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April 22, 2006

Live blogging the conference.

It's on. Austin Bay is chatting us all up and reinforcing (as if we need it) just how kewl and important we are!

But if you'd rather catch this live... go here: Live Feed from Conference.

Austin Bay gave a good rouser for an intro. Buzz Patterson is up introducing the first panel - which is Milblogs: Past, Present, and Future. Present are Smash, Blackfive, John of Op-For, Steve of ThreatsWatch, and CJ from A Soldier's Perspective.

Buzz is slamming the MSM for their myopia on how the war is covered. Austin made the point that what most of us want to do is provide a broader story and context to the coverage of the war.

CJ is telling why he blogs, a 'therapy' for processing his war experiences (CJ was in 3ID and participated in both Thunder Runs into Baghdad and the first invasion of Fallujah. Over to Smash.

"Good morning, my name is Smash, and I am a milblogger..."

Here they are: CJ, Scott, Matt, John, Steve.

Milblogger Conference

Heh. Who'm I foolin'? Reading this on a Saturday? If you want to follow it- go hit the link. I'll post pics - but I'm gonna pay attention now.

Oh, yeah - I gotta say this (and I'll put the pics up to prove it)... Blogger Chicks are Hot, Boy Bloggers are not...

Second Session: Milblogging Family Style.

Moderated by Andi from Andi's World, online moderation by Mrs. Greyhawk.


Panelists: Left to right, Carla from Some Soldier's Mom, Carren of From My Position, Chuck of From My Position, and Deb from Marine Corps Moms.

Carla, Carren, Chuck, Deb

A reminder: Live Feed Here.

Of interest: CENTCOM PAO is here, usefully engaged. Several MSM outlets are here, to include the BBC. Be interesting to read *their* view of this.

Great lunch at Jury's, sponsored by We *did* have to sit through a sales pitch... but hey, lunch was free, who are we to argue?

If you haven't checked in on the live feed, you should. Dave Hunt is doing a hilarious job of emceeing Blogging From Theater, with Bill from The Fourth Rail, Fred from Iraq for 365, Jeff from Dadmanly, Michael from Fire and Ice, and Bill Roggio.

Hunt, Jeff, Fred, Bill R., Captain B., Michael.

This panel has been a lot of fun, with Col Hunt the major reason for it. The fact that it's the warfighters and an embedded journalist speaking, well, the rest of us was just a warm-up.

Yes, CJ - your bald spot *did* show up...

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by John on Apr 22, 2006 | Observations on things Military
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Will Hilton Hotels Evict Fran O’Brien’s?
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Carnival of Blue Stars #10
» Beltway Blogroll links with: Milbloggers In Washington
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: After Action Review
» Chaotic Synaptic Activity links with: MilBlogging Conference AAR - Part I
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Attending the Milblog Conference "Remotely"
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Milblog Conference
» The Countervailing Force links with: Sean Hannity is a poser.

Don't Pay the Ransom -- I Escaped!

I might as well start at the beginning, since doing it in medias res wouldn’t make much sense.

One of the downsides to being a contractor is that there isn’t a whole lot of job security -- which I found out back in November, when our project’s budget was cut by 87% (calm down -- the funding was diverted to Disaster Relief, not some boondoggle). We managed to operate week-by-week with MACOM handouts, but things got a bit shaky. Then, on Christmas Eve, our Parts Manager sent each of us other contractor/parasites (hereinafter referred to as "c/p") an e-mail saying, in essence, there was a major train-wreck fast approaching. We were all invited to the primary contractor's Christmas Holiday Party after quitting time and were informed the limit was two cookies and a cup of flat soda apiece. I donated mine to the forlorn-looking secretary checking IDs in the entryway.

Then our Parts Manager bailed for another job on New Year's Eve. And us remaining c/ps split his workload.

In early January, our Team Lead casually wandered between our desks and sotto-voce’d, “Update your resumes ASAP, guys -- I’ll endorse them.”

Then, in late January, he bailed for another job. And us four remaining c/ps split his workload.

In February, the ex-squid muttered something about shoals ahead and split for deeper water (literally -- he took a job in Guam). And us three remaining c/ps split his overwork-overload.

Then, at 10:00am one Tuesday in March, the MACOM handouts were further reduced, so, at 10:05am, our gummint oversight guys told us three remaining c/ps to turn off our computers, grab whatever personal stuff we had in our desks and be out the door by 10:06am.

“Umm -- Do you want the stuff we’re working on? Reports? Data collections?”

“Nope. Don’t forget to return your badges to Security.”

