Sunday, March 31, 2024

Death Where Is Thy Sting?

The Resurrection of Christ
Carl Bloch

Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen!

He is risen indeed!


Saturday, March 30, 2024

It Is With Artillery That One Makes War - Napoléon Bonaparte

The Capture of a French Battery by the 52nd Regiment at Waterloo
Ernest Crofts
The Muse is back, though she seems grumpy and, quite frankly, a bit hungover. But the creative juices seem to be flowing again, much as the sap flows in a maple this time of year. Being an old Vermonter, I had to make a maple syrup reference, it's almost required.

But seriously, Joe Lovell mentioned this video in the comments yesterday, I watched it, enjoyed it, so decided to share it with you. I mean we're all about education and entertainment here at The Chant, right?

Following the video Joe mentioned, I included another one of some Napoleonic reenactors and their cannon.

Yes, the gym teacher is still in the house ...

What? You don't like videos?

As a preview of things to come, John Blackshoe sent me a three-parter which takes a look at the man who was the inspiration for The Chant, Captain Carroll F. LeFon, Jr., US Navy (Retired) aka Neptunus Lex. I haven't gone over it yet, but anything Lex wrote is interesting in and of itself. Might start that Sunday, but will probably wait until Tuesday.

So there you have it, hopefully I can get the Muse back in shape this week, she has a cuppla ideas I want to explore.

Stay tuned ...

Friday, March 29, 2024

It's Friday ...

Do not despair, Sunday is coming ...

The Bloodiest Day

Antietam National Battlefield
I have walked the ground at a number of battlefields. In the quiet of peacetime, it's hard to imagine what it must have been like on the day long before when two armies clashed and began the bitter business of killing each other.

The area around Sharpsburg, Maryland is very pretty. Last year, when I stood on that field, it seemed that the battle was happening just beyond the reach of my senses. While I couldn't feel the thump of cannon, nor hear the trilling of trumpets and the thumping of drums, I could almost imagine the smell of powder smoke. Sulfurous and not all that pleasant.

I looked around and realized, at the Sunken Road, that where I stood, where my 3 year old grandson ran and played, the ground was once soaked with the blood of my fellow Americans.

I walked out a ways from the road, towards where the men in blue came into the attack, then turned back towards the road. What must those men have felt as that lane erupted in musket and rifle fire as they advanced through the corn?

What must the men in gray and butternut have felt as they opened fire on the advancing Northerners? One can only speculate.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to advance into enemy fire, standing shoulder to shoulder with my friends and comrades. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be splashed with the blood and the body parts of those men beside me. Or perhaps be brought low myself, either with the instant oblivion of death, or the lingering agony of a bad wound.

There must be a special place in Hell for those who actively seek to send their fellow humans into harm's way, into the absolute horror of battle. At least one can hope so, though I believe in forgiveness, there must be some punishment for those who seek to destroy life and property.

But that is beyond my ken, for now I hope wiser heads prevail and we can avoid battle and grief in the future. Even though I know it's probably a false hope.

The following video is much more than an animated battlefield map, historical photos and footage of reenactors in large numbers adds a great deal to what might otherwise be a boring academic presentation, the American Battlefield Trust has done a superb job of presenting, in just a few minutes, what was the bloodiest single day in American history.

Once again I neglected to mark the anniversary of this here blog. Today, we've been "in business" for 12 years and 1 week, exactly.

Glad you're all along for the ride.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Creativity Drought Continues ...

Screen capture from the video below
Dang ...

I am just not feeling it this week. I wonder if the Muse got caught up in some mass arrest in some far away country. Probably picked up while frequenting some seedy dive bar in search of material to inspire me.

I said, "raise the bar," not, "go to a bar."

Anyhoo, here's a couple of videos to tide you over.

This reminds me of high school when the gym teacher would play substitute for the math/science/social studies/history teacher. We always got to watch a film.

Good times ...

But these videos, from the incomparable Mike Rowe, are simply outstanding.

I'll try harder, the week is almost over.

Oh wait, I gotta do my taxes.

Standby, this could take a while.

Talk quietly among yourselves.

Stay out of the liquor cabinet, I've got security cameras.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Oh Look, Flowers ...

Though the only evidence we have in Little Rhody that it is spring is the blossoming of the daffodil, hyacinth (I think), and crocus - spring has indeed sprung.

