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Musings

  • My hand surgeon was less than enthusiastic about my suggestion that it might be easier to just take my finger off rather than fusing one of the knuckles.
    • In my defense, I had already been given my pre-surgery meds and I was as high as a kite at the time.
  • A nerve block that makes it so I not only can’t feel your entire right arm, but cannot even twitch my fingers is one of the oddest things I’ve ever experienced.
  • Irish Woman is always watching out for me.  She even took away my phone when my stoned self was looking to buy $1700 plane tickets to North Dakota.
  • You know, if Boo’s out in the front yard and I’m in the basement, and I can hear him scream when he falls out of the tree swing, you know he hurt something really bad.
  • Poor Irish Woman.  She was just getting me to the point where I was semi-functional when Boo needed to be taken for X-rays.  I’m just glad we stocked up on bourbon during our mini-vacation.
  • Boo ended up with a broken foot, a set of crutches, and a bad attitude.
  • He does, however, seem to enjoy the knee scooter the orthopedist rented to us so that he has a bit more mobility.
    • Now to convince him that it’s not a skateboard.
  • I’ve been trying to write, I really have.  But typing when you don’t have use of one of your index fingers is really, really hard.

Impossible Hope

 

Impossible-Hope-Generic

A few months ago, a friend put out the call for folks to do a good deed, and I was fortunate to donate a few thousand words to the cause:

My desire is to help my sister in any way I can. Being a man of modest means and resources, aside from being there for her and assisting whenever possible, there is little I can do alone. However, with help, I intend to do more. I was able to get in touch with a number of writers, all of whom have donated their time and effort and art for an Anthology of short stories, entitled “Impossible Hope”. Anyone who donates through here will receive a copy of the book as a thank you for their generosity. All of the money you donate will go to paying for the costs of the surgery and what it will take to get Bonnie and her husband there and back again. We ourselves will cover the costs of publishing the book, and once the book is published, all proceeds from it will go to the Ehlers-Danlos Society for the benefit of those like my sister. https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/ All those who donate through this effort will receive their copy before we officially publish the material.

I’m honored that my short story, Battle Buddy, is part of this remarkable collection of stories.  Each one shows the importance of never giving up, of always having hope, even an Impossible Hope.

Here are the stories and authors in the collection.  I really struggle to name a favorite, because they are all great, uplifting yarns.

  • Do Something – Logan Lewis
  • Battle Buddy – Tom Rogneby
  • Queen’s Gambit – David Freiberg
  • Glastonbury Abbey – Josh Griffing
  • Four Funerals and a Wedding – L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • A Random World of Delta Capricorni – John C Wright
  • Shoulders of Giants – Dave Higgins
  • Sir Ronan and the Smooth Road – Frank Luke
  • Buddy – William Joseph Roberts
  • Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones – Woelf Dietrich
  • Battle Within – Musaab Sultan
  • Take My Breath Away – Sam M. Phillips
  • Ghosts of Camlan Hill – Ben Wheeler
  • Moulin Rouge’s Last Secret – Denton Salle
  • Life on the Fringe – B. Michael Stevens
  • Blue Pearls – Benjamin Tyler Smith
  • The Other Side – Heather Hood
  • Invisible Battles – R.J. Ladon
  • With Royal Beauty Bright – Nicholas Arkison
  • The Switchman’s Lantern – James Pyles

The other authors got together to discuss their stories, and it is really interesting to hear about how things came together.

 

So, if you’ve got a few extra dollars you can spare, and you’re in need of something hopeful to read, please consider donating to Bonnie’s fund.  Enjoy!

World War II – Einstein’s Letter

The false peace of the Munich Agreement was tailing off in August of 1939.  Preparations for the invasion of Poland were beginning. Secret negotiations between the USSR and Nazi Germany were underway.

In the United States, Albert Einstein, a Jew who had escaped the Nazi’s, penned a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt that predicted the eventual end of the coming war:

Albert Einstein
Old Grove Road
Peconic, Long Island
August 2nd, 1939

F.D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.

Sir:

Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America–that it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable–though much less certain–that extremely powerful bombs of this type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is in the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust the task with a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining co-operation of industrial laboratories which have necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly,

SignatureAlbert Einstein

Book Review – Taghri’s Prize

Peter Grant has a new book on the streets, Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri has left the Sultan’s army to seek his fortune – and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war… but some prizes may be more trouble than they’re worth!

