Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Call...you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here...

About that title: Dad enjoyed the "Happy Hour" of his life to the fullest.

We (SN1 and SN2) were with him in his last days, reading comments to him from the blog and conveying the well wishes we've received from so many.  We held his hands as he took his last breath... he will be missed.

We honored his memory with a toast of 15 year old scotch. I'm sure he appreciated it.


We delayed posting this because we felt strongly about contacting loved ones personally... we apologize for any discomfort the delay may have caused.

Dad wanted us to keep the Blog going and we will.  We invite you all to share your favorite memories of our father in the comments below... just be polite, that's all we ask.



 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Post Today

I'm having a very bad day; motivation to do anything beyond fighting for my next breath is seriously lacking.  But I'm still here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Not Much In the Overnight Mail

Well, not much that would be of general interest, anyhoo.  That said, there was this from the Usual USAF Source:

US Air Force crews ferried two MC-130J Commando IIs, assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command, including the one shown here, from the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Marietta, Ga., on Dec. 5, 2014, to RAF Mildenhall, England. Lockheed Martin photo.

That looks like a giant slinky trying to eat a Herky-Bird.

The only other thing in the overnight mail was a link to a short article at NPR about catalogs.  The first grafs:
Many things made with paper have become relics because of computers and the Internet: the Rolodex, multivolume encyclopedias, even physical maps.

Now take a look in your mailbox or somewhere around your house. There's a good chance you'll see a shopping catalog, maybe a few of them now that it's the holiday season.
OK, I looked and found four catalogs... one from LL Bean, one from Land's End, one from cigar.com, and another cigar catalog from an outfit called Thompson's.  That was it, and I haven't cracked any of those as yet. That doesn't mean I don't use 'em; I do.  My catalog consumption is way, waaay down from Former Happy Days when I'd receive at least 15 to 20 of the things each and every month.  And I remember, quite fondly, the day the Sears Big Book hit our mailbox back when I was a kid... especially when the fam'bly was stationed overseas and we pretty much LIVED out of the Sears Roebuck catalog.  There was a reading/browsing hierarchy associated with the Sears catalog: Mom got it first, then Dad, then us kids.  Woe be unto you if you tried to browse the catalog before Mom said you could.  Death would have been preferable to what would have happened to you...

And so it goes.  I might be back with a video later; it seems The Tube o' You isn't functioning properly at the moment.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

♪♫ A Foggy Day In Portales Town ♫♪

The view from the study window a few minutes ago:



Which brings to mind this wonderful old tune:



They don't make 'em like that any longer and more's the pity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wrong. Just Wrong.

This:




The media, mainstream and otherwise, are all about Crazy Diane's "torture report" today.  Just look at memeorandum, current as of about 20 minutes ago (1150 hrs ET, December 10, 2014):



The media aren't the only ones, there's this from the Usual USAF Source:

COCOMs on High Alert Following Release of CIA Torture Report


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered all combatant commanders “everywhere in the world” to be on high alert following the release of a report detailing the CIA’s brutal interrogation techniques conducted after the 9/11 attacks. Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Hagel said there is no “specific information or intelligence” that a retaliatory attack was imminent. However, he acknowledged the Defense Department was “concerned about the content” being released and the implications it might have across the globe. The 525-page executive summary released Tuesday summarizes some 6,900 pages of classified documents collected by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during its five-and-a-half-year review of the CIA. It offers a scathing assessment of the agency’s practices, which it says were conducted “in violation of US law, treaty obligations, and our values” according to an opening letter from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), committee chairwoman.  “The report documents a troubling program ... and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as a nation, [but] they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts, or our national security interests,” said President Obama in a Dec. 9 statement. “Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” he added, vowing to “make sure we never resort to those methods again.” (Feinstein statement.) (Full report; Caution, large-sized file.)
I won't flog dead draft animals except to say "What the HELL was Feinstein thinking?" Well, that and the fact I hope no one comes home in a box because of this travesty.  And now it's back to reading the overnight mail.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack, With Images of Marilyn Monroe At No Extra Charge

Eartha Kitt, singin' about how good it is:


Je cherche un millionnaire
Avec des grands "Cadillac car"
"Mink coats" - Des bijoux
Jusqu'au cou, tu sais?
(Full lyrics here, including an English translation for those of you in need.)
Heh.  Well, I have ONE of the prerequisites...

Wasn't Marilyn just THE most beautiful woman?

Just a Lil Too Close

So, there I was, goin' through the overnight mail when I stumble upon this:


I suppose timing is everything in life, eh?

Monday, December 08, 2014

A Few Things For a Monday

First, a funny:



Heh.  Occasional Reader and Constant Correspondent Lin sent that along.

