On the Road again…

Just a quick blog- It’s really interesting signing into the blog from here… Most of the character sets come up in Japanese language (Kanji), with a few things coming up in English… You either have to visualize the boxes with english or take a stab in the dark, so to speak.

Anyhoo….. This is one of those months from hell for work travel, been to San Diego, Sydney Australia, Dallas, home for one night, and am now back (for the 4th time this year) in Japan. I spent Thursday through Sunday up in Misawa (way up at the North end of Honshu), working with our Sailors who fly the P-3 Orion aircraft. These folks have flown many, many thousands of hours over Iraq and Afghanistan in the last few years, protecting any number of our US assets in place over there. To a person, they were very upbeat, glad to be “on mission” and doing productive work out here in Fifth and Seventh Fleets. They joke about flying a bird that is older than most of them (the P-3 first came into service in 1962, and many of the current bird date from the 1970’s), it does have problems and takes a lot of maintenance hours for each flight hour, but it gets the job done. I couldn’t help but laugh a couple of times, when they asked when I had flown the birds and I told them 1973-1992. The typical response was it was all MY fault they are broke… Sorrrrryyyyy….

After the Bullet train back to Tokyo (reminder- Don’t lean against the window- meeting another bullet train also going close to 200 mph DOES rattle the window and your head), and two hours on the ‘local’ train (there are a LOT of stops between Tokyo and Yokosuka).

I’ve been down here for a few days of meetings with various staff folks, including a couple who have just come back from Individual Augmentee (IA) ops over in the Sandbox. Again many positives, and very few negatives about what they are doing. Today I was on one of the boats I’ll be working with later in the year. Talking to the JO’s and Sailors was a real pleasure, and I wish folks had to chance to hear what they really have to say, not just what ends up in the media!!!!

Weather is a good news/bad news thing out here this time of year- We had a four hour lightening storm Monday night here (Sunday morning in the States). Just walked over and looked at the weather guesser’s screen, and lo and behold, Typhoon Usagi has us boresighted for Thursday… oh joy… oh joy…

Ah… Babs, I’ll trade ya- A little lightening, wind and rain for a whole lot of wind and rain!
OH well, breaks over, I gotta get back to work… Remember, if you see or know a veteran, thank them for their service.

The collaboration from Matt, AD and Babs is up- This is OUTSTANDING!

If you don’t read it, you will really miss a very special set of stories. They have collaborated on the ‘same’ story from three perspectives- LEO, Paramedic, and RN. Please take the time to follow these links and go read it…

1) Start reading at MattG’s place.

2) Then, continue from AD’s viewpoint.

3) Conclude the story with Babs.


I ‘Love’ Tech Support

As usual, I’m on the road again and as usual they have shi**y internet connectivity in the hotel… It quits in the middle of sending an important email, just like usually happens.

So… I complain this morning, and get told, “Oh, I’ll have to connect you to our ISP, we don’t do it locally anymore.”

Okaaay, fine…

So I spend about 10 minutes listening to way old Musak (somebody PLEASE up date your subscription!!!!)

And I get, ta da… The tech from Hell!

Smarmy voice and all- “Sir are you SURE you actually have the cable plugged into the computer?”

NO- it just jumped out on it’s own…

“Now are you SURE the cable is plugged into the wall?”

No, it jumped out too…

“How do you know you are not connected?”

Well, maybe because I was in the middle of doing email when I got a low/no connectivity alert and the transmit/receive lights on your modem are no longer blinking, even after I reset power (twice), restarted the computer, rechecked all the plugs and connections, etc. and I have no address type, IP address, subnet mask or default gateway!

“Well, how do you KNOW you are not connected now?”

Did you not hear a single thing I just told you???? Guess not, sigh…

Okay, so I asked for an IP address for the gateway to see if I can ping it. I also asked if it was a flat or hierarchical network.

“Oh, I can’t give you that information!”

Say WHAT???? So I asked for his supervisor… Not available, so I hung up and went and bitched to the hotel.

