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April 02, 2005

John Paul II "returns to the house of the Father"

Whatever you think of the specifics of the Catholic Church - I can't get past the fact that this man, the Pope, with no "nation" to speak of. With no Army to speak of. No "Alliance" (other than, perhaps, God, the Ultimate Army) to speak of - he so frightened the Communist Powers That Were they tried to kill him. And they were right to be afraid. Such is the power of principle and example.


Requiescat in pace. Domine, dona nobis pacem.*


And no, on this post, I'm not interested in any "balancing" views whatsover. If you wish to argue, or cast aspersions, go elsewhere, or save it for later.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

AFSis sends.

Nice little story for a weekend post...

To the World You May Just Be SOMEBODY, but to Somebody YOU ARE THE WORLD!

My Great-Grandfather lived to be 100, and boy, did his hands ever tell a story. I think you'll all like this.

Dbie-


Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking, he said in a clear strong voice.

I didn't mean to disturb you, grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK I explained to him.

Have you ever looked at your hands he asked. I mean really looked at your hands?

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related this story:

Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.

They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life.

They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.

They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.

Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friends foot. They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life.

But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa's hands and led him home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I thank grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel his hands upon my face.

To the World You May Just Be SOMEBODY, but to Somebody YOU ARE THE
WORLD!

Update: Reading some of the comments, and the linking posts brought it together for me. Both of my grandfathers were good at their grandfather jobs, yet very different men. Pop, my mom's dad, was pure Arkansas class (and if you don't understand/believe think Southern Gentleman) who led a good and successful life as a salesman for Graybar Electric. Wonderful storyteller, great hand to hold when he took you for walks. A warm, funny, gentle, comfortable man. I loved him dearly.

My Dad's father was different. Hardscrabble son of immigrants who came into the US from Canada, he had a dark side, and had led a tough, tough life, marked by success, marred by his dark nature. An All-American football player at the Colorado School of Mines (when was the last time CSM had an all-American, I wonder?) he joined the National Army (WWI was the last time the US raised a specific formation distinct from the Regulars or Militia/Guard for a war) and went to war with - the National Guard. After the war, he took his degree in Geology and spent years roaming the midwest and west mapping the oilfields. If you buy gas made from oil pumped from Philips fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas, you're burning gas from fields Daddy Jack surveyed. He spent 'off periods' doing work in the Candadian Rockies, and helped discover and map many of the fields near Calgary, too. He married a divorced woman with a child during the Depression - Mimi, my grandmother, Elaine, my Aunt, and sired my Dad. If you know the era, you know that was a rare act. They subsequent divorced (right after I was born) and Daddy Jack began the solitary life that I knew him from. I saw him infrequently, but he was always fun to be with, but always that dark shadow. When Dad was getting ready to go to Vietnam, he came to Denver (where Mom, my sister and I would remain) to see Dad before he went off. I could tell that Daddy Jack was very upset with Dad's imminent departure.

He lived in Palo Alto, where he moved in the 60's after he retired from Phillips, to be near the library of the University, to continue the research that kept him busy and out of trouble. In his last 7 years or so (he lived to by 95) the people who kept an eye on him for us told us that he would walk 7 miles or more a day - and mostly ate chocolate... I vividly remember going to visit him with my Dad while I was in command at Fort Riley. Daddy Jack was an artilleryman in the Great War, and he asked all sorts of questions about how we did things now - and he found our simplification of the math involved to be 'sissy' - heheheheh. But it's a testament to the Artillery School methods of instruction and instructors - that three generations of Redlegs spanning from 1917 to 1987 sat around a table writing (Daddy Jack by this time was deaf from the damage his ears took during the War and being around drill rigs) notes to each other - and not having to explain much except new terms - the concepts were still there, and the understanding of the details.

The piece Dbie sent spoke to me because when Daddy Jack was in his final days, mostly comatose, I spent hours by his bedside, holding those warm, gnarled hands that hand see and done so much - including holding my smaller, softer hands, reading to him. And if you squeezed, he squeezed back. He may have started his trek back "to the home of the father" but he still made time for me.

by John on Apr 02, 2005 | Something for the Soul
» Pass The Ammo links with: These Hands
» Blog o'RAM links with: Hands
» Villainous Company links with: It's Miller Time Folks...

On a slow Saturday morning...

Wasting Away In Mortaritaville... Hat tip - Strategy Page.

1916: German WWI Atrocity. Zeppelin bombs Rosyth distillery, flooding the streets with fine malt. Caslte Argghhh! - Proud to be #1 in Google for "Zeppelin Bombs Distillery"

1917 Pres Wilson asks Congress to declare war against Germany. A year late, if you ask me, given the above.

1942: "Shangri-La" sets sail - the carrier USS Hornet, with 16 Army B-25 medium bombers, sails from San Francisco - destination, Japan.

1982 - Argentina takes the step that will lead them to discover that John Bull can still gore you - the Iron Lady and her Queen are no push-overs. Argentina, in 2003, demanded an apology because the Brit naval vessels sent to the Falkalnds were carrying nukes. Please. I'm not sympathetic on that issue.

For those of you advocating a return to the draft and an expansion of the forces, and wonder why the Administration is so resistant to the idea... consider this bit from Strategy Page:

MORALE: More Money for the Troops

April 2, 2005: Since September 11, 2001, the average pay for people in the American armed forces has gone up 21 percent. This is a combination of basic pay increases, combat and related "hazardous duty" pay, larger housing allowances, plus larger re-enlistment bonuses. There is another 3.1 percent basic pay increase coming next year, plus additional benefits increases.

The biggest piece of the DoD budget are the personnel accounts. Just something to think about. Back in WWII, a private got paid $21 a month. An entry-level Private today has a basic pay of $1,142.70 - 54 times the amount of the WWII Private. Not counting any other pays that are applicable. Just pointing it out. I figured out that *my* pay has increased 36% in the same time - so at least for my little slice of the world - retiring was a good deal monetarily... though I'm sorry I did and wouldn't argue if the recall notice arrived... but since yesterday was the 5th anniversary of my retirement... it's highly unlikely!

April 01, 2005

Keepin' it real.

What were *you* doing the day(s) your children were born? (Scroll to 31 March entry)

I don't have any children sired by me, though I have a stepson I love as I would any child of my loins.

Yesterday was my son's birthday, back in 1985. I didn't know that day I would have the privilege to be a part of his life - but I *do* know what I was doing.

I was in Gunnery and Weapons classes all day. Nowhere near as memorable. But that's okay.

Congrats, Michael!

Interview Game.

Spd Rdr of The Ebb and Flow Institute submits the following (cuz I had fun here):

Okay, John, thanks for being a good sport. Here's your questions.

