Saturday, April 30, 2005

Wow. I've effected change. With just two polite but pointed comments I've caused someone to shut off comments on her weblog.

It began when Jack Army pointed out a clueless and somewhat vitriolic weblog post and wrote of how erroneous the writer's assumptions are. I think that in her mind facts are of little use in her campaign of hatred against the administration, but more on that later.

The original post was written by this airhead. Essentially, she attacks the "No Child Left Behind" act by claiming that military recruiters prey on the stupid and disadvantaged. She responded to Jack Army's reply by stating that providing the names and phone numbers of students (by school district officials) to recruiters is "reprehensible". I posted a comment asking her what was "reprehensible" about offering students, particularly the disadvantaged ones, a choice that could amount to a career or at least a leg up in life.

If you look at the list of posts in her weblog you'll be struck by a common theme in the titles (besides the astrology nonsense): Her hatred of the president and his administration. I responded to a post in which she states to the effect that Vice President Cheney will be meeting with a Saudi official and concludes it as follows:

There is a lunar full moon eclipse in Scorpio right now...wonder when we will learn the details of the corupt secret deals made in this covert meeting? We may well know by May 24.

Oh, and it's "corrupt".

My response was that given that her website is called "Healing Universe" and she seems consumed with hatred, maybe she needs to look to her own soul first.

Neither of my comments were profane or mean in spirit. Mean to her, maybe, as I suggest that she has her own issues to deal with (oh, and I did suggest that if a recruiter calls she should simply say "No, thank you" and get on with her holier-than-thou life...), but neither post should make someone run and hide unless they fear themselves intellectually incapable of intelligent discourse.

The response was dramatic. She left Jack Army's comment in place, perhaps smugly feeling that she'd put him in his place (not likely, read Jack's comment and her reply and you can see that intellectual advantage is his). She deleted both of my comments and then disabled comments from all except "team members".

Now Bill Clinton, who I am certain is one of her heroes, called the type of things she posts "The politics of personal destruction". I guess it only counts when it comes from the right.

I also guess she fears debate. Too bad. It would be fascinating to discuss back and forth with her and maybe gain some insights into her twisted and hateful mind. Most likely, she's just not intellectually equipped for discussion and debate. She allegedly possesses college degrees, but matriculating at Hogwarts' US campus is dubious credentials at best.

So, with two pointed replies--one pointed out errors in her logic and the other holding up a mirror to her--I've caused the turtle to withdraw into her shell. Never meant to do it, but I find it amusing nonetheless. Another moron responds to questioning by withdrawing into her shell and maintaining her own holier-than-thou bull by ignoring differing opinion.

Friday, April 29, 2005

A very busy day and tonight there will be two eight-year old girls dashing and giggling about the house.

So, a quick post with a look at some disturbing imagery. Given the name of the product, I wonder what the tiger is preparing to do with that thumb...

Schovit Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jack Army weighs in with some of his Ft. Devens memories.

As Jack Army mentions, the ranges at Devens were pretty much for the taking. Devens was mostly a training post for intel students. As I recall, the only permanent party units were us (10th Group), the 39th Engineers, a transportation battalion (about which more, perhaps, in a later post) and the garrison troops--the clerks and MPs who kept the post running. We could actually jump in our POVs (privately owned vehicles--in other words, your car) on weekends with our own firearms, sign in at the range control shack and go to a range to shoot. Bring your own targets, of course.

I know the lake that Jack Army speaks of. In fact, while I was at Devens two children ventured onto the lake in the winter and fell through the ice. You can guess the outcome. I think everyone on post was affected. Wish I could remember the name of the lake. In better times we had a big barbecue there and some guys from the post skydiving club jumped into the lake.

Speaking of lakes, there was apparently a lake in nearby Shirley that was used for water jumps. I think it may have been called Lake Shirley. Anyway, never got to jump there. And I do love water jumps. All the thrills of parachuting without that pesky Delta V at the end.

10th Group may well be the only unit in the Army that goes cross country skiing for winter PT. We'd run for a while as winter set in, then go to the skis. At that time we had skis made by a company called Raemer. They were touring skis, which is a hybrid cross country/downhill design. Lock the heel down for downhill, unlock it for XC. If you fell, rather than the binding releasing your boot, the binding would part ways with the ski. It wasn't a good system and a lot of guys wrecked their knees on them. I have the name of the boots we used on the tip of my tongue, but can't quite come up with it. They were heavy leather boots that would freeze in minutes unless you invited them into your sleeping bag with you, and everyone wants to spend the night with a giant soggy leather boot in their fart sack, right? I still have touring skis and use them, but they're Elan skis with Marker bindings.

We had PT uniforms when the rest of the Army was still doing PT in fatigue pants and T-shirts. Lime green sweats for winter and lime green nylon shorts with 10th Group T-shirt for summer. I've only recently heard the expression "going commando" as code for going sans underwear. Well, it's well founded as many of us commandos did, indeed, venture forth sans underwear. It only takes a few minutes of humping a 110 lb. rucksack in 90 degree weather before underwear begins threatening to saw your genitals off. But the flip side apparently manifested itself as winter set in. I never knew of this first hand, but allegedy some guys got frostbite on the end of their manhood as they ran "commando" in the nylon shorts.

I'd have to go back there and look around to get my bearings, but we didn't ski the golf course for winter PT. 2nd Battalion always skiied there. We headed into a wooded area, and I remember that we once came across a set of ski tracks that ended at a tree. It was classic. I suspect someone did it as a setup, but they did a good job of it.

Wachusetts Mountain was an ok ski place, as Jack Army mentions. We didn't have passes there, but often went there as it was close. I also remember testing a new radio ala the tv commercial "can you hear me now?" and ending up on top of Wachusetts Mountain mostly because we wanted to drive to the top of the mountain and see the view.

New England has some interesting laws re. production of electricity. It is literally a cottage industry there. If you produce any amount of electricity via a windmill, waterwheel, whatever-the power company is obliged to purchase if from you. There were some windmills on top of Wachusetts Mountain whch served to produce some amount of electricity, but they also julienned a lot of birds. I guess nothing is without tradeoffs...

Ft. Devens also served as a POW camp during WWII. The old cantonment area was still there when I was at Devens. Again, I'd have to reorient myself, but I can tell those who might know that it was the red buildings where one goes for the DA photo. Of course, some number of POWs died while confined there, so there are POWs interred in the small post cemetary (which was right at the end of our battalion street). A delegation of German soldiers used to hold an annual ceremany there. Presumably they still do so.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

No Thanks...

Cola Posted by Hello
What encouragement. I made Lisa smile. Sounds like a little thing, but I like that. I'll try and keep posting now and I'll endeavor to be as interesting and smile-inducing as I can be. No matter how much it hurts...

Picked up some blog hints from Mudville Gazette and put them in place. I learned a bit about tracking visitors and the first thing I see is that someone from Baltimore County Schools looked at this blog. Assuming that reading this didn't put you off of reading blogs for the remainder of your life, greetings from the next county (the very red one) to your west.

