Peaceful, I swear…

Three interesting articles about the ‘peaceful protesters’…

Increasingly, the favored tactic is blocking traffic. And, as the demonstrations become more and more violent, motorists are being targeted and, it is becoming more and more common to see vehicles, festooned with hirsute, scrofulous, putrid demonstrators barreling out of the area:

Full article and videos, HERE.

A photographer who allegedly supported Black Lives Matter (BLM) seems to have been killed by a BLM-affiliated protester.

Full article and video, HERE.

And we have CHOP…

SEATTLE — Two teenagers have been shot, one fatally, in the fourth shooting in 10 days within the boundaries of the free-protest zone set up near downtown Seattle amid a national wave of protests over police violence.

Full article, HERE.

And, of course, nobody knows nuffin…

Random snippet…

Making a try at sword and sorcery…

Comments/recommendations appreciated as always.

The smaller man laughed. “Honest to a fault. Maks, do you understand what has happened today?”

Lubec’s mind whirled, That voice. I…know that voice. But where? It’s been years, the pitch… is different.

Maks replied, “We found an honest blacksmith? Granted that is odd, Sire, but…”

The smaller man threw back his hood, “No, we have found the man I’ve searched over a year for. Adlion, you have not changed a bit.”

Lubec dropped the bit in the dirt. “Adlion? My name is Lubec.” Who? How? It can’t be!

The smaller man chuckled, “You mean you don’t remember me, Adlion?”

Lubec fell to his knees. “Ctibor?” This can’t be little Ctibor can it? Oh deity, rumor had it there was a new baron…it must be. “M’lord Jurec?”

The smaller man nodded as Orum fell to his knees, trembling. “Oh, get up, both of you. This is beneath you. Do you still have Poppet?”

Hearing her name, the wyvern jumped up and wheeted loudly, flapped down, landing at Ctibor’s feet and rubbed his thigh. Ctibor pushed her away, “No, Poppet. I don’t have leathers on. You know better.” He scratched behind the wyvern’s ears and she burbled happily, lightly flapping her leathery wings. He looked up and said seriously, “Adlion, I need you to do something for me.”

“M’lord?”

“Maks, fetch my bags please.” Maks walked quickly out to the horses as Ctibor continued, “Da is dead. The Blacguards got him and his escort. He was on his way back from the western border with Imrich’s body.” He pinched his nose and said softly, “A mile, maybe more, and he would have been home, Adlion, err, Lubec.”

Lubec shook his head and glanced at Orum. Well, the wyvern is out of the bag. Orum will want an explanation, probably sooner rather than later. I wonder what he’s going to do when he finds out I’m his father, not just his master. I guess we will have to move on, again. “Yes, M’lord, we heard. A sad thing.”

Maks returned with the bags, handing them to Ctibor with a small bow. He reached in and pulled out a bag that clinked, and Lubec shivered, knowing what it contained. Lubec finally asked, “You are now the Baron?”

Ctibor nodded without speaking, and opened the bag, spilling the broken pieces of a sword onto the workbench. “The first people there found the sword shattered in pieces. This…should not be!”

Lubec shook his head sadly, “No, this is what happens when a blooded sword is not passed from generation to generation. When I made this sword for your grandda, I gave him specific directions on to how to pass it to your da. It requires a blood sacrifice.” He looked up in horror. “Once your da died, the sword… he blooded Imrich didn’t he? And not you. The blood bond that held it together no longer existed as a life force.”

“I was at King’s Court, a captain of horse. Second son and all that entailed. Da sent a messenger for me to return but I didn’t get there in…time. Can you repair it,” the baron pleaded.

“No, once it dies, it cannot be…put back together.” He moved the broken pieces around, pulling the hilt out and holding it up, he said softly, “Your father died with honor. The fact that the hilt stayed in one piece is evidence of that. He fed it with his own blood in the course of the fight.” Ctibor sagged against the table, prompting Poppet to wheet quietly and shove her head under his hand. Almost unconsciously, he petted the wyvern, stroking her ears while the tears rolled down his face.

