beaten the damned Prussian swine twice, and we shall do so again. But for the moment, we must withdraw."

Duplat nodded. He felt sick to his stomach at the news. Though Napoléon yet lived, the defeat of the army under the Emperor's control would reverberate around the army, and Europe itself.

The jackals would soon gather.

Historical Note:

After the initial battles near the frontier, at Quatre Bras and Ligny, the Emperor Napoléon pursued the British and their Dutch-Belgian-German allies to the ridge at Mont St. Jean. There, at what the English-speaking world calls the Battle of Waterloo, the French army literally came apart.

Farther to the east, Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy, commanding two infantry corps and two cavalry corps, pursued the Prussian army under Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher as it fell back after the Battle of Ligny. That battle had been fought under the Emperor's direct command and had proven to be a narrow defeat for the Prussians.

Nevertheless, having suffered severe casualties and being in a state of disorganization, the Prussians had fallen back, but to the north so as to stay in communication with the Anglo-Allied army under Wellington.

Blücher left a single corps at Wavre while he took the rest of the army to fall upon Napoléon's right flank, where they routed the French. Grouchy did drive the single Prussian corps from Wavre but with the defeat of the main army, there was no point in staying where they were. They had to fall back or be crushed.

Which they did.

For all the scorn and blame Grouchy has had poured on his name over the intervening two centuries since the Waterloo campaign, he stayed true to the Emperor to the end. The same Emperor who was the source of most of that scorn and blame.

Grouchy stayed the course until there was no hope left, unlike Soult and Ney who fled back to Paris to protect their own interests rather than those of France.

Even Davout, the Iron Marshal himself, turned his back on Napoléon. The man who had raised these men to the heights of glory and honor was rejected by them in the end.

For his troubles Ney was shot by a royalist firing squad six months after the defeat at Waterloo, a defeat which in reality falls more at his feet than those of Emmanuel de Grouchy.

The Execution of Marshal Ney
Jean-Léon Gérôme (PD)
It is so true ...

¹ Private in the French cavalry
² Corporal in the French cavalry
³ Forest to the north of the Battlefield of Waterloo. Just south of Brussels it is far smaller today than it was in 1815.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

John Blackshoe Sends: Serendipity History – Connies and the Military, Part Four

We previously talked about the Navy’s old ships called USS Constellation and handsome newer ships bearing the name Constellation.

And the Air Force and other folks who used the beautiful Lockheed Constellation aircraft.    

But, our mud-dwelling friends in the Army may be feeling left out, so let’s spend a few minutes with the Army’s beautiful Connie. Connie Rodd—

Connie Rodd, by Will Eisner
(Source L - Source R)

Connie’s “father” was cartoonist Will Eisner (1917-2005).


Eisner’s father was a painter, who got him started in drawing, and even as a depression era teenager he helped support his family with occasional paid artwork for newspapers and magazines.   He went to high school with Bob Kane, who later created cartoon super hero Batman, and Eisner actually drew two Batman strips for him later.   In the late 1930s Eisner had gained prominence in the comics business and was invited to create a strip for Sunday newspapers, which became “The Spirit,” aimed at older audiences with continuing stories, not just a kids’ super hero strip.   

Upon being drafted in 1942, he ended up at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where he was recognized for his skills and assigned to the base newspaper, the Flaming Bomb. He was also assigned to work on tech manuals, and soon started a series of cartoonish posters emphasizing good maintenance practices.  He was promoted to Warrant Officer and first worked on a mimeographed publication titled Army Motors covering vehicle maintenance, through the misadventures of an inept but trainable “Pvt. Joe Dope.” 

"Together with the people there ... I helped develop its format. I began doing cartoons – and we began fashioning a magazine that had the ability to talk to the G.I.s in their language. So I began to use comics as a teaching tool, and when I got to Washington, they assigned me to the business of teaching – or selling – preventive maintenance.” (Source)

Eisner then worked with the Ordnance Department’s “Firepower” magazine, bringing a similar approach to selling maintenance to the armament folks as was proving successful with the vehicle branch. His cast of characters grew to include crusty and always correct Master Sergeant Half Mast McKanick (whose name tape always showed as Half Mast, never his last name), and a pin-up babe, Corporal Connie Rodd.   Connie was originally a brunette, patterned after actress Lauren Bacall.   When the war ended, and Eisner was discharged, Army Motors and the comic stuff pretty much ended as well.