The first one's a softball:


1. 9mm or 45 ACP? Why?

>45ACP. I like the knock-down power and feel of the .45. Other people's mileage vary, and they can back up their feelings with numbers, too. Doesn't change my mind. Article of faith and some minor experience. Nothing I ever shot with a .45 got back up to annoy me. Not true of the 9mm. Of course, now that I've converted to Bradyism, I don't touch guns anymore.

2. In your opinion, who was history's greatest General/Admiral? Why him?
You do know people write books to answer this question? Belisarius. Doing a lot, with not enough, and always knowing that if he was too good, his boss would find a way to kill him, yet if he failed, civilization as he knew it would be destroyed. Yet still he served loyally. I just like his style. Not really competent to answer about Admiral... but always liked Sir Francis Drake. The whole Armada thing. Of course, it's always nice when your enemy is an idiot.

3. Your favorite nephew has just informed you that he is marrying a girl that you don't really like, and he's doing it on Superbowl Sunday. You just won two tickets to that very game.
What do you do?

>Give the tickets to the nephew, precipitate first marital crisis. Heheheheheheh. I could care less about the Superbowl, World Series, Ryder Cup, Stanley Cup, NBA Playoffs, etc. Too much other stuff to do than get tied to the tube watching overpaid people perform. Don't grudge 'em a dime. They don't tax me for their money. Their teams do - for their venues, but, that's just another reason I don't live *in* the KC metro area... I will watch the Olympics, though I prefer the Winter to the Summer.

4. How many times does it take your wife to say "no" before you take that for an answer? Did you just lie?

>1. No. Problem is keeping her to keep to the "no," which she really doesn't say very often, anyway. Except to the dogs.

5. What is the one occupation that you've always wanted to try but never did (assuming that your body could still take the abuse). Why?

>Aviator. Astronaut. As a pilot. 'Cuz they're cool, and generally sleep on cots, or better.

Have fun, buddy!

spd rdr

Heh. Except for number 2, they were whiffle-balls.


Update: Whee! Scored the Corner! Still got the Mojo!Er, disregard. *hand wave* There's nothing to see here. No out-of-characterness here! *hand wave* Move along!

Update the Second. Carnival of the Recipes!

hzzz. good. do.

You may remember the first time Greg held a comment fund raiser for breast cancer awareness in rememberance of his wife. Well, it's the first anniversary of her death and he's holding another comment fund raiser.

All you have to do is leave a comment on the April 1 post, which will bring tears to your eyes. If you want to, you can offer up a donation, but you don't have to. Donors have pledged to make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The first comment party, in January, raised about $3,000.00, and they're hoping for $10,000.00 this time.

Please go to his site and leave a comment, and then post the link to your blogs.

Thanks everyone!
Dbie
*AFSister*

The Armorer notes: Go read the post. If you don't cry, call Ripley's. You don't have a heart and are a walking conundrum!

This is an outrage!

HOW DARE THEY! HOW.DARE.THEY!

How dare they smear a fine public servant, a loyal Democrat, like Sandy Berger!?! President Clinton *clearly* established the limits of accountability for Party Loyalists. Brief public flogging with wet noodle in public, and fuggeddaboudit.

This is a travesty of Justice:


WASHINGTON, March 31 - Samuel R. Berger, a national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and give up his security clearance for three years for removing classified material from a government archive, the Justice Department and associates of Mr. Berger's said Thursday.

It only gets worse!

Mr. Berger has also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine as part of an agreement reached recently with the Justice Department after months of quiet negotiations, the associates said.

Thrice-damned Rethuglicans. Well, *there's* cash that won't be going to a charity anymore!

But are they satisfied with this? Nooooo! They make him admit that he actually destroyed documents! Hmmm. He was low on the radar screen some months ago... could it be he was holding these discussions with the Minions of Satan in Gitmo? Abu Ghraib? Amnesty International and the ACLU should visit Mr. Berger and look for scars. Look at this - obviously obtained under duress:

When the issue surfaced last year, Mr. Berger insisted that he had removed the classified material inadvertently. But in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents, destroyed three and misled staff members at the National Archives when confronted about it, according to an associate of Mr. Berger's who is involved in his defense but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plea has not been formalized in court.

Go here and read the whole sad story in the sold-it's-soul-to-the-Rethuglicans litter box liner - The New York Times.

As a recovering conservative and former tool of the Illuminati, it would only be appropriate that I lose my clearance for life, pay the fine, and do time. Which I would. But that would be right, because I was wrong to be Right.

See how others of the VRWC are smearing the name of this patriot! That weasel hack academic Shackleford. The small-minded at BlogsofWar. The journo-wannbe at INDC. This fine left-winger is ignoring the issue. Good. Then there's this hag. (note to the Divine Miss M - read closely...) Outside the Beltway bloviates. The Goons at Powerline. That skank SondraK. The follicly challenged. The Whizzer in the Sink. The lost-in-the-woods conservative. Oh, it's just too depressing to continue.

Caption Contest! Win a Mug!


by John on Apr 01, 2005 | April Fool
» JackLewis.net links with: Today's blog roundup
» JackLewis.net links with: Today's blog roundup
» No Oil for Pacifists links with: Sandy the Burglar

We have acquired some disturbing videos.

The editorial stance of the Castle is (and it's best to right click the link and save as):

1. No one should be allowed to do this except for government officials in Democratic Administrations. Rethuglicans, when they steal elections or otherwise dupe the electorate cannot be expected to adequately supervise, so we support a Constitutional Amendment that forbids the arming of the Government when a Rethuglican is in charge. You can read more of our good ideas here.

2. We think that it is shameful that the current administration (which shouldn't be allowd to play with rubber balls in rubber rooms) is using advertising like this - targeted at Young People! Still in High School!

3. We believe the US Navy is just too arrogant to be allowed out unsupervised, and call on the government to put civilian monitors on their ships.

4. We are appalled at this video of Bill's first solo attempt.

5. We want one of these.

6. Lastly, if you disagree with us - go see Staff Sergeant Boquisucio, in 3W.

by John on Apr 01, 2005 | April Fool

Oh, so you *don't* believe in Angels, huh?

You think that Bad Cat Robot just lied, and made it all up, don't you?

Well, it's true! They Exist! The Castle Photographic Section has Proof!

Look at the picture in the post below, where BCR shows the fruits of her dangerous levels transiting the meta-planes.

And look at the picture in this post... See that Being peeking out from behind Twitchy? That's an ANGEL! They're REAL. And we believe. How else could Bill have survived this long as a pawn of the Corporate Oligarchs of the Illuminati, who really run the Government? Hmmmmm?

by John on Apr 01, 2005 | April Fool

G-o-o-o-d Morning, All

Okay, my Cricket impersonation is nowhere near as good as my Tom Selleck, but here goes...

