Monday, April 24, 2017

Take your seats!

Mrs Juvat were having our little "reconnect" time Thursday night as I was cooking dinner.  We were sipping a nice little Montepulciano to grease the skids into the weekend.  With State required testing going on, and the summer approaching (our busiest time of the year, what with the teachers and students gone, we've got all the big projects to get done), "us" sometimes requires a little work.

So, we did a little "how'd your day go?" and during the "what's on tap for tomorrow?" portion, she brings up our guests for the weekend asked for an early check in. I asked her what she said.  She replied they could check in after 1PM.

I asked why she picked that time.  She looked puzzled.  I explained, why not just say "You're welcome to check in whenever you get here."  We don't have an elaborate check in procedure.  Open the unlocked door, step inside, hopefully "ooh" and "ahh" a bit, put your bags in the rooms, pick up the key from the table and begin your stay.

Since we didn't have guests the evening before and the place was cleaned and ready for guests, we incurred no cost whatsoever in telling them that.  More importantly, we extended a courtesy to them that would enhance their enjoyment of their stay and might just lead to a return reservation or, even better, good word of mouth.

Every once in a blue moon, I get something right.

Good shootin' juvat! Don't get cocky

Thinking about that episode about customer satisfaction lead me to the thinking (ok, visceral reaction) behind this post.

"What the firetruck is going on with the airline industry specifically and customer service in general?

United Airlines?  Talk about taking a pistol, pointing it at your foot and squeezing the trigger. (No, that analogy isn't correct, "talk about taking a Vulcan 20mm cannon, pointing it at your foot and squeezing off all 940 rounds" That's better.)  Good Lord!


They have a full flight (not overbooked and that's while they'll lose the case, guaranteed) and decide they need to kick 4 already seated customers  off the plane to make room for some employees that need to be at a different airport.

Evidently, company procedures give priority to the employees over the customers.

You all know the rest of the story.  One of the "chosen" gets his face bashed in and dragged off the flight.  Video is available to the one person on the planet that still hasn't seen it.

I've read all the quibbling in the commentary about "you can't refuse the orders of the flight crew", "It's in the legal wording of the travel document"  blah, blah, frickin' blah.

You can't beat up (or have someone beat up) one of your customers for a mistake you made.  Not unless you want that customer to own your airline and not if you expect other people making travel decisions to choose other means of transportation other than your airline.

But, hey, they doubled down on their error by pointing out that the guy traded drugs to get his jollies.

Completely irrelevant (and also not known by United or its employees at the time).

So, that's strikes one and two against United.

Strike three occurs a few days later.  A couple gets on the flight from Houston to Costa Rica for their honeymoon.  They go to their seat and since this is the continuation of an existing flight, there are already passengers on board.

As they get to their seat, the see someone sleeping stretched out over the entire row.  They elect to choose another empty couple of seats on the half filled flight.  The flight attendant asks them if they are in their assigned seats.  They say no and explain the circumstances, she tells them they must take their assigned seats.  They ask for an upgrade and are denied.  No place I've read indicate they were argumentative, however a US Marshal gets on board and escorts them off the jet.

Strike three, United.

But, then, their biggest competitor, evidently decides that bad publicity is better than no publicity and gets in the act.

A lady gets on the plane with 2 babies and a stroller.  There doesn't appear to be video of the initial portion of the spectacle, but the lady gets hit in the head with the stroller.

Yeah, I got it.  The stroller has to be in checked, or gate checked, baggage.  The audio of the lady indicates she probably wasn't a native English speaker, so she may not have understood the problem.

Instapundit summed it up perfectly today "I’m not sure what additional facts might come out that would make hitting a woman with a stroller okay."

Other people were criticizing the guy that got up and stood up to the steaming pile of fecal matter dressed in an airline uniform.

Meekly sitting there and not "interfering with the flight crew" is exactly how these wannabe dictators get to act like that.  I would hope I stood up also, and, Please Lord, put me on that jury.  "Not Guilty!"