We watched us some football this weekend... on SATURDAY, of course... and the games were pretty danged good.  The big news in college ball is the playoff picture, which looks like this:
The No. 1 Crimson Tide will face the No. 4 Buckeyes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and the second-seeded Ducks will face the third-seeded Seminoles in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual, both on New Year's Day.
I'll bet the air turned blue in Waco and Fort Worth when the playoff selections were announced.  Both the Bears and the Horned Frogs have their points, TCU more than Baylor, to my way o' thinkin'.  But it is what it is... and what it is is GOOD.  The smart money will be on Bama to win the whole shootin' match but, speaking as a guy who doesn't have a dog in this fight, I'd like to see Oregon go all the way.  Watching Marcus Mariota has been a pure joy this season; he's quite possibly the most exciting player in all of college ball this year.


Meg Griffin
In other news... My teevee provider is Dish Network and has been ever since I moved into Casa Inm├│vil de Pennington, lo these three-plus years ago.  I discovered last night through the majik of fat-fingering a channel selection that Dish provides a full complement of Sirius/XM stations, previously (and obviously) unknown to me.  What this means is I can now listen to the lovely Meg Griffin in the comfort of home as well as when I'm in The Tart.  This is a great good thing.  Ms. Griffin's music selections are positively outstanding, part and parcel of that bein' she seems to choose music for airplay that resides in my CD rack.  You can't beat that with a stick.


In other, other news... (Whine alert)  The end game of my affliction is proving to be much more difficult than I imagined.  My meds just don't seem to work like they used to, I've spent the last three nights sleeping sitting up on the couch because I don't breathe well laying down, and I spend the first 30 minutes of EVERY morning gasping for breath in what resembles a low-level state of panic while I wait for the meds to kick in, giving me some small measure of relief.  I don't know how much more of this I can take.  It's well and truly depressing.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Pearl Harbor Day

My Pearl Harbor Day post, parts of which I've published every year since 2006.

Pearl Harbor Day

Sixty-eight years ago today... "a date which will live in infamy"... the nation was shocked out of its complacency and determination to stay out of the conflict engulfing the rest of the civilized world by the horrific Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.  Here's an excerpt from President Roosevelt's speech to congress on the following day:



The men who fought back at Pearl Harbor formed the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association about ten years after the war and they used to hold a reunion in Hawaii every five years... until 2006, when they held their last reunion there.  I published this post to mark that occasion (note that the link to the news article is dead now):

Pearl Harbor Day




The USS Arizona - Then and Now (U.S. Navy photographs)

It’s said — quite often and by many, many people — that 9/11/2001 “changed everything.” And it is indeed true for the current generations of Americans. But I’ll submit that 12/07/1941 “changed everything” to a degree it is impossible for us who were not alive and going about our business on that Sunday in December, 1941 to realize. Those of us whose parents were members of The Greatest Generation understand my point. A smaller subset, those of us whose parents fought in World War II, understand the point a little bit better, perhaps. We have the benefit of hearing the first-person narratives of that day in December 1941, and stories from the long, long days that followed…from the dark and despair of the war’s first year to the signing of the Japanese surrender on the decks of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay not quite four years later. And a lot in between.
They are leaving us. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is holding their last meeting (dead link) today.
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - With their number quickly dwindling, survivors of Pearl Harbor will gather Thursday one last time to honor those killed by the Japanese 65 years ago, and to mark a day that lives in infamy.
This will be their last visit to this watery grave to share stories, exchange smiles, find peace and salute their fallen friends. This, they say, will be their final farewell.
"This will be one to remember," said Mal Middlesworth, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. "It's going to be something that we'll cherish forever."
The survivors have met here every five years for four decades, but they're now in their 80s or 90s and are not counting on a 70th reunion. They have made every effort to report for one final roll call.
Their last meeting. I know All Things Must Pass, but it saddens me so. We owe them so much, and our thank-yous seem inadequate compared to the sacrifices they made.
But: We shall continue, we shall honor their sacrifices, we will remember, and we shall rededicate ourselves to the task that faces this generation…the one that began on 9/11/2001. The Greatest Generation expects it from us.
The 2006 news article may not be available any longer, but the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is still alive and kicking.  They are few now, but thank God some of those heroes are still around.  It won't be too much longer until they're all gone and as I said above: "It saddens me so."
I did some looking around on the inter-tubes and found out the PHSA ended its corporate status on December 31, 2011, which means they no longer exist as a formal association with a government charter.  There are still some living survivors, however, and a Google search turned up numerous articles about these men.  You could do a lot worse than reading a few of those articles today. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Saturday: Science!

This is longish but it's still pretty cool, none the less.



(s)He Blinded Me With Science!