Even though we've had strong winds and temperatures barely nudging above 30, it feels like spring because of the longer hours of daylight and the numerous robins I've seen huddled in corners wondering why the hell they came back so early. Wearing their little North Face parkas as they drink their lattes. (Yeah, I kinda made that last bit up.)

When the sun actually comes out, the quality of the light is different than it is in the winter. If I look out my windows in the afternoon, it looks very lovely. But you can see the trees bent over as the wind off the Atlantic beats on them.

I am feeling somewhat worn out today (Tuesday as I write this). I had a series of ridiculous dreams Monday night where I was in CIC¹, punching buttons and wondering where my combat displays were.

I would wake up periodically and realize that I was not in CIC and there were no displays necessary for me to sleep.

However, I still tossed and turned.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel creative.

Certainly not today.

Sigh ...

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Keepin' It Light, Keepin' It Breezy ...

So, I decided to begin the process of cleaning up the Home Office (no, not the one in England, nor the one I referred to way back when I was exiled to a different facility). No, this is the actual man cave at Chez Sarge which I will sometimes call "my office." Some of you might recall what it looks like now ...

OAFS Photo
Yes, the current situation might be described as "cluttered," though The Missus Herself would probably say "natural disaster, where in hell is FEMA?"

Tomato, to-mah-to.

Anyhoo. Found a computer desk on Amazon (not in the Amazon mind you) which suited my desires/needs/wants/requirements. Which would be the beast in the opening photo. It will fill that corner and then some, one wing overlapping to under the window (off camera to my right in the previous photo). Which suits me fine.

The two computers will be more naturally positioned in relation to each other and the laptop will be far more viable for, you know, important things, like gaming. The old ASUS desk top, which is still plugging away, will be kept in service until such time as she gives up the ghost.

So the computer desk ...

Because I had purchased the new laptop from Amazon (and a pricey beast she was) it gave me a whole bunch of Amazon points which I wasn't aware of, until I proceeded to the "Payment Method" of Amazon's ordering process for the desk purchase.

Now the desk wasn't my first choice, it became my first choice (it's a nicer desk than my first choice) when I noted that it was 27% off, making it cheaper than my first choice. So there's a win right there, even without the Amazon points.

Which, I calculated, would cover not only the cost of the desk but the shipping as well! He shoots, he scores, GGGOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!! (To quote certain South American sportscasters.)

So in some ways, in fact all ways, it's a free desk.

"Well, you had to use points so it's not really free," one might argue.

However, my son The Naviguesser bought me the first (dearly departed) laptop which was far pricier than the current model. So a more modern laptop, with greater capabilities (and hopefully more longevity), was had for less money (remember The Naviguesser had paid for a warranty, so the warranty company sent me a check for the value of the old laptop, full value I might add). So, the purchase was essentially done with The Naviguesser's money.

So essentially I expended zero dollars for the whole kit and caboodle.

Yay me.

As to Sunday's topic.

I'm looking at the end of June for calling it a career. That's not official yet, still have to get approval from Congress (The Missus Herself), but it's a target date. Fall back is end of September.

We shall see.

My morale has already improved.

Again ...

Yay me.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my old USNI magazines. Library maybe? I'm loathe to part with them, but I know I'm not going to read them again. That's the bulk of that pile behind my chair in the second photo.

Breaking News: Congress disapproves retirement plans, Sarge is distraught. Film at 11! (Not.)

Monday, March 25, 2024

Round Two

 Y'all remember last week when I said it had been a tough week?   Well, apparently Mrs J and I saying so offended Paean, the ancient Greek God of Physicians.  The episode had started Sunday a week ago.  Mrs. J had woken up with her hand swollen and painful.  Paid a visit to the ER, where the Doc said it wasn't Cancer related and prescribed some pain killers.  That's where I left off the story.

Shouldn't have.

Turns out the pain med he made a prescription for was in the Ibuprofen family.  But, like most medicine had some $20 name that few can pronounce and even less recognize.  So we dropped off the prescription at the pharmacy at the drive through.  We're waiting for filling, when the pharmacist asks us to confirm Mrs J is allergic to ibuprofen.

Why, yes she is, why do you ask?

Well, this medicine is in the ibuprofen family, what are your symptoms when you take it?

Oh, nothing serious, she just has extreme difficulty breathing.

Oh, so you'd like us to call the doctor and get a different type medicine?

Why, yes, please! @end sarc!