Does anyone understand customer service anymore?

Richard Branson said "“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”. I agree.

If true, United, and now evidently American, must really treat their employees unbelievably well /sarc.  The Doctor didn't want to get off the airplane, but apparently the other 3 actually deplaned.  There's not a spare jumpseat for the employee to ride?  I don't think they even tried.  They just KNEW they were in the right and this impudent pipsqueak must be taught to obey their "Authority"

The Honeymooners, did they not know that by purchasing the cheap seats, they had given up all rights to be treated as a human being?

"Of course, you may not move to an open seat.  That seat must remain empty as it was not ticketed.  We will incur extra costs if you move, and ...and....and... you must respect our authority!"

Good Lord, people!  "The guy's sleeping in your whole row?  It's your honeymoon?  Yeah, just take any seat, they're all going to arrive at the same time."  

How much would that have cost United? It's not like they tried to move up to First Class.

That little act of human kindness might have bought United a bit of loyalty in the purchasing of their next ticket.  As it is, I'm sure the Doctor and the Honeymooners will use the ABFU** method of travel planning in the future.

American's situation, while every bit as heinous and a direct result of existing policies that don't reflect customer satisfaction as a priority, was at least handled better.  The employee was suspended (hopefully upside down by his toes) and the family's trip was upgraded to first class.  That's all well and good, but after the fact.  Again, IMHO it's doubtful that family will be booking American for future trips. A policy review, followed by training and a restructuring that pushes decision making and authority as far down the chain as possible are all called for (at both companies).

The really sad part about this is it's no different in many other areas.  Employees treat customers as a distraction at best and an imposition otherwise.  Folks, if your business doesn't have customers, you don't have a business.  Just because the IRS can get away with that business model, doesn't mean you have the law enforcement assets to make your business work like they do.

We had already booked a flight on United for the end of June before these debacles happened.  It may be our last flight on that airline.  We'll see.

*Adaptation of a quote from a movie.
**Anyone but (fill in the F) United.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gray Day. Gray Thoughts.

Though the gardens are starting to blossom and color is bursting forth, we have had a lot of wet, gray days as of late. Well, it is spring, it's only April, 'tis to be expected. Can't have those May flowers without those April showers.

But this is the third weekend that The Missus Herself has been away and damn it, I miss her. Sure the cats are good company, but brilliant conversationalists they're not. Well, I'm not either, perhaps that's why we all miss her. But missing the love of my life isn't the only reason I'm feeling a bit down today.

Yesterday's post with those pictures from Frost of Pensacola was a great deal of fun to put together. After all, I get to look at all the aircraft pictures first. But it reminded me of just how long ago my baby girl got her wings.

Nine years.

Now that phase of her life is over and she's moving on to newer things. While she won't be wearing a flight suit and strapping on an F/A-18F anymore, she's still involved in Naval Aviation. Working in the sim out at NAS Lemoore. So far it sounds like a great job, and the pay ain't half bad as well. I'm tempted to head out there myself, but I'm a New Englander born and bred, so I guess I'll stick around.

I am a bit jealous though.

I used to wonder what was next. Now I know what's next, retirement. No new careers to pursue, just looking for the chance to "down tools" and enjoy life. Spoil the grandkids, that kind of thing. First though, gotta pay off the mortgage and clear a few other debts, a couple of years should do it.

At least work keeps my mind busy while my missus is out west, doing what she has always done, support our kids. I'm glad she's of a mind to do so. She's a good Mom. Pretty fine wife as well.

So, it's me and the cats and time to curl up with a good book.

It's a gray day and I'm feeling a bit down.

Hopefully it will be sunny tomorrow. The plants might need the rain, but my morale needs the sun.

This too shall pass.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NAS Pensacola

It was a while ago, that day back in '08 when a young LT(JG) got her wings of gold. Your Humble Scribe and The Missus Herself were on hand for the occasion and, if you look real close out the window over our heads, we're being "photo bombed" by an F/A-18 Hornet wearing the colors of the Blue Angels. (Excuse the fuzzy scratchy-look of the photo, it's a photo of a photo. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...)