The chuckle is, the gummint guys’ sole job was to tour depots to see how things got repaired and then provide PowerPoint slides each week to keep the MACOM Commander updated on the project’s progress. They used the data us c/ps collected from the field and supplied them after we made sense of it and punched it into the database, along with the funding requests and work progression on the previously-inducted stuff.

Which, obviously, they haven’t been getting from us of late.

The project is still alive, but my guess is, depots have been playing host and the slides have been showing “NO CHANGE” for the last month or so.

Meanwhile, back home, we’ve been brewing a revolution. By the end of March, Town Council still hadn’t finalized the FY 05-06 budget -- which was due to be voted on NLT 1 July 2005 -- so it guesstimated the amount of money it’d take to keep the township rolling and promptly hiked everybody’s quarterly taxes by 25%. Heh -- the idiots even pi$$ed off the Town Socialist with that one. Soooo, since the local Republican Party has been moribund for the last twenty years or so, us wingnuts have cranked up a splinter group under the Republican banner, dragooned a bunch of Independents, Libertarians and conservative Dems and now have some talented challengers to the In Crowd.

KtLW was acclaimed campaign manager because she could argue Old Scratch into installing central air. Unfortunately, she’s also discovered that using the computer is more fun than playing phone-tag, which means she’s online until the wee hours. Now I can only jump in when she’s asleep, at a meeting which isn’t being held in our kitchen, or adding to the list of things for me to do (“Move that 15-foot hemlock with the 10-foot rootball to the other side of the stream and mow the lawn. Then come inside and eat breakfast while I tell you what else needs to get done before noon.”) during my leisure hours, usually between midnight and 5:00am.

Primary Day is 6 June (yup -- everybody noticed that one) and the first fund-raiser is at stately Tuttle Manor. In two weeks. Which means I have to get the Jungle in shape…

Oh, yeah -- about my “leisure hours.” A friend of ours who owns an irrigation systems company recently had three of his crew split to become long-haulers. Since he saw the waterfall I built, he figgered I knew the basics of Hydraulic Engineering (e.g., water flows downhill, water shoved through one end of a tube will come out the other end of the tube, etc.), he asked if I could give him a hand. And since the outfit I contract for hasn’t posted anything that doesn’t require a Master’s in Linux and Mandarin Java, I’m now getting an immersion course in Meso-American Spanish and three green-card Costa Ricans are getting lessons in English grammar and Yankee pronunciation.

Hal (el Jefe), Jorge, ‘Steban, Luis and me -- doin’ the Residential, Commercial and Industrial Jobs that Murricans won’t do. If you’re not proficient in all aspects of plumbing, heavy equipment operation, landscaping, subsurface electrical wiring requirements, blowback-bypass codes, acetylene torch operations, determining the differences between a black widow and a brown recluse, camouflaging recent excavations and digging trenches six inches wide and eight inches deep by hand (when necessary), stop on by -- we’ll be happy to teach you. Bring lots of bottled water, BTW.

UPDATE: My forehead is healing nicely after Wednesday’s episode involving the repair of the winter-killed pipe under a customer’s deck, the overly-territorial black widow spider and the two-by-six joist. I was awarded the section of pipe and the spider’s corpse as trophies and received a “Commendable” for Invective Originality and Speedy Shirt-Removal in a Confined Space…

by CW4BillT on Apr 22, 2006 | General Commentary

April 21, 2006

H&I Fires* 21 April 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

[I surprisingly have wireless access at my friend's hosue and some time before heading to the airport, and John is probably busy enjoying DC. So...]

Captain's Quarters reports on another interesting document from Saddam Hussein's files.

Keep your eyes open for TV coverage of the Fran O'Brien's matter. CBS and CNN are reportedly developing stories on it and Hannity & Colmes (FOX) will include a live segment from Fran's this evening (between 9 and 10 p.m. EDT). - Fuzzybear Lioness


Fran O'Brien's tonight at 8:30. If there's wireless, we'll live-blog it. -The Armorer

Sometimes, when you have the wolf by the ears, it's better to hang on. A decade of woe, starvation, and fighting that's gutted Somalia.
SOmetimes the popular thing isn't the right and moral thing.

An interesting week. I've spent some time talking to the left, the non-hysterical variety, it's still very interesting. While some decry American Empire, others ask why not?

Or, if you missed this gem, al Sadr's spokesman gives an interview with Newsweek. This article and another that is linked on the same page will give you a very good idea why the Iraqi parliament is taking so long to form a government and what part Sadr plays. Try not to cringe when you notice Newsweek playing footsie with a murderous thug. I'm sure they want to be able to interview him again or visit the neighborhood without being summarily executed next time. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Think CNN and Saddam. - Kat


BTW - I can report that Princess Crabby gives *excellent* phone.

