Saturday, July 20, 2024

I Think It Was Friday ...

Source
People tell me that once one retires, the days of the week all sort of run together. Well, I'm on a mini-vacation right now and have lost all track of time.

I was convinced that Friday was Saturday because it was my second day off, as I was off Thursday to pick up LUSH and her progeny from Boston. Imagine my surprise (and joy) to awaken Friday morning, thinking it was Saturday, to discover that it was indeed only Friday.

What did we do all day?

Not much, a lot of napping was involved for the visitors from California and The Missus Herself, who also flew back from Maryland on Thursday. (Providence though, not Boston. LUSH and her progeny had flown in on the redeye Thursday morning.)

But we did go out for ice cream.

That was the highlight.

Ice cream.

Soft serve ice cream.

On a warm (the heat here has broken for a bit, no 90s, mid 80s only and lower humidity, praise the Lord) beautiful summer eve. Local ice cream place (only open in the summer) with a nice little park with a swing set and slide for the kids and Adirondack chairs for the adults.

We sat, enjoyed the lngering sunlight and ate our ice cream.

I could get used to this.

Yes, I plan to.

Ciao!



Friday, July 19, 2024

My Navigator Went Insane ...

Source
So the trip up to Logan Airport on Thursday instant went about as well as could be expected.

Boston traffic was ...

Well, it was Boston. Those who know, know. Those who don't, well, trust us, it can suck.

Source
Saw two accidents while inbound to Boston, one of which was fully off the roadway, yet caused a five mile backup as the gawkers had to slow down and check every single detail of what was happening.

The second was on the other side of the highway! Looked worse than the first, but there was nothing in flames, no bodies, nothing of even the remotest interest, yet traffic was backed up a good five miles.

People can be idiots, they try and prove this every day. But people driving in and out of Boston have the survival instincts of a kamikaze pilot, and the attention span of a squirrel. Yet I survived and delivered LUSH and the progeny safely to Little Rhody.

Now the opening graphic should tell you which navigation system I prefer. It was superb right up until Gargle bought them. Now Waze will actually panic.

Going through the Ted Williams Tunnel was particularly interesting.

As Waze lost the satellite signal, the sound of incipient panic was in her voice.

Waze: "Take the next right."

YHS: "Uh, we're in a tunnel, under Boston Harbor."

Waze: "At the roundabout, take the second exit."

YHS: "Uh, didn't you hear my first comment?" (Obviously not, I mean it isn't voice interactive.)

Waze: "Make a U-Turn!"

YHS: "Wait, what?"

Waze: "Turn right, turn right, then turn left ..."

YHS: "Dear Lord ..."

I was starting to feel like Captain Kirk, talking to Nomad ...



Waze will also panic in the Cape Code roundabouts, barking out orders to turn left, then to take the 22nd exit divided by the square root of pi. Then getting completely confused, telling me to turn at streets that don't exist.

When we came out of the tunnel, she corrected herself, almost sounded embarrassed about it.

So yeah, on the trip to Boston my software navigator went insane. On the trip back I had a real navigator, a WSO¹. LUSH didn't panic at all, though she did yell a lot at the other drivers.

Saved me from having to do so.

She's a good daughter, LUSH is.




¹ Weapon Systems Operator, backseater in the F/A-18F. (And the F-4 Phantom as well.)

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Oot and Aboot ...¹

Source
A long time ago in a galaxy far. far away I wanted to be a tank crewman. The Army kept trying to convince me to do something else, I didn't want to do the something else. "Tanks," says I. "Missile technician," says they.

So I joined the Air Force.

Anyhoo ...

Family coming in this weekend, I'm picking up LUSH and her progeny in Boston (probably as you read this) today. They fly back out on Monday.

Long weekend for me, long trip for them.

Why the short trip? Well ...

LUSH and I are going to a Foo Fighters concert at Fenway upon Sunday eve. Last time we did that was six years ago.

Better seats this time. (So LUSH tells me.)

Not sure how much blogging will be done betwixt now and Monday but hey, I might have the odd moment here and there.

Ya never know.

Rock on.



