Friday, September 30, 2005
Once out of jump school I never saw this many canopies in the air at once again. It's quite a sight.
Turner Drop Zone at Ft. Devens was a small DZ. If I recall we could put out eight guys at a pass and there was no time for screwing around. One time when a guy hesitated in the door we all ended up in the trees.
Check out the photos here.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
My friend Julie sent me some questionnaire that you're supposed to fill out and send to ten friends, etc. It has a bunch of questions and the idea is maybe your friends will learn something new about you. I don't do the "forward this to ten friends" thing with emails, but I figured I'd fill it out and send it back to Julie just for grins. Her answers were all serious, I'll let you judge mine.
Julie and I go way back. She may well be my best friend and is certainly my closest female friend. We tend to trade a lot of banter and innuendo, which is evident in some of my answers.
So, here's the questionnaire:
* Ever been so drunk you blacked out? Damned if I remember
* Missed work because it was raining: Of course not
* Put a body part on fire for amusement: Umm. Do I have to answer?
* Been hurt emotionally: Hurt? How about mortally wounded?
* Kept a secret from everyone: Yes, and I ain't tellin'.
* Had an imaginary friend: No
* Wanted to hook up with a friend: Yes. Then slowly remove her clothing...
* Ever thought an animated character was hot: Jessica Rabbit!
* Had a New Kids on the Block tape? NO! No Backdoor Boys, either.
.......................What is your favorite.....................
* Shampoo: Whatever makes the dandruff fall out and the hair stay in
* Body Wash: I don't care what Old Spice says, body wash is for girls.
* Hair Color: Brown, with patches of pink scalp.
* Day/Night: Night
* Summer/Winter: Winter (Think fires, hot toddies, warm beds...)
* Lace or Satin: Leather, baby!
* Favorite Food: Seafood, Indian food. Sushi's up there, too, but no more sea urchins...
* Favorite Movie: Second Hand Lions (Thought I was going to say The Green Berets, didn't you...)
* Favorite Book: Da Vinci Code
* Favorite Ice Cream: Cherry vanilla
* Favorite Subject: Biology
* Favorite drink without alcohol: Do I have to? Ok, iced tea (with a little vodka)
* Favorite Words: Damn, not again.
* Favorite beer: Weizen
* Wearing: Shorts and a button down shirt (ok, boxers)
* Hair is: Too long and too thin
* Eating: Crow
* Drinking: Gatorade (with a little vodka)
* Thinking : I could really use a piece of ass.
* Listening to: The children arguing
-----------------------LAST TIME YOU----------
* Wore a skirt: I'm not answering this one (see question #5)
* Met someone new: Damned if I remember
* Cleaned your room: Last night
* Drove a car: Haven't driven a car in months. Maybe a year. Drove the truck this morning
-----------------DO YOU BELIEVE IN---------------
* Your friends: If I didn't believe in them they wouldn't be friends
* Santa Claus: In a way
* Tooth Fairy: You mean Dr. Thanderthon?
* Destiny/Fate: Nope
* Angels: Nope
-------------FRIENDS AND LIFE------------------
* Who have you known the longest of your friends? Dave(You clock in at #2)
* Who's the shyest? Not sure
* Weirdest? That's hard to decide. It's a matter of degrees with that bunch.
* Who do you go to for advice? You and Chip (a Lancers guy)
* Who do you cry to? Boys don't cry.
* When did you cry the most? If I did, it would be the last three years. Continuously
* Best feeling in the world? Triumph. Victory. Smashing your enemy. Grinding his face....Umm. Ok. Next question...
* Worst Feeling? When you have to go really bad and your stomach starts bubbling.
* Who will respond to this email the fastest? Somebody. Anybody. Please...
* Who sent this to you? You forgot already?
Known to my generation as Agent Maxwell Smart and the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, and to younger ones as the voice of Inspector Gadget, Adams is worthy of mention because he was another member of that generation of actors that knew there were things in this world bigger than themselves.
Adams enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII and served in the Pacific, eventually contracting Balckwater Fever on Guadalcanal. After recovering he finished out the war as a drill instructor.
