Saturday, December 31, 2011

31 DEC 11

New Year's Eve

My 2012 resolution:

Expect nothing.


                                                  
-Fini

Friday, December 30, 2011

30 DEC 11

As the year winds down...  
(I borrowed this first bit from Bob Roth, on the ASA Open Discussion page on facebook.)

From a U.S. Marine currently serving in Afghanistan:

U.S. Weapons:
1) The M-16 rifle: Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy minutes after coming out of the shower.

2) The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. It lack the ability to mount the various optical gun sights and weapons lights on the Picatinny rails. The weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. All hate the 5.56 mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinder block structure common over there and even torso hits can't be counted on to put the enemy down.

3) The M-243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down.. Universally considered a piece of sh-t. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

4) The M-9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

5) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect. (Great weapon - I used these when transporting prisoners.)

6) The M-240 Machine Gun: 7.62 NATO (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!) Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

7) The M-2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma Deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper - puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

8) The M-1911 .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol around. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, one can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it.. The old government model.45's are being re-issued en masse.

9) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

10) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers (we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. It is definitely here to stay.

11) The M-24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

12) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as sh-t to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat(which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullsh-t about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

13) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

14) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

( I can't help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old! With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown. )
(Emphasis mine.)

Bad Guy Weapons:
1) Mostly AK-47's. The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like sh-t. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. ( Iran , again)

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogsh-t. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan 's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155 mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran , who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges, in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets
(with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan 's NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire". Jordan 's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did).. More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

Fun Fact:
Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

Bad Guy Technology:
Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google Earth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who Are The Bad Guys?
These are mostly "foreigners", non-Afghan Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe ). Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in various "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.). These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian) are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. They have been fighting the Russians for years. The terrorists have been very adept at infiltrating the Afghan local govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. They have had a spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's.

Fun Fact:  
Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level, they get their asses kicked every time! Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above). Jordan 's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to science. The fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre Gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly,artillery is hardly used at all.

Fun Fact:
The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber sh-t. The new strategy is just simple attrition. The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and especially Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons, and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for inflicting civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans. Kidnapping of family members, especially children, is common to influence people they are trying to influence but can't reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.. The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. They openly offer bounties for anyone who brings in a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a sh-t about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to them. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option. The Afghani's are a mixed bag. Some fight well; others aren't worth a damn. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. Many Afghani's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went right up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Afghani's are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians.

U.S. Morale:
According to Jordan , morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe that they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see sh-t like "Are we losing in Iraq " on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food, and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, is that there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Afghanisan and Pakistan. The Iranians and the Syrians just can't stand the thought of Afganistan being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).
__________________________________________________________
                 _____________________________________

From years ago...
a memory surfaces: I'm attending the Tactical Training Course
at Fort Devens, MA. Been living in the woods, in a foxhole,
for just over a week... am tired, cold, dirty.
The Colonel (Millett) enters the compound with an ABC film crew...
he's been pushing this course (TTC) to the Army and being rebuffed.
The ABC crew is part of his latest try at being accepted by the powers-that-be.
We, the trainees, were all in a foul mood. It had rained and snowed on us,
plus the resident "enemy forces" had kept us from sleep.
(That being the whole point of the training.)
Anyway... each time a camera was turned on any of us, the finger was given
to the lens... thus negating the use of that piece of film on a TV broadcast.
(You gotta realize, this was 1967... a whole different moral compass was in use.)
We disliked the broadcast media...
considered them to be no more than blood-sucking leaches.
In the end, ABC got the footage they wanted.
COL Millett, angrily, had ordered us to stop with the finger thing.
We complied.
(In truth, we all were a bit afraid of Millett... and very much in awe of him.
He'd been awarded the Medal Of Honor for actions during the Korean War.
He'd been a soldier for longer than any of us had been alive.
He would have been promoted to general officer if he didn't scare the piss out of
the chair-bound gentry who were running the pentagon at the time.)

                  Colonel Lewis Millett, being honored in Seoul, South Korea. (He was in his 80s here.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

26 DEC 11

Now, it can be told...

My step-father, Don Vermilye, was an engineer.
He was schooled at Princeton.
When he married my mother, they both worked
for RCA Camden (NJ) on various programs for
NASA. Don's engineering team developed the
ranging RADARs used on the Lunar Module.
When he was laid off from RCA, in the
post-Apollo world, he worked as a consultant
for a time until he was approached by Perkin-Elmer.
That's how he and my mother ended up in Connecticut.
While he was with Perkin-Elmer, the work he did
was highly classified.
He never spoke of it.
He never told my mother a thing...
even though she also held a TS clearance.
(No "need to know")

Now, it can be told.
Fox News article on the Perkin-Elmer Danbury, CT facility.
                   ( Click image to enlarge )
http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j33/snuffyny/wwwfoxnewscom-us-2011-12-26-decades-later-cold-war-secret-is-revealed-.png



Christmas 1972, Haddon Hts, NJ - My mother and step-father, Don Vermilye. After Christmas dinner.


                         ca. 1983, Bethel, CT - My mother, me, Don w/their dog, Chris, in front yard


(This is the last photo taken of Don. He was diagnosed with lung cancer not long after this was taken. He fought the good fight for three years... lost in '87.)


-Fini

PS:
Perkin-Elmer declared bankruptcy. The Danbury building was sold to B.F. Goodrich.
The facility was still making precision mirrors for the space program.
My brother worked there as a lens grinder until he was laid off in '99 (?).


A posting on Don and Mom's RCA days
http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/20-jul-09.html

Saturday, December 24, 2011

24 DEC 11

"All is calm..."

