It’s the "Little" Things…

Had to go to dinner with the boss and a bunch of other PHDs, luckily there were two other retired Navy types, so we weren’t too outnumbered…


But…

After 8 years, I found out my boss actually WAS a Rocket Scientist… That was his first job, building and shooting off rockets for Los Alamos! No wonder he didn’t like my rocket surgery jokes… sigh…

He said, “Mine only blew up if I DESIGNED them to blow up.” Er… um… “designed” them to blow up???

And I thought dinner conversations at blogmeets were bad, but tonight was a new ‘high’ or ‘low’ depending…

Started with WWII discussion based on a new book out about Guadalcanal, segued into a discussion on Guam, the last Japanese war survivor, Korea, MacArthur, Physics, missiles, rocket science, START treaty, back to physics, to the human brain, to artificial intelligence, to autonomy, back to physics, to existentialism, to movies, to the best existential movie (Groundhog Day), to a dissection of the movie from an existential point of view, to Battlestar Gallactica, to guns, to fishing, to hog hunting…

And those are just the ones I remember… sigh…

One more day of meetings, and the red eye back tomorrow night!

So I’ll be commenting more this weekend when I actually have time to sit and read all your blogs. Y’all have a safe weekend!!!

From the pointy end…

Straight from the Seventh Fleet operations off Japan. Received from a friend of a
friend on the Ronald Reagan. The writer is an oceanographer on the RR.


Be proud or our folks; this is what the military does that never makes the news.

All,

Just thought I’d send an update from life today on Reagan. Some of you have seen of this and some haven’t. Its been quite a week. Many challenging times, avoiding radioactive plumes and contamination in the environment both air and water. Sailors here are happy to help in such a trifold disaster but its also been pretty scary at times for us too. I think all the rad we’ve seen is safe low levels but we do hear of high levels now and again.

Since we are a nuclear carrier we have all the requisite devices to measure radiation in the environment and keep the ship safe, however, not sure the chain of command ever considered having to use these devices in a situation quite like this. Literally, our chain of command was the resident experts on things nuclear until task forces started to get set up and organized.

We had a rough time trying to figure out where to go at first but have nestled into an area north of Sendai that saw much damage and is also a safe distance from the reactors at Fukishima.

We found a bunch of people at first, ~ 10-20 landing zones, then the past few days were quieter and today we found Japanese that needed rescued again.

The helos and airplanes go out and look at the country looking for people with cameras and stuff. Japanese are really smart at disaster prepardness. The displaced people that need help write sos on the ground in big fields or drop lots of stones on the ground in an helo pad shape or spell out S O S. Then the helos know there are people nearby that need help so they land and look and bring back supplies. Lots and lots of japanese have been helped in this way. I’m guessing they are without power but yet they inherently know to do this.

When the helos land on the ground the japanese come out and stand in a perfect line and help the helo guys unload all the goodies out of the helo in an assembly line as fast as possible. They have been ever so respectful, patient and humble. They are such an amazing people. Even in this horrible time, they maintain such respectability.

My friend who is a helo pilot told me tonight that as they were taking off after unloading supplies, a man got down on his knees and prayed to the helo guys (like a buddhist praying motion). Other japanese have all waved, clapped, and given many types of thanks to our helo squadrons.

I saw pictures tonight from the helo’s and airplanes. The pictures are amazing. I’ve never been to japan but its so beautiful, the mountain sides are breathtaking and the ocean on the northeast coast is SO BLUE! There is a lot of destruction in the pictures. Towns just wiped out and houses remaining where the water stopped. I also heard the japanese had a lot of water walls to help protect them from tsunamis and this helped in many locations but not all of course. I haven’t had much time to watch the news and all we get is cnn so these pictures today were unique to me.

Today at sea I saw A LOT of trees in the ocean. It looked like a lumber yard, logs and trees everywhere. Many trees have the root systems attached. I swear, I’d bet money that chunks of land lifted up from the seaside with the trees attached because some of the trees stick straight up and down out of the water as if they are solid in ground (but the water depth is 1000-2000′ in those spots. The ocean is littered with connex boxes, I’ve seen soooo much debris out here, I wish we could have blown some of it up so that at least they weren’t hazards to navigation.

There is media from the NYTimes here today so maybe there will be more news about us coming.

