Monday, May 26, 2008

Serve and Protect

It truly is a deep calling that brings men and women to wish to give of their life, their precious hours, to help others. To be sure, there are some for whom the uniform and badge is a temporary costume or a way to present a strength they do not own. But for others? It is just what you have to do, else the echoes in that hall of the mind don't quiet.


His Grandpa cut a fine form in his own uniform, garnering his own collection of medals. The Purple Heart and the Bronze Star were there as well as others that I did not know. He was always able to relate those stories with a smile and glint in his eye though we know those days were hard and cold for a southern man who'd never ventured far from his home.

I suspect that is what gave Trooper his start. All those stories and the movies Grandpa loved...the same smile in the same country, decades apart and mere miles.

I love this photo with all his youth showing and the cheekbones of his great grandparents whose families were also tremendous fighters. His skills, honed with grandpa and extended through his silent jaunts in North Georgia woods, were gathered knowing his future. And today, they continue to serve him as he strives to do the very best he can to deserve the honor that his uniform demands.

And it happens moment after moment, coast to coast, from one time zone to another and in every possible location of the world. We are fortunate to have them, that stalwart line between us and what we cannot manage alone. So easy to forget them...let one day be theirs. Just this one day...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One

"Out of every 100 men, 10 should not even be here, 80 are nothing but targets, 9 are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they the battle make."





"Ah, but the ONE, ONE of them is a WARRIOR, and he will bring the others back."


Heraclitus, 500 BC





Here's a salute to each and all...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

En Brochette

Oh, this is rich...loved every word. You've been served. Go - read. Spew beverage.

Of course, Birmingham has an elite who travel all over Europe. But only one-sixth of all Americans possess a passport,

That’s because our nation is HUGE, pal; of course Belgians all have passports;their country is the size of an average American rumpus room. They've burned out every available domestic vacation option by the time the kids are six - whereas this joint is so big our senior citizens retire, buy moving houses, and devote themselves to visiting each of the fifty states. Plus, we don’t need passports to go to Mexico, which one could spend another lifetime exploring. Europe’s wonderful, but sometimes when you think “vacation” you’re not in the mood for rain and indifference, no matter how much aristocratically-commissioned beauty you have.

. . . and in Alabama the proportion is much lower. One suspects the European geography of many people here goes no further than the playground rhyme:"I see London, I see FranceI see ------- in her underpants."

Let’s recap: our correspondent is sitting in an Olive Garden chain restaurant - a successful chain devoted to celebrating the cuisine of another country, a chain whose menu is full of references to old Italia. He has deduced that the food is generous, filling, and does not vary from outlet to outlet. From his window seat, he concludes that Alabama stretches in all directions, and when it bleeds into another state, there is no significant rupture in the taxation structure or rules of the road. The one chap he has engaged has been able to name three European countries, and has a job piping satellite TV (According to the home page for the Birmingham Dish TV affiliate, the first upgrade package includes the BBC channel). His conclusion: “one suspects” that they know nothing more of Europe than a children’s ditty. One suspects that poor Steve will be the only local cited in this story - especially since the night clerk at the Holiday Inn turned out to be an International Relations major at the local college, is writing his thesis on Chamberlain and Disraeli, and engaged the correspondent at length the other night until the correspondent wanted to shout I don’t know, okay? Just because I’m English doesn’t mean I know what Gladstone would have done in a postcolonial diplomatic construct! Christ!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Target

So we were at the range yesterday while Trooper tried out for the state pistol team. There were over 20 guys there (no gals!) - all very damned good. Some insanely dedicated to the art. It was a long, hot morning and he shot well but there was no way to compete with those top 10. In an optimal score of 600, the lowest to make the team was about 565. Trooper had a 507.

Mind you, the top guys all had honkin' revolvers with uber-sights and a gazillion hours dedicated to them. I think he did very well considering the company. And particularly considering it is not his forte. No, let us look instead at how he did in the other training this week...