Lubec, Maks, and Orum all looked away, and Lubec swept the remaining pieces of the sword into the bag, handing them to Orum. “Put these outside the corral. We will bury the pieces individually in a bit. Set the spade with them.”

Orum gulped, glanced at Baron Jurec, then Lubec, and grabbed a spade as he headed for the door. The baron started to reach out, but Lubec said, “No! It is better this way.” He handed him the hilt. “This is what you need to keep, this shows you are honoring your da. Those who know will know he died honorably.”

Maks asked, “Is there a place to stay in the village?”

“In Skop? The Broken Spoon has rooms over the kitchen. Sablan or his wife Mata can tell you what is available.”

Glancing at Ctibor, Maks continued, “I think the Baron would rather not be identified, if you understand?”

Lubec nodded, “I do. If I may ask a boon?” Maks nodded, and he continued, “I would prefer to be called Lubec. I have not been Adlion in…well over seventeen years. Not since I left the keep.”

The baron replied, “Done. Has it really been that long? Where did you go, Lubec?”

Lubec bowed his head, “After Rie died, and the Baron gave me benison to leave, I went over the mountains to the east. We settled in a little village on the river called Lubec. We were there for almost six years, until people became suspicious of me.”

“Suspicious?”

“M’lord, do you remember what I looked like when I worked for your grandda?”

The baron pulled Lubec over to the door of the smithy, looking him up and down. “I…you…you look the same. It’s almost—”

“As if I didn’t age, M’lord?” He nodded and Lubec sighed. “That’s the problem. The villagers became suspicious when I didn’t age like the other men, or the women for that matter. It wasn’t bad until someone saw Poppet. They started shunning me, so I left. This is the third place I’ve set up shop since in the seventeen years.”

Maks asked, “How old are you…Lubec?”

He looked up at the rafters, shook his head and said, “I have something over a hundred years. I came to the keep when your grandda was a boy. I was already a blacksmith, from my da, and knew the arts from him and my grandda, but I’d never practiced them. It wasn’t till your grandda became the Baron that I first started making swords and halberds, because my da died saving the king.”

He heard an intake of breath behind him and turned to see Orum standing with his hand over his mouth and eyes wide. It’s better that I tell him now. Before he has time to think about it and ask more questions.

The baron eyed Orum, then turned to Maks. “Let us get a room at the…Broken Spoon. It is late, and I have no desire to travel further today.” Maks nodded and glanced at Lubec. “Would you and Orum join us for food, after you talk?”

Lubec cocked his head, “Yes, M’lord, but it may be a while.”

“Join us when you can. We will wait.” The baron and Maks swiftly saddled their horses and cantered toward the village as Orum stood rooted in the same spot.

Lubec steered him gently to the stump at the forge and pushed him down when Poppet sidled up to him. “Orum, I fear I have done you a great disservice. I was going to tell you, but after you became a master.”

“Who…what are you,” Orum asked in a trembling voice.

“I am your father. You are not and have never been an orphan. When your mother died of the flux in the keep these seventeen years ago, I could not bear to remain. The baron gave me the benison to leave, since there was a journeyman I had trained for years who could step in. I told the baron I would never again touch or make a sword, so that nothing I did could be lifted against him or the king.”

“But…you’re old!”

Lubec chuckled. “Both a blessing and a curse.” He started pacing. “We, our line, are from Ferrucrag, an island in the northern seas. We are gifted with a feel for the metals, the strength to work them, and an ability to form things that are bonded to a person with our wyvern’s help. Did you ever wonder why you always know where your poignard is?”

Orum shrugged. “I…not really.”

“Remember how you burned your hand on the blade when you were heating it and bled on the iron?”

Orum nodded. “It hurt, but Poppet licked it and it went away.”