First thing in the morning, Mrs J called our regular Dr and got an appointment.  We showed up, explained the problem to him.  He took one look at the infected hand, (now hand, wrist and approaching elbow) and told us to head to the hospital, (do not pass go, do not get $200).  He phoned ahead and told them exactly what he needed test wise and to check her into a bed, let him know when that was done and he'd pay us a visit.  

He'll be my hero forever.  Again, not being a Doctor nor playing one on TV, there could be errors in the following description.  Medical friends in the audience, feel free to correct me.  

Apparently, one of the downsides to Chemo is your immune system takes a big hit in the chops.  So any thing that can cause an infection can have more severe consequences than usual as the body doesn't have enough oomph to fight it off.  As best we can figure, the infection was caused by a small scratch on her hand.  The scratch most likely was a result of one of our cats walking across it the night before.  As any cat owner knows, Cats like to bury their cat litter in the litter box by scratching the litter over it. So maybe a little of the bacteria was on his paw when he stepped on her.

I know, Sarge, EWWWW!

But that was the vector.  The scary part was, by the time we got to the hospital, the infection was at the elbow.  The staff seemed concerned.  All sorts of tubes, needles, monitors were very quickly set up.  

She ended up spending 3 nights there.  It wasn't til we checked out that I learned the reason for concern.  As long as the infection was limited to her arm, things were bad but handle-able.  If it reached her shoulder, it would begin to infect the rest of the body and things would be VERY BAD and difficult to control.

Fortunately the latter did not occur and the infection was brought under control and eventually eliminated.  

Yes, my ability to sleep at night has been somewhat restored also.

Thank You, Lord!  and Hospital Staff!

Changing subject to lighter material.

We had a very interesting family as guests at one of our Guest Houses this past weekend.  Because of all the hoop jumping earlier in the week, the Casseta wasn't readied to Mrs J's standards.  (I try, but usually fall short).  So, it's almost time for them to check in, when Mrs J and I grab the last things we need and head down to finish up.

Yep, as we get out of the truck, the guests pull up.  I give them a quick overview of what we need to do and ask if they can hold for a few minutes.  They said sure.  We got 'er done and stopped to say thanks.

Very nice folks, Dad, Mom and 3YO son.  We're chatting and they asked how we'd come to this property.  Told them about retiring from the Air Force and such.  They mentioned that they were both Army.  He'd been a Tank Driver in the recent festivities and had his tank shot out from under him. Oh Wow!

 His wife is a JAG.  He had recently retired and she was one year out.

Yes, Sarge, we had a conversation much like on your post yesterday.  Chatted for about an hour and he casually mentioned that he'd just been diagnosed with cancer and was beginning Chemo this next week.  Mrs. J asked what type he had, when he answered, Mrs J said "So do I".  He mentioned  he'd just completed the Radiation portion of his treatment and would be starting Chemo.  Since, Mrs J had just the opposite schedule for treatment, they had a mutually helpful discussion about what each could expect.  Nice to be able to talk to someone who's going through what you are going through and has completed the treatment you're about to enter.  I know Mrs. J was, well, "less tense".  I suspect he was also.

Great folks,  Wish them well.

On the woodworking front(s), obviously, there hasn't been a lot of progress.  The Pikler triangle is progressing, slowly, but progressing.  I've got all the legs drilled and painted.


I've got half the cross braces (steps) painted white. Maroon will be used for the rest.  Then it's pretty much final assembly and putting a certain University's logo on it and, voila', completed.

 Finally, it's Spring in Texas and for some reason or another, the wild flower's are really spectacular this year.

First we have a fairly hefty load of a wild flower (AKA a weed) known as "Gold Star".

Kinda pretty isn't it?

Yes, until it kinda takes over your field.

Then there's Verbena. 

My Cell phone doesn't do this field justice, it's almost completely purple.

Finally, there's the Blue Bonnet, the State Flower of Texas.

This is my "Guard Flower".  It's right inside my front gate.  Keeps the "Bad Guys" away.

These folks are better gardeners than I

Fortunately, it's been a fairly wet spring.  Usually this time of year it's two to three weeks between mowings and the grass is a greenish-brown color. 


This was last Saturday night, just under 1"

This year we're at once a week.  Oh well, I get my steps in.

Finally, I got this picture from MBD of León and his Paternal Grandmother.

Future Fighter Pilot?

Peace out y'all!

Sunday, March 24, 2024

I'm Tired ...

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon
Claude Lorrain (PD)
Once again the Muse has gone missing. She has apparently decided to take a longer break than usual and honestly, I can't say I blame her.