I have often had the itch to head back down to sunny Pensacola and revisit that place. Because, and you may know this already, Naval Flight Officers receive their wings of gold in the atrium of the National Naval Aviation Museum. (Which you can take a virtual tour of here. I highly recommend you do so. We'll wait right here until you get back. Cool, neh?)

I should also note that the atrium has, hanging overhead, four full-size A-4s in Blue Angel livery in the beautiful diamond formation. It's pretty cool.

Anyhoo, a buddy of mine (let's call him "Frost," which, in truth, is his name, or part of it anyway) was down in Pensacola over the Easter weekend. As he likes to do from time to time, he sends me pictures of really cool stuff. This time was no exception. He also suggested that I might share those photos with you. So, here we go.

Did I forget to mention that the Blues were practicing when he was there?

Well, they were and lucky us, he took those two photos above for our viewing pleasure!

Hey! Who let the Air Force in? Oops, never mind, that's a Flying Tiger P-40, so technically not an Air Force bird...

Hey Murph! He even got a Corsair for you!

Somewhere, deep in the archives of The Chant, I have a picture of myself with that Phantom. I'll get the staff to dig it up. What? I gave the staff the weekend off? Okay, perhaps I need to go find it myself...

One thing that I did not know when I was down there, is that there is this, out back of the museum -

Google Maps
Those are birds waiting to be refurbished and put on display (so we all hope). I see a Tomcat, some P-3s, a Neptune, a couple of C-130s (including Fat Albert's daddy, the Hercules in Blue Angel colors top left), I see Stoofs (Grumman E-1s), I see a "Stoof with a Roof," (WF-2 Willie Fudd, an E-1 with a radome on top), a C-47, some cool helos, a few Scooters and all sorts of wonderful stuff. Including these two -

Loves me some PBY! And his little buddy, the PV-2 Harpoon -

Rockets and machine guns, oh my!

Other cool stuff which (I hope, I hope) will be restored someday.

Hey, Shaun might recognize that last one!

Whoa! Is that a pirate I see?

Why yes, yes it is. A Vought F6U Pirate that is.

And that googly-eyed guy, what is that?

Wow, 'tis a CH-37C Mojave in HMRM-461 (Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461) colors!

Last, and most certainly not least, an RF-4B of VMFP-3, Marine Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron 3. No such thing as too many Phantoms, even if she is a recce bird. (When I was on Okinawa we had an entire squadron of RF-4Cs. I liked them because I didn't have to work on them. No weapons system. Yeah, the guys who flew those has brass ones. Clangers.)

So, nice huh? Now what do we say class?

Thank you Mister Frost!!

Yes, thanks indeed!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin                                                        Hobbes
Humans are driven by a perpetual and restless desire of power. - Thomas Hobbes

I try not to worry about the violence in the streets of some of our cities. I try not to worry about the men and women we have "out there" on the front lines, many of whom I know personally. I try very hard to maintain a sense of balance and perspective in these trying times.

When our faith is tested by suffering "as gold is tried in a furnace" and we depend with confidence on God and rely entirely on his help, we will be granted the most excellent gift of patience and through faith we may victoriously persevere to the end. - John Calvin

There are times I even doubt the words of my faith, but as I get older I realize that I begin to think more deeply than I did as a callow youth. Sometimes I have questions for which there are no answers. But it doesn't stop me from wondering and thinking and questioning. God gave me a brain, I intend to use it.

The original of all great and lasting societies consisted not in the mutual good will men had toward each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other. - Thomas Hobbes

Lately, I am just so tired. I don't care to argue, nor to reason thoughtfully, I prefer to sit back and keep my own counsel. There are many matters about which I have strong opinions, but I would rather say nothing than argue about something of which I know nothing.

If God does nothing random, there must always be something to learn. - John Calvin

There is something in the air, I feel a sea change is upon us. I don't know what it is and I don't know if the change will be for good or evil. I just know that things cannot continue the way they are now.