RIP Don Adams.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
It's a point of fact that Islamists declared war on the West years ago. For a long time the Islamists largely allowed the Palestinians to wage war as their proxies. During this period the war on the West mostly simmered, bubbling occasionally when brave Palestinian warriors performed such heroic acts as pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair off of a cruise ship, beating a Navy man to death while they held passengers at gunpoint and tossing grenades into schoolbuses, pizza parlors and dining halls at old age homes.
I'm not sure if war was openly declared when they blew up the USS Cole or when they bombed Kobar Towers, or if it was another time. But the attacks of 9/11 are a milestone. At that point all doubt was erased. Anyone with three brain cells to rub together (ok, that eliminates Hillary, Michael Moore, Charlie Rangel, Barbara Boxer, Cynthia Kinney and a host of others) knew at that point that Islamists had declared war on the West.
Or had they? The attacks are Islam lashing out at the West for our policies. We should have expected the attacks. Islam is the religion of love. They don't hate the West, just our policies.
Well, maybe they do. But there are better ways to express displeasure than deliberately killing as many people as possible. That's a primitive response, not one suitable to evolved people in the 21st century.
At any rate, the point I want to make is that they have now completely blown any pretense that they are lashing out against Western policies, and not simply the West. The French police have detained nine Muslims (Algerians, apparently) who have been surveilling the Paris Metro, an airport and an intelligence facility.
France is likely the most pro-Islam country in the West. They can't possibly have a bone to pick with France's foreign policies. This makes it absolutely clear that the war they have declared is simply a war against the non-Islamic West.
Screw that idea that they're angry at our policies. They HATE US. They hate everyone who is not exactly like them. And there is no dealing with people like that.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
It's been a rough month, but once again the US demonstrates our incredible resilience and ability to overcome.
I almost feel guilty about having had a fun Saturday, but as the country moves like platelets to close the wounds, life goes on. I'd like to do a dozen or more things to pitch in, but at every turn I'm met with those who do it as a profession and don't welcome amateurs. Frustrating, but reassurance that no matter what, as a country we can deal with it.
Went to a place called Hershey Park. Hershey as in chocolate bars. Not the biggest park in the world, but not bad, either. Pound for pound, it's hard to beat them for roller coasters. They have so many that at times three tracks are intertwining with each other. At the advanced age of 45 I'm still a huge coaster buff and fortunately, my wife and kids are as well.
This time of year Hershey begins offering exclusive days to entities which can sell at least so many tickets. My wife's agency sold 10,000 tickets to a park that normally handles some 45,000 people per day at high season. We literally walked onto roller coasters that had waiting queues labeled “90 minutes wait from this point”. That's why I go this time of year-90 minutes in line for a ride?
What a great day. Rode all of the bestest, newest coasters, then watched the kids ride the Sooperdooperlooper eight times in a row—dashing down the exit slope, detouring past our bench on the run to shout “Can we do it again?”, and re-entering the ride for another turn.
It was fun, too, to watch 13-year old Snake Eater jr,. who is so concerned about “being cool”, and nine-year old Bear, who is as petite as Jr. is tall, but won't take second. To Jr's credit, he did a great job of taking care of Bear when she needed it. Next year, to be fair, we'll take along a friend for each and let them have fun with their peers. We had a great time, but I know a 13-year old sometimes wants to be with his peers, not his parents.
For the chocolate fans in the audience, I should mention that the wind blew strongly from the Hershey plant across the park for a good portion of the day. It was although they were piping the aroma in.
Afterwards we hit a local chain deli/restaurant. I like trying something different each time, but this place has worked well for us, so we go there because we know it works for the kids. They have interesting selections such as sandwiches made on “rainbow bread”. I had a sandwich of grilled apples, ham, onions and cheese on a pretzel roll. Absent a beer, can it possibly get better than that?