“That blood bonded that blade to you. That is part of the blessing. The curse is our long lives. Grandda lived over a hundred and twenty years and died saving a maiden from a flood. Da died at the battle of Norheim, defending the king.” Lubec stopped, bowing his head, he continued softly, “I saw him fall, but couldn’t get to him in time.”

Orum looked up in wonder. “But, that was eighty years ago! How could you?”

“I was behind the lines, sharpening weapons and repairing armor. The Crags broke through the lines, attacking the king. Da had just taken the king’s sword back after sharpening it, and killed a Crag with his poignard, then used it to fight off the Crags side by side with the king, until the knights could rally and push them away. He took a halberd in the back that was meant for the king in the last Crag push before they retreated. We were part of Baron Jurec’s grandda’s levy, and after the battle, we were discharged and returned to the keep.”

Orum asked, “Am I your only child? You didn’t have others?”

“No, I never married until Rie. She was the Baroness’ handmaiden. I…she was years younger than I. She was just twenty, and I was seventy, but looked forty. We were married for ten years before she conceived, and you were born. That’s a curse on our line, only single male children, and few of those.” He knelt in front of Orum. “My birth name was Adlion, your birth name was Adorjan. All of the males of our line’s names start with A. Due to our long lives, multiple names are used to confuse others.”

“Why do you call me Orum?”

Lubec hung his head, “I wanted to shield you, in case you didn’t have the feel for the metals. And blacksmiths and ironmongers with names starting with A are treated with suspicion, because of rumors of our abilities and the wyverns.”

“Is that why we hide Poppet? And I was never allowed to mention her?”

He nodded. “Yes, we bond with wyverns, which is, again, a blessing and a curse. They give us strength and are a boon when we work metals. Especially doing bonded swords. When she licked you, she healed you. Have you ever wondered why you don’t get sick?” He pointed to Poppet. “It’s because of her.”

Orum burst out, “Why didn’t she heal my ma?”

“We were away, at the western border forts when she took ill. We could not get back in time.”

He picked up a horseshoe and absentmindedly straightened it and flipped it to Orum. “Bend it back.” Orum bent it easily, and Lubec said, “You don’t realize how strong you are. Very few men can do that.”

Orum protested, “You do things like this all the time! You just straightened it!”

“It’s part of the blessing. But it’s also a curse. That is why I’ve done all your weapons training myself. I didn’t want others to be wondering about your strength or asking questions.” Orum started to protest again, but Lubec got up, stomach growling. “That is enough for now. I need food. Go wash and put on your better clothes. We will go eat with the baron and Maks.”

Orum got up slowly, “Yes, Mas. . .  Da? Can I call you Da?”

Lubec folded Orum in his arms, tears rolling down his cheek  Poppet spread her wings and enfolded both of them. “Yes…son, yes you can.”

I got nuttin…

So you get humor…

– Good judgment comes from bad experience … and most of that comes from bad judgment (assuming you survive the first iteration).
– Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
– Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
– Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
– The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.
– It’s always darkest before dawn, so if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
– Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

– Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.
– Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
– If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
– Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
– If at first, you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
– Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
– If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
– If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
– Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.

At least the VA has a plan…

Unlike a number of other locations/organizations…

As the number of active COVID-19 cases among its patients declined slightly in late May, VA announced a three-part plan for resuming operations at its facilities in the coming months. The effort will largely depend on local COVID-19 conditions, including a declining number of patients with symptoms, a reduction in those testing positive and widespread availability of testing. While the VA Central Office has drafted a tiered plan for operations, decisions will be made at the local level and may not be in line with other state or federal reopening goals, VA officials said. “A central planning solution for resuming regular operations makes no sense here because some areas of the country will take longer to recover, while other areas have seen minimal cases,” VA Secretary Wilkie said in a release. “That’s why we’re letting local conditions dictate our next steps.”