Saturday night.
A Christmas Eve...
and all is quiet.
The day was bright and cool...
near chilly.

The Giants won NYC bragging rights,
beating the Jets 29-14 in the pro game
played today.

My wife and I puttered around the house.
She prepared a dish for tomorrow's dinner
at her daughter's home in Connecticut.
________________________________

Passing strange... though I now profess to be agnostic,
I was reared Catholic and the one thing I find
myself missing on Christmas Eve is attending
midnight mass with my mother.

As a kid, I used to love the look and smell
of the decorated church...
fir boughs and beeswax,
festive red ribbons, green wreaths...
a flood of poinsettias.
There was that gut-shaking rumble
of the pipe organ...
the soaring voices of the full choir...
the priestly vestments...
that satiny sheen, white and gold.
I loved the spectacle of it all.
The full Roman Catholic High Mass...
celebrated in Latin.

But most of all, I appreciated being treated as
being adult enough to attend the midnight ritual.

Merry Christmas to all.

                                              ( Kyrie eleison )

-Fini

Views on religion

Monday, December 19, 2011

19 DEC 11

"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?" ( Wm. Shakespeare )

Trying to photograph my band, Artsongjazz, yesterday, at the Museum Village gig.


In this picture: From left... Cosmo Policriti (Sax), Me, Joe Welsh (Drum),
Dov Dixler (Keyboard), Shane Bordeau (Bass), Naomi Kennedy (Vocals).

Obviously, we played our first gig yesterday.
We performed in a "coffee house" setting in the
Museum Village complex, Monroe, NY.
The village is a recreation of 19th century life. 
The venue was, definitely, from the 19th century. 
Heated by fireplace... 24 degrees out yesterday. 
Everybody kept coats on for the first set.
The second set, everyone huddled by the hearth.
Good gig anyway. 
We cooked!

                                             ( Not literally! )
 -Fini

PS: More Photos, of a much better quality.
       Audio files to follow shortly.

                                       Artsongjazz,  setup at Museum Village

                                      Artsongjazz, catching the rhythm at Museum Village


                                     Artsongjazz, cookin' at Museum Village

Friday, December 16, 2011

16 DEC 11

"...Hallowed Be Thy Name"

The subject is God, or gods, depending on the belief system.
I was reared in the Roman Catholic Church...
though it's precepts didn't take with me.
Never believed the tales that were told... even as a small child.
Could never get my head around the "Holy Trinity" thing...
a convoluted explanation for matters of faith that could only
have come from a committee.

My own personal view:
Humans and religion... this pairing goes back in time
to when our ancestors huddled in trees at night,
watching thunderstorms sweep the savannah.
Surely SOMETHING BIG was responsible for
that light show, all the ground-shaking noise.
An evolving intelligence, the evolving brain, sought answers...
and the concept of a Supreme Being was born.

-Fini
                    ( ... chicken or the egg. )

PS:
Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, sorry to say.
His was a voice for reason in an, often, unreasonable world.
He succumbed to esophageal cancer... an affliction that
I beat with surgery and great good luck.
I'm not sure that I should wish for the well being
of his soul, given his predilection.
(I'm agnostic, not atheistic.) 
            __________________________________

05 JAN 12

After having written all that, I find this... which I also agree with: 
                                    Cobb
                ______________________________


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13 DEC 11

American Icon ...




An ice-cold Coke.
Funnily enough, when I think of that icon
I'm remembering Vietnam.

July 1967 ...
110 in the noon-day sun ...
work detail (repairing the trench line) ...
metallic-tasting warm water in the canteens.
The NCO in charge leaving us ...
going to the EM Club ...
returning with a case of Coke ...
a bucket of ice ...
sleeve of paper cups.
Break time!
Sucking down Coke over ice ...
guzzling Coke on ice ...
cold 'n wet.
Coke on ice ...
Nirvana,
on a brutal hot day.


A memory carried for more than 40 years.
Don't drink much soda now.
Never did drink much to start with.
Probably wouldn't be drinking it nowadays
at all... except for that memory of Vietnam.
(I've become diabetic.)
Nothing else has ever tasted quite as good since.

Despite what the Docs say ...
every once in awhile, I just gotta have
                 
 ... a Coke! 


-Fini 
                            ( ... not a Pepsi. )

Sunday, December 11, 2011

11 DEC 11

"The time has come..."

Just watched Barbara Bachmann on "Face The Nation."
It was more of the same ol', same ol'.
Bob Shieffer asked her a yes/no question...
she runs off on a tangent, repeating to us why she is the
only candidate who can beat Obama... ???

Once again, my political poem rings true:



-Fini

PS:
I wrote this poem, 20+ years ago, after watching Bob Shieffer go round 'n round with
Sen. Ted Kennedy while trying to get him to answer a yes/no question.
It's obvious that the "running off at the mouth" phenomenon is not confined to any one
political party.
                                                              ( ... of cabbages, indeed! )

Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 DEC 11

Becoming...

I think that one becomes a curmudgeon when
the list of what is disliked becomes longer than
the list of things that are liked.
When disliking becomes habitual...
when unsolicited opinion is constantly offered...
Viola! ...a curmudgeon is born.

I think I've entered that stage in life.
There's an awful lot that I don't like in today's world...
and this blog is the perfect tool for bitchin' and complainin'.
I do understand that much of my discord is due to age,
to time and changing mores.
__________________________________________

(I'm not sure if what follows is truly curmudgeonly or just ordinary generational differences.)

A granddaughter thinks that Lady Gaga is the Second Coming.
I beg to differ.
Surely, the Beatles were the Second Coming!
... though my mother never thought so...
but, then, she was a 1930s type of gal...
more attuned to Gershwin and Cole Porter.