[*a-hem* *chirp*] [*flawless cricket*] Good morning, all! Brekkies will be served in continuous seating by your wait-scruple. Mimosas for starters, made with a charming asti left over from the party last--ummm--week, was it?--artfully mixed with freshly-defrosted jus à l'orange, garnished with marshmallows that Were-Kitty found stuck to her--um--oh, dear.

Never mind.

Oh. And decorated with festive white mini-umbrellas hand crafted by Fuzzybear Lioness (take a bow, o serene one!) from some latex balloons she found behind the red couch in the library where she hides from Neffi.

Your appetizer will consist of eggs Benedict served on oat bran muffins, so they're actually heart-healthy! These specially-procured bedoodlewhoopie eggs...*?*... [*reverts to normal reverberant baritone*] Punctilious, darlin', where did you say you got those eggs? Bedoodlewhoopies are marsupials, hon, they don't--the sub-basement??! Oh, geez, when? Uhhh...okay, scruples, another round of mimosas and don't forget the rubb--uhhhh--mmmmmbrellas...I gotta go mend a fence. Oh, man--that's gotta be one torqued Komodo dragon...

Geez, Punctilious, chickens have feathers f'gosh sakes...no, no, no--I'll go down first...drat.

Surreptitiously acquired AAR.

Regular readers know that the Armorer finds Bill the Rotorhead's flight safety stories bemusing - because they are all in the first person. This would indicate that Bill is perhaps, well, a *lucky* pilot. Or something else.

It's something else. There has been a horrific price to pay. A Castle Argghhh! TINS Productions, Special Report:

To: Mortal Plane Command, Guardian Angel Rapid Deployment Base ARCHON Re: AAR- Tuttle Squad, [date redacted]

Relief Commander Tertius sends:

1. Current Squad Status:
ANG1C Dolorius - severe wing sprain, slight loss of sanctity (doubting
wisdom of Command). Unable to resume duties.
ANGSPC Effluvius - MIA. Last seen holding on rotor of Tuttle's
helicopter with bare hands.
ANGSPC Malodorus - minor wing sprain, 30% loss of feathers, currently undergoing gravel removal surgery at Celestial General Hospital. Has requested transfer to war zone "for rest and recuperation".
ANGMSG Carborundum - severe loss of sanctity (profanity, rude gestures, anatomically implausible suggestions sent to Command).
Mental Health reports slight progress using thorazine and stuffed
animals. Unable to resume duties.
ANG1LT Excelsius - 20% loss of feathers, structural damage to halo,
shell shock. Recommend light duty where unlikely to experience sudden loud noises.

2.Squad Activity: during the 24 hour duty cycle, squad successfully defended against the following

a) Suicide Bird attacks
b) gremlins
c) Maint. crew errors
d) meteors
e) High-energy cosmic rays
f) rain of frogs
g) REE (Random Entropy Events, e.g. "Jesus Nut" loss)

[details redacted]

3. Recommendations:
a) Duty cycle reduced to 12 hours or less
b) Emergency Interceptor Teams on call for high-speed incidents
c) If 24 hour duty cycle retained, 2 or more squads for this human. We just can't keep up!
d) Issue improved Shield of Righteousness to Angels given first-contact roles
e) hazardous duty bonus increase

So. Now we know the cost. I hope the end result is worth the price they are paying.

(rubbing head)

(raspy whisper)

"The horror... the horror..."

Many bedoodlewhoopies died to get this information. They literally had to go through Hell to get to the MPC. BCR barely escaped with her chassis!

Hat tip to Bad Cat Robot for providing this vital information!

An Army of One. Really.

*While the rest of the site today is *silly* this is not meant to be - and us having some fun should not be interpreted as disrespect to SFC Smith. Just the opposite, in fact. Through our revelry and lampooning, we believe we really are honoring SFC Smith - who, in our mind, towers above those we skewer here today. Just sayin' Besides, if you got this far down and hadn't figured it out - I figger you needed this! ed.

The Medal of Honor epitomizes the very best of what America stands for and honors the gallant individuals who have received it. These special people represent the very heart and soul of America...These gallant souls, in their heroism and their humility, epitomize the nobility of service to country and of service above self. Americans for all times will treasure the gifts that these brave warriors have given to all of us so selflessly.

President George H.W. Bush

SFC Paul Smith. An Army of One.

THE MEDAL OF HONOR

The White House announced yesterday that President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to the widow of SFC Paul R. Smith on Apr. 4, 2005.

SFC Paul Smith, a combat engineer, was killed Apr. 4, 2003 in the Battle for Baghdad Airport.

He died defending his Soldiers when his platoon was vastly outnumbered.

Rather than withdraw from his objective, he led soldiers to engage the enemy force with grenades, an antitank missile launcher, and individual weapons to take control of a .50 caliber machine gun turret.

He laid down fire to protect his company and hold his objective until he was killed.

His courageous actions stopped the threat to the Task Force's flank and allowed the safe withdrawal of wounded Soldiers.

SFC Paul Smith lived the Warrior Ethos. He was a true American hero, who, while leading and providing covering fire for his Soldiers, paid the ultimate sacrifice.

SFC Paul Smith answered a noble calling - the Call to Duty

- Because of his actions, more than 100 Soldiers live today
- We celebrate his life; we are glad there are Soldiers like Sergeant Smith; they make our nation great

Saving lives: Personal Courage is at the Core of Army Values

- SFC Smith represented all four points of the Warrior Ethos:
* He always placed the mission first.
* He never accepted defeat.
* He never quit.
* He never left a fallen comrade.
* He exemplified every one of the Army's Values

Brothers in Arms Remember.

Birgit Smith, She Who Watched and Waited.

Not all the Medals are awarded openly.

In my study of our military history, the Medal is most often awarded to warriors who are dealing with and often rectifying the mistakes of others.

If you are a leader - make sure that isn't you. If you are a staff officer - make sure it isn't your plan. If you are a Senior Leader and our Political Masters... make sure it isn't you.

I hope that absent any other recommendations working, SFC Smith is the *final* recipient of the Medal Of Honor.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, Paul R. Smith, Sergeant First Class, Husband of Birgit, Father of Jessica and David. Buddy. Leader. Warrior.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

More about The Medal.

March 31, 2005

Whispers, Whispers (Cont'd)...

Update:


PROTECTING THE WEAK [K. J. Lopez]
President Bush, a little earlier:
Today millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schaivo. Laura and I extend our condolences to Terri Schaivo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schaivo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life....

Now THIS (last paragraph) is bad.

Should we not, as people, even in times of great stress, fight the urge to deny our duties as, well, people?