And Lilly reports that she bungie jumped, but wouldn't consider jumping with a parachute (or, apparently, doing another bungie jump). Funny, I don't mind parachutes so much, but have never seriously considered bungie jumping. Considering that she was able to bungie jump even once, I suspect Lilly has a bigger pair than I do...

And now I'm off to do a bit more reminiscing about Ft. Devens. And trust me, the Wagon Wheel will figure prominantly...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Ft. Devens Memories--Part I

I’ve had Ft. Devens on my mind lately. Jack Army and SFAlphageek are two bloggers who, like me, are Army Special Forces. While they are still serving, I’m a civilian, having grown long in the tooth and short on functional body parts. But the bond is a powerful one. As it turns out, all three of us have spent time at Ft. Devens.

With that on my mind I was talking with a woman while chaperoning a class trip and she mentioned that her husband had been activated. That led to conversation and damned if they hadn’t been stationed at Ft. Devens as well. He’s an engineer officer and was a company commander in the 39th Engineer Battalion, which occupied the barracks next to ours.

Ft. Devens (now Devens Business Park) was a good place to be stationed. As Army posts go it was on the small side, which I prefer. It was close to Boston as well as the best skiing in the east. On the down side Natick Labs was just down the road and 10th Group got to serve as testers for some pretty bad ideas.

Devens is bisected by Rt. 2. The area south of Rt. 2, which was called South Post, was a training area with ranges, maneuver areas, Turner Drop Zone and mosquitoes that could exsanguinate a hippopotamus. There are a number ponds there that offer decent fishing.

As you enter the main post north of Rt. 2 you pass a golf course with a pond. Legend has it that the pond was the best fishing spot on post. The story was that guys would catch fish on south post, then take their catch with them for supper. As they entered main post they’d have second thoughts about a fish dinner and how thrilled the wife was going to be and they’d toss their catch into the golf course pond.

Just inside the south gate were a number of bushes arranged to spell “Fort Devens”. Another legend has it that late one night someone dug them up and replanted them to spell “F**k Devens”. Given the proximity to the gate house I have my doubts, but one never knows.

One story I do know happened involved a jumpmaster class and a road. I think it was Searstown Pike. As an aircraft approaches the drop zone for a parachute jump the jumpmaster issues a aeries of commands. The penultimate command is “Stand in the door”. As it turns out the road runs perpendicular to the approach to the drop zone (Turner DZ is so small that aircraft can only approach from one direction) right at the spot where the command “Stand in the door” should be issued. So one night a jumpmaster class went out and painted the command on the road. A jumpmaster cue card, so to speak.

Speaking of Searstown, there is a mall by that name some ways west of Devens, in a town called Leominster. As an aircraft approaches a drop zone the jumpmaster clings to the door sills in the aircraft and leans out to do a visual check for other aircraft, etc. Once, while a student jumpmaster was performing his check he lost his grip and fell out of the aircraft, descending into the parking lot at Searstown Mall.

While we’re on jump stories... As I mentioned, Turner DZ is small. When the jumpmaster says “Go”, you need to get out of the aircraft. One day there was enough wind that we actually flew over the trees rather than the DZ, the idea being that the wind would push us onto the DZ. I was second in line, behind a qualified jumpmaster who should have known better. The jumpmaster yelled “Go” and the guy in front of me, seeing nothing below but trees hesitated. “What?” “GO!” “Now?” “YES NOW. GO!!!!” The entire stick overshot the drop zone and ended up in the trees in an M203 impact area. I got lucky and dumped air over a clearing. I hit hard, but the ground was soft. While I laid there I watched a team leader hit a tree and come down just like one of those wooden toys in which a figure bounces down from peg to peg. He later took his shirt off and it looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to him.

I never had any real adventures on Turner DZ, I always succeeded in getting hurt while deployed somewhere rather than making it easy by getting hurt close to home. I do recall one jump where a newly minted jumpmaster repeatedly begged us not to throw the staticline at him as we exited the aircraft. I was so preoccupied with taking it easy on the guy that I very carefully handed the staticline to him then turned and literally fell out the door. Got a twist or six in the risers on that jump...

Update: Stumbled across another 10th Group type here.
Saturday turned out to be quite the day. Baseball took a hit with the poor weather, but I had enough umpires to go around and didn’t have to sweat the games that were played.

Then, the wife actually let me send money and I got a very nice new grill. Got it put together just in time for a torrential downpour and although I don’t mind the rain that much I figured no point in starting the new era with soggy food, not to mention the logistics of lighting a fire in a biblical downpour. It’s ok, it just heightens the anticipation.

Then I go online to find I’m linked not only by Jack Army, but now also by SFAlphageek. Both blogs are extremely well written and interesting--and of course I expect nothing less from guys with the brains and the mettle to qualify as some of the world’s finest soldiers.

This blog also scored a record number of hits today, probably thanks to Jack Army and SFAlphageek.

And now I’m pointedly reminded that I promised a posting on Ft. Devens. SFAlphageek reinforced that, so I’ll get to work on that now.
I wonder about a lot of things, like whether witches use spell checkers. Whether it’s constitutionally responsible to yell “Movie” in a crowded firehouse. And why generals eat in a private mess and privates eat in a general mess.

But it gets better. Went to the grocery store and there was a display of cantaloupes right at the front door. It was obvious from a distance that they were green. Real green. Almost neon. There was a woman looking at them and musing about how to tell if they’re ripe. So I told her in the first place they were green under the netting, a bad thing. Secondly you could see where the stems had been ripped off of the melons--a ripe fruit breaks off cleanly. Lastly, cantaloupes don’t ripen like bananas when they’ve been removed from the vine. Where they are is where they will stay. Oh, and the smell test doesn’t work. They’re cantaloupes, so they smell like cantaloupes whether they’re rip or not. Given all of that, she announced she’d take one and try it. Makes me wonder.

Oh, and those containers that keep hot things hot and cold things cold...How do they know which one to do?

Friday, April 22, 2005

There is evil about even worse than the left in the US. I mean, let's face it--Oliver Willis would never risk exposing his chubby visage to the rigors of actual armed combat, even if it meant just gunning down dazed, injured survivors of helicopter crashes.

That's exactly what happened in Iraq. The Islamist insurgency, so revered by people like Willis and the Orcs of Democratic Underground, shot down a civilian helicopter. A helicopter full of people who are trying to help rebuild the country. Now, I understand their ire. I mean, who are we to introduce western values like not beating the hell out of your wife when it pleases you to do so and actually accepting the idea that women may perhaps possess intellects? Scandalous.

Well, they managed to shoot down a helicopter and there is no excuse whatsoever for what followed. There was no excuse for shooting at the helicopter in the first place, but the aftermath is sickening. An Islamist piece of dung is videotaping the wreckage and burned bodies when his fellow pieces of dung discover a survivor. View it here, if you have the stomach for it.