After weeks of telling myself how much I enjoy my job and "I'm not ready to retire yet ..."

I kinda wish I was retired right now.

But uncertainty in the world, especially in the United States, gives me pause. What happens in November? Will we seriously become a banana republic as some people claim we already are? (No, I don't believe that, neither should you, yet.)

But as I approach 71, I grow tired of getting up four days a week to grind it out at my desk. Sure, I only work 32 hours a week. Sure, I get a three day weekend every week. But ...

I ran into a guy at work that I haven't had the chance to talk to in quite some time. He's a fairly senior guy, young to be in such a position, but he's so damn smart that it's not a surprise. He gets stuff done and, as he is an engineer, he understands engineering. Unlike many senior folk who are most certainly not engineers.

It started with a simple, "Hey, how's it going?"

"I'm good. You?"

"One day closer to retirement." (Which seems to be my mantra these days.)

"Oh, have you picked a date yet?"

"No later than the end of the year." (FWIW, I used to say, "the end of the year.")

Rather than just the two of us having a little chat then moving on, we started talking about retirement. (His father retired some years back, but he worked longer than most. He too was a talented engineer.)

The thing is, while I do have those three day weekends, every week, it always seems that once I do the things which need doing, I always think of starting up some hobby-related activity, but I always say, "Well, by the time I get going on that, I'll have to go to work." In other words, I'm greedy. I want all my time to be just that, my time.

We chatted about that, he gets it and he really helped me to "get it" as well. It was a good conversation.

Some seriously crappy weather on Saturday, heavy rain, high winds and rather cool. Though it was in the 50s the wet causes the cold to go right through you,

The Missus Herself and I had a nice meal at a new-ish place in town. It's Peruvian themed, I'm guessing it's a theme rather than straight Peruvian fare, I could be wrong. But the food was pretty good. We both agreed that we'll go back.

But at dinner I looked at my wife of forty-six years and said "I wish I was retired."

She got something of an alarmed look at that statement as I've said many times, "End of the year."

Not only do I want myself to think hard about this, I want her to do so as well. After all, without her I have serious doubts as to where I'd be these days. Whatever success I've had in life is because of her. So, it's something that involves both of us. So, we should both start thinking about it. Seriously.

There are days that I feel like Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Ah, The Weekend ...

Stormy Sea at Night
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
Alrighty then, I managed to dredge up the energy to post something other than a re-run. So then, let us begin.

I've been reading a very good book on the Battle of Antietam off and on for a few months now. Why off and on? Well, it's pretty damned sobering.

Men advancing through cornfields then coming into the open to be torn apart by rifle and cannon fire. Something often not very well depicted by Hollywood, who seem to think that all explosions involve lots of flame and that casualties simply fling their hands up then fall to the ground, seemingly intact.

Shōgun, a series I've mentioned before, is an exception to filmmakers "getting it wrong." At least in the following scene they get it awfully correct. (Note that the scene is very graphic and you'll need to click over to YouTube to watch it ...)

Men and horses are torn apart by cannon fire, sheets of blood are thrown up, the very ground is soaked and made muddy by the blood of the victims. This is what war looks like on the ground, this is the thing which feckless politicians would have us involved in.

But you know what? I'm letting current affairs and happenings in the world outside affect my mood far too much lately. I need to ...

The Missus Herself and Your Humble Scribe have their health, our children and grandchildren are doing well, and (other than that Gorram daylight saving time making everyone tired and cranky) work goes well. I enjoy what I do and I love the people I work with. The camaraderie takes me back to my days wearing a uniform. We get along well and can rip each other with no hard feelings, in fact we often do that just for the fun of it.

Although spring arrived in Little Rhody on the 19th, after a week of nice, warmer, milder weather, the 20th saw temperatures drop back down into the 30s during the day and 20s at night. Though it's sunny, it's kinda chilly, damned wind has picked up as of late as well.

Oh well, weather in New England, you can bitch about it all day long, but it's gonna do what it wants to. But other than that, things are going well. I pay far too much attention to the chattering classes, I need to filter that nonsense out.

I'll keep my ear to the ground, but I ain't gonna fret. After all, though it may not be apparent, God is still in charge.

And that's not going to change.


Be well.

Friday, March 22, 2024

What Does the Future Hold?

Vokzalna Street of Bucha (Kyiv Oblast of Ukraine)
where a Russian military column was destroyed on 27 February 2022.