¹ My paternal great-grandfather was Canadian.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The People's House

Source
President John Nakagawa and his immediate staff were aboard Marine One, on their way to the White House. He was looking out the window, watching the countryside slip by below. He was thinking about the recent referendum which had more or less confirmed him in the Presidency.

More because he had won a majority of those who voted across the country, 65%. Less because he had actually lost in two states, California and New York. Rumors and some hard evidence of voter manipulation and outright ballot box stuffing would be looked into in those states, however, with the Justice Department in disarray and the FBI non-operational, that was going to take some time.

For now he had enough authority to get the ball rolling on his agenda. At least in theory.

He watched as he saw one of Lieutenant Colonel Ramirez's attack helicopters sprint ahead to be replaced by the other of HMX-1's helicopters, there were two on this trip. Typically the President would travel with three or more.

He turned to where his military aide, LCDR Higgins, was sitting with Bill Aspinall. The two were going over the plans for getting the Pentagon back up and running. Many of the people who worked there, unsure of who their bosses were supporting, had taken to staying home. That included members of the active duty military.

"Ya know Josh, in some ways they're derelict in their duties."

Higgins nodded, "I get that Bill, but what about the guys on the old Commandant's staff? They deliberately disobeyed his orders, most of them felt they were on firm Constitutional grounds, others just 'went with the flow.' The get along to go along types have to go."

Aspinall asked, "Article 32¹ hearings? That might take some time."

"These officers all have commissions signed by the President. I always understood that officers served at the pleasure of the President. Can't he just revoke their commissions?" Higgins offered.

Aspinall nodded, "The boss will like that, simple, clean ... Well, clean until those guys start hiring lawyers."

"Let 'em hire lawyers, they abandoned their posts. If they want to play hardball, we'll start convening Article 32 hearings. They go from 'you don't work here anymore' to 'you don't work here anymore and you're going to Leavenworth.' I think most of them will put their heads down and petition the government later. Hoping for a new President maybe."


Matthew Burleson was being held in Cumberland, MD, at Barrack C. There was one other man being held there, Burleson had tried to engage the man in conversation, only to be told to "shut the f**k up" by the trooper assigned to watch them.

He was filthy, he had encrusted blood and something else in his hair from when the SUV he had been riding in was shot up by what he thought of as a "trigger happy Guardsman." The blood was from his deceased aide, Ted Anderson. A round fired at the engine block had gone high, ricocheting into the passenger compartment and taking the side of Anderson's head off.

Barrack C wasn't meant to hold prisoners long term, it had once upon a time, but modern times sent hard core prisoners elsewhere. At Barrack C they had two holding cells, for drunks and assorted bad guys awaiting transport to a serious jail. They didn't even have jumpsuits for the prisoners. Burleson was wearing the same clothes he had had on when he was taken into custody. Filthy and blood stained, the troopers didn't seem to care.

A trooper eventually brought him and the other prisoner something to eat. Burleson saw the offered fare, ramen noodles, something he'd never cared for. Even though he was hungry, he just picked at his food.

He saw the trooper leave, so he set his bowl down.

"Hey buddy, you gonna eat that?"

The other man was eyeing his noodles intently. "No, but how am I supposed to give it to you?"

The man shook his head, "Man, I thought you had to be smart to be SecDef. Put the bowl on the floor outside your cell. You notice you've got about six inches of clearance under there, then push it my way. I'll do the rest."

"How'd you know that I was the Secretary of Defense?"

The other man laughed, "Senior Chief Al Rossi at your service. Got out about six months after you took office. Thought you were a numbnuts then, now I'm convinced that you're a prime example of a numbnuts. Jesus, I hates me some politicians."

"Look here, Senior Chief, I was your boss ..."

"Buddy, you were so far up in the chain, you weren't anyone's boss down in the ranks. So you can kiss my ass."

Burleson thought to answer that, then decided against it. His daddy had told him once upon a time, "Never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it." Seems the old man had been right.


They landed on the South Lawn and proceeded to the Executive Mansion. The lawns were neatly tended, the gardens immaculate. The inside was equally well cared for, the senior woman on the house staff greeted them at the door.

"Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I'm glad someone has arrived to make this place alive again."

President Nakagawa noticed the woman's name tag, "Ms. or is it Mrs. Kirkwood?"