At least they got to view the body...

*sigh*

May Spirit touch (and heal) the hearts of all involved.

More coverage: ScrappleFace (a serious entry), La Shawn Barber, Captain's Quarters, Blogs for Bush, IMAO, Jawa Report, WizBang, Outside the Beltway, Right Wing News, BlogsforTerri, bLogicus, HyScience, Pajama Hadin, What Attittude Problem, Cat House Chat, Broken Masterpieces, BaylyBlog, BatesLine, Basil's Blog, Stones Cry Out, ProLifeBlogs, Cao's Blog, Common Sense Run Wild, Michelle Malkin Three Bad Fingers, Jackson’s Junction, Blogical Conclusions, Polipundit (and here), Jeff Jarvis, Don Singleton, Wittenberg Gate, Bird’s Eye View, Blonde Sagacity Righty in a Lefty State Random Fate.

Hat tip to Jack Lewis for the pointers to the others.

by Dusty on Mar 31, 2005 | General Commentary
» La Shawn Barber's Corner links with: Terri Schiavo, 1963-2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Terri Schiavo : Rest in Peace
» blogical conclusions links with: Argghhh!'s Post
» blogical conclusions links with: In Memory of Terri Schiavo

Sigh. At least it's over for Terri.

WELL... [Jonah Goldberg] Someone's going to have to post something after that news. So: now that she has passed let us hope and pray that Michael Schiavo was right and her parents were wrong, even if we don't believe that to be the case. Rest in peace.

Indeed, blogfather. Indeed.

We'll be back with regular content tomorrow. For now, we're just bummed and hoping that we were wrong about Terri - though we think the fight needs fighting, and isn't over.

by John on Mar 31, 2005 | Something for the Soul
» JackLewis.net links with: America murders Terri Schindler-Schiavo
» Speed of Thought links with: Terri has passed

Just Checking in...

Been in defilade lately, dealing with issues ranging from care of an aged family member to adding ratings to my FAA certificate. The former gives me some appreciation for what the Schiavos are going through (though hardly comparable) and the latter an appreciation for General Aviation flyers who have to deal with cockpits with the ergonomics of an Iron Maiden.

Anyway...

Looks like we're nearing the end of Terry Schiavo. She, her family and the circus that surrounds them all will disappear from the public consciousness like her personal one is disappearing from this world. It shouldn't, but it will, in too many people's minds.

You can argue the case both ways of course, but for those of use who think that food and water doesn't fall into the category of "heroic measures," the slippery slope just got slippery-er.

After watchng this for the past several weeks, I have begun to think about what "evil" means. I don't think most of the actors in this macabre play are evil, but the Force that whispers in Michael Shiavo's and George Felos' ears makes them act to assure a life is extinguished. In the former's case, to eliminate an unwanted burden, in the latter's to pursue a philosophy and policy that gives me pause. I can't, and won't, categorically state that their actions are evil, but when I look in that direction, I see the antithesis of light.

The greatest, and most destructive, temptations are so successful because they are so banal. The extraordinarily radical is now more and more ordinary.

Should I fear those responsible for my care when I can no longer defend or speak for myself? You'd think not. But who's to say that, when my time comes, the rules will be different? I hope our families will still be able to make their own choices...but, then again, maybe not.


These people also Blogged For Terri.


by Dusty on Mar 31, 2005 | General Commentary
» AMERICAN DIGEST links with: Pith Award

March 30, 2005

News of interest to me.

...your mileage may vary.

1. Good.

2. Hmmm.

3. As long as we deal with it and adapt - so what? Back when it was designed, we didn't think tanks were appropriate for this purpose (ignoring Israeli experience, to be sure).

4. Tell me again about that omnibus intelligence centralization bill...

5. Obviously, the lag in recruiting needs some innovation... hell, why don't we *field* a team. Use the draft, heheheheheheh.

6. For whatever reason - you do NOT want to collect one of these.

7. Barb is a Large Mammal!

8. The Castle is having it's best month ever in terms of visitors. We're also the biggest Silverback on the Ecosystem today. Watch out, Frank! Thank you all!

Castle Jobs

"Lessee," *rustle of paper on clipboard* "where's the duty roster?"

"Ah, yes, here we go."

*runs finger down list*

The Armorer - Master and Figurehead
SWWBO - Mistress and Commander
Dusty - Chief, Air Ops.
Bill - Chief, Rotary Wing, add'l duty: Scrup'l Master and Emcee
Punctilious - Bedoodlewhoopie Mistress
Neffi - Chief, Fixed Wing and Devilish Rake, add'l duty - Margaritamatic Maint.
Cricket - Chef
Were-Kitten - Chief, Entertainment Divsion, add'l duty: Flirt (see FBL)
Sergeant B - Chief, Hvy Wpns Platoon, add'l duty, Chief, Security.
Bad Cat Robot - Chief, Xenobiology and Head Physicist - Catapult Crew Chief
FuzzyBear Lioness - Designated Flirt (to keep aviators outta trouble downtown)
Barb - Bartender add'l duty: Adjutant & a/c Crewman (Gunner)
Jack - Chief Contrarian
SangerM - CrewChief, add'l duty:Long Comment Compositing, Ass't Contrarian
Monteith - Chief, Motor Stables, add'l duty: Ass't Contrarian.
AFSis - Chief, Weapons Maintenance, add'l duty a/c Crewman (Gunner)
*sound of computer keys* *insert* *insert* *muttered sotto voce:"Dammit, Barb, the list was short!"*
Alan - Beer Consultant. add'l duty: Chief Canadian Contrarian.
CAPT H - Forces LNO add'l duty: Chief Snark. Fact Checker.
"There!" *back to list*
"Argghhh!!! Barb! HOWINAHELK DIDJA LET ME MISS MSG KEITH! Geez, he's like the only deployed member of the staff!"
MSG Keith - War Correspondent. add'l duty: Avoiding Purple Heart.
Bosquisucio - Unassigned Headum Scriptorum and Admiral of the Moat Fleet (not to be confused with the Motie Fleet, a far more dangerous thing). add'l duty: Ass't Chief, Security.

"Okay, izzat it? Did I miss anybody? If so, Barb's the Adjutant, personnel management is her responsiblity. Let her know"

"Carp! We did miss one. Sigh. It's hard, he's always wandering around the Arms Room, randomly dissassembling things - and there is *always* something left over!" Okay, okay, okay... *ponder ponder ponder* Nope, nothing's coming up yet. Barb! - Put JustThisGuy down as "Pending Assignment". And somebody get the locator collar on him. Sergeant B - have the computer keyed to track him and let us know if he's getting near anything breakable/dis-assemble-able, okay?"