The Governor of New Mexico (Democrat Bill Richardson) can't make up his mind about... cock fighting? (Down, gurlz, please).

Organ [New Mexico] animal rights activist Bob Young told Richardson he was "disappointed" that the governor has not shown more support for legislation to ban cock fighting. New Mexico is one of the few states that has not banned cock fighting.

"I have not made up my mind on that," Richardson said. [emphasis mine)

The governor added the arguments for and against cock fighting have been strong on both sides. For the Legislature to be able to fully consider the issue it would need to be conducted during a 60-day session -- which is scheduled next year, from Jan. 16 until March 17.

Hmmm. I have problems thinking of any strong arguments *for* cockfighting. Any more than I can for bear-baiting, dog-fights, bull-fighting, or any sport that kills animals by enraging them and then goading them to slaughter for the "entertainment" of human spectators. I *am* always on the side of the bull. I've never seen a dead bullfighter to weep over. Obviously, some people's mileage varies. The rest of the story is here.

Good grief, Charley - Denise Richards isn't enough for you? Sheesh! Wotta buffoon! - The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 21, 2006 | General Commentary

OPSEC of a different kind.

Here's a thought for you high-powered business types out there, who have their cell phones surgically implanted. You know the type - the Cyborgs, with the glowing blue phones where their ear used to be...


When you shout out your end of the conversation, *someone* might be listening. Someone who knows what he's hearing.

Like that contract for the Army your (firm) is bidding on. The one where you are competing with (firm). The one where your boss, (name redacted) who doesn't know policy from shinola, is screwing the pooch on. You know, the one where your Level of Effort is 2 man years, being billed on a multiple of 2.6, is going to get you creamed, because the competition is going to come in under that.

Yeah, you remember that conversation, right? The one on the shuttle to the airport? The one that if you had mentioned *my firm* I'd have been on-line in a flash, seeing who was working that contract, and then calling corporate legal, to make sure it was okay to pass on what I heard... and then passed on some *very* good intel. And, since I haven't been in this area since 2001, nor am I a corporate bigwig, I know that was not a clever little disinfo op.

Hope your flight out of Reagan was pleasant.

Just hope those guys from Northrup-Grumman (firm> aren't sitting in any seats around you.

Yer suffering from the ID10T fault.

Well, that's probably unkind. You're just completely clueless, like a lot of your wired bretheren, that when you start blabbering out loud in public, those of us who have no choice but to share your conversations may be taking notes.

Arrgghhh!!! in DC

The White House (d-uh)
Yesterday, the Master and Mistress of Argghhh!!! avoided trouble with the TSA despite having posted negatively about them (we'll see if we make it back...) and winged our way to the Capital of All That Is Evil In The World (unless a Democrat is President, in which case it is Paradise). At least that's what I learn from the NYT.

Getting Here was pretty much painless. Then we got to Washington, and tried to park. Snerk. We finally found a place in a parking garage in L'Enfant Plaza, after having driven all 'round from Union Station on the northwest corner of the Mall to L'Enfant, in the southwest. I blew an obligatory raspberry at the Hoffman building as we passed it. Those who know, know.

SWWBO has never been here before, and there was much dithering about where to go. We solved that by going to a chinese place for lunch, and considered the question with alcohol laden beverages. Under the influence of the alcohol, the Decidedly Unathletic Duo (including the poorly-shod SWWBO) chose to walk. Reaching the Smithsonian Castle with it's nice Haupt Garden, SWWBO decided she wanted to see ART (The Armorer, having been here several times, is deferring to SWWBO, who has never been here before). So, we're standing next to the Hirshorn... and the asian and african art museums are to the left... so of course, she chooses the Renwick. Which is on the other side of everything.

Espying the Metro, we figure out how to get fare passes (yeah, I know, it's not hard, but there was this nice Metro Guy there who was very helpful and sped the process up considerably) and down we go into the bowels of the city, to emerge a while later at Farragut West, and head for the Renwick. Where we happen upon these guys.

The Falun Gong supporters, showing their displeasure with the visit of Hu-Jintao. They weren't subtle, either. Called the PRC everything but father-raping-baby-eaters.

Falun Gong protest in DC

We wisely missed all the earlier stuff when the High-Muckety-Mucks were doing their thing.

The Renwick is a nice, small, accessible gallery. They are having a Grant Woods exhibit (sorry no pics allowed)- and it was very cool to see American Gothic in the flesh, so to speak. Upstairs, the exhibit of Caitlin's Native American paintings was fascinating - not the least for his whimsy.

SWWBO was taken with this clever swordfish, and really liked this (yes, Werekitten, it really *is* a wearable, though impractical, bracelet) Feast Bracelet.