The guys on the flight deck have been working so hard, its really cold outside, they have to wear overboots over their boots to protect from contamination and they return back into the skin of the ship through the foc’sle which is now a decontamination station. I’ve heard that line lasts an hour to get through. If your clothes or boots are too high then they take them from you and issue you new stuff. Fibers and clothes hold radiation moreso then hard surfaces and so I think some things like halyards and lines may have to be thrown away. Our ‘lookouts’ have been inside the pilothouse almost this entire time now and believe the island structure has some contamination on it. My forecasters stopped launching weather balloons.

My team has been working so hard and sleeping so little and giving everything they’ve got. The forecasts for the helos are paramount and CAG is definitely concerned for his guys. The captain has told me repeatedly to keep him abreast of the winds and call him anytime when we will be ‘downwind’ from the reactors. There are people making ‘plumes’ models of the air and sea, some are good, some are great, and some are not. Its all very complicated. And the jets, well, they haven’t really been flying so who knows what will happen with them.

Yesterday everyone dontated supplies from their personal stashes. I’m hoping we do that again.

All for now, sorry if this email is kind of choppy just wanted to pass along the latest.


I thought y’all might be interested in a ‘first person’ account, hopefully gives a bit of perspective to balance what the MSM is spouting…

Veteran’s Golf Course…

Fantastic idea, and it’s truly nice to see that people like Jack Nicklaus are supporting it…

And they have made accomodations with the specialized carts, and actually planned the course where it can be used by the folks, including driving on the greens!!!

Outstanding job by all!

The Last Good Democrat…

Harry Truman was a different kind of President.

He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 32 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and,l ater, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate
positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the
office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American
people and it’s not for sale.”

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or
otherwise.”

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!

I say dig him up and clone him!!! At least he was HONEST!!!

Man oh Man, Haven’t Times Changed?

Pilot’s POV, Japanese Earthquake…

First-hand account from a Delta 767 pilot nearing Japan when the quake hit. Although the captain was an experienced pilot, he was somewhat new to international operations. Just a ‘bit’ of pucker factor (Shades of 9/11!). Obviously he was a tad late to the game, as the early arrivals had already disbursed to Yokota, Sapporo and Osaka, knowing what was going on…

I’m writing from my room in the Narita crew hotel. It’s 8am. This was my inaugural trans-pacific trip as a new, recently checked out, international 767 Captain & it has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve crossed the Atlantic three times so the ocean crossing procedures were familiar. By the way, stunning scenery flying over the Aleutian Islands.

Everything was going fine until 100 miles out of Tokyo and in descent for arrival. The first indication of trouble was when Japan air traffic control started putting everyone into holding patterns. At first we thought it was the usual congestion on arrival. Then we got a company data link message advising about the earthquake, followed by another stating Narita airport was temporarily closed for inspection and expected to open shortly (the company is always so positive).

From our perspective things were obviously looking a little different. The Japanese controller’s anxiety level seemed quite high when he said expect “indefinite” holding time. No one would commit to a holding time like that, so I got the copilot and relief pilot busy looking at divert stations and our fuel situation, which after an ocean crossing, is typically low.

It wasn’t long, maybe ten minutes, before other pilots started requesting diversions. Air Canada, American, United, etc. all reporting minimal fuel. I still had enough fuel for 1.5 to 2.0 hours of holding, but needless to say, the diverts started complicating the situation.

Japan air traffic control then announced Narita was closed indefinitely due to damage. Planes immediately started requesting arrivals into Haneada, near Tokyo. A half dozen JAL and western planes got clearance in that direction but then ATC announced Haenada had just closed. Uh oh! Now instead of just holding, we all had to start looking at more distant alternatives like Osaka, or Nagoya.

One bad thing about a large airliner is that you can’t just pop into any little airport. We need lots of runway. With more planes piling in from both east and west, all needing a place to land and several now fuel critical, ATC was getting over-whelmed. In the scramble, and without waiting for my fuel to get critical, I got a clearance to head for Nagoya – fuel situation still okay. So far so good.

A few minutes later, I was “ordered” by ATC to reverse course. Nagoya was saturated with traffic and unable to handle more planes (read- airport full). Ditto for Osaka.

With that, my situation went instantly from fuel okay, to fuel minimal considering we might have to divert a much farther distance. Multiply my situation by a dozen other aircraft all in the same boat, all making demands requests and threats to ATC for clearances. Air Canada and then someone else went to “emergency” fuel situation. Planes started heading for air force bases. The nearest to Tokyo was Yokoda AFB. I threw my hat in the ring for that. The answer, Yokoda closed.