Room entry after a couple other guys, neither of whom check the corner. There stood his trainee, the bad guy. Lifting the simunitions weapon...3 shots, on the move, 30 ft away. Chin, nose, between the eyes. Yes, his skills lie elsewhere - not on a paper target on a safe, pretty range. I can tell you which skill I'd prefer to have myself.

In other news...
I read this elsewhere and was astounded!

Barack Obama's statement, "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want
and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that
other countries are going to say OK."


Do I give a good goddamn for the approval of anyone for what I choose to do? From whence comes this prolific concern for the blessing of every penny ante dictator and his minions? And, to be frank, it echoes in some strange way something I've heard or read in the past - some communistic graf or another...because I assure you that the adding on of "other countries" replaced something akin to "your government" in someones draft.

Frightening to think that there are thousands of people giving that sort of "thinking" a thumbs up.

We're going to need more ammo.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Life in Texas

I happen to love it here. A lot. And a WHOLE lot more than when I lived long ago in other parts of the state.

I can drive down the road with my darlin' man - as we did the other weekend - with the windows down and that central Texas breeze blowing and just singing that song...remembering when we were still in Georgia and wondering if he'd get that letter...our hands reach across to each other and tears roll and dry in that breeze.

I can't say why we found each other or why we both wound up back here. But it's a fine place to land for this last part of our lives. The closing chapters will be spent looking over its grassy hills or barren desert, holding hands and remembering these days.


But there are other reasons, too, to be thankful for this place. For the price of a single steak dinner (without drinks) in town - well, we have our own beer and our own table and the glory of the rib eye. And not just any, no - gorgeous, gigantic, Ranger bone possessing, delicious rib eyes.

Before.... And After....





Now, seriously, can you beat that? The monsters are two meals per. Trooper prefers his leftover portion the next morning with his eggs.

I like to put mine on a nice salad with some blue cheese.

This one doesn't care how it comes just as long as it does make its way to him.
We feasted and then just lay there, too full to consider the lemon pound cake. Ranger ate on that bone for 2 hours, just savoring the dang thing.

I wish I could express this place in clearer terms. It isn't like Dallas or Houston with buildings everywhere. It's rural with boots and hats everywhere. No one looks twice and everyone knows everyone else. And even if you don't you do the lifted finger on the steering wheel greeting as you pass on the road. Or wave at the farmer driving his tractor 15 mph down the road as you go by.

Back in the fall, I think it was, we drove by as some guys were using their implements to turn the hay into square bales. I made Trooper pull over so I could see it all work. Before long, the gentlemen took a break and the driver walked over to the fenceline. A young man, Trooper just explained, laughingly, how I'd never seen a baler at work and wanted to watch. He just pulled on his cap and gave a shy smile. They spoke a bit about how much land they had and some arcane farming stuff and then we went on our way as the man returned to his work.

It's the small stuff like that, you see. Men tipping hats or bending heads to ladies as they pass. Holding doors. Fields full of prolific wonder that took men long hours and gallons of sweat to manage. Time moves...differently here. It isn't the clock that dictates the work but the sun.

How I love it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Make An Effort

Can I just tell you how sick I am of listening this lovely cool evening to the SHRIEKS of the demon spawn in the neighborhood? One cannot even enjoy the evening for the blood curdling sounds that emit from the maws of the "children". How is one to know if something truly awful is happening to them?

And not only here - no, everywhere I go children are conversing and otherwise communicating in tones and language that was unheard of in my time. If we screamed that way there had better be weapons and/or blood and broken bones involved. Matter of fact, my father once stopped the car on the side of the road, thinking one of us was hurt, only to find that we'd gotten a bit loud in our complaints.

We each got back in the car with a sore ass and a quiet demeanor.

In the grocery was a child telling their parent that they were, by God, going to buy that cereal or else. And a delightful little girl took delight in running down an aisle then literally screaming at the top of her lungs. I stopped her, told her to stop it this instant. She looked surprised only a moment until the frustrated older sister - perhaps 10 - rolled around the corner. And the game began again with a very pointed look at me as she screamed.