Leaving the gallery, we went down and saw the Executive Office Building (no Stingers visible) where this veteran of the 1st Infantry Division was pleased to see the Monument still stands - with it's Big Red One. Remember, if you're going to be one, be a Big Red One! No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First! Unless you're tired and crabby and pissed at the leadership, in which case the sotto voce response is... No mission, too difficult. No sacrifice, too great. Duty? First I'll have a beer... it's all the in punctuation.

We wandered over the Ellipse, where we saw the Zero Milestone (geography geeks wiggle in delight) the White House (see above). Then headed up by the Washington Monument, back up the Mall to the Smithsonian Castle, and headed back for the car. *Someone* had blisters. I won't name names, but her initials are SWWBO.

Off then in late rush hour traffic to get on 395, head south past the Pentagon, and into Alexandria and our hotel. We're cashing in SWWBO's points, and she's a high level member, so we got a Top Of The Hotel room with a jacuzzi bath, private rooftop patio, and we ain't spending a dime. Hilton is spending the dime. No, even though we're going to Fran O'Brien's tonight because of the Capital Hilton's behavior - we don't think it's inapt for us to let Hilton foot the bill for our stay here....

SWWBO in Paradise

As is obvious from the picture - SWWBO has more.

April 20, 2006

H&I Fires*, 20 April

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

Today is March on Washington Day... well, not really. It's SWWBO and The Armorer fly, comfortably and for free, to Washington, to get in some sightseeing and attend the Milblogger Conference this weekend.

Hee! I read Jim Dunnigan - I wonder if he reads me?

Oops. The ACLU lost one.

The Snarkatron takes on the latest silliness in the Quota Wars.

Alrighty then. I gotta pack. CYA in DC (or in an airport on the way...) -The Armorer


Mudville Gazette highlights some very interesting background info on the Fran O'Brien's-Hilton saga. - Fuzzybear Lioness


Ah; the great event has begun, all Milblogers in this fair land are coming into D.C. this week-end. Certainly, all the great Monuments and Marbled Buildings will be on the top of everyone's list to hit during their stay. However, there are a few out-of-the way jewels that are hidden here and there for you to discover. Maybe your children are aproaching their 18th B-Day, or you may want to take advantage of The G.I. Bill once you are discharged from the service.

Did you know that, the D.C. Region is graced with World Classed Institutions of Higher Learning?

O.K. Boys, hum me something august and scholarly to march to: ***.

There’s Georgetown (What in Pete’s Sake is a Hoya anyways)
Catholic University, with its graceful Basilica,
Trinity College,
American University,
George Washington University,
George Mason University,
University of Maryland (my 2nd Alma Mater)…

And then there is: ***... UDC.

Then again, why go see The University for Dumb Children.

Have fun everyone!!! - BOQ


The latest on Fran O'Brien's: Buzz Patterson is on the warpath, and I think we've reached the tipping point on this story. - Fuzzybear Lioness

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 20, 2006 | General Commentary

Leave No Man Behind. Ever.

Since I'm about to get on an airplane - I found this story of interest:

The Transportation Security Administration bagged a terrorist in Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday, or so they thought. Daniel Brown's name came up on their no-fly watchlist, so they dragged him into interrogation and grilled him, despite the protestations of Brown and his fellow travelers, who swore they could vouch for him.

Yep. The bureaucrats of the TSA (and I'm a former government employee who still gets a check from the government, I'm inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt - but I've had better interactions with the IRS and VA than I have TSA...) kept us safe - by holding up (and, since he's on the no-fly list, by implication, saying he can *never* fly) Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown, USMCR. The flight they stopped him on?

His return home to Minnesota with his Reserve MP unit. From 8 months in Iraq.

Mind you - he had orders, ID card, and was traveling *with* his unit. The story doesn't say - but I'm betting he was in uniform, too.

Y'know, I don't mind a little zealousness. I really don't. What drives me to distraction is mindless adherence to guidelines as an excuse for the avoidance of a tenth-of-a-degree temperature rise in their cranial cavity caused by a little rational analysis and decision-making. It just drives me crazy when confronted with full-of-their-power drones who fail to avail themselves of the joys of synaptic activity.

So, how did Staff Sergeant Brown find himself on the list? On his previous flight *out* to Iraq, he was discovered to have gunpowder residue on his... wait for it... combat boots. You know, those things we wear to the range when qualifying before we... deploy. To a combat zone. But hey, I guess he can leave, we'll just make sure he can't come back. Good grief. Here's a tack the Brady Campaign can use to harass gun owners. Get 'em on the no-fly list because they... use their legitimately-owned implements. But I digress.