By now it was becoming a three ring circus in the cockpit, my copilot on the radios, me flying and the relief copilot buried in the charts trying to figure out where to go that was within range, while data link messages were flying back and forth between us and company dispatch in Atlanta. I picked Misawa AFB at the north end of Honshu island. We could get there with minimal fuel remaining. ATC was happy to get rid of us so we cleared out of the Tokyo maelstrom. We heard ATC try to send planes toward Sendai, a small regional airport on the coast which was later the one I think that got flooded by a tsunami.

Atlanta dispatch then sent us a message asking if we could continue to Chitose airport on the Island of Hokkaido, north of Honshu. Other Delta planes were heading that way. More scrambling in the cockpit – check weather, check charts, check fuel – okay. We could still make it and not be going into a fuel critical situation … if we had no other fuel delays.

As we approached Misawa we got clearance to continue to Chitose. Critical decision thought process. Let’s see – trying to help company – plane overflies perfectly good divert airport for one farther away…wonder how that will look in the safety report, if anything goes wrong.

Suddenly ATC comes up and gives us a vector to a fix well short of Chitose and tells us to standby for holding instructions. Nightmare realized. Situation deteriorating rapidly. After initially holding near Tokyo, starting a divert to Nagoya, reversing course back to Tokyo then to re-diverting north toward Misawa, all that happy fuel reserve that I had was vaporizing fast. My subsequent conversation, paraphrased of course…., went something like this:

“Sapparo Control – Delta XX requesting immediate clearance direct to Chitose, minimum fuel, unable hold.”

“Negative Ghost-Rider, the Pattern is full”

“Sapparo Control – make that –

Delta XX declaring emergency, low fuel, proceeding direct Chitose”

“Roger Delta XX, understood, you are cleared direct to Chitose, contact Chitose approach….etc….”

Enough was enough, I had decided to preempt actually running critically low on fuel while in another indefinite holding pattern, especially after bypassing Misawa, and play my last ace…declaring an emergency. The problem with that is, now I have a bit of company paperwork to do, but what the heck.


Editorial comment here: He SHOULD have landed at Misawa, they do have customs and immigration available and DO have ladders that will fit a 767…


We landed Chitose safely, with at least 30 minutes of fuel remaining before reaching a “true” fuel emergency situation. That’s always a good feeling – being safe. They taxied us off to a remote parking area where we shut down and watched a half dozen or more other planes come streaming in. In the end, Delta had two 747s, my 767 and another 767 and a 777 all on the ramp at Chitose. We saw two American airlines planes, a United and two Air Canada as well. Not to mention several Al Nippon and Japan Air Lines planes.

Post-script – 9 hours later, Japan air lines finally got a boarding ladder to the plane where we were able to get off and clear customs. – that however, is another interesting story.

By the way, while writing this, I have felt four additional tremors that shook the hotel slightly – all in 45 minutes.

Cheers, Al

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear…

Once again the MSM has blown stuff ALL out of proportion… CNN (HERE) is, as usual, taking ONE little piece of information and going down the rabbit hole with it…


The military EVERYWHERE has contingency plans for all kinds of situations, and they are brought out when the particular situation calls for possible action, or when training is being conducted (at least a couple of times a year). I find it really interesting that the article focuses ONLY on Yokosuka, and not Yokota or Atsugi air bases which have the same kinds of plans and are miles closer to the Fukishima plant. If one thinks about it, it only makes sense to be prepared, in case things go from bad to worse and rather than wait for that to happen, the military plans ahead (which then sets off the MSM).

When we deployed to WESTPAC even back in the 70s, the first thing done on arrival at the deployment sites was to review the contingency plans for any/all types of actions (and we did quite a few HURRIVAC contingencies over the years).

The 7th Fleet ships are underway, and are standing off a safe distance from Sendai. They are providing relief support and platforms for helicopters to fly from with food/water/medical supplies as required and supporting the JMSDF personnel when/where directed. The GW did get underway with available crew and is not participating, since she is not fully manned. The other reason is, she needed to be clear of any possible radiation to be able to self-monitor since she is nuclear powered.

Also, the Non-Combat Evacuation Operation (NEO) currently underway for military dependents is strictly voluntary and pointed toward pregnant women and women with babies and small children. Unlike the Embassy evac, the military is paying for tickets and will be putting those folks up in lodging on the other end (mostly on the West Coast).

Our military folks continue to support operations in the vicinity of Sendai with all available resources, from all services, because (unlike what the media says), Humanitarian Assistance (HA) IS a part of what the US military considers it’s job…

One last thing- This IS a terrible tragedy for the Japanese people, and sadly I believe the MSM has purposefully blown the Nuke plant problems way out of proportion to sensationalize the coverage and the huge loss of life and attendant issues is NOT being covered in any fair and equitable way.

