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.