Yesterday's re-run generated a number of interesting comments. You'll have to pardon my somewhat abrupt answers to some of those, I tend to bristle when information is presented and expected to be taken as a given. Have a controversial viewpoint? Go for it, but be prepared to cite your sources.

I spent a good part of the time I should have been writing original material looking into the current Russo-Ukrainian War and that is a lot of history. You have to go all the way back to Kievan Rus (and perhaps even further back) and then come forward to the Euromaidan protests to have even an inkling of what's going on over there these days.

All that being said (research is continuing), all I can say for certain is that Ukrainians and Russians will continue to die in horrible ways while politicians sit down to fancy dinners and seek money for whatever causes they're promoting.

The French have a saying, “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose“¹ – The more things change, the more they stay the same. War, greed, destruction, it won't end any time soon.

The following was Part IV (yesterday was Part III) of a four part series I did back in 2022. As the French say ...

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 6:1-8 (KJV)

So will war be the end of us as a species?

As the population of the world increases, as competition for resources increases, somewhere, someone, is going to pull the trigger which could set off Armageddon. I don't know if that's a maybe or a certainty. But it lies well within the realm of possibility.

The Scriptures foretell of the end of this existence ...

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Matthew 24:35-37 (KJV)

What follows is beyond our ken.

It has been said that "violence never solved anything," of course that's nonsense. Violence certainly ended the threat from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Perhaps it's wise to understand that aggressive warfare is not an answer. That's why it's been outlawed. Regardless of what we think of the situation in Ukraine, they were attacked.

Were the Russians provoked? They seem to think so, well, at least Putin and his cronies think so. But one could make the argument that Japan was provoked into attacking Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December 1941. You would be correct, we were trying to get Japan to back off in China, where they were indeed waging a war of conquest. So yes, we provoked them, but that did not justify their attack on the United States.

Wars of conquest have caused more grief and horror than anything else in our history, it should be opposed, vigorously, perhaps even through the force of arms. But when?

That is indeed the question.

I weep for the fallen ...

Those in the past, and those to come.

No Man’s Land
written by Eric Bogle
 performed by the Dropkick Murphys
Oh how do you do, young Willie McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done
And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in 1916
Well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean
Or Willie McBride, was is it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in 1916
To that loyal heart you're forever nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name?
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane
In an old photograph torn, tattered, and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

The sun shining down on these green fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished long under the plow
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard that's still no man's land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation were butchered and damned

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And I can't help but wonder oh Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willie McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Pray for Peace, Prepare for War.

The original post was here.

¹ French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

War is Still Hard

The Battle of Towton
Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.
The incumbent King of England, Henry VI, on the throne since 1422, was a weak, ineffectual and mentally unsound ruler, which encouraged the nobles to scheme for control over him. (Ibid)

Sounds kind of familiar, know what I mean?

Yes, having a weak leader encourages foreign leaders with an agenda to take advantage of that weakness. Nature abhors a vacuum, so does power.

Does anyone think Putin would have gone into Ukraine if say, Teddy Roosevelt was the President? Note well that I say "Putin" and not "Russia." Putin is a despot, a latter-day Tsar wanna-be. He is no better than Hitler salivating over the Sudetenland in 1938. "Hey, those are ethnic Russians in there, and they're being mistreated!" The Russian people are not behind this invasion. Most of them were just as surprised as the Ukrainians when the Russian Army went in. (As were many of the soldiers in that army!)

I'm not too spun up over the Crimea, it wasn't traditionally part of Ukraine, Khrushchev gave it to them in 1954. Nor the other "separatist" region of Donbas (which is broken into two areas: the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic). Those areas contain a majority of Russians (so my research shows), so them being a part of Ukraine is a bit of a stretch.

But the rest of the nation of Ukraine, Russia should stay out.

What gives me pause concerning this whole Russo-Ukrainian War (Part Deux) is the similarities between now and 1938. While history doesn't really repeat itself, it does, as they say, "rhyme." In other words, similar circumstances could lead to similar outcomes.

In 1938 Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany. He was actually popular from what I've read. He had reduced unemployment, he had remilitarized the Rhineland which the Treaty of Versailles stipulated could not have any German troops in it. This area borders the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. By keeping the German military out of a 50-mile strip in that region, it was thought to both deter German aggression and also provide an easy path to the Rhine from the West.

Hitler sent his troops into the Rhineland, suspecting that weak leadership in Britain (Neville Chamberlain) and France (Léon Blum) would do nothing to oppose him. He was correct.