You don’t see the crying/screaming/pleading for help like you did with the Haiti coverage, because the Japanese, like our Midwesterners, are just hitching up their big boy pants and getting on with the tasks at hand. If they get assistance, they are very politely thanking those who help, and going right back to cleaning up, burying their dead and getting on with life, because they KNOW they are the ones responsible for their own futures…

I can’t help but wonder if we would do as well…

Money Quote…

Not building any more reactors in the US because a 40 year old design in Japan only withstood an 8.8 earthquake is like restricting all new buildings to 24 floors since the 9/11 hijackers hit a taller building…


In other news, talking to one of the Japanese desk folks about a clip that was showing on Japanese TV that had various US reporters flashing up on the screen, he said it was a ‘commentary’ on US reporters and photographers up around Sendai, and how obnoxious, pushy, overbearing and ‘sneaky’ they were. His comment, “Japan doesn’t do things that way. It’s about order and respect.”

Nuff said…

USN assets have currently delivered over 55,000 lbs of relief supplies via helo to the Japanese around Sendai, and have located/supported over 2400 folks in that area.

Random Travel #832…

On the road yet again, still…


Wed-Fri down in Florida for meetings, one and one half encounters with ‘spring breakers’, and I’m NOT impressed…

Trying to check into the hotel with about six other folks, and the fat sloppy ‘thing’ comes up and tries to push to the front of the line, “Cause, like I locked myself out and I need to get back in, like NOW, cause my phone is up there.”

If she’d asked nicely, we’d probably have let her, but that attitude turned ALL of us off, and she got told in no uncertain terms to go to the END of the line…

She started getting even whinier and bitchier, and making comments under her breath; which led to one of the guys in line turning around and telling her she needed to be turned over her dad’s knee and her butt spanked for her attitude.

The second was at one of the little local restaurants we frequent; this gaggle of about 6-8 breakers (about half drunk) signed up in front of us, so we’d signed up for seats at the bar (there were three of us). The manager remembers us, so she called us ahead of the gaggle, and of course two of the guys decided to make a scene because THEY were first…

And they decided to get pushy with us, since I guess they thought they could intimate us; but it didn’t quite work out that way, as “Chris” just wasn’t putting up with it… Now just because he’s a bit on the small side, doesn’t mean anything, since he’s retired SEAL; so when the punk tried to intimidate Chris, he just grabbed the guy by the balls and dropped him right there in the middle of the restaurant, screaming like a little girl 🙂 Two of the ‘busboys’ came out of the back, took one look, and ran that bunch out.

As a side note, they were ALL fat, sloppy, and thought they were ‘entitled’… NOT!!!

So trying to get out of Florida Friday afternoon, airplane breaks (fire warning), we jump through hoops, get on another carrier, finally get home at 0100 Sat, I’m back at the airport at 0600, 5.7 hours of bouncing across the country to LAX, luckily we finally got in a parked next to the gate where my next flight was (so I made it). 11.5 hours later (including 4 hours of pretty good turbulence, and we landed in Japan. We took the ‘long’ way to Narita, going around the West side of the island to miss any possible radioactivity enroute.

Narita is operating normally, Tokyo other than a lack of normal traffic jams is okay; the stores do have food/drink, but we didn’t see any huge lines, or any major problems. The base is working hard, looks like 12 on/12 off supporting the rescue efforts ( I haven’t seen it this busy since the Cold War).

I’m beat, off to catch a few hours of sleep and in to work…

(In)Sanity…

Well, the Chicken Littles are out, doing their damnest to generate fear, paranoia and O.M.G we’re ALL gonna die when the US nuke plants meltdown in the 9.0 earthquake that will happen in 30 years or less… OR, we’re all gonna die from the nuclear radiation that is RIGHT NOW being spewed into the atmosphere from the Japanese reactors at Fukushima, cause they were designed wrong… yada, yada, yada… OR, see… our sailors are being killed by nuclear radiation trying to put out the fires… etc…

Well, here are the facts.

On Monday the Navy said it was repositioning ships after tests had detected low levels of radioactivity on 17 U.S. Navy helicopter crew members that had been conducting disaster relief missions in Japan. No further contamination was detected after the crew members washed with soap and water, the Navy said.