In 1951 at the start of the Korean War, Eisner was invited to become a contractor to resume a similar publication, which appeared as “PS- The Preventative Maintenance Monthly” covering all sorts of Army gear, not just under the Ordnance Department, but also communications, aviation and others.   But, his cast of characters returned to publication, and Eisner continued as a contractor in charge of the publication until 1971 when he retired.  (Or the Army decided to seek a lower bidder….).  

Since then it has gone thru numerous contractors, and Congressional oversight has slowly changed it from an effective communication tool for knuckle busting soldiers into politically correct uselessness.   In the 1970s, domination by Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI) and Rep. Bella Abzug (Harridan-NY), forced Connie to become a civilian instead of a soldier.   About the same time an African-American female names Bonnie joined Connie to share wisdom about maintenance matters and objectification.  Later cast additions include various ethnicities, but we won’t get into all those.

But, as any advertiser knows, sex sells, so Connie and Bonnie continued to be the starlets of PS magazine, although gradually becoming more fully clothed, less attractive and less double entendre in their speech.

Connie’s (and Eisner’s) greatest contribution to military readiness was at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, where the newly introduced M16 rifle was a disaster.   The cause was basically separate programs working on rifle and ammunition development, and a “failure to communicate.”  Powder changes resulted in excessive fouling, and unexpected need for more frequent cleaning for which gear had not been provided.  This was also the time when Army Technical and Field Manuals changed from the former readable and understandable text style to a gibberish format full of template nonsense, and the quality of the illustrations dropped to worthless.

Connie Rodd to the rescue!   

Eisner’s background in comics was instrumental in making The M-16A1 Rifle a success. He knew his audience well—basically the same Americans who read his comic books back home, now just a few years older.

Engaging and amusing, the comic didn’t bore the reader or come off as preachy, pushy or overly didactic. The illustrations were clear and to the point. This constrained the writing to the bare minimum, comic book style. It used exclamation points on nearly every page, where a regular Army field manual did not.

Eisner understood what would get young male draftees reading. The M-16A1 Rifle was not above sexual innuendos—it included them right from the start.
The first two pages introduced the comic’s mascot: a blonde, buxom Ann-Margret lookalike wielding the new, improved M-16A1. To the mascot’s flanks are instructions on how to take apart the rifle, entitled “How To Strip Your Baby.”

Other chapters included “Sweet -16” and “All the Way with Negligee.” (The “negligee” in question was a plastic storage bag used to keep the rifle dry.) If that wasn’t an attention getter for grunts who hadn’t seen an American woman in months, nothing was. (Source)

Here’s the cover:


And Connie gets right to the good stuff:

There are many sources for scans of this important document, but are mostly poor resolution.
For the best quality I could find, go to this site.

There is full run of PS Magazine issues 1-229 by Will Eisner at the Virginia Commonwealth University Library, in case you need to catch up on maintenance tips for all that antique militaria in your collection here.   

I suspect that retired senior Milblogger John Donovan over at Castle Argghhh has a full set, probably memorized to properly care for his gear.

Today, the Army even has their PS magazine on Facebook, and as you would expect, Connie and her enticing attributes are nowhere to be seen, and the cast is predictably diverse and inclusive, and frankly so inoffensive as to be boring, and probably not very effective. But, it is diverse, so none dare criticize it.

So, indeed every service has a fondness for a Connie of some sort.

Shortly before Eisner left PS Magazine to return to civilian art work, he made a trip to Vietnam and drew this piece on the day he left.

Thought provoking, perhaps even prophetic, it is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Well, That Was Fun ...

Why yes, I believe I will ...
Well, another colonoscopy come and gone. Get to do it again in six months, polyps were harvested dontcha know?

Don't bother regaling me in the comments with "What this means." Truly, I know, I'm a big boy, been there, done that.

And I ain't skeered. It is what it is and, to quote the Arabs - إن شاء الله

(Google Translate can grok that for you.)

Watched Master and Commander: Far Side of the World again over the weekend. That film still sends shivers up me spine. (Though it shivers me timbers as well, if you get what I mean.)

So yes, holding fast and sea shanties aside ...

Arrived at the medical facility Tuesday morning at 0730 as directed. Got all checked in and the like, cleared for action and ...


Seems that someone forgot to notify the person scheduling appointments for my doc did not know that said doctor was actually on vacation this week.