-Fini

PS:
My wife, who is a bit older than I am, thinks that Elvis was the Second Coming.
Me... I never much cared for Elvis. (Except for his rendition of, "Don't Be Cruel.")
Life goes on.
                                             ( ...that would be "Presley." )

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

07 DEC 11

Pearl Harbor Day

A day for remembering.

Was stationed in Japan for two years...
at the 14th U.S. Army Security Agency Field Station, Hakata, Japan.
It was near the city of Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu.

I traveled some while there... paid a visit to Nagasaki.
Went to the "Ground Zero" monument, actually.
I stood there a long while, looking, watching, thinking.

I wondered why, since I had Japanese friends,
that I felt nothing while standing there, at a monument to
their defeat and our own (now) perceived barbarity.

I decided that it was due to my own understanding of history.
In 1945, the Japs were the barbarians, while we were the
"Knights In Shining Armor."
We'd prevailed, survived to lop off the head of the great
dragon that had been a rampant Nippon.

It also mattered that my step-father had been a U.S. Marine and
fought at the battle for Okinawa. While he never spoke much
about his war years, he did once say he felt that Harry Truman
most probably saved his life by dropping The Bomb.
He had been scheduled to be part of the invasion force for Japan.

After Okinawa, the ordinary foot soldier and marine had no
illusions about the cost of that upcoming fight.


-Fini


                    My step-father, Don Vermilye (far left), on pass in Honolulu 
                                    prior to shipping out to Okinawa.

                                             Ground Zero, Peace Park, Nagasaki, Japan


                                           Me, in the city park, Fukuoka, Japan - ca. 1971
  
PS:
I don't have many pictures from my tour in Japan... this is the only one I have loaded in my computer.

PPS:
I'm also reminded that life has a way of just plodding on.
Today may have been "Pearl Harbor Day" (70 years on) but today was also the day for my wife's second podiatry appointment.

ALSO:
Another Japan memory surfaced... visiting the home of a bartender friend... sitting around the kotatsu (table) eating squid, drinking beer... his grandmother telling me that the one thing she had feared most during the war was the "Bee Nijuu-Ku" (the B-29 Bomber).
I had no reply for her.

THEN, THERE'S THIS:
Fukuoka POW Camp
___________________________________________

Another look back...

 Neptunus Lex
 

Monday, December 5, 2011

05 DEC 11

"A Charley Brown Christmas"... and other stuff

Winter's comin' on.
It's chilly out... gray sky and fallen leaves.

"A Charley Brown Christmas" on the television,
warm pumpkin pie (fresh from the oven) and
a glass of good red wine.
All I need this time of year.

I find that the older I get,
the less my world needs to encompass.
The things I love are held close...
family and friends.
Wife. Child. Grandchild.
All else matters less... or not at all.

                        ( Life... writ small )

-Fini

Sunday, December 4, 2011

04 DEC 11

"I remember ten."

So said I... in a previous posting concerning the perversion scandal
occurring at Penn State University. (And now at Syracuse!)
                   
                                      (21-NOV-11)

... and I do.
At ten, the world is a very big place.
At ten, you feel very small.
At ten, adults rule your world... from your parents to the teachers at school.
At ten, you cannot do much without permission.

I was taught to be always respectful to adults... to NEVER sass them.
If I felt that an adult had wronged me, I'd been instructed to then tell my
parents and let them deal with the problem.

I was carefully taught that I was to NEVER get into a car with a stranger.
I was to be ever aware of the actions of strangers and others and NEVER
allow anyone to play with, or remove, my underwear.
(This caused some problems with the Cooper Hospital nursing staff when
I was to have my tonsils removed.)

I wonder what happened at Penn State.
Were these boys not taught the same as I was?
Are these cautions not universal in nature?
Dunno.
I'm going to think on this some more, so for now...

-Fini
________________________________________

16 Dec 11

My (subjective) conclusion:
Sandusky WAS the perceived father-figure.
It was expected that he be obeyed.
He was known.
He was trusted.

If he is adjudged to be guilty,
then he violated that most sacred trust
and...
I'll gladly sing him a "Him":

       "Himmm... Himmm... Fuck Him." 
(To be chanted in the choral manner of medieval plain song)             

      ( a vestigial memory from my USASA days )

Friday, December 2, 2011

02 DEC 11

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful..."

Back on the 16th of October I wrote that my new band, "Artsongjazz,"
was to play it's first gig on Sunday, 30 October, at the Museum Village
Coffee House. It never came to pass... a Nor'easter blew through here
on the Saturday before, bringing a foot of heavy wet snow. All that
snow, in combination with the remaining leaves not yet fallen, brought
down whole trees and a tangle of broken branches.

Power was lost for several days over a large portion of the Northeast.
Here, we lost power Saturday afternoon... were forced to find a hotel (again).
We were out of the house until Tuesday afternoon.
Not bad when you consider that people living in the upscale community
of Ridgefield, CT (about 10 miles from here) had no power for near onto
two weeks... and nights were getting cold.

The Coffee House had entertainment booked for every week-end of
November... so our first gig is now Sunday, 18 December 11.
We practiced last night and we were cookin'. Just hope that we can
hold on to this musical high til after the gig. All bands have flat days and
when that happens no amount of trying will fix the music.

-Fini

PS: Gonna have to stop referring to "Artsongjazz" as being my "new" band.
       It's now just my band.

                        Ad, from the Museum Village web page (and, as is usual, misspelled my name)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

29 NOV 11

"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

I'm a fan of the TV show, "The Big Bang Theory."
The central character on the show is one Sheldon Cooper.