The first phase, to occur within the next month, will largely consist of assessments by VA facilities to determine the risks and impact of increasing operations, such as non- emergency procedures like clinical visits and lab tests and admissions to spinal cord injury units. Officials will also explore the capacity for community health care providers to resume seeing veteran patients. In this phase, VBA will increase virtual hearings and formulate plans to resume face- to-face compensation and pension exams, while the National Cemetery Administration will prepare for resuming memorial services and burials that will be held later.

Phase 2 will include expanding non-emergency procedures and medical visits to hospitals and clinics; reopening the department’s Fisher Houses; resuming memorial services and burials with military honors, with limited attendance based on local conditions; and in-person services at VBA regional offices, by appointment. The final phase will build on the others: resuming visitor access to all VA health facilities, including nursing homes, expanding services at VHA and VBA locations, and resuming all other normal operations. VA officials said the work will be done with employee health and safety in mind, and all criteria and parameters “must be met before starting the phases and may precipitate a return to an earlier phase.”

“The pandemic is not over, and VA continues to provide response efforts,” the plan notes. “The timeline for moving through this transition process will be dependent on the
ability to minimize and control exposure and infection levels and maintain a constant decrease over time.” VA’s cemeteries, benefit administrators and Board of Veterans
Appeals will use the same approach in determining when and how to resume activities such as interments and face-to-face meetings with veterans about their status, it said.

As of May 8, 8,137 veteran VA patients were confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and 619 had died. In other words, 7.6% death rate, MUCH lower than the nursing homes in WA, NY, NJ, and other places.

Book Promo…

Mike Watson is putting his inaugural full length novel on sale today- Émigré: A Novel of the Tri-Cluster Confederation

As always click on the cover for the Amazon link!

The blurb-

When Fabien Loche arrives in the Confederation as SolSystem’s newest Liaison, his government believes he’s a broken man sent into exile. But the new job, and the new culture, are far more strange and welcoming than either had anticipated. With the help of the local Chief Inspector, and his headstrong niece Molly, Loche plunges headlong into exploring and learning everything on the station above and world below.

More is riding on his assimilation than his future. He’s also the vanguard of the spaceborne Houses of SolSystem, who are preparing to flee the reach of an increasingly unstable and aggressive Earth. But the Confederation is far more fragmented and factioned than he expected. The scramble to control the highly advanced technology that the Houses will bring, and the fear of losing it, may be the wedge that drives Confederation and Sol System alike into war…

Mike has written a number of shorts in Eric Flint’s 1632 series for the Gazette, and I was happy to be a beta reader for this novel.

Next up is Amanda Green’s short Nocturnal Prey- A Nocturnal Lives Short Story

The blurb-

Three years ago, Mackenzie Santos’ nightmare became reality. The world learned shapeshifters really do exist. Since then, Mac has worked hard to do her duty as a cop, as an alpha and as a mother. Now those duties all come spiraling together as she becomes the hunted. If she isn’t careful, not only will her life be forfeit but so will the lives of her daughter and all those she cares for.

Eerie story, especially if one knows anything about wild animals and their tendencies. Well written with twists to keep you immersed in the book!

Last up is Monalisa Foster’s short story- Pretending to Sleep: A Communism Survivor’s Short Story

The blurb-

Based on actual events, this short story provides a quick glimpse into life under Ceaucescu’s brutal communist regime. Like so many Romanians, ten-year-old Renata lives in fear of Securitate (Ceaucescu’s secret police). They don’t always take you in the middle of the night. In a world where the living envy the dead, not all examples are made in the shadows. Some are made in the light of day.

The dispassionate recounting makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. This one is a prescient warning considering where we are today and what is going on…

Sigh…

The Nanny state is alive and well…

And yes, it’s TINY print, and generic for all knives…

It’s a @#%%#@ KNIFE! Of course it is going to be sharp! Sigh… Really???