Nestled among the gold coins in the captain’s cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention – too close! – to its new owner. Among the slaves he’s freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there’s also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.

It’s going to take all of Taghri’s skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!

Grant is one of my favorite storytellers, and I’m thrilled that he is stretching out into a new realm.  Taghri’s Prize deals with a setting that is unique in recent fantasy fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Grant’s world.

The story flows very well. It’s got action, romance, pirates, and a whole lot more that fans of Conan and John Carter will enjoy.  Taghri is no barbarian by any means, but a lot of the elements that I enjoyed in Cimmeria and Barsoom show up in Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri, the eponymous main character, is well fleshed out after only a few chapters, and the other characters develop over the course of the book.  I am really interested in seeing where Grant takes this ensemble in later stories.

If you enjoy a good swashbuckler, I think you’ll enjoy Taghri’s Prize.

Musings

  • I got a very nice letter from the new Mercedes dealership today urging me to bring my truck in for a trade-in.
    • Apparently they’re desperate for 7 year old plain-jane F150’s at the high-end Euromobile store.
    • Unfortunately, Mercedes doesn’t make a long-bed truck.
    • I did, however, see a crew cab, 8 foot bed, F250 today and I got very covetous.
  • Question – How many pleats can a kilt have before the balding hipster has to admit that he’s cross-dressing?
    • There has to be line separating “rugged individualist” from “flouncy”
  • When the orthopedic nurse winces at your xray, maybe you’ve let your joints go too far.
  • I’m going to be having surgery soon to fuse a knuckle in my trigger finger.  This will mean I either have to learn to shoot left handed or use my middle finger.  Since I shoot mainly to relieve stress, the middle finger isn’t a bad option.

Thought for the Day

Here men from the planet Earth
first set foot upon the Moon
July 1969, A.D.
We came in peace for all mankind

 

Musings

  • I’m sure that it was merely a coincidence that Irish Woman planned our little getaway so that we stayed at a lodge across the lake from Boo’s summer camp.
  • Boo managed to lose his right sneaker, his right shower shoe, his wallet, and one of the badges he earned while at camp.
    • That, right there, is talent, pure talent.
  • I learned this week that I have developed expensive tastes.  When presented with a flight of mid to high end bourbons, my favorite was the $250 a bottle barrel-strength selection.
  • Contrasts in dining experiences:
    • Tuesday night, we had cheap appetizers and beer in plastic cups while we fed bits of bread to ducks and turtles.  We had to finish up quickly, because the dock-side restaurant was about to be blown away by the remnants of a hurricane.
    • Wednesday night, we had dinner at a high-end restaurant in Louisville, with meticulously crafted pasta and sauce.  Our dinner companions ranged from a middle-aged accountant with either a wholly improperly dressed daughter or a very well dressed trophy wife, along with the usual assortment of hipsters and retirees.
    • Personally, I preferred the ducks and cheap beer.
  • You know you’ve gone outside of the big city when you notice that all of the folks in the neighborhood have bear-proof trash containers.
  • There are two kinds of people who guide you through a bourbon tasting:
    • “You will notice that the nose of this single-barrel, small-batch bourbon includes caramel, charcoal briquets, and tooled leather.  A small sip will bring you a spiciness on the front end, with sweet notes of cherry, vanilla, and and pipe tobacco.  The finish is warm and sustained.”
    • “Now, take a sniff of that glass in front of you.  Good, huh?  Take a sip, there, and roll it around a bit.  You’ll taste the rye on the tip of your tongue, and the sugar in the middle.  That baby will burn all the way down.  That’s what we call the Kentucky Hug.”

Book Review – True Course: Lessons From A Life Aloft

True Course: Lessons from a Life Aloft is Brigid Johnson’s memoir of a life spent on a flight deck. This is a book that will repeatedly make you sit back and think for a while, either to consider an insight the author gives you, or to relive a memory she brings to your mind.