Out of town on vacation.

So one of his partners had to fill in, and that took some time. So ...

I waited.

Four and a half hours after arrival I was wheeled in to be probed, er, I mean examined.

First the doctor announced to the team what procedure was to be performed, all answered with "Agreed."

As did I, to the general amusement of the medical personnel involved.

Then the anesthesiologist told me what she was going to do, I believe I nodded my head.

Immediately went to dreamland, very pleasant, very nice, then I awakened in a room full of people in scrubs.

Confusion reigned for a moment until I gathered myself and remembered where I was and why I was there.

Doc told me no driving, no signing legal documents, and I said, "How about standing up? Can I do that? I mean it doesn't seem like I still have that power."

"Wait a few minutes. Want a snack? Maybe a drink?"

One Diet Coke and two (yes two, don't be judgmental) packages of Lorna Doones later, I was feeling much better.

Met up with The Missus Herself, my driver for the day, and off we went. I regaled her with the story of "What took you so long?" as we rolled on home. Gathering some sustenance for consumption in the privacy of my humble abode. She had suggested a restaurant, Mexican to be precise. Though I love Mexican food (and have an iron stomach for such things) I decided that some day I might like Mexican.

But not this day.

So we'll do it again, and soon, but we'll avoid the red fruit punch Gatorade next time.

Let's just say that it scared me.

A lot.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Guess What I'm Doing Today ...

SAN DIEGO (April 5, 2011) Hospitalman Urian D. Thompson, left, Lt. Cmdr. Eric A. Lavery and Registered Nurse Steven Cherry review the monitor while Lavery uses a colonoscope on a patient during a colonoscopy at Naval Medical Center San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chad A. Bascom/Released)
Oh, is this a post about Sandy Eggo?

Um, no, no it isn't.

Mama's home, Anya is maintaining her own.

And I got to do colonoscopy prep for Presidents Day.

Seems fitting somehow.

Be back Wednesday (I hope) with something either by myself or John Blackshoe (I've got one of his posts on hot standby), we'll see how things go.

Not my first rodeo.

Wrote about it here some years back. When I re-read that post I remembered some things about that first time affair. Sounded more fun to read about it than it was to go through it. Ah, well, here we go.

Yay me.

Monday, February 20, 2023

C’est fini et... autres mises à jour*

 So...juvat, what's with the Frogese in the title?

Well, y'all know Sarge, he's always trying to add a little Haute culture to the Blog.  Besides, it gets Beans familiar with Google Translate in case he ever leaves the South and needs the  directions translated for him.  

But in any case, it's been an event filled week or so.  So...Let's get the weekly report started.

In the "Took 'ya long enough" Category, Mrs. J's Birthday, Christmas, Valentines Present is finally finished.  

What started off looking like this.

At a midway point, looked like this.

The "Donut" at the bottom is actually a rock with an indenture in the middle.  Wanted to use it for visual value.  But it was too thick to fit.  Bummer Dude!

Went through a couple of  "What if" points.

I thought the back lighting looked cool, but that was me holding a flashlight underneath.  Couldn't find string lighting that looked any where near as good.

So it ended up like this.

Yes, Beans, those are stir sticks epoxied to the floor when I spilled some while pouring.  I didn't want to accidentally step in it.

Now, just got to find some strong backed young folks to move it into Mrs. J's office.  That desk is heavy, just ask my back.  Cautiously moving it around the shop without banging it into something, was difficult to say the least.  The aforementioned young folks will also be needed to move an even heavier desk from Mrs. J's office over to my Sister's place.  Then C'est Fini!

But...Mrs. J loves it.  And that's good enough for me!

On the next higher level of importance in this stage of my life, Miss B is continuing to make progress.  Mrs. J and LJW are doing the Baton Pass on feeding and "other necessities" required by infants.  Miss B is progressing with food quantity consumed and thus weight gain.  The latter being a key indicator of preemie progress.

A Nap....What I would give for a Nap! An older picture, but...


Unfortunately, during a recent checkup with the Pulmonary Team at the Hospital in San Antonio, they happened to mention (for the first time and after several meetings...Thanks!) that Preemies on O2 typically do not get weened from it until they turn two.  That caused quite a bit of anguish with the non-medical people in the room.  See...Little J is in Honk Honk and will be there for another couple of years.  The US Consulate there will not allow anyone on O2 to live there as a child of a staff member unless approved by a medical review board. That approval doesn't generally happen since a medevac back to the States, if needed, would be very expensive.     Miss B is 7 months actual age (4 months adjusted age, it's a preemie thing and I'm not sure I understand what the difference in significance is) and therefore, if still on O2, won't be able to rejoin with her Dad for another year and a half.