If you can't watch it, I'll synopsize it for you: Helicopter is already downed. Triumphant Islamist dirtbags are viewing crash site as videographer catches images of charred corpses. The tape then abruptly cuts to dirtbags crashing through tall grass where they discover a dazed survivor of the crash. Someone imperiously orders him to "Stand up" several times in English. He's obviously hurt (his forehead is bloody) and dazed. He asks for someone to take his hand and help him stand up. He also says something (arm?) is broken. There's no sympathy and although it's hard to tell from the clip I get the feeling he was essentially grabbed and stood up. More barked commands and he staggers forward only to be gunned down in an exuberant hail of bullets. They enjoyed doing what they did.

And he was apparently Belgian--there simply to help rebuild the country and not even a member of a "belligerent" nation.

And here in the US the reaction by a fortunately tiny percentage of the population sometimes goes like this. Not need to reply, we all know that she's clinically defined as mentally ill.
Another example of the incredible hate from the left, and how it's impacting decent people.

I'm not the most internet savvy person in the world. I have a Blogger profile but can't figure out how to link to it from this page. Email me at if you have issues with my way of thinking. Better yet, email me if you agree with everything I've ever said...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Society in general is really heading downhill. I'm no prude. Not by a long shot. After ten years as a paratrooper I can literally conjugate the verb "f**k", and just like some character from a book I can swear fluently in several languages, including English (obviously), German, Russian, Spanish and some French. Spanish is a fairly easy language to swear in--all you have to do is relate anything to the Holy Family and it becomes an expletive. "Milk of The Mother"(leche de la madre), properly enunciated, can serve.

Just stop by the house some time when I'm changing brake pads on the big truck, holding a 20 lb. brake caliper one-handed while I try and find some way to wedge myself to give my other hand an angle to put a vise on the caliper and drive the piston back in so that I can fit new pads on the caliper. Things can get really interesting at that point.

But--and this is a big one--I don't talk like that in front of the kids, at the mall, at the ballfield, at the grocery store or even to my wife (usually). And when I slip up in front of the wife I hear about it big time.

I try to avoid talking dirty while posting to this blog (I've probably typed in a few nasty words, but I do try and avoid it), primarily because as much as I enjoy letting it rip I think it's classless to legitimize that sort of thing in print. A second, selfish reason is that I don't want anyone blocked by nanny software if they stumble onto this blog during a break at their workplace.

And something I would just never even consider doing is wearing an article of clothing or displaying a bumper sticker that contains four-letter words. Some years ago VW ran a series of advertisements depicting VWs being driven in a spirited fashion while a voiceover said "Fahrvergnuegen". It means "driving enjoyment". The ads spawned several bumper stickers which included "Farfrompukin" (a good place to be) and "F*kkingroovin". Maybe I'm just old, but I can't imagine adorning my vehicle with either of those. It's just classless.

So having established that society in general has sunk beneath my old fashioned standards (ladies, would you really strike up a conversation with some guy wearing a T-shirt with the word f**k on the front?), the left, which of late frequently confuses absolute hatred with valid disagreement, has sunk to depths I never even imagined.

As I've stated before, the vitriol of the left almost leaves one gasping for breath. The right didn't much care for Bill Clinton, but the left hates Bush with an unmatched passion.

But just when I thought they'd gone as low as they could possibly go, it gets worse. Powerline brings attention to some really interesting sites here. Just a warning, don't open those URLs at work. It's that bad.

So I only have one question. Excepting the utterly clueless Oliver Willis and the Orcs at Democratic Underground (because there is nobody on this planet who can predict how low they might possibly sink), how much lower can this go? Honest debate ended years ago and now it's just name calling from the left. It's going to leave a bad taste in people's mouths, boys and girls. You might want to rethink this whole thing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

In the recent discussion of military history books MAJ John Plaster came up. I recommend his books to one and all.

MAJ Plaster was assigned to perhaps the most (in)famous of all special operations groups, SOG Vietnam.

SOG originally stood for "Special Operations Group". Someone in the conventional Army chain of command figured that the name gave too much away in terms of mission. The chain of command agreed and in typical Army fashion decided that retaining the same acronym but renaming the unit "Studies and Observation Group" would fool the enemy. I'll refrain from comment.

SOG consisted of special ops types from both the Army and Navy, but it was Army Special Forces that made up the vast majority of SOG and who rightly retain the legacy.

The mission was daunting, to say the least. A SOG team consisted of three US personnel and varying numbers of indigenous personnel. I think most teams numbered less than ten total. They were inserted by various means (usually helicopter, but sometimes by parachute--once or twice by HALO) into areas waaaay into enemy territory. Once inserted, the game began. I remember an instructor at SF School relating to us that they would sometimes literally pile on top of each other in a thicket, thereby putting eight or ten guys into a space that one would assume could hold one person.

These guys were surrounded by nothing but Indian Country on all sides. Often they liaised with an officer flying above in a light plane (literally a Cessna), often they were utterly alone.

I like to think that given the opportunity I would have volunteered for the assignment, but once on the ground I know I'd be struck by how utterly alone we were.

Some teams were engaged immediately upon insertion and several teams simply vanished. Sometimes missions devolved into little more than a a SOG team running like hell--sometimes for several days--while being pursued by a vastly numerically superior enemy. It's a matter of record that SOG determined that there was a mole in the South Vietnamese command and although SOG reported this to US command in Vietnam nothing was done lest the South Vietnamese command lose face. A lot of good men died so as not to embarrass the South Vietnamese government.

Given all of the above, the SOG mission was incredibly successful. SOG teams brought back a huge amount of invaluable intelligence, they killed thousands of enemy troops and kept enemy units in numbers far disproportionate to their own engaged in searching for them rather than engaging conventional US forces.

I was lucky (although I didn't think so at the time) to go through the Special Forces Qualification Course at a time when there were still a few SOG types around. They're all retired now.

The former SOG guys were merciless. They were the most demanding, the harshest critics, the least likely to excuse a mistake. That came from their experience. A minor mistake by the least member of a team meant the death of all. I looked up to those guys like they were some sort of demigods, and continue to do so.

I have my heroes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I don't mean this to become the baseball blog. There are a whole lot of other people out there who know more about baseball than I, but it's what's looming large in my life right now, so it's what I write about.

Besides--it's a good game. I'm still trying to write a convincing piece portraying baseball as an allegory for life...

Anyway, tonight was interesting. We play baseball/softball at five different venues, boasting a total of 11 different fields. Since my son plays junior league, I generally only spend my time at the one park where junior league games are played. I spend a lot of time on the phone, liaising with umpires and managers, but I'm there to watch my son's games. Tonight I went to the venue where the minor leagues play to watch my son call his first game as an umpire (and to slap the snot out of any managers/parents who made asses of themselves, but I didn't tell him that...I was just there to watch him).

An issue arose out of the parking situation. The fields are on top of a hill and the parking lot is at the bottom of the hill. Every year dozens of parents ignore the annual speech about parking only in the parking lot and drive cross-country to the top of the hill. It's a combination of laziness and arrogance, I think. Beyond the fact that they've been told not to do that, the bigger issues are that they park in a tree sanctuary and we have been told if it continues we'll lose access to those fields. Of course the lazy, arrogant, overweight parents don't give a damn...

I counted 20 vehicles on the hiltop.