Friday, December 05, 2014

It's Come To This

We're just in from a run out to Cannon Airplane Patch to pick up the monthly meds and do a major commissary run (major = >$100.00).  In so doing we took our very first ride in a conveyance similar to what you see on the right.  You have no ideer how much it hurt me to break down and do that, but our breathing capacity is such that we get out of breath simply walking from room to room these days... on oxygen.  So: It was a motorized shopping cart for us today and I'll admit it made the shopping thing a LOT more pleasurable than the last few times I've been to the store.

The shopping might have been a piece of cake but unloading the car and humping groceries into the house was a minor production.  No worries, we just sat our tired ol' ass down for a couple o' three minutes in between trips, caught our breath, and went back to bid'niz; four trips from car to kitchen and we were done.  The bottom line is we just have to take things a lot slower than we used to do.  (This is where we usually put that ol' "It's always sumthin'!" phrase.)

OK.  I'm done unburdening.  The chores are done and it's a lovely day out on the verandah.  I DO believe I hear a beer calling me.  Or two.

Right Up My Alley

I found this somewhat enlightening article while surfin' around the inter-tubes this morning.  A couple o' screen caps from the piece:



I don't have anything against polytheism so mebbe I'll build me a small altar in honor of Tenenit.  The old gods and goddesses are sometimes the best o' the breed, doncha know.  I smirked when I read the second screen cap, given the fact one of my used-t'-be favorite wimmen was quite the beer drinker in her youth.  The woman's morphed into a wino now that she's well and truly over 50 and I don't view that as a good thing.  And, yeah, beer is MY favorite alcoholic beverage, by far.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Goin' To the Dogs

I really, rilly like this clip:

   

Now, how cool is that?  Answer: very.

Hat-tip to Occasional Reader and Constant Correspondent Lin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

An Early Christmas Present

The Brown Truck o' Happiness just pulled away from the curb after the nice gentleman in the brown suit put a big-ass box in my hot lil hands... the contents o' which, this:


That would be a box o' Drew Estate Acid Kuba Kubas, a nice lil five-stick travel humidor full o' some seriously good cigars, and a spiffy Bugatti butane lighter... all o' which were part o' the Black Friday Box Bedlam.

We are NOT immune to the joys o' shopping, especially when we don't even have to leave the house.  I'm gonna have too much choice for After Dinner Whiskey Hour this evening.

An Update to Virgil's Air Force 3 Tale

Coz we're all about "the rest of the story" (with apologies to Paul Harvey).  Here's Virgil (the first part of the story is just below):
Virgil flew F-4s out of RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge
I also left out what really is the kicker. You see, I (and another guy in my squadron) were on the Wing Commander's sh$$t list. He wanted to jerk our wings for some, um, "unauthorized" tangling with some RAF (English) Electric P1 Lightnings in mock air-air combat. Now, I didn't ask for my cousin come to come to my aid--I didn't even know he was coming and he knew nothing about my travails, but everyone on the base assumed that was what he was there for--especially when the Wing Commander showed up at the O-Club in dress blues to greet the General. As one 2nd Lt in the 92nd TFS (who knew of my situation) assigned to the command post said later: "I thought Virgil was in really deep serious, but after we got that call from Air Force 3 I realized he didn't have any troubles at all." LOL!

What was REALLY interesting was the "repartee" between the Wing Commander (O-6) and my Cousin (O-7) and myself at the O-Club bar before my cousin and I went to dinner. The Wing CO trying to suss out how much the General knew of his attempts to ground me, and my cousin's realization that there was a "disturbance in the force" but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. A very stilted "polite" conversation all round.
One assumes Virgil didn't get grounded, after all.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Clever

Via Digg, where they say:
WARNING: THERE ARE A LOT
Can You Spot Every Reference In This Brilliant Animation?
The music video for Cruisr's "All Over" is one cultural reference sliding into another. And another. And another. Good luck keeping up.


I think I got most of 'em and there were a lot!  That said, if the pairs of heads were cultural references it's time to put me out to pasture coz I didn't recognize a single one.

In other news... we went down early again last evening, i.e., 2230 hrs, with predictable results: my eyes popped open at 0430 hrs and simply refused to close again.  Boy, do I EVER hate it when this happens.

In other, other news... Occasional Reader Virgil Xenophon left this comment on yesterday's post titled "Ike's B-25" and I thought it deserved promotion to the main page.
"...use by lower-ranking generals."