There are far too many idiots in the world. Many of them hold political office. - OAFS

I don't wish to live in interesting times*, I simply wish to enjoy my family, my garden, and the occasional adult beverage from time to time.

Oh yeah, and write this blog. I learn a lot from my readers.

Thank you.

Calvin: Isn’t it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humour? When you think about it, it’s weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it’s funny. Don’t you think it’s odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?
Hobbes: I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot of life.
Calvin: (after a long pause) I can’t tell if that’s funny or really scary. (Source)
Yes, that Calvin and Hobbes were pretty wise as well...

I really miss those two.

* Which may not actually be an "ancient Chinese curse." Who knew?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Small World

The Potomac River, from George Washington's Back Yard
The circumference of this small blue marble we inhabit is around 24,901 miles, depending on where you measure it I suppose. From Leiden, in the Netherlands, to Plymouth, Massachusetts is around 3,441 miles, following a Great Circle Route.

It took the Mayflower 65 days to sail from Leiden to Plymouth, an average speed of around 2 knots. These days you can catch a flight from Logan and be in Schiphol in around 7 hours, less with a tail wind. (The distance is similar, 3,445 miles.) That's an average speed of about 492 miles per hour. A lot faster than in 1620, almost 400 years ago.

Back in George Washington's time, our first President counseled us to avoid foreign entanglements. It was sound advice at the time, we had two vast oceans separating us from Europe and Asia. While those oceans are still there, technology has made them a lot less vast.

My buddy Shaun had an interesting post on Wednesday which made me think. Things these days can seem pretty bad. As an historian (amateur though I am) I see things differently. While there are areas of the world you should avoid, those areas, in my estimation, are fewer than they were not all that long ago.

There have always been areas on the planet where the inhabitants were very xenophobic, often with good reasons. While it would be very dangerous for a Westerner to walk the streets of Mogadishu these days, it's also dangerous to be in certain American neighborhoods at certain times of day.

Now, don't think Detroit after dark if you're white, how about certain upscale neighborhoods at almost any time of day if you're black? It runs both ways.

Now 150 years ago, white or black, you didn't cross the Plains all by your lonesome or with a small group. The natives out that way were pretty annoyed with the newcomers who were starting to overrun their lands as those newcomers were done, for the moment, with slaughtering each other. The post Civil War era saw a lot of folks head west, seeking new lives. The people of the Plains weren't that thrilled to see them. So they killed them when they could.

Go further back in time and let's say you live in Europe. If the local land barons didn't own you and make you work their land for a pittance, they might just scoop you up into their feudal army to go fight some other land baron. Or perhaps it was off to the Holy Lands to fight the heathens.

Go further back in time and you have bands of nomads wandering about, if you had something they wanted, they took it. If you annoyed them, they killed you. Once they had a taste for that kind of thing, well, let's cross the river and see what's up in the next valley. More plunder, more women, horses, cattle, crops? They want it, they take it.

The Mongols, the Huns, the other nomadic tribesmen who were the scourge of their day. Mr. Bad Haircut, the head NORK, had nothing on them. In fact, he's an absolute piker when it comes to folks like Attila and Genghis Khan. Now those guys were real bad asses.

The world is a dangerous place. Always has been, it's easier and faster to get around now too. Which makes avoiding foreign entanglements a lot harder than it was in President Washington's day.

While I remain cautiously optimistic about the future, I do worry. Leaders have miscalculated in the past and gotten their nations into wars which made no sense in the long run.

I continue to hope that cooler heads prevail and that the bullies and lunatics of the world are restrained by those in a position to do so.

Without plunging the planet into more warfare.

Like I said, I remain optimistic, but I find myself praying these days. A lot.

May God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Warmth Returns to Little Rhody

The opening photo is from last year. It is a picture I took of the waterfall in the pond at Chez Sarge. You might notice that the pond is just starting to fill. It would be a while before we reached capacity. Filling the pond with a couple of garden hoses takes a couple of hours or thereabouts.

