Friday, March 31, 2023

The Return

Napoléon Ier quittant l'île d'Elbe. 26 février 1815¹
Joseph Beaume (PD)
Sergent Nicolas Guilbert was leaning on his musket, watching the cavalry come ashore. Some of the other Guardsmen were cooking something nearby, his stomach was still queasy from the trip over from Elba. He was glad to be ashore, but whatever the lads were cooking made him want to vomit again.

The Emperor was in conference with his staff and what appeared to be a number of locals, probably officials from the town and the province. That latter fact made Guilbert wonder if the Emperor's return was such a surprise after all. The locals had seemed to be expecting him.

"Sergent Guilbert, is your file ready to move out?" Capitaine Philippe Pierlot had come up from behind him, which made Guilbert remind himself to stay more alert. This may be France, this may be home, but it was in the hands of the old regime again, so it was, until proven otherwise, enemy country.

"Oui, mon capitaine. Do we have time for a spot of breakfast? The lads have something brewing up at the moment."

"Anything a hungry officer of Chasseurs might find palatable?" Pierlot asked.

Guilbert grinned and said, "Come on Philippe, when did you get finicky? We were privates together in Egypt, I've seen what you'll eat when you're hungry enough. Grown finicky in your old age?"

Pierlot mocked a frown, then laughed, "Now I'm a captain and you're still a simple grognard², perhaps you should learn to be more finicky, Nicolas. We move within the hour, have the lads ready."

Guilbert nodded and said, "They'll be ready whenever le Tondu³, decides to move out."

Chevau legere polonais
Wojciech Kossak (PD)
Brigadier⁵ Tomasz Kasprowicz looked up from grooming his horse, Liliana, to see his squadron commander approaching.

"Good morning Major!" Kasprowicz genuinely liked his current commanding officer. It was only through Major Paweł Jerzmanowski's personal intervention that Kasprowicz had been allowed to follow the squadron to Elba.

"Good morning, Tomasz! How did Liliana do on the crossing?"

"She was a little nervous, Sir, but she managed. I will say though, that she and I are both happy to be back on dry land!"

"We'll be moving out shortly, the Emperor wants us up front, scouting the route to Grenoble."


"The Emperor intends to avoid a direct confrontation with the Royalists for now. So we march on Grenoble, through some rough country, yes. But the Emperor feels that the people will rally to him along the way. It's also more defensible should Louis XVIII send a force to oppose us."

"What Frenchman would oppose his Emperor?" Kasprowicz asked.

"We don't know yet, Tomasz. But this whole thing is a gamble, we must proceed cautiously at first."

Kasprowicz nodded, "Wherever you lead, Major, we will follow."

"And I follow my Emperor!" Jerzmanowski exclaimed.

On 1 March 1815, on his return from Elba, Napoleon landed in Golfe-Juan with a small band of 1100 loyal soldiers. And from here he set out on the extraordinary adventure that was to lead to the return to power two and a half weeks later, 20 March, with his triumphal entry into the Tuileries palace which had been hastily abandoned by Louis XVIII. This was the beginning of the Hundred Days. (Source)

And so, it begins ...

¹ Napoleon I leaving the island of Elba. February 26, 1815
² Literally "grumbler," a common term for an old soldier in Napoléon's army.
³ Literally " the shorn one," one of the Imperial Guard's nicknames for Napoléon. The Guardsmen still wore their hair the old way, uncut and pulled back in a queue. The Emperor kept his hair short, hence, "the shorn one."
⁴ Polish light horse
⁵ Cavalry rank equivalent to a corporal.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Ancient Memories Sparked by the Music Playing in My Head

So you've probably noticed by now that Beans has been doing yeoman's work keeping The Chant a going concern during my sabbatical of sorts. Lots of music to accompany his always interesting commentary about what's going on in his life.

On Monday, late Monday as I recall, while I was brushing my teeth, an old song sprang into my head from seemingly nowhere. (Though looking back at it, most probably it was sparked by the rain falling outside.)

After the song started I found myself back on Okinawa, sometime in the late 70s. It was a rainy night, I had the next day off, and I was house sitting for a buddy of mine who was TDY to the Philippines and his wife (a friend of The Missus Herself) was back home in Korea, visiting family. He didn't live on Kadena, his house was on Camp Butler, IIRC. Different vibe as I think back on it.

I was drinking a beer and listening to music, had the lights down low in the living room, the front door was open, most of the light was coming from a streetlight across the street. Oddly enough I was listening to a Joni Mitchell album. This was during my mellow period, I was on Okinawa, The Missus Herself was in Korea, and I was as lonely as can be.

Something about Monday night brought that all flooding back. So I just had to go to the Tube of You and find the album. Which I did, as I recall, this was one of my favorite songs on that album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, released in 1975.

Great tune, haven't ever really thought about the lyrics, until now ...