To be fair, the people of the United Kingdom and France were in no mood to fight another war considering that WWI had ended only eighteen years before. This was territory they recognized as being German, people who were citizens of Germany in fact.

But it made Hitler overconfident. So he set his sights on Austria, after all didn't they also speak German? Shouldn't they be incorporated into Greater Germany (Großdeutschland)?

Truth be told, Austria had never been part of Germany, but no one was in any mood to contest that move either. Well sure, they are all German speakers, so why not?

In the former country of Czechoslovakia there was a region along the border with Germany called the Sudetenland. There were a great many German speakers in the area and that region had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the war. As had all of Czechoslovakia (and Hungary, and Yugoslavia, and a few other areas as well, that Empire had been pretty big). Hitler set his sights on that area next.

Once again the French and British leaders let him do it, they even persuaded the Czechs that they could do nothing about it if the Germans attacked them and simply took the region. They would not send French and British soldiers to die for Czechoslovakia.

The Sudetenland became part of the Greater German Reich shortly thereafter. (In truth the German generals were terrified that Hitler would attack the Czechs. The Sudetenland is rugged country and the Czechs had set up very rugged defensive works therein. They assumed that an invasion, even if successful, would be costly and set back Hitler's future plans for expansion.)

By the end of 1938, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, the Germans absorbing parts of the country into Germany proper and creating the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia (which contained Prague). The Slovaks declared their independence from Czechoslovakia and formed the Slovak Republic, which promptly allied itself with Germany. (Hungary also nicked a piece for themselves, the Ruthenian part – Subcarpathian Rus as it was known then.)

Are you seeing any similarities to today?

I am.

And it's unnerving to see this happening again.

But is modern day Russia the equivalent of 1930s Nazi Germany? I don't think so, but it certainly looks like Putin is using Hitler's playbook as regards Ukraine.

Consider this:
  • The American people are tired of war, after our two decades long idiotic involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. What the Hell is "nation building" anyway but an attempt to impose an alien culture upon another culture?
  • The Europeans have been living under the American nuclear umbrella since 1945. Most of their armies are of no use in opposing Russia over Ukraine. They're too small and their governments have not been spending the money to maintain their equipment and training.
  • Where is the vital national interest in Ukraine? Should American men and women be sent to die there? Because they will if they are sent in by the idiots in DC.
I have no doubt that our government will do something stupid, that's pretty much their track record for the last eighty years (give or take). At the very least, it's going to cost the American taxpayer a lot of money. Qui bono?

Things could get pretty sporty here over the next few months, don't forget to keep an eye on China. I'm sure they're watching all this with a gleam in their eyes. Get the Americans and the West bogged down in Ukraine? Bye bye Taiwan.

Yup, war is hard.

And damned dangerous as well!

Editor's note: Yes, I'm still tired, no, I had no time to create a new post, but this needs revisiting. The original post was here. Also ... New episode of Shōgun hasn't been watched yet, ya know, I'm busy. Life sometimes intrudes into the Blogoverse.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Fly (Not the One With Jeff Goldblum)

It was one of those nights where I was confident that sleep would come quickly and easily.

Boy, was I wrong.

Had leftovers for dinner, good, but not great. The meal was a bit heavier than expected, as I don't like to eat anything really substantial after a certain time, I knew I might be in trouble.

But no, my stomach was fine.

The first call of nature (normally there are at least two, comes with the territory, age and a small bladder) occurred at 23:10 local. No biggie, I thought, we've been here before.

However ...

In the throne room I espied a fly, yes, an insect probably recently hatched, that was nearly the size of a C-17 Globemaster, and far louder.

Now normally I'm a real "live and let live" kind of guy. Lady bugs, spiders, and the like will be shown the door rather than being swatted on sight. Not so with flies. Disease carriers who serve a very useful function in the wild. The interior of Chez Sarge is not the wild.

So I endeavored to end this buzzing annoyance before returning to bed. Thing is, the upstairs throne room at Chez Sarge has lots of nice things which don't take kindly to being hit with a fly swatter. I couldn't destroy the village to save the village¹, it would be expensive and no doubt incur the wrath of The Missus Herself. (Something I try to avoid, though both daughters tell me I need to try "harder.")

So there I was (nope, not the start of a war story) trying to down this fly without destroying various things in the bathroom. Said things being the things the gorram fly chose to land on to take breaks, I guess. He was pretty quick for a big old fly in the cold of a mid-March evening.

