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December 27, 2004

I'm taking the week off.

Sadly for you, not from blogging, but from work... which of course means that the "Honey-Do" jar will figure in my week, as SWWBO is not taking the week off, just today, and I must pay for my effrontery!

Shortly, I will take a short break for my monthly turn at "Meals on Wheels" as doing my bit for one of my Rotary Club's service projects. I do the Meals bit monthly as a penance for my absolute refusal to ring bells for the Salvation Army. I have an irrational dislike for the bell ringing and simply will not participate. This should not be construed as putting me in with the retailers who no longer allow the Salvation Army to ring bells in front of their establishments... it simply means that I simply dislike the whole concept as a bunch of annoying humbuggery and won't do it. My father, by contrast, happily does it with his club. And, since the local charity on whose board I sit coordinates closely with the Salvation Army to not duplicate services, I can say that my relationship with the Army is just fine.

Gad, that certainly ran away from where I was going...

I was am gonna do a bit on Snipers. Well, indirectly. I'm really doing a bit on how snipers suck. They get in the way of doing your job - like peering over the parapet in order to get an idea of what the other guy is up to so you can kill him before he kills you - except that he gets these guys who can shoot really well, and then puts a scope on the damn rifle, and lets him hide behind a steel shield and shoot at you! Like, really! What's that about? Hasn't the damn bad guy learned his job is to either die, run away, or surrender? Not resist?

Anyway, there you are, a young sub-altern in a trench needing to keep an eye on the other fellow, in a sniper-infested section of the battlefield. And you aren't some rich dandy who is a member of a fashionable regiment with independent means. You're just a guy who was a school teacher during the week and a Territorial (Brit equivalent to the National Guard) on weekends. But, you work for an Army that serves a notoriously penurious government. Heck, this government at times even required Regular soldiers to pay for the ammunition they consumed in combat... needless to say, you aren't going to score any fancy stereoscopic 'rabbit ear' periscopes like those fellows on the other side have.

Nope. You'll reach into your nearly empty pocket and buy something cool yourself, or settle for what they give you.

If you're settling, you're getting something like this: A #9 Mark II Trench Periscope.

Simple gizmo, just like the ones you (or at least I) remember from cereal boxes in the 60's. A simple tube with two mirrors, tall enough that your head wasn't sticking over the parapet when you were peering through it.

It was designed with the intent that you could use it with binoculars, by putting one optic on the shelf and peering through it. It was well thought out, I think.

It hinges in the middle to make it easier to store and carry. There were sliding doors to protect the mirrors from mud and dust, and it has doors behind the mirrors to make replacement easy, as well.

It was still a fragile bit of kit. Sometime down the line, I'll show the American equivalent, and some of the other periscopes that were in use in the World Wars.