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Joni Mitchell

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
In flames our prophet witches
Be polite
A room full of glasses
He says "Your notches, liberation doll"
And he chains me with that serpent
To that Ethiopian wall

Anima rising
Queen of Queens
Wash my guilt of Eden
Wash and balance me
Anima rising
Uprising in me tonight
She's a vengeful little goddess
With an ancient crown to fight

Truth goes up in vapors
The steeples lean
Winds of change patriarchs
Snug in your bible belt dreams
God goes up the chimney
Like childhood Santa Claus
The good slaves love the good book
A rebel loves a cause

I'm leaving on the 1:15
You're darn right
Since I was seventeen
I've had no one over me
He says "Anima rising
So what
Petrified wood process
Tall timber down to rock"

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
He says "We walked on the moon
You be polite"
Don't let up the sorrow
Death and birth and death and birth
He says "Bring that bottle kindly
And I'll pad your purse
I've got a head full of quandary
And a mighty mighty thirst"

Seventeen glasses
Rhine wine
Milk of the Madonna
He don't let up the sorrow
He lies and he cheats
It takes a heart like Mary's these days
When your man gets weak

Now that I have ... Damn! Pretty powerful stuff.

It's amazing the memories which can be brought back to life by an aroma, a song, even the way a soft breeze feels against your face on a warm afternoon. Another favorite of mine, off of the Court and Spark album (1974), is Free Man in Paris. Though I was never in the music business, something about the song speaks to me.

But then, like Dave Grohl said, 

“That's one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they'll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”

Free Man In Paris
Joni Mitchell

The way I see it he said
You just can't win it
Everybody's in it for their own gain
You can't please 'em all
There's always somebody calling you down
I do my best
And I do good business
There's a lot of people asking for my time
They're trying to get ahead
They're trying to be a good friend of mine

I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one's future to decide
You know I'd go back there tomorrow
But for the work I've taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song

I deal in dreamers
And telephone screamers
Lately I wonder what I do it for
If l had my way
I'd just walk through those doors
And wander
Down the Champs Elysées
Going café to cabaret
Thinking how I'll feel when I find
That very good friend of mine

I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Nobody was calling me up for favors
No one's future to decide
You know I'd go back there tomorrow
But for the work I've taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song


It's what drives me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

It all started with a woman's suggestion!!

I came across what is probably a little known piece of history that covers the beginnings of the car radio to the development of a highly successful aircraft.  I got it through email, but I also found it on the interwebs.  This link has most of the story, but not as in depth as the one I'm sharing below.  Enjoy.
                -  Tuna

HISTORY OF THE CAR RADIO Seems like cars have always had radios,
but they didn't.

Here's the story:
One evening, in 1929, two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset.

It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I) and it wasn't long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car.  But it wasn't easy: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago. There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a "battery eliminator", a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current.

But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios.  Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin's factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker.

Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker's Packard. Good idea, but it didn't work. Half an hour after the installation, the banker's Packard caught on fire. (They didn't get the loan.)

Galvin didn't give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.

Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked -- He got enough orders to put the radio into production.

That first production model was called the 5T71.  Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix "ola" for their names - Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest. Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola.

But even with the name change, the radio still had problems: When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)

In 1930, it took two men several days to put in a car radio -- The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.

These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them. The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions. Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn't have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression.

'33 Ford Tudor Sedan    Source

Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola's pre-installed at the factory.
In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B.F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores.

By then the price of the radio, with installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to "Motorola" in 1947.)

In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios. In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts.

Police Cruiser Radio - Source

In 1940 he developed the first handheld two-way radio
-- The Handy-Talkie for the U. S. Army.

A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.  In 1947 they came out with the first television for under $200. In 1956 the company introduced the world's first pager; in 1969 came the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon.

In 1973 it invented the world's first handheld cellular phone. Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world. And it all started with the car radio.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO the two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin's car?

Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life. Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950's he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that.

But what he's really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world's first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the
many things that we take for granted actually came into being!


It all started with a woman's suggestion!!

This interested me for the Paul Harvey sort of vibe- "Now you know the rest of the story!" as well as the fact that the first smart phone I owned was a Motorola (below).  I liked the fact that it was an American Company, it wasn't an Apple, and I was sold on them when I dropped one of my later phones off the second deck landing at work and the screen was still intact.  Now it's owned by Lenovo, so probably Chinese, but the phones are still good.

I'll close out with a little jazzy take on a modern song.  Not a fan of the original version, but I'm really enjoying the Stella Kat Cole songs I've found recently.  This one is one of many collaborations between Post Modern Jukebox and female singers with outstanding pipes.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

John Blackshoe sends Serendipity History: Road trip! What we take for granted, was once nearly impossible, or mostly impassible.


                                        Crossing Wyoming 1919                                                                                                                                  Source          

Hither, thither and yon were along the route of a recent trip, which unfortunately kept me from providing any scribbles for Sarge’s desperate needs. 

It was almost all on our amazing Interstate highway system.  Departing when I-80 across Wyoming had been closed for three days.  “How do they do that?” some flatland easterners might ask. 