Most people know that Air Force 1 is the designation of the Presidential plane and Air Force 2 that of the VP, but did you know that there is an "Air Force 3?" That is the designation given to a similarly-equipped aircraft for the use of members of the JCS or the Heads of the major commands. From this I'll relate a funny story. At the time I was stationed in the UK my 1st cousin, then a Brig General, was the Deputy Commander for Ops, (DCO) HQ USAF in a 2-star slot. As such he was technically the # 3 guy in the Air Force (working directly under the CinC and ViceCinC USAF (despite the presence of many 4-star generals in the major commands. From all this I have a story:

One night I returned fairly late to the O'club @ RAF Woodbridge after drinking at a local pub: "Jesus Christ, Virgil" they said, "call the command post IMMEDIATELY, the Wing Commander has been rising hell trying to find you!" Turns out the Wing CP had gotten a call from "Air Force 3" en route requesting that I be located so that the DCO, HQ, USAF (my cousin) could have dinner with me. LOL! Of course they didn't know that he was my cousin, and that he was on his way to a USAFE conference in Wiesbaden, so they--including the Wing CO--were jumping thru their a-holes trying to locate this Jr Capt that must have SOME KIND OF PULL! With failure to do so perhaps seeing certain careers sink before their very eyes. The situation was saved only by the wx which caused AF 3 to divert to RAF Mildenhall, from whence Maurice was driven down to Bentwaters by staff car. There were some puckered you-know-whats for a while on that dealieo, lol!
Virgil has the BEST stories.

Monday, December 01, 2014

♪♫ What a Difference a Day Makes ♫♪

So sang Dinah Washington (the tune's below) and she was RIGHT.  We're talking about our WX, of course.  Here's what we look like now:



I don't think we're gonna make it to 43, based upon where we are right now.  But we might.  Here's the history for yesterday:



That's one helluva temperature swing, innit?  We were in the low to mid-70s all Thanksgiving weekend and it was just loverly outdoors.  We'll be warmer tomorrow and that's a good thing.  In the meantime, here's Dinah with the title tune.



That's just SO damned pretty, innit?

Ike's B-25

Air Force Magazine has an interesting article on one of General Eisenhower's personal transport aircraft during WW II (well, interesting if you're an aviation buff, which I am, sorta).  The first few grafs from said article:
As Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower needed to be able to travel—quickly—to meet with top alliance leaders and field commanders and get a close-up view of the unfolding war.

Eisenhower had an eclectic collection of aircraft at his disposal for a variety of uses, but only one was specially made for him. It was a heavily converted B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, built and modified by North American Aviation, the same company that produced the B-25s that attacked Japan in 1942 in the famous Doolittle Raid. Eisenhower's B-25—serial No. 43-4030—is poorly documented and deliberately so.

The year it was built, American P-38 pilots in the Pacific executed a daring, long-range mission to shoot down a bomber known to be carrying Japanese Adm. Isoruku Yamamoto, who had planned and carried out the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. His death was a severe blow to Japan's strategic effort and morale. Army censors did not want German pilots to be able to repeat that success by shooting down Eisenhower, and so photography of his aircraft was severely restricted—especially because it had a unique profile.

Although by early 1944, B-25s were rolling off the North American-operated Kansas City plant at a sustained pace of about 300 per month, a VIP version of the Mitchell was a wartime rarity. Serial No. 4030 came to be known as RB-25J(3), denoting that it was a rebuilt airplane and only the third Mitchell to be specially modified.
Note the article sez "wartime rarity," not unique.  General Hap Arnold, chief of staff of the wartime Army Air Forces had one, too.  General Arnold got his personal B-25 before Ike got his, actually.  From another article (link below) on B-25 executive transports:
The second B-25 modified by North American belonged to USAAF General Henry "Hap" Arnold- visiting the Inglewood facility at Mines Field one day, Arnold got to see the Whiskey Express and as the Chief of Staff, he decided he needed one, too. This was 1943 and production was rapidly accelerating in the B-25 program, so it was easy to divert a B-25C from production to be fitted out by North American to a similar standard as Whiskey Express. After the war, General Arnold's personal transport was purchased by Howard Hughes who used for another twenty years before it was retired. 

The same year Arnold got his own B-25, a B-25J was taken off the production line in Kansas City and flown to Inglewood on a "secret" mission. Tail number 43-4030 was fitted out to become the personal transport for General Dwight Eisenhower. Unlike Arnold's B-25 which had olive drab upholstery, Ike's Mitchell had a more stylish blue interior. Clamshell doors were fitted to the nose for easy access to the extra communications and navigation equipment and more floor space in the aft fuselage was created by moving the gunner's aft hatch further back, giving the rear cabin more seating and a drop leaf table. Overhead luggage racks were also fitted and extra fuel tanks were fitted to the bomb bay to give it more range. Officially it was designated an RB-25J to hide its true nature as Ike's personal transport, but as the war in Europe progressed, it was redesignated CB-25J and when Eisenhower moved up to larger aircraft as the Supreme Allied Commander, the CB-25J was passed on for use by lower ranking generals and was used by the USAF postwar until it ended up in the possession of the South Dakota Air and Space Museum where it can be seen today. 
Most interesting.  While the Air Force Magazine article is a good read, the second article ("The First B-25 Mitchell Executive Transport") is much more comprehensive and detailed.