Little bastard fought hard, after about fifteen minutes I no longer heard his buzzing. Little fire-trucker had gone to ground he had. I waited, quiet-like, for the wee beastie to re-appear. After a good five minutes, nada, nichts, nothing. So back to bed I went.

"Damn! It's nearly midnight!" I cried out, though softly so as not to wake The Missus Herself.

Yes, my Precious, it was late, I scored perhaps five and a half hours of sleep, fitful at best. I kept having a recurring bizarre dream in which I was arguing with Sir Winston Churchill about Gallipoli.

Maybe it was something I ate ...

¹ An apocryphal "quote" from Vietnam by a left-leaning "journalist." Is there any other kind?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Adventures In Retail or How I Bought a Toilet Seat

For those of you expecting another episode in von Lüttwitz's post-war exploits, sorry, not today. Might be a few days before I come back to that. Might be longer. For you see, Herr von Lüttwitz has an established history (fictional though it is) from the (still not published) book Almost a Lifetime and the still-in-work untitled prequel to that, which for now goes by the undistinguished Prequel - Part One.

Because of that, anything I write about von Lüttwitz really should match what I've written about him before. So I need to go back and reread certain things to make sure I don't write something which doesn't jive with "that which has gone before." Which amounts to some 1,300 pages of text in the two works. So, that might take a while ...

As the lead in photo might suggest, today's post is partially about toilet seats. Not the whole post mind you, just this part.

But first, I must digress.

I grew up with round toilet seats, which aren't really round but for convenience sake are referred to as round. I don't know when I first met the elongated variety of toilet seat, but I remember being somewhat disconcerted with them, at first.

But over time I learned to enjoy the extra room it gave one for certain things. Which I shall not go in to. As all of my readers are human, and from this planet, the last being an assumption, we all know what toilet seats are for.

Hhmm, my cultural bias is showing. Toilet facilities are very different in some countries (Japan and Korea immediately spring to mind), so perhaps I should say that most of my readers are from the United States (I know some of you are not) and therefore are somewhat familiar with the basic "round" versus "elongated" toilet seat types.

Anyhoo, I grew to appreciate the elongated seats, much as I grew to love driving an SUV versus driving a compact car. So when we renovated the upstairs bathroom at Chez Sarge, we decided that the elongated seat was the way to go.

As an aside I will mention that when we did the downstairs bathroom, which is significantly smaller than the upstairs, I presumed that the same type of toilet would be installed. I was wrong.

I came home to discover that the contractor had decided, quite on his own, that he would have the round style toilet installed, as "that will give you more space in the bathroom."

"Damn!" says I, "More space! Hey honey, we can hold ballroom dances in the downstairs bathroom now, look at all this extra room."

Yeah, two whole inches. I told the contractor, "Nope, elongated, get this abhorrent round monstrosity out of here."

The Missus Herself thought that perhaps a bit less sarcasm was called for, and she's probably right. But that had not been the first time the contractor decided that perhaps we should listen to him and not the other way around.

"Dude, I'm paying for this, so yeah, let's do it my way."

So all that just to establish my preference in toilet seats. Which, by the way, I had to purchase over the weekend.

Now back in the day I naturally assumed that, this being America, there would be 27 different varieties of toilet seat configuration and multiple seat color choices and materials. Therefore, I set out to measure the dimensions of the toilet seat that needed to be replaced.

The distance from one attach point to the other, the width of the seat, and, of course, the length. I even took photos of everything to make sure I would choose the right one as to dimensions and color as well.

When I arrived at my semi-local¹ big box store and headed back to the wall o' toilet seats, I noticed two things right away: 1) There are only two shapes of toilet seat and there is only one size of each,² and 2) there is only one color.

Upon closer examination I noticed a third thing, the seats had either a wood core or were all plastic. At first I thought that "white wood" was a color, until I checked the heft of the thing and realized, "Ah, wood core."

So all the measuring and photo taking had been for naught.

OTOH, there were different manufacturers, and as my toilet was made by Kohler, I went with that. (To the tune of thirty-five dollars! FJB! I know, I know, I was in the Air Force I should be happy the seat didn't cost me ten thousand dollars ...)

New seat purchased, new seat installed. My one big accomplishment over the weekend.

Since late November I have not been visiting Steam all that much, I was rather afraid that cutting off their access to my funds might drive them under. Not to worry, they stayed alive. So my other accomplishment over the weekend was to plunk down money for two new games: The Troop and Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy. I even had the chance to check them out on the new laptop.

