Thursday, March 29, 2012

29 MAR 12

Welcome Home ...
Somehow, someplace, someone
that today would be,
"Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Day."
I'm not opposed ...
but I came home from that war

I then, again, went away ...
remained in the army.
Saw a bit of the world on
Uncle Sam's dime.

Got to sample ...
sushi in Japan,
wurst in Germany,
pasta in Italy,
mussels in France,
Porter in England.
Swam in ...
the Sea of Japan
the Tyrannian Sea,
the Balearic Sea,
the Bay Of Biscay.
Crossed ...
the English Channel
and the North Atlantic.
Spent an hour on Wake Island,
a week in Hawaii.
Walked the beaches of Normandy.
Drove the Furka Pass Road.
Ate lunch at a hut on the flank
of the Kline Matterhorn.

Returned home, a time or two,
amidst all of that travel
but home was never again
the place it once was.
Time and circumstance ...
friends moved on,
people died.
The home I'd known
slowly faded away.
And now ...
it's all gone.
Thomas Wolfe had it right.


Found out that today's date was chosen because
it is the date of the official end of U.S.
involvement in the Vietnam War.
(Should've done my homework.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

28 MAR 12

Yesterday. . .
Yesterday, Lex was buried.
I stayed away from the topic
because there were chores,
mundane chores,
that needed doing around here
and if I'd given myself over to grieving,
I couldn't have gotten around to
taking care of them. . .
and these chores needed taking care of.
Besides, there were hundreds of others
thinking of him, mourning his loss.
I would have been just another lost soul. . .
wandering in the wasteland.

In Memorium:
Carroll LeFon, Captain, United States Navy (Ret.)
(Ah..ten... hut!)
(Present ... Arms!) 
"Fair winds and following seas, Sir."
(Order ... Arms!)
(At Ease.)
(Fall out.)


By way of a PS:

                    Photo from NAS Fallon (posted 08 JUN 13)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

27 MAR 12

Owning a house. . .
is much like owning a boat. . .
there's no end to expenses.
This AM, as I was still basking in the glow
of a successful Sunday gig, Reality up'd and
smacked me on the head.
First, came the fuel truck, bearing heating oil.
Then, the downstairs toilet overflowed. . .
prompting a panicked call to the septic company.
They came.
They pumped.
They billed.
Ended up spending near $1600 and hadn't even
left the house.
Last but not least. . . the cable is out, at least the TV
portion. After waiting all day, checking the web page,
finding the outage announcement, checking every other hour,
when everything was done, my TV is still out and I cannot
get a tech here until Saturday, and then it'll be an "Inside"
technician. If the problem is outside the house then I have
to make another appointment for an "Outside" technician. 
Am seriously considering switching to Verizon FiOS.
Don't like Verizon, as a corporate entity, but
can't use Dish Satellite, too many tall trees in the way,
surrounding the property.
                  ( Row, row, row your boat. . . )


Comcast technician arrived at 1300 on Saturday. . .
(31 MAR 12) he re-hung the wire going out to
the pole, came inside to change out the old
connectors on the TV hook-up.
He also showed me how to set up
the new mini-box converters for the other TV's.
Have no complaints.
Have to rethink my Verizon option.
Price may be the deciding factor.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

25 MAR 12

Another gig, another dollar. . .
Today, we're playing the Francis Baird Tavern
in Warwick, NY.
It's a two hour gig, beginning at 3 PM.
There's a sound check at 2. . .
so, I've got to leave home at around 12 noon.
It appears to be a 1.5 hour drive but I'm going to pad
the time a little in case I get lost. (It happens.)
My butt's gonna be dragging tonight.
I've been awake since 5 AM.
And so it goes. . .

Early morning on the day after. . .
The gig went well.
It was held in a small room with seating for 42.
The stage area was tiny. . .
but this is what we're designed to do.
That's why I only play snare and hats,
it's a much smaller footprint.
The room was only half full. . .
we need to make a name in the area
to become a bigger draw.

The Historical Society did it up well.
There was wine and cheese at the break,
soda and sparkling water too. 
They liked our sound and we may be
going back on a regular schedule.

                           Me, with Artsongjazz, at The Francis Baird Tavern - 25 MAR 12

                                      The Francis Baird Tavern, Warwick, NY


There's a baby grand piano in the room.
(It's in the window alcove, to my left, in the picture.)
When he saw it, Dov's face lit up.
Alas. . . it needs tuning.
Maybe next time.

Here a video of us playing the first song of our second gig as the reconstituted Artsongjazz.

