Thursday, 31 July 2008

Salim Ahmed Hamdan

So, somewhere amongst all of the court doings of today in Gitmo....with the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan up....the evil....the absolute evil Hamdan.....formerly the driver of Ossama.....came to a curious point today.

The military's prime case is that this guy is a huge player in the planning and effort to carry out the Ossama plans. Of course, the Hamdan defense is that he's a mere driver and no more.

So somewhere in the droppings of data today....someone actually was able to say that Hamdan has a fourth-grade education....and it got entered into the facts. I kinda sat there......with all of the greatly hidden classified data that Gimo pronounces that exist.....is that the fact that a 4th grade graduate was a big-time player in 9-11.

Somehow....I'm sitting wondering how this really works, but then the Gitmo prosecutor and the White House really don't grasp this significance. If this guy really is a 4th grade drop-out, and did all of this evil planning and such.....then we'll finished as a society. Those 4th grade drops-outs are brilliant, and we can't match their strength. Course, only a fool would think that.....and I'm guessing that the prosecutor allowed the comment....in hopes of getting this case dumped.

It'll be hard for a military officer to convince himself that a 4th grader was able to contemplate the details and carry this much out. The longer that Gitmo goes on.....the lesser of an impact I think will occur out of this. It becomes a pretty sad case of American justice.

The Value of Wikipedia: Zero

Last year....I sat down and began reading up on a topic....and eventually came around to Wiki. This topic had to do with a cult group. As I read across Wiki, it suddenly hit me that the slant of the writing was very pro-support, rather than to analyze. The entire article fell into this category. I went to another cult group, and found the same support slant on writing. I came to question Wiki. This suspicion of poor authority and dimwitted writing support was upsetting me.

As I read across to college professor comments on Wiki.....there were the gradual feelings that Wiki couldn't be used to quote knowledge or references. Once this event occurs.....even if this a dozen professors here and there....you've got a problem.

This past week, we had the John Edwards event occur in LA. The National Enquirer triggered the event, and had a fair amount of Enquirer information on John's liaison, the girlfriend, the $15k a month he pays her to stay hidden, and the hours that John spent in the hotel (more than two). After the story fell out into the open.....some folks went to Wiki to update John's page. Then they discovered that th editor who controls the page....wouldn't let the comment stick. There were some aggravated feelings here.

It became obvious that the editor who held authority over the page....didn't want anything that was connected to the National Enquirer on that page. What isn't obvious is whether they were protecting John Edwards or simply protecting the integrity of the page itself. At some point, the complaints mounted, and Wiki made a decision to freeze the page for around five days (more or less). The page was unfrozen today.....and a line or two was allowed in....suggesting the National Enquirer event....but not much more.

Perhaps a bit off here...but I suddenly have this feeling of 1984 and Animal Farm in my mind. When is a article...not an article? When is a bit of information not documented? When is a bit of knowledge captured?

Over the past year, I've noted well over fifty different topics on Wiki...which are not complete...and in some cases...containing material written by a "ghost" for the topic subject. Try a dozen different cult leaders or major cults in America. Try a number of major Democratic leaders who've been prosecuted over the past five years. Go attempt to input the names of the various women associated with Bill Clinton into a Wiki item...it won't pass the editor involved.

If George Orwell existed today...he'd be very busy on a new novel...about "Wiki-inary" (Imaginary truth, with imaginary facts.....blended in imaginary grammar....to give you imaginary history). Wonder why a growing number of history professors refuse to allow references back to Wiki?

Pump It Up: Afghanistan

So it was announced late yesterday that the Germans and NATO are playing with the idea of deploying AWACs to Afghanistan. Most folks just kinda stood there in awe and shock....at a tremendous waste of an asset in such a war. The key here....for those who don't grasp it....is that the aircraft...if there are two tasked on this deal....will involve at least 500 troops and support personnel and pumps up Germany's number for war support.

What is gained? Well....another C-160 will leave Germany each week with four more pallets of beer....and thats about it. It looks good on TV, and the boys will be up at 30,000....very safe....and in bed by midnight. Thats about it. Kinda amusing in some ways...but typisch German.

The normal function of AWACs? Controlling massive air assets and attacks. So there isn't that much to control.....and its just another good PR job by Germany.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A PhD in UFO Studies or Bigfoot?

Today....a major newspaper (the Spokesman-Review....out of Spokane, which I barely read one a decade, if ever)....and has published the names of 9,612 folks who bought phony degrees from a Spokane-based diploma mill. Somewhere in the midst of this the US Department of Justice just didn't want to force the business to release the names of folks associated with the diploma mill....and the paper just said....'damn' and published them anyway. The curious thing here is that 135 people had some kinda tie to the US military, and at least 39 had addresses which were tied to educational institutions. We can also report that seventeen were employed in some fashion by government agencies.

So, let analyze this Ripley style. For those without the knowledge of diploma mills....its basically an organization that claims accreditation to hand out degrees....but they are purely lying. You basically pay around $400 and get a

bachelor's degree, and around $700 for a masters degree. You get a nice certificate on paper, and everything looks legitimate. The key factor here is that the US government has significant numbers of jobs which require a degree....and some folks don't want to waste their time....on stupid classes. So they pay for the degree, and get the job....and quietly do the same work as educated folks.

The curious thing is that one New Jersey dude paid $24k for 16 degrees, including one for a doctorate in theology. I'm guessing he runs some kinda church operation currently....and blesses folks....and takes their money. They also had at least 800 folks who bought a PhD degree.

To be quiet honest....I've always thought about getting a bogus degree....to compliment my two bachelor degrees and three associate degrees....which are all truly earned (with sweat and wit). It'd be cool to walk around and claim that I had a PhD in monkey science or a Masters in Bolivian Animal Testicle study or a PhD in UFO Studies. It'd make me feel better and I'd probably impress more folks....with my keen knowledge, which is mostly from reading journals, science reports from the internet, and the London Times.

What happens here next? Well....some folks are are going to get a call from the department boss next week....asking to bring a bunch of paperwork over. They will find out that their GS-13 job with the Forestry department is now in jeopardy. There will be a short discussion where they will be offered 24-hours to resign, or be fired. The smart guy will resign....and try to get his degree work done now. How many NCO's or officers will have such a degree out of the 135? I'll bet less than ten....with the less being civilian workers...mostly in the GS-11 or GS-12 level.

There are two points here. This isn't the end of the diploma mills episode....because folks will just reopen more of these....somewhere else. The sad truth is that folks really don't care to sit in class to earn a degree that they consider worthless. But the second point is even more interesting. Most folks around or under these "cheaters", never noted that the guy was a diploma mill graduate. If you ask about a degree....and the name is given....then you can ask the base or post education center....to confirm its legit or not. Obviously.....a lot of folks didn't do their work in checking potential employees out. And some bosses never noticed that the guy wasn't that smart....which is kinda amusing now to look back upon.

So I sit here....wondering and pondering....what would have happened to my career...if only I'd spent that $900 on a PhD in German beer science....and where I might have gone in life? I might have been management or something...you know?

A Dark Day Over Elmendorf

The best that we actually know is that a 1-star Air Force general shot himself on Sunday night...at his onbase house at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. His name? Thomas L. Tinsley. There is virtually nothing else. No letter. No ideas about why. That should be about it....at least if you were relied on regular news.

So I dug. Around four years ago, Lt Col Tinsley was the squadron commander of newest Raptor squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia. He finished up the job....made rank....and went to the be the Exec of then 4-Star General Mosley.....chief of staff of the Air Force. Around this period of 2004 to 2006, an episode occurred at Nellis AFB, NV. The Thunderbirds demonstration unit found this guy, or he found them....who wanted to enhance their show as they toured America....with video and audio.

A contract was written up....to be awarded to someone there at Nellis (outside of Vegas). The guy that the AF wanted to give the contract to....bid $50 million. The number two bid would normally be a bit more....well....it wasn't. It was around $25 million. Normally....there would be a review....to see if someone misunderstood the bid....namely the $50 million guy or the $25 million guy. The AF leadership said no....they picked the $50 million guy. Contracting on base said this was WRONG. The AF leadership said sorry....but we are going ahead. So someone handed over this over to investigate, without asking the generals. Normally....it'd go to OSI.....but for some reason....which no one has fully explained yet.....it went to the FBI. It was a federal offense now.

There were a couple of contracts that folks began to figure out as being suspect. All led back to the AF headquarters at the Pentagon, and involved a number of figures....all of which had stars. And yes, General Mosley was one of the figures in the middle.

My guess is that the FBI were either coming to visit Tinsley for the first time....because he was in the middle of this mess and should have known everything.....or this was the second visit, of which they knew he was lying and were going to entrap him. In any case....it was the end for him.

Maybe I'm wrong. I would actually wish that in this case. But these idiots who run the leadership have made huge fools of themselves in public....and their reputations are now beginning to fall apart. Adding to this burden, is the fact that some folks tried to protect other folks....and I'm guessing the FBI has moved onto the next guy in line...who knows just as much.