Lately, I've been tracing my family roots on Ancestry dot com.

I have a half-brother who is also from Texas...
his name is Sheldon Cooper.
He's about a decade younger than I am.

I've tried looking up my half-brother on Google or facebook but
whenever I enter the name... about 10,000 hits come up...
all of which concern the fictional "Sheldon Cooper" from the
TV show.

I also have a half-sister... her name (in 1974) was Lisa Cooper.
She's a couple of years younger than her brother.
Cannot find her either.

I've never met them.
Perhaps one day...

I'll continue searching.

-Fini

PS: I was born, "Joseph Michael Cooper," my brother,
"Thomas William Cooper."

              Pictures of Lisa and Sheldon Cooper, ca. 1974
(An explanation of the photographs: The mother of Sheldon and Lisa contacted my mother in the mid '70s and requested medical information about my brother and I. Seems that one of her children was symptomatic for a possible genetic disorder and she was wondering if either of us had had similar medical problems. She sent along the pictures with her request. According to my mother, my brother and I had never displayed any of the symptoms that were described... I don't know what the symptoms were. I never asked. My mother never said.)

                         

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 NOV 11

Somebody said...

The Penn State circus grinds on... and on.
Everyone is pointing fingers and promising
to get down to the "truth." (Whatever that is.)
I find the alleged crime to be disgusting.
If Coach Sandusky is found to be guilty, then a long, long
stretch in prison is what he deserves.
(Forever and a day wouldn't be too long a sentence IMOHO.)
But here's the catch... he hasn't been found guilty...
of anything!
He's merely been accused.
He has rights...
which are guaranteed by our system of law and justice.
The media seems to have already convicted him and
to consider a fair trial as being incidental to the process.

Paterno, on the other hand, has earned the scorn being heaped on him.
He dismissed an assistant's claim as frivolous and passed it up the line
for the school to investigate... washed his hands of anything that may come
from it.

If the accusations prove true, the victim was a ten year old boy.
He needed somebody to champion his cause.
How could he have fought this fight alone?
He was ten years old.
(I remember ten.)

                                                      ( ... so say I )

PS:
22 JAN 12
Penn State Football Coach, Joe Paterno, has died.
In the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead, I've
removed the harsher criticism from this blog post.
I left just enough to let the reader know that I was
unhappy with Mr. Paterno's lack of concern for a
young boy.
R.I.P., Paterno... your God can deal with you now.

-Fini

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20 NOV 11



From a news source...

Perception:

In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life NOW... it has an expiration date!

-Fini

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

16 NOV 11

"...and weeds become wildflowers."

We (my wife and I) spent the day down in NYC attending
a matinee performance of the musical, "Wicked."
A birthday present from her daughters.
(My wife is a huge "Wizard Of Oz" fan.)

This show is a triumph of technical stage-craft
... well written and well played.
The script is a prequel/back-story to the original
spun tale of a young girl's adventures in a land
called Oz.

It turns old concepts upside down.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show and highly recommend it.
                        ____________________

The entire quote in the title:
"Change your point of view and weeds become wildflowers."



-Fini

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

15 NOV 11

"Better dead than red"

The premier political saying in the days I was growing up.
Russians were "Reds."
The Chinese were "Red."
Red was the color used to designate enemy forces on maps.
Blue was us.
Blue was the color designation for our own forces.
A commander's nightmare was always a "Blue on Blue Incident."
Red was left.
Blue was right.
My question: How did liberals become the blue folks, while conservatives became red?
That flip-flops the learned political history of this country and sets up the left (now blue) to be the de facto good guys in the new narrative.
Words have weight and power to influence thinking.
I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to language.
I don't like the use of "associate" in lieu of "clerk" or "cashier."
Cannot figure out how a "sale" became an "event."
Don't know why cars are now "pre-owned" instead of used.
The kids are giving new meanings to old words too.
My grandson described the movie, "Captain America," as being "sick!"
"Sick" is a good thing to be, I guess.
Sorry if I bore you... just an old man ranting.

-Fini

_______________________________________

From the "Army Security Agency Open Discussion" facebook Page
 A posting from Bob Roth:
Origin of Left & Right, or why it is that Conservatives are called the "right" and Liberals are called the "left."
By chance I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible:
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

Spelling Lesson:
The last four letters in American..........I Can
The last four letters in Republican.......I Can
The last four letters in Democrats.........Rats
-- End of lesson --
Test to follow in November, 2012.

Remember, November is to be set aside as rodent extermination month.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

09 NOV 11

"Damning with faint praise..."

...words taken from Shakespeare, I do believe.
_____________________________

Veterans Day is two days away.
At the 11th hour, on that day, we shall all pause and remember
what it is that veterans have given in the service to this country.
The business community wishes to appear cognizant of the veterans'
service and to reward them with some token of gratitude. Restaurants
are offering free (or discounted) meals with proof of service.
This bit, from the listing of eateries offering freebies, caught my eye:

"Krispy Kreme - Where participating stores will present a free donut on Nov. 11 to all active-duty members, retirees and veterans. Officials encourage people to call ahead to ensure that their local Krispy Kreme is participating."

Don't wish to appear ungrateful but...
I'm underwhelmed.

-Fini


Having just written all that...

I came across this:

Gratitude 

Friday, October 28, 2011

28 OCT 11

This blog entry is in response to a question asked on the U.S. Army's facebook page.

 Fill in the blank:
"The nicest thing someone has done for me (or that I have done for someone else) in uniform is ______________."

