Wednesday, 19 August 2009

KMCC on Ramstein

Ok, so I spent an hour over in the new Ramstein mall area….where phase II started last Saturday. The walkway is open, with the food court.

It’s as American as you can make it. It feels hokey walking down this 300 foot stretch.

The Birkenstock shoe place? All over-priced. The other shops along the walk area….over-priced.

The German Hofbrau Haus? Decent food and beer. For a 3-liter stein? $24. It takes around eight to nine big cans of beer to equal 3 liters. Remember, this is German beer too….so a 3-liter container can get you fairly drunk in one hour. And yes, there are cops out in the parking lot...waiting on you.

Several cash machines spread around the place….so they are hoping to entice you into spending money.

Parking? Well….the whole front is full and the sides are getting full. So come December….the whole rear will be used and still not be enough.

The Captain D’s establishment? Well….I had the fish and chips…and frankly, it doesn’t remind me of the US establishment. I poured a ton of vinegar onto the fish, and it didn’t help improve the taste. I paid almost nine bucks for a plate of fish and chips.

Phase three is about four weeks away…where the entire BX is open, along with the Power Zone. I’m not having great expectations.

So I did the natural thing for a fifty-year old guy at the mall….I bought ice cream and sat down in the middle of the walk area….and checked out the babes for thirty minutes. And you know…they kinda look like regular American babes at any real mall.

That Hitler Dude

You know….from 1945….up until 2003….no one ever compared some political figure to Adolph Hitler. For most folks, who didn’t grow up in the era….Hitler was some dead guy who apparently didn’t get remembered for much of anything. For other folks….they kinda scratch their head if you did try to compare Hitler with anyone in the modern era.

It was like eighteen months after 9-11…when I first noticed someone trying to compare Bush to Hitler. I laughed over the comparison, and figured it was a one-time thing. Up until 2008, there were probably well over 100 journalist comments where Bush and Hitler were compared. The majority were bloggers….but after a while….regular journalists would work the comparison into their brief two minutes of “news”.

So in the past six months….the new administration is now readily compared to Hitler on a fairly frequent basis. It’s mostly by bloggers. You won’t find MSNBC or ABC or CBS ever making such a comment on their network news. The amusing thing is that they readily approved of a hint of a comparison between Bush and Hitler but they can’t find that hint anywhere now.

Its funny in some ways….you have various losers in history….but the minute you bring out Hitler….that kinda trumps every other card.

The sad part about this….if I were truly going to play historian and then start talking ‘brown shirts’, Rommel, or the Hitler Youth Movement….most of these 1-star journalists and bloggers just look at you. They really didn’t study Hitler, the Nazis or Germany very much. They just know it’s neat to use Hitler’s name in some comparison.

Where does this end? I now believe that we’ve opened up a Pandora’s Box and we can’t avoid this comparison. Even as the Obama administration continues on…this will be dragged out a dozen times each week. And as the next administration steps in….it’ll continue to get dragged out. We are stuck with the name of some dead dude who really isn’t relevant in 2009.

College is a Business

Years ago when I joined the military....the idea of attending further education was priority number sixteen. Around two years later, I came to this realization that I needed something. So as I arrived at McChord AFB (in Tacoma, Wash), I came to start this trail. From day one, I realized that it was a business and the university system ran at a profit....and that they hired the cheapest professors possible.

As I registered the first time at McChord....they made it very clear that they had to have twelve students sign up....to make the class “work”. Basically, that was the profit margin in their game. Everything beyond twenty was considered big profit and made everyone happy.

Then I discovered the level of professors. The first guy was some 75-year old semi-retired professor who was teaching stuff out of the 1950s (this was 1980). This community college was a big step down from teaching back in the “east” as he always went into detail about.

Then I had the recovering alcoholic that barely knew his topic area and always wanted to get the group to meet after class at some pizza place that had beer by the pitcher.

Then I had the dinosaur digger. She was some left-over 1960s product who was highly intelligent. At some point in a dig in Montana....she had some relationship episode that broke apart and her paycheck ended with the project. She came to Tacoma and worked as a instructor for six months as part of her “recovery”. The thing is, she lived out of some tent in the backyard of her sister’s house. She drove a Volkswagen van and was wore only woven products. She was a nutcase.

Then I had the eastern European guy who barely spoke English but taught logic. There wasn’t a single test throughout the twelve week class and he gave all of us “A’s” at the end.

I moved onto Barksdale AFB, Louisiana (Shreveport). I came to meet the folks at Louisiana Tech University. Half the instructors on base were school teachers who were picking up a second income as college instructors. They were all happy and smiley over us because we didn’t argue or make their lives miserable like the punks in high school.

There at Tech, I had the divorcee who would mention her ex-husband at least twice every hour. She had emotional issues and was treading water at best.

There at Tech, I had the failed businessman who ran the one real video-rental in Shreveport but got shut-down because of racy videos that he rented from under the counter. This was his in-between job while waiting for his next business to start up. He reminded you of some greasy New Jersey mafia guy....waiting for the big job to make his millions.

As I left and moved onto Ramstein AB, Germany....then I came to the University of Maryland crowd.

We had “Uncle Fester” who was around 75 years old and would run out of steam at the 50-minute point of the two-hour class.

We had the African PhD guy who was brilliant at international politics but had lousy usage of English. He rode the train from Frankfurt to Kaiserslautern for the class, and would always been ten minutes late for every class.

Then we had the caffeine addict female instructor who drank around five cups of coffee throughout the two-hour class. She was totally wired by the end of the class.

For the university systems, this is a profitable operation. They make a fair amount of money off the military as they provide classes on base and hand out credits.

Its funny to sit there and look at various resumes that I send out and list colleges of attendance. For the employer, this is a plus. If they realized the poor quality of instruction....they probably would question the value of a degree.

Hydro-Electric Explosion


I grew up in the heart of the Tennessee Valley. Our reputation in Bama, within the valley….is hydroelectric dams. Within a 200 mile circle, there are probably ten of these dams on the Tennessee River.

In all the years of hydro-electric activity in the valley….there’s no one who can remember an accident at the dams except for the occasional tractor trailer which flipped or the fisherman who brought his boat up too close to the spillway. Now, everyone remembers the nuclear episode over at Browns Ferry where some dudes were checking cables and using candles to see what they were doing (we don’t talk much about that). Hydro electric….as far as we are concerned…is damn safe.

Apparently, in the last day or two…over in Russia….the mother-of-all hydroelectric plants in Russia had some kind of major episode. The best we can understand….at least 64 guys are dead or won’t be found alive.

This happened over at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in southern Siberia. The management staff say that the guys either drowned or were crushed, which either are a lousy way of dying.

Naturally, this really messed up power production and a lot of towns and factories are currently without power as they figure out how to reroute power to that region.

The thing about nuclear plants and hydroelectric plants….everyone has this fear of nuclear and this comfy-safe feeling over hydroelectric. If you went to the technicians involved….the nuke technician is likely feeling fairly safe over his profession, but the hydroelectric guy is always having to worry about dam failure. It’s curious how safety is seen via the eyes of consumers and the guys who actually manage the equipment.