Suffice it to say, the family is looking into a second medical opinion and "other" State Dept options.  

Other than that bit of bureaucratic set back, Miss B is smiling and goo-gooing and pretty much everything else a pre-crawling baby does for a living.  She even managed to roll over onto her tummy last week.  I'm not a pediatrician, nor have I played one on TV, but I've been told that's a very big progress check point.  

You GO, Girl!

She has an amazing capability to spit the Nook a considerable distance.  Hence, my finger is resting gently on it to prevent bending at the waist and picking it up for the umpteenth time.


And, finally to end on a high note!

Wednesday, Mrs J and I are sitting in the living room watching something on the Boob Tube, wholly uninterested, but occupied.

Mrs J's phone rings and it's a video call from MBD and SIL.  The usual greetings and "howya doin's"  are exchanged and there's a brief pause. Then MBD drops a bombshell. (No, you eavesdropping Fed jerks, not THAT Kind! MYOB!)

MBD is pregnant with Grandchild #3, due first week in November!  No gender determination yet, but we're thrilled.

So...That's how my week has been.  Hopefully your high's have been at least that level and your low's...well, maybe not quite so bad.  The Big Guy has a plan, I just haven't figured it out yet.

That's the way it is, straight from the Horse's Mouth!


Merlot sends her best wishes!

Peace out, y'all!

*It's finished and... more updates

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Old School Naval Gunfire

We all like to watch movies, this crowd here probably shares my preference for military movies. I'm sure we've all, at one time or another, complained about the inaccuracies Hollywood manages to inflict upon us.

The film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World seemed very accurate the first time I saw it, here's a scene from that film -

The boarding party scene is cut off there at the end, but it was the cannon fire and the damage done by those old black powder, muzzle-loading, smoothbore cannon that I wanted to focus on. Note the splinters flying and the complete lack of things exploding on the target end.

One of my favorite YouTube historians (Dan Snow at the History Hit channel) has this very nice video of the damage those old cannon can do.

Looks like the film did an excellent job.

Here's another piece of Mr. Snow's work, reviewing some movie scenes for accuracy.

I highly recommend that History Hit channel and Mr. Snow's work. Good stuff!

From the Sarge: Anya yet lives, she's weak but she's eating. She sleeps a lot now and doesn't seem to be in any pain. She purrs when I'm with her and still enjoys looking out the window at the world going by, mostly birds, but well, she is a cat. Mama is home tomorrow and I'm looking forward to that. Thanks for all your good wishes and prayers, Anya and I really appreciate it.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

John Blackshoe Sends: Serendipity History - OAFS Cats

Who would dare disobey these majestic deities?
So, where was I? Oh, and this is no malarkey …

Everyone loves some cats.  

All kinds of cats.  Big cats like the Maine Coon cat which can grow to 18 pounds with a double coat of fur.  Or the cats from the Isle of Manx with tiny tails (unrelated to “Monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga’), or the Hemingway Polydactyl cats with six toes.   And not just the cuddly, furry little rat catchers.

At Chez Sarge, cats are held in near Egyptian reverance, where “Cats were not worshipped as gods themselves, but as vessels that the gods chose to inhabit, and whose likeness gods chose to adopt.”  For a fuller account of cats and Egyptians see Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Bees in Little Rhody used to love cats …

Back in ancient times, before bridges crossed the Narraganset Bay, the U.S. Navy was a major presence and major economic factor in the state.   Vital defense work was done at Naval Station Newport, then home of the Atlantic Fleet Cruiser Destroyer forces;  Quonset Point Naval Air Station (1941-1974) a center for ASW excellence and a carrier homeport;  and the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center (1942-1994) mecca for all things SEABEE related.   Now there is but a token presence of a few schools and unremediated environmental spills and government payroll and taxes to feed the local politicians.

But, back in the old days, they sure loved their cats.   As long as they were species D-5, D-7, D-8 or D-9, and painted green with the SEABEE stenciled on them. 

A trainee operates a Caterpillar D-7 bulldozer at the Quonset Point training facility near Davisville, Rhode Island. Circa 1943.
And Cats from the Grumman Iron Works  

Airedales Naval Aviators have long loved their Grumman cats.   

