Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Gun Culture"

I keep seeing the term “gun culture” in the press, usually in something negative about firearms use and ownership.  Being unsure just what “gun culture” means went with Google and found this in Wikipedia.

If you look for other “cultures” involving tools, about the only thing is chainsaws, and that is mainly involving films.

Seems to be a handy phrase to suggest negative connotations without having to explain or defend anything. It assumes the writer is in some way in control of the moral high ground and expects uncritical acceptance of the writer’s points.

I’m not sure how to combat it other than calling them out on their shit when an opportunity presents itself.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Things That Make You Go "Hugh?"

I cannot fathom the thinking behind this paint scheme. Poor Bimmer!

Yeah, Right (Divorce Rant)

Been divorced for more years than I was married. Why am I still talking to this woman? OK, we have three offspring together. They are all adults. Way past time to keep out of their business unless they ask for our input.

Kids don't want to have anything to do with you? Perhaps if you hadn't left them for me to raise while they were pre teens, and moved several states away, they might have a different outlook. 

Sorry folks, sometimes I use this blog to communicate with extended family.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Right and Proper Thunderstorm

Typical Front Range Thunderstorm this evening. Thunder and lightning at all guardant, a ten minute burst of rain, and now the storm is moving east.

The doors and windows are open, the fresh, clean air is blowing through the house, and the cat has come out of hiding. Tis’ a privilege to live in Colorado.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fulda Gap

Recently I was asked to write something about the Cold War from the point of view of someone who served in Germany during the Cold War period. In my case, 1964-1966. Since this will be blog #601 in the WSF list of things not needed to be said, prepare for a long one.

Ground warfare is more than anything, logistics and movement. My assignment was to a Float Bridge Company. Between Madrid and Warsaw, per classes we attended, an army will encounter a water barrier (river, canal, wetlands) requiring specialized equipment every 50 miles, on average. A small view with equipment from the actual unit I served in:

The main focus of the units we supported was split into two areas. First, near Hanau, German, was staged all the equipment for a Division. All vehicles were loaded, fueled, and ready to go. The plan was to fly in a Division from the United States that could immediately go into the field.

The second area was the East German/Czechoslovakian border. Then,

And now.

Probably the best known area was around Fulda, Germany popularly known as “The Fulda Gap.” The terrain is mainly rugged with a few valleys and low areas (gaps). Invading and retreating armies have used these routes for centuries. Napoleon retreated through one. The US Army maintained a large presence in these areas. A long, but comprehensive, documentary can be found at:

My unit was often tasked with “shitty little jobs” along the border in support of various units. One engineer unit (not us) based at Gelnhausen was in charge of portable atomic demolition munitions (SDAM). One model, pictured below, was loaded into the back of a M 151  (jeep) and driven to a predetermined position where it was to be armed, timer set, and the crew to run like hell.

Access and improvements were needed to these positions, with many positions made so as to confuse the enemy. Hello, Ditch Boys, get to work.

We were called upon to investigate “strange” objects. We dug the remains of one of these out of some nasty bushes.

The Calvary units in the area had a particularly nasty atomic weapon called the Davy Crocket.

These were little more than a hand grenade as far as survival of the crews firing them was concerned. Again, access and improvements to the sites was needed so again, hello Ditch Boys.

Part of the Combat Engineer’s trade is land mines, both emplacing and clearing. From time to time we got to play with these:

The units stationed in the area had their own engineers. Why did they haul our happy little asses up there? My guess was to force the Soviets to find more spies to cover more bars, further away,  to report drunken soldier talk.

Going back the first focus, the prepositioned equipment, our assignment was to bridge the Main River (assumed the fixed bridges would be destroyed/damaged) and hold the bridge head for troops retreating from the North, and then for use by the troops flown in. I had little faith in the plan (shouldn’t have known about it; way above my pay grade – bite me). We assembled next to the best airborne landing site in West Germany:

Goggle Earth N 50° 06’ 36”  E 8  57’ 12” which was treeless in those days and flat.

Whenever we had an alert (always one or more per month) we would load up for war and head out from our nearby Kaserne (if we weren’t in the field somewhere) to the assembly area. I always looked up expecting Russian airborne. As an aside, our ammo and demolition supply bunkers were in that area. A lovely place to walk guard with no live ammo, in the dark, with radical elements of the German population looking for bomb making supplies. With all the sand, wind, and precipitation, you came back muddy.

All in all, a lot better duty than Korea, or later, Vietnam.