"Okay folks, gather 'round. This is the new duty roster - any changes you need wanna make, get 'em to Barb - Barb, tidy 'em up and make recommendations - including for JTG."

"Most of you know I made Bosquisucio (BCR, WK - get this guy a good nick, wouldja? Too many vowels in there, send some to Bosnia) Head Latin Geek (What's that in Latin, anyway?). Based on further input, and the need for Moat Monster Management, I've reviewed resume's - and he's now Admiral of the Moat Fleet. Gottit everybody? Hey, Sanger - Pipe up, man! I can't hear the rocks rattling around in that melon of yours when you shake your head!"

"This is why the Admiral got the job. Mostly he sent me pictures of people shooting guns - but he had a good story, too. Here it is."

Behold the Moat Fleet:

Catching sight of that big happy pile of spent 40mm Cartridge Cases jogged my memory to a project I carried South of the Border.

Four years ago, we found good loving parents for a couple dozen Mk19's that we put up for adoption. During the post adoption phase, we did a visit to their new home to counsel the proud new parents on how to best rear these youngins. I am proud to report that with the attention that we instilled into their doting parents, our babies are sure to give back much warmth and love for years to come.

On our last day of counseling, we took our brood to cut their teeth at the range. Since there was no 2km Quarantined FanShaped Range to be found, we politely asked a nearby Cattle Ranch whether we could use their river bank. Their answer was of course yes. Our Escorts set up a couple Bed Sheets on the Bank, Shooed away the Cebu Cattle from the vicinity and pulled back to cover our flanks.

They were also there to cover our six, as the region is infested with
EvilDoers. They do love their SS77's. In any case, if they'd show-up, we had both HEDP's [High Explosive Dual Purpose, ed.] in the Cans, M14's on the racks, and an ungainly 40/70mm Bofors PeaShooter to back us up. Luck would have it, their only exertion was to prevent the Cebu Cattle from becoming Hamburger - GREAT DAY AT THE RANGE

Couple of funny things happened:

1- A couple of the gunners overcompensated for the displacing 15-pound bolt slamming forward, and elevated the muzzels too high. Instead of hitting the river bank, two of the HEDP's sailed clear over it and reported back 10 seconds latter on who knows what hill up yonder. We didn't hear back of our freshly purchased side of beef, so I guess that no bovines were hurt.

2- Since we were at the very end of the logistical train, we had an odd assortment of Swartklip and US made HEDP's. Some of it was in excellent condition, others weren't. We tried a batch of early 90's vintage M430's which were left too long under the weather. In the middle of the shoot, this round malfunctioned. The High Pressure Chamber blew back the primer, prior to pushing all of the gases up the Low Pressure Chamber. All of a sudden, our baby in a sickly burp, belches a grey pall of smoke backwards. The round goes up half way up the barrel and promptly gets stuck. Next thing we know the gunner yelps and runs back like a little girl. No one gets huts, except for the gunners moist drawers. The funny thing is that during the course of the whole week, the babies' new parents always would swarm around us like little children around a blacksmith, but when this malfunction happened they all scattered like flies. With full trust that the M550 Fuzed wasn't fully armed my buddy and I wrenched the round out of the barrel with an extractor latter on.

Oh and I forget, 'ere's yours trully, getting ready to put one last round down range.

Boquisucio


Welcome aboard, Admiral!


Hmm. Training. Practice Practice Practice!

"All stations this net, all stations this net, CEASE FIRE FREEZE, CEASE FIRE FREEZE!"

Every artilleryman's nightmare radio call. Resulting in this crew command:

"To the rear of the piece, Fall In!"

Which, in Idaho, I guess resulted in this conversation:

"Gee, maybe this artillery stuff *is* harder than we thought, Joe."

Last year about this time, in a post since deleted, I mentioned that the Army asset managers were recalling howitzers on-loan to ski resorts for avalanche control duties - the only known (to me) commercial use of full bore Artillery in this country anyway... We were short guns and parts and it was a quick fix. Why we didn't give them some of the older guns we still have in storage, I dunno, mebbe we did. The article below uses a picture which indicates the offending piece could be an old M101 howitzer.

Apparently, we didn't take enough back... or at least we left some in the hands of local officials, without a good, grizzled Staff Sergeant in charge... At least that's what this post thoughtfully provided by Mike at Davidson's Law would suggest. The Utah Department of Transportation spokesman said:

Fitzgerald said the cannon was fired from a fixed launch site on the north side of Provo Canyon — a spot above Sundance — that's been used many times before. "Most of our firing is done when we cannot see the target," he said. "That's when we have avalanches, when it's storming." The blast was at least 3 miles off course. Avalanche-control operations are being temporarily suspended in Provo Canyon until officials can determine how the accident happened. UDOT blames the misfire on too much gunpowder.
I don't. I blame the gun chief, or the person who certified him. And it wasn't a misfire - but don't get me started on the article writer's flinging about the terms bomb and mortar - and howitzer... It was a charge error. And only attributable to human error. Reality check - the round *always* goes where it's aimed - you just have to make sure that where the gun is aimed, and where you want the round to land are the same place... As we see here - correct direction with wrong quadrant elevation (angle of the tube combined with the amount of force applied via the powder - and probably issues of target height in relation to the gun called 'site' in redleg-speech) caused the aiming point of the gun to not coincide with the intended point of impact...
UDOT spokesman Geoff DuPaix said the shells come pre-packaged in bundles, so it isn't clear who is responsible for using the larger charge.

I do. Whoever was in charge of the gun. Or whoever sent out the untrained crew, that's who.

Charge error? C'mon guys, you *never* pull the lanyard without counting the powder increments being held up by the guy at the powder pit, and verifying fuze setting, deflection, and quadrant! Just like this Gun Chief verifying the fuze setting before Number 1 rams the round. If you forget to do that 'round these parts, you find yourself with a new job, and the hint to start looking for a new career. Just like the guy on the left in this picture, holding up the unused charge bag in his left hand - so the Gun Chief can personally verify that Charge 6 is in the chamber - because Charges 7&8 are in the Powder Monkey's hands. Everybody in the crew has a job - and every setting is checked twice, by different people - just like the data was before it got to the gun - BEFORE YOU PULL THE LANYARD.

What? "Guy at the powder pit?" "Check the settings?" "Count the increments?" We don't need to do all that stuffy *Army* stuff, geez.

Of course, I'm assuming they even opened up a TFT (tabular firing table) or used a GFT (graphical firing table). Not that it would have mattered with a charge error of that magnitude.

While I'm relieved to know the County Sheriff is investigating, I hope they call in some expert help.