(Source - labels added)

All kinds of cats, single seat, single engine, multi seat or multi engine, with a great tailhook.  For half the history of U.S. Naval Aviation, Grumman has been the leader.

There is an incredibly short list of aviators who had the distinct honor and notoriety of flying each and every Grumman cat during their illustrious flying career. The last living member of this all Grumman Cat driver’s club was Glenn Tierney — a true icon in Naval Aviation.  He also bears the unique title as the one aviator who has shot more AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles than any other fighter pilot in the Navy or Air Force, as the development Chief Test Pilot for the Sidewinder program. Much more on this interesting guy here.

Catalinas and Navy Black Cats

The Consolidated “Catalina” PBY-5 seaplanes and later PBY-5A amphibians were amazing planes which made many valuable contributions to the allies during WW2, with over 4,000 built by several different makers in different countries.   Besides scouting, bombing, and logistics, they also performed “Dumbo” missions to rescue people in the water after ditching aircraft or ship sinkings, and later as air-sea rescue craft for USAF or USCG use.

British Catalinas- and USN “Copilots”

The Brits bought 200 of thePBY-5s in 1940 and began using them upon delivery under “Lend Lease” in 1941. A secret part of the deal was the inclusion of U.S. Navy pilots to assist with training.  Ensign Leonard B. “Tuck” Smith, USN was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on 26 May 1941, when he, as the “copilot” on a RAF 209 Squadron Catalina flying an 18 hour mission out of Loch Enren, Ireland.   Their mission was to find the German battleship Bismarck which had sunk the British battlecruiser HMS Hood and damaged the new battleship HMS Prince of Wales.  Of course, the U.S. was not yet in the war, and he could not tell people why he got the medal.  Two more Catalinas, both with USN “copilots”, subsequently confirmed the sighting and tailed the Bismack until the Brits sunk her the next day.

Ensign Smith’s Catalina WQ-Z of 209 Squadron

 Six months later, on Dec 7, [Smith] was standing in front of a hangar on Wake Island when the Japanese attacked, killing his squadron-mate and destroying their aircraft. He spent the next four years fighting in the Pacific.

He fought the Korean War and flew in the early stages of the war in Vietnam.

He was fearless. He led men into battle and brought them home safely from war. He was the guy you wanted flying your airplane or navigating your ship. Despite the fact he was a highly-decorated Navy officer, he'd laugh if you ever called him a hero. He didn't see things in those terms. Of his lengthy wartime service, he would simply tell you he was doing his job and expected nothing in return.” (Source)

[Another source indicates on 7 Dec 1941 he was actually airborne between Midway and Pearl Harbor.]

U.S. Navy “Black Cats”

 By war’s end, there were fourteen Navy Patrol (VP) squadrons flying “Black Cats” mainly on night time interdiction and attack missions in the Pacific theater.   Able to operate from the water, they did not need runways, and got most of their support from Seaplane tenders until shore facilities were available.  These aircraft were specially equipped with radar for spotting targets and navigation, and very importantly with radar altimeters as most attacks were conducted at very low altitude (50 feet!) with no lights.   The low level also made it difficult for the Japanese to attack them except from above, and their flat black paint and flame arresters on the engines made them extremely hard to spot.

The Royal Australian Air Force also operated at least two squadrons of similarly equipped “Black Cat” Catalinas.

PBY-5A of VP-71 in southwest Pacific 1944-45. Note the radome above the cockpit, and additional antennae on the sides of the fuselage [behind officer on right] and atop the wing.
(Click here for enlarged version to see details.)

Although VP-12 was the first of the “Black Cat” squadrons all were pretty similar to the example above from VP-71.   The Catalinas were the first aircraft to see widespread installation of radar, and there huge success spurred the addition to many other aircraft. (See this link for a lengthy discussion of airborne radar.)

Grab some popcorn and check out this 19 minute video “Story of the Black Cats” made in 1945.  Really excellent imagery of the conditions they operated under, even though the attack scenes are hokey and they could not really film at night!  Note that the film shows PBY-5’s which take off and land from water, and use detachable dual tired beaching wheels to be ramped up for servicing on land.   The later PBY-5A had the large retractable gear shown in the VP-71 photo above, and could operate from water or runways.

Yup, gotta love all those cats!