Yet another story of mulish government employees not properly trained, equipped, and supervised (since the supervision suffers the same deficits, that's not likely to offer much improvement anyway) isn't really a story, is it?

This is.

Ultimately, the TSA screeners figured out that Brown really was a Marine, and no threat to his fellow passengers, and let him board a later flight. When he deplaned at MSP, his unit's bus was waiting -- his fellow Marines in it.

Marine 1st Sgt. Drew Benson explained why. "We don't leave anybody behind. We start together, and we finish together." All 26 Marines waited for Brown -- even though their families were waiting for them at a scheduled welcome-home bash at Fort Snelling.

Brown's mother Terry was glad they did. "They all come back together... no matter what it takes and I think that's very important," she told WCCO-TV.

Good on 'em. Hand Salute to 1SG Benson and his Marines. Semper Fi!

The whole, sad story is here, with a tip of the hat to one of the people who feeds my habit, John S.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Apr 20, 2006 | Pugnacious Stupidity
» Quotulatiousness links with: Another anti-terrorism triumph
» Quotulatiousness links with: Another anti-terrorism triumph

April 19, 2006

H&I Fires*, 19 April (Patriot Day) 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

I gotta take the puppies to the kennel. Here's the H&I - have at it. -The Armorer


Okay, since nobody else is doing anything.
The Early Show's Weatherman finds what some of us know to be true: it isn't all bombs, hearses, and tear in Iraq right now despite what we see on the film at 11.

Chicken Soup for Cassie's Soul

Trying to keep in touch with the Second Amendment erosion awarness that The Armorer keeps on these pages.

A few weeks ago, while on my searches on The Web's Back Waters, I came across THIS; something that I do not want to share, but feel that I must.

Sorry no jokes today on a reminder for Patriot Day. - BOQ

[Armorer's note - it is a link to a 9/11 911 call from the World Trade Center. Listen if you have the strength. Be warned if you do not. And any snarky comments (which I don't expect from this crowd, only strangers passing by leaving droppings) will get dumped. That applies only to the 911 call, feel free to snark away at the rest of the stuff.]

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 19, 2006 | General Commentary
» The Yankee Sailor links with: Disperse You Rebels; Damn You!

The Enemy is Reading.

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Heh. Someone else has (openly) discovered the blogs. Worldwide. The CIA.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

It's not just our side, you can rest assured.

Any of you who have been reading this blog from it's earliest days will have noticed the change over time where, in many respects, it grew less informative (and lost a segment of readership) over time, as my awareness of the OPSEC issues as well as changes in my job tasks caused me to rethink the underlying premise I operated from. There's a lot more to it than that - but lemme tell ya, it's frustrating sometimes!

"I can't get into detail of what, but I'll just say the amount of open source reporting that goes into the president's daily brief has gone up rather significantly," Mr. Jardines said. "There has been a real interest at the highest levels of our government, and we've been able to consistently deliver products that are on par with the rest of the intelligence community."

I don't mind being someone that foreign intel services read to gain insight into attitudes and fortitude.

But I don't want to be someone who makes that puppy unhappy. We milbloggers who have insider access, so to speak, need to keep that in mind. For you deployed guys - save it for your postwar books...

The whole story is here. H/t, Tammy.

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by John on Apr 19, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» CIIDG links with: CIA mines ‘rich’ content from blogs
» A Blog For All links with: Rich Content

Concord Hymn

Tipping points.

Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let it begin here!

Captain John Parker's orders to his troops. Like many good quotes, probably apocryphal - but part of the mythos, regardless, and captures the spirit of the restive residents of Massachusetts.

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BY the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, song composed for and sung on
the raising of the Minuteman Statue at Concord Bridge, April 19, 1836.

by Sgt. Benjamin T. Donde</p>

<p>October 4, 2005</p>

<p>As the sun rises, Sgt. Phillip Chang, from the Alaska Army National Guard, patrols the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. This photo appeared on

As the sun rises, Sgt. Phillip Chang, from the Alaska Army National Guard, patrols the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan... some 200-odd years later, who'd have thought a Guardsman named Chang, from Alaska, would be conducting patrols in Afghanistan.

And yes, there are many Founding Fathers who would not approve, on several levels. As there are those that would.

Seeing CAPT H in the commentary, it moves me to add... '...and, while in Afghanistan, working under the command of a (hock, ptui!) Tory General!

The Latest on Fran O'Brien's

Thanks to Andi's World, the general manager of the Hilton in which Fran O'Brien's currently resides agreed to answer questions submitted by milbloggers. The results are in.

Despite Capital Hilton's statement that this was "just business," it's obvious it was bad business. Those with some training and skills in managing or analyzing businesses have been weighing in. Read about it here, here, and here.