I don't think Sharon, the writer, who uses bomb, shell, howitzer, cannon, and mortar interchangeably, and refers to the firing point as a 'launch site' is going to be much use. She is at least consistent with her use of 'shrapnel'... although the purist would use 'fragments' because shrapnel, in a pure geek technical sense, is a submunition... but the language is what the people say it is, not stuffy technical quibblers like me! I wonder what Lt. (later LTG) Henry Shrapnel would think? Probably that it's way cool his family name is now a common word... Read his bio - and how the Brit gov't screwed him.

by John on Mar 30, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» Villainous Company links with: Your Daily Gun Porn

Why we fight.

For the future. MSG Keith sends us this video. It's 40megs big, and 5 minutes long - if you've got dial-up, that's gonna be a problem, I know. But it's too good not to share.

Why We Are Here. It's not for oil. It's not to salvage Bush the Elder's failures. It's about the future.

Theirs and ours.

Right click, save as, get back to work. Then when it's done, turn your sound on. Completely work safe. If you appreciate the video - how about helping MSG Keith with some of the *other* things he's doing overseas - like helping deployed soldiers read books to their children?

Update: Welcome to visitors from National Review Online! Feel free to check out other stuff here and about. We are Jonah's Military Guys after all!

And if the video breaks - because we may kill my bandwidth here - don't hesitate to drop a line or leave a comment.

I'm keeping this on top for a while. New content below.

by John on Mar 30, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» JackLewis.net links with: Our Military and Iraq

March 29, 2005

TINS!* Why I Hate Wires...

Before I get to the usual self-flagellation, I owe this one to frequent visitor, frequent comment-party participant and blogger-in-her-own-right, AFSister. She's in mommy-mode today and has done a nice piece on Castle Afghanisandbox Correspondent MSG Keith's Read to Your Kids program over at Blonde Sagacity. Even included Keith Khan's deployed address. Drop him a line--from a been-there-done-that perspective, a real letter beats an e-gram all hollow when you're far from home. And he can't always get to a 'puter.

Back to the scary stuff.

There is a small photograph on the wall in front of my desk, showing a hand holding two pieces of 5/8-inch, 7-strand steel support cable. One piece of cable looks like it had been cut with a hacksaw, the other looks like an explosion in a spaghetti factory. The caption reads, “Tuttle’s Incontrovertible Proof of the Existence of God” and therein, as Shakespeare said, lies a tale...specifically, the one that relates to my becoming one of the handful of (prior to 1993) helicopter pilots to have hit wires in flight and lived.

I’ll give you some deep background first. I belong to a National Guard Attack Battalion, then-equipped with the usual OH-6A’s and UH-1M’s -- the “olden days” when the Comanche was still the LHX (and still alive) and Crew Coordination meant the copilot could successfully walk and chew gum 70% of the time. We had deployed to our Annual Training (AT) site a week earlier with a mixed bag of high-timers (3000+ hours) and recent IERW grads (newly-transitioned into the “Loach” or the Mike-model). As Senior Scout, Instructor Pilot, Instrument Flight Examiner and Keeper of the Combat Acetate and Indelible Markers, I wasn’t anticipating a lot of time inspecting my eyelids for pinholes.

Oh, I almost forgot -- since you already *know* I’m gonna get creamed, I’ll heighten the suspense for you. The sharp clink that you’ll hear--sigh see-- from time-to-time is the sound of links being forged in the accident chain; Instructor Pilot Frustration Quotient is indicated by the addition of one or more exclamation points...

And, as usual, it's a long one. Click Extended Entry/Flash Traffic below for the rest of the story.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on Mar 29, 2005 | This is no Sh*t!

You want trust? You want confidence?

Try something where you have to trust the people who designed the gear, the people who trained you, the people who packed it, they guys flying it, and the guy who tells you... "GO GO GO!"

Airboooooorne!~

Don't forget to have your sound on.

by John on Mar 29, 2005 | Observations on things Military | Pugnacious Stupidity
» Conservative Friends links with: Hoo Ahh!

A mish-mash of stuff I found interesting today..

Hoist by their own petard! That had to have been embarassing when dining in other Wardrooms.

Whether a sponsor/tutor of a Saudi officer as a Basic Course student, or a Small Group Leader for the Advanced Course - I found this was more true than not about the Saudi officers I have had direct contact with. There are exceptions, but they are frankly lonely men in their Army.

Two more bits from Strategy Page:


March 26, 2005: More Taliban are surrendering, and the government
expects about a thousand to openly turn in their weapons and accept an amnesty. These surrenders also provide information on Taliban who are not surrendering. As a result of this, the government is turning more of its attention, and guns, to the drug gangs.

March 25, 2005: For American soldiers died south of the capital when their vehicle hit an anti-tank mine. The Taliban took credit, but it appeared that the mine was left over from the 1980s. Thousands of these mines litter the ountryside, and each Spring, the melting snow causes mud and floods that move some of these mines around. The Taliban claim was doubted because the route the Americans took was one that was rarely used, and they had not lanned to use it.

Getting closer. Now if only the lawyers will let us.

Interesting point-counterpoint here.

GEN Schoomaker, the Army Chief of Staff, on Transformation:

The Army is reorganizing itself to field smaller, more capable brigade-sized units, Schoomaker said, that can be deployed much more quickly and perform more tasks than legacy forces under the old-style division system. The Army’s Stryker-armored-vehicle-equipped Interim Brigade Combat Teams embody this transformational thinking.

This is the Chief doing what he's supposed to do - support his boss, and keep the troops informed. What is interesting however is the budding resistance to Rumsfeld's push to a smaller, lighter, force - especially in light of the costs associated with it. Rand recently completed a study of OIF Lessons Learned that cautions the Secretary to be cautious about plans that move to light armored vehicles and heavy reliance on linked C4ISR (command and control) systems, given that we haven't really figured out yet how to take all that data and fully fuse it into swiftly absorbable and actionable information.

We're still at the infancy of this, and it's not simple. It isn't just technology - it's ergonomics and human factors engineering, and it's proving to be a daunting task. I know - I'm in the middle of it, and have been for some time. We make great strides, but many times, we crest this obstacle, only to find it reveals another behind it.

The Buffalo, a new (to us, not the South Africans, who developed it) mine clearing vehicle, is spreading through the force - the latest to get it the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard.

Castle Denizen Tregonsee points us to some interesting credit card info.

Mike, who blogs at chattr +a -V, has been doing some surfing and sent us this link to a clock on a war memorial in Britain (scroll down to second picture) on Paul Humphrey's blog. We will take the design under consideration should we desire to erect a clock tower at the Castle!

The Afghan National Army (about which more in a later post, from MSG Keith) is starting to take more responsibility for the defense of the Afghan people from predators, internal and external.