More suicides? Maybe. I doubt that we are done on this yet. The chance of a general doing federal jail time? Well....at this point....nothing would surprise me.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Denver Convention



A group of anarchists came up on Monday, meeting in the heart of Denver, nd actually promised they would go away, if only Denver would invest the $50 million in federal security grants the city is receiving for the Democratic convention.....into the community instead.

I sat and paused over this act of great compassion by the anarchists. It shows they are kindly people and could potentially be the type to sit on my porch. Well....potentially.....but to be honest....the minute I realize they are anarchists....they kinda lose all porch privileges, and are regulated to the corner of the yard where the septic tank lies....and leaks.

This is my humble opinion. In recent weeks....some unkindly cops and county officals have decided that they can add "gas-fees" onto traffic tickets. I think this is crap.....but they say its pretty legal and just fair in getting their cop expenditures back. So I'd like to use this same idea and for a 30-day period in Denver.....offer a $1,500 arrest-fee onto anyone who is arrested for a disturbance with the city....as an additional fee...on top of the normal fee that the court would assign.

Adding to this....I'd like to assign a $15,000 fee to any guy arrested with a potential weapon in his hand during the convention....to include rocks and anything in your hands that weighs more than 8 pounds.

The money will be taken to pay for all the cops.....and at the end....any profit....will be used to buy all city residents free cable TV for as long as possible.

And to make this real popular? I'd like to have buses lined up in Chicago, New York City, Seattle, and Portland....to bring radical anarchists over to Denver....the more.....the merrier. No cash to pay for their bills? Then we just keep them in Denver jails until their relatives or friends pay.....with a credit of $35 a day for each day they sit there. I'm thinking they will think long and hard about the trouble they want to cause in Denver.

Damn Fires

There was an excellent article from the LA Times today....which is awful rare to find such flowing information. They basically laid out a terrible secret that you probably didn't really want to know. Sadly....the millions that are spent on aircraft to handle forest fires throughout America.....are a total waste, with no provable results.

Its something that most folks have suspected for fifty years. Using aircraft to fight fires....didn't really take off until the 1950s. It was in the 1970s....where everyone starting demanding more money and more capability. When you look across at various states and the federal government....its a significant amount of money that they throw at this concept. The plus-up from this? Well....the cameras capture the pictures and folks actually think it makes a difference. The experts kinda smirk.....because the public now demands this action...with no true benefit.

I paused here and considered the America of the 1870s and 1880s....where fires came and went throughout the land....and no helicopters or aircraft dumped water or retardant on anything. The Chicago fire? Nothing. The London fire of 1666? Nothing. We basically got by until the 1950s.....without any real assistance. And to be truthful....its been only since the 1970s....that this "CNN-tool" has been active.

So if we removed aircraft as of today....and concentrated the money on firefighters and bulldozers.....would it be a better method of spending money? To some minor degree....yes. There is this amusing problem which everyone fails to understand. Millions of people have given up on living in the burbs and cities.....and now live a lifestyle out in the "burb-boonies", as I refer to it. They want to live rustic, but be within 60 minutes of their office, or a fancy mall. Its true in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington state. When you gaze across the Yellowstone National Park area....start looking at the locals who lie within a hour of the park....and pay $400k for a log cabin house and the twenty acres attached to it. They want that lifestyle....and they love fire territory.

We have a problem, which can only be fixed if we agree to leave the rustic "burb-boonies".....but that just isn't going to happen.

Perhaps a better plan on spending the money....is to offer up the aircraft millions for a scholarship program where young men and women agree to be firefighters....to get their education scholarship money. Put another 50,000 fighters up in various areas to fight the fires.....and toss in another two hundred bulldozers. Thats a better long-term investment. But don't worry....folks like the CNN shots of aircraft "saving" them.....so nothing is gone to change.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Seattle and the Light Rail Woe

For a city of half a million....Seattle is trying hard to become a world-class town. But the city has mass transit woes. So in November, there is a ballot measure coming up....to spend $17 billion on a rail and bus agenda. Its a tremendous amount of money. Alot of residents are questioning this type of project.

I lived in the Tacoma area for fifteen months....and traveled up to Seattle on twenty or thirty occasions. The area of Seattle is huge....and luckily the Sound carves out a huge portion of the area....which invites everyone to live north, south or east of Seattle for the most part....unless you really want to ferry yourself around.

The locals just aren't mass transit minded.....and most major businesses now thrive on the outskirts of Seattle.....avoiding this entire journey to the heart of the city. So I'm already betting support barely creeping to 40 percent on this passage in November. It would have been an easier sell to the public....to just walk in and sell one chunk of the plan at $3 billion over two years...and folks would have bought off on that. Then I would have returned the next year to announce the next add-on.....at another $3 billion. So on and so forth. That would have been the easier sell.

So for you folks in Seattle...I raise a beer to you.....and hope you might get with the program, and just sell little things to the public.

Alabama and Toys

Normally, with a title like this...it ought to be a "G" rated topic.....at least for folks from Ripley. Sadly.....I must inform you folks....this topic borders on the line of indecency....and may truly bother some of you tonight.....maybe even causing you to weep or call your mental health doctor. Sadly, it is necessary to discuss this very delicate topic.

Since 1998, Alabama has had legislation in effect....to halt the sales of.....intimate bedroom toys. I should not go into detail of what this really means...other than to say that woman are the chief purchasers of such toys and it is very disturbing to the Baptist population of Alabama that such behavior is carried on.

How this legislation ever came to be....no one is quiet sure. When the "boys" usually meet in Montgomery....its usually to talk NCAA football, wild parties in New Orleans, new septic tank technology, legal but corrupt methods of bribery, horse racing, a wild new New York City hooker in Montgomery, and poker tips. Amongst the weeks of various meetings....there really isn't anything much ever accomplished in Montgomery....and if so....its usually written up by a lobbyist and pushed through by naive but dimwitted representatives.

On this particular yar of 1998.....apparently some Baptist revival occurred and got the "boys" all in a tirade. There were simply too many women in Alabama....abusing their bodies with the temporary thrill of a toy. These were being sold through sex shops, gas stations, flea market vendors, and even Bar-B-Q joints. This mass sales of sex toys.....was tearing the heart out of Bama. It was wicked.....with the ultimate motive of destroying the greatest state of the fifty.

So the boys got together, and basically outlawed the complete sales of sex toys, with one provision. If you had a medical exemption, you could still buy a sex toy in Bama. Yes, with a medical exemption.....you were still ok. As you sit there now, and imagine such a state.....such a clause....and such a large group of women in Bama today....with medical situations demanding sexual toys.....things have reached a peak.....as erect as you could possibly be.

The thing about this....is that it only got enforced last year....when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case. I'm guessing that the court really didn't want any dildo discussions going on or "Big John" interpretations occurring.

I've pondered this mess over and over....and think I have two methods of fixing the sex toy ban.

First....there's nothing wrong with going back to the sex toys of the 1880s.....mostly wooden axe handles, carrots, and cucumbers. I believe that we could review the ban, and allow pre-modern devices to be readily sold through Alabama, and thus avoid depriving these poor women their toys. I've fantasized greatly over life in 1880's Bama and the lusty events that must have occurred, and this type of lifestyle might be acceptable to this Baptist legislature in Montgomery.

Second.....we could heavily tax all of these toys....say $8 a device.....and dedicate that money to the poor libraries of Bama. The millions and millions made off of this tax, would greatly serve the state. Eventually, we could double the tax, and then set aside half of the money to the mental addiction that these poor women have...and get them settled into real lifestyles that only the Baptists can offer. I wouldn't even have a problem with gas stations selling the items....as long as they were under the counter and reserved for women forty and older.

As you can see....I've spent an awful lot of time contemplating and pondering this episode.
Perhaps too much. I fear the Montgomery crowd has drifted away from the normal world of duck hunting, NCAA football, and corruption.....and they are beginning to lose their compass point of being a true blue Democrat or a absolutely corrupt Republican (Karl Rove-type). Lets bring reality and sex toys back to Bama.....for the sake of our women.

Jon Voight Reflecting on the 1960s

Jon Voight wrote an article this past weekend. He did something that you'd hardly expect....he came out swinging against the Obama crew and the agenda that they preach.

I thought it was a four-star effort.....commenting that Obama "has grown up with the teaching of very angry, militant white and black people: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, William Ayers and Rev. Michael Pfleger."

Voight makes a very great statement here. Obama's message is "change"....but without any value added. The sale is destined for the youth of America....where there is a great belief that things must change...without the odd factor of reasoning why we'd want a "God-like" man to lead us. He doesn't hint the Hitler-word....but there little left in the imagination when you add up the speeches. World-president isn't on list of requirements for an American president....nor will it ever be.

I'm of the personal belief that the Republican National Convention ought to invite Jon Voight out to give a 45-minute speech. He might bring down the house....which might be whats necessary at this point for the Republicans.

Just How Bad do You Want to Leave?