Simple.  They simply close the gates and divert all traffic off the highway into the nearest town, and the road is closed until the weather improves.  Even when it takes several days.   Remember, out west, exits may be 20-50 miles apart.   Heck, you can go 75 miles on a “major” two lane road in Wyoming without a traffic light or stop sign, let alone gas station or fast food joint, and barely a ranch or three.   There are not really any “side roads” to get around if the interstate is closed, and it would be foolhardy to suicidal to venture off into the wilderness in a blizzard during 20-30 knot winds and temps rising only into the teens.   So, when the big road closes, commerce and other traffic stops until conditions improve.

But, weather reports looked safe, and I-80 was opened to traffic at our scheduled departure time.   “Traffic” being every truck stuck west of the Rockies for the last three days, and eager to get out on a still somewhat snowy road, along with all us amateur four wheelers who spice up the trucker’s life with our unprofessional antics.   Not a fun 500 mile day behind the wheel for anyone.

Despite a wretchedly slow first day, later days had steadily improving weather, actually pretty nice, with lots of miles, and stops for shopping,  rest stops, and occasional visits with friends along our route.   Business was done, more friends celebrated with, and finally we headed home.  More miles, more days, a bit more business, some cargo to be crammed into our vehicle. 

As Willie says “Back on the Road Again.”  A great song, despite the self medicating singer, and at least he’s not a creepy clown.

Approaching Wyoming from the east this time, we found it once again shut down for weather when we were still in the land of cornhuskers.   Drove past Sean’s place, waved, but no sign of man nor beast on what I thought was his land, but to be honest, I have never been exactly sure which parcels are his.   Everywhere else they were dropping calves in abundance, so plan on burgers and steak in a year or two if the militant vegans don’t become more revolting.

Weather moderated, Wyoming relented and opened the land of the kickin’ horse to traffic.   Westward across Wyoming, we saw the largest city, Cheyenne, population 64,000, and other also the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th largest cities in the state, with populations dropping from 31,000 down to only 8,000, cows and coyotes not included.   Wyoming is still almost frontier territory, inhabited by hardy, hard working folks, not very tolerant of fools who might think they are too impatient or important to wait when roads are closed.  Got home safely, with almost 5K more miles on the odometer. 

Anyway, that was a lot of Interstate miles, mostly familiar to us.  

Building on the Past

Much of our route followed that of the U.S. Army “Transcontinental Motor Convoy” which set out from Washington on July 7, 1919 to cross the country along whatever roads existed.   Twenty eight year old Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Eisenhower, was in charge, and some 62 days and 3,251 miles later they arrived in San Francisco on September 7th, 1919.   His convoy consisted of 81 vehicles, with 24 officers and 258 enlisted men.   Eisenhower later admired the German autobahn for its military usefulness, and the Highway Act of 1956 started work on the American counterpart, the Interstate and Defense Highway System.

The conditions in 1919 were mostly dirt tracks, a few roads with some improvements, but paving was scarce except in the densely settled eastern states, and surprisingly in California.  Breakdowns were frequent, but the troops persevered and proceeded mile after mile.  Along the way they were cheered, feted, fed and followed by the locals since this was about as exciting as life got in the post WW1 era, especially in rural America.  And, most of America was very rural indeed in those days.

Army Signal Corps film crews were part of the convoy and captured a lot of amazing footage of the expedition.   Here is a nice highlight reel only 2:16 minutes long, courtesy of the National Archives, but the three longer reels down below are well worth the time as well.

Detailed records were kept, and:

“[Eisenhower]…discovered that the nation’s roads, especially those west of Nebraska, were in rough condition. The soldiers faced mechanical breakdowns, quicksand, and in Utah and Nevada, rationed food and water. They traveled more than 10 hours daily at an average speed of about 5 miles per hour. On some days, they covered as little as three miles. . . .
In the Rockies of Wyoming and Utah and across Nevada, they went where few automobiles had gone before,”
The convoy log of the journey between Kimball and Cheyenne noted “The effect of altitudes exceeding 6000’ very noticeable in connection with the starting and operation of motors.” 

I am sure they would have waved to Sean’s granddad, too.

Wyoming has a nice write up on the convoy, since this post focuses on travel in that state:

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Transportation even has Eisenhower’s VERY interesting final summary report (only 2-3 pages long) posted at:

For fellow history enthusiasts, the Signal Corps film crew’s full footage is available in three reels about 8 or 9 minutes each.  Silent- no talkies yet, so crank Willy up while you watch these public domain flicks from the National Archives:

Reel 1, Sec. of War Baker and Rep. Julius Kahn dedicate the Zero Milestone In Washington, D.C. Trucks leave Camp Meigs, Md.; cross the Juniata River at Chambersburg, Pa.; climb the Blue Ridge Mts.; pass through East Palestine, Ohio; and traverse the Lincoln Highway in Ill. and Ind. An overturned truck is righted near Fulton, Ill. The Mississippi is crossed at Clinton, Iowa. Trucks are pulled from mud in Nebraska.