But at this point my thoughts are with others, such as Jack Army, who has had to relocate to Ft. Polk to escape Rita. Hopefully he'll have something to come back to. That way he'll have some belongings for the movers to pilfer as he heads to Hawaii (gallows humor, I know, and more some other time about how military and government people provide the moving and storage industry with a great second income). And NOTR, whose daughter escaped Rita, but has been called back into the unknown. And Jennifer Martinez, whose Texas family isn't yet all accounted for.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I seem to be back, though I'm leery of the modem now. The field tech admitted that he wasn't sure what he did to make it work again. Now I'll have to come clean and admit a lot of my repairs jobs are like that. Sometimes I take things apart, put them back together and they just work. Nonetheless, it doesn't inspire confidence. I just hope the fix lasts long enough that Jason at Tech Support and I don't recognize each other by voice anymore.
Anyway, I'll start back with a sandbagging. Some bloggers just deserve to be bludgeoned repeatedly in the blogosphere. Oliver Willis is one of them. He actually gets paid by Media Matters to blog about things he knows little to nothing about. His blog subtitle: "Like Cryptonite to Stupid" speaks of a greatly expanded ego, putting it on a par with his waistline.
Recently Ed Morrisey of Captains Quarters noted that Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele is "articulate", among other things. Besides being articulate, Michael Steele happens to be black.
Apparently the Democrats are terrified of Steele. They have been trying to dredge things up about him from Day One. In Maryland the Governor and Lieutenant Governor run on the same ticket, the same as the President and Vice President. Their initial attacks, in which they disclosed such inanities as he (a member of the state bar) gave his sister advice during her divorce (big hairy deal) were aimed at undercutting the Republican Gubernatorial ticket. Just recently Chuck Shumer operatives stole Steele's SSN and misrepresented themselves to obtain his credit record, a move apparently aimed at keeping him from seeking further office. So make no mistake, they are afraid of him, and that's enough to make mindless automatons like Ollie froth at the mouth.
So Ollie jumped on "articulate". Henceforth to be known as "The 'A' Word". He actually tried to make the point that calling Steele articulate means other blacks aren't. What a stretch.
I think Ollie truly wants to live in the world of things like Race Norming, in which graders say "Well, he did ok.......for a black guy". He likes feeling stupid and oppressed; yet really he's only stupid, not oppressed.
One of Ollie's commenters picked up on an incident that occurred some years ago, in which a DC Councilman referred to the sums spent on a particular program as "niggardly". Someone with an apparently limited command of English and seemingly no access to a DC public library in which to look at a dictionary (and an axe to grind) screamed "racist epithet" and the case was closed. Funny thing is I'm pretty sure the guy who complained that the city wasn't spending enough on a particular social program is homosexual, and thus yet another "oppressed minority". Anyway, Ollie's oh-so-erudite commenter explained that we should know to avoid loaded words such as "articulate" and "niggardly".
Beam me up Scotty. Please. Now.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I'm considering stripping naked and dashing out into the yard to perform a rain dance. Don't know if it will have an affect on the weather, but it should certainly prove devastating to local property values...
The left is really pressing the attack in the wake of Katrina. Now Bill Clinton is reinforcing his legacy as the US's most classless president and unloading on President Bush with both barrels. His intense desire to see
the Dragon Lady his lovely wife elected president so that he can share in the power and once again enjoy fawning adulation is obvious in his statements.
People are still knee deep in toxic muck and Clinton has taken leave of his joint fund raising efforts with Bush I to bash Bush II. How noble.
He started off hitting Bush on Iraq. Same old thing—WMDs. Yet, here's the opening line of a Clinton presidential press conference. Click for the rest of it.
Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs...
Another quote worth reminding Clinton of:
"When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for . . . it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks . . . "
So, having ignored history in which he took part solely so he could bash the president (which amounts to lying, something he knows a thing or two about), he went on to bash the Federal response to Katrina, ignoring the real timeline of events. That also amounts to lying.
Monday, September 19, 2005
I was quite the spectacle this evening, though. It was back to school night--an evening of too many peopl esaying too few things and taking too long to do so.