(I can't be seen in the video. . . am stuck in the corner, behind the sax player. The lot of most drummers.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

24 MAR 12

To feed, or not to feed. . .
. . . that is the question.
For years I kept a bird-feeder in the back yard.
I began doing this after my cancer surgery in 2001.
I was feeling weak and found that focusing
on birds and the feeder was something that
kept my mind engaged with the goings on of the
outside world.

(That's a long-winded way of saying that it stopped
 me from becoming bored whilst stuck in the house.)

In 2009, I stopped feeding the birds after having my
cardiac V-Tac episode. . . was too sick to care.
At the time, the feeder had been in use for about 8 years.
One plus I've come to notice since ceasing to
feed the birds. . . my cars stay cleaner. . . not
near as much bird crap to wash off. 

I'm thinking of using the feeder again.
Clean cars aside, I miss the birds and
their antics. . . even miss the ongoing
battle with the squirrels.
(I think the score is tied in that contest.)
Gonna think on it.


Speaking of squirrel food. . .
I've come to the conclusion that the perfect
snack food for me is unsalted, unshelled
roasted peanuts.
Unshelled means that I can't eat too many, too fast.
Unsalted. . . speaks for itself.

That excess fluid problem that I had a couple of days
ago was likely caused by my eating too much salt.
First was the lunch and dinner of Chinese food,
then there was an entire bag of Tostitos w/salsa
that I also demolished. Lots (and lots) of salt there.
(I forgot to mention the Tostitos when I first wrote
of my fluid retention.)
Slept through the night. . . except for a 3 AM bathroom
visit. Had no problem breathing. The sodium must have
been cleansed from my system. Yeah!

                                 ( Mea culpa )

Thursday, March 22, 2012

22 MAR 12

Another day. . . another gift
Woke early today... 5 AM.
Had some difficulty breathing...
fluid in the lungs again...
left-over sodium in the system.

It's to be warm again today... hot even.
Right now, it's a bit foggy and cool.
The heat's been off and there's a chill
in the house... a slightly damp feeling.
I'm sitting here, like a little old man,
wrapped in a fleece blanket to ward off the chill.

Band practice tonight.
Another gig is coming up this Sunday.
Could be an important one.
We're playing the Francis Baird Tavern, Warwick, NY.
This is a "George Washington Slept Here"  type of place.
It was a prominent way-point in Colonial New York.
Looking forward to the gig.

                         ( Yankee Doodle Jazz )


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

21 MAR 12

The season turns. . .
A mild day today...
a bit cloudy, temps in the 70s.
The forsythia bush has flowered...
golden yellow now.
Daffodils have pushed up and bloomed.
The robins have returned.
Ah, Spring.

Had a bad, bad night last night.
Could not lay prone without fluid
accumulating in my lungs.
Spent the night sitting up in my recliner.
I hate doing that.
I don't actually sleep...
it's more like cat-napping through the night.

My feet and ankles swelled too.
I have congestive heart failure, so I
knew what the root-cause of this
fluid retention was.
This occurred despite my taking the Lasix. 

I was wondering what it was that
triggered this particular episode.
It came to me!
I'd gorged myself on Chinese food, twice, yesterday...
Chinese food  =  MSG (monosodium glutamate).
The key word here is sodium.
I'd brought it on myself.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

18 MAR 12

  • Death in Afghanistan...
    Been thinking on this... it's hard to get past.
    A US Army Staff Sergeant kills 16 civilians in a fit of rage... to include women and children.

    Am currently reading,  
    "Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades," by Sean Parnell. 
    It's his account of his tour in Afghanistan, as a platoon leader, with the 10th Mountain Division.

    A quote from his book:
    (An IED has just destroyed a HMMWV while on patrol.)
    "The villagers watched the entire event. In his turret, Chris Brown saw Cole die and unleashed a barrage of obscenities at the villagers. They knew the bomb had been planted; that's why they'd come outside. They wanted to see what happened. Nobody had warned our platoon, despite the fact that we'd been bringing aid supplies to the village all summer long."  

    There's no love lost here... 
    not when it seems that we're fighting their war for them. 
    Just as it once seemed in Vietnam.
    The same cultural, and political, dynamics that had much to do with the My Lai massacre are in play with this incident.

    • A vicious enemy.
    • An indifferent population.
    • An inept local army.
    • A, so-called, neutral country offering asylum to enemy forces.
    Watching friends die for no tangible reason warps thinking and builds rage. 
    Seeing whole villages of local people who remain either detached or hostile towards your efforts... something's gotta snap.
    (Also contained in this book are tales of Taliban atrocities being committed every day and not being reported on by any media... or the ISAF officials in charge. Why is that?)