So I went to the two active fields and told the four managers that they needed to tell their parents to move their vehicles. All four claimed they had already polled their parents and none of them were parked on the hill. Yeah, right. Not the managers--the parents lie like hell.

While I'm doing this, a parent comes up to me and asks "What is 'he' doing here?". Damnded if I know. It turns out 'he' is the guy who got tossed from the game on Saturday. So far we haven't been able to figure out who 'he' is. The manager on his son's team pled ignorance until tonight, when he got put in a corner and couldn't plead ignorance any more. It's already been decreed that whoever 'he' is, he can't attend another game until he appears before a board (that's a county rec league rule) and pleads his case. So I grabbed the manager and took him with me to inform this guy that he cannot attend another game until the requirements have been met.

Don't ever move back home. I've lived in a lot of places. New Hampshire was my favorite. Liked Bavaria a lot, but it wasn't home--good old USA. But someone once said "You can't go home again". Good advice.

Turns out the guy I threw off the field is married to the sister of the girl I took to my high school junior prom 28 years ago. A stunning redhead beauty, she's still very attractive despite having put on a few middle-age pounds.

And her husband doesn't deserve her.........Anyway...

A nice hit until the 2nd baseman reached down inside himself and managed to add another four inches to his vertical leap...

The batter, of course, is Snake Eater junior.

Red Sox Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I can't help but revel in this: One of my umpires tossed a parent Saturday.

Not a good thing, I know. It should never come to this. It's utterly ridiculous that it had to happen, but maybe this early in the season it will send a message.

We don't have the issues that a lot of youth baseball leagues have. In our entire history, police have been summoned to a game exactly once. I'm not at all proud of that--it was once too many, but keeping things in perspective, it could be worse. Even the police-involved incident included no violence, just a parent who was ordered to leave and refused to do so.

It happened in a Minor League game. Minor League is the youngest level at which umpires call games. The plays aren't clean. The managers tend to be young and callow as do the parents. They're the worst possible games to call. The kids--hell they're there to play ball. But the parents are all keyed up watching their pride and joy playing his first "real" baseball game (and more than one father is pushing junior onto the field so he can relive his lackluster youth vicariously). And the managers, having grown with their sons through T-ball and Instructional League are now out to defend their manhood by putting a winning team on the field. Takes an adult to really f**k up a children's game...

Oh, and not to mention the fathers that basically force their kid to play so that they can "make a man out of him".

Anyway, I don't have a lot of details yet but apparently the umpire, a very smart 14-year old, warned the parent five times then told him to either hit the road or he would stop the game until a commissioner arrived with the official order to depart the field. I'm told that at this point the other parents stepped in and told him to hit the bricks. I'm glad that the other parents recognized that there was a problem.

I've made up my mind to be very proactive re. young umpires this year. By necessity they get assigned to call Minor League games as they need to be somewhat older and more experienced than the kids they're umpiring, but in a way it's like feeding them to lions. The youngest leagues have the worst parents and managers. The winnowing process is brutal. I have a whole lot of truly earnest kids who want to call games. By season's end I'll have half that number at best.

Brings to mind a couple of years ago when an incredibly abusive parent (more on her someday, perhaps) was carrying on about a judgement call and I finally turned to her and said "And I suppose that your son has never struck out". First time I've EVER seen her at a loss for something to say, and I've known her for 30 years.
Another Lesson in Human Nature this weekend.

I exhausted my list of umpires. Matt was going to do one game, but couldn't do any more and Jamie had no interest in doing games this year. I had two games left open.

I called the league commissioner for the first game and told him the only option I had left was to call it myself. I've done all positions at softball, but I've only called baseball from bases. Told the commissioner I'd call it from the plate but the very first thing I was going to do was inform the managers that I would brook no s**t whatsoever from them re. my calls. He happened to be at a game sitting near Matt. Within ten seconds he informed me that Matt offered to take the plate.

One game down, one to go. I had a base umpire for the second game. He's qualified to call behind the plate but can't squat down due to recent knee surgery. I called him and asked if he'd be willing to work the game from behind the mound, calling balls and strikes from there. He didn't like the idea (most guys will do that, but some aren't comfortable). So I told him the same thing I told the other guy. He works with Jamie and damned if he didn't have Jamie agree to call the game within seconds.

I guess the moral here is if you tell people you'll do it, but they may not like how you're going to do it, they can suddenly make things happen.

As you can see here, my grill has a smoker box on the side. I use it, but not often.

Last night I was burning supper and my daughter decided to play at grilling next to me, using the smoker box as her grill. She opened the lid, looked in and promptly announced that I needed to stop using "her" grill as a repository for my beer bottle caps. Oops...

By the way, my venerable 12-year old grill is slated to be replaced this very next weekend with a new, more robust grill (note to odd lean to the right--the welds on the legs have been a bust since Day One). We're still going to be burning wood, though. No girly gas grills allowed here...

Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

The charming and very baseball savvy Lilly asked a question the other day--what are some favorite WWII books and why?

Thought I'd devote a post or several to this rather than just reply in the comments as it could get rather lengthy.

Here are a few off the top of my head. If anyone has some other favorites, post 'em.

A note on the list that follows: Apparently I'm big on autobiographical accounts. It's important to know the big picture, but nothing grips you like the stories of the people on the ground.

"Black Thursday", by Martin Caiden. The story of the bombing raid on the Schweinfurt ball bearing factory. It's meticulously researched with a lot of human details. And it reveals the frustrations of war--despite heavy losses and a prediction that destroying the ball bearing plant would have a severe impact on the German war machine, it had almost no impact.

"Give Us This Day", by Sidney Stewart. We've all heard about the Bataan Death March, but this book, written by a survivor, provides the gripping, wrenching details of surviving it day by day.

"The Road Past Mandalay", by John Masters. Autobiographical account of a British Ghurka officer. The author became a very well known novelist so you can imagine the quality of the writing. As I recall the story starts prior to the outbreak of the war, giving the reader a glimpse into British Colonial life. Very humerous at times.

I once had a book I think was called "While Eagles Screamed", but that wasn't the original title and I can't find any references under the title I know. It was another autobiography writtenby a guy who served in the 101st. He jumped into Normandy and wrote of watching aircraft drop troopers too low and hearing them hit and sounding like pumpkins thudding to earth.

"If You Survive", by Charles Wilson. A company commander assigned to the front lines at Normandy, he fought the rest of the war. The title comes from his first conversation with his commanding officer who prefaced a response to a question Wilson posed with the phrase "If you survive..."

"Company Commander", by Charles B. MacDonald. Another compelling autobiography by by an officer who fought across Europe.

Once read a book called "Samauri", written by a former Japanese fighter pilot. Don't recall his name and plugging "Samauri" into a search engine is going to lead to about 50 million hits.

Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery (1901-1977) deserves special mention. He commanded the USS Guadalcanal (a 'jeep' carrier), and achieved immortality by effecting the only capture at sea of a German U-Boat. It now resides at the University of Chicago, where he matriculated at some point, though he's a Naval Academy graduate. He also wrote a number of utterly hysterical books--some autobiographical and some pure fancy and populated by characters such as Chief Bosun's Mate Fatso and Curly the jet pilot. He also wrote about the capture of U-505 and an analysis of the USS Pueblo incident. His books are hard to find, but worth the effort.