There is still hope, though. Hilton has the right to make their business decisions and we have a right to respond as consumers. Here are some ideas for supporting the continuation of the Friday-night dinners and helping other companies who may see this understand what their customers expect from them:

  1. Follow through on the threats that were made to the Hilton brand. The decision to toss Fran's was made at the local level. It was a bad business decision [3 separate links], and the corporate offices are likely to recognize that. If they hear from you (#5 below) and see that they have lost you as a Hilton customer, there is still a chance they will intercede at the Capital Hilton.
  2. Sign the petition. I don't think this will change the local hotel's actions, but it is part of getting corporate Hilton's attention.
  3. Donate to the charity that has been set up to fund the dinners at an alternate location.
  4. Contact your congressional representatives, as Lex has long suggested [Clarification: I am not suggesting congress should be regulating Hilton's behavior on this, but that a congress member might be interested in drawing attention to this situation during an election year, etc.].
  5. Write to Hilton's corporate offices. If you haven't yet written, or you contacted Doyle or Kelleher, you were dealing only with the local Hilton (Capital Hilton). Now is the time to take it to the corporate level (see Flash Traffic). We overwhelmed the Capital Hilton with email and phone calls; we can do it again at the corporate level.
Barring a breakthrough development, this will probably be my last Fran's post at the Castle--I'll include Fran's news in the H&I Fires. You can check Fuzzilicious Thinking for any other updates. - Fuzzybear Lioness

[Corporate Contacts for Hilton are in Flash Traffic below.]

Save Fran O'Brien's
Fran O'Brien's Update
Hilton Replies
Hilton's Behaviour, In a Nutshell
The Inner Circle Speaks
Kelleher Answers Blogger's Questions

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »


This is only a test. Do not be alarmed.

by John on Apr 19, 2006

April 18, 2006

H&I Fires* 18 April

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

IS this on? Is this working? Hello?

Okay, enough screwing around.

Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner on Iran War Plans: "The Issue is Not Whether the Military Option Would Be Used But Who Approved the Start of Operations Already Anyone buying this? Not me, but this is what's being fed to quite a large number of people acrossed the aisle from most Denizens. Is it any wonder that they're apoplectic?

Or how about Billmon's take?

I just don't see it. (Thanks to John Robb who I stole the links from, and to Miss Thang who sent me the Democracy Now! piece about 10 times while I was doing my 30 min bike ride this morning).

Are we already at war with Iran? I seriously doubt it.

I see a few options:
1) CIA foments oppostition groups on a black budget.
2) We do what TPM Barnett wants. Engagement. Let Iran fall the same way the USSR did---from connectivity to the rest of the world.
3) Smash!(Air strikes)
4) Regime Change.
5) Status quo and we have a new generation of children growing up in fear of a nuclear war.

I think 5 is the way it's going to go down. I only have faith in 4, but am willing to try #2. But a #1 on steroids? I seriously doubt it.

Well, back to the cheese eating for ry.


Okay, one more and back to tutoring, becuase John will really love this one. A children's encyclopedia of artillery? In Russian?


Fuzzybear Lioness has another Update on Saving Fran O'Brien's.

Since Mother Sheehan has refused to put up a headstone for Casey, fearing that hate-mongers would deface it (she's wrong, of course, the people who dislike her aren't going to take it out on Casey - and are more likely to *dance* around hers... [no, not me, I don't want any harm to come to her], Casey's father is going to take care of it. -The Armorer


EagleSpeak Remembers: Greetings from Shangri-La to the Emperor of Japan. -The Armorer


Victor Davis Hanson makes me question which is worse - Iraq or California? It's all in the Eye of the Beholder.

Here's one way for you to explore D.C. during your visit, John!
- The Adjutant

{Hee! In keeping with the predilections of The Armorer, we were considering DC Ducks, even if they spell dukw wrong...]


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 18, 2006 | General Commentary
» Political Satire Fake News - The Nose On Your Face links with: "French Defense" May Mitigate Moussaoui Punishment
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Much to read, so little time
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Cindy’s Shenanigans and the Missing Tombstone

My how things change...

Staff Sgt. Chris Ruth (left), a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., and a convoy commander with the 812th QM, helps 2nd Lt. Lee Blumenfeld, a platoon leader with the 58th Quartermaster Company, familiarize with the M 203 grenade launcher. In the background, a Reservist fires the M.K. 19 .40 millimeter grenade launcher. While leaving from a similar exercise in February, members of the 812th caught anti-Iraqi forces digging out a weapons cache just a few miles from the Coalition’s Logistical Support Area Adder. Photo by Staff Sgt. Engels Tejeda.

