Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sex, Religion, and Politics

(Source)
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson

Pretty obvious that Mr. Jefferson never had a koobecaF account.

Anyhoo. As of late I have avoided anything to do with politics. People across the spectrum of political persuasions, beliefs, dogmas, and ideas are losing their minds right now. The less said about that the better. No doubt I will, at some point in time, resume posting tidbits about politics. For now? No. No, thank you. Not a chance.

One thing I have become aware of lately is that for some folks, food and beverage can be subjects every bit as controversial as politics. So I will also avoid any soft drink posts in the near future. When I was in SAC, "Peace is Our Profession" was the motto, no really, it was painted on the sign at the front gate. Yeah, I know peace wasn't really our thing, the motto should have been, "Better Be Peaceful or We'll Nuke the Fire Truck Out of You." But I'm a peaceful guy, no really, so I will refrain from anything which smacks of politics. Or soft drinks. For the time being.

Sex is something we just don't do here. We don't have any "Rule 5 Fridays" (whatever Rule 5 is, I am completely unclear on that), we don't post pictures of nekkid, or semi-nekkid, ladies. I know, I know, it would really boost the hits we get here but that's not what we're about. While I appreciate the human form (especially the female version) as much as the next guy, well, as much as the next heterosexual guy, it's not something I wish to display here at The Chant. (A nickname which has grown on me. Much like diet soft drinks, oops, sorry, I'll stop now.) Not saying that I don't peruse other people's posts on that topic, not saying that I do. I'm no prude just won't do it here.

So I'm refraining from political stuff (to include soft drinks) by choice. Juvat and Tuna are free to engage on that topic whenever they wish. I'm refraining because it gives me a headache. As to sex? That's something I won't touch here on the blog. That rule is set in stone. I know Juvat and Tuna feel the same way, the infrequent appearance of the lovely Miss Elisabeth Shue notwithstanding.

Religion. Now this is something I have mentioned from time to time, as have my partners in crime, but none of us have ever gone on about it at length. I might do that at some point but I am not all that comfortable stating my heretical beliefs in a public forum. Which this is. Doesn't mean that I won't talk religion here, just not now. Not to worry, I won't be proselytizing, selling, or otherwise promoting any one particular religious belief. Rest easy on that score. As the Bard said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." And who am I to argue with Shakespeare? (I wonder if he would like Coke or Pepsi... Sorry, did it again.)

Incidentally, sex, religion, and politics are those topics which are to be avoided in: the wardroom, at work, in mixed company, with family, with friends, with enemies, with consenting adults, with your cat (they don't really care what you talk about, as long as it's about them, dogs on the other hand will listen, and not judge you, oh yeah, cats can be very judgemental), or just about anywhere, or with anyone. Good way to start a fight, ruin friendships, cause animosity, piss people off on koobecaF (though that can be fun), and otherwise be marked down in the "Plays Well With Others" category.

So expect my posts here to be somewhat whimsical (if not outright nonsensical) from time to time, some history will be examined, who knows I might re-instate the Friday Flyby at some point. (The editorial staff just mentioned that I haven't done one of those in a while. Those can be a mother bear of an effort to do, what with the research and the careful checking of copyrights on the photos. Many nights I'm just too damned tired to do all of that work. I ain't as young as I used to be, my patience has worn thin, and yes, yes I'll admit it, I'm getting lazy in my dotage. Besides which, I have Amazon Prime and Netflix shows to binge watch, those programs ain't gonna watch themselves dontcha know?)

I like being silly, life is too damned serious as it is. I want to lighten things up when I can.

So bear with me.

(Source)
Really.




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No Coke, Pepsi!

(Source)
Just to be up front about things, I prefer Coca-Cola products. The title is from an old Saturday Night Live bit which is tough to find on YouTube without running into a news report about the actual place in Chicago upon which the skit was based. Without going any further into that, as I suspect lawyers are involved, suffice to say that as a Coca-Cola guy the phrase "No Coke, Pepsi" always sends a shiver up my spine.

Why? Pepsi is just too sweet. Perhaps the same reason that I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, the latter is just too sweet. No, no, no, not toute suite which is French for "right now" and sounds remarkably like "too sweet." Only with that snooty French accent, come on you know the one I mean.