Ok. These are a few that popped into my mind. As I recall others, I'll post them here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another good evening of baseball. Not only are the kids playing well, but the manager actually rotates the kids equitably, in stark contrast to last year's manager who played his son and the two coaches sons every inning of every game.

But more than that, I've had the oddest thing on my mind this evening--ghosts.

There's a Victorian-style house down the road and as we passed it The Bear asked me if it was haunted. I assured her that it wasn't and that in fact there is no such thing as ghosts.

But maybe there is. There are places where the history is almost palpable. It can almost envelop like a cloak.

When I got married I was stationed in Massachusetts and my wife worked for the Dept. of Defense far to the south . My unit had a forward battalion in Germany and amazingly she could be assigned to a field station very close to the forward battalion. We both put in for transfers and managed to get the assignments. After nine months of marriage we were finally able to live together.

My duty station had been an officers' academy for the notorious SS during WWII. Later in the war it also served as a rehabilitation center for German soldiers who had lost limbs. To make things more interesting, it was listed as a sub-camp of Auschwitz and maintained a contingent of 40 concentration camp prisoners. The fate of the prisoners remains a mystery, but during construction of a new road bypassing the nearby town 40 sets of remains were unearthed.

Now that's a place where the ghosts walk.

The kaserne was shaped like the outline of a square, with a quadrangle in the middle. A basement corridor followed the square shape. At intervals the corridor doglegged off center, the ceiling became very low and the corridor became narrow. These were obviously bomb shelters--it doglegged off center so a blast couldn't shoot down the corridor. It became slightly claustrophobic in these areas, but I always had to linger. Because it was most of all in those places that I could feel the ghosts of the past. Men running into the bombproof and waiting it out while Allied aircraft flew overhead. I could smell the sweat and the cigarette smoke and see them leaning against the wall, waiting.

We did have a ghost story on post regarding the tormented spirit of a Nazi political officer who murdered his family and committed suicide rather than surrender to US troops, but I never gave that one much thought. It was the history of the place, enveloping me like a dense fog, that I felt the most.

My wife's station had once been a Luftwaffe air base. Aircraft providing support for the invasion of Czechoslovakia flew from the base at the beginning of the war and it later served as a training base. After the war the US used it as a housing area for the thousands of displaced people in post-war Germany.

Not so dramatic as the SS Kaserne, but steeped in history nonetheless. The gymnasium was a converted aircraft hangar and the control tower still stood. Standing beneath the control tower I could see ME-110s and Bf-109s rolling down the strip, off to join the blitzkrieg attack on Czechoslovakia. I could see the officers and men in the control tower, watching the aircraft and speaking calmly but urgently into radios.

I once managed to make my way up into the top of the control tower, only to discover that apparently the teenagers on post had known how to get up there for some time and had engaged in a variety of activities, leaving plenty of evidence. Disappointing, but it didn't dampen the historic aura I felt there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Have a good weekend coming up. One that some would consider to be a dichotomy.

First, it's pretty much spring here and things are starting to bloom. I noticed that the wild dogwoods were in full bloom the other day and mused that my favorite, the eastern redbud, can't be far behind. Sure enough, next thing I saw was a redbud all but ready to burst into bloom.

Dogwoods and redbuds are among the few blessings of this region. Dogwoods burst into a frenzy of white and sometimes greenish-white blooms and very shortly after the redbuds burst into their glory. Redbuds resemble nothing so much as a tree festooned with reddish-pinkish lights. The two trees bloom at nearly the same time, leading to hillsides covered with the juxtaposition of red and white blossoms. It's a sight that I've come to love.

This weekend we head out with the Boy Scouts for a destination that lies west of here and into what passes for mountains. If we're lucky, the dogwood/redbud display will just be beginning there. Last year, in addition to the spring display, I watched a golden eagle hunt along a mountain ridge. I never got bored.

As far as the dichotomy, we're taking the scouts up there to teach rifle and shotgun shooting. Doesn't bother me a bit, but I'm sure someone would see it differently. It's pretty benign stuff--teach them the proper discipline to handle a potentially deadly weapon, teach them to hit where they aim...

Much as I have issues with some of the kids in the troop, I'd rather work with them and teach them the awesome power of a firearm and the awesome responsibility that one assumes when one takes charge of a firearm than face someone whose only training consists of "Carrying makes you one bad dude".

Mechanical weapons aren't the issue. Human weapons are.
The criticism just never ceases. Valid criticism is a good thing. Constructive criticism is a good thing. But criticism just to strike out is never a good thing.

There are certain embittered elements in this country that just can't be pleased. If the president were to go out one day and suddenly walk across the surface of the Potomac River, they'd claim he was polluting the water and endangering the purple-flecked clam dancer or some such.

Recall the criticisms that the military wasn't providing the troops with bomb-proof Humvees. The damn things were never supposed to be tanks. Now that we've found ourselves in an unanticipated situation the military is doing the best it can as fast as it can, but to complain that the things can't withstand a hit that would make an M1 tank take notice is an utterly invalid criticism.

Powerline analyzes the latest criticism-for-its-own-sake from Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN).

It bears noting that Senator Dayton is an, ummm, interesting person. He has a history of gaffes and plain bizarre behavior that Powerline chronicles here. It's hard to come up with a favorite bad moment for this guy, but I think his fleeing DC because he "feared terrorist attacks" ranks up there in Senatorial grandstanding. And that's saying something...
I posed a baseball question yesterday, wondering if anyone would venture a guess, or if someone knew the answer. It's a fairly technical situation.

There are runners on 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases and less than two outs. The catcher bobbles the ball on a called 3rd strike and the guy on 3rd heads for home. The catcher retrieves the ball and tags home plate, but not the runner.

What's the call?

Batter's out, run scores.

If 1st was unoccupied, or if there were two outs the batter could have advanced to 1st. Neither situation existed, so the batter was out. Since the batter was out, there was no force on the runner advancing to home plate so he could only be called out if the catcher tagged him.

It's calls like this that keep me awake at night hoping I never get presented with a situation like that.

Had another, less technical call that same game. See if you know this one.

Second baseman grabs the ball in his bare right hand just as the runner passes him and he reaches out and tags the runner with his glove.

Was the runner out?
Came across the Older Than Dirt Quiz while reading Two Minute Offense.

It's official. Scoring 20 out of 25, I truly am Older Than Dirt.

I think I even have a couple of packages of Blackjack gum hidden away somewhere...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The last few days have been nearly overwhelming. Baseball games, scheduling umpires, you name it. Too much to go into.

Four days into the season and I've already been stood up by umpires twice. And now I just had a guy call to say he can't make a game tomorrow because he has a soccer game. I can't go calling around at 10:30 at night, so tomorrow I go into panic mode. Oh, and he can plan a lot more time at soccer now, too...