Reel 2, trucks are winched from quicksand near North Platte, Neb. The Continental Divide Is crossed In Wyoming. Trucks pass through alkali dust in Wyo. A truck breaks through a wooden bridge and is extricated. The convoy departs from Fort Bridger, Wyo., and halts for a meal in Utah. Sagebrush is chopped and used to fill wheel ruts in the alkali road bed.

Reel 3, the Great Salt Lake Desert is entered at Granite Point, Utah. A meal is prepared in the trailmobile kitchen. Trucks are pulled through wet sand in Nevada, climb the Sierra Nevadas, stop in Kybury, Calif., for dinner, parade through Sacramento, and ride from Oakland to San Francisco on ferries. Mayor Rolph greets Army officials.

Why are road locations chosen?

Interstates usually follow old rail or canal lines.   Those mostly followed wagon tracks used by pioneers entering the wilderness, which lurked not far from the coastal settlements of the 1700s.   Those wagon trails quite often followed the paths used by fur traders and trappers who first explored the North American continent*, driven by economic motives, and a bit of coddiwomple since the 1500s.
* (Hat tip to Native Americans who already knew a lot of trails from their own migrations and hunting.)

Thus, the travel routes, as well as much of the cultural, economic and political history of our continent (not just country) were actually shaped by the relatively small number of men engaged in the fur trade long before areas were settled.   Eric Jay Dolin’s “Fur Fortune and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America” is most enjoyable and enlightening.  It is a great audio book as well, which you can listen to for several days as you motor along trails once trod by those fur traders.  Tons of copies on ABEbooks for under $10.00, so treat yourself to a dead tree version.

So, as we travel around our great country, think about history and how we got to where we are.   And, thank the truckers who bring us all the stuff we need or want. 

So, as westerners say:

Monday, March 27, 2023

Lesson’s learned

 Well…we made it. 

First and foremost…I need a laptop. Posting using an iPad is a colossal PITA! Any typos are not my fault! Second, bandwidth on the ship is good, not great. Transferring pictures from my phone to the iPad doesn’t seem to be possible. 

So….this will be short and sweet.

British Airways sucks! In addition to the hoop jump required by there cancellation of our second leg of the flight, service aboard was marginal. For instance.the meal service started, and the purser got on the intercom, and announced the menu. There were a couple of meal choices as well as a choice of wines. There were two options for whites, Chardonnay (of course) and Sauvignon Blanc. We’re in the second row. As expected, service started at the front. Stewardess asks me if I’d like wine. I asked for the Sauv Blanc. She responds “We’re out”. So, I switch to red. (I absolutely loath Chardonnay, if the commies had captured me, the quickest way to get me to talk would be forcing me to drink it. But…I digress.)

When she returns to take my plate, I ask her about the Sauv Blanc. She responded saying the had only had one bottle of it when they were serviced in Austin. By one bottle, she meant ONE single serving bottle, a mini! Why bother to say you’ve got a choice.?

Second strike was the meal itself. Some inedible cut of beef doused in”Barbecue sauce” and some cold vegetables. 

I switched to Scotch It did'nt help. Morning came, and breakfast was even worse. But we arrived in London on time.

RDV’d with our winemaker friends and the 30 something wine cruisers. Now Halfway down the Danube. Scenery’s great, food’s better, wine’s even better. Not positive I want to return to reality. But… we dock in a couple of hours and…

Sorry, posting from an iPad just isn’t working. Pictures are just NOT possible. Have to wait til I get back.

More to follow.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Oops ...

And dontcha know it was eleven years ago the 22nd of this month that this 'ere blog opened for business?

And that once again I missed the date, thinking that it was the 28th.

Why no, no it wasn't.

You'd think it would be something I'd remember ...

But no, no it isn't.

Thanks to all of you readers, commenters, lurkers, and hangars-on. Not to mention Tuna, juvat, Beans, and John Blackshoe.

I won't mention them because they'd want a raise if I did.

What's that?

I did?

Och weel, mebbe next time I'll double their pay. (Yes Beans, I know, zero times anything is still zero, don't tell the others.)

Seriously though, thanks.

Slacker's Editor's Note: Close to being done with editing the book. Anya yet lives. The daffodils are up. The weather actually feels like spring ... Oh yeah, new book in the works, yes, I am insane.

Worn Out

 Been busy dong all sorts of things, so not much witty repartee tonight.

It is what it is.

Don't understand how our host does it while holding down a full-time job.  He's a machine.

So on to music.

I may have mentioned before that I really like Fred Astaire movies.  Good songs, good scoring, just happy and fun and... good.

The Way You Look Tonight - written by Dorothy Fields
In the movie "Swing Time," it's sung by both Fred Astaire, who does a great job,
and some chowderhead puffed-up tenor who slaughters it in not a good way.
Guess which one I prefer.