I don't comprehend it. How can a parent allow that to even take place after the age of 2? A sharp smack to the face tends to put a halt to that sort of thing. And if you think that's wrong then I do hope your child is one of sweetness and light. There is nothing wrong with corporal punishment. Look around you to see the results of the pain-free child rearing - drugs, piercings and a disdain for logic and honor that astounds.

Seriously: how hard is it to raise a child into a proper behaving young person rather than a bellowing savage? Trust me - I raised a sheer genius of a girl for 4 years. I've dealt with the screaming fits (a cold shower helps if they can sustain it a full hour in their room). I know about back talk and lying. Showing your utter disappointment in them can often make more impact than words.

I fear for the future. I truly do. Because these animals will be in charge. Frightening.

Eating Humble Pie - With Chopsticks

A recent post here delineated "China's 16-Character Policy: 'Combine the military and the civil; combine peace and war; give priority to military products; let the civil support the military.'"

"As we content ourselves with the fallacy that never again shall we have to fight large, technological opponents, China is transforming its forces into a full-spectrum military capable of major operations and remote power projection. Eventually the twain shall meet. By the same token, our sharp nuclear reductions and China's acquisitions of ballistic-missile submarines and multiple-warhead mobile missiles will eventually come level. The China that has threatened to turn Los Angeles to cinder is arguably more cavalier about nuclear weapons than are we, and may find parity a stimulus to brinkmanship. Who will blink first, a Barack Obama (who even now blinks like Betty Boop) or a Hu Jintao?"
Look here for an interesting update on the whole Chinese Navy thing...

"The threat from Chinese submarines, long touted by "hard liners" in the West, now includes the ballistic missile submarine base and protective tunnels for the craft being constructed at Sanya on the southern tip of Hainan Island in the South China Sea."

Now, this isn't news exactly (to those maintaining an interestbut what is interesting is the escalation of the news. What was once merely bandied about amongst those in the know and here and there on the net is now finding its way to mainline media. I have to hope that it won't take long for all the pieces to fit together...

Like this tidbit neatly placed nearby...

"There are over 100 million computers that have been compromised and are now part of botnets. The largest botnet is thought to owned and operated by the RBN -- Russian Business Network. They lease capacity of their botnet for spamming and other more sinister purposes. The second largest botnet is owned and operated by the Chinese military. The estimated size of their botnet is put at 85 million and growing fast."

Add in the fact that a gazillion components come from China and we are set up for a massive data mining operation that will be sufficient to give them an upper hand in any transaction. Think your corporate merger plans are unknown? Or fiscal issues? Stock pricing concerns?

Does anyone recall this taking place?
"In January 2002, Loral reached a settlement with the U.S. Government in a case
relating to the company’s involvement in a review of a Chinese rocket
launch failure in 1996
. Loral agreed to pay a civil fine of $14
million
to the State Department without admitting or denying the
government’s charges." [Emphasis my own.]

Now, in the process of "going broke" it managed to transfer its assets to eventually start XTAR. They have managed to recoup that loss, I take it...
"On 05 Nov 2007, XTAR announced that it had received a new contract from the US General Services Administration. The contract has an unlimited spending ceiling and
may be used by any federal, state or local agency to acquire XTAR's high-powered
X-band bandwidth and services."

Again, all things just randomly connected....with the most slender of threads - like silk.
Back again to 1996...
  • On February 14, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) space launch vehicle crashed destroying the Loral Space & Communications satellite it was carrying. PRC officials kept American investigators away from the crash scene. When they were finally allowed access, they found the militarily sensitive encryption chips were missing even though their encasing was left intact (encryption technology denies outsiders access to, or control over, American satellites in space). Loral and Hughes Electronics' engineers were accused of giving missile secrets to China in the ensuing investigation of the launch failure.[6][7][8][9]
  • On March 27, Energy Department officials were notified by an American agent that it appeared the PRC recently stole U.S. neutron bomb secrets.[10]
  • Sometime in April 1996, intelligence analyst Ronald Pandolfi wrote a report for the CIA warning about military implications of Hughes Electronics' sharing of missile expertise with the PRC. The CIA decided not to distribute the classified report to select government officials, as is routinely done with intelligence estimates, saying it was insufficiently rigorous. The report would be kept from Congress until late 1998.[11]

Do you see the long game being played here? And just how close we are to the end thereof? The earthquake may put it off a time - or, if their somewhat artificial economy demands it - escalate the matter.