While patience is obviously needed, things are looking up on that front in Iraq, too. Despite Liberal dreams to the contrary, you don't build a competent military force overnight. What do I mean by that? When I talk to some libs, they basically feel like the military should be disbanded if they aren't in power, and reconsituted when they are in power - and it must, of course, be instantly competent. To hear them gripe about the time things are taking in Iraq... I begin to wonder sometimes if they don't literally think it's true...

Troops and family members - and their commanders - know your rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Go ugly early - immediately inform a creditor of military status - and get to JAG. Don't wait, don't argue, don't plead. Go directly to JAG. If you are a family member of a Guardsman or Reservist - contact your unit Rear Detachment commander. The Wells Fargo thing is particularly egregious and bullshite.

More info available here from the Army JAG.

Afghan Bulletin

Many electrons have been expended here at Castle Argghhh!!! to excite computer screens carrying our screeds excoriating France and Germany for their views on the GWOT, and sometimes giving Canada a spank, too. It's only fair then, to mention when something good happens, or they exceed our expectations. Let's do Canada and Germany today.

1. As the 4 dead National Guardsmen from Indiana showed this weekend, and now a Canadian, Afghanistan is still a dangerous place to be.

Update: RJewell adds:


The four Soldiers killed, members of Indiana's 76th Inf Bde, are memorialized at the Task Force Phoenix III website.

Individual memorials can be found on a website maintained by Indiana's Director of Veteran's Affairs Tom Applegate showing all of Indiana's fallen.

2. Dangerous enough that two Canadian soldiers recently recieved Canada's Star of Courage medal for heroism. Equivalent to the US Distinguished Service Cross, the Star of Courage is Canada's second highest valor award, after the Victoria Cross.

Their section commander, Sgt. Robert Short, and another colleague, Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger, were killed and their driver injured when their jeep was hit by an anti-tank mine just outside Kabul on Oct. 2, 2003.

Hamilton and Matthews crawled through a minefield to rescue the driver, Corporal Thomas Stirling and returned to rescue the other two men.

I will observe that Canada obviously hasn't slain the bureaucracy in terms of timliness (nor have we, nor have we). Hat tip to reader RJewell for the pointer to the story on the Indiana Guardsmen.

As mentioned in a previous story on the Afghan elections, Germany is providing troops to the NATO efforts in Afghanistan. That, tied with some of the comments in this post Sunday about the MG 42 prompts me to post this from MSg Keith, the Castle's War Correspondent:

Fun and Games at the German Range Firing. I earned the silver German Schutzenschnur [Geman Marksmanship Award -photo is of the bronze version. ed] to wear on my Class A uniform ( dress greens for you civvie types). We had to fire pistol, rifle, machine gun, grenade machine gun, and grenade launcher. We shot all the german stuff and they shot our M-16's and M9 pistols. Then they brought out the big guy. Tank killer round. They only had six and picked one of our younger guys to shoot it. Before we could shoot, we had to send a few vehicles downrange to run off the nomads sleeping in the hills. I got some cool scenery shots but i've sent enough of them for a while. We went out and it was kind of dreary, then the sun came out. Then by the end of the day, there was a cold wind coming over the top of the mountain. Luckily, I had my gloves and jacket with me. All in all, a good day. You can never shoot too much ammo... Oh, and most of the photos are of me this time....

I am soooo jealous! All the Armorer can do is say, "Neener neener neener ! I have the Gold one!" Of course, as an officer, I'm not allowed to wear it... But this was the Armorer's absolute favorite exchange activity with foreign militaries. Shooting their stuff! Of course, shooting their stuff in a different way was the Armorer's favorite activity with *hostile* militaries... well, actively hostile anyway.

Coupla more observations... 1. Geman soldiers are a heck of a lot better looking than I remember them (check out the one supervising Our Hero). 2. Is it just me - or does that place pretty much look like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin - only more green? 3. Last, but not least - doesn't that German soldier examining the M16 have the same look on his face you have when you look at the bottom of your shoe to find that *someone* forgot their pooper-scopper while out on walkies?

Our Man in the 'Stan shooting at cans!

March 28, 2005

Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable and one change I will be undergoing in a short while will be becoming cw4billt(ret). I took stock of my skill set (demonstrated ability to break up human wave attacks, destroy Armored Fighting Vehicles from 3,500 meters, converse in fluent MilSpeak, bury snipers, etc.) and posted the list on several sites.

“You are a No-Go at this station” has been the kindest reply to date. So, I’ve decided to take a different tack, to reveal myself to the corporate world as a person, not just a set of quasi-academic accomplishments. I trust you guys, with your keen insight and boundless civvies-street experience, will help me with some fine-tuning.

All feedback will be greatly appreciated.

My Resumé

I am a dynamic figure, often profiled on The Learning Channel scaling walls using only my fingers and crushing large blocks of ice beneath my left heel. I have been known to renovate nearby train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention and pedestrian trafficability. I translate ethnic slurs for Second World refugees, I write award-winning operettas and I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I will tread water for 72 hours in order to provide current immersion data for FEMA and the Coast Guard.

Women swoon over my sensuous and god-like sousaphone playing. I can pedal bicycles up 75% slopes with unflagging speed and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in fifteen minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a master of calligraphy and a taupe belt in kendo.

Using only a grubbing hoe and a two-quart canteen, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ravening army ants.

I play bluegrass cello. I was scouted by the Lakers and I am the subject of numerous documentaries. I have written the definitive treatise (a 23-volume set) on post-Minoan chiaroscuro. When I get bored, I build full-scale models of Scottish cantilever suspension bridges in my yard.

I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after work, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst and a world-ranked chess observer. Critics of haute-couture gush over my original line of velcro evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been Caller Number Nine and have won weekends in the Poconos. One evening, I calculated the value of p to the last digit, but my puckish sense of humor forbids me to reveal what it is.

Last summer, I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration.

I bat .433. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botanical circles. I taught Garry Kasparov that knights aren’t just for defining the king’s row and that the queen is superfluous. I can hold idiomatic conversations in all twelve archaic Indo-European and Proto-Germanic languages. I have memorized The Code of Federal Regulations in the original Old Kingdom Demotic script and can cite references from The Book of the Dead verbatim.

Leprechauns trust me. Songbirds fly miles out of their way to feed from my hand. Horses whisper to me. I waltz with scruples and boogie with bedoodlewhoopies. I understand women, but because I am the compleat gentleman, will not divulge The Secret.

I can hurl a five-pound sledgehammer at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read The Divine Comedy, War and Peace and The Gulag Archipelago in a single day and still had time to renovate my dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every item in Home Depot. I have performed several covert operations in Central Asia for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep seated on a ladderback chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of misoriented Basque separatists who had seized a small boulangerie.