And then there's...

Dancing Cheek to Cheek - Irving Berlin
From the movie "Top Hat."
This is the famous 'Fred gets beat up by the 30lb beaded dress of Ginger's' scene.
Seriously, he got beat up by the dress.  But kept going take after take after take.

And then...
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off - George and Ira Gershwin
From the movie "Shall We Dance."
Ah, good old tunes and movie.

Sure, old movies aren't some people's cup of tea, but these are serious go-to type movies because they are just happy.  Sometimes horrid situations, but it all works out.

We'll see about Tuesday, maybe.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Galley Slave

Back to kitchen madness, it's what's on my mind lately, I, being a small apartment dweller, have a small kitchen.  Just a tad larger than 10x6, or maybe smaller. Too lazy to measure, it is what it is.  ***BREAKING NEWS*** Beans got off his fundament and measured and it's actually 5x8, the size or smaller than a normal non-master bathroom ***BREAKING NEWS***

The layout is... like a galley.  On one long wall there is the sink and dishwasher, with some undercounter storage and some overhead storage.  The other wall has a hole (32" wide by 66" tall) and a standard sized range with cabinet space above and below the counter.  The far wall is literally a wall.  No window, no fancy cabinets, just a wall.  (If there was a window, I'd have to share it with the next-door neighbor, no thanks.)  The upper cabinets do not connect to the ceiling, so there's storage space above them, at least.

Cons are that it is a small kitchen. You can literally stand between the oven and the sink and reach most places in the kitchen.  Small.  No window. Old apartment, so the power to the kitchen isn't up to modern standards so can't run too many things at the same time.  There is no pantry to speak of, just extra room in the hall closet/laundry area across from the kitchen.

Pros of the small kitchen are... that you can literally stand between the oven and the sink and reach most places in the kitchen.  Like a galley (not the ship that is rowed by ranks of galley slaves but the kitchen of a boat/ship (probably not on a galley, that would be weird, a galley's galley.)) Seriously, the apartment kitchen is about half the size of the old house kitchen, but that had a drop ceiling which lost a lot of space from the dropped portion.

And... the wall.  The wall of nothing.  The wall that has no cabinets, storage, usefulness at all other than being a wall separating me from Mr. Smokes 2 Packs-A-Day.  Which is a good thing. (Seriously, after living next to me for 3 years and me saying pleasant greetings about 4 times a month in passing he finally replied to one of my greetings last week.  About passed out.  I thought he was a deaf-mute.  Seriously.)

So, from Day 1 of moving in, the lack of serious storage for the tools of my cooking trade forced me to store the various implements in jars and baskets that took up precious counter space better used for storing other things.  Lack of happiness towards that led me to think of possible solutions, including killing the next-door neighbor and taking over his space (this was 2 apartment-dwellers before Mr. Not-Deaf-Mute whose Indian name is 'Smokes Too Much' but then I'd have double the rent and that's a No Bueno moment there.)

Then a brilliant idea struck me.  After waking up in the hospital from being struck (just kidding) I realized that I could put peg-board on the wall-of-blankness.  But normal peg-board like one would use in one's garage, well, in a kitchen with water and water vapor and oil frying and such things, again, a No Bueno moment there. I saw these plastic pegboard squares, 16"x16", but they were black and plastic and rather expensive.  

I did buy two starter peg sets and a set of peg-board baskets from Lowes, but... no pegboard.  And stashed said pegboard pieces in that stupid asinine little cabinet that they always love putting above the hole where the refrigerator goes.  (Seriously, top of refrigerator is useful space.  The cabinet?  Useless, unless the cabinet extends as far from the wall as the refrigerator under it.  Stupid cabinet.  Should have just busted it out and bought an even larger fridge... maybe not.)

So I pondered.  Lots of pondering.

Then, during the Covidiocracy, I was meandering through the 'Zon (Amazon, that is) and searched pegboards and came across metal pegboards.  Powdercoated and sealed metal pegboards.  Perfect for a kitchen or other high-dirt and smutz environment.  Hmmm.  Ponder.

Just so you know, Beans is a ponderer.  I'll get an idea and can't move forward without thinking a lot about it.  Sometimes the pondering takes only a few moments. But that's rare. More likely days, weeks, months, and, yes, years...  Spontaneity is not one of my strong suits.  So much so that the few times when I've been spontaneous, it's shocked the living life out of Mrs. Andrew.  

So, after weeks of pondering, and having the cash at hand via electronic funds, I... purchased two 16"x32" white powder-coated metal pegboards. 

Like this
From Amazon
On Sale!

And then, I pondered.  Okay, procrastinated, sloughed off, been lazy, but mostly because I couldn't get my head into actually mounting the boards.  Seriously, it's a long-standing issue.  I'll start planning on doing something but it takes time to think about and get the old brain in line to do something (this post has been bouncing around inside my head since, well, I bought the boards mid-2021...)

So... Pondering time.

