Saturday, June 30, 2012

History repeats itself, somewhat

One of my favorite Army stories is the time we went to our Captain (AG) and told him we had found an entire four drawer file cabinet filled with absolutely, totally, indisputably and utterly useless files which would never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever be needed by us or our posterity for any conceivable purpose on earth. Truly.

“Could we please throw them away, Sir?”

His classic answer has stayed with me ever since, and serves as a vivid reminder of why I harbor the feelings I do about big government.

After some pondering, agonizing, looking out the window and fiddling unhappily with the snowglobe on his pathetically cluttered desk, he replied, “Well, OK……but make copies of them first.”

So why is this conversation fresh in my mind this Saturday morning, some 48 years after this classic exchange? Well, if you came upon a folder filled with thirty or so car rental agreements, it would be simple to just throw them away, wouldn’t it?

Well, wouldn't it??

But ok, if they have credit card info on them, they would need to be shredded, fair enough. But but but -- if they were from Anchorage, or Oslo, or Puerto Rico or Honolulu, could you just throw them away? Could you? Could I?

Yup. Sure. But just---ack---make [digital] copies of them first. Ouch.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"What luck to be allowed to be......"

".....a soldier" sang the brilliant Tom Lehrer in the nineteen fifties. Funny then, funny now, but in between, as an invited guest of the Army of the United States, I frequently had long occassions to feel anything BUT funny.

But not all.

Recently, I have been spending some time reading over material that I wrote in the mid sixties, when LBJ replaced JFK as our Prez, and when male citizens were given two years to study the finer points of polishing shoes and brass.

The other night I came upon an entry that I had written upon the occassion of a gigantic parade being formed to impress some dignitary or other who was visiting our digs at Fort Ord, California 93941, now defunct. It literally had me laughing out loud, and upon being shared with Her Whose Opinion Matters, it was deemed worthy of sharing.  In addition to deleting proper names of individuals, I am not going to post the actual unit names either, although under oath I couldn't say why.  Quote"

Then, back outside again, marching up to the Hq of the ****Cavalry, where we drew M-14s and bayonets.  As soon as we had done this, we were loaded onto one of the cattle trucks, and to the loud sound of braying, mooing and baaing, the men of HqCompany **** drove out to the south parade grounds to join other soldiers of **** in their practice for the Organization Day parade to be held this Saturday.

The kindest thing which could be said about the day's activities was that it was farcical.  At worst it was pathetic.  We marched onto the parade ground and found ourseles surrounded by three battallions of men who take their soldiering somewhat more seriously than does our company.  Accompanied by four drums and the tramp of thousands of marching feet in pretty perfect cadence, here we came, looking like comic relief at a halftime show.

It is pretty safe to say that out of the 50 of us who were representing our company, there might have been 5 who took the whole thing seriously, and maybe half of those five really wanted to be there.  For the rest of us, our feelings varied between thinking the entire thing was to be one big gag, and being pissed off at having to be there at all.  My own feelings alternated between these two, depending on the circumstances of the moment.

So, we marched diagonally across the parade field, and we could all feel the stares of the soldiers as they tried to figure out what the hell we were.  They were commanded by First Sgts and Lt Colonels, and here our ranking man was a buck sgt.  He called a halt as we approached a battallion of men on a collision course.  "Left face" he hollered, and half the company thought he said "forward march" and off they went, right smack in front of the ****Armor.  "Stop--I mean HALT" went Sgt B, but it was too late!  A shambles, not unlike the personnel office itself.

Then we were ignored for awhile, and stood around applauding the drummers when they took a break, and laughing at the contrast between ourselves (blue scarfs) and all the rest of the troopers (yellow scarfs).

Lt S (exec officer) came over to us and gave us what might be politely called a pep talk, which went something to the effect that if we felt it really merited it, we should consider giving this thing some sort of good effort on our parts, even though he fully realized that none of has done anything remotely like this for some time.  And he was SO right!

Ultimately we were fallen with ***Cav, and Lt Colonel ****took over.  His attitude (not surprisingly) was quite different, and we rapidly found ourselves getting yelled at, shouted at, cursed and bullied along with his own men.  Most of what we did today was stand in one place and go from parade rest to attentiion and back.  Over and over.  And over.

Then the practice was over, and we broke up.  When we had done so, we were given talks first by Capt A, and then by LtCol M himself...both to the effect that they appreciated our being there, that they both knew it was not our kind of soldiering, and that they hoped (probably PRAYED) that we would do well, as theirs was a proud outfit.  And they both said that they realized that we represented the intellectual elite of the command (in fact, we did).  So while they short of shit on us a little bit, they did so with some deference to our position, as if they were not entirely sure which of us handled their pay records.

The afternoon was sort of an anti-climax.  Captain asked if he was late very often, and when I opened my mouth, the Msgt simply said "shut up Fin", and so I did.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Biking -- +++ es and ---es

There is nothing like riding a bike to be aware of your surroundings. Earlier today I enjoyed a leisurely two hour ride to a nearby park and back.

On one particular stretch of road, perhaps three miles long, there were four different places where dysfunctional government procedures had left dangerous situations on the road surface where bikes ride. Had they been hit by my Trek 1420, they could easily do three or found hundred dollars worth of damage to the bike and could conceivably do far worse to me, should I have been thrown, as would be likely.

A few miles further, I found five men in day glow vests (ok) and hard hats (wtf) picking up trash along the edge of the road. I stopped to ask whether they were paid or volunteers (since all five were working at once, I doubted that they were paid) and sure enough, they ARE volunteers.

I thanked them for picking up after the pigs who use the world as their personal garbage can, and shared with them the fact that at my "other place" (Dixie) I do the self same thing myself, at least along the one road on which we live.

Oh, and sitting in a gummint van, doing NOTHING, was the one paid town employee watching the vollies working.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Winter Morning

Late Winter Morning

If there is anything Fin loves more than listening to the song of a mockingbird, it would have to be listening to a half dozen or more of them singing at once, all over the sphere.

With an obbligato of little frogs singing soprano in wonderment of a 75 degree day in March, and a bass line supplied by some indignant cattle just beyond the tree line to the south.

They nearly drown out the whistling of the cardinals and keeing of the hawks circling overhead, and the faint (this morning) soughing of the pines. (There are five ways that word might be pronounced, but you don’t need to look it up, ‘cause I did, again--- SUFF).

Hope all are enjoying their day as well.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Go Bob!!!

One of my heroes is named Bob Hoover. I would love him if only for his way of making the FAA look like the fools they usually are, but also genuinely admire his undisputed record of superb flying ability.

This is Bob. He is now 90 years old.

The reason he is on my mind today is the article in this link from a local newspaper. For those who choose not to click it, it states that during an inflight emergency, someone had the presence of mind to call him and ask him for help.

Which he gave.

Which worked.

Attaboy Bob.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Copper shares the opinion of one of my favorite fellow bloggers on the choice of the winner at Westminster.

THIS is what a DOG looks like...

not something you would step on and flush down the toilet if you saw it in the dark on your way to the WC at three am.

Judges---get help.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Well, Hello There Boys & Girls

Fin has always been a lover of irony, and today's sample is somewhat personal.

My 'good' laptop threw a wobbly and as a result, I spent over two solid hours with Dell tech support who (we thought) fixed the problems --oops -"issues" which prompted my call to them.

So I wrote up a glowing praise filled account of their efforts and results, only to find that I now cannot access my own blog with said lappy.

So thanks, guys. Seriously, I was impressed by your efforts, if a little less impressed now by some of the results. Next time I have several hours to kill, maybe I'll call back and we can work on this one next.