I'd like to answer with a short tale.
Ten months into a two-year tour and I was taking my wife and two infant children home, to CONUS, from Japan. The plan was to fly military Space-A from Tokyo to Travis AFB, CA. We'd figure out how to go the rest of the way to the East Coast from there. I was burning up leave days that I couldn't really afford waiting for a flight out. We were living out of suitcases in the Yokota AFB terminal waiting room. Finally, a flight out of Japan was available but it was to Hickam AFB, HI. I was being forced into buying tickets for the family, on commercial transport, from Hawaii to CONUS. I had to use an AAFES vendor's travel office that was located there, in the Yakota terminal. One problem emerged... because of my rank (E-4), I needed an officer to co-sign for the purchase. (The airfare was treated as a loan.) While waiting in the terminal, I'd struck up a conversation with a USAF captain. He was traveling, with his wife, on a PCS move. He'd noticed my campaign ribbons and had asked where I'd been in Vietnam. He told me that he'd overflown Vietnam, ferrying F-4 Phantoms, but never served there. When he overheard the vendor tell me about needing an officer as co-signer, he stepped right up and volunteered. He didn't know me from his elbow but was caring enough to help me. I cannot, this day, remember his name, only his deed. I try to emulate him, daily, in my dealings with people.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

22 OCT 11

A lazy Saturday...

Have been exploring my family roots via the Ancestry dot Com site.

To date, this is what I've discovered:

Joseph Welsh Family Tree
(Click image to enlarge.)

               ________________________________


Going to view the Vietnam War "Traveling Wall" later today.
     
               ________________________________


While visiting the Traveling Wall, I found Bill Stewart's
name and made a rubbing. Bill was a friend and mentor
when I was a nug 98C at the 8th RRFS. Bill, along with six or
seven other 8th RRFS personnel, died when the C-130 they were riding
in flew into a mountainside while trying to land at Da Nang AFB.
It was on October 8th 1967, in the rainy season, and I remember
the day as full of fog and rain.



Bill Stewart was on his way home. He'd done his year, his 365 days. Most of the others from the 8th were on their way home too. That's the irony of this tragic crash.
(It was an article of faith that the 'Nam was not done with you until you had your boots on the ground at home... and sometimes not even then.)



-Fini

Friday, October 21, 2011

21 OCT 11

Ho Hum...

According to some, it's supposed to be the "End Of The World" again today.
Guess not.
It's nothing but quiet around these parts
             ____________________________________

Gaddafi is dead.
I'm glad for that.
I spent much time in the '80s looking
over my shoulder whilst living in Berlin.
(Bombs scare the crap out of me.)
Besides the Libyans, there too was the RAF.
(Red Army Faction - AKA, the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
On the day Ulrika Meinhoff was buried, in a Mariendorf
cemetery, I moved my two U.S. plated cars onto the air base.
There was a very large crowd of her supporters marching just
two blocks from where we lived on Paradestrasse. My wife
and I were the only Americans living in the area and the
distinctive USA license plates might have brought us trouble.)
                _________________________________

The White House announced today that U.S. soldiers would be
gone from Iraq by the end of the year... all because the Iraqis
couldn't accept a status-of-forces agreement with us.
I don't think it'll be long before the two Muslim factions are
at each others throats again.


-Fini

PS: It's now 22 Dec 11. The last American military unit left Iraq 18 DEC 11.
Today, 14 bombs were set off across Baghdad, killing about 60 people.
Sunni insurgents are thought to be guilty.
Took all of 4 days for it to begin.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

16 OCT 11

Mid October...
the trees are not turning much this year.
The leaves become brown and wrinkled
while remaining on the tree.
It's thought this is caused by all the snow and
rain we've had this past year.
The ground is soaked.
The roots continue to take water from the soil
and transport it to the leaves,
thus delaying the change in color...
delaying the fall.
     _________________________

Stopped to eat in a Wendy's.
The girl at the counter took my order, then asked,
"Would you be dining in or dining out today?"
She was only about 16, or so, and was spouting
company training... so I didn't lay into her about how
I wouldn't be "dining" anywhere... that "dining," in my mind,
conjers the image of table service, china plates, flatware...
there are no styrofoam boxes, no plastic sporks, no tiny
paper cups of ketchup in my definition of "dining.".
          ________________________

My band, "Artsongjazz," has a paid gig in two weeks time.
We're playing at a new coffee shop, situated within the confines
of "Museum Village." This is a family attraction located in
Monroe, NY. Am looking forward to it. While I enjoy hearing
us play the music, it's always better with an appreciative audience.

-Fini

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11 SEP 11

Ten Years Gone... Ten Years On...

Thought to write something about 9/11...
but nothing extraordinary happened to me that day.
I was merely a witness from afar.
I watched events unfold on TV, alone at home,
switching from channel to channel.
The first word I heard of the attack came from
the Channel 4 News Chopper... during a traffic
report there was a sudden, fast-moving, shadow
outside the chopper's window and the woman
reporter yelled, "What was that?"
Everything else followed..

-Fini
_______________________________________________

Afterthoughts...
In that time just before sleep comes, the mind wanders where it will...
tonight I recalled one, nearly forgotten, 9/11 memory:

I live in the NY City area. Soon after events unfolded at the WTC, one of the local NY channels ran a short news story about Pakistani residents in (one or more ?) New Jersey towns dancing and singing in the streets in celebration of what had just occurred. It was only the one broadcast... and it was NEVER mentioned again.
I've often wondered if the media was self-censoring or if the govt. had intervened to prevent rioting by the rest of us (U.S. citizens). I do know that I've had a hard time looking at Pakistan (and things Pakistani) with anything approaching charity in my heart since.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

07 SEP 11

Art...
Naomi, the singer in my new band, is also an art teacher.
After practice one day, we got to talking about art and poetry.
Since I dabble in both, she asked to see some of my work.
I showed her some copies of my digital art work and the first
thing she said was, "When are you going to have a showing?"
She thinks the work is that good.
I'm not so sure.