Finally, last... October, in the Year of Our Lord 2022 (no, not kidding about having to think about things...) I finally mounted said boards upon the wall.  And then immediately began populating it with pegs, pegboard baskets and all the kitchen implements I could hang on said pegboard and in said pegboard baskets.   

And, it's a good thing.  Lots of space to hang, which immediately became cluttered within 3 weeks, but there's a place for everything, everything in its place and I have recovered some counterspace.

And here's proof.

It's a little more cluttered, now.

So... music.

Mrs. Andrew was perusing YouTube last night and found this nice piece.

"Here's to Our Heroes" - The Ten Tenors
Really good piece, from a bunch of Australians

I know, Aussies, but, dang it, makes the room misty it does.

And another piece, this from Opera.  Puccini's Tosca.  Death, doom and destruction.  Man knew how to write and orchestrate.

Puccini's Tosca, Act 3, "E Iucevan le stelle." - Andrea Bocceli

From Wiki:  "E lucevan le stelle" ("And the stars were shining") is a  romantic aria from the third act of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Tosca" from 1900. It is sung in act 3 by Mario Cavaradossi, a painter in love with the singer Tosca, while he waits for his execution on the roof of Castel Sant'Angelo.

The aria is introduced by a somber clarinet solo. The incipit of the melody (heard in outline earlier in the act, as the sky lightens and the gaoler prepares for the execution) is repeated on the lines "O dolci baci, o languide carezze" ("Oh, sweet kisses and languorous caresses"), and also restated in in the closing bars of the opera, as Tosca jumps from the ramparts of the Castel.

If this doesn't strike your heart emotionally, even if you can't understand the words, you may have no soul.  Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.  Sad.  Powerful. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

In Memoriam ...

I learned Thursday that one of those "best friends I've never met," as Lex called them, passed away on Wednesday.

Valory was a gem, she was ever cheerful, she never commented here but commented often over on FB.

I shall miss her a great deal.

With apologies to Gaius Valerius Catullus¹ ...

Ave Atque Vale
Through many countries and over many seas
I have come, Sister, to these melancholy rites,
to show this final honour to the dead,
and speak (to what purpose?) to your silent ashes,
since now fate takes you, even you, from me.
Oh, Sister, ripped away from me so cruelly,
now at least take these last offerings, blessed
by the tradition of our parents, gifts to the dead.
Accept, by custom, what a brother’s tears drown,
and, for eternity, Sister, ‘Hail and Farewell’.

Farewell Dear Lady.

¹ For he spoke of the loss of a brother, I modified the poem to speak of the loss of a sister.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Yeah, Right, Pull the Other One!

Rant On!

So, because of the current way we live, Mrs. Andrew and I watch a bit of the TV.  We watch NCIS, Blue Bloods, stuff like that.  And a lot of educational and murder-death-kill shows.  Some movies and such, both ancient and modern (love watching old Fred Astaire movies and such.)

And we have noticed things about dramas lately, really starting around 2015 or so.  All the crime dramas, really. Guess who the Big Bad has become?  Is it Drug Cartels?  Nope.  Communist China? Nope.  Intercity Gangs of any flavor? Nope.  Space Aliens?  Nope.  Bigfoot?  Nope.  Bigfoot Space Aliens? Nope.  Antifa? Nope. BLM (either the minority group or the Bureau of Land Management who are really evil federal jerks?) Nope.  Think of any actual criminal violent group of people who are working hard to destroy the very fabric of our nation and are they the Big Bad? Nope, nope, just nope.

The "SWAT" reboot, "NCIS: Los Angeles," NCIS: New Orleans," "NCIS," all of the "FBI" shows, all have the same Big Bad who are causing fundamental damage and are planning the fundamental rearrangement of this great country.

Uplifted Hamsters or other animals escaped from various labs? Canadians? Cubans? Nope.

White Christians.

Get that?

White Christians.

Who are also assumed to be... Nationalists or Supremacists.  Because Christians can't be anything else than Nationalists or Supremacists.

Admittedly, the reboot of "SWAT" was a dog-turd to begin with, but in the greater Los(t) Angeles area, no other problem was as critical as dealing with those crazy White Christians (assumed to beNationalists and/or Supremacists.)  Same with "NCIS: Los Angeles," sure, Commie China was a problem, so were drug and human smugglers and traffickers and such, but it was the WCNS that were the real threat to the team and the city and, by inference, the nation as a whole.

Same with NCISNO.

Tried watching some of the FBI shows, and, well, besides badly written, again, WCNS are the uber bad guys.

And now, even the original "NCIS" has fallen upon White Christians as THE WORST PEOPLE EVER, whatever the flavor they are, especially if they believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (and that pesky 2nd Amendment thingy.)

So, because of Loyalty and Stupidity, I'll give NCIS one more chance.  And then I'll ditch it like so many other shows.  Seriously, every year more and more shows get sent to the trashheap of my tv viewing history and looks like yet another one is joining the pile of jetsam.