Now 7 hours later, they finally have service back… sigh…

Where in the %^&* do these companies find/hire these people? Don’t the even LOOK at their resumes???

And why oh why do I have to PAY $14/day for this crap??? I can go to a No Tell Motel and get FREE internet with better connectivity, althought the pounding on the walls and moaning and groaning are rather disruptive…

I just love travelling… sigh…

Kicking my soapbox back in the corner now…



Thanks Tiger!

Tiger Woods hosted the AT&T National here in DC this week. It was at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda (near the Navy Hospital). All concerned deserve a big thank you for what they did…

AT&T and Congressional for putting this tournament on in just over 4 months from the start, Tiger for giving 30,000 tickets to the military in honor of his Dad, and specifically inviting the folks who are in both Walter Reed and Bethesda to the tournament. Congressional did a superb job of making the grounds wheel chair accessible and supporting the troops!

By begging and whining, I got a ticket and went today… They estimated 48,000 people were there today, a lot of them military. I was proud of the folks that wore their uniforms, and humbled by the folks from Walter Reed I talked to- To a person, they do not regret what happened to them, they just want, in many cases to get back on active duty!!!!

Right now I’m a soggy crispy critter- It was HOT! 94 in the shade and the humidity was up. I spent most of the day just wondering around, not following anybody in particular, but just enjoying the atmosphere.

I have been to a few golf tournaments, and this had to have been the most diverse crowd I have ever seen. I was standing by the fairway on #7 and talking to a couple of Army Sergeants (both golfers) and we got to talking about the condition of the course- They were remarking on how nice it was and how pretty the greens were, we started talking about cost per round (~$200 as a guest), and one Sergeant said, “Hell, for that I can play for 2 MONTHS at Belvior.” We all cracked up, and actually got frowned at by one of the matrons for our unseemly laughing… Oh well…

Anyway… Thank you Tiger, thank you AT&T, thank you Congressional!

Well Done!

Another Day, Another Roadtrip

Well, I’m off to see the lizard again… California to Australia to Texas to Japan… This is just gonna be SO much fun! Lemme see, I gotta pack for WAY Hot (Texas), cold (Australia- It is winter there) and San Diego (just right). This is beginning to sound like the Three Bears and whatshername…

And it’s all work- meetings, meetings and more $%^* meetings! Of course one of my co-workers had to rub it in when she said, “Oh I know you’re going to have fun.”

I told her I would be perfectly happy to send her in my place- hehehe- Then the litany of Oh, I have SO much to do, can’t leave the kids, my dog it, the cat she, started…

Probably the only real ‘fun’ of the trip will be riding the Shinkansan which is the 150 mph Japanese bullet train. That is a blast, especially when you are leaning against a window and the train passes one going to opposite direction at 300 mph closing speed! Believe me, it bounces your head off that window! It also has it’s own flight attendants, except that you have to pay for anything you get…

Come to think of it, you pretty much have to do that now on the airlines too! Not saying I’m old, but I remember when the beer and food was free and they charged you $5 for the movie.

The fireworks on the Mall were pretty Wednesday night, but the traffic was pretty bad getting in and out of the area. We went up to Ft. Meyer and viewed them from there.

Looking out over Arlington to the fireworks was sobering, as I thought about what has happened in the last 231 years; especially knowing that I was looking at them over the bodies of friends who had died in the Pentagon on 9/11 and other friends who died and are now buried at Arlington.

The talk as always, turned to things military- How the troops are doing in the Sandbox, who’s son/daughter is where and flying/driving what, who just got back and who is next to go. What we are developing to help them do the job, why the media continues to only promote/show the negatives, etc.

One of the wives really brought it home though, when she said, “Here we are enjoying the noise and things bursting in the sky, and my son is probably praying he doesn’t hear any noises and see anything bursting in the sky or on the ground.” (He is a Marine currently in the sandbox.)

Well, I’ve gotta run, gotta go figure out how to get 10 lbs in the proverbial 5 lb bag… My posts may be intermittent for the next month, but I’ll post if I get a chance.