The Navy’s Monday statement, however, provided some perspective, noting that the maximum potential radiation dose received by ship personnel when it passed through the area was “less than the radiation exposure received from about one month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil, and the sun.”

And a few more facts…

The reactors were designed to withstand an 8.0-8.5 earthquake (which they did), what got them was the Tsunami, because they were already shutting the reactors down before the Tsunami took out the backup power.

A reactor is NOT a nuclear bomb, much less a ‘dirty’ bomb, and no it’s not worse than Chernobyl. And they DO know why the explosions are occuring; it is Hydrogen out gassing as a by product of the cooling of the rods in the reactor, and that is what is exploding since they have lost most of their power and can’t bleed the Hydrogen off normally.

And the released radiation is Caesium 137 at 0.4898 mSv/hour as of this afternoon. As of 15 March 2011, release totals were 30 mSv/h between the No. 2 and the No. 3 units, 400 mSv/h near No. 3 and 100 mSv/h near No. 4. The Health Minister indicated that “There is no doubt that unlike in the past, the figures are the level at which human health can be affected.”

Note: Radiation sickness typically occurs at about 1000 millisieverts total dose. Normal background radiation varies from place to place but is around 2.4 millisievert per year (or about 0.3 µSv/h).
Now granted LARGE amounts of CS-137 can affect you per the CDC, Small amounts of Cs-137 are present in the environment from weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, so people are exposed to some Cs-137 every day. However, Cs-137 is dangerous in the large, concentrated amounts found in radiation therapy units and industrial gauges.
If the Navy doesn’t consider it a risk at a range of less than 200nm, WHY are their runs on medications in Hawaii, Washington State, Oregon, and California???
Fear mongers plain and simple…

The REAL tragedy, which is being pretty well glossed over in this is the huge loss of life (probably will reach a total of about 100,000 people) and destruction to the Japanese infrastructure in Northern Honshu (which is only one of the Japanese Islands). Where are the Dems, Left Wingers and others screaming for aid to be provided like they were for Haiti???

Anyone???

Buelher???

/crickets/

I think it is because the Japanese are a successful culture, a major trading and military partner of the USA, and because they have used nuclear power for over 40 years (Now if ANY country should be paranoid, it should be Japan, but no- They learned, and provide over 1/3 of their total power with nuke plants and have for YEARS). Also, I think it is because they are not acting pitiful on TV, and are not playing to the international media; but are going about the business of rescuing people, helping others, picking up their lives, and OBTW, NOT looting…

Just like New Zealand, this doesn’t play well in the MSM, so they sensationalize it to the maximum they can.

Also the MSM is not happy they are not free to go anywhere they want, and actually have to get “approval” and carry enough food/water/gas to get to from the locations they are approved to go to.

Bottom line- This is truly a huge personal disaster for the Japanese people, and they will take years to recover, and they DO need our thoughts and prayers, and yes our help; but this is NOT a TEOTWAWKI nuclear disaster the MSM and the left wing loonies and Democrats here are pushing…

Do your own research, don’t fall for/believe much of what you are hearing on the MSM, and take what you do hear with a grain of salt…

An "Unusual" .45…

Good friend of mine sent this via email…

One of the techs he works with told a story about his wife’s late father, who was a marine in the battle of Iwo Jima, had brought back his pistol from the war. I’m thinking, ok must be a nice old 1911 model, one that has probably seen more than a few soldiers hands. then comes the rest of the story.

Among other things, he was on Mt. Suribachi when they raised the flag there. A few days after the flag raising, the Japanese attacked the marines, and another fight broke out. As they are in the middle of everything, a Japanese sniper takes a shot at him. The bullet hits him in the right wrist, and hits his gun hanging from his belt. The round, after completely disabling his right hand, penetrates his leather pistol holster, and embeds itself into the slide of his 1911. fragments from the round penetrate through the other side of the holster, and into his leg, injuring him further. The marine was able to get to the medic, where he was then evacuated to care for his injuries.

So the technician asks if I would like to see it. After telling him the obvious, he calls his wife’s brother and asks if he could bring it up to the shop.

Here are the pictures taken after listening to the same story again from the Marine’s son.

In the holster…


Impact on the pistol itself…

Hole through the slide, after penetrating the Marine’s wrist…

And the damage on the ‘back’ side of the slide, where fragments penetrated the Marine’s hip…
One hellva story, and an ‘interesting and unusual’ 1911.

And HERE is a link to 50,000 Names, sung by George Jones; it’s about the Wall in DC. Whether or not you like Country music, go take a listen. I think you will be impressed…