It's like the scripts are being written by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is one of the most prejudicial, racist and bigoted organizations I've ever encountered.  And after reading their version of various activities taken by people in Florida, in comparison to what actually happened, those yahoos at the SPLC are just lying liars that blatantly lie.

Seriously?  My fat fundament is The Most Dangerous Threat to This Great Nation Ever? And, yes, I guess I am a nationalist, as I assume that, overall, the US of A is the Best Nation Ever and I want to keep it The Best Nation Ever.  But that's supposed to be evil and bad now.

And it's not just Hollyweird.  Our own Federal Government, who is supposed to serve us, has taken the stance all throughout its bloated corpulent pustulant body and all of its squiggly corrupt appendages. Like the military.


I hate being stuck in The Fall of Civilization.  Dangit.


Rant over.  Dangit.


So... Music. 

Because of evil Christian stuff... OOOOHHH (waves evil wiggly fingers at all y'all) Muhahahahaha...

There's this group called GOL (gods of luxury) and they did a piece based upon... The Song of Solomon (you know, from The Old Testament) which, of course , you know will make this piece of music weird.  It's electronic, and weird, and I really like it.

Angelica in Delirium - GOL
Okay, weird, but for some reason it seems catchy to me.

And just because ELO is still my favorite...

Telephone Line - Electric Light Orchestra
Jeff Lynne - songwriter and band leader
has a thing for soulful contemplative songs


Hello, how are you? Have you been alright?
Through all those lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights
That's what I'd say, I'd tell you everything
If you'd pick up that telephone, yeah yeah yeah

Hey, how you feelin'? Are you still the same?
Don't you realize the things we did, we did
Were all for real, not a dream? And I just can't believe
They've all faded out of view, yeah yeah yeah

Doowop dooby doo doowop, doowah doolang
Blue days, black nights, doowah doolang

I look into the sky
The love you need ain't gonna see you through
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain't coming true

Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight
Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight

Okay, so no one's answering
Well, can't you just let it ring a little longer, longer, longer, longer, oh
I'll just sit tight through shadows of the night
But let it ring for evermore, yeah yeah yeah, oh oh

Doowop dooby doo doowop, doowah doolang
Blue days, black nights, doowah doolang

I look into the sky
The love you need ain't gonna see you through
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain't coming true

Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight
Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight
Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight
Oh oh, telephone line, give me some time
I'm living in twilight

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Silencing the Voice ...

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
 - Harry S. Truman

And it's not just government.

While I have been fairly well-behaved here on the blog, as have my co-bloggers, I have been censored here. Once.

I posted about the Battle of Britain, used a lot of great photos. One individual apparently complained to the powers that be that I had used one of his photos. So down the post came.

No proof, no evidence, no "Hey man, that's my photo, please don't use it." (Or please attribute it to me, or please pay me to use it.) I mean I get it. But an entire post (a good one I thought) taken down? For one bloody photo!

I get it, Google does own the platform, I pay nothing (that's right, zilch, nada, rien) to use the platform. There are rules for using the platform, which I try to obey.

But, some folks are getting antsy about the future of Blogger (which is the platform I use, and yes, it's owned by, and provided by Google, free of charge) so they are bailing to places like Substack, or even setting up their own servers and the like to provide a platform for bloggers who may not toe the party line of their current host platform.

Me? (Us?) We're not so controversial, when we do post on des affaires politique it's usually level-headed without a lot of ranting and raving. Which tends, as you might gather, to attract attention. Often unwanted attention.

But other than the one alleged, unproven instance of copyright violation, I've never had a post taken down by "the authorities." Not even the Book of Face has ever taken down one of my links to the blog. (Because I'm guessing that their bots, er, I mean "fact-checkers," don't chase links to sources outside of the Meta-verse.)

I was recently slapped upon the wrist for making a disparaging remark about Russians, in Russian. Now that comment was removed and I received a "don't do that again" warning. No big deal, I'm guessing that Zuckerborg¹ is in league with the Rooskies, but I digress.

I was rather stunned to see that CDR Salamander was heading for Substack (as has another blogger I enjoy) and not using Blogger anymore. Obviously someone believes that he has pissed in someone's Cheerios and he doesn't want to deal with the censors anymore. I get it.

This place? I have no plans of going anywhere, I want this place to be even-keeled without a lot of extremism to either side of the political spectrum. Heck, I have liberal, nay, progressive friends. Their views and opinions are not my views and opinions, but I don't hate them for it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Not that I despise people, I try not to anyway, but I do like this quote, seems appropriate in a lot of cases ...

If we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
 - Noam Chomsky

Free expression is just that, protected by the Constitution and everything. But some entities have rules for playing on their fields, if I use that field, I try to play by their rules. No matter how rankling those rules might be at times.

Just thought I'd mention that. I'm here to stay, unless the position becomes untenable, then we'll see.


'Nuff said ...