Press One For English

This pretty much says it all for me!!!!

Braille Parking

I was out taking a frustration break and enjoying an Aviator’s breakfast (coffee, donut and cigarette); when I hear a car alarm going off. I look across the street and what do I see?

One big ol’ Caddy with one little grey haired old lady looking THROUGH the steering wheel trying to parallel park that monster in a space…

She had bumped the car behind her, she then proceeded to crank the wheel over and pull forward till she hit the car in front of her (again setting of a car alarm), to keep this short, she backs and fills about 10 more times, using the cars in front and in back of her as bumpers till she finally gets in the space.

She gets out (all 4′ 10″ maybe…)and totters across the street, and I tell her good morning and warn her about the parking Nazi that works the area. She just looks up an smiles, “Sonny, if they DO give me a ticket, I’ll just call the Judge and he’ll throw it out, I haven’t paid a parking ticket in this town in 15 years…”

And off she goes… So I run over and put .50 cents in the meter for her, and looked at the front and rear bumpers… This is definitely NOT the first time she has parked using this technique!!!

And I kid you not, there was a pillow in the drivers seat!!!

I didn’t stick around to see her leave, but ya gotta love the little ol’ ladies; she was somebodies Mother (and hopefully NOT the one teaching the kids to drive).

Barn vs. Bullfiddle

Have you ever just had one of those days????
I’m having a Monday, and it’s not even Monday yet…
Went to the range with a friend and his daughter this morning, took the usual assortment of playthings.

Anyway, mandatory coffee stop en route, get there and trundle back to the little pistol range and get set up- I haven’t even finished loading mags and my friend’s daughter is throwing a hissy fit because she can’t hit the target… soooo… I offer to take a look at the pistol- Yep, all pieces attached, nothing loose, insert mag, fire one round, “X” ring!

Nope nothing wrong with pistol, maybe operator error? Quick refresher on sight basics, she shoots the last 5 rounds (all in the black), removes mag, says something (I don’t think it was real nice…) she stomps off to the car- Huh, okaayyy… Her Dad just looks over and shrugs. Oh well, back to “my” end of the line.

Finish loading mags, assume the position (no not that one…) and proceed to miss the $%^* “X” ring with every shot. Okay, now WHAT is going on? pieces- check, parts- check; operator error? probably…

Lemme try this again- another 10 rounds and not a single one in the “X” ring… ring around the rosy, but not in the center… I look over at my friend, he is rolling laughing…

Oh thanks a LOT asshole (he is my ride home)! He offers to move the target up to three yards, which I politely decline… Back to the bag for my old faithful 1911, I know I can hit with it!

Same-o, same-o, not a #$%* “X” in the bunch! ARRGGHHHH!!!! (maybe I had one pot too many of coffee this morning). My friend is now collapsed in the chair from laughing.

Okay- FINE, I gotta think about this one… So we go cold range and take a break.

A couple of older gentlemen drive up (80’s + I’m guessing) and come on the range. I casually look over and my jaw hits the ground! They EACH have a Broom-handle Mauser, P-38 Luger and WWII era 1911A1’s; the next thing I see is a wooden stock for the Broom-handle, which is installed on one of the pistols.

At this point, the gentlemen realized we were drooling at the pistols so they showed us what they had. A lively conversation ensued, and we found out they were both veterans of the Big Red One. The pistols had come back with them from the War, and they were just trying out the repairs on one of the broom-handles.

The old gentleman asked for a hot range, and promptly knocked down five steel plates from 10 yards with that old pistol. He gave it to his compatriot, who promptly MISSED all five plates; and away they went…

Obviously a VERY long running argument about who was the better shot, as the second gentleman picked up his 1911 and promptly hit all five plates with his gun…
The insults went back and forth as they continued to shoot the different pistols, finally wound down to parting shots, and the final shot was,

“Ah hell, you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a bull fiddle!”

At that point, I quit- For one, I was laughing too hard to shoot, and two, that pretty much summed up my accuracy quotient for the day!