Why yes, bring me a Coke and some dark chocolate, toute suite!

But I (predictably) digress.

Truth be told, these days I only drink the decaffeinated, diet variety bottled by Coca-Cola. Which, I know, I know, why bother? There's a bit of a story behind that and about which there will be a video in just a bit.

No. Do not scroll down and watch the video now, patience.

Some of you will do that anyway. Sigh...

Anyhoo. I used to drink regular Coke, not that Coke "Classic" nonsense, regular Coke. Back when it had real sugar in it, not high fructose corn syrup. (No, I didn't drink Coke when it had actual cocaine in it, while I am old, I'm not that old. Juvat might remember it though. Old NFO for sure, he might have been there when it first came out. Before my time.)

Anyhoo, back in '85 it was when the Coca-Cola Company changed the formula for Coca-Cola. I was in the Air Force out in Colorado, also in college, also in Colorado (long story which I might, or might not, tell some day). All I remember is purchasing my favorite beverage one day and it tasted "odd." I thought it tasted more like Pepsi than Coke. Which, suffice to say, rather upset me. I mean, if I wanted to drink Pepsi, then I would bloody well buy Pepsi. What the "h" "e" double hockey sticks was going on?

Found out that it wasn't a bad batch of Coke on the market, no, this was a deliberate attempt to bring down Western Civilization match Pepsi's market share. Apparently Pepsi was "more popular" than Coke, probably due to a rather slick advertising campaign by Pepsi which kind of implied that all the young, hip kids were drinking Pepsi, not Coke. (My personal theory is that that was true, the young and "hip" will always succumb to clever marketing. Witness the past eight years in the good old U. S. of A.)

At any rate, I suffered through the "New Coke" period and was overjoyed when "Coke Classic" came out. It was touted as a return to the old formula. Which may or may not have been the case. The Classic variety of my favorite soft drink did not taste as I remembered it tasting. Something was "off." Then one day after class, I hit up the vending machines for an ice cold Coke.

There were none. No Coke! WTF, over. Yes, they had Pepsi but I think I would rather go thirsty than drink that, ah, what's this? Diet Coke? Remembering earlier "diet" drinks, like Tab, which tasted like liquefied asphalt (or what I imagined liquefied asphalt tasted like) I hesitated, but damn it, I was thirsty. So I bought one.

Kind of tasted like Coke only with a sort of soapy after taste. No, not that pleasant. But still, I thought, better than Pepsi, or a sharp stick in the eye, not that the two are related or anything. Gradually though, I switched to Diet Coke full time, as The Missus Herself had also remarked that I could stand to lose a couple of pounds and wouldn't a diet drink be just the thing?

Fast forward a few years, after I had retired from Uncle Sam's Aerial Follies, I was having a great deal of trouble sleeping at night. I attributed it to my distaste for being a civilian, my doctor thought otherwise. So into the medical realm I went, note that The Missus Herself accompanied me to the appointment.

My Doctor: "So you're having trouble sleeping. How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?"

Your Humble Scribe: "Oh one, sometimes two..."

My Doctor: "Well then, that can't be it, how about..."

The Missus Herself: "How about the three or four Diet Cokes you drink every day?"

My Doctor: "Well there you go, those have a lot of caffeine in them. Cut down on those, you should be sleeping better in no time."

The Missus Herself: "I told you so, 'Mister Never Reads The Label.'"

Your Humble Scribe: "Yes dear, you're right dear. Thanks Doc."

So there I was, no longer able to drink my beverage of choice in the quantities to which I had become accustomed. Bereft I was, inconsolable I was, and...

The Missus Herself (to whom I have been married 39 years as of last Thursday, just to mention it) brought home a new thing, something called Caffeine Free Diet Coke. Hhmm.

Tried it, didn't like it at first but, as "regular" Diet Coke did, it "grew on me." I got used to it, eventually grew to love it. Well, love is perhaps too strong a word, but like it a lot fits. And it's still better than Pepsi. YMMV.

This post was indirectly inspired by ColoComment (again). Indirectly because she tipped me off to the whole "Today I Found Out" YouTube channel to which I have become seriously addicted. Even more than Russian dash-cam videos (don't ask, I'm not proud of it).