Staff Sgt. Chris Ruth (left), a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., and a convoy commander with the 812th QM, helps 2nd Lt. Lee Blumenfeld, a platoon leader with the 58th Quartermaster Company, familiarize with the M 203 grenade launcher. In the background, a Reservist fires the M.K. 19 .40 millimeter grenade launcher. While leaving from a similar exercise in February, members of the 812th caught anti-Iraqi forces digging out a weapons cache just a few miles from the Coalition’s Logistical Support Area Adder. Photo by Staff Sgt. Engels Tejeda.

Any of you auld soldiers out there remember how hard it was to get *ring mounts* for your trucks, much less *armor*? Leave aside *weapons*? Despite being famous for preparing to fight the last war... where we reinvented the Gun Truck for convoy defense?

Anybody with some brigade and division staff experience remember how hard it was to get the Combat Service Support units to find the time to shoot their weapons, much less shoot their entire (minimal) allocation of same? I know when I was commanding they were a ready source of ammo if I wanted to shoot *more* than my allocation... I also remember the struggle to get Range Control to allow me to shoot my .50s from the ringmounts - on the move. We ended up building 'elevation blocks' that bolted to the mount to prevent the barrel from being elevated beyond a certain point (which is fair, I wouldn't have wanted to conduct an indirect fire attack on the poor residents of of small town Kansas if the truck hit a bump while going down the table...)

Anybody here share my pessimism that a year or five after we finally depart from Iraq and Afghanistan that it will hard to get those units training like this again?

Or do ya think it will be better?

[Boq - while the timing for the picture isn't right... mebbe something like this was the source of the "bullet" in that picture you sent me.]

Okay -- Here's What It Is...

Like Captain JMH says, context is everything -- and in this case, if I'd shown it in context (below)

Form follows function, all right...

the gun bunnies would have gotten it without even a second thought. As it is, Outlaw 13 nailed it and KCSteve did a pretty good tap dance.

The Mk66 rocket, aka Hydra 70, is spin-stabilized, which is the reason for the scarfed nozzle. The fins do what the fins on any rocket does -- they provide drag to keep the business end pointed toward the target. When they're in storage, the shielding sleeve keeps the fins folded against the motor and allows the rocket to be loaded without much hassle. HomefrontSix nailed the site, just the wrong bit of ordnance. Click here and scroll down to the section on igniters for the line drawing.

Here's what the motor looks like with fins extended.

Form follows function here, too...

If you were curious enough to read the entire blurb at Ordnance-dot-org, you read about the effects of EMI on the Mk66 motor. This particular motor was used in those tests -- notice the little bolt sticking into what would be the exhaust stream? That's where one of the testing receiver's wires were attached.

And I might as well show you the motor in context, too.

Form follows function here, too. Boy, am I getting mileage out of *that* old chestnut...

No, the rocket's *not* live. I'm not completely crazy, y'know...

"Well, Officer, I think the 2.75" holes in the roof, the second story hallway floor, the kitchen ceiling and floor and the basement ceiling were caused by a meteorite which detonated milliseconds before impacting the basement floor -- which is why it's scorched and not cratered. Ummmm -- you're familiar with the Tunguska Event, right? Sooooo, that's my theory, anyway..."

Oh, yeah -- almost forgot about that little hole in the sleeve. That's a dual-function hole: it allows you to touch the fins with a grounding rod *and* (if it's aligned properly) it simplifies loading the rocket into the launcher to guarantee the igniter arm makes proper contact with the motor.

Nice guesses, guys (ummmm -- a *bracelet*, ma'am? Heh!) Just to keep you on your toes, here's a heads'-up: I've got one of the EMI testing receivers, too (no, it isn't a bag of microwaveable popcorn. But it'd have been interesting if I'd stuck one inside the cockpit while we were doing the flights, just to see if the EMI was frying *us* along with the simulated ordnance).

I'll just wait 'til John's short term memory does its thing before I stick *that* little jewel here...

UPDATE: Geez, speaking of short-term memory -- the orange stripe is actually a strip of reinforced tape with "How To" illustrations. John was thinking standard ordnance colors (yellow, olive drab, blue, etc.), but us Aviation types usually rearmed in the weeds and, if the sleeve was dropped around the aircraft (where do you think I got my collection?), the orange made it easy to spot and retrieve before the thing could be turned into a rotorwash-launched missile. And HomefrontSix did rather well, considering she's married to a tandem-rotored truck driver -- she'd have been more familiar with things that went *bang* if these guys were still around.