Before you ask, no, I don't have a picture from this year, but I do actually have a video from this year, made the very day we cleaned the pond. Here it is, pay close attention to the sound of the waterfall, it is a key element for later in this post. (That's what you call "foreshadowing" - in it's most primitive form.)

Oh, you can ignore the trafdlo* in the background making random, and obvious comments. Don't know where he came from...


As the title states, warn weather is upon us here in The Ocean State, aka Little Rhody, aka The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (no, seriously, that's the official name of the state). Spring has sprung, the daffodils are blooming and it's light jacket (or no jacket) weather here on the shores of Narragansett Bay.

Easter Sunday was particularly nice, temperatures in the low 80s with nary any humidity to speak of. So that very night I was bound and determined to sleep with the bedroom window open. Which would serve a twofold purpose: firstly it would provide a cool and airy environment for my nocturnal slumbering activities and secondly it would give the feline staff something to do when they got bored. Which they inevitably do when I'm trying to sleep.

To wit.

"Meow..." [Paw tap to the face.]

"No, it's not time to get up." [Rolling away from the feline and pretending to sleep.]

[Walking over me to the other side where I just turned...] "Meow?" [Followed by loud purring and much head butting.]

"Seriously, it's not time to get up..."

"MEOW" [Aggressive paw tapping with just a hint of claw.]

Now, if the window is open, the kitties will ignore Yours Truly and jump up into the window to survey the outside world. Most of the time.

So Sunday night I was prepared for some serious sleep activity.

Five minutes after I went to bed, it started raining. Of course, as my window faces west, that's where the rain was coming from. The prevailing wind at Chez Sarge is from the southwest. When it rains, that prevailing wind tends to increase by a knot or two. While I don't know the meteorological reasons for that, I do know that the rain will come into the bedroom. Soaking the small chair and the adjacent floor under the window. And I do mean soak, it's happened before and will, no doubt, happen again.

So I was disappointed in my slumbering endeavors and was forced to close the window. The feline staff were not happy about the closed window. They wanted it open, rain or not. So they spent most of the night poking me and inquiring as to whether or not it was time to eat. Or play. Or simply to pay attention to them. (While I say "them," it's actually just Sasha, the Alpha Cat, Anya tends to go off by herself and sleep. She is the only creature in the house who gets a good night's sleep.)

So after that debacle, I was looking forward to Monday night. No rain was forecast and I anticipated a long restful night of sleep under the cool air wafting in from Narragansett Bay.

Now about that waterfall...

I am a fellow of a certain age. 'Tis an age where Nature has decided that the male of the species must get up and "make water" multiple times a night. (Don't panic, my Doc has checked the equipment and all is well, I could write a book about the Huang He. Yes, my pen name would be I. P. Freely. I have always had a wee bladder. Pun intended.)

So guess what the sound of the waterfall induces in someone with the bladder of a small mammal? Yes, it did just that.

Now I have never had problems with that phenomenon before, it was a convergence of circumstances which led to me wearing a path in the floor boards between bed and bath. For years I have slept with the window open to listen to the sound of the waterfall and never felt compelled to "get up and go" every five minutes.

Now Monday night when I got home from work I decided to have a simple repast of a bagel and a cuppa. Decaf mind you, it wasn't caffeine keeping me up and about all night. But I had forgotten that even decaf coffee acts as a diuretic upon Yours Truly. Not always but sometimes.

Monday night was one of those times.

Let me tell you, it was a long night. While I did get plenty of exercise, sleep was fitful and sporadic at best. Even Sasha began to get annoyed with me. Until about four in the ante meridian when I fell into a most delicious and deep sleep. Good old REM sleep.

But it wasn't in a dream where I took a gentle paw to the chin, beckoning me to awaken and perhaps entertain the cat. No, it was the real deal.

"Meow..." [Paw tap to the face.]

"No, it's not time to get up." [Rolling away from the feline and pretending to sleep.]