    Just my $.02 worth.


    Also... don't think that I'm for allowing the SSG any kind of break on this...
    I don't advocate that at all.
    It's just that the analyst in me wants answers as to the "Why?"...
    while the grandfather in me screams, "Why?" at the atrocity of the act.

Friday, March 16, 2012

16 MAR 12

Nine days since word of Lex's death reached me.
Am still in shock.
Any serious attempt at writing here is not yet possible.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

07 MAR 12

Lex is dead!
In my opinion, "Neptunus Lex," is/was the best blog on the web.
Lex, in real life, was retired Navy Captain Carroll LeFon.
He'd been a fighter pilot.
He chafed at retirement.
Doing the 9 to 5, sitting in a cube, began to wear thin. 
He did his best to adapt to civilian life... and succeeded, mostly.

BUT... that part of him that was a navy fighter pilot kept prodding.
He was offered, and accepted, a position with a military contracting
company that provided adversarial aircraft for USN pilots to train against.
His aircraft was the Israeli-built F-21 Kfir.

After an early morning launch this day, returning to base
at NAS Fallon, his plane crashed while landing, killing him.

After reading his daily blog these past seven years,
I felt as though he were a friend... though I'd never met him.
I weep for his passing.
I weep for his family... who I've come to know through his words.
He's left behind a wife, a son, two daughters.
(...and a dachshund.)

All I can say is... Damn!
Just Damn!

R.I.P. Captain.
You'll be missed.

                                                       Captain Carroll LeFon, USN (Ret.)



I read Lex's blog only yesterday.
He was alive and articulate, as always.
He was well aware of the hazards of his chosen profession.

From his blog, yesterday, 06 March 2012
By lex, on March 6th, 2012
I supposed it had to happen eventually, everybody has one in time. And I had mine yesterday.

It was a good hop, really. Raging around down low, hiding in the mountains, waiting for a chance to pounce on the unwary. Although this is graduation week at the (prestigious) Navy Fighter Weapons School, and there are very few unwary students left. Still, good clean fun, and your host can say “Copy kill” with the best of them.

Cruised on back to the field for the recovery with few cares, being very nearly the first to land. The students being further away from the field at the knock-it-off, and the instructors taking advantage of whatever fuel they had left to whirl and flail at one another in the best traditions of the service. A tolerably precise landing, there’s the seven thousand feet to go board, and at 150 knots indicated I pulled the drag chute lever aft, bunting the nose slightly out of the aero-braking attitude to ensure a tangle-free deployment.

Which is precisely when nothing happened.

Ordinarily you feel a pretty good tug on the shoulder harness as the drag chute deploys. Not like an arrested landing aboard ship, mind. But the sensation is unmistakeable, as is the effect, particularly at higher speeds. Which I was still traveling at, the chute having either failed to deploy or parted behind me, there was no way to know. Look, there goes the six board. Still about 150 knots indicated. I’ve mentioned to you before how much runway the jet takes up during the take-off roll with the afterburner howling behind you. It takes up a surprising amount of pavement at idle, too. Especially with no drag chute. Time to go.

The procedure calls for full grunt, and drag chute lever forward to cut the chute if it’s a streamer. It takes a little while for the engine to make full thrust from idle, time spent nervously watching the departure end come up. At least I was still going pretty fast, so there wasn’t that far to go to get to fly-away speed. And I was light.

Tower cleared me to land on the left runway, which is a few thousand feet longer. Much to the dismay of a student whose need to land was at least as great as my own, the right runway being fouled by a drag chute, and hizzoner being low fuel state as he subsequently admitted under protest when he was asked to go-around and make room for me. But based on the timing he was now second in line for special handling. There’s a good man, wait your turn and ‘fess up first in the future. I hope you’ve learned something from this.

I was already pretty low on fuel myself, so I didn’t need to burn down gross weight. Flew about as slow as I could without risking a tail strike or hard landing, she does not like to fly slow. Still about 185 knots in the round-out. With no drag chute the book calls for aerobraking until 130 knots, and judicious use of the wheel brakes from that point on, balanced across the length of the runway remaining. You’re a long time holding the aero-braking attitude with no chute. You go  by a lot of runway. Depending upon headwinds or tailwinds and runway length, one might even shut the engine down to reduce residual thrust.

I didn’t in the event, but the brakes – and anti-skid – got a pretty good workout. When I taxied back to the line the maintenance guys told me to go away for 10 minutes. Just in case the brakes might, you know: Catch fire. Which they didn’t, so no harm done.