I’m sure either NY or CA had a hand in this requirement! Much like the warnings scattered everywhere in any hotel in CA about cancer causing materials, danger this, danger that, including at least one hotel in SOCAL that has a warning button in the elevator about earthquakes (as if the rocking and rolling of the elevator in one wouldn’t be enough)… Kicking the soapbox back in the corner now…

 

TBT…

Grumble… Went digging through drawers looking for one of the little Victorinox pocket knives, but it was nowhere to be found…

But, I did find a few other things I ‘thought’ were somewhere else!

And it’s full of .22s!!!

And a high vis Bianchi speed strip loaded with .357 magnums (I have no idea how old that speed strip is, but I don’t think they’ve made the high vis version in a LONG time)

And then there was this box… sigh…

They date to the 1970s, but still shot well, even if they did smell ‘funny’ compared to the newer powders when I shot them on Monday…

Anarchy…

This is what is going on in Seattle…

Bodycam video of police attempting to respond to the shooting the other day.

My question is, what happens when a resident gets shot/stabbed/robbed…

Apparently as of today, ‘Nobody knows nuffin’ bout what happened.”

Are we on our way to being the next Venezuela???

I’m tired…

Taught an NRA basic pistol class yesterday, went well, except for a really ‘odd’ malf on a Ruger MK-3…

The young lady looked around and said something to the effect of. “This isn’t right.”

Now the ‘oddity’ was that all the shells were properly loaded in the mag and checked… If it CAN go wrong it will, and tap, rack, bang did NOT fix this one! Sigh…

Now for something that is… damn… 30 years ago…

Enjoy, and remember, worry about the stuff YOU can impact and to hell with the rest of the mess…

Interesting sidenote…

As a former navigator, this is an interesting little story… I’ve seen and used a driftmeter before, and when I retired, we were using prototype GPS units…

     A crucial part of flying is the ability to navigate, absent this flight is dangerous. In aviation’s early years, life-saving instruments were either crude or nonexistent. The lack of navigation equipment was the principal reason for the 32 men, out of 230 men, who lost their lives flying mail for the Post Office Department between 1918 and 1927. The lack of navigation equipment made flying mail for the Post Office Department just as dangerous as flying over the trenches during World War I.

     Prior to WW II, flying on instruments relied on dead reckoning making estimations of time-spent flying using basic questionable compass and primitive maps readings. Early instrumentation was primitive, altimeters weren’t accurate, if they worked at all. The reasons being for this was that when  flying in heavy fog or other vision obscuring conditions with no natural horizon for perspective, pilots quickly became disoriented, resulting with pilots flying into the ground while believing they were flying a safe altitude. Today navigating by visual reference to landmarks and dead reckoning are the primary tools used by pilots of recreational aircraft. In the days, leading up to World War II all pilots used this method, simply because there was nothing else to rely on.

     B-29’s relied on  Mount Fuji to be an ideal  navigational waypoint for bombing missions into Japan, being the highest mountain in Japan, rising to 12,388 feet  near the Pacific Ocean coast in Yamanashi and Shizuoka ken (prefectures) of central Honshu, about 60 miles west of the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, and can be seen from the  city on a clear day. B-29’s were required to use dead reckoning navigation over the ocean, and land when forward based in China, and the Marianna’s, and this worked as long as the navigators use of their Astrodomes was not obscured by clouds, which limited the  ability to track the sun, stars, and land navigational waypoints. 

     The B-29’s were designed with a radical navigational innovation being the Automatic Position Indicator produced by The Eclipse-Pioneer Division of Bendix Aviation Corporation. This was a navigator’s companion to the autopilot, and for the first time in aviation or marine history, a device could provide continuous readings of latitude and longitude regardless of speed or drift.

      The brain of the API was a self-contained device, mounted on the instrument panel, and automatically performed all of the computing, calculating, and indicating functions. It instantaneously made calculations, which would have required the navigator to work for hours with charts, basic navigational reference books, star-sighting sextants, a chronometer, and parallel rules and dividers to calculate the position of the aircraft in flight. This system used a remote indicating earth induction compass and consisted of four main parts:

·       A fluxgate which was a transmitter, a horizon gyro, an amplifier, and a master compass located in the navigators position.