April 17, 2006

H&I Fires* 17 April

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

On this day in 1421... Just a thought on the failure of levees. Not giving anybody slack for what happened at New Orleans - but here have been much worse. Might explain why the Van Amstel stopped by to help. They understood. Suleyman of Manhole Music Tea Room has more on the subject. What a difference sattellite uplinks in TV coverage makes in our impressions of events, eh?

1961 - Proud chapter in JFK's Presidency. The Bay of Pigs. Rather than all the usual suspects, let's take a look at the website of the Cuban exiles who attempted the invasion - Brigada di Asalto 2506. -The Armorer


Today's must-read: just because someone's nutty doesn't mean he doesn't mean what he says [h/t Chapomatic].

A Petition for Fran O'Brien's - FbL


Yep; by the looks, this here Taji is all business when it comes to a swift and vicious Tactical Urban Assault


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 17, 2006 | General Commentary

Okay -- What's This?

No, not the bottle. You already know what *that* is. I hope...

The bottle is now as empty as the thing next to it. You've gotta be quicker, Ry.

There actually *is* a colored band on the critter -- I've PhotoShopped the relevant details out just to keep the playing field level, but the hole in the side is real and just about big enough to give a house-hunting wren some real frustration.

It's just a plain aluminum tube

See? Told you it was open at both ends...

with a very important job. And I found it at the second site I Googled (well, only a line drawing of it, but it included all the relevant details), so it's out there...

And, no, Neffi -- it's *not* André's shaving mug.

April 16, 2006

H&I* Fires 16 April

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

{snipped previously posted stuff because of an error in the tax return. The refunds will *no longer* support my previously input fantasy}

Anyway, hopefully readership is down today because you're all out doing something fun and interesting with family and friends.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Have a good day! -The Armorer


Ah, heck. I can't resist. Texas Lawyers are Entertaining! (serious potty-mouth warning)

I can work with these people... though I suspect many of them will still try to Seize the Arsenal as full of items inapt for ownership by mere mortals, reserved only to minions of the state. -The Armorer


Fran O'Brien's: The Italian Connection. Our Italian allies have been on the case for quite awhile.

And a question: "What Kind of Easter Candy are You?"

More on Fran's from a perspective I hadn't completely grasped before: The Corporate/Political Impact - FbL

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Apr 16, 2006 | General Commentary
» Stop The ACLU links with: Easter Sunday Funnies

The Vacant Chair.

The Vacant Chair

Here at the Castle we get emails like this one I'm about to share, now and again. Today is Easter for the Christian world, so this seems appropriate. I am a man with faith, though I do not seek a relationship through the offices of any particular organized community of faith. Yesterday, Blue Star Chronicles left a trackback on the H&I which I thought needed to be moved up into the post itself.

Titled, "Final Salute" it is more about her concerns for her son's impending deployment to the Big Sandbox, and the pain she's seen already, and she wonders how we all cope.

That motivated frequent commenter Gwedd, a retired Navy aircrewman, to send along this (edited just a touch for privacy).


I was reading the post linked to today over to Blue Star Chronicles about how Beth there is worried about her son deploying soon. The "600 pound elephant in the room", and also her links to the story about a Marine casualty returning home. I had the honor to perform this duty back in 1978, and it's something I will never forget. Not only because of the whole experience, but because I knew the sailor who I escorted home. He was a friend, and that made it both easier and harder.

Anyway, I thought also about how others deal with this, and one commenter on her blog remarked about an empty chair at the table. This immediately reminded me of an old civil war song entitled "The Vacant Chair", by George F. Root. It's maudlin and poignant and yet still rings through 145 years to today. I've included the lyrics for your perusal.

Thanks for the great weblog you fellers run. It's always a good read for this old airdale.




We will meet but we will miss him,
There will be his vacant chair;
We will linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;
When a year ago we gathered,
Joy was in his mild blue eye,
But a golden chord is severed,
And our hopes in ruin lie.

We will meet, but we will miss him,
There will be his vacant chair,
We will linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer.

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell
At remembrance of the story,
How our noble father fell;
How he strove to bear our banner
Through the thickest of the fight;
And uphold our country's honor,
In the strength of manhood's fight.

True, they tell us wreaths of glory
Ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only,
Sweeping o'er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, Oh early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed.
Dirges from the pine and cypress
Mingle with the tears we shed.

'Tis more than just a song.

I know I'm mangling theology here (for which I will be punished by my more ecclesiastically-learned colleagues on Monday) but I see an easy Easter tie-in.

What is a Church, but a Vacant Chair? A place to focus the thoughts on sacrifice and promise of redemption, and a better future? And what is Easter but the single most intense moment of that Promise? And the hope for an eventual reunion?

Happy Easter. Go hang with your family and friends. In Church, if you want.

Salisbury Cathedral