But it's dull, no? It isn't full of fake tits or weaves, micro minis or "reality". No, it demands study, logic, and a concern for national security that extends beyond some sort of simple-minded platitude about "bring the boys home". And this is just one country. We've an entire handful of them to consider. If we can pull ourselves away from American Idol.

Fucking morons. "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

Rock Your Body

I absolutely love Parkour and its mate, Freerunning. I wish to hell I could do it. I haven't run since I was 12 - about the time the ginormous boobage came into my life - but I can just sense it when I see it.

I was reminded of the skills with the new 3 Doors Down video. The gentleman featured there, Gabe Nunez, is from this group of madmen. I didn't know they were part of the following Paul Oakenfold video - it's a favorite song of mine...



What I wouldn't do to turn the clock back a couple decades...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Memory of Denys

Born 24th April 1887, died 14th May 1931

It was today that his soul fell from the sky only to traverse it sans wings. There are so many stories told of his life - and death. A few come to mind for me...At Eton he had a trick of running full long at a chair, able to hit it and roll and come back up sitting in it. I think it was noted in the very fine book, Silence Will Speak by Errol Trzebinski.

There is another story of the day he died - that his good friend and aviatrix, Beryl Markham, was invited to fly with him. Her friend, Tom Black, - and incredible aviator in his own right - had a premonition about the flight and asked her to not fly with him. She did as he asked and declined the offer. So Denys stayed (after his propeller had to be replaced and he was awaiting a part) with friends at Voi, Mr. & Mrs. Layzell.

They lived near an airstrip and Mrs. Layzell was to drive him there. Her two daughters begged to come along and there, before he left, he asked their mother if she wanted to fly. Her youngest child became hysterical so she declined. His craft fell very shortly after takeoff.

Tania drove into town, unwittingly, only to see a sort of morose look on the faces there, all of them turning away from her. She had a remembrance of the days during the war when she wasn't trusted. Lady Macmillan had invited her to lunch and afterward, broke the news to her.

It was only afterward that the new governor allowed her to find land in the reserve for her Kikuyu families. A sort of mercy, it is thought, for what everyone knew was a tremendous loss heaped upon an unbearable misery.

You can see a nice article about and photos of his gravesite here.

He was an incredible individual who lived his life unapologetically, ignoring demands of birth and society. There is so little of that around, now...he'd hate it here...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moving Sounds

I can hardly remember when I first saw the special on PBS regarding the gentlemen (and lady!) who produce this music. It has been a decade since and so little has changed for the average Cuban resident. But the voice of Ibrahim Ferrer changed my opinion of the music...in his rheumy eyes was the glint of his former self, his pleasure at returning once more to the grand stage.

If you've not seen the film or experienced the music, it's well worth the time and effort. So many of them are gone, now. Or you can go here to see a snippet...lovely...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lightfoot Lads

Being a supporter of a strong military I tend to lean towards the forces with...an echoing envy. What I ought to have done when I was 18 instead of what I chose to do often makes me melancholy. I'd have been one of those Careerists - once I commit to a thing that's it.

So reading this post I found myself quite moved. How to leave it behind and yet not wait too late to do so? After all, you need your health and something of your youth in order to move on to something - anything - else.

And how often I've seen the old military portraits, the medals and uniforms with frayed ribbons laying in piles at a flea market. He writes of putting your fist in a bucket of water and pulling it out - of how that is the hole you leave when you exit the world. And that is the most succinct way of putting it I've ever read.

It is precisely how I feel about my own life.

Once gone, all these words, feelings and thoughts will be rendered silent and meaningless. No one will care. It truly won't matter at all what I did or did not do. And in that...pointlessness...there is much freedom. It is what comes from being willing to be the end of the line.

