Looks as though Lex is coming to a similar conclusion. A million words or so and I was not having as much fun any more either.
July 24, 2010
December 14, 2009
Update: Chris and Ken in comments below reveal that the actual writer was a bubblehead: Dex Armstrong wrote the story first.
I’m glad the Galco pop shop, which I’ve been lucky enough to have known about for a while, is getting some attention. Cobb has a lovely description of a visit there. I’ve only known about them through their internet sales, and it would be a blast to visit the actual shop.
October 17, 2009
October 6, 2009
Multiple AMCROSSes, etc., etc. I don’t recommend Frankfurt terminal B for long layovers.
I did give a stranger my hundred year old copy of Butler’s Life of Gordon, though. She was a Euro cop going to Darfur to do work there. Figured she needed it more than I did. The UN dudes told me they’re still planning for 25,000 troops; I told them everybody wants someone else to bell the cat, and good luck.
October 2, 2009
I haven’t linked Brad Todd’s “109 Minutes” column in a while, and it’s hard to find on the web these days. Here’s a copy.
September 30, 2009
September 28, 2009
Some serious dedication and effort to make this routine work, eh?
September 22, 2009
Via b3ta, a 16 beat soft synth with eight different sounds, including a drum pad. Nice.
September 14, 2009
A while back I mentioned a woman trying to repatriate herself and her family. She’s raised the cash from the folks who donated, and is getting ready to return to the States. Her plight has gotten attention from various newspapers, too.
Good to hear. Arriving broke with kids, though, yikes…
September 11, 2009
I re-entered the United States today from a Middle Eastern country. It was faster than I thought I would have been. I transferred in Atlanta–the joke goes that if you die and go to hell on that airline, you’d have to go through Atlanta–and left on the small flight home within five minutes of another flight from Boston, eight years ago.
The flight into Atlanta was painfully long, halfway around the world against the jet stream. I flew over a rogues’ gallery of countries I’ve never visited and likely will never do in uniform, flying over names like Esfahan, gazing down and asking myself what I was looking at, why this was so normal. The plane was packed. A significant percentage was guys you could spot as American a mile away. Being used to maintaining a somewhat low profile in a city with occasional small explosions and looking as unmilitary as I could save changing into the local mufti, seeing all the guys with KBR shirts or desert camo backpacks loudly gathered in groups and talking about home set my threat sensors off and I sat in a corner near the dudes with thobes out of habit, not being the hardest target, just harder than the softest. Once I was aware of my reaction I relaxed and got to meet some of the folks flying into Atlanta: mixed US-Middle Eastern civilian couples on their first trip to the states as families, Afghanistan planners and civil affairs types, contractors in Iraq doing services for us in uniform, tourists (today of all days?), tired looking active duty…and me, up for a couple of days due to a ticketing snarl delay in an airport with no pay phones and a sixteen hour flight en route to a funeral.
Some of those were Army going back to the town where the base was, and I drove near a base or two en route home. Outside Army bases you can see a miniature history of American warfare in the allies, comrades and camp followers who came back with Joe and set up shop right outside the gate. The Japanese, Viet, Korean, German, and other shops and restaurants tell a story, newer ones prominent, later generations assimilated and off to other things. But no, or not many, Afghani or Iraqi restaurants. The immigration restrictions, and the lack of Joe marriages in theater, have killed that source of new citizens off.
It’s been eight years since I was navigator for a submarine on what was supposed to be the last day in its 38 or so year life underway on nuclear power. We were supposed to pick up family members and take them to the pier where we would shut down the reactor and keep it that way. We had offloaded all our weapons in preparation for decommissioning, and felt helplessness–the core was good, we had gas, but the dry deck shelters we used for our primary mission were thousands of miles away in Hawaii, and the certification on the ship would run out in a short time. As I walked past the nav plot some guy talked about dropping ordnance. I asked “who? That’s the hard part–who do you shoot?” Funny how that would be a core realization for the next few years.
And I tried to be relevant since. The ship was done, and in any case so was my time left on it. Later so was my career as a submarine driver; in the interim I kept being refused when volunteering for Afghanistan, Iraq, anything operational and in front. Apparently my skills in staff worked me out of job. They wanted me at that desk, they needed me at that desk. So I managed to at least change desks: got some Arabic and French, party trick level, read a lot of reports and books, and got some other skills. Though my role is insignificant today, it frees up some other guy to do what I want to do, and occasionally I have a small influence.
The folks I work with I can’t talk about here–or won’t, in any case. Nothing sexy; I’m just aware of sensitivities. Deployments are harder with the family older, me older, children to worry about. I’m forward, but not as forward as the guys actually earning the combat pay. But it’s necessary, what I can do.
It’s not enough. I missed St. Crispin’s Day. What I do is better than nothing, though, and that helps.
August 31, 2009
August 22, 2009
The strange thing about Thomas Hardy’s is that it cellars well. Cellars for over a quarter of a century well. Very complex and intense. The company that stopped making it also no longer makes Royal Oak, an ale that was much more accessible but oh so tasty.
I’ll go sob into my green tea now…
August 20, 2009
Maybe a couple decades back, Steve Albini wrote an article that caused a tiny detonation in the indie-rock music world called “The Problem With Music“. Now, the Jesus Lizard didn’t follow his advice and broke up after they got screwed, but others did pay heed to Albini’s warning and escaped that trap.
David Byrne has an interesting article in Wired, with ‘read-some-Tufte’ graph design and mp3 conversations with people worth listening to, updating Albini’s thesis with alternative paths for the musician. Well worth reading to understand a different viewpoint on a business you might not have studied.
August 19, 2009
Some guys have more interesting lives than others.
I’d prefer boring to some of the things this guy’s been through.
There are some real patriots working to help us American military. This is one of them, a friend of mine.
Saleh was arrested in 1980 for helping his three siblings cross the border to seek refuge, which they found in Sweden. Saleh did not see them again until December 2008.
After his arrest, Saleh was sent to Abu Ghraib, the same prison that was the site of atrocities committed by American soldiers on Iraqi military prisoners after the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Saleh said he was tortured throughout his prison term, occasionally being forced to drag his naked body across asphalt and spending up to 20 consecutive days in solitary confinement, occupying a toiletless room so small he could not lie down.
“When you get out, you’re not like a human being,” he said. “Like an animal.”
After being imprisoned for more than five years, Saleh was released when Saddam pardoned a slew of prisoners on the dictator’s birthday. He was released two weeks later on May 10, 1986.
Saleh remained in Iraq for 13 years, working for the government and being required to sign in once a week at a local police station to show that he had not fled.
But he did just that in 1999, when he headed north for the Kurdish region of Iraq. From there, Saleh paid a guide to lead him and his family across the border to Syria, which they reached by walking for three nights. They could not travel by day, he said, because it would have put them at risk of being caught.
Saleh was arrested by Syrian authorities soon after crossing the border, suspected of being an Iraqi spy.
A complex man, a raconteur, a romantic; one of those guys who did a lot of Interesting Things that I’m not mentioning here. There are a lot of people doing what he’s doing now, many with equally interesting stories…
August 15, 2009
Good man lost. Wife, three young children. Army major with a good record and a good career. Blogger at Flopping Aces. Dead at thirty-six.
Thanks to LT Nixon for passing the word.
August 6, 2009
If I had this happen to me, I’d hope the two of us would be as positive and successful as this couple: a blog about dealing with serious injury from a mine hit. Lots of physical therapy photos, not to squeam but to inform.
Thanks to both of you.
(h/t Maggie; music autostart on the page)