Amsterdam has enacted a $71 fee....for you to fly out of their airport. Its amusing what this has generated in terms of alternate airports. Both Belgium and Germany are trying to hustle up some alternate deals....to entice the Dutch to cross the border, and forget paying the $71 fee. The thing is....by the time you figure the extra hour or two on the road.....the extra gas....and various little add-on's.....you basically didn't save a single penny off the $71. So its all a mind game that they are playing here...enticing some naive Dutch.....to think they can save $71....when they can't.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A Reflection Upon The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch died this week. Randy wasn't really a household name. He really didn't intend to be. Randy developed pancreatic cancer, and knew for about a year that he wasn't going to make it. Randy was a professor....an esteemed professor. Some professors, at the pinnicle of their career, will give "the last lecture", which is the lecture where they dump everything they know and give you the biggest batch of wisdom that you could ever ask for. This "last lecture" of Randy's....was supposed to be just his students....but someone videotaped the episode and put it up on YouTube. It became a million-hit clip.

The thing here is that Randy basically laid out everything he knew, and everything he accomplished into a tidy lecture. It was the thing that you'd begged to see from Socrates or Plato or Lincoln or Jefferson. Randy's "last lecture" probably shifted the minds of thousands.

There is the crowd of folks who are in the dying stage and needed a mortal reminder that their efforts weren't wasted.

There is the crowd of folks who have done so much in life but just don't feel accomplishment, and this was the reminder to feel good about anything done.

There is the crowd of folks who have played for minor league causes their entire life and never felt appreciated, but this kindly reminded them that any game played, is a game in the won column.

I sat and paused on the "last lecture" and then reflected upon a "last blog". Someday, I'll likely write Randy-type blog as such. What would I include in it?

Simplicity in life, is never marginal. I've simplified my life a thousand times over. I could never convince myself to be a millionaire, or CEO, or political figure. If I hadn't joined the Air Force, I would have been a rural mail route carrier, and enjoying it. Or I might have become a lumberjack and run off to Idaho with some wicked French woman named Armarante. Or I might have dared to write fantastic pieces of literature from Ripley. No matter what....it would have been a satisfactory life.

Humor hangs like mist in a swamp, eternally. I cannot bring myself to live in a damn serious world....where people live sterile lives and never appreciate the gravity of the moment via humor. Getting lost in Barcelona or sitting through a SCUD alert at King Fahd during the war....simply drove home that compass point that I relish. Even in my writings....the art of being serious, really isn't very serious.

Pondering is an addiction. I have sat and pondered at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I have sat and pondered on the sands of Coos Bay. I have sat and pondered while sipping beer at the top of the Eagle's Nest in Bavaria. I have sat and pondered at autobahn traffic tie-ups. I have sat and pondered at the edge of the Ring-of-Fire in Ireland while driving at breakneck speeds. I have sat and pondered life while whiny Irish men cried their woes and sorrows to me. I have pondered while waiting on my plane to leave Kansas City. I have even pondered while sitting on a cot in a hot canvas tent in the midst of Honduras. Pondering is hard....and I'm guessing it might not be as productive as I thought.

Tests of fate ain't the only tests in life. Tests are routine to me now....after a thousand different tests....you get to the point of viewing each one as merely another minor bump in the road. One could even hint that my test in faith has been done more than once or twice....but then somehow, things go right and I move onto the next test.

Enjoy the mere moment. I have found, sitting at a cafe in the middle of nowhere....sipping a ice tea with crushed ice and two clips of lemon....really makes for a great moment. I could also have a marvelous moment....standing in New York City in front of Grand Central Station....waiting on the damn forty-year old bus to take me back to JFK airport. I could also have a terrific moment watching a Panamanian cop trying his best to hint of a bribe to "fix things". I could have a fantastic moment standing in the middle of the Pulaski fairgrounds, and watching the crowd. I could even enjoy a moment where four middle-aged women sit in front of a camera and discuss trivial events in life and pretend to be serious while most of the viewers were washing the floor or cleaning the cat sand box.

Life is "Lost". I wish....but maybe I'm fantasizing a bit too much....wishing myself onto an island. Then I'd be telling Jack and Sawyer how things ought to work. I'd probably tell off Ben and beat the crap out of him.....feeling good about that as I finished up. I'd want to solve the island mystery in forty-eight hours, and then sit around and sip ice tea while the polar bear frolicked on the sandy shore.

Those who demand perfection within their lives...are living mostly with miserly and discontent. I am forever, the un-perfect one. I have a plan "B" in every single case. I'm willing to change the necessary, and the unnecessary...if required. I don't think I could live anything of value....trying to be perfect. Thats coming from the gut and soul when spoken.

That probably would be the basis of my "last blog". Considering that I've written over 2,000 blogs since early 2005....and I might write another 10,000 (maybe)....there's still more pondering left to be accomplished. And maybe thats just page one of a forty page "last blog"....who knows?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Summer Camp

Growing up in Bama....in the rural sticks.....a kid can dream of summer camp....but its mostly a dream. I grew up with subscription to "Boys Life", which was a scout magazine which advertised far and wide with sixty or seventy summer camps.....all up in the New York state, Ohio, Michigan, and Penn areas. I thought it'd be neat to go off to a camp...just to get off the farm for a week.

My dad came up one day.....with the mighty news of the county 4H crowd having a summer camp deal. A full week with the 4H crowd....in Tishomingo, Mississippi. Apparently, there was a state park over there....with cabins....and they had activities lined up for the entire week.

So at the age of twelve....my dad drove us over on a Sunday to the county seat...Florence. There stood four or five school buses....and the head 4H dude for the county. We piled on....with twenty bucks in pocket money, and headed off to Tishomingo.

Looking back....it was crap. But since I had nothing to compare it against......I couldn't say a word.

The cabin? Well...it was at least standing, and had a light bulb. The toilets barely worked and the shower smelled like some sewage canal in New Jersey. We had some 15-year old kid as the cabin chief.....but he really didn't do anything.

The chow hall? It was pretty much the worst food I'd eaten up to that point in my life. Except for the morning meal of sausage and eggs.....thats basically it for the rest of the day.

The pool? It was probably 30 percent chlorine, 10 percent urine, and 60 percent swamp water.

The guys in charge kept cautioning us from day one on...about the rattlesnakes in the area. We never knew if they were kidding or being honest.

This was my introduction to shotguns.....they actually brought along a dozen shotguns and a thousand shells....and did a clay pigeon toss with five pigeons with each one of us. I ended up hitting all five of mine in a roll....which was apparently a fair feat. That was the last time that I ever handled a shotgun in my entire life....amazingly enough.

By the morning of the last day.....I was begging to leave. I probably had lost three or pounds....starving there. It was a fairly lousy week. It felt good to finally get on the bus and leave this hellhole.

So a year goes by....and my dad comes up and mentions another week episode possibility at Tishomingo. And you know.....I stood there and said sure....and did an entire repeat of the entire experience again. Nothing improved....except I took $30 along and had a hamburger over at the state park snack bar each afternoon.....and survived easily off that 50-cent burger each day.

That was the end of my summer camp dreams. I never had any interest after that point. For a kid from rural Bama....this was probably the best you could hope for. In the midst of summer....I'll occasionally ponder this week of wasted time from my period as a kid.

I drove through Tishomingo about fifteen years ago.....and saw the sign for the state park....and kept thinking if I should stop.....but never did. Its best not not to torture myself again.

The amusing thing....is that I was doing some reading a while back, and Tishomingo's state park came up. It was originally a CCC campground in the 1930s for road crews and they simply fixed up the cabins and had the chow hall built....then left. The state guys thought it was a swell structure, and just blessed it as a state park....tossed in a pool and fishing area....and there you go. I sat there and thought that cabins are in the same shape as they were in 1930....with the same funky smell.

The Ossama Driver (Parody)

So the court episode with Ossama's driver started this week. The best charges that they could dream up at Gitmo? Running guns and planning attacks. The court sat there and has tossed out various charges because the information came via interrogation....which was questionable.

I sat and pondered this dude. Here is a driver.....and thats basically his entire job for Ossama.....just driving the guy around.

Enter the CIA interrogation team after capturing this dude. At the end of a long hot sweaty interrogation.....this is likely what we learned:

1. Always use 30W/40 oil, a better blend for the engine in a harsh environment.

2. Leather seats in 110 degree temperature makes you sweat.....so use the wooden beads....and its better for your back.

3. Fix and turn-up your car when it back-fires immediately.

4. Never, ever....wax a car....the sandstorms will make it crap anyway.

5. Check oil daily.

6. Ford ought to put drink holders in every backseat area.

7. Never let your cousin paint your car....its always a bad job.

8. Never, ever....leave dead fish under your seat and forget about then later.

9. Always carry an extra roll of toilet paper....in case you got to go bad....out in the desert.

10. CIA guys never take care of their cars....and make for lousy drivers.

At the end of this interrogation....the CIA guy probably got all upset....and then classified this entire event. We'll never know about the advice on painting or about the necessity for drink holders in the back of every Ford. Sadly....this is the way that things work in the government.

Old Anderson and New Anderson

I grew up about three miles outside the city limits of Anderson, Alabama. Its really not much to brag about, and I rarely ever bring this up. There are various things about my youth that I come across and ponder....time and time again.

In this small podunk town of maybe 250 folks....there was old Anderson and New Anderson. The two lay on the side of the Anderson Creek....which changes names at least five times, depending on where you are standing along the creek...and likely stretches twenty miles before it drains off into the Tennessee River.

Before the 1920s and the massive explosion of growth in Anderson....there was old Anderson. If you turned at Rogersville and headed north to the major town of Pulaski, Tenn....you had only two significant towns to encounter (Anderson and Minor Hill). Neither amounted to much but both had a gas station...which was very important by the early 1920s.

Old Anderson grew up with one major church, a graveyard, a lumber yard, a one-stop shop of a grocery store, a gas station, and a barber shop. There wasn't much you could say about this little town which barely hung on the side of the road as you traveled north toward Pulaski. Thankfully, you were still in God's country and couldn't buy booze.

At some point in the 1920s....new Anderson started some growth....which was a mile down the road. The bank, another grocery, another gas station, and the school popped up. Then came a church or two more.....and the post office.

Most folks in this area came to address this division as old Anderson and new Anderson...which always stuck in my mind. Its the same damn town....no real difference. The amusing thing is that life in old Anderson, with the exception of five or six houses and the church....died off. The stores went under and gas station eventually failed.

By the 1970s....new Anderson had two gas stations, a garage, a Fish Creel restaurant, and a magnificent softball field with lighting. My dad got talked into a "bond" program for the Anderson softball field lights. I think it was around $50 that he tossed in. The bond....as far as I know...never paid off. My dad once dragged out this nifty looking document.....which I would imagine the local bank helped to make up.

When you drive into Anderson today....the bridges are all fixed and very drivable. The cotton gin is long gone. The majority of old Anderson has fallen down into the creek or stands there abandoned. The town has one BP-type station with a quicky market inside, which sells some fine bar-b-q sandwiches. The barber shop is still there, and the bank exists although I doubt that more than four folks actually work inside. The Fish Creel is still there but was closed on Sundays (at least the last time I was there), because you weren't supposed to work on Sundays. Thats the kind of mentality you still run into there.

Above all....its still God's country....where no booze is sold and most folks never----ever----drink. Well....they swear that to the minister, before they take off to the stateline to consume five or six beers and chat with some 55-year old female bar hostess named Martha Jean. Alcohol is the tool of the devil....if you know what I mean. So these folks try to stay pure and clean....for church purposes.

There used to be no crime, except the guys that got ticketed for driving with booze in the car...which paid the town lone cop his extra $15k a year in bonus money. These days, you have alot of minor robbery where your tool chest disappears out of the back of the shed....the $500 Craftsman kit is taken....the TV gets stolen while you are visiting Grandma at the old folks home....etc. Its related back to meth-users mostly. They rob folks to a extent that they are willing to accept it, but the cops never get serious. So far, the insurance folks have readily paid out tens of thousands over the past decade.

Anderson isn't much to brag about....its just a place where I grew up....and thats about the best sum of words that I can say about the place.

A Interesting Moment


So this is the woeful tale.

Obama had a episode reserved and written in stone to come to Landstuhl hospital at the tail end of his grand tour in Germany. Ninety percent of the details had been worked out and most everything was clear.

Then.....the point guy on this part of the grand tour arrived....an Air Force retired two-star general....who we will not name....because of the foolishness that he triggered. We shall only say that he was a fighter jock at one point....even served as the Ramstein safety officer....and retired in the past two years.

The dimwit (retired general) arrives to arrange the final parts of the Obama tour of the hospital and the wounded. The Pentagon (note, not the hospital or EUCOM or the Air Force) had given rules over presidential candidates and how such environments with wounded troops could be handled in a election episode. The rules are fairly simple....the candidate can visit....the entourage can't. The wife of the candidate is generally not permitted to visit. All video is shot by the military, not by the candidate staff....then the military reviews the video and releases the appropriate shots to the guy later.....which he is free to use for promotion or advertising. This is a fairly simple rule list.

Dimwit shows up.....and goes over the planned arrival.....the entry at the gate....the driver parking here....and how he (the dimwit) and Obama would exit the vehicle and be greeted by the hospital's general in charge. Then the hospital commander would take them on a tour of the hospital. At some point, the PA for Landstuhl.....stopped the dimwit....and corrected him. Obama would enter the facility with the hospital commander....and there would be NO entourage. The PA probably pointed straight at the dimwit....indicating that he was entourage.

The dimwit got huffy and puffy. He was a retired Air Force general.....he was not entourage.

So then (my speculation)....the dimwit pulls out a cellphone and begins calling Stuttgart and Ramstein....looking for a Air Force general (which there are around six in Germany)....while the other one member of the Obama planning team is sitting and watching in terror at the massive mess being created by this poor pathetic retired general.

The curious thing....all of the rules came down from the SECDEF's desk. None of these European based generals can say a word....and even if they did.....the hospital PA would have smiled at them in manner to let them know that they were way out of their territory.

So eventually, this mess has hit critical mass, and the dimwit threatens to cancel the entire tour.....trying to blame this on the PA or the Pentagon. The PA guy standing there likely said that Senator Obama is welcome....you aren't. That was the final straw.

So came to an end....the opportunity for Obama to visit the troops. It was an amusing episode.

How many dimwits (retired military officers) are on the Obama payroll or just hanging around freely to help? I'd guess forty of them. As for this dimwit.....he's mostly out now.....from the little forty-man club. What makes these idiots play this game? Well....its about a personal agenda.....a think-tank agenda....a commercial agenda (oil company, foreign country, Boeing, etc). They all sit there....like chickens......waiting to help the Obama in his grand tour. Its mostly a pitiful sight.....and we'd all better off if they were just working honest hours at Best Buy....selling merchandise there, rather than fooling with PA folks at Landstuhl Hospital.

How many episodes occur each year around military bases and posts with retired generals? I can think of at least two on Ramstein within the past ten years. I'd be guessing that it numbers into the hundreds. Someone once told of a retired 1-star Army general going nuts at some golf course in Virginia....trying to pull out his rank and establish his authority over the post golf course. At some point....the manager had to ask friends of the general to simply take him out of the facility before he got into "real trouble". These guys have too much time on their hands....and end up making fools out of themselves.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The Nuke Crap, Version 3.1

Every couple of months....the Air Force decides to screw up on some nuclear stuff....just to shock and surprise everyone. I originally thought it was an accident when these occurred, but I now think its intentinal and part of the Air Force strategy to make folks feel sorry for them.....as they don't go off to Iraq as much as the Army or Marine dudes.

This week.....we had the "sleepers".

So four officers were directed to make a trip out to a nuclear missile silo area near Minot, ND. The four officers went into the silo area and loaded the top secret codes that they were supposed load, and then left the silo....coming up to the ranch-house above the complex. This is typically where you rest and eat. The security cops keep a guard or two up around this area....to guard the entire complex and protect the house. All of this is fenced off, and not easy to get to.

At this point.....all four officers are outside of the silo.....in the ranch-house......and awaiting orders to return to base. Remember.....we aren't talking about airman or NCOs....these are all junior officers....probably less than six years in the Air Force.....but college educated.

One officer left the group.....which is a puzzling thing as to where he went and what he did. The other three just sat there....and then all fell asleep. The Air Force won't say if this was 9PM or 4AM or noon....that part we are left in the dark about. But the three boys left there in the house.....feel asleep.....with the top secret codes in their possession.....although in a locked box....within a heavily guarded compound......protected by a SP at the facility.

Three hours supposedly go by. One dude wakes up.....then another.....then another. One of these idiots then says something to the effect...."we've all been sleeping and thus a security incident has occurred....and we must run to the base and report ourselves". The Air Force won't tell us the precise comments by the dimwit.....but I can kinda guess what the idiot said.....and the two others didn't argue with him.

The security dude back at base probably started weeping when the three officers walked in.....to confess their sins. Another nuke incident. The commander started the investigation. After a number of days......they eventually came to the conclusion that the top secret code item was locked in a box....within a secure compound area.....with a armed guard. So other than a bit of disciplinary paperwork to punish the three sleepy dopes....thats about it.

When I came to Bitburg years ago....we had three Air Force Academy dudes arrive. Two of them quickly pointed out the third....a fairly religious and conservative individual. He was the "confessor". Basically....anything at the academy that he saw as wrong....he reported. Even if he was the guy who made the mistake.....he ran to admit his fault.

One morning.....very early.....I arrived at the vault building. Our whole shop resided in one building, and we were the only occupants. You had to unlock a front door with a key.....walk fifty feet into a hallway....and then come to a vault door where you had to spin the dial and open it like a bank vault. The vault door was alarmed.

So as I approached the building door, here came the confessor Lt. I put the key in.....to find it unlocked....which I thought was strange. We entered. No one else was there and the vault door was engaged. The confessor Lt immediately confessed that he'd been the last guy out the previous evening, and had forgotten to lock the outer door. As we spun the dial....the vault door was fully locked. I said no problem...everything was ok. He quickly corrected me and said a security violation was in progress.

I stood there....trying my best to let him know that other than someone stealing toilet paper from our bathroom...that was virtually all they could have done, with the front door unlocked.

He corrected me again. I stood there as a 14-year NCO....and quickly assessed the Lt was a nutcase.