I never understood the attitude of many in my unit. While I never bought into the whole Hoorah, I damn sure paid attention to those things that could get me killed or could keep me alive. I acquired, and carried with me, all kinds of maps. Had my own compasses and knew how to use them. Acquired my own .308 caliber rifle (early M-14s were not well made or reliable). Made it a point to really explore the area around Hanau and Wolfgang. Went to every school available (film projection, postal clerk, photography lab, Pathfinder, Mines/Demolition school, etc.  This got me off a lot of shit details as the NCOs knew I went way past the Guard Duty/KP/Motor Stables daily grind in knowledge, ability, and reliability. Alcohol and temper remained an issue but made me fit right in with the career NCOs.

 Just in case people don’t think the Army was prepared for an ugly war, look at the tank retriever below. Now, picture it with a heavy steel v shaped 6’ high snow plow. The plow wasn’t needed for snow. They were  to be used to clear the roads of refuges and their vehicles.

Hopefully, this is what my reader wanted. I hope the other two or three of you weren’t bored.

Special note to any Brown Shoe soldiers still alive to read this. Look at the boots of the SFC in the Davy Crocket picture. With those shinny lace grommets, those must be brown boots redyed black. And who was going to tell him he couldn't wear them?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You Never Know When - Prepping

Youngest son and FDIL (favorite daughter in law) are stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds and live in Dugway, Utah with their five children.  Something of the ultimate gated community with armed guards at the only entrance. The place is remote.

Being in the military, and moving often, it is difficult for them to do traditional prepping though they stockpile food and essentials.

There is an ongoing fire, the Patch Springs fire that has wiped out power lines into Dugway leaving the housing area without power, perhaps for days. In response, son and FDIL tapped into their savings, went to the nearest large town, and bought a generator and necessary accessories. They have power to their essential appliances.

The Patch Springs Fire destroyed about 12 power poles in the Willow Springs area. Some Dugway facilities are operating on power generators. Housing is without power. It remains unknown when power will be restored to housing.
Repair of the line will take some time, owing to the remoteness of the burned poles and lines.
Efforts to bring in a large amount of ice to distribute to residents are underway, to help preserve their refrigerated food.
The Willow Springs Resort was destroyed by fire, as were all the trailers on the south side of the lot. Trailers on the north side survived with little or no damage. The old house across the road from Willow Springs Resort survived with little or no damage.

I don’t know why I ever worry about them; they are two level headed financially prudent people. FDIL plans things out at about a Brigade level. A trip plan to Disneyland filled a three large three ring binder.

Needless to say, I am quite proud of them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sisters on the Fly

Several cousins and one aunt belong to an organization, “Sisters on the Fly.”

These ladies buy, then fix up, older small travel trailers. They have organized outings and events, and, from what I’m told, have a lot of fun. Earlier this week I visited a cousin where a camper is being restored.

 To look like these.

Bravo, and more power to them! I’m just wondering how unwise it may be to refer to them as, “The Estrogen Horde”.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vindicated, Dr. Wakefield

Warning! This is not a warm and fuzzy blog entry.

Many years ago, a British researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, suggested a link between multiple inoculations given very young children and autism and intestinal disorders. For his efforts, he was attacked by the full weight of the British medical establishment and British press, soon joined and sustained by the USA establishments. Turns out he was right.

I have a deep personal interest in this as two of my children are in the population he discussed. One is a classic example of the inoculation then development pattern. I happen to know one of Dr. Wakefield's brothers, and know some of what inspired the man to launch his research.

When I've broached the subject, many health care professionals have told me, in polite, or not polite terms, I'm full of shit. That "scaring" parents into refusing to have their children inoculated leads to all kinds of health problems. Bad, bad, WSF. Ignorant opinionated WSF. So, excuse me, if I don't feel somewhat vindicated.

Inoculations in themselves are not the problem. Sloppy science and poor manufacturing practices are the problem. Money, profits, research grants to those who deliver "preferred" results are some of the problems. Giving multiple inoculations at the same time is the problem. A three year old's immune system may  not be strong enough to handle mumps, measles, and rubella all at the same time. Single dose inoculations are, or were, available. Just not too convenient for the health care practitioners, and vaccine suppliers.

Look to our, and others,  military. Adverse reactions to anthrax inoculations. Gulf war syndrome. Safe? Maybe, maybe not. What happens when you give someone six to eight inoculations at once?

To all you vets, think back to that day your unit was lined up, usually basic training, and you ended up with two sore arms. Why do you think medics/corpsmen were standing by? Remember someone being hauled away who never came back?

One other little tidbit, for the baby boomer generation. How many polio vaccine "pioneers" do you know with cancer?