So with that YouTube channel, a six pack of Caffeine Free Diet Coke and some big chunks of dark chocolate, I could easily while away an entire afternoon. Not saying that I have, not saying that I haven't.


Truth be told, I'm still pining for that whole bourbon and eggnog holiday drink thing. No, really. The Musician and I put away a couple or three of those up at Mom's over Christmas. She's probably still wondering where all the bourbon went. Needless to say, devotees of the science of mixology we are not. "That looks good, oh dear that's a bit strong" works fine for us.

A bientôt!




Monday, January 16, 2017

Just lines on a map.

This past summer, the Parish I belong to got a new Priest.  Over the past few years, we've been cycling through Priests right out of the Seminary.  They come to our Parish for a year, maybe 18 months, to get a bit of experience at being a "real world" Priest and then get transferred to a Parish of their own.

Source

Seems to work pretty well.  We get a taste of "New Priest Enthusiasm" which is tempered with a bit of experienced Church Council and Pastor reality checking.

The new guys go on to their Parish but frequently come back for a visit.  Even Priests need a bit of time off, and we live in a very nice tourist town.  So, we get to see our "newbies" after they've been out on their own a bit.  Growth always seems to be evident, which is good.

In any case.....

Our new Parochial Vicar, which is the second Priest's official title, arrived last summer.  Unlike some of the others, he's not right out of the seminary.  Indeed, I'd say he's in his mid to late 30s, so he's been a priest for a bit.

Goes by Father Kris.

He's from Poland. Which means his given and surnames have lots of "Y's" and other unusual consonants with few vowels.  He speaks English with a Polish accent.

I speak English with a Texan accent and Polish not at all, so who am I to criticize?

I kind of like the fact that he has an accent.  I, actually, have to listen to the sermon and interpret what he's saying to understand what he's trying to convey.  I don't have to do that with our Pastor, an immigrant from Ireland long ago. By interpreting,  I find myself better understanding what Fr. Kris's underlying message is, and I like that.  (If I'm going to sit through a sermon, I want to learn something from it.  Lord knows over the last 8 years there have been enough sermons given by someone who, on Friday, will hopefully shut up. Very little value added was included with those sermons. /rant)

However, from the very first, I felt a kind of kinship with Father Kris.  Didn't know why, but felt like we had a bond.  Nothing I could put a finger on, just something about him that I liked (beyond Masses that ended on time and good Sermons).

Well hang on!  The roller coaster has stopped going clackety clack and we're starting the ride because I finally found out what the commonality was.

So, there I was *...

A brand new Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.  I've been assigned to Laughlin AFB, just outside of Del Rio Texas, for a few months.  I've had my first solo in the Mighty T-37, AKA "the Tweet".  That may not have been it's official name, but the Vark wasn't the F-111's either.  It was known as the Tweet because of it's head splittingly high pitched squeal when the engines were running.  Nobody ever went out on the Tweet ramp without ear protection more than once.
Tweet over Lake Amistad.  The lake has both a US side and a Mexican side.
Source

But I digress...

As I said, I've had my first solo.  That sortie was an Air Force tradition.  My IP and I went out to the Jet for a pattern only ride, practicing landings (yes, the pedantic out there will say we practiced takeoffs also, but the purpose of the ride was to successfully return the aircraft to the ground and taxpayers in a reusable condition).  Solo was not necessarily the only outcome of the mission, but assuming the IP was willing to risk his wings on the student's ability to land, at some point, he'd direct a full stop, taxi to the approach end of the runway where he'd disembark and direct you to take off and perform two touch and go's followed by a full stop.

Assuming success on your part, you were met in the chocks by the rest of your class and stripped of your flying equipment and unceremoniously dumped in a large stock tank filled with stagnant water.

A badge of honor!

I've had that ride, and now it's a few days later.  I've got another solo scheduled, except this time, I'm going to one of the practice areas and work on my aerobatic skills.  By myself!