Had a good baseball game tonight, though. Saturday's game was ugly. Out team won, 19-17. A sloppy, ugly game. But tonight's game was pure baseball. Our team won again, 10-3. A high score, to be sure, but mostly well played and a lot more palatable than Saturday's game. Son got on base twice with nice hits and got batted in both times. He's one helluva a good infielder and catcher. He absorbs hard knocks at the plate and keeps going. Thing is, it's nights like tonight that make managers want him in the outfield. He fielded the ball and made an accurate throw to second from what looked to be two counties away.

Fortunately, we had our best umpire working the tonight as he was confronted with a pretty technical call. I'd probably have bolloxed it if I were behind the plate. We'll try something new:


There are runners on 1st, 2nd and 3rd and less than two outs. The batter takes a called 3rd strike, but the catcher drops it. The batter heads for 1st and the runner at 3rd heads for home under full throttle. The catcher retrieves the ball and tags home plate, but not the runner.


It could be fun to see some more situations like this and see who knows the answer, a lot less fun if I happen to be calling the game where it occurs.

By the way, I'm watching "Band of Brothers" out of the corner of my eye as I write this. Read the book years ago and saw it once already, but it's a compelling show. They get high marks for accuracy. As an example, it's the only WWII movie where I can ever recall seeing and hearing the en bloc clips pop out of the M1s when the last round is fired. One the other hand, the computer generated jump scenes are jarring. I know you can't stage a mass jump on a WWII scale, but somehow they pulled it off with cinematography in "A Bridge Too Far". There's a scene in "A Bridge Too Far" where someone makes a staticline jump with a camera strapped to him and it gets me every time. I remember every sensation, including the one where the ground suddenly rushes up at you and you go "Oh, s**t". Thump.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

What a couple of days.

I guess it started Thursday evening. I had just finished a lengthy post for the blog about coincidences and Ft. Devens. I tried to post it and Blogger burped it back to me. It happens, so I tried again. Another burp. Again, it happens, so I went for a third try and the electricity went out.

The electricity came back around 4:00 AM or so. A good thing, but I stayed in bed nonetheless.

Got up Friday morning (the kids had the day off from school because there were major things going on for the Pope's funeral). Went to go online and nothing happened. Rebooted the computer. Nothing happened. Rebooted again. This time I got a message that a database had been corrupted and I needed to reinstall the software. Reinstalled the software. Got all sorts of new icons on the desktop that I still haven't sorted out. But--I was back online.

Grabbed the kids and hit the ballfield to finish painting the bleachers. They look pretty good now (if I'm allowed to say so).

The Bear informed me that Mom dictated that she should have new sneakers. And I already knew that the son needed new baseball cleats. So we hit town. Found nothing at the first store. Drove to the west end of town and found sneakers for the Bear. Hit the grocery store to grab a few items, then swung back east through town to hit a sports store for the cleats.

Got cleats. Back home.

Cooked a big pizza for everyone and they went off to a presentation at school while I begged umpires to cover games. Pretty much melted down as I begged for umpires, then I said the hell with it, I can only do so much. About that time the family came home, followed by the sister-in-law, who works at a liquor store. She brought several unfinished bottles from a wine tasting. Just what I needed at that point...

Woke up this morning feeling ok, but tired. Off to the Bear's basketball game. Sat next to a teacher I find wildly attractive. Her boyfriend/suddenly husband apparently finds her attractive as well...

Rushed from basketball to the baseball diamond. Our baseball manager was behind the curve on scheduling parents to work the concession stand, so guess who volunteered...

The game lasted 3 1/2 hours. That's one long Junior League game. Spent 3 1/2 hours in the concession stand, except for a few minutes here and there when I was explaining to coaches that they would have to play the game with only one umpire or interpreting laws about substitution.

The water supply to the concession stand is broken (and "they" swear that it will be fixed any day now), so washing things was pretty rough. We ended up throwing all of it in the wife's Explorer and bringing it home. I get to wash it and take it back to the ballfield tomorrow.

So. It's been a day or two. I'll post again soon.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Barking Moonbat Early Warning System takes no prisoners. The comment on Maxine Waters here, is priceless.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I've mentioned Democratic Underground before.

Democratic Underground is the Eisengard of the internet, where the Orcs gather to grunt and squeal and wallow in the filth and corruption of their own hatred and self-loathing. All under the guise of a superior intellect--the old "Anyone who thinks differently than I do does so because he or she is stupid".

The commentary following the Pope's death runs the gamut of simply hateful to just plain low IQ.

Here's the gist of my favorite low IQ comment on his death. The poster admitted that he was an extraordinary man, but lamented that he spent his life in the service of the church and said that he could have flowered had he led a "normal" life as opposed to being forced to serve the church.

"Interesting" take on his life. The fact is that he chose the life he led and could have left it at any time. Get it? He led the life that he wanted. He felt no need to consult you. And he lived an extraordinary life. Talk about flowering. He rose to the papacy, possibly the finest needle-tip of the broadest iceberg in history. And his reign as pope is being celebrated as possible the most significant in history. You need to take a break from throwing darts at your picture of Chimpy Bushitler and take some time to actually read some news and catch up on current events. Your ignorance is beyond measure.

Then the poster went on to say that she really liked John Paul II, but yet she couldn't like him for "certain reasons". In other words, he's a helluva guy, but because he's a religious helluva guy you can't possibly like him. Yep, the left is the bastion of inclusiveness...
Just a quick note for the woman in the tiny car who pulled out in front of me this evening.

A heavy 3/4 ton Ford with four-wheel drive, a V8 and 5-speed transmission weighs 5000 lbs. empty. I have already left the quarry with stone for the driveway weighing in excess of 8000 lbs. That's more than four tons.

The truck has massive front brakes, a fact which is pounded into me whenever I install new brake pads and have to horse those calipers around. However, brakes and all, it doesn't stop on a dime. Not even a 50 cent piece. Especially when it's carrying a heavy load.

Your decision was nearly your last ever decision. Only my strong desire not to be sidelined with a damaged truck prevented me from slamming into you like a freight train.

Then I'd have had to look your kids in the eye and say "Well, your mom was a dumbass".

Ok. I feel better now.
Airborne Combat Engineer discusses a new business that I can do without, here.

Remote control target shooting and even hunting. Damned if I get it. The remote control target shooting differs from a video game how? Just because you get real holes in the target means exactly what if you made those holes using a mouse from 1000 miles away while sitting in front of your computer?

It's a different situation when you are actually in contact with the firearm and accuracy depends on your interface with the weapon and your reading of the wind, etc. That's reality.

It gets sicker. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the founder feels it's a good alternative for handicapped hunters and has even heard from a Spanish soldier who wants to send meat to his family. Read about that here.

There are all sorts of accomodations on the books to help handicapped persons hunt. I can't imagine that turning hunting into a video game is to anyone's advantage. And it's utterly absurd to assert that there is a Spanish soldier who believes it's economically feasible to shoot an animal in the US via remote control, have it butchered and sent to Spain.

Kinda reminds me of the short lived deal in Nevada (I think), where men could pay to "hunt" naked women with paintguns.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Quick post, then off to make supper.

There's been a lot of controversy over a photograph taken of insurgents executing an elections worker in the street. Michelle Malkin covers it here.