So excuse me, but no flu shots, no shingle shots, for me. I'll keep my ignorance, thank you very much.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thanks, But No Thanks

Man called yesterday wanting me to sign up for a winter deicing crew job (on call) at Denver International. Flattering, as I had worked on his crew before. Said no, even though the money is good. My knees and my stamina are not what they once were and the equipment is open bucket.

In the picture above, the sprayers are working from enclosed cabs with heaters and wipers. Open bucket is this.

No matter how much protective clothing you wear, you will be exposed to the deicing fluid (glycol)  used to melt the existing ice and the anti icing fluid that goes on the cleaned surfaces if precipitation is falling. Not to mention the elements and the many non stop hours during a major event. The wind will carry the stuff everywhere.

The driver of the truck also gets out and sprays landing gear and runs his hand across surfaces on the smaller regional jets. It is wet, nasty work with many chances for slips and falls. Being a 1944 model, don't think I want to learn how long my broken bones will take to heal.

Should have put off getting old for a few more years. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You'll Be Sorry

Tam has an amusing post, “Imagine Airman Johnny’s disappointment……….” about  farm tractors used by the military.

There are many of us who can relate if we grew up as cowboys doing those glamorous cowboy occupations, fixing and building fence, and stacking hay bales.

We head off to the US Army with great anticipation, expecting to drive tanks and shoot large guns. Once there, we learn of a military specialty called, “Combat Engineer”, where some aspects are  building barbed wire barriers and stacking sand bags.  Little training is needed by cowboys.

We spent one entire week learning about barbed wire entanglements. First, you have your basic barbed wire and specialty anchors.
Then you have some truly nasty stuff called concertina wire. 

After building the barrier, you learn how to defeat it.

One unpleasant fact you learn is Combat Engineers are primarily assault troops, clearing the way for the Infantry through barbed wire and mine fields. Gee, isn’t that special.

After spending a week wrestling with the wire, you must gather it up and store it properly, so the next trainees can use it. You didn’t think the training cadre was going to do it, did you?

Back to the training.  About two hours into the course, Private Cowboy is taken aside by one of the Staff Sergeant cadre teaching the course.  The conversation goes something like this.

SSG: “ Son,  you have done this before. I’m going to make you an Assistant Instructor.”
PVT: “Yes, Sergeant. So when these dummies over tighten the wire and it breaks, it will wrap around my legs instead of yours?”
SSG:  “I KNEW you were experienced.”
PVT:  “Yes, Sergeant.”
SSG: “You see son, I can’t Whomp these dummies along side the head. If you decide to Whomp one, I won’t see you do it.”

Those 60’s era Army NCOs  were a kind and gentle group, oh yes they were. Just ask one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Personal Financial Disaster 8/14/13

Cabela's is opening a new store. 

Now, instead of being a two hour "destination" drive, it is a twenty minutes drive on a route I take once a week. 

Intervention may be needed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

WW II Veterans

Old NFO has a wonderful “Greatest Generation” post up now.

This made me think about someone I know who is of the “Greatest Generation”, now 88, and in a hospice. The question is, how do you honor a man who has a remarkable war record, and is a despicable lifelong pedophile?

 Please, this is not to imply any of the Doolittle Raiders fall into this category.

This man was a sailor. His war started at Pearl Harbor (wounded). Two more Purple Hearts followed with a final, fourth Purple Heart, as one of the wounded on the USS Franklin 19 March 1945.

This man married one of my aunts and was a fixture at family gatherings over the years. His pedophile activity was either well hidden, or ignored.  His brother in law veterans deferred to him. We nephews were in awe. The nieces, not so much, as he, over the years, molested some of them. Then when he  started with the third generation, he was stopped, prosecuted, and jailed because of one courageous mother who didn’t back down.

The turmoil this caused affected many people. His sons and his wife suffered the most by the disclosure. The relationships among cousins, and the denial of the facts by more than one person in the extended family, still impact our relationships.  Too many were willing to let him continue rather than let the situation become public knowledge. That attitude caused a considerable loss of respect, love, and affection among family members that continues today. It makes for some awkward moments, especially at funerals.

How does one honor his service while not excusing his behavior? The easy answer is to hate the sin, and love the sinner. Sorry, I can’t do that. I envision a firing squad instead. Some directly involved family members would rather see boiling oil and fire ants. A firing squad is too easy a way out.

Yes, we haven’t evolved far from our pagan Celtic roots.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Puddy 4

Pictures to follow. Blogger and I aren't getting along today. The airplane I put in the bulk of my first 100 hours was a 1939 Piper J-4 my father bought to learn to fly in. I had a fractional ownership position.  He kept it until he bought a Cessna 182.