¹ Not a misspelling, that was intentional, Star Trek geek that I am.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


The Road to Brussels
La Belle Alliance on the right.
To say that I'm obsessed with the Battle of Waterloo is something of an understatement. At the moment I am in the midst of reading yet another book about the battle, the fifth book in a set of twelve by the Andrew W. Field which I wrote about here. So two to go there.

To top it off, I bought yet another book about the battle, The Longest Afternoon, by Brendan Simms -

Said book details the fight of 400 German soldiers defending the farm shown below. (Yes, I've been there, more than once, but never inside. It's still a working farm.)

La Haye Sainte
Germans? What's that you say Sarge, dontcha mean Prussians?

No, I do not. Unbeknownst to many, the army which fought Napoléon on the 18th of June 1815 upon the field of Waterloo wasn't comprised of just British soldiers (and by British I mean English, Irish, Scots, and Welsh). Oh no, it also contained many Dutchmen and Belgians, also Germans of a number of varieties.

Embodied within the British Army were the units of the King's German Legion, soldiers from the state of Hanover (George III was not only the King of England, he was also the Elector of Hanover, Hannover auf deutsch) who had fled their homeland after it was overrun by the French Army and went to Britain to enlist in the fight against the French.

There were also later Hanoverian units formed after Napoléon's first abdication in Hanover proper. These were typically manned by very young and inexperienced soldiers.

Not to mention the soldiers of Brunswick (Braunschweig auf deutsch). These chaps also skipped out when the French overran their country (1806) and formed their own unit which fought in Spain with Wellington. Though that unit was disbanded, the Duke of Brunswick got the band back together (so to speak) after Napoléon abdicated the first time. The Duke fell at the Battle of Quatre Bras, two days before Waterloo. There is a monument which was placed near where he fell, leading his men in battle -

Monument to Friedrich Wilhelm, Herzog von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
~  Kampf gefallen,
 16. Juni 1815¹ ~
The Duke's father was also killed fighting against Napoléon nine years previous to the son's death. His father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand commanded the Prussian army at the Battle of Auerstädt in 1806. The father was wounded in action at that battle, dying of his wounds in November of 1806.

Within the army of the United Netherlands (which had had Belgium added to it, much to the dislike of many Belgians) there were units known as Nassauers, from Nassau, but not the one in the Bahamas. No, these guys were also Germans but their ruler apparently had ties with the Dutch. (The current Dutch royal family is the House of Orange-Nassau, which is why you hear Dutch football² fans chanting Oranje boven! at matches.)

So Wellington's army really was a mishmash of different nationalities and languages!

Many histories of Waterloo paint the redcoats as the guys who really did most of the fighting and give scant recognition to the "foreigners" among their ranks. (Many histories also go out of their way to paint the Hereditary Prince of Orange, son of the King of the Netherlands as a complete dunce. Which he really wasn't. Over-enthusiastic and inexperienced? Sure, but stupid he was not. He was also, some have suggested, overly brave.)

Every time I devour, er read, another book on Waterloo I learn something new and interesting

I also tend to go overboard with games about Waterloo, just found and bought a game which I had years ago. Originally put out by a company named Talonsoft, Matrix Games now carries it.

It was like catching up with an old friend ...

In game screenshot
Old but lots of fun to play. Originally sold separately, the bundle from Matrix Games ($29.99) now comes with Prelude to Waterloo, which covers the battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny, and Napoleon in Russia which covers the massive battle of Borodino.

As an added bonus it also comes with Age of Sail, which, as you might gather, covers naval combat during the Napoleonic period.

In game screenshot
Much to keep me busy, I have. (As Yoda might put it.)

On a side note, a memory just popped up which tends to do so from time to time.

I took that opening photo and added a red arrow where I almost died. Yes. Died. Almost.

See that big truck speeding down the road (and believe me, they go like a bat out of Hell on that chaussée from Charleroi to Brussels), well ...

I was leading a couple of my sergeant buddies on a guided tour of the battlefield. I stumbled a bit and nearly fell into the roadway. One of my fellow NCOs was just turning around and saw me teetering and saw a giant-ass truck approaching.

Just about where the red arrow is pointing. There I almost became a statistic.
With a deft tug on the sleeve of my jacket he pulled me out of the road. I felt the "breath" of that behemoth as it passed by, within a foot of my mortal flesh. Bit of a close call that was.

So thanks Tom (or was it Ryan?). If y'all hadn't of saved my ass twenty-five years ago I wouldn't be writing about it today.

And you, my dear readers, would have to find something else to do as you drink your coffee!

Seriously though, I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to Waterloo (or La Belle Alliance as the Prussians would have it, or Mont St. Jean as the French would have it, if they talk about it at all). Can ya tell?

I am starting to get the urge to write again.

Baby steps, Sarge. Baby steps.

¹ Killed in action, 16 June 1815
² What the Yanks call soccer. I'm in the middle on that one, I usually just go with the German word, fußball.