I speak fluent Braille.

I create award-winning handicap-accessible Web Sites and have written a 2kb software program that simultaneously de-bugs all Microsoft products and seamlessly integrates Oracle, Visio and Linux; it also provides free Internet access over your existing household wiring. On non-Drill weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. I discovered the meaning of life years ago, but I forgot to write it down. I have created Epicurean four-course meals using only a pocketknife and a toaster oven.

I breed prizewinning Littleneck clams. I have won bullfights in Segovia, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka and spelling bees in Sinkiang. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery and I have spoken with Elvis.

My only character flaws are my extreme modesty and an unflagging propensity to fantasize...

by CW4BillT on Mar 28, 2005 | General Commentary

Sea stories...

What the Army calls a "War Story" the Navy and Marines call a "Sea Story."

This is probably *not true.* But is *is* possible - which is the only criteria for a good War/Sea story...

The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln was finally inching up to the pier at Pearl Harbor when the Captain of the ship noticed a sailor on the flight deck gesturing wildly with semaphore flags. He then noticed an attractive young woman standing on top of a station wagon, also waving semaphore flags.

Always concerned about security and never having seen something like this, the Captain barked at his Bridge Signalman, "What message are those two people sending?" The Signalman concentrated intently and soon reported, "Sir, he is sending FOXTROT-FOXTROT and she is sending ECHO-FOXTROT." Not having any clue as to what these messages could mean, the Captain dispatched an armed Marine to escort the sailor back to the Bridge. The sailor arrived, out of breath from running up the many ladders to the bridge, and saluted smartly.

"Seaman Endicott reporting as ordered, sir!"

"Seaman", shouted the Captain, "Who is that woman on the pier and why are you exchanging signals FF and EF?"

"Sir, that's my wife, Sir, and she wants to eat first!"

Have a care with the comments, fffolks!

by John on Mar 28, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Conservative Friends links with: Mixed Signals

Milblogging 101

Frequent readers of this space know that I've taken to making Afghanistan kind of a mission for the Castle to report the Forgotten Campaign of this war. But there is another group of Forgotten Soldiers - the ones in the Balkans. They have a voice, too, SGT E of Foxholes and Dogtags and Incoherent Ramblings (she's a multi-blogger).

Young SGT E recently ran into some rocky ground in her blogging, that caused her to take it down briefly. Kind of like SGT Hook - except that she's back, and has published a 10 Commandments for Milblogging list. worth the read - especially if you are thinking about blogging.

I left her a long, rambling comment, that in retrospect reeks of officer-like paternalism. Which is how I write, so I guess that isn't a surprise. I'm sticking my response in the Flash Traffic/Extended entry - not to hide it, but it's intended as an expansion of her theme, so I'll leave her theme on the front page, and bury my old fart musings below the fold.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

A Differential Theory...

[ed: this has been around, morphing bit by bit, for a looong time. And it's passed over the internet in waves, too. But it will be new to many of you non-military types, and it's always funny to us people who wear/wore tie-dyed clothing!]

...Concerning US Armed Forces Encountering a Snake in the Area of Operations

Sarge B. is waxing philosophical on the essential differences between the services with regards to the myriad uses of Sergeant. However, there are more fundamental differences in the services, particularly with regards to close encounters of the reptilian kind...

Infantry: Snake smells them, leaves area.

Airborne: Inadvertently squashes snake with 80-pound rucksack during PLF.

Armor: Runs over snake, laughs and looks for more snakes.

Field Artillery: Kills snake with massive Time-On-Target, utilizing three Forward-Deployed Artillery Brigades with DivArty in Direct Support. Also destroys recently-restored 8th Century monastery as unavoidable collateral damage. Mission is declared a success and all participants, to include cooks, mechanics and clerks, are awarded Silver Stars. [Only Good Cooks get Silver Stars, the rest get Bronze. ed]

Combat LifeSaver: Wounds snake in initial encounter, then works feverishly to save snake's life. Story headlines front page of the Sunday “Stars and Stripes.”

Supply: Posts notice to the effect that all anti-snake equipment is on backorder.

Cook: Snake sneaks into chow hall and dies of food poisoning. [see Bronze Star, above. ed]

If your Service, Branch, or Military Specialty has not yet been outraged, Click Extended Entry/Flash Traffic and it will be...

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on Mar 28, 2005 | General Militaria

March 27, 2005

American Walkabout, Part II.

If you need to catch up - Part I. This is the story of a young man walking across the US. In today's installment - well, anyone who has done road marching, much less managed one, will relate. It wasn't that long ago when we moved Armies like this...

Hey Lee, I'm rushed. And I've got no photo capabilities right now, sorry. Thank You.

It's been a week since Rory and I flew to LAX. We did our vacationing while we stayed with my cousin Kristen and her husband Nick in Hermosa Beach. On Tuesday Kristen drove us down to Costa Mesa where we stayed with my friend Mally. Wednesday morning we got up and went to the ocean in Huntington Beach where we started our walk. We wanted to get our feet in the ocean and take our picture, but didn't want to take our shoes off because they're hard to put back on when you've got a bag weighing nearly sixty pounds on your back. But our boots are waterproof, so we thought we'd be able to simply stand at the water's edge...BAM! The unpredictable waves came up to our knees and we were drenched. I could feel my socks squishing under my feet as I made a useless attempt to run from the ocean's arms.

Our plan was to walk up the Santa Ana River Trail as far as Orange, California where I had arranged for us to stay in a Methodist church there. We changed our socks, but our shoes were still wet, so we put on yet another pair of socks a few miles later when we stopped for lunch at a park along the trail. We quickly learned that Rory and I have a different pace, so when we walk, one of us will be in front while the other is about 40 yards behind. But before we take any turns, the lead man will wait for the other, that way we won't lose each other. Our goal was to average 20 miles a day, and I'm not sure what that was based on, but it's no longer our goal. I think we did a few miles over that the first day, but we were completely exhausted when we made it to Orange. It wasn't supposed to be that far to Orange, but the trail detoured and we got directions from a homeless man who insisted that "this road right here will take you right to the church in a few miles." That was at mile eleven. By mile twenty, we were ready to hunt the homeless man down, had we the energy left.


We weren't even in Orange, we were in Santa Ana. Once we walked to where the church should be, we realized we were a whole town away. Finally, after much pain and agony, and after Rory's shoulder had been cramping up for ten miles, we made it to Orange. But by then, we couldn't think straight, so we were lost in the city. I called the church, but again, the directions I got I couldn't seem to comprehend. We dicided we could make it, even though they promised it was only a few blocks away. We got a room at the Best Western in Orange.


The Rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »