Thursday, 5 June 2008

My Day

My day was spread from one extreme spectrum to the other extreme spectrum.

I stood there today and chatted with another old-time NCO....who is dismayed over the Air Force today. Airman don't clean their project areas up after they finish a job.....they never do the job right on the first attempt....they question the necessity of projects....they don't think of the big team....and they don't want to work as a team.

These are traits of a Air Force gone bad.

As my associate pointed out....there was a time in the mid-80s, when a business came to the Air Force to see how to run things. Somewhere around 1992....came Total Quality Management, where the Air Force decided that the civilian world was doing things better and we ought to visit their sites to learn their practices. We had simple regulations that had been in effect since 1963....barely two pages long....and by the mid-90s....those were long gone. We kept reinventing ourselves over and over.....thinking we could actually come to a "dream design", but instead.....its a successful reorganization that merely lays out the frame for the next successful reorganization. You need billets to fill your shop....you reorg and steal from another organization. You need more office space.....you reorg and steal office space from another group.

Its a pitiful group to watch. So for ten minutes today.....I breathed the flame from the dragon....listening to all the right words and fierily topics.....knowing just how right the guy was. I can't fix nothing....I can just sit, observe, and comment.

So for the other side of the spectrum?

An associate of mine.....ten years in the Air Force.....has returned back from Baghdad after 120 days there. He was in a safe job where he simply did comm work and made sure video-teleconferencing equipment worked, on-time. Six days on.....twelve hours a day and sixteen hours on some days. One day off a week.

Naturally.....I asked him what he did on the day off. He stood there....in our little vault....with fluorescent lighting above his head....and just a bit of shadow to some degree.....pausing for five seconds.

It was a long pause. It was a pause that you knew he had to tell you something important but he didn't want sympathy from you.

After he ate breakfast on the off-day.....he walked over to the med-groups helipad area and served as extra manpower....between the pad and the emergency area where the ambulance might pull up or the helicopter would land. They had only a couple of folks to help unload wounded guys.....and they appreciated every bit of help they get. So he spent his off-day....taking the wounded guys off the chopper.

This isn't a job that most of us would like or enjoy. In fact....most of us would shy away from this and gladly dig a toilet pit or fill sandbags instead. There is a sad necessity for extra help.....to gracefully pick up a wounded guy and help tote him over to the surgery point. Someone has to lift the stretcher off the chopper and bear in mind the pain or suffering of the guy on that stretcher. You have to look the guy in the eye and reassure him of your best effort. You learn to lie. You learn to sooth a person in great pain. You learn to look not at a bad wound and make yourself sick. You learn to avoid bouncing a guy in great pain as you carry his stretcher.

You get paid nothing extra for this volunteer situation. You ought to be in your cot sleeping or reading a book or watching another hour of "Lost". You ought to write home or convey an email to the family about how well you are getting fed. You ought to be getting a haircut. You ought to be doing alot of things.....but for some reason.....you're at the pad.....waiting.

I listened to the few comments he shared. You could tell a shadow of pain was in his mind. He isn't totally unaffected over his "other" work....the stuff he wasn't sent there to do. He did this one-day a week....just to pass time and to make something out of nothing. He did the right thing. I can't tell him that. I can't calm his soul. I can't pat him on the back. I can't write his momma or wife or daughter to tell them what a true individual he really is. There is little I can do but sit and listen to the story.

For every hundred good stories a guy can tell from his time in Iraq....there is always the story that he really can't tell. It isn't about pride or justice or accomplishment. Its about a deep emotion....driving you to do stuff that most folks standing around America tonight....would prefer not to do. Its about military people who work seven days a week.....for the whole time they are deployed....and just accept it as "normal". Its a life that you can't dream up at 18 or wish upon anyone. Its about looking a guy in the eye and telling him "you'll be alright", when you know he probably won't be. Its about a guy whose girlfriend just dumped him and wrote the "Dear John" letter before he was supposed to go on duty tonight. Its about the mortar round that landed 284 steps from your tent.....you know because you walked it thirty times to consider just how close you came to death that evening. Its about taking chances....whether you are alive or dead tomorrow...and getting to a point where you don't think about such things.

Life isn't fair. But you really wouldn't want it that way. Deep down....you'd like to go to the far extreme....and test yourself.....to know just how far you can go. My associate.....appears to have gone a pretty far distance.....and he wouldn't want it any other way.

It was a long day....and I probably put more writing effort into this blog than the past one thousand....because it had to be written right. The thing is.....I could write a piece like this each day....and likely put my mind into a deep shadow....writing myself into a Nobel prize for literature while soft salty tears dripped. We pay such a price for telling a story.

The Eternal Wait

So I waited....and waited, and waited.

I'm a patient guy. I can sit and ponder till the cows come home. And finally this week, it happened.

For nationalities, as much as I hate Germans....Icelandic folks are just one step above Germans in my book. They really like to tell you how you are wrong. They have a absolute love/absolute hatred of Americans. When we announced the Air Force was pulling out of Iceland, they stood in shock, not thinking all of the criticism of the war would ever come back to harm them.....and then we left.

I've waited patiently to tell off the Icelandic dimwits....and today....I got my story.

Yesterday....for the first time in twenty years....a polar bear made it to Iceland. Yep....the last one was killed over twenty years ago and that was kinda the end of polar bears on the little island. So here is this polar bear who probably rode a iceberg as far as he could and probably swam a good twenty or thirty miles.....to make it to Iceland.

Apparently....the fools felt it to be a total threat and rather than wait out the one and only one dart gun in the damn country to arrive.....they shot the polar bear.

So here is the thing. George Bush....mighty George.....came out two weeks ago and announced the terrible threat facing the polar bear and how they could decrease in numbers....maybe....well....they could....if global warming ever comes. So they put the damn bear on the endangered species list. America is supposed to do everything possible to save the bear now....even if we can't drill for oil....even if we have to kill 50,000 grizzleys....the polar bear must be saved.

So here is this one stupid polar bear....that sticks out this ride on the iceberg....swams over to Iceland....and proceeds to get shot by the locals. They even proudly stood around as the picture was taken. So here for a brief moment....George Bush is the hero, and the idiot Icelandic folks are the villain. It really says alot for the charming Icelandic folks and how they have so much care for the world's polar bears. So the next time some idiot Icelandic fool stands up, and wants to blast the US for some carbon crime....I'd like to bring this picture up and mention how sorry we were over the damn fools shooting bear.

There....got that off my chest.....and I feel better now.

Dead Voters

Jane Drury is a proud registered voter in Connecticut....in fact...I'm betting she is a Democrat. She even voted last year in Stoningten, Conn. What makes Jane awful special….is that she’s been dead since 2000. Jane’s daughter, Jane Gumpel, thought it was a goof, but kinda agreed that it ought not be possible.

Marcel Dufresne is a journalism professor connected to the University of Connecticut. Marcel took a class group and did a project to find out how many Conn voters are dead….and found 8,558 deceased people who were still registered on Connecticut’s voter rolls. This is the best part of the story….they found that more than 300 of them appeared by some mircle to have voted since they died. In fact…they even found one guy who voted seventeen times since death. I'm betting on the guy being a Democrat.

Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz was absolutely determined when she commented on this situation….saying…… “actually no dead people voted.” She added: “I want to be very clear about that. There was no voter fraud at all in the state of Connecticut.”

I don’t have a problem with dead folks voting, but I think they ought to be paying their taxes in order to earn this opportunity. If a guy isn’t square on his tax bill….he ought not be registered.

I see lots of potential here….we’ve never had a presidential candidate campaign for the dead voter and work to get them as a block to vote for him. The Zombie vote could slide an election to the left or right, depending how they view the promises made. I can already see the TV ads….where a zombie questions the ethics of a candidate for the dead.

What I’m really curious about….are there more dead registered voters in the New England states versus the southern states? Does Louisiana have really 500,000 dead voters? Is Chicago the home of 200,000 dead city residents who are registered voters? These are the questions which linger in my mind and make me ponder the world at hand. And of course….are there more American dead registered voters than Russian dead registered voters? This would be the curious thing to know.

Live the Simplier Life (or Just Pretend to Do So)

The UN has taken some of your proudly donated money and published a 202-page book on how to kick the bad carbon habits that you have (“Kick the C02 Habit”). They’d really like your assistance. What measures do they suggest?

First….it would be great if you’d use a wind-up alarm clock rather than an electric one: 48 grams CO2 a day. Second….it would be great if you’d dry clothes on a washing line rather than in a tumble dryer: 2.3 kg each load. Third…it would be great if packed lighter suitcases. You’d save 2 million tons a year if every airline passenger cut the weight of baggage to below 20 kg and bought duty free goods on arrival. Fourth….it’d be great if you’d just dump that electric toothbrush: 48 grams a day. Fifth….it’d be great if you heated your bread rolls in a toaster rather than in the oven for 15 minutes: 170 grams of CO2 each time. Sixth….it’d be great if you took the train rather than a car for a daily commute of 8 km: 1.7 kg CO2 a day (provided you don’t live in Red Bay). Seventh….it’d be great if you improved the insulation, heating and lighting in the house, and save two tons of C02 annually. Eighth….it’d be great if you cut the temperature in the winter in the house by a couple o degrees…to save six percent on heat bills.

The mentality here…is to do less with less….even if you could more with more. Imagine yourself in the 1950s and simply act that way. I’m guessing you really don’t like this idea….and will turn the heat in the winter up to 85 degrees just to show your dissatisfaction.

Nuclear Welfare

The Lawrence Livermore National Lab….which is where nuclear science is pushed to the limit….to develop real true destructive power….for nuke bombs….is undergoing a rare manpower trimming. They decided to cut 440 employees in May….and someone woke up this week to grasp several implications to this manpower cut.

Somewhere amongst the 440 folks terminated….were 30 nuclear physicists. The political folks and the National Lab management have now stood up and said that this is very worrisome. The thirty physicists could possibly run off to some foreign government and become a researcher for some very anti-American project. The remaining 440 folks? Well…they are just as likely to end up working for the anti-American project.

So naturally….you can smell what is coming up…..some type of job welfare program where we can keep these 440 folks still employed….even though we really didn’t need them. My humble guess on yearly pay for the physicists? By the time you consider benefits and California slanted pay….they likely draw $400k a year….and the remaining folks probably average between $60k and $150k. So its naturally some kind of fake project program…..where you hire the guy to do something related to nukes….but its just not like the previous important projects….and you just show up to work…sip coffee….have some donuts…chat with the mail delivery guy…..and draw pictures of atoms all day. At five, you go home and talk about the rough welfare program and how you’d like real work….but this is ok.

Personally….I’d rather send the 30-odd physicists out to university professor jobs in Montana, Idaho, and Alabama….and just pay them a $120k salary. Its rough taking a pay cut like that but in this fantastic country we live in….there is simply some limit to what we need, and we surely don’t need nuke welfare. And lets be honest….we don’t need nuclear physicists running Baskin-Robbins operations or driving long-haul trucks….but they don’t need welfare.