I'm going to link to a couple of pictures and ask what readers think:

China_01 - I scanned this page from a book, then manipulated it with PhotoShop.

China_02 - My first manipulation of the book page... into a framed silk wall hanging.

China_03 - The second manipulation... a gouache-type art print.

China_04  - Thirdly... turned the first manipulation into a framed egg-shape.

China_05  - Fourth manipulation... modern art.

China_06  - Yet another manipulation... green silk wall hanging, w/modern frame.

China_ 07  - A manipulation in black & red.

Warpaint  - Native American, a Plains Tribal Member... developed from a napkin doodle.

Any questions or critiques?

-Fini

PS:
These all began life as Windows desktop wallpapers, originally produced in the .bmp format.

Monday, September 5, 2011

05 SEP 11

Kids and passing time...

Back in 2007, at the urging of my grandchildren, we built a tree fort back in the wood lot
at the rear of the property. The kids played in it every time they were here that summer.
However, as years pass, the fort is used less and less frequently. This past summer, they
showed no interest in it at all. (They're mostly teenagers now and their heads are filled
with other thoughts.)


                              The tree-fort, with three of the grandkids

This last Saturday, I spied two young boys up in the tree fort but before I could open the door, they'd climbed down and disappeared into the woods.
Later that day, as the wife and I were leaving to go to the store, we saw that they'd returned and were hammering away at the fort's railings. We asked them to come down, inquired as to their names and where they lived, got answers, asked what were they hammering on. "We were fixin' it. The nails are loose." was the reply. (They'd brought a tool box with them!) Feeling like a turd, I informed them that the fort was off-limits to them... safety and insurance matters.
I really feel bad about this. I like kids and would gladly let them play if I didn't think that I'd be sued if one of them fell and was hurt.
Life in these times.

-Fini

PS: Gotta remember to cut and remove the fort's ladder.
_____________________________________________________________

Apropos of nothing. . .
Caught an ad on TV for Simon Cowell's new show, "The X Factor."
Looked to me like an "American Idol" carbon copy.
I mean... amateurs singing, plus the comedy relief of all the awful wannabes.
Cowell, Paula Abdul and a Randy Jackson clone as judges.
A host (?).

1. The X Factor
2. American Idol
3. The Voice
4. America's Got Talent
5. Karoake USA

This is "Star Search" run amok.
(Just when does a programming niche become overly saturated?)

(I guess that I'm just cranky tonight.)

(-Fini, in fact)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

03 SEP 11

After Irene. . .
A week has passed. The storm is long gone. Some effects yet linger.
Looking out on my back yard, all is tranquil. The squirrels are nosing
around for food. The lone gopher made an appearance, crossing the
yard to the next-door neighbor's property. Birds are back. . . to include
the raucous crows. There is little damage. . . a couple of fallen trees
(one a 60 ft. giant) back in the small wood at the rear of the property.
We lost power for a few days. Spent one night in a Fishkill hotel. . .
(were in need of hot showers, food that wasn't canned, lights!).
All-in-all, we fared well compared to others in the storm path.
We were merely inconvenienced.
We were lucky.

I wish everyone else, touched by Irene, a speedy recovery.

 -Fini

Saturday, August 27, 2011

27 AUG 11

IRENE!
It's 6:40 P.M. and Irene is moving north.
It's now located near Norfolk, VA.
I've done what I can to clear the decks for the coming assault.
Everything is either stored under the back deck,
moved close in beside the house or placed in the shed.
We've eaten the last of the frozen food... so if (when) power
goes out, we won't lose much.
The lanterns have fresh batteries,
 ditto for the portable radio.
The camping stove is ready to go.
Water jugs are filled (the tub too).
Both cars have full gas tanks.
I've 2 bottles of wine to help me through this.
Ready to rock!
... Just hope no trees fall on the house.

-Fini

Monday, August 22, 2011

22 AUG 11

Watching football.
Chicago at NY Giants.
I like football and am happy to have the new season arrive.
BUT... I've never understood the pre-season game syndrome.
Why risk a star (read: expensive) player being hurt, and out for the season,
for a game that means NOTHING?
The TV networks must be having some influence here.
I believe that it's the same thing that influenced the decision to move the Pro Bowl...
why move it from post Super Bowl play to pre Super Bowl?
Methinks that TV needed something to fill the blank space in
their programming schedule during the two week football hiatus...
and pressure was brought to bear (not to mention the money).

-Fini

PS: All I can say is,  I'm gonna be pissed if Eli Manning gets hurt tonight.




Sunday, August 21, 2011

21 AUG 11

My new band:
Artsongjazz - Bios

I'm happy to be feeling healthy enough to play again.
(Remember when your grandmother told you,
"Be grateful for your good health."
Well, she was right.)
__________________________________________________

More on writing:
Kurt Vonnegut, in an excellent and short essay on writing style.
He has seven rules:

1. Find a subject you care about.

2. Do not ramble.

3. Keep it simple.

4. Have the guts to cut.

5. Sound like yourself.

6. Say what you mean.

7. Pity the readers.

Great rules for bloggers, obviously.
In fact, these are rules that seem to say:
"A great way to write is to blog."


 -Fini

Saturday, August 20, 2011

20 AUG 11

Another Cold War vet on a return visit to Teufelsberg:

video
 _____________________________________________________________

Sometimes I think that old haunts should remain locked in memory.
There are a bunch of places where I've been stationed, units that I've served in, that are no longer.