We picked up/cleaned up our part of the range, thanked the two old gentlemen for their service and called it a day…

This week is the 4th of July- If you know any old vets, thank them for what they did, and let them know that you care- Based on requests at Arlington, the WWII vets are dying at an average about 1200 a day, the Korean vets about 500 a day, and the Vietnam vets at about 200 a day.

Soon that generation will be gone, and with it, a large portion of the history of this country. They were born in the depression, won a World War, and saw a man land on the moon- Hard to imagine seeing all that in one lifetime…

A dozen things people should know about CWP holders

There’s a lot of misinformation out there these days about people who have chosen to exercise their right to carry a concealed weapon according to the provisions made by state governments.

Here are a few things that CWP holders want people to know about them. Now of course there are exceptions to these general rules but I think you’ll find these things to be true about the vast majority of your legally carrying neighbors.

1. We don’t carry firearms so that we can ignore other basics of personal safety. Every permit holder that I know realizes that almost all dangerous situations can be avoided by vigilance, alertness and by simply making wise choices about where one goes and what one does. We don’t walk down dark alleys. We lock our cars. We don’t get intoxicated in public or hang out around people who do. We park our cars in well lighted spots and don’t hang out in bad parts of town where we have no business. A gun is our last resort, not our first.

2. We don’t think we are cops, spies, or superheros. We aren’t hoping that somebody tries to rob the convenience store while we are there so we can shoot a criminal. We don’t take it upon ourselves to get involved in situations that are better handled by a 911 call or by simply standing by and being a good witness. We don’t believe our guns give us any authority over our fellow citizens. We also aren’t here to be your unpaid volunteer bodyguard. We’ll be glad to tell you where we trained and point you to some good gun shops if you feel you want to take this kind of responsibility for your personal safety. Except for extrordinary circumstances your business is your business, don’t expect us to help you out of situations you could have avoided.

3. We are LESS likely, not more likely, to be involved in fights or “rage” incidents than the general public. We recognize, better than many unarmed citizens, that we are responsible for our actions. We take the responsibility of carrying a firearm very seriously. We know that loss of temper, getting into fights or angrily confronting someone after a traffic incident could easily escalate into a dangerous situation. We are more likely to go out of our way to avoid these situations. We don’t pull our guns to settle arguments or to attempt to threaten people into doing what we want.

4. We are responsible gun owners. We secure our firearms so that children and other unauthorized people cannot access them. Most of us have invested in safes, cases and lock boxes as well as other secuity measures to keep our firearms secure. Many of us belong to various organizations that promote firearms safety and ownership.

5. Guns are not unsafe or unpredictable. Modern firearms are well made precision instruments. Pieces do not simply break off causing them to fire. A hot day will not set them off. Most modern firearms will not discharge even if dropped. There is no reason to be afraid of a gun simply laying on a table or in a holster. It is not going to discharge on its own.

6. We do not believe in the concept of “accidental discharges”. There are no accidental discharges only negligent discharges or intentional discharges. We take responsibility for our actions and have learned how to safely handle firearms. Any case you have ever heard of about a gun “going off” was the result of negligence on somebody’s part. Our recognition of our responsibility and familiarity with firearms makes us among the safest firearms owners in America.

7. Permit holders do their best to keep our concealed weapons exactly that: concealed. However, there are times with an observant fellow citizen may spot our firearm or the print of our firearm under our clothes. We are very cognizant that concerns about terrorism and crime are in the forefront of the minds of most citizens. We also realize that our society does much to condition our fellow citizens to have sometimes irrational fears about firearms. We would encourage citizens who do happen to spot someone carrying a firearm to use good judgment and clear thinking if they feel to need to take action. Please recognize that it’s very uncommon for a criminal to use a holster. However, if you feel the need to report having spotted a firearm we would ask that you please be specific and detailed in your call to the police or in your report to a store manager or private security. Please don’t generalize or sensationalize what you observed. Comments like “there’s a guy running around in the store with a gun” or even simply “I saw a man with a gun in the store” could possibly cause a misunderstanding as to the true nature of the incident.