Still, to all those who went before from Milite to Field Marshall - to them do I give my greatest admiration and respect. A toast to them all and the words I always silently offer, "Through a glass, darkly..."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Beauty in the Beastly World

Read about these two recently - what glorious beauty in the human form! I am not a balletomane. Nor do I have any real knowledge of dance - I don't do it unless a great deal of tequila is involved. But I know what is lovely and this is it. Roberto, Roberto, Roberto...



And look, too, at the sheer conjuring being done by Eva. If you don't feel her, you aren't paying attention.



Mmmm....delicious.

The Amish: Our Best Defense

So...I've been thinking now and then about the markets and how they will react when everything goes to hell. Electronic paycheck? Pfft! Money in the bank? See ya! Stocks, bonds and all that jazz? Toodles, dahlink. Essentially, we've decided to move our entire world, our lives, our incomes to binary land, just trusting that it will always be there.

Not if the Chinese plan works.
China's Cyber Warfare Doctrine is designed to achieve global "electronic
dominance" by 2050 which would include the capability of disruption of the information
infrastructure
of their enemies. This doctrine includes strategies that
would disrupt financial markets, military and civilian communications
capabilities as well as other parts of the enemy's critical infrastructure prior
to the initiation of traditional military operations. With all the attacks that
have been attributed to China, there has to be significant intelligence out
there about techniques, cyber weapons and strategies that have been used in
these cyber assaults. The proliferation of China's cyber capabilities will be
the topic of a Congressional hearing in DC on May 20th. This hearing will
examine "China's Proliferation Practices and the Development of its Cyber
and Space Warfare Capabilities
."Military and intelligence sources have known
that Chinese cyber forces have developed these detailed plans for cyber attacks
against the United States and others. It is believed that the plans for such an
attack were drawn under the direction of the People's
Liberation Army
(PLA).

Now, I don't intend this to be a slur against an entire country and the population therein. However, any sweet nothings that you hear whispered in your ear are just the platitudes of a rapist. The time will come: their sheer numbers will demand it. And all your 1's and 0's will be theirs.

So for me the key is to have other wealth - tangible valuables. And skills that will be of use. I can't be certain it will be a requirement in my lifetime as I am something of a geezer. But the failure of the system seems to me an assured development. Not If but When.

All the chit chat about global warming - oh jeez, did they change the label again? - global changing weather?! - WTFever...those conversations will be stilted as the adherents try to figure out how to chop wood with a hand ax. All those fake nails and highlights? Useless. I actually get a bit of a giggle when I think about it.

Hey - I could be wrong. I sure hope so. But I'm not betting on it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

And...a little something for the guys...

...and maybe some girls, too. Hey, let's not judge. Right? (I love this album...)

Darker Rain

Or should that be reign? I am in a...bleak humor today...



Or maybe something more like this..."gotta green light..."

Towers and Cows

Madness of late at the office and it will not improve for some time. A weekend of ups and downs. Or vice versa if we're thinking chronologically. A very upsetting Saturday followed by a long motorcycle ride Sunday to clear the mind. But it was all back here waiting on Monday...


We spent Sunday evening with friends who have the perfect old country home - tiny but...so peaceful...the cows got into the wrong pasture so we all loaded up in the old truck and herded them back across the hot wire. Which then had to be restrung. The boys looked so...western.


Of course, Ranger's best pal lives there and you can see how they don't get along at all. Ah, well - that's a lie. They tussle and play for hours. This time Ranger had a wading pool to get in and took full advantage. Made a hellacious mess, too. A bad guest...

I like this view - in full gallop while his pal is putting on the brakes to turn and avoid the ball thievery on Ranger's mind. Amusingly, Ranger had ducked under the other hot wire to go see the cows in the pasture, hardly even looking back - just heading off for an adventure until we called him back. Crazy fool dog.


What I wouldn't give to have that pasture and a place there and not ever again deal with another moronic corporate type.