1. Fort Devens, MA
2. 8th Radio Research Field Station, Phu Bai,Vietnam
3. Vint Hill Farm Station, Warrenton,VA
4. 14th U.S. Army Security Agency Field Station, Hakata, Japan
5. U.S. Army Security Agency Field Station, Berlin, Germany
    (There's also the Berlin Brigade and Tempelhof Central Airport,
      where I worked as a civilian.)
6. National Guard Armory, Danbury, CT (192nd Field Artillery de-activated)
7. 242nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) de-activated

Fort Devens - Vicksburg Square, Revere Hall, The ASA Bookstore... more like a college campus than a U.S. Army Training Center. I enjoyed my time there.

video



The only military installation, where I've ever been stationed, that still remains is Fort Dix, NJ where I spent 8 weeks in Basic Training... and that place has been downgraded to a Reserve Training Facility.

-Fini

 

It's 15 SEP 11 today...
And yet one more post is closed... Fort Monmouth, NJ lowered the colors for the last time today. Ft. Monmouth was the place where I retired from the National Guard back in 1994.

-Fini

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

16 AUG 11

"Quis operor vos specto ex a sus tamen a grunt?"
                               (What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?)
          

While channel-surfing this morning, I came upon "The Maury Povich Show."
The first thing that popped into my head was the English version of the quoted
Latin, above.


-Fini

15 AUG 11 (2)

In 1967- 68, I was stationed at The 8th Radio Research Field Station,
(Trai Bac Station) located on Highway 1, Phu Bai, Vietnam (Republic Of).
We were co-located with HQ 3d MARDIV and across the road from the
Hue-Phu Bai Airport.




______________________________________________


                                 Me, in my room, sometime during Tet '68.


Red X: marks where my room was.
(There were 5 - 6 people to a room.)
Blue X: is the Operations Bldg., where I worked (Usually Swings).
Green X: marks Star Bunker 3, my Alert Station.
(I was an ammo bearer. We had the 3.5 in. rocket launcher [Bazooka]
and a whole conex container full of white phospherous rounds for it.
We were supposed to take out the MP's bunker, next to the main gate,
if it were to be overrun.)
Yellow X: is the Mess Hall (In today's Milspeak, the "Dining Facility.")


      Aerial Photograph of the 8th RRFS, Phu Bai, RVN, ca. 1968

Monday, August 15, 2011

15 AUG 11

Taken from the novel, "A Letter Of Mary,"  by Laurie R. King:

"The hand of bone and sinew and flesh achieves it's immortality in taking up a pen.
  The hand on a page wields a greater power than the fleshly hand ever could in life."

Why we blog.

-Fini

Sunday, August 14, 2011

14 AUG 11

Am now back to being a drummer.
I auditioned this past Thursday to play
with a small jazz group, "Art Song Jazz."
They've been playing, and doing well,
as a trio... Vocalist, keyboard, sax...
but have decided to expand slightly,
adding percussion and, maybe, a bass. 
I plan to play using my snare and hi-hats,
along with an assortment of brushes, rods,
light drum sticks... maybe add a ride cymbal
somewhere down the road. They want to keep
the music light... I own a 18" Paiste flat ride
that would go nicely.

A sample recording of the trio from last year (sans drum):

September In The Rain

-Fini

PS:
Dubbed in a drum track, me playing.

Summertime

Friday, August 12, 2011

12 AUG 11

"In a man's letters his soul lies naked."
                                  -Samuel Johnson
-Fini

Saturday, August 6, 2011

06 AUG 11

From another blog:   http://www.randomjottings.net/

"....Glamour is a beautiful illusion -- the word "glamour" originally meant a literal magic spell -- that makes the ideal seem effortlessly attainable. Glamour hides difficulty and distractions, creating a false and enticing sense of grace. We see the dance, not the rehearsals; the beach resort, not the luggage and jet lag. There are no bills on the kitchen counter, no freckles on the pale-skinned star, no sacrifices in the promise of change."

 (I posted this for the edification of my grandchildren.)
_________________________________________________________________

New Topic:

It's Saturday.
As is usual, my wife has QVC going on all three TV sets.
Right now the clothes designer, Bob Mackie, is hawking his wares.
His work has been described as "wearable art."
I like him.
I like his clothes... on my wife.

My only knowledge of him, before QVC, came from a friend while in Berlin.
My then-wife's school friend, Penny Fuller, had come to perform at the 1983
German/American Volksfest. Penny had a one-woman cabaret act.
When we greeted her upon arrival, she gave me an ordinary plastic
shopping bag to carry. It seemed heavy for it's size. She warned me to be careful
with the bag, as it contained a couple of (borrowed) Bob Mackie beaded gowns
worth $10,000. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Fuller

http://www.cabaretscenes.org/cab_revs/2007/Sep%2007/fuller-penny9-07.html

Mackie's current line of clothing carries a more reasonable price tag.
I wonder when he decided it made better business sense to sell many pieces
to ordinary people, for less money, than it was to sell exclusive pieces
to the wealthy for exorbitant prices.
(On thinking about this... I believe he probably, now, does both. He certainly
has the talent... and the business sense.)

-Fini   



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

03 AUG 11

National Watermelon Day!
______________________________________

Channeling Gracie Allen...

My wife calls from the kitchen: "Tea's poured."
As I enter the kitchen she says: "I forget... is it 'steep' or 'seep' with tea bags?"
I answer: "It's steep."
She replies: "But that's what they say about stairs!"
Me: ??