I'm excited!  All by myself, in a jet aircraft.  Loops, Immelmans, Barrel Rolls, Aileron Rolls and maybe a Split S or two.  No spins, though, I still want to avoid them.
Oval is the portion of the Military Operating Area (MOA) I was assigned.  Dark Line is the Rio Grande
Source

It's a beautiful day, winds aloft are out of the South East, and the western edge of the practice area has a low cloud layer with the top about 3500'.  No problem,  the base is clear and a million, which is also my minimums (I've got just enough Instrument experience to fly in clouds all the way to the crash site).

But...The weather isn't a problem.  I'm out there doing my acro, tending to spend a lot of time in loops, using a long stretch of straight Texas highway to make sure I'm flying a straight Loop, Immelman or Split S.  Of course, if there was a truck on that highway as I passed through the vertical on the way back down....There might have been a ratta-tat-tat sound on the intercom.  Life was good.

Unfortunately, gas was finite and eventually, I've got to return to base.

Now, normal Visual Flight Rules RTB procedures dictated following the River (AKA the Rio Grande) offset to the east until the Base was in sight, then entering the traffic pattern.  However, that low cloud deck precluded seeing the river.  No problem, I had a good TACAN lock (a radio directional beacon) and I figured I'd just offset the heading arrow slightly to the right (east) of my nose.  The Base was reporting clear and a million still, so finding it visually would be no problem.

I'm headed home, keeping an eye out for other Tweets that were also recovering.  I figure I must be in front of them as I don't have visual.

I'm now down to about 5000' as I finally pass the edge of the cloud deck.  I see the base off to the east in the distance.  I drive over to the visual entry point for the pattern, make the appropriate radio calls, come down initial, pitch out and land.

I stuck the landing, yes I did!

Feeling pretty good about myself, I check in with the Supervisor of Flying (a Field Grade Officer who handled the actual flying operation for the squadron.  Solo students were required to check in and out with him so he knew how much exposure his career had at any given moment).  This one happened to be the guy I'd flown my first Spin Sortie with.  He asks how the sortie went.  I told him I thought it went well.  He asked if there had been any issues he needed to know about.  I said "No Sir."

He said, "Good, we had a report from RAPCON that one of our aircraft, squawking your transponder code seemed to have wandered over into Mexican Airspace."

"Uh-Oh!" I think.

He then looked at me with a baleful stare and followed up with "I said there was no way that any of our IPs would let someone wander across the border, so they might want to check their Radar calibration."

"Uhhh.  Yes Sir, I think I'm gonna go and review my recovery procedures a little."

"Good Idea"

So...You're undoubtedly wondering how this roller coaster ride about a Tweet sortie relates to a new Parochial Vicar.

Well, seems he has a YouTube Channel where his handle is ParaVicar.


What do I have in common with Father Kris?  We're both members of the Brotherhood of Mexican Airspace Violators.  Flight starts at 1:30.  I may be looking into a new hobby.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Weather and Science. No, Not at the Same Time.

Last Saturday
This Saturday
Something I used to hear when I was a kid was, "Don't like the weather in New England? Wait a minute, it will change."

Well there ya go, photographic evidence.

Though I should have held a newspaper up in the photo with that day's date on it. Though I suppose that could easily be faked with today's technology. For instance, here's a photo of my driveway in 1857...


Nah, I just pasted that newspaper in there.

Or did I?

Hhmm...

Oh, one last thing. ColoComment left a link to a Tube O' You video in yesterday's Lego post. As I am a fan of both ColoComment and the guy who did the video, I reproduce that for you here. It's relevant, educational, and humorous. All things I am in favor of.

Without further ado, why does it hurt so much when you step on a Lego?



Science. I love it so.






Saturday, January 14, 2017

Legos

(Source)
When The Naviguessor was a lad, he was a huge fan of Legos. He would get them for Christmas, for birthdays, and he never seemed to want anything else. Well, until video games were invented. (He played them as a kid, now, as an adult, he creates them. Makes some serious coin doing so as well.)

When you're a Dad, and your kids like Legos, well, you tend to like them too. I know I did. I still do. When I visit the grandkids, sometimes they let me play with their Legos.

Sometimes.

But this guy takes Legos to a whole new level.



Man, where can I get that Lego set?



Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th, After A Full Moon


So I am sitting in my office, minding my own business, well okay, I'm minding my employer's business, when my cellphone rings. (Actually it makes this odd chiming, chirping sound which the sound settings calls "Paper Guitar." As I've never played a paper guitar I can't vouch for the accuracy of the name. But it's not annoying, so I've got that going for me...)

"Hi WSO." No, I use her real name, LUSH, no, no, no, not her call sign, her real name. Which I will not divulge here because I forgot it. No, no, no, for security reasons, I won't divulge her real name for security reasons. Not because I forgot it. (Bit of foreshadowing there, if you pay attention down the road...)

On the other end of the line is the youngest of my nuclear family, The WSO. As you may have already guessed. Well, I did give it away didn't I?

"Hi Dad, what's up?" Which is how she starts every call she initiates with me.

"Uh, you called me..." Which is how I always respond.

I inform her that I am at work, she informs me that she is on her way to work. Which is a pretty standard opening topic for nearly all of our conversations. Though sometimes it goes like this -

"Hi Dad, where's Mom?"

"She's not here at work with me."

"Ha. Ha. Ha. Seriously Dad, where's Mom?"

"Well, she was at home when I left for work this morning... Hold on a second..."

"What are you doing Dad?"

"Checking the office one more time to make sure she's not here."

And it will continue like that for a few more seconds until we both tire of that. I should explain here the very sophisticated procedures the kids use in their communications with home base. First of all, The Naviguesser seldom calls. He's a guy, guys only use the phone to relay important information. "Hi Mom and Dad, I'm still alive," is not considered to be important information, that's the default situation. As I explained to my own mother once upon a time, "Ma, if anything happens to me, someone will call. If no one calls, that means I'm okay." No, The Naviguesser's mom doesn't like that. Neither does my mother. But I digress.

The Nuke and The WSO have a very strict calling protocol. First they will call their mother. If their mother doesn't answer, they will try again later. Sometimes, if they are really bored, they will call me, the father of this happy band.

"Dad, where's Mom?" Is invariably how those conversations start.

Anyhoo.

So I'm on the phone with The WSO out in California, as she has deigned to talk to me as Mom's location is unbeknownst to either of us. (For the worriers out there, The Missus Herself, who also answers to "Mom" was in the shower. So she didn't answer the phone, which was in the bedroom, not in the salle de bain. Which sounds so much classier than "bathroom," dontcha think?)

After a few minutes, I remark to The WSO that I need to get off the phone and get ready to go to a lunch time meeting. (Normally I don't go to such affairs, only if food is provided, which it was on Thursday. Once a month they sucker me in with free stuff. Although as we all know, nothing is free. Certainly not lunch...) That's when the following conversation takes place -

"So I've got to head off to that meeting kiddo."

"Oh yeah, you're ahead of us there in Little Rhody..."

"Yes <insert The Nuke's real name here>, I am talking to you from the future."

"Hahaha! Wait a minute, did you just call me <insert The Nuke's real name here>?"

"Yes, I did. That's your name in the future."

"Dad."

"Yes sweetie?"

"You're an idiot."

"So your mother tells me."

"Hahaha! Bye Dad."

"Bye sweetie."

Yup, the day of the full moon it was.





Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday

Tors strid med jättarna* - Mårten Eskil Winge (Source)
So, it's Thursday, which is Thor's day according to the old tradition, Donnerstag in German, "Thunder Day." It's also my fourth day back at work after a long holiday, it's also the day before Friday. (Another day named after one of the old Norse gods.) This week Thursday is almost as good as Friday. It's the next-but-last day of the work week. Next week it's what my colleagues and I like to call "Virtual Friday." As in, it's not really Friday but it's the last day of the work week, so it's just as good as Friday.

You may be wondering where I'm going with all this. Not really sure myself at this point. Bear with me, sometimes The Muse will toy with me and I don't where I'm going until I get there.

So I've been "binge watching" the History Channel series, Vikings. Which is a semi-historical dramatization of the life of one Ragnar Lothbrok. I say semi-historical because 1) it's on television,which makes me doubt it's historical veracity due to past performance, and 2) scholars still debate whether or not a fellow named Ragnar Lothbrok actually existed or whether he was an amalgamation of several real guys or just completely made up.