"Mrs. Kirkwood, my husband died some fifteen years ago, but I still consider myself to be his wife."

Aspinall consulted a notebook and leaned in to the President, whispering.

The President bowed to the older woman, "Madam, thank you for maintaining the people's house. I am honored to meet you, your husband was something of a legend in my old service."

"Just did his job, Sir. I'm just doing mine. Is there anything you need right away?"

"No ma'am. My family is flying in later today, I assume the family quarters are as immaculate as everything else?"

"Just 'cause the country's tearing itself apart doesn't mean we can't try to keep up appearances. Family quarters are ready for occupancy, Sir."

"Thank you, Mrs.Kirkwood." Nakagawa again bowed. Then he and the staff headed for the Oval Office. There was much work to be done.

One of the kitchen staff nodded down the hallway as the President and his party left. "Seems like a nice fella."

"Polite too. I'm sure those folks are hungry, let's get 'em fed."

"Yes ma'am, lunch will be ready shortly, think they'll eat in the office?"

"Oh honey, I'm sure of that."




¹ A preliminary hearing required before referral to a court martial.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Peaceful End, Violent End ...

"Sir, there's a roadblock ahead. What do you want me to do?"

Matthew Burleson was half asleep in the backseat, his stomach was starting to bother him, a lot. He stirred and sat up, looking down the road. He noticed that his aide, Ted Anderson, was slowing down, looking around, perhaps seeking an alternate route.

"Pull over, I need to think." Burleson barked.

He hadn't meant to yell at Anderson, but he was tired. Lack of proper rest and lack of proper nutrition was wearing him out. He wondered how much longer he could keep running.

Anderson realized that he had just passed Exit 1, they were in Maryland now. The headlights lit up the "Welcome to Maryland" sign just ahead. He was traveling way too slow to stay on I-81 so he let the car roll onto the shoulder, where he turned the lights off.

His phone was plugged into the car, he checked the navigation display, there was an on ramp just ahead. Maybe go down that and hope no one was coming up that way. He too was suffering from lack of sleep and his cognitive abilities were starting to suffer.

"Sir, I can go the wrong way down the on ramp just ahead. We'd avoid this roadblock ..."

"How do you know it's a roadblock, Ted? Could be an accident, could be construction, why do you assume it's a roadblock?"

Burleson thought it was a roadblock as well, but he was hoping that it wasn't. In truth, Anderson thought, his boss was getting a bit querulous. Can't say he blamed him, but ...

"Sir, we're in an SUV, I can stay on the grass and get on to the off ramp from here. People do strange things like that all the time." Glancing at the GPS map on the console, he continued, "We can take Mason-Dixon Road further west, then drop down into Maryland on Williamsport Pike, avoids Hagerstown altogether."

Anderson heard Burleson moan, rather like a petulant child, "Alright. Do it."


"Lou, did ya see that?" Trooper Jack Alonso had seen a car pull over to the side of the interstate, then drive off on the grass.

Trooper Louis Macklin said, "Yeah, seems fishy. Dark colored SUV, might be our guy. Alert the local LEOs. We think our guy wants to get to DC, but there's more'n one way through Maryland."

Alonso got on the radio and had dispatch patch him through to the Greencastle, PA cops. While he did that, Macklin was on another radio talking to Barrack "O" in Hagerstown.

"Dispatch, this is Oscar Five at I-81 roadblock. We need to set up on Williamsport Pike as well, I think our suspect just deflected west when he saw us set up here on I-81."

"Dispatch copies. We've got people there already, Oscar Five."

"Oscar Five, copy. Out."


As they turned west, Burleson saw a sign for a motel. "Hhmm, truck stop, probably really sleazy, but damn I need to sleep. In a real bed."

"Sir?"

Burleson didn't realize that he was talking out loud. "Pull in here, Ted."

"I don't think that's a great idea, Sir. Why don't we ..."

"Right f**king now, Ted." Burleson's voice was low and dangerous.

"Alright, I'll get us a room, you stay in the car."

"Two rooms, Ted."

"I'll sleep in the car, Sir. You get the room. If I get two rooms and they see just me, that looks odd enough. If they're watching the news, or listening to the radio, two guys might make them suspicious."