[Walking over me to the other side where I just turned...] "Meow?" [Followed by loud purring and much head butting.]

"Seriously, it's not time to get up..."

"MEOW" [Aggressive paw tapping with just a hint of claw.]

"Okay, okay, I'll get up. I have to go to the bathroom anyway."

While Monday night was indeed long, Tuesday at work was even longer.

Couldn't sleep there either.

Update: So of course the temps dropped into the high 30s overnight. so much for the warmth returning...

* You have to read that backwards. It's a kewl thing I picked up from Shaun. He started it with that whole koobecaF business, and then there's this.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Past

Over the long Easter weekend I once again had the urge to go to Barnes and Noble. Let me explain, it's an odd story, perhaps boring but I'll tell it anyway.

Good Friday coincided with my company's "every other Friday off" scheme. (Which I think I've explained before, we call it 9/80, 80 hours in 9 days, blah, blah, blah, so I'll not explain it again, at least not today.) So...

Friday off, The Missus Herself being in California, it was a day when I decided that some of those things she takes care of while I'm at work would needs be taken care of by Yours Truly. I waited but finally decided that those things weren't going to magically happen by themselves. One of the chores I needed to do was purchasing more comestibles for the feline staff. For those who don't know, the members of the species Felis catus can be rather finicky eaters. At least the house-bound variety seem to be. So not just any food would do.

Now some months back, our local grocery emporium decided, much to my dismay, that stocking the brand of cat food which my felines desired, would be discontinued. I was all aback but fortunately The Missus Herself was around and discovered that both Walmart and the commissary on base still stocked that brand. Long story short, Friday I resolved to head off to the base (one of the naval variety if you must know) and purchase cat food, and various and sundry other divers items for which I had a need.

After logging a successful mission to the commissary I decided that as I had just finished Nathaniel Philbrick's excellent The Last Stand (that very morning) and as Barnes and Noble was on the way home, why not stop by and see what other books by Mr. Philbrick might be on hand? I had two in mind, one on the Mayflower, for the local history that was in it, and the other on Benedict Arnold, for the general history that was in it.

Well, Valiant Ambition was available, but in hardcover. Mind you, I'm not averse to purchasing hardcover books, but Friday I was feeling a bit parsimonious so opted not to drop thirty Yankee dollars on that most excellent book (knowing that it would indeed, someday, be available in paperback at about half the price). Apologies Mr. Philbrick, Friday you were the victim of my cheapness. Blame it on my Scottish ancestry if you will, but there it is.

On the gripping hand, I did purchase his book The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World and commenced to reading it that very afternoon. (I picked up another couple of books as well, one historical, the other historical fiction, but they don't fall into the scope of today's tale so I'm not going to tell you which books they were. Suffice to say that one led to a TV series, and turning to the other, there are at least two movies based on the other author's work. And that of his Dad. Keen readers are welcome to guess in the comments which two works I allude to.)

So. The Mayflower. I think most of us of a certain age know the tale of that particular ship and the group of people deposited on these shores by that vessel. I wonder if they still teach that subject in school? I have my doubts as education seems to be a less than reputable field these days. Sad to say as I have a number of friends who are school teachers and let's just say, they don't pick the curriculum. Those "above" them do that. While I have no evidence to support my theory that politics is involved, I dare anyone to prove me wrong.


In reading this book I have learned many things, all of which track closely with my earlier studies in this area. One thing I did not know is that the area of New England which I currently inhabit was rather heavily populated prior to the Pilgrims ever landing and screwing things up for the natives. (If you believe that line of reasoning. I don't, not exactly, but we'll get there. I hope.)

While there were no European settlements this far north in the 1600s, fishermen from Europe were along these shores chasing the abundant fish species along the coast. (There's a reason it's called Cape Cod.) Now from time to time, sea travel being a very dangerous thing in those days (well, it still is but far more so back then), the fishermen would occasionally have to put ashore. To make repairs, to get water and perhaps food, in the form of game, and they would have occasion to make contact with the local inhabitants. Whom we used to know as "Indians" but now that's not politically correct, or so I'm told.