                                                    ( good night )

-Fini

Sunday, July 31, 2011

31 JUL 11

I read that the comic, George Lopez, threatened to move to Canada if Sarah Palen were to be elected to the presidency. Have no fear... he won't leave. Such people are too addicted to the Hollywood teat to stray very far. (And comedy doesn't travel well.)
Back during the 2004 election the actor, Alec Baldwin, promised the very same thing if George W. Bush won. Well... Bush won and Alec never left us.
He's still here... more's the pity.
I do find it interesting that "Chicano" Lopez chose Canada, vice Mexico, as a safe retreat.

(By the way, George, you're free to leave NOW if you've a mind to. This isn't the DDR.)

More later -
____________________________________________________________


 Went to see a grandson perform in a summer-camp production of Anything Goes.
It was enjoyable. The singing was great. The acting... wanted some.
Watching, I was again reminded of the difference between professional
and amateur performers... especially with the dance routines.
At least my grandson enjoys himself. He loves theater and will be attending
the CT Regional Center For The Arts this coming school year. 

Regional Center For The Arts

-Fini

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 JUL 11

On Teufelsberg today:

http://www.5min.com/Video/Touring-Abandoned-Military-Stations-in-Berlin-517130555

"Harry Pohlabel." When I knew him, he was called "Tony" Pohlabel and was a SP5, engaged in a running feud with FSB brass. He once claimed to have converted to the Sikh religion just so he could grow a beard. Credit where credit due... he was a mechanical mastermind, always working on cars at the Auto Craft Shop. He manufactured, by hand, a set of the green USA issue plates for his unregistered car. He was caught only because he hadn't used reflective paint when he finished them and the MP's noticed this one night while driving behind him.


 I either forgot, or never knew, that he stayed in Germany after ETS.
Tony was a great guy... and I liked him immensely.
He was always ready with a helping hand.
He, also, was always looking for ways to scam authority.
He was a living, breathing "Archie"... could've played the roll without a script.
                       (Blog Entry - 21 APR 11)

My one outstanding memory of him was from an annual MWR Christmas-time play. This was in '74 or '75. The play was titled, "Father Ruffian" and had been written by one Lucien Agniel, who was in Berlin with RIAS. At the time, the theater was located on the Clay HQ compound, on the bottom floor of what was also the AFN enlisted billets.
Tony Pohlabel was in the production, playing the role of a WWII Major General at the Battle Of The Bulge. During the premier, with the CG Berlin Bde attending, somebody upstairs in the billeting area began blasting their stereo. Tony, in costume, was dispatched to ask that the music be turned down. To hear him tell it... he knocked on the door... was ignored... knocked again, louder... was ignored... banged on the door... the door opened and the occupant began to say, "What the F**K do you..." saw the two stars on Tony's uniform collar, snapped to attention (nearly breaking his back) while yelling, "Sorry Sir!"
Tony played it straight, told the guy to turn down the music... then departed quickly before anything else could be said... or realized. We all laughed about the incident for weeks after.

More on Lucien Agniel:
http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=526

-Fini

Saturday, July 23, 2011

23 JUL 11

I hold a deep and abiding contempt for Jane Fonda and her ilk.
News of her fit of pique over QVC's refusal to sell a product
that she's trying to shill on TV brought back all the distaste
I have for her... plus a little glee.
_________________________________________________

Taken from another web site, owned by David E. Koopman, Vietnam Vet.
http://www.qsl.net/wb0ydi/vietnam.html

Shame on Jane 
By Michael Benge

To whom it may concern:
I was a civilian economic development advisor in Viet Nam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Viet Nam in 1968, and held for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement, one year in a cage in Cambodia, and one year in a "black box" in Hanoi.
My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban me Thuot, South Vietnam, whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border.
At one time, I was weighing approximately 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.). We were Jane Fonda’s "war criminals." When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with Jane Fonda. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as "humane and lenient."
Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel rebar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped. Jane Fonda had the audacity to say that the POWs were lying about our torture and treatment.
Now ABC is allowing Barbara Walters to honor Jane Fonda in her Feature "100 Years of Great Women." Shame, shame on Jane Fonda! Shame, shame on Barbara Walters! Shame, shame on 20-20. Shame, shame on ABC. And, shame, shame on the Disney Company.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda for a couple of hours after I was released [in 1973]. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She did not answer me, her husband, Tom Hayden, answered for her. She was mind controlled by her husband.
This does not exemplify someone who should be honored as "100 Years of Great Women." After I was released, I was asked what I thought of Jane Fonda and the antiwar movement. I said that I held Joan Baez’s husband in very high regard, for he thought the war was wrong, burned his draft card and went to prison in protest.
If the other antiwar protesters took this same route, it would have brought our judicial system to a halt and ended the war much earlier, and there wouldn’t be as many on that somber black granite wall called the Vietnam Memorial. This is democracy. This is the American way.
Jane Fonda, on the other hand, chose to be a traitor, and went to Hanoi, wore their uniform, propagandized for the communists, and urged American soldiers to desert. As we were being tortured, and some of the POWs murdered, she called us liars.
After her heroes the North Vietnamese communists took over South Vietnam, they systematically murdered 80,000 South Vietnamese political prisoners. May their souls rest on her head forever. Shame! Shame!

Respectfully,
Michael D. Benge
___________________________________________________

I second everything that Michael has written here.


-Fini


More on Fonda and her trip to North Vietnam:
http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jjmnolte/2011/07/25/jane-fonda-the-truth-about-my-trip-to-hanoi/#more-497956 

Lastly:                  

                                       You are not forgotten, Jane.

                                     From the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City:






                           Some impromptu veteran's "Jane Fonda" memorials







   Members of the 42nd Infantry Division, NY Army National Guard