Allegedly 75 h.p., we were flying it off a strip at 7,000' ASL. No starter, but did have a wind driven generator for the six channel radio, navigation lights, and turn and bank gyro. No landing light, so night landings at unlit airports could be a bit interesting.

Pretty airplane, Red and White sunburst pattern, and a decent interior. You could hold a conversation in it at cruise. Sweet flyer with not a mean corner anywhere in it's flight envelope. You did want to be paying attention when landing, especially in a crosswind.

My now ex wife had her first ever light aircraft ride in the Puddy 4, cross country over the Colorado front range. Gutsy woman!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Old School Air Navigation

After sharing some early aviation history with old NFO, he suggested I do a blog entry.

One unchanging challenge in aviation is finding your way from one point to another without getting lost. For non pilots, this may be puzzling. Show me any pilot who claims he/she hasn’t been lost, and I will show you someone who’s veracity is suspect.

Today’s newer airliners and many General Aviation airplanes have “Glass Cockpits”. Using several different transmitted date sources, including GPS, and along with sophisticated autopilots, they will nearly fly themselves. In the case of some advanced drones, they will fly themselves. For those who want more information.

The early developer of air navigation systems was the U.S Postal Service in the 1920’s to support their airmail service. First came ground markers, large concrete arrows placed along routes. Some have survived.

Next came lighted beacons, lighted airports, and rudimentary aircraft lighting. Akin to the Pony Express way stations, if you will.

Some of these operated into the late 1950’s. I can remember seeing them in Wyoming as a child. Some were left at higher elevations to aid night flight terrain clearance.

The twin challenges of weight and reliability in equipping airplanes with radios started to come together in the 1930’s. This led to the development of radio ranges and radio beacons (Automatic Direction Finders – ADF). 

The range system was later refined into the Omni Directional Navigation System (OMNI) still used today. With the proper equipment, OMNI will give you the distance to the station. With ADF, you have an indicator pointing toward, or away, from the radio station. In general, you need bearings from two ADF transmitters to locate your position. You can do the same with two separate OMNI stations.

Another newer aid was LORAN, a system using two Low frequency transmitters many miles apart,  and timing the difference between the two transmissions reaching you. Considerable math is involved if you receiver can’t do it for you. LORAN will cover vast areas but is subject to things like sunspots and isn’t terrible precise. A version was used by the British in WWII to guide their bombers over Europe.

At airports (and on aircraft carriers) are aids to help the pilot’s approach. One, glide slope, provides vertical guidance as to the preferred descent profile. The other, the localizer, provides left/right guidance. Two other transmitters complete the system, the outer and middle markers. These help you judge your distance from the runway. This system allows approach to landing operations in poor visibility.
In all cases, the first pilot requirement is to fly the airplane. Asiana 214 is one example of what not to do. 

For all you professional pilots out there, the CFIs and those with  thousands of hours of PIC time, please remember I was a lowly Cessna/Piper driver before you pick the post apart.

 That said, I can beat any of you in a conventional gear spot landing contest. Oh yeah, still have the swagger!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nanny State, Medical Division

Another bitch this old grouch has is the way our nanny state funnels business to medical practitioners. "Do you have a current prescription," is the lead up to, "We can't........ without a current prescription," usually with a barely disguised smirk.

I need to replace the lenses in my glasses. The frames are fine, but the lenses are scratched. My prescription hasn't changed in thirty years. For many years I used a wholesale lab, man and wife operation, that furnished glasses to the opticians. As long as my money was good, they didn't care. I don't know if they were libertarian minded, or just Jewish, it worked for me! They retired, and closed down their business. Drat!

I had a physical a year ago. The people were insistent I have a $2800 sleep study. "But your insurance will pay for most of it," is the first thing out of their mouths. Yeah, like that is "free" money. Copay and deductibles? Deer in the headlights look.

Diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in 1993, I've slept with a CPAP every since. If I want to upgrade my CPAP, or buy a new one, I hear the "prescription" song again. I've even heard it while trying to buy a new mask or supply tube.

So, the grey market. Hello Craigslist. 

Why, when we see medical people, are we suddenly subject to myriad rules and regulations? It has taken over a year for the Physicians Assistant I see to understand I will not do anything, or take anything, without a clear understanding of the reasons thereof.

But WSF, You don't understand. We.............. Your are right, I don't understand, don't care, and will not participate.

Just because I'm one tiny one out of a population of 310,000,000 or so doesnt't mean I can't be an Army of one.