Burleson thought for a moment, "Good point, but if they see you sleeping in the car, after renting a room? Even worse. Okay Ted, one room."


Burleson awoke to the smell of food, he checked his watch. Three in the morning, but he felt refreshed, his stomach was feeling better too, he felt ravenous.

"Where'd you get the food, Ted?"

"Hoffman's All American Grill, it's right across the parking lot. I got us a couple of burgers, hope that's okay?"

"Yeah, they smell great. We eat then get back on the road?" Burleson asked.

"Yup, maybe we can slide through and be in DC before lunch, Okay with you, Sir?"

Burleson had a mouthful of burger, he just nodded. The man looked happy for the first time since leaving Raven Rock.


Aspinall walked into the room where President Nakagawa was talking with his Joint Chiefs. Word out of China wasn't good, but it wasn't altogether bad. Most of the senior leadership in Beijing had fled the capital, or had tried to. Many had been caught by the mobs roaming the streets, howling for blood. Tiananmen Square was remembered by many.

Things were settling down, the PLA had taken control of the capital and were busy restoring order, with the help of the people.

Admiral Jack Whalen, the new Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) spoke up, "I talked to a General Wang Zhu twenty minutes ago, he's apparently in control of PLA forces in and around Beijing, he says that they have intel on what happened to Fujian, he knows that we weren't involved. They lost a number of ships in that typhoon. A few reconnaissance aircraft as well. I wouldn't want to be a Chicom meteorologist right about now."

"So the Pacific is clear for now?" Nakagawa asked, looking at his senior military staff.

"Yes Sir, they've pulled out a lot of the assets they had in the Spratlys."

"Have we spoken with Japan and the Philippines about this situation?"

"The Philippine Navy is a little hot under the collar, they lost two ships, but the Japanese are willing to back off."

"Do you think ..."

"I spoke with my counterpart in Manila, he says he can calm things down. Knowing Admiral Abadiano, he's probably offered his political bosses the opportunity to go to sea and show the Navy how to fight."

Nakagawa chuckled at that, "Sounds like a tough old bastard."

Whalen nodded, "He is, Sir. Damn fine sailor as well."

Nakagawa noticed Aspinall standing just inside the door, waiting for an opportunity. "What do ya got, Bill?"

"Maryland State Police think they know the whereabouts of Matthew Burleson. They want to know if you want him brought in, or ...?"

"Jesus Bill, yes, arrest the man. There's been enough bloodshed already."


Anderson could see lights up ahead, another damned roadblock. He glanced in his rearview mirror, his boss was out again. After days of almost no sleep, the former SecDef seemed to be recovering. He, on the other hand was nearly asleep on his feet, so to speak.

He started to slow down, again he was looking for somewhere to go, there was nothing but farm fields and houses. He could chance the fields, full tank of gas, four-wheel drive, it was still dark, but that wouldn't last. At first light they'd put helicopters up.

They could run, but they had nowhere to hide.


"Car coming on, Corporal. Looks like he's slowing down."

The Maryland National Guard were manning this roadblock, the State Police were spread thin as it was. So a couple of Humvees and seven Guardsmen were here.

"Guy's not stopping, Corp."

Corporal Billy Johnson stepped into the roadway, waving his flashlight, trying to get the driver's attention. He wasn't going that fast, why wasn't he stopping? Then he noticed, the driver seemed to be asleep at the wheel.

Private Burt Evans opened fire with his M4, he was aiming at the engine but a number of his rounds went wide and into the passenger compartment. The late model SUV slowed and then tumbled into the ditch alongside the road.

"Shit, shit, shit!" Johnson kept repeating as he went to the SUV, his weapon at the ready.

The driver was all messed up, there was blood everywhere. Then he noticed another person in the backseat. That man was sitting up, his eyes wide open, his hands in the air. Johnson recognized him.

"Brockman, get on the horn, we need an ambulance, let the Staties know we've got the SecDef in custody. He looks okay, but the guy driving is f**ked."

Source
"Mr. President?"

"Bill, just tell me, I'm too tired to deal with ceremony."

"Maryland National Guard captured Matt Burleson, alive."