Regardless, it's an entertaining series. Lots of cool Norse mythology (which we actually studied when I was a wee lad, no, I grew up in New England, not Scandinavia AND we studied Greek and Roman mythology as well), fighting with swords, axes, and shields, lots of quaffing of ale, and a number of interesting characters. Some of the acting is a bit sketchy at times (really dude, stop trying to do a Norse accent or fire your voice coach) but overall I give the series high marks.

And I mean come on, I'm a guy. What guy doesn't like stories involving drinking, fighting, and (ahem) other activities not really suitable for mention in a blog which tries (sometimes desperately) to stay family friendly? (The series is on The History Channel, so it's not exactly Cinemax where anything goes.) And there are the Viking longships, the tattoos and the "interesting" haircuts.

(Source)
Also, back in the day, the ladies could be warriors as well. Very equal opportunity they were.

Now my fascination with this series goes hand in hand with the book series I'm currently reading. The Saxon Tales is a series of books written by Bernard Cornwell (one of my absolute favorite authors) which tells the story of one young Saxon named Uhtred, from Northumbria, that's in Great Britain for those who don't know and...

What do you mean, "What's a Saxon doing in Britain?"

Well, that's something my ancestors were always asking as well. But be patient, we'll get to that.

Now Uhtred was born to a Saxon lord, but he was captured by Danes when he was young, raised by them he had a foot in both camps: the Saxons and the Danes. Incidentally, when I say "Danes," think Vikings. Not completely accurate as to go "Viking" was an activity, not a group of people. Danes (which is what the Saxons collectively called their Norse invaders from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) who were bored, impoverished, or seeking adventure would go raiding other areas in search of wealth. That was "to go a viking," so those folks became known as Vikings.

Anyhoo. Uhtred lived in the time of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (in Britain, think Land of the West Saxons, as opposed to Essex, East Saxons) in the years 871 to 899. In other words, an awful long time ago. The books are full of action, intrigue, romance (not too much, just enough to make the characters "come alive"), clever plot twists, and lots of bad guys. On both sides, one side being the Saxons, the other the Danes/Vikings.

So I've got this whole Viking thing going on at the moment. If I wasn't getting on in years I would no doubt get it into my head to build a longship and sail up and down Narragansett Bay, terrorizing the locals and quaffing vast quantities of mead and ale. Until the local constabulary or The Missus Herself shut me down.

(Source)
And we'll have fun, fun, fun, fun, fun until...

Ahem, right.

So earlier I mentioned my ancestors wondering what the Saxons were doing in Britain. The majority of my ancestors were Celts, many living in the area we know today as Scotland, Wales, Ireland, The Isle of Man, and other places within the British Isles. Well, the Angles and the Saxons (Anglo-Saxon, get it) came a calling and a conquering and drove the original inhabitants out of all the good bits. Actually the Romans did most of that, my people though still refer to non-Scots as Sassenachs, literally Saxons, and not Romans or whatever.

For the Romans came a calling and a conquering first, driving the Britons out of all the good bits. Then they left, which opened up those lovely islands to the Saxons, then the Danes, then the Normans.

Which is part of the reason the English language is a mish-mosh of Latin and German terms. And many words spelled in English look nothing like they're pronounced. Either in the full light of day or in the darkest of nights. (See what I did there? And again?)

So that's the stuff which is entertaining Your Humble Scribe lately. And why today's post mentions Thor.

No, not the Marvel character, the real one. Oh wait, I'm a Christian, so Thor isn't real. Anymore than Jupiter, or Neptune.

Perhaps. (I really should discuss theology someday, might make for an interesting post. I like to play devil's advocate from time to time. Ya know, stir the pot.) But that's it for now, I need to go see a man about a hammer. Or something...

See you Friday, (Which is named for either Frige or Freya, either an Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess , or a Norse pagan goddess. Which, en français, is called Vendredi, named for the pagan goddess Venus. Gee, didn't the Christians get to name any of the days of the week? Of course they did, guess which one...)

Until then, farvel, or adieu, if you prefer.

Oh, and here's a theme song to haunt your dreams...






* Thor's Battle with the Giants, of which you can read more here.