So yes, Europeans making contact with folks from another continent. What happens? Oh yes, diseases for which the natives have no natural antibodies will sometimes take hold and devastate a population. And so it was that when the Pilgrims landed, there were a lot fewer "indigenous  personnel" than had been previously the case. I mean, according to the book, thousands had died on account of what some historians figure was the bubonic plague. The Pilgrims found deserted villages, places where the dead still lay in situ because no one was left to bury them.

I did not know that.

One reason I bought the book was for the account of King Philip's War, a topic I was (oddly enough) familiar with from my school days. Seems that one of the main roads through my little bay-side town is named for the aforementioned King Philip, whose actual moniker was Metacomet. Said main drag being called Metacom Avenue (which apparently is another way of saying Metacomet, my guess is that we pale faces from Great Britain being generally horrid with language and spelling couldn't make up our minds what to call him, so he got stuck with King Philip, though I doubt he called himself that*.)


When we first moved here, I picked up a military history magazine primarily because it had an account of King Philip's War and it indicated that that nasty conflict took place right here in my backyard. So to speak. Mr. Philbrick also points out in the book that Metacomet was the son of Massasoit.

Who? Massasoit?

Yes, well he's the chap, according to some histories, that essentially saved the Pilgrims from starving to death. That whole "First Thanksgiving" thing if you recall the history you learned as a child. (For those of us of a certain age.) Now Mr. Philbrick does not trash that story, he simply tells it like it really happened. Based on his historical research and not relying on modern myths of that time. (It's also worth noting that both Virginia and Massachusetts claim the "honor" of the first Thanksgiving. Just thought I'd mention that. For the purposes of this post, and to remain somewhat accurate, we're talking of the first New England Thanksgiving, not the first American Thanksgiving. Me being a huge fan of both New England and Virginia.)

Did the natives save the Pilgrims at the end of their first year in Plymouth? Why yes, yes they did.

Oh, and Massasoit lived in the area which now forms the town directly north of my current domicile. I did not know that. (As Plymouth is a bit of a hike on foot from where Massasoit lived, well, read the book. It explains it well, but suffice to say, they walked. Not many horses in New England back in the day. In fact, none would be a reasonable estimate.)

While I'm only half way (or so) into the book, I have already learned a few things, as I mention above. But one theme that has struck me after reading The Last Stand and now The Mayflower, is just how devastating it is for a people when an advanced culture makes contact with them. When has that ever worked out to the credit of the allegedly more advanced culture? (I say allegedly because often it's the technology which is more advanced and perhaps not the underlying morals and mores of the "advanced" culture. Though those who portray the natives of this continent in terms of being at one with the land and living in peace, really need to dig into that topic a bit more. Warfare is endemic amongst all varieties of our species.)

So the Mayflower landing at Plymouth leads inevitably (in my estimation) to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. One group moves because of pressure from another group, which displaces the next group of people, which displaces the next, until eventually there's no place else to go. Battles are fought, less "advanced" cultures are wiped out or subsumed and we get history.

Yes, the victors get to write the histories, but sometimes someone will dig into things and present the viewpoint of the vanished culture. Not always, but it happens.

And if you look at it objectively, while it was called Custer's Last Stand, which it was on the personal level for Custer and his battalion of the 7th Cavalry, in reality it was the last stand of the culture of the Great Plains. While the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho won the battle, they ultimately lost the war.

If you read The Mayflower, you can see how events in New England in the 1600s led, almost inevitably, to the Greasy Grass in 1876.

Everything is connected. You just need to find the threads. If you study the past, you just might learn something.

* Update: Actually Metacom did call himself Philip. He and his brother both took English names. His brother, who became sachem after Massasoit, took the name Alexander. After his death Philip (ex-Metacom) became sachem. Apparently one of the English referred to him as "King" Philip as Philip considered himself on a par with Charles II of England. So King Philip he became. (I should have read further into the book before making such gross assumptions. Live and learn.)