The guy then calls the security guy and starts to confess his terrible crime. I stood there in the office....just shaking my head. The security guy asked three direct questions.....because all he cared about was a secure vault. At the end of the three questions......the security guy told him there was no issue and thanked him for his concern. The Lt wasn't happy. He wanted a full investigation.....and the security guy told him "NO"....there would be no such investigation. He hung up then.

As I read this nuke episode case.....I had this vision of the confessor Lt, and kept thinking.....its th same thing all over again.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Small Towns?

I got my monthly copy of Money magazine today....which had a spread covering the best "small towns" in America....from 50,000 to 300,000.

The curious thing about this 100 city listing....NOT one single town from Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia. I just kinda sat there and laughed.

Then they wanted you to know the best overall small town.....was Plymouth, Minn. I kinda sat there.....knowing a guy from that region from years ago. He talked on and on how miserable it was in December and January.....cold as heck.....lots of snow....and real winters lasted five months. He vowed never to go back and permanently live there.....yet this town is picked as number one?

The rest of the top ten were also sad stories for various reasons. Whichever idiot works for Money, and does projects like this.....must be sipping alot of beer in the afternoon and fudging the numbers. I'd also advise these guys to actually visit the town and see for themselves.

How could those fools not include Muscle Shoals or Ripley or Huntsville?

People of Berlin.....

So a brief review of the Obama speech in Berlin.

You people in Berlin are lucky....if you could vote....he'd be president....but since you can't....you might want to think about the guys who can vote.

There wasn't a mention for the guy in Jackson, Mississippi who'd like social security to be fixed.

There wasn't a word for the guy in Alabama who's been waiting for lower taxes.

There wasn't a word for the guy in Austin who owns a house and is in serious job jeopardy and may not be able to afford the $1400 a month that he was foolish to sign himself up for in terms of a mortgage.

There isn't a single part of this speech that really attracts a independent voter in America. This is the speech which was supposed to "JFK-ize" the German public to his side. But it doesn't do much for American voters and I'm thinking the video clips will be used with the Love Parade and Hitler to make a point about Germans and their vision of the world

So thats pretty much the state of this speech.

Oh, and the visit that Obama was going to make to Landstuhl to see wounded GI's.....cancelled. No reason given. If you asked me personally.....the hospital couldn't guarantee several thousand GIs in mass to give a strong appearance. At some point, the handlers likely made a decision that the image wasn't what they wanted.....so drop it. Just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A Savage Reminder

Micheal Savage...radio host and radical thinker....got himself deep into a hostile crowd this week...with comments that he made on alot of Autism involving "misdiagnosed brats". He suggested that 90-odd percent....are wrongly misdiagnosed. This pretty much tore up the Autism crowd and they want his show off the air.

I sat there and pondered this.

What I do find interesting....is before 1980....we existed for the most part without this entire "campaign" or the identification of a kid as such. I was in a class in the late 60s and early 70s...where we had kids who probably had something you'd refer to as ADD and even some kids who might have been Autistic...and we pretty much survived on...without the drugs...special programs....and special books written by special writers. How? Thats something people might want to refer to and ask themselves....our society and race didn't die out....we survived and progressed....without drugs or treatment.

I'm not going to say that Savage is totally wrong.....but he might have something that we ought to think about. How did we ever survive till today.....without all these special programs and such? There might be a reason that explain alot about our past.....and our future.

The Vast New York City

Mayor Bloomberg announced today that the city will operate its rules and regulations via six languages now. Italian, English, Korean, Russian, Spanish and French Creole. The Japanese guys were left out.....so were the Chinese....the Kurds.....the Swedes.....the Dutch....the Poles....the Egyptians.....the Latin crowd.....the Burmese.....the Cherokee nation....the Portuguese.....and even the Romanians.

Somewhere amongst the stupidity here.....the mayor didn't really say it....but its going to cost into the tens of millions to have trained speakers on hand and constantly translating every single bit of city manufactured literature into a separate language. Apparently, those New York City folks are rich enough to do this kind of operation.

I sat and read this....and kept thinking.....it might be alot simpler to have everyone in the city speaking one language. I'd hire on a crew to offer free English classes to everyone and just go the simpler route....much like America did in the 1800s and said that there was only one language in American schools.

The curious thing out of this mess....is that French Creole is not really pure French....so some dude from France is not going to fully grasp this and pretty upset about this Creole business.

After walking through JFK and reading this development....its going to be a wonder if the airport can even function under this stupid idea. At least fifty of these translators will have to be out there and working daily for the airport in making this idea work. Thank God....its New York City.....and only there.

Stars and Stripes Letter

Hidden in the Stars and Stripes newspaper....is a letter today.....from 2Lt Clay Eiland....commenting on the Air Force and its VIP pod (which I recently blogged on) for cargo planes....with the fancy leather seats. Lt Eiland is a bit peeved at the Air Force and its generals.....saying "....diverts taxpayer money so that the VIPs can travel like rock stars". He readily points out that $16.2 million would have bought 15 MRAPs....the big protected truck which saves GI's daily on the roads in Iraq.

The Lt is correct.....we don't have a need for rock stars running around the Middle East or doing Global War on Terror tours. Any political figure or general who thinks he is a rock star....needs a mental check....and maybe a new occupation.

Another Stimulus Package?

Apparently one stimulus package was not enough.....so our Democrats are strongly pushing yet another stimulus package. After sitting and pausing on this entire mess....I have a new suggestion to make....a $1000 stimulus check for American family every four months. Keep giving it until the nation is either well....or bankrupt. Either way....its a good idea...in my humble opinion.

The Denver Gas Pleasures

So if you look hard for news in Denver....you will find this tidy little article...where the Democratic committee organizing the Democratic National Convention got to use city-owned gas pumps to fill up vehicles....and somehow....avoided paying state and federal fuel taxes. Its funny...it only ended when the news got out about the practice. The Mayor announced that the committee would end up paying the appropriate fuel taxes and was liable for all market prices of fuel used. The best anyone can say is that at least $9k worth of gas had been obtained so far. And interestingly enough...they even had authorization to use the city car wash....to wash their rental cars.

The mayor then wanted everyone to know that the Republicans are enjoying the same rights up in Minnesota....or least he says so. No one is admitting nothing up there yet...so more to come on this issue.

Pretty nifty trick. I wish I was a real democrat and was a convention dude.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

FEMA Math


If you look at this truckload of toilet paper, and use FEMA math....you'd say that you have $20,000 worth of toilet paper in the back....but you and I know that at Wal-Mart...it'd cost maybe $150 max.

Today....the The General Services Administration, which is responsible for managing federal property, came up and admitted that they screwed up on the accounting part of FEMA gear....namely cases of toilet paper, plastic sporks and other cutlery....and maybe a bunch of other stuff.

There was a whole bunch of stuff that FEMA gave away, and the GSA dudes estimated the original value at $85 million....but damn...they were wrong....and it was closer to maybe $18.5 million.

Somewhere in this mess....there was some guy reading "each" instead of "cases" and then vice versa. The amusing part of this story is that the individuals involved were telling folks that they had tons and tons of toilet paper....worth maybe $1.5 million....when actually....it was $18,000. The same episode ocurred with plastic knives, forks and spoons...going from $6.3 million to $25,000. Then the GSA gal that speaks for the organization....kinda admitted that they would be checking to see if this was "normal" to screw up like this.

I got a bad feeling from this. These guys might have $500,000 in toilet seats sitting around....and then discover that its only $140 in toilet seats. Then we might discover that they had $50 million in dog food stored away, when we originally thought it was $80,000 worth of dog food. You have to wonder who hires these people and if they ever ask if they have math skills. My guess is that they all come from Florida and helped count chad ballots back in 2000.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Cast of a Dozen or So

I lead off this morning with a blog over where I went to school....the first nine years. Its
an unusual group of characters that I ended up having as my teachers during this period at Anderson Junior High. This often pops up in my mind with my fifth grade teacher...Ms Barnett....who immortal comments in a class one day....was "I wished you'd consider my words as if they were written in stone."

Its rare you remember commenting from a teacher....I sat there for days thinking about this comment...thinking at the time that words written in stone usually were on tombstones. That was the vision of a fifth-grader. Years later after visiting a number of memorials and monuments.....I understood the thought of "written in stone" and appreciated her comments.

Ms Barnett was a disciplinary queen and as tough as any instructor I had in my life. The curious thing is that she was verbally tough....yet always using respect as a tool. In this era of teaching today....few if any teachers have that talent. It disappeared off the face of the earth in the past thirty years.

My first grade teacher was the old Ms. Camp...who probably already pushing 65 at that point...and had been around since the early 1930s. I can be truthful....other than remembering the first day and the last day of the first grade.....I don't remember anything else. Maybe thats a positive thing.

In the second grade.....we had Ms Mubern....wife of the principal. This was the odd couple who packed up the week after school ended each year and went off for a month of travel in a car around America. They did this for almost twenty years. It would have been great to have her in a history class....but this was the second grade and we never fully grasped all the information that she carried around in her head.

The third grade teacher was the daughter of Ms. Camp.....Ms. Christen...who labeled me eternally as a easy kid to manage. Ms. Camp had two daughters who taught....and this daughter was the only one with common sense. I will explain this later.

By the fourth grade....we came to the eternal Ms Ruby. She grew up five hundred feet from the school.....lived in the same house as she grew up in....and lived with her brother and sister. None of the three had ever married or left the house except for the four years Ms Ruby spent at a local university. They were all in their late 50s or early 60s. Years ago....you could find an example or two like this in every community where brothers and sisters just never left the home or married. Today....its practically impossible. This is the teacher with the worthy view of reading and its massive values....which I regarded greatly as important.

As I ventured into junior high.....Coach McGraw was there for two years as an English instructor. My mom came up at the end of the summer period in the seventh grade and suddenly realized I had absolutely no knowledge of verbs or nouns. There wasn't much that the Coach really did in English.....which you kinda have to laugh about today. He was the WW II vet of the school.

Science for this entire four year period was the class under Ms. Hilda....the second daughter of Ms. Camp. There are several odd things to discuss here. This is the woman who advised us all of the dangers of eating apples which hadn't been properly washed....which she felt that you had to use Mr. Clean or a Clorax-type cleaner in the sink....thus properly cleaning the apples. I came home and announced this to my dad...who asked if there was any taste left to apple after doing that.....and I sat there thinking....that pretty much wipes out that apple. Ms. Hilda was a fierce believer in the Baptist track to life.....and every science class ran that way. The science book handed to us every year....became merely a minor tool. She would automatically select chapters at will....skipping various chapters....and out of a 24-chapter book...we never got past 18 chapters. Strangely enough....dinosaurs were never covered in this entire period....never was evolution mentioned....and anything that conflicted with Baptists....was dumped. When Jurassic Park came out...there was this vast open period of my knowledge and I ended spending a good year or two reading articles and catching up on what should have taught. Ms. Hilda was a strong believer in knitting....and even allowed kids to knit in class...while class was going on.....to which we had our first ever and only stabbing....where some girl jabbed her knitting needle into some kids leg.

Mr Goodman was the Vietnam vet who did history for the four-year period. What I grasped later....and found odd....was that he never talked or mentioned Nam ever. He was there the very first year of any buildup and then left to go onto college and get this job. This came up maybe once a year in class....and he simply closed the conversation and we went onto discussing history. His room had the encyclopedia set.....which I read cover to cover in the seventh grade.

For a brief two year period.....we had Coach Ezell who was the English teacher and basketball coach. He probably improved English and grammar usage amongst us by 100 percent after Coach McGraw left. Yes, I did actually learn nouns and verbs in this period.....and came to appreciate the instruction. As a coach....I came to dislike his methods and the direction of things...and gave up on basketball after the eight grade.

Math teaching became an unusual event in this four-year period. We had some old teacher who had pushed retirement as far as she could and was gone thirty percent of the time in the sixth grade. I can't even remember her name today. The sub's came and went....with no real direction in math. The next year wasn't much better. Then they brought in this 35-year old woman....who wore short skirts and looked like Ms. America....and again....class went nowhere. Then the final year, they brought in Mr. Terry White. Math instruction actually improved slightly.....I might have actually learned something that year....by accident. This guy was in his twenties and actually had a sense of humor. He would go in five years to marry Ms. Rose (who was two years ahead of me in school). Ms. Rose was sleeping beauty by all accounts....she could have melted anyone's heart in a moment....but she was a strong-minded individual. I would guess that Mr. White was lucky in various ways.....and enjoyed this period of his life and the school to the maximum. He never left. I heard about a year ago of his passing....from cancer. I considered him to have been very lucky guy in what life he lead.

With this mighty cast of characters....was one additional player....Reeder, the bus driver of mine and the school handyman. When the Simpson's play out the Scottish school handyman.....I'm always reminded of Reeder. He had a sense of humor and probably enjoyed every single moment of life. He never got rich off the bus driver pay or the handyman pay....but he lived a fruitful life.

So these were the four-star players of my youth. None carried five-star status. None were giants of their trade. None were exceptionally gifted. None have their words written in stone....unless its their tombstone. Ms Barnett might have been partially correct. But then I've digitally written their contributions so that they do last forever.....at least in my blog. So a thousand years from now....someone will read this and contemplate what was and was not.


Where I Grew Up

Most of you may know that I grew up in Bama....a long time ago (yet, after the Dinosaur age).

My first nine years of school were settled into the rustic and quiet town of Anderson, Alabama. There isn't much you can say about Anderson between 1965 and 1973. This is a town that had a cotton gin, two gas stations, a general store, a regular store, a barber shop, a beauty shop, and a ice cream/hamburger shop (later to become the world famous Fish Creel). The school only went to the ninth grade....and probably had been around since the mid 1920s.

There isn't much you can say about the town. It sits on a creek....which overflows once a year by ten feet. Never a murder in the town. There are three churches....might even be four today. The baseball/softball field is the key identifier of the town, and still sits there today....although greatly improved since my day. After I left in the early seventies....my brother went though the late-seventies period....where mayhem, chaos and out-of-control teenagers roamed. There was probably a two-year period where an awful lot of stuff occurred that you wouldn't discuss in public today....where booze flowed....teenage girls got pregnant....and folks were doing crazy stuff on Saturday night. Then suddenly....the period ended and they went back to the straight-laced Baptist period. Even my brother will comment on the change of eras occasionally, where things just abruptly stopped.

From the twenty-five kids in the class in the first grade....around twenty-one of them finished the ninth grade with me. One got hit by a school bus....two transferred over to another school after a couple of years....and another left the state. You kinda knew every single kid in that class after nine years.

The teachers? These were all women who got educated in the 1940s and had been teaching for over twenty years. Several were approaching 60.

This is not the school where you'd get worldly knowledge or 5-star teachers. These were teachers that simply laid out the basics and demanded that you know A, B, And C. You could sit and make 50's on math tests...and somehow...they'd figure a way to pass you at the end of the year. I knew several students who should have failed at various things....but that wasn't the accepted method in the school.

Heavily-laced Christian theme? Yes....without any doubt. I can look back and laugh at the things that some of these teachers did along the way. Racial-divide? There was not a single kid in this 230-kid school who was anything but white. You could drive in any direction for five miles and not find a black resident. You can research pre-civil war history and not find any plantation or large farming operation in this area. This was the boonies then....and it was still the boonies in 1970.

The lunchroom was an interesting place. They actually made some of the best beef stew and rolls (all-homemade) that you could find on the face of the earth. I still remember sitting there and enjoying a big bowl of stew. The rest of the menu....decent enough and worth eating. I didn't grasp the 4-star quality until I left this school and went onto Lexington....where the chow there was marginal and there were days that I just brought a apple or two with me for lunch.

The school got state and county money at some point in the late 60s....and built a new library. This became one of my favorite places to hide out at. After about two years though....I'd read almost everything they had of interest. It wasn't a grand library of sorts....and they rarely got new books. Some of those on the shelf....had been there in the school since 1945. The one curious thing that they added into the library was a projection room....and they got two or three twenty-minute National Geographic movies each month. If you were lucky....the teacher would force the class to watch one of these.

By the final four years there....we were in the big-house....the grand brick building that was the mid-20's project. By 1970....it was in pretty poor condition and really needed a renovation. The bathrooms barely worked and were hardly heated in the winter. The classrooms? They were either 95 degrees or 60 degrees....in the middle of January. We used to laugh about the huge heat and having to open windows every 30 minutes to get a reasonable balance of temperatures.

Smalltown America offers luxery that you really appreciate. Each spring was the county fair and school would end around noon one day so everyone could go to the fair. The school offered a basketball team....ever the loser....and any guy who wanted to play....got on the team with no effort at all. They played on a junior-high school-sized court....which I came to realize later in life is really tiny.

For about five years....the "trailer" existed. This is an amusing part of this Bama life. The "trailer" was this project...probably sponsored by the state and the federal government. They tested and found that half of the kids in the school....were reading two years behind the other half. So they brought in this "trailer" with this reading instructor....and each class got a 50-minute session each day. I never got a chance to enter the trailer....and was always interested in the deal. I think most of the kids in my class who got into the trailer....came to appreciate it later in life.

Sports was a major part of life in this school. Every year laid out new memories. Somewhere around the eighth grade....there was an hour-long basketball game set up....where five of us guys were set to play against the better five girl players of the school. I was the center of the boys group....and came to be roughed up more than any game in my life. I was knocked down at least five or six times....left sitting there and wondering why our ref (the coach) didn't call a foul. Toward the second half....I came to grasp a strategy...that girls were overplaying and being twice as aggressive as you'd expect (maybe the coach hinted that they could go that far). So I started to sling (quietly move to places on the court that the center doesn't usually stand). Yet as I came in to take rebounds....I'd be knocked to the ground. These were rough girls....and after the game....I decided that I'd never repeat that experience again.

The only remarkable period of the entire school year....ended up being Halloween week each year. This was the school that pulled in a couple hundred bucks via a Halloween evening...where cake walks....basketball throws...and bingo occurred. This paid for the paper, chalk and toilet paper. My dad would always drive up late to the event and we'd have to park a good ten minutes walking from the school. There would usually be five hundred folks showing up...mostly socialize....and drink coffee or Coke. The tossing of eggs was a ritual....along with various punk ideas that would pop up. The icon of my memories settle around the famous "cake" year. My dad and I picked up four cakes in one evening off the cake walk episode. I must have been around thirteen at the time. We were "caked-out" after three days of munching on them....and it was a long time before I wanted anything sweet.