The foot is starting up again (I have no idea what is goin on there, but they've eliminated gout, anyway), so I started the day off with lots of Ibuprofin. Finally decided I'd better hit the Indomethacin if I planned on walking into school. It's a good anti-inflammatory, but it makes me sleepy as hell, so I try to stay away from it. Combine that with my topsy-turvy sleep schedule, a warm room and the above noted speakers, and I imagine I was quite entertaining. I think I even snored a couple of times.
Can't wait for the wife to get home this weekend and ask me what was said tonight...
Couldn't sleep Saturday night. Sat up until 5AM at which time I managed to fall asleep until 10AM. Then the kids went off to a baseball game with their aunt and uncle, who cynically use them to get posters, autographs, etc. So I spent the day in slow motion, ensuring that I wouldn't be able to sleep again last night. Went up around 2:30AM and apparently slept some. Got up, sent the kids off to school and collapsed on the couch.
I'm thinking that some medicinal EtOH will be in order tonight to ensure I go to sleep like a normal human.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Sort of a poll question for the ladies.
Saw a t-shirt today with a graphic on the front reminiscent of a street sign. Sort of an ovals and circles kind of thing. It showed a female figure on her knees in front of a male figure who appeared to be pushing her head down.
Beneath the graphic were two arrows point to the wearer's crotch. The caption read in part “Choking Hazard”.
Now, ignoring the fact that choking hazards are most often caused by small bones, if this guy asked to join you at your table, would you accept?
Friday, September 16, 2005
For the Democrats, I propose that there's an easy answer to the problem. Take better care in selecting presidential nominees. You guys almost nominated Howard Dean, a certifiable nut. You sidestepped that one, but look who you have given us: Al Gore, John Kerry/John Edwards.
If you guys want to put forth a woman, that's fine. I'd vote for the right woman, say, Condaleeza Rice (NOT Hillary). But if you're going to nominate an ostensible male, at least nominate one who has a penis...
Thursday, September 15, 2005
AOL's loaded question begs the issue of Federal response to Katrina. In their eyes, and the eyes of so many of their mindless subscribers, Bush failed.
It's a matter of record that Bush pressed both the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana to allow Federal assistance before the hurricane ever made landfall. They refused. So just how in the hell is this Bush's fault?
And to take things further, Bush went above and beyond. He didn't have to get involved. What happens to a state is its own problem unless and until a president declares it a federal disaster area. Every state has police, fire and EMT assets as well as National Guard forces. You take care of your own unless you get overwhelmed, and then you ask for help. In a historical precedent, Bush offered help before the disaster occurred and was brushed off. This point is important: Bush offered Federal help before the hurricane ever made landfall, and his offer was brushed off. Repeat it as a mantra, because certain elements (Ted "Hey, can I give you a lift?" Kennedy, Bill "You sure have nice lips" Clinton, et al.) want you to believe that somehow the lack of state response is the fault of the President of the United States.
What happened, happened. The leader of the most powerful nation on Earth couldn't mutter an incantation to divert the storm, nor could he prevent utterly incompetent state and municipal leaders from shirking their own duties to their state and city.
I'll say it again--the US government is not a first responder agency. That's up to the individual states with their police, firefighter, EMT and National Guard assets. The Feds enter the fray after the fact, assess the situation and make determinations as to where specific assets need to be directed. You want recriminations in the wake of the hurricane? Look no further than Ray Nagin (who happens to be black, dispelling the "New Orleans took it on the chin because Bush hates blacks" theory).
So I'll always have a place in my heart for all of Special Forces, and 10th and 20th Groups in particular.
20th Group has had an interesting two weeks. As a National Guard entity, units of the 20th SFG are scattered over several states, including Alabama. The 'Bama Boys are quite the hardy crew. We used to joke that their mileage was proportional to the amount of Rebel Yell whiskey (yes, it's a real brand) they had on hand, but the truth is that they are a good, tough bunch of guys.
They're currently in New Orleans, taking on a job as grueling as anything imaginable.
Now I just got word (and I'm not violating OPSEC--word is out), that my old company (different designation now, but it's my old company) is deploying to OIF. Godspeed guys. Wish I could be there.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
While the Gulf Coast, most notably New Orleans, tries to pump water, feed people, shovel muck, treat injuries, curb diseases, rebuild, and just survive; more and more people are using the disaster to make political hay.