Nakagawa sat up.

"But his aide, Ted Anderson, didn't make it."

"Didn't ... What the hell happened out there?"

"Anderson was at the wheel, he was slowing down, but he wasn't stopping, so one of the Guardsmen opened fire. The kid in charge of the detachment said he saw the driver, apparenyly asleep. The guy who fired, he was aiming at the engine block, in his excitement ..."

"Some of the rounds went wild and hit Anderson ..."

"Yes Sir."

"Where's Burleson now?"

"They're bringing him here."

"Good, I'm going to hit the rack for an hour or so. Wake me then."

"Yes Sir."

"Damn shame about, Ted. I liked the kid."

"Yes Sir, a lot of people did."

"Shit."

"Yes, Mr. President."



Monday, July 15, 2024

When it rains, it pours.

 Well, Folks, if you are reading this, my grand scheme to resurrect my laptop has failed. (Not so fast, juvat, Patience is a virtue. Update complete.)  Anyhow, Mrs. J and I are taking a little weekender to visit Grand Kids and their parents in College Station.  My intention was to write Monday's post during nap time and publish it from there.  For whatever reason, if you're reading this version of the post written Friday before we left the 'Burg, the grand scheme went south. Plan went off without a hitch!

Yay! Score one for the home team.

 

Most of you readers will recognize this photo from last weeks post.  Absolutely one of my favorites.

However, I had a visit with a dermatologist this past week to get a tab removed from behind my ear.  As he was doing that, he asked about a dot on my right cheek.  (You can see it in the above photo, just below the right lens of my glasses and right of my nose. A wee beasty.) I told him that I thought it was a rub mark from my CPAP mask.  He said he thought it was a bit more than that and asked if I'd mind him taking a skin sample.  

I ok'd it and grinned and bore the sting.  Got a call from him late Thursday afternoon.  Seems its Basal Cell Carcinoma.  Suffice it to say I used another word for fecal matter in response.  He's referring me to a surgeon and we'll see what he recommends.

Hence the title to this post.

However, we did make it to College Station.  Had a great time with MBD and Family.

Been a long time since we've seen León,  He's 8 months and 30 lbs.  Gonna be a linebacker I think.

 
And Big Sister, MG, who is a very mature 3.

It was a fun weekend, good food, good story telling, good playing with the Grand Kids. MBD and SIL got an evening out just the two of them to celebrate their anniversary.  Mrs J and I got an evening alone with the Grand Kids to spoil them a bit. What's not to like?  

We're heading home as you read this so responses to comments might be a little later in the day.

Peace out, y'all. What will be, will be!

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Break Up

Source
The Chairman of the Communist Party of China looked out at the square. He could remember as a young boy the day the Party had used the People's Liberation Army to crush an uprising that threatened the Party, and by extension, so he thought, the people and the nation.

Now the PLA was on the streets again, but this time, they were coming for the Party and its leaders.

He had tried to place a call to the headquarters of the strategic missile forces, there had been no answer. The Peoples' Liberation Army Navy was responsible for this mess, they had hazarded the pride of the nation at sea, in a massive storm, and had lost.

Fujian and all but one of her escorts was lost. The people knew, somehow word had gotten out, and the people were furious. This time the PLA would not be suppressing an uprising in the streets, this time they would be leading it.

He jumped at the sound, then he realized, it was his phone.

"Yes?"

"We have a car for you outside, Comrade. Come quickly, the mob is moving this way."


"Mr. President?" Aspinall stuck his head in, Nakagawa was watching the news feed at his desk.

"What the hell is going on out there, Bill?"

"Our Ambassador sent a message before all communications were lost, cut off apparently. There is rioting in the streets of Beijing and other major cities throughout China."

"But why, why now?"

"You better read this, Sir." Aspinall handed the President a message.

Nakagawa scanned it, "Right. The Chinese government blames us for the loss of Fujian and her escorts. Then, in nearly the same breath, they blame counter-revolutionary elements within their own government. Who's in charge over there? Do we have any idea?"

"No Sir, best guess is that anybody with weapons and troops is trying to cut out a piece of the action for themselves."

"Warlords, in other words."

"Yes Sir, and some of those warlords have nukes."