I quietly fitted into this crowd. I was never a speech person or a talker. You'd hardly know that I was in the room. Most teachers gauged me as the kid who was going to do "the right thing". I couldn't fall into trouble or get myself into a deep pit. Maybe the atmosphere of the school helped to make that possible....I can ponder that thought for a long time.

I likely finished this nine-year period with outstanding grades in history and geography. English and science were medium levels of passing. And math was the woeful tale. I came to hate every single math class there for the final four years. I don't think I ever made higher than 75 on any math test in that period. I suspect that some of the teachers likely gave me an extra five points at the closure of the semester...to get me to the "C" level. It was dismal. The curious thing is that I went to the next school where they merely handed me the book and asked when I wanted to take the test. I had a home-work assignment each day which they checked for thirty seconds and then moved on. I finished the entire math book three weeks after Xmas at the new school. My grades that year in math were all "A's". I went on to taking major math classes over the final two years at the new school. How did things change? I found that I'd fall asleep in the old school....because they would stand and chat for six weeks on one particular math subject....and I'd be so bored that I wouldn't pay attention. The entire class became this way....I later realized. The teachers were never accepting that a slow-pace was a bad idea.

About once a month...something will hit my mind and I will reflect on Anderson and those days. It has been over twenty-five years since I saw a single person from my class. I know that most still reside within five miles of Anderson. Several have done well in life. One or two are major farmers who've made a success in life. One even does car body repair and runs a big operation in the area. A couple might not be happy with things but then its Bama, you know. And two are dead.

There are probably three or four that I'd like to meet again...but the odds are pretty much zero. The school doesn't do reunions of such. And even if they did....I'd suspect that most wouldn't show up after all these years. I'd probably be standing there with four of the class-act ladies of the class...and no one else.

Did I ever feel charmed by any of the ladies? Maybe one or two. But I was in the extreme shyness point of my life and would never have said a comment or made a move.

So this is the once-a-month mental reminder of my trail and how I got to where I am. It was a necessary "leg" of my journey. I doubt that it amounts to a huge deal....but it is bit of my moral compass which is heavily pointed "north". When I write about life in general...this is part of my measure of life....I gauge it against the situation and render a verdict of sorts.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Air Decoration Force

This is not a pleasing blog to write. The Washington Post got ahold of a Air Force story, and milked as much as any news organization could.

The Air Force kept trying to come back to congress and clear around $16 million of GWOT (Global War on Terror) funding. They wanted to buy something. This is the sad part of the story. They decided that there were so many generals and political figures in congress and the senate....who were now traveling to see the war on terror.....that they needed to use cargo planes to achieve this "mission".....so they wanted "comfort capsules" to be installed on military planes.

You are likely standing there and thinking....."comfort capsules"? What the hell is that?

This is a container like box. You go and sit inside of this. It has carpet, leather chairs, and real luxury....at least what you could shove into a box with.

Apparently....they got part of the funding and even started the production of the first capsule.

The Air Force leadership involved....went on to write many requirements into this package. It eventually included beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers, and a full-length mirror.

Along the way....several comical events occurred. One request was that the color of the leather for the seats and seat belts in the mobile pallets be changed from brown to Air Force blue and that seat pockets be added; another was that the color of the table's wood be darkened. The guys who had the contract for the seats....announced that this change would cost extra money.....so changing the seat color and pockets alone was estimated in a March 12 memo to cost at least $68,240, EXTRA.

All along the way....junior officers and enlisted quietly suggested that this whole thing was headed to a comical end. It was a joke....a highly expensive joke. The generals didn't care.....just march on was the general attitude.

I sat and reflected upon the loss of the Strategic Air Command leadership in the early 1990s. If anyone had approached them about such a requirement....they would have pulled a KC-135 tanker out to the ramp....tossed in twenty seats....thrown a ice box with 100 beers onboard....and told the VIPs to strap down and be prepared to haul ass.

I’d like to start a trend...VIP in need of travel...doesn’t matter if you are a general or a senator...climb into a jump seat of a cargo plane for twelve hours and eat out of a cardboard box like your humble soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines. Make an example out of yourself and use shame and peer pressure on any military or political figure who complains. The fact is that the vast majority of these folks...don’t need to travel. They can be just as foolish at home...as they are on the road.

Skydiving at Fort Riley

There is a difference between Air Force and Army military parades. While the chief result is to have couple of thousand folks out....watching folks march.....and change commanders.....there is a plan to this entire mess. The Air Force usually plans a event that things simply can't go wrong. There are no risky events....no elephants....no mules....no cannons.....and usually only two guns involved (with blanks everytime, unlike those French guys on 1 July who used real ammo for the honor firing and injured 16 folks).

The Army? Well...risk is part of the adventure. Things can go wrong. Usually...its a minor deal and you just maneuver around the mess....and do the right thing.

So part of this parade and formation...involved two skydivers. The first guy came down ok. The second came down about 100 feet off-course.....hitting the band apparently (last row).

The parachutist, Scott Hallock, came straight down into the end of the band....where the tuba section sits....destroying two tubas....and whooping three band folks real good.

"You can't really hear anything when someone's overhead. Then at the last minute, you could hear some rustling," described WO3 Scott MacDonald (band leader). "That's what I heard, 'Oh expletive,' and then crash."

Based on local viewers and tape....the skydiver smashed feet-first into the sousaphone, tuba and trumpet players.

Sgt. Rachel Boggs was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured jaw. Sgt. Andrew Spinazzola fractured an ankle in the collision. Both soldiers sustained other minor injuries as well. And Staff Sgt. Mark Lucero also reportedly suffered a minor leg injury.

Somewhere amongst all this mess....the skydiver sprained his ankle and but then like a true trooper.....refused medical treatment.

The general and the audience kinda stood there for 30 minutes....kinda in shock, I'm guessing. And then the 1st Division Band regrouped....like a true Army unit.....thus continuing their magnificent performance...although with a few less instruments. I kinda doubt that the general noticed or even the public.

Despite worries that there weren't enough band members left to play, "we soldiered on, like we always do," MacDonald said.

I have to pat those folks on the back. The Air Force would have called the command post....had twelve ambulances out there...sat up a mobile command position with four security police taking statements from the crowd on what they saw. The base safety guy would have been weeping over behind the stands because his near-perfect record of safe parades was now wiped out. And the Air Force general would have been gulping down shots of Jack Daniels to steady his nerves as the event was in the chaos stage. Somewhere out of the mess....some contractor would have stood up (retired NCO previously)....told the idiots to regroup and carry on.....and we would have been home by 1600 to watch Judge Judy. Thats the Air Force for you.

South Carolina Is So.....You Know


Apparently, some individual in the South Carolina State Tourism office....signed up some ad company....to figure a small campaign to improve tourism. The ad company decided on "South Carolina is so gay".

Somewhere down the line...the governor finally woke up. This is probably after flying to fifty different cities outside of the state over the past six months.

So, Gov Mark Sanford decided that this really wasn't the kind of ad he wanted to appear in public. A number of state officals came out of the closet (oh, I should have said the barn)....to say that they felt it wasn't right to target one type of tourist consumer. You wouldn't have an ad to say that "South Carolina is so Baptist"....now would you? Its a good logic. Although I would have had no problem with an ad campaign that was "South Carolina is so stupid".

The amusing part of this story...not mentioned much in the US press....was that this was a ad campaign geared to British gays in London. There were to be posters set up for the gay pride fest in London this month. The amusing thing is that while the state dropped the ad....some other group in South Carolina....probably gay in nature....took up the cause and found the $5k to pay for the ad and continue the campaign....."South Carolina is so gay".

How counter-productive is this situation? Lets measure the acceptance in London for this entire poster effort. British gays have money and travel. So if three hundred like the concept and fly over to South Carolina....it might not be such a bad deal. You might not even notice the three hundred British tourists. In fact....I'll be honest....some (note some) South Carolinians might just overlook your gay issue and just dump on you because you are British. The rest will ask what part of New York City you are from....cause you seem to sound like a Yankee. A few will comment that they were there in Britain in 1944....prepping up for D-Day. And a couple will comment that you look real fine in that satin shirt and flip-flops.

As for the counter-crowd? Well....if I were Baptist.....I wouldn't be going to South Carolina because there are too many young hot babes in mini bikinis. Plus there is just too much booze. For some folks....this little joke of a campaign won't sell well....and they will go to North Carolina....because they just aren't gay up there.

So add up the numbers....you probably lose 300 US tourists for the rest of this year because of the slogan. You gain 300 British tourists who are basically ok, except they dress funny. I think you kinda break even.

The good thing here...is that the campaign wasn't for the London Bondage Fest scheduled in October....and the slogan picked wasn't "South Carolina is so domineering and submissive". That would have invited trouble.