The situation is still ongoing. People are still engaged in a struggle to survive, yet the finger pointing began with great alacrity before the rain had even stopped. Kanye, Al and Jesse began screaming "racism" immediately, even though the incompetent mayor of New Orleans happens to be black.
Now Al Gore is out beating the global warming drum. Is he doing anything to help? No. He's not stumping for donations, he's not rolling up his sleeve to give blood, he's not using his considerable personal fortune to provide for the victims. He's saying the hurricane is Bush's fault, because Bush didn't sign the economically-devastating Kyoto Treaty.
One more classless act that can't even wait for people to get a decent meal before he tries to make political capitol out of the situation.
As it turns out, a number of countries have pitched in. I'd try to list them, but the list probably changes with every passing day. I know that the Saudis have pitched in to stabilize the price of crude oil and a number of nations have made monetary donations.
Incredibly, Iran has offered oil and even dirt-poor Bangladesh has offered aid.
Most dramatically, Mexico sent a relief convoy into San Antonio and a Naval vessel to the Louisiana coast. This is surprising and gratifying on several levels. We've never had exactly great relations with Mexico, at least not since we annexed the northern part of their country and turned it into Texas. And the whole drug trade issue has been a constant source of friction, particularly in recent months when a violent gang war has erupted on the border. Add to that immigration issues, and while we're good neighbors, there's a lot of resentment on both sides. Not only that, but while it's not a poor country, Mexico sure isn't the richest country in the world and they have enough of their own issues that no one would blame them if they didn't reach out. Yet they did.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us when we took a hit.
I filled out a paper while blowhard expounded vociferously about his accomplishments in the DAV. As I finished the paperwork I mentioned to him that I was separated from the Army while I was overseas, therefore my records are at the national office, and not the state office as usual.
"No problem," he said. "Know where my records are?".
No, I don't.
"At the hearing (I have no idea what hearing he meant) they had to go to 'covert' to find my records. After the hearing two guys walked in the room and took the tapes with the transcripts. The clerk was astonished. I told her 'You don't want to mess with those guys, or we'll both disappear in the morning'."
Rule #1: Anyone who tells you he did covert stuff...Never did.
Rule #2: Blowhards don't get asked to do covert stuff.
Rule #3: Nobody allows classified stuff to be discussed in an open forum. Confiscating the tapes is shutting the barn door too late.
Rule #4: Don't make assumptions. He probably assumed I was a REMF like he obviously was and wouldn't know he's full of fertilizer.
Rule #5: All of those TV shows--Seven Days, La Femme Nikita, etc.-- are a lot of fun, but if you believe them, as this guy obviously does, I have some real estate to sell you.
I'm having second thoughts about the DAV now as General Blowhard is the Vice-Commander of the local chapter. But then again, it could be fun to expose his gluteous in front of everyone at the post...
Until then, my meter is pegged.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Certainly the predominant event of the last two weeks has been Hurricane Katrina. Combat operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rest of the world still exists; but our attention has turned to Katrina and New Orleans in particular. I haven't commented on it because so many others, more capable than I, have been. Actually, I haven't commented much on anything lately. An extremely painful foot injury (still have no idea what I did) sidelined me for a few days, a weird software burp kept me offline for a few more, and frankly I haven't been much in the mood to post for a few days. But I can't stay quiet forever...
Before I get into the deeper issues, one thing that I've thought of many times in the past is our insistence to live in what you might call areas on the edge. Think Laurel Canyon, nature's wind tunnel, where the slightest spark is fanned into a raging fire, plants holding the soil together are burned away and the next time it rains all of the homes slide down the hill. Think the Outer Banks, where they build million dollar houses on stilts, and they get washed away anyway. Think New Orleans, where the cemeteries are above ground so the bodies don't float out of the ground when they get flooded--in other words they've known for more than a century that they're a flood waiting to happen. Experts have been saying for years that New Orleans is due for a devastating flood. Yet, people continue to live in these areas, rebuilding time after time. I'm not sure if it's tribute to mankind's indomitable spirit, or another symptom of our insanity (I suspect the latter).