8. The fact that we carry a firearm to any given place does not mean that we believe that place to be inherently unsafe. If we believe a place to be unsafe, most of us would avoid that place all together if possible. However, we recognize that trouble could occur at any place and at any time. Criminals do not observe “gun free zones”. If trouble does come, we do not want the only armed persons to be perpetrators. Therefore, we don’t usually make a determination about whether or not to carry at any given time based on “how safe” we think a location is.

9. Concealed weapon permit holders are an asset to the public in times of trouble. The fact that most permit holders have the good judgment to stay out of situations better handled by a 911 call or by simply being a careful and vigilant witness does not mean that we would fail to act in situations where the use of deadly force is appropriate to save lives. Review of high profile public shooting incidents shows that when killers are confronted by armed resistance they tend to either break off the attack and flee or choose to end their own life. Lives are saved when resistance engages a violent criminal. Lives are lost when the criminal can do as he pleases.

10. The fact that criminals know that some of the population may be armed at any given time helps to deter violence against all citizens. Permit holders don’t believe that every person should necessarily be armed. We recognize that some people may not be temperamentally suited to carry a firearm or simply may wish not to for personal reasons. However we do encourage you to respect our right to arm ourselves. Even if you choose not to carry a firearm yourself please oppose measures to limit the ability of law abiding citizens to be armed. As mentioned before: criminals do not observe “gun free zones”. Help by not supporting laws that require citizens to be unarmed victims.

11. Those with concealed carry permits are quite likely the most conspicuously law-abiding people you will encounter. In the majority of states with a permitting system, the permitholder has voluntarily submitted himself or herself to a background check involving local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Very often, fingerprints have also been taken and submitted for examination. You can be assured that we are not criminals carrying under the shield of the law. Multiple levels of government have concurred that we have followed the law. In addition, we have spent a great deal of funds on training, equipment, and the permitting process. We are not eager to jeopardize any of that through misconduct- we are well aware that if we misbehave, we can lose every last penny of that investment, as well as our very freedom.

12. We would NEVER use our weapons unless it was absolutely necessary in order to save an innocent life.

Credit for this goes to “Serenity” over at the 1911 Forum-
http://www.1911forum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=176240

Virginia Doesn’t Raise Taxes, But…

Virginia Introduces $3550 Speeding Ticket

Virginia motorists convicted of minor traffic violations will face a new, multi-year tax beginning July 1. Led by state Delegate David B. Albo (R-Springfield), lawmakers slipped a driver responsibility tax into a larger transportation funding bill signed by Governor Tim Kaine (D) in April.

Albo, a senior partner in the Albo & Oblon, LLP traffic law firm, can expect to see a significant increase in business as motorists seek to protect their wallet from traffic tickets that come with assessments of up to $3000 in addition to an annual point tax that tops out at $700 a year for as long as the points remain.”The purpose of the civil remedial fees imposed in this section is to generate revenue,” the new law states. (Virginia Code 46.2-206.1)

Driving as little as 15 MPH over the limit on an interstate highway now brings six license demerit points, a fine of up to $2500, up to one year in jail, and a new mandatory $1050 tax. The law also imposes an additional annual fee of up to $100 if a prior conviction leaves the motorist with a balance of eight demerit points, plus $75 for each additional point (up to $700 a year). The conviction in this example remains on the record for five years.

Other six-point convictions include “failing to give a proper signal,” “passing a school bus” or “driving with an obstructed view.” The same $1050 assessment applies, but the conviction remains on the record for eleven years.

Now THIS is the part I “really” Like…. Although the amount of the tax can add up quickly, the law forbids judges from reducing or suspending it in any way!!!!

The tax applies only to Virginia residents, so that out-of-state motorists only need to pay the regular ticket amount. Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas also impose a somewhat more modest driver responsibility tax which they apply to out-of-state residents.

I think it is time to “really” retire and get the hell outta here before this place goes any further to the dogs(lawyers)…sigh…

I miss Texas more every day…