To make matters worse, it was just announced that the photo is to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Michelle has some of her choices (much better choices, in my opinion) here.

And surely there must be a catagory for Blackfive's choice, here. Yes, boys and girls of the press--the troops feel the same way about you as you feel about them...
Since we read from top to bottom, I'll start this at the top, even though it's the newest post.

Thought I'd share some photos. Not good ones, mind you, but photos nonetheless.

I talked a bit about alumni drum and bugle corps here. It's something that I enjoy both as a participant and a spectator. It's a very exciting musical genre--people really respond to it. And as a participant I get a great deal of enjoyment from the way people respond to us. As I spectator I enjoy the music and also the link to a past era in which I was a participant.

The observant will figure out "The Big City" immediately. The rest will figure it out as soon as I finish my background here.

The concert is called the "Dixie Stinger". Sort of a funny name. A dixie stinger is an old-fashioned drink made with bourbon and creme de menthe. It meshes with the sponsoring drum and bugle corps' musical theme. The Yankee Rebels (another funny name) picked their name as homage to Maryland's schizophrenic position in the Civil War. We'll see some other corps here with "themes", but the Yankee Rebels have always played a lot of Dixieland. Hence the "Dixie Stinger".

Back in the day, there were a number of drum and bugle corps circuits: American Legion, VFW, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), to name the most dominant ones. Not so today, but a number of corps exist with that legacy. My corps, for example, is an old American Legion corps. You'll see a number of corps with religious names. These are corps with roots in the old CYO circuit.

I took quite a few photos there, but relatively few turned out. While some are perfectly good, quite a few were blurred beyond belief. I suspect that the camera focused on a head between me and the stage. Another lesson learned.

Some of the corps are a bit shortchanged as I have no photos of them. Suffice it to say everyone there was awesome.

Now, onto the photos.

Once upon a time there was a CYO drum and bugle corps sponsored by a parish in Batavia, NY. They were known simply as St. Joseph's of Batavia. They became such a dominent force in their era that people began calling them Mighty St. Joe's, and the name stuck. Although the current corps boasts members of every age from teenagers to whatever, their average age is 57.

Let me tell you, they haven't lost a beat. The musicianship and the power of this corps defies description. I'd watch them three times a day if I could. Un-freaking-believable.

Just before their last number they introduced a soprano player and announced he turned 74 that day. He then proceeded to blow some jazz riffs that would make Wynton Marslis proud. Then the rest of the corps joined in. Simply awesome.
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Not a drum and bugle corps, this group performs to introduce students to precision drumming and they are all current or former drum and bugle corps drummers. Incredible.

The member who talked to the audience about them made some points about things to watch for--stick height, position, etc., and it made their performance that much more interesting to watch. I'm a horn player, so while I know and appreciate gooddrumming, the mechanics elude me. I gained a whole new understanding in just a few minutes.

Oh, and while you can't see it in the photos, they all used a proper grip on their sticks (as did all of the corps) and not the bull**** "matched" grip.

Mason-Dixon Drumline Posted by Hello

I mentioned musical themes. The Reilly Raiders found their theme in Irish music. Once upon a time they were absolutely famous for coming off the line to a triple-toungued version of "Irish Washerwoman". Just last month they marched in the Dublin, Ireland St. Patrick's Day parade at the invitation of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Quite likely the most geriatric of all drum corps, they can still play. Man, they can play.
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Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights. Had to throw this photo in as it showcases the baritones. I play baritone.
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The Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights. Another corps that was dominant back in the day. And even now, they stand out in the alumni drum corps world. Power, musicianship--it's all there. Damn, I enjoyed them.
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The American Originals are a fife and drum corps, not a drum and bugle corps. But they've been performing at the Dixie Stinger for years now and put on one hell of a show. Their drum line is nothing short of incredible. In fact, most of the people leave the Dixie Stinger every year saying that the American Original's drum line was best of show. I won't argue.

The fifes are damn good, too, although they get overshadowed by the drum line. They have one guy in particular who can play a fife like nothing you have ever heard.

The drum major is a rather attractive woman around my age (and in a singular burst of well-adjustedness I tend to like women roughly my age). A couple of years ago she was narrating the show between pieces and mentioned that they had been playing presidential inagurations for years and always granted the incoming president a request. The new (at that time) president, George W. Bush, had requested "Boots and Saddles". At the prior inaguration President Clinton requested "The Girl I Left Behind Me".

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Ladies and gentlemen, from the concrete canyons of New York City, the Skyliners!

That's how they used to introduce the Skyliners at competitions, anyway. Quite possibly the most famous and storied of all senior drum and bugle corps, the Skyliners have never failed to please audiences.

They used to rehearse on some island in NYC and people would take picnic dinners with them and sit on the hill overlooking the island and watch them rehearse.

Their musical theme? New York. You could mine the hill of music written about NYC or many years and never repeat a piece, and while they've done a good job of that, they've also hit on a couple of numbers that I could listen to every day for the rest of my life. "Little Old New York" and "New York Signature", both composite compositions with bits and pieces of NYC songs including two variations on "New York, New York" with soprano bugle riffs that stand out as the most famous riffs inthe history of drum corps. And "Elks Parade". Maybe my favorite piece in all of drum corps. Ever.
Posted by Hello

The Hawthorne Caballeros. Visually, the most impressive drum corps ever. And musically...They might have it there, too.

Another thematic corps, they play music with a Spanish flair. And do they ever play it.

Go up to anyone who knows a bit about drum corps and say "rump, rump, rump". They'll know exactly what you mean. It's the rhythm to "Espana Cani", the Cab's signature number.

The Cabs disappointed me a bit this year--they didn't make their usual entrance and they didn't play "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", but I got over it. Damn, they're good.
Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

While I try and beat my photo program into submission, here's my Human Nature Moment of the Day.

Went to the umpire clinic this evening. I needed to be there in my capacity with the league, and I decided to dust off my old gear and be ready in case I had games I couldn't get umpires for. So I'm back in blue, so to speak.

Anyway, we were discussing a deficiency at one of the parks. Specifically that the fence wasn't designed properly and kids who leave the dugout early in anticipation of batting could (and have) get beaned by an overenthusiastic throw from third or shortstop. Wouldn't you know that practically every guy in that room had noticed the potential danger while the fence was being put up and damned if every one of them didn't tell somebody at the time...
By the way, I still promise photos from the drum and bugle corps concert. It's just not going to happen tonight.
Long day.

Got home late last night, sprang forward, got up early.

We took our son's friend Ben to the drum and bugle corps concert and fortunately I had the forethought to suggest that he spend the night at our place rather than drive all the way back from The City, past our place to Ben's, then back to our place. True, the boys took a while to settle down, but it beat putting in the extra drive.

Unfortunately, the wife had to go to work today to complete administrative paperwork, so she got up first thing and went to church then tasked me to take the kids to church. I sometimes think she does this to maneuver me into attending church. As for my part, I dash in quickly, lest I be struck by lightening in the parking lot. It did turn out to be quite the girl watching day, though...

Cooked buckwheat pancakes for the kids. The Bear, who two weeks ago liked them, decided that she no longer likes them. I'm growing weary of her increasing finickiness. The two boys chowed down with relish.