It’s funny how quickly you can go from “comfort zone” to “wrestling snakes” in this business.

But even snake wrestling beats life in the cube, for me at least. In measured doses."


NTSB Identification: DCA12PA049
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 06, 2012 in Fallon, NV
Aircraft: ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES F21-C2, registration: N404AX
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On March 6, 2012 at 0914 pacific standard time, an Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir F-21C2 single-seat turbojet fighter type aircraft, registration N404AX, operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) under contract to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) as a civil pubic aircraft operation, crashed upon landing at Naval Air Station Fallon, Fallon, Nevada. The sole occupant pilot aboard was killed, and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and fire. The flight had departed Fallon at 0752 the same day, and attempted to return following an adversary training mission. The pilot initiated two Ground Control Approach (GCA) radar approaches to Fallon and then attempted to divert to Reno but was unable to land there as the field was reporting below minimum weather conditions. The pilot then turned back toward Fallon and stated to air traffic controllers that he was in a critical fuel state. The pilot descended and maneuvered first toward runway 31, then toward runway 13. The airplane struck the ground in an open field in the northwest corner of the airport property and impacted a concrete building on the field. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as snowing with northerly winds of 23 knots gusting to 34 knots, and visibility between one-half and one and one-half miles.

                    ( Fair winds and following seas, Sir. )

Sunday, March 4, 2012

04 MAR 12

Things that go "Bang" in the night. . .
Was awake and sitting in my recliner at 5, this AM.
Suddenly... there was a staccato series of bangs out
in front of the house, accompanied by the sound of a car
revving it's engine. I jumped up to look but couldn't see
a thing in the dark.
Later in the day, I went down to fetch the paper and
found both the doors on my mailbox had been blown off.
Looked up and down the street... the neighbor's boxes all
showed signs of damage too.
Putting it together... some miscreant had been out this morning,
blowing up mail boxes with cherry bombs.
Can't close the front of my box now...
gonna have to spring for a new one...
about 100 dollars.

"What would you do if I sang out of tune. . ."
There once was a woman who friended me on facebook.
She was very nice.
She always had nice things to say about my postings.

Then one day. . .
we came to loggerheads.
The subject of our disagreement
was a particular facet of military training.
She thought it barbaric.
I deemed it necessary.
I called her argument. . . "Silly."
She said I was inflexible.

She unfriended me!

I remained ever polite.
(She's still a nice lady.)

Sunshine Friends. . . they can be found anywhere. . .
and everywhere.

                            ( C'est la vie. )


Saturday, March 3, 2012

03 MAR 12

"Hooray For Hollywood. . ."
I'm starting to really believe that Hollywood is peopled by cretins.
Consider my, already offered, opinions on Hollywood writers.
Now... Hollywood publicists are pushing a trailer for the movie,
"Brave," touting the archery duel featured in the movie...
It's ANIMATION folks!
Anything is possible in an ANIMATED film!
The heroine could bounce an arrow off the moon, if that's
what the director wants.

(Does anyone seriously think that Wile E. Coyote, after a thousand-foot
fall to the canyon floor, could just walk away rubbing his sore butt??)

If I remember correctly... they touted the gymnastic stunts in the
animated version of a Sinbad movie a few years ago too.
It was stupid then... it's stupid now.

Got my curmudgeon on today.

From an earlier facebook posting:

FEB 26

Hollywood writers are mostly dipshits.
Just watched a bit of "The Mentalist."
A bad guy opens fire with a sub-machine gun...
turning in a circle, spraying the whole area with gunfire.
Nobody dies, nobody is even hit.
Cops enter and arrest him.
Head cop explains that the gunman's ammo had been
replaced with blanks... in case he slipped surveillance.

Anybody who has ever fired a weapon knows...
Blank ammo looks different than the real stuff.
Blank ammo feels different than the real stuff...
it's not as heavy.
Blank ammo cannot be fired, on full auto, from an
automatic weapon without an adapter being attached
to the muzzle.
Demonstrates lazy writing.

(For the sake of realism, Hollywood movie weapons have adapters permanently installed inside the barrel. Blank ammo CAN be fired, at full auto, with these modified weapons.
Real ammunition cannot be fired at all.)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

01 MAR 12

It'll be two years. . .
... tomorrow, since my step-son, Tommy, died.
The shock of his untimely death, at age 46,
yet reverberates through the family... it's felt by all.

Tax Man. . .
Had an appointment with the accountant today.
Completed all the tax forms and filed everything.

Done! ... 'til next year.