The Troop covers the British experience around Caen from D-Day onwards. I like the way the game plays and I thought the user interface intuitive and easy to use.

OTOH, Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy (for which I bought all the add-ons and extra vehicles) covers the Americans, Germans, Brits and Poles as well. Both games have nice graphics but ...

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy's user interface is non-intuitive and makes you read the manual to figure out how to do things. So I have that learning curve to climb.

But hey, I've got the time, the inclination, and the equipment to do so.

Just not sure I have the patience!

As The Missus Herself has returned from her sojourn in Maryland, I may not have the time, but we shall see.

Anyhoo, that's all for now.

Be back tomorrow with something else, probably non-fictional. Sorry.

¹ It's twelve miles away. The town where I live has a wee hardware store which is good for nuts and bolts and little things but doesn't carry toilet seats. My town also has zero fast food outlets, unless you count Dunkin' Donuts, which I don't. We used to have a Wendy's, which I loved but also noticed that it was so poorly managed and the employees so ill-trained that I doubted that it would last. I was correct. But I digress.
² At least at my semi-local big box store.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Tough Week

Well folks, as the title says, it's been a tough week here at Rancho Juvat. Lots of balls in the air and lots of interference with keeping them their there (for Joe) by folks who should know better.  

The last two weeks have been Spring Break for most Texas schools.  That causes "The Burg" to get lots of tourists (and by lots, I mean lots and lots and lots, it can take ten minutes to cross Main Street in a vehicle. *)

But, it also means that money is coming into the town, which is a good thing.  In our little neck of the woods, our two B and B's were reserved the entire period.  Which is nice to see in the checking account balance.

However, just because this seems to be a small little town, it doesn't mean the rules of our society don't still apply.  Jaywalking being one of them.  Check out and Check in times are another.  As I mentioned , our BnB's were reserved the entire period, with someone checking in about 4 hours after the prior guest checked out.  The turn around requires some fairly precise timing and preparation.  We had two incidents where without warning the prior guest was two hours late in leaving.  Our cleaning crew got there on time and had to wait til the guests left.  

Folks, they have other additional places to reset on their schedule.  The world doesn't rotate around your anus.  Play by the rules.

Did you know that not only do you get to rate a given BnB, but the BnB owners get to rate you?  That data is available on both AirBnB and VRBO owner websites.  Suffice it to say, those folks didn't get a good review.  Those reviews might change places available to stay by you in the future. You're not the only person in the world, do better!

Ok, got that off my chest.  I feel much better now.

On to other topics.

As some of you may remember LJW asked me to construct a Pikler Triangle for LJD a week or two ago.  I have made some progress on that project.  Not complete mind you, but getting there.

First step was to get all my fecal matter together.

Then temporarily put the pieces together so they'd have the same shape after sawing and sanding.

Got the holes for the crosspieces (steps) drilled.  Hardest part was getting the Drill Press set up for the precise depth to drill. Went through quite a few scrap pieces of 2 x 4 before getting it right.

Because I didn't want accidentally get different color paint transferred from one to another connected (it's going to be Maroon and White, all my offspring, their spouses and almost certainly their kids did or will attend Texas A&M-Whoop!.), so I painted the parts separately.

That's about where I ran out of time.  But, I am ready for final assembly however.

Thankfully, the ultimate recipient does seem rather enthused.

Hey! Being cool is not a part time job!

On the other major item in my life,  we had a bit of a scare yesterday.  Mrs. J woke up saying her hand hurt really bad.  We took a look and it was badly swollen.  She had just completed her last round of Chemo infusion (she still has two weeks of chemo pills) this past week.  She thought it was because she'd slept on it wrong.   Not being a Doctor nor having played one on TV, and not knowing if it was or was not cancer related, I convinced her to visit the ER.  So off we go.  

The staff was very supportive and knew their jobs, it took a couple of hours, but none of the tests came back cancer related (Thank You Lord!).  They gave her some anti-inflammatory and pain killer prescriptions which we filled and headed home.  

For some reason, she took a long nap this afternoon.

I sincerely hope next week isn't quite as rocky as this one was.  I don't have enough hair to let any of it go gray!

Peace out, y'all.

* Main Street is part of US87/US290, both are important trucking routes.  Jaywalking is not encouraged as the trucks have places to be and can't really stop on a dime.  Just sayin'