Went to church. The priest waxed at length about mercy. I decided that he could show us some mercy by cutting the thing short...

Left about 8000 messages on answering machines for umpires. (Ok, I exaggerate. Slightly.) Left at least the sixth message for the guy running one of the travel teams. His first game is next Sunday and he has never returned a call. I know I have the correct number, I recognize his wife's voice on the answering machine. I need his schedule, and I need it two days ago. Thing is, when game day rolls around and there are no umpires, who do you think is going to take the blame?

Could have thought of a nice way to wrap up the evening and put my thoughts behind me, but ain't gonna happen tonight. Someone remind me why I got married.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Not much to say right now. Next Saturday is opening day and I'm heating up the telephone lines trying to beat umpires out of the underbrush.

Six regular leagues, two travel teams and soon girl's fast pitch as well.

Phone should be cooled off to where I can touch it again. Back later.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Went to the Big City this evening for an alumni drum and bugle corps concert. Great stuff.

Drum and bugle corps has evolved into a very different animal than it was when I was competing in drum corps. Back then you could still discern its military roots and corps played recognizable music while performing military-style drill. As it evolved to its current state it became more and more expensive to purchase the instrumentation required to remain competitive and corps began folding. Then a broadway show designer (real sterotype guy--an absolute flamer) somehow got involved in drum corps and drum corps shows became miniature broadway reviews. Lots more corps died in the process, and the end result is a style that many of us older types don't care for. They play unrecognizable, avant garde music--sometimes custom written just for that particular show; and generally dash about in an unappealing manner.

While all of this was happening some of the corps which had folded were being resurrected by former members. We don't compete, so we can operate within a reasonable budget, and we bring the old style of music and performing to the crowds. And they love us.

My corps wasn't asked to perform at this show (I suspect there is bad blood between the two executive boards dating back to an old urinary olympiad), but I always hit the show anyway. The music is incredible.

If I can make the photo posting utility behave, I'll post some photos tomorrow. Don't expect much in quality. The show was half over before I discovered the low-light setting on the camera. I never said I was smart, just opinionated.
By the way, a few other blogs of interest.

Lilly brought two to my attention:

SF Alpha Geek and Jack Army.

Army Special Forces is a small world, so it's not too surprising that I should have something in common with them other than just Special Forces. Jack Army was in the 10th Special Forces Group, as was I. I was in the 3rd Battalion at Ft. Devens and the 1st Battalion at Bad Toelz, Germany. He came on the scene a bit later than me and was stationed at Ft. Devens with the 2nd Battalion, then made the move to Ft. Carson, CO. Ft. Devens is now Devens Industrial Park for those keeping score. Alpha Geek doesn't specify which group he's in, but for several reasons I suspect that he's in 20th Group. I spent several years in 20th Group as well.

There's at least one more SF type blogging as well. You can find him at Blackfive.

I never heard the expression "Blackfive" as a call sign, but times have changed. He seems genuine and writes extremely well. Start reading him here. Like him, I've disliked the French since long before it became fashionable.

Lastly, try Armor Geddon. He's stopped blogging since he rotated back to Germany from Iraq, but his descriptions of tank combat in Iraq are terrific. I never wanted to be a tanker (treadhead), so I gave the whole armor thing little thought aside from how to kill a tank that was after me. (I can drive an M-113, though, oddly enough) He writes extremely well and makes armor very interesting. He also earned a Silver Star in Iraq.

I have to be up in three hours, which is about a standard night's sleep for me, so I'm out of here.
Pope John Paul II lies on his death bed. Despite great differences in opinion, I have always held him in high regard. I respect his strength and integrity. I have railed against him for not yielding the papacy when he was clearly too feeble to continue, but at this point that's all in the past.

I certainly don't agree with everything that he stands for--in fact the church's position on birth control (coupled with a wife with a hair trigger temper) has put my marriage in a very rocky position for some time now. For all I know it may never recover. (Ever wonder why I'm sitting here at 1:30 AM?) But, to his credit the Pope has stuck to his guns on every position and doesn't check the polls to see where he should stand on a particular issue on any given day.

I disagree with him on many issues, but I don't hold him in contempt or think he's stupid just because we disagree. I'll leave that type of thinking to the Democrats.

Instead I hail him for an extraordinary life, a deep committment to what he believes in and a clear love for his fellow humans.

I got dragged to the Big City when the Pope visited the US some years ago. The Pope receives the same Secret Service protection as a head of state, so we had to hit the stadium quite some time prior to his arrival in order to get through security screening with some 40,000 other attendees. It was horrible. Although I was preoccupied with keeping our very young son amused as well as nursing a raging hangover, I did get out to my seat from time to time. They televised the landing of his aircraft on the Jumbotron and the crowd absolutely erupted. In a vacuum I could give a damn about him landing at any particular airport, but I was genuinely moved by the crowd's reaction. More transpired on the Jumbotron, but I was back out on the concourse watching a toddler while in turn being watched by a guy in a suit with a lapel pin and suspicious wires. A while later the "Popemobile" neared the stadium. I figured I needed to be in my seat for that so I gathered up my brain, picked up my son and sat next to the ever reverent wife and waited for the grand entrance. As he entered the stadium the crowd began chanting "JP Two, we love you". He did a lap around the stadium, then dismounted and walked up to the dais. "JP Two loves you", he said. It was a powerful moment.

An extraordinary man, a man a great strength and convictions lies on the cusp of death. I wish him well.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Went to the ballfield and spent some quality time with a belt sander that was nearly capable of dragging me across the field under its own power.

Gave me lots of time to think. And what did I think about? I spent the whole time trying to think of something to think about.

Some times I really have to wonder.

Thought a bit about baseball (obviously). The Boys of Summer. I'm actually more into the girls ofsummer, but I've always liked that expression. Though about how I much prefer the crack of a wooden bat to the "tink" of an aluminum one. Thought about last year (a disaster) and wondered what this year will bring.

On the way home I discovered that the sending unit on my front fuel tank suddenly decided to work again, so now I actually know how much fuel I have in both tanks. At least until it quits again.

And my humorous moment of the day: This morning a league official sent an email to all of the coaches reiterating that it's vital that if a game is cancelled, rescheduled or postponed several people have to be notified. I'm one of them. He listed home and cell phone numbers for everyone but me. I really don't use my cell phone much and don't usually give the number out. I decided in this case they should have my cell phone number as well, so I did a "reply to all" on the email and sent everyone my cell phone number. Twenty minutes later I get a call on my cell phone from a commissioner who wanted to email me his league's schedule and needed my email address. Well, there's only one place he could have gotten the cell phone number from...
Here's some fodder for thought:

Michael Schiavo in Hell ( play in one paragraph).

Meanwhile, I'm off to sand and paint bleachers at the Little League field (that'll teach me to volunteer to help out. You'd think I'd have learned enough about "volunteering" whilst sitting in the barber's chair at basic training...). That should give me some time to ruminate and possibly form some coherent thoughts to set down in writing.

Just learned a new word for egg--cacklefruit.