Each chapter takes on a different subject, such as patience, friendship, or freedom. While all of the chapters tie back to flight and the life of an aviator, Johnson does an expert job of tying her thoughts to the reader’s life. Again and again, I found myself nodding along with her stories. I laughed out loud at some parts, and found emotion tightening my throat at others.

True Course is an excellent book for a slow, hot day or an evening in front of the fire.

Audiobook Review – About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

I discovered About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior as a private in 1990. I saw Colonel Hackworth do an interview to support the book, and I was fascinated by his quiet demeanor as he talked about a lifetime of service and combat. When I saw the book on display at the PX, I scooped it up and devoured it. It’s been on my “Read This Often” reading list ever since.

About Face is a memoir, but it’s one that’s been tempered with the viewpoints of many of the people it talks about. Colonel Hackworth and Julie Sherman did a good job of coordinating his recollections with those of his friends and comrades from 3 decades of Army life.

The book is made up of in-depth discussions of Hackworth’s views on politics, the military, and leadership, all punctuated by mesmerizing tales of combat and the men he served with.

The final chapter, in which Hackworth talked about his views of the United States and her military circa 1988, is, to me, the most interesting of all. When the authors wrote those words, we were on the brink of the Berlin Wall falling, but were still poised for World War III starting somewhere in the Fulda Gap. The First Gulf War, Somalia, the Balkan War, 9/11, and the War on Terror were still in the future. Hackworth’s insights are a remarkable look back at where we were. They lead me to look at where we’ve come and how the Reagan military he discusses was and was not prepared for the world we fell into in the years after his writing.

The narration by John Pruden is spot on. The book is liberally salted with military jargon, and it was very rare that it wasn’t used or pronounced correctly. Pruden paced the story, over 40 hours long, very well. You could hear the emotion come through where it was appropriate, and his characterizations during the combat sequences painted a vivid picture.

If you already know Hackworth and Sherman, you’ll enjoy this opportunity to experience this seminal work again. If you haven’t read About Face or any of Colonel Hackworth and Ms. Sherman’s other works and you enjoy good living history, you’re in for a treat.

A Modest Proposal

Recently, it came to light that about half of the Agriculture Department employees who have been tapped to relocate from the Washington, DC, area to Kansas City have either refused to move or have not even given us, their employer, the dignity of a reply.

In this age of instant telecommunications and data sharing, it is wasteful to concentrate so many talented and dedicated people in the federal capital. Put them in places where their salaries will go further, as will the budgets for their departments. Put them closer to the universities, businesses, and other institutions that connect with their areas of expertise, so that we can finally see a renaissance of public-private-academic synergy that typifies American ingenuity.

However, it seems that the effort to move personnel out of the extremely expensive real estate that is DC is ruffling some feathers. I mean, what kind of folks wouldn’t want to move out of the effluvial swamp that is our nation’s capital to the relatively inexpensive and clean Midwest?

Ungrateful bastards, that’s who.

So, taking a cue from the “You don’t want to do it my way? Really? Then we can get crazy!” school of leadership, here are my proposals for where to put several federal agencies that makes more sense than Gehenna on the Potomac.

  1. Army Corps of Engineers – 9th Ward, New Orleans. Maybe we’ll finally have to stop worrying about those damned flood walls failing every time it sprinkles.
  2. Department of the Air Force – Minot, North Dakota, because only the best go north.
  3. Department of the Navy – 29 Palms, California. Heck, they could just convert the MOUT site over to office buildings.
  4. Department of the Army – Fayetteville, North Carolina. Let the civilians go to Fayettenam for a change.
  5. Department of the Treasury – Radcliff, Kentucky. Put the accountants right next to the gold vault and the trailer park.
  6. Department of the Interior – Denali or Death Valley. Their choice.
  7. EPA – Bakersfield, California – The most polluted city in the country. Clean up your own back yard for a change.
  8. Social Security Administation – Phoenix or Boca Raton. Put them with their customers in heaven’s waiting room.

Maybe once they’ve had a taste of a few of the places I mention, these long-serving, whining, over-paid deserters from a traveling porcine bordello will smarten up, shut up, and just do their job where they’re told to do it and be grateful that we still cut them a check.

Or, they can quit and get a job commensurate with their skills and work ethic. I hear that there’s good money in being a human guinea pig for chemical castration experiments.

Either way, they’ll be out of DC.

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