Now, onto New Orleans itself. Apparently New Orleans is a majority black city. Frankly, I never gave it any thought. But Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others of their ilk such as rapper Kanye West and bloated windbag Elijah Cummings (D-MD) are more versed in demographics than I. With the speed of a quick reaction force of paratroopers; Jackson, Sharpton et al deployed to create racial mayhem where it didn't exist, even as people of all hues suffered and perished. Jackson and Sharpton, who have made millions and millions by screaming “Racism”, but can't produce any evidence of ever actually having done anything to help impoverished blacks, once more held forth in strong, reverberating statements, but never got their wingtips wet. Kanye West, who recently held a party where a man was shot in front of several hundred fellow partygoers who all subsequently swore they didn't see a thing, brought everything down to the basic level that Jackson and Sharpton only alluded to. West complained, in front of news cameras, that the police were being told to shoot “us”. What “us”, Kanye? You're not even in Louisiana. Ooooh. That “us”. So it's “us” and “them”? Meanwhile, Jackson, Sharpton and Cummings complained that President Bush was withholding help from New Orleans specifically because it's a majority black city. Well, if the president is as stupid as the Democrats keep claiming, how would he even know it's a majority black city? Hell, I didn't know, how should someone as stupid as the president know? Howard Dean threw in, too, but he doesn't count since he's white and we all already know he's clinically insane.
Oh, and about the president withholding help: He declared an emergency before the hurricane ever made landfall. Fair warning, mayor and governor. I haven't read it yet, but apparently the Washington Post just broke a story that the president approached one of the two (mayor or governor) while the storm was en route and was told Louisiana/New Orleans didn't need federal help. There are also stories of National Guard and Red Cross personnel being turned away in the first hours. I need to look into these before I make any firm pronouncements, but I'm inclined to believe them. At any rate, there was sufficient warning and Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco sat on their respective thumbs. There's a photo of a bus lot in New Orleans where there a dozens, maybe hundreds, of school buses under water. Had someone local (such as the mayor—George Bush has no authority to order New Orleans school buses to take part in an evacuation) gotten on the stick and made things happen, there might have been a very different outcome to the storm. New Orleans still would have received the flood it's been begging for, but there might be a lot more people still alive.
And then, there's the aftermath. New Orleans has not distinguished itself. Some of the things that have occured in the aftermath defy rationale. There's been the traditional looting that seems to accompany any big event in an urban area (that is not a racial statement—more later when I get to an essay called “Tribes”). But in a turn unique to New Orleans, police officers are participating in the looting. People are firing shots at helicopters attempting to deliver supplies. The behavior on the ground in the wake of the disaster is less than exemplary, to say the least. AND—these people who stuck around, despite the warnings, are now simply sitting down on the nearest patch of dry concrete and bitching about the federal response. Hey, things happen. Storms hit gulf coast cities that are below sea level. Get off your posterior and make things happen. Quite whining about what hasn't happened.
Just when I thought things were weird enough, I learn that the people seeking refuge in the wake of the storm object to the term “refugee”. People really need to get over the whole name game thing. If you're seeking refuge, you're a refugee. It's not a pejorative. People get way to balled up over “labels”.
Well, I've avoided it long enough. Time for the “Tribes” thing. There's been a lot of racial finger pointing in the wake of Katrina, as I've pointed out already. Mostly, it's because New Orleans is majority black, so the bad people are also mostly black. If it was a majority white city, most of the bad people would be white. It's that simple.
What sets us apart from each other isn't skin color (well, it is for some, but they're stupid people no matter which side they sit on. Yes, I mean you Jesse and Al). What sets apart from one another is attitude. How we view one another.
I work in biotechnology—a weird turn from a career in SF, I know, but it's intellectually challenging and I like it. Anyone I meet in my line of work is very, very smart. Lot's of PhDs, Some of them are actually—gasp—black. Jesse Jackson would hate them. Jesse wants all blacks to be downtrodden and susceptible to his diatribes. What I meet is people who are just like me, only smarter. Hope things get better—quickly.