San Fransisco and Its Wit Versus Mine

The folks in San Fransisco this week....decided to steam full speed ahead on a ballot measure for November.....to rename a local city sewage plant......to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. The ballot measure was certified on Thursday. The support crowd says its a way to commemorate the mess that Bush did in the war in Iraq. Local Republicans say that they will fight the matter, but I doubt this really helps. I will stand here....and predict that the measure passes with a eighty-five percent win in November.

But I'm not finished pondering and wondering about this mess in California.

What if? Thats the question. What if, a small town in Bama decided to rename its local garbage dump "San Fransisco, Number One"? A dump renamed after the cool city on the coast? It would set a curious stage.

Some folks in Mississippi....not to be outdone....would rename their local dump "San Fransisco, Number Two". Then some folks in Arkansas would wake up and rename their local dump. By the end of next year....four hundred town and county dumps would have been renamed "San Fransisco". Across the nation....the trend would continue.

Eventually, we'd have a national situation where if you were referring to trash....you just say "Sisco-stuff". Every dump in America would be called a "San Fransisco". It'll be like a major shift in the English language....where "garbage dump" simply disappeared in a decade or two. Around eighty years from now....some kid would ask a professor why all the garbage dumps in America are named "San Fransisco", and the professor stand there for a minute thinking and just say that it was a national thing....not worth remembering. Meanwhile...the one and only GW sewage plant would likely have closed after five years because of faulty construction by the local corrupt builders.

Perhaps I'm being a bit radical and shouldn't suggest something like this because folks just might do it....but I figure that "garbage dump" is really a negative term....and "San Fransisco" would be a great renaming effort. Folks in Bama can understand my logic....and I'm sure they would be fired up to rename the local dump after something.

Nancy Pelosi and Pete Rose

Pete Rose was once loved by the baseball public. Pete was the guy that kids dreamed of being like. Pete was a terrific outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. Pete was destined for alot of things after he retired from baseball. Pete came to be a manager and then betted on his own games. Pete was banned from baseball. Pete really isn't liked much by anyone associated with baseball today. Pete isn't in the Hall of Fame....and likely never will be there. Maybe fifteen percent of the public have a positive frame of mind over Pete and his actions. The rest can't stand the guy.

There is alot of Pete that we see in Nancy Pelosi.....the Democrat's key leaders in Washington. This week, Nancy decided to let everyone know that GW was a "total failure". Utter shock.....yes.....maybe three or four bigwig correspondents actually fell off their stool and had to calmed down with Starbucks coffee, laced with vodka. She said it with a smile and was as blunt as she ever has been.

The truth here...is that Nancy Pelosi is Pete Rose. Less than fifteen percent of America today....has positive comments to make about congress. Thats an approval rating thats even ten point less than GW. Whatever failure that GW might be....every single member of congress....to include Nancy Pelosi....is a failure or more so. This is the amazing land that we live in.

Over the past two decades.....the number of these congressmen appearing on various networks has gotten to a point where some congressmen think they actually have national appeal. The truth is that we really can't stand the bulk of this crowd....we don't trust them....and they act like losers.

So the "Pete Rose" factor is hard at work. No matter what Nancy and the gang does from this point on out....they are losers. They can't fix social security....even if we told them that its going bankrupt. They can't fix New Orleans....global warming....taxes....or world hunger. Congress for the most part....is now entertainment. Congress is a soap opera....where no fat lady exists....so this opera just might go on forever. Thats the sad place where we live today.

The Barnstead Strategy

Quietly in the paper about two weeks ago....if you read far and wide (the Union Leader for example)....the kindly folks who manage city water at Barnstead, NH have decided to modernize. They've got a company involved. They got quotes. And they've got the amount of increase that the locals will have to pay for water. So would a increase of 311 percent.....bother you?

An average family pays around $300 a year for water in this area. Based on the current estimates.....the yearly cost would soar to around $1160.

A number of folks suddenly woke, and realized what these fools had signed up to do. Some are hinting that this town is going to lose residents. The company involved wants the state regulator to push the rates up around September to half of what they need....and then come back in spring of 2009 to give them the "full" rate.

What started this develoment...is an aging water system in the community, which apparently provides water for at least three separate small towns. The guys who were voted in....to run the water program....got bought off on the idea of modernizing and improving their situation. The company....just part of the overall solution.

For retirees and those on the edge of living....adding another sixty bucks on the $300 yearly bill would have been acceptable....although they would have gritted their teeth on this matter. Adding over $700 to the yearly bill....this group probably can't make it. By the time you consider gas prices and natural gas....its a choice of fuel or water. The city leadership should have met and discussed some minor improvements each two years....and adding $20 a year over a ten-year period. This would have been an easy sell.

I'm guessing that those rent in this area....are leaving...without any discussion. For those who are retired....they are likely selling their property....although the housing market may be shaky with buyers thinking twice about living in this little town.

How many will just turn off the water and take a 300-gallon container on a trailer over to the local river and just pump up for their home use? I'll bet on five or six guys doing this. The city might even have to pass some kind of law that they are forbidden from such activity.

I blogged about this stuff in my home town...when the idiots hooked up the new water system and announced a huge rate increase. The locals never expected it and the leadership of the town had no concept of cost involved. Its a problem that the nation is experiencing at smalltown America....and its not going away.

Just Another Day in Germany

This week....ever so quietly....without alot of mention in worldly news....there was a meeting in Germany. The government guru's who envision the magnificent carbon trading era to arrive soon.....had a forum arranged in Bonn. They invited managers from companies across Germany. Things went ok through two presentations that morning. Then.....crap hit the fan. From the floor, one of the managers finally spoke up....and the quietness left the room.

"If that's the shape the trading will take, we will simply move our cement operation to Ukraine," a cement factory manager shouted into the lecture hall.

He didn't really want to stop talking....so he carried on: "Then there won't be any any trading here, nothing will be produced here anymore.....the lights will simply go out out."

It was obvious at the meeting....based on reports in the German media....that the emissions-allowance trading experts had really not expected this kind of threat.

There is a very curious relationship....ill of course....brewing between the German environmental types, and the business managers of the country.

A number of products are starting to cost just enough....that buyers are tempted to look at Poland, the Ukraine, and even Russia. Why pay more? If I wanted tons of cement delivered to my small construction business...it doesn't matter if its Ukraine or German cement. The environmental types haven't ever considered that it is the buyer that makes the rational decisions....not the environmental types.

Presently, if you gaze across the German clothing and shoe manufacturing sector....it is almost non-existent today. Except for the more expensive shoes....almost all of the shoes worn in Germany today are from Asia or Eastern Europe (plus Russia). Clothing? Well....its mostly in countries like the Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria....at least for the cheaper type that most regular people wear. These markets are already dislodged themselves from Germany.

It'll be an amusing atmosphere to gaze upon in twenty years. If half of the manufacturing that exists today....leaves.....then the massive unemployment level will eat up the entire political sector. It'll be a very destabilized country where elections are held every eighteen months and no one is happy with anything. We are brewing a 1932-era all over again....without even discussing the options.

The cement manager at this meeting at least shouted up a theme that should worry the government and the environmental folks. The business sector has something to say.....but if you really don't care to listen...fine....there are countries like the Ukraine which would love to have five or six major German cement companies move in and become major players there. They'd like to have a very low employment rate. In fact....the Ukraine could easily take hundreds of businesses each year from Germany....if thats the strategy of Germany.

Friday, 18 July 2008

The Viscount

There is only one man on the face of the earth...whose challenged Al Gore to a open debate....internationally televised to bluntly discuss global warming. This is Christopher Monckton, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. He is the gentleman who served as a adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He is a thinker....in the sense that he doesn't just accept an argument without merit. So far, he hasn't had single indicator of Al wanting to discuss global warming in public....and I'm fairly sure that Al doesn't want that situation.

This week....the Viscount was kinda busy. He has been doing research for months...and he's come to several interesting conclusions:

  • The IPCC’s (the UN's own climate control committee) 2007 climate summary overstated CO2’s impact on temperature by 500-2000%;
  • CO2 enrichment will add little more than 1 °F (0.6 °C) to global mean surface temperature by 2100;
  • Not one of the three key variables whose product is climate sensitivity can be measured directly;
  • The IPCC’s values for these key variables are taken from only four published papers, not 2,500;
  • The IPCC’s values for each of the three variables, and hence for climate sensitivity, are overstated;
  • “Global warming” halted ten years ago, and surface temperature has been falling for seven years;
  • Not one of the computer models relied upon by the IPCC predicted so long and rapid a cooling;
  • The IPCC inserted a table into the scientists’ draft, overstating the effect of ice-melt by 1000%;
  • It was proved 50 years ago that predicting climate more than two weeks ahead is impossible;
  • Mars, Jupiter, Neptune’s largest moon, and Pluto warmed at the same time as Earth warmed;
  • In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years.
What the Viscount did....was take any statistical formula that the global warming crowd used in government publications and tossed it out. You can't come to reasonable carbon conclusions or global warming debates....without numbers. For any figure to appear on NPR and quote the previous formulas.....now paints himself as a "lost cause" before debate even occurs.

NASA and its grand climate control agenda? Well....at this point....where's the science? I'm pretty sure the NASA pretty boy for climate control....Jimmy Hansen....is the last character that would care to tangle with the Viscount. So this mighty discussion item.....is about to lose its sails.