·       The fluxgate measured the directive force of the earth’s magnetic field determining the aircraft’s position relative to the azimuth relation of the flux gate to the earth’s directive magnetic force.

·       As the aircraft would change direction, the angular relation of the fluxgate to the earth’s magnetic field was altered and this would provide new navigation data.[ii]

     Two indicating counters, set in an instrument panel compass dial, indicated degrees of latitude and longitude and gave the navigator an exact and con­t­inuous reading of his position. This same dial also gave the navigator a distance measuring (DME) cont­inuous record of nautical air miles flown, radio ranging, and indicated the corr­ect compass heading of the aircraft. From these readings plus a check of the drift meter, the navigator could pin point his position immediately on the map.

Several problems were encountered with the API instrument itself.

·       The problems were that the navigation computer failed to operate properly because of failures of the air mileage unit to transfer its power to the computer due to a shearing of the shaft from the gear to which it was attached in the pump units.

·       The system was designed to work with a west to east calibration for a European Theater, and it required a North South recalibration to bomb from the Marianna’s. 

·       This caused the computer to fail to follow the compass in one direction.

·       This caused the latitude and longitude readings to be in error while the compass read correctly.

·       The recommended solution was for specially trained personnel to calibrate, maintain and repair the API.

·       In a letter to the Commanding General of the AAF dated February 22, 1944, the 20th Bomber Command recommended that four “compass adjusters” be assigned to each engineering squadron of the service group, special, by addition to the Table of Organization.

·       It was suggested that these “compass adjusters” should be specially trained in the maintenance and repair of the API. By May 26, 1944, problems with the API system were still unsolved when four API units had failed. The approximate flying time was 50 hours and all API use was dis­continued on this date. By June 26, 1944, no reply was received by the 20th BC head­quarters on any action by the ATSC to fulfill the requirement for “compass adjusters”. By December 27, 1944, about 70% of the API equipment was still inoperable because of a complete lack of spares for fluxgate and API units.

     The majority of API units had arrived in theater with broken vacuum tubes, and other physical damages, rendering them inoperable. The majority of the navigation personnel stressed the desirability of having this equipment during individual flights such as photoreconnaissance flights and for formation leaders on bombing missions, in view of the absence of checkpoints in the broad Pacific. Wartime shortages left only one Pioneer technical representative available in the CBI Theater.

·       It was considered imperative that at least one additional representative be made available to the 73rd Bomber Wing as well as additional trained ground personnel since the training of the ground echelons on this equipment had been inadequate.

·       The training of the navigators in the use of the API and in the accomplishment of minor maintenance, such as the location and installation of the fuses, needed to be improved.

·       Each airplane needed three each of the compass and repeater units installed in it.

·       The only reason that any of the equipment was still in operation was that the technical representative brought along spares.

       The failure to solve the problems with the API would negate the value this innovation would contribute to B-29 operations.

·       The global Army Airways Communications System (AACS) would eventually provide radio ranging, and weather reports, for air traffic navigation.

·       Radio ranging worked through Loran allowing a navigator to determine his position through the time displacement between radio signals from two known radio stations.

·       By December of 1944, the AACS system had begun to expand to cover all Pacific Allied areas of operation, to include Japan by late in the war.  

     The impact of this was that the B-29 attacks on Japan, and Japanese held Manchuria, were not able to use the API navigation to the target being forced to rely on  full moon’s and good weather which permitting dead reckoning, absent the API, and celestial fixes along the route. Radar bombing which was in its infancy, which helped to provide navigational direction once over land with early positive results demonstrating improvements in navigation and bombing accuracy. GPS navigation would be the solution decades after the war, providing accuracy to within three yards sufficient for all weather navigation.