All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


It's More than a Cook Out and Beer

Every once in a great while a public school teacher does something not entirely useless or degrading to our country.  Please don't let the teachers union or the Department of Education find out.

While I'm on the topic of Memorial Day, I'm going to rant a bit.  First, Memorial Day is about remembering those who have DIED in service to our nation.  It is not a time to "remember all those who have served", you public schooled, wanna feel good patriot-without actually bothering to learn some basic facts-potential voter.  Perhaps if you ever bothered to met someone who served in the military, or  actually knew a kid who got his brains blown out in some fools foreign policy errand, you might take the time to get it right.  Then again that would take a minor amount of effort on your part and "like are we going to barbecue or what"? Those kids that get themselves killed are clear on what's going on.  They are out doing their job, their duty.  While there are different reasons for joining up, there is one thing they are clear on, THEIR DUTY.  They do that, because that is what their country via the chain of command, has asked of them.  They do it for you.

Second, give them the respect for the branch and job they do.  A person in the Navy is a sailor.  The Air Force has airmen.  The USMC is where you find Marines.  The Army has soldiers.  I recently received an invitation to a welcome home party for a girl that joined the Navy.  The invitation asked for me to take part in, I'm not kidding here, "welcome our SOLDIER home".  The party is being put on by her former high school boyfriend.  Recently she sent me an email and I learned she is getting married to a man she met on ship.  Her husband to be, is no doubt clear on which branch of the service she is in.  I get worked up every time I read about men serving in the Army who are called Marines.  This happens in the papers more often than you'd think it would.  Get it right people, or don't even bother.  Another thing; all service is honorable service.  The trigger pullers and bayonet operators wouldn't be able to do their jobs if the cooks, motor pool, and quartermaster didn't do theirs.  The comment, "I was in the Army etc" should get a hearty "thank you for your service" as the reply.  There is no room for "he was only a cook".  SHUT UP!  His cooking did more for our guys than your fair weather-feel good-wanna be a patriot-BS ever did.

I'm all in favor of three day weekends, at least when a four day isn't possible.  I love barbecues and the occasional cold beer.  This time do it right.  Before the eating starts, hand out a round.  Ask the men to stand and remove their hats.  If they don't, ask them to leave.  Then offer a toast to those who died, by name if you know it, by proxy if you don't.

To my grandfathers friends who didn't make it home~and whose names I've forgotten,WWI, WWII and Korea
To my father's friends in the 3rd MAR Div in Vietnam
To Cpl Johnson, USMC (11th grade computer class)  Gulf war I, and Sgt Bob Smith, Army (Eng Comp II college), Gulf War II
To those whose names I do not know:
Thank you.  You are still remembered.


Popular Girl

Shamelessly stolen from the Abstruse Goose.

For a Geeks take on Game.


Falling in Love

They say a lucky man will have three great women to love in his life.

As a young man I was fascinated by the fairer sex.  Everything about them was alluring. The way they smiled at me, the way they tossed their head and bounced their hair even those funny little sounds they make, its all designed to grab a guys attention.  It works too.  We all know it works.  The girls know it works and the guys, if they were to stop and think about it, would know it works.  Of course we never think about it, we hear the Siren's call, and we obey, gladly.

In high school I followed that call wherever it came from.  I lavished my attention on whatever female was trying out her "come hither" look.  At first I was a generalist.  I dated blonds, brunettes and whatever variants of in between I came across.  Then I discovered red heads.  I dumped the hot blond I was dating the day I did.  That year, both the Catholic and public high school class valedictorians in my town were pretty red heads with good Irish Catholic names.  One was Catholic one was Presbyterian. I dated them both.  Both were good kissers.  Had things worked out differently I might have married one of them.  The red head was my great love number one.

It took me about two years of college to get over the red head.  There were lots of girls in between.  Just because a boy is heart broke is no reason to fail to hear the Siren's call.  I sampled a couple darker haired versions of femininity. I went back to blonds.  Great love number two came along.  If you can picture a tom boy mixed with Dorris Day, then you have an idea of the blond.  When that ended I didn't bother to date anyone for two years.  That doesn't mean I didn't go out.  There was a charity case and a couple of college girls that I was forced to entertain etc. Women may have come and went, but there was no romance on my part.

One winter day in January I met Mrs Ipsa.  We married that May.  No sense thinking too hard about these things.  The Siren was calling, what could I do? 

I have a confession.  The anniversary of my marriage is just a few days away.  I find myself falling in love with a much younger girl. 

She tosses her head.  I run my fingers across her curls. She gives coy looks.  I'm give her a smile.  She makes those cute funny girl sounds that key you in to her joy or displeasure.  The first day we met, she smiled at me and cooed.  I've been hooked on her ever since.  Those big blue eyes fill my soul with joy.  When she is sure she has my fullest attention, she'll wink her long eyelashes and give me a giggle.  She finds this grown man fawning over her amusing.  Sometimes she toys with me and grins only to pout just to grin at my foolish attempt to get he to smile again.  One of her biggest thrills is to climb on my lap and twink me on the nose.  Some how she knows I would never suffer this indignity from anyone other than her.  She likes that.  It's part of her power over me.

I know this will never last.  These types of love affairs never do.  They burn passionately but the end is always the same.  Some other boy will come along.  He'll be younger than me.  He'll have a future.  I have gray hair.  He will have a life in front of him.  She'll see him as a great adventure and me as a great past.  Then she'll be gone.  Sure she'll call and visit me, when he lets her.  I'm sure I'll get a card and a phone call every so often.  She'll want to "be friends". Women are cruel like that.  I won't be man enough to let her go.  I'll crave every little visit I get from her, looking forward to them like a lost puppy looking for his home.

Until then I'll drink in the smiles, and the coo's and the batting eyelashes.  I'm a sucker for my little girl and her big blue eyes.


Hot Brass

Yesterday my group managed to get done by 09:30.  This meant that we were free to go home for the day.  Normally the work day is 12 hrs give or take.  Every once in a great while fortune seems to smile on me.  I have today off, so getting off early yesterday would have meant that I would make the 200 mile drive home in time to eat with the family.  It sounded good in theory to me at the time.

Enter the general.  Apparently the US Army has men dedicated to the task of messing up other people's plans.  These men get stars pined on their uniforms.  Someone with a career, (not me) and thus a motive for impressing his betters, found out that he had a GENERAL coming to observe his training scenario.  To make matters more urgent, this was a genuine honest to gosh full ONE STAR GENERAL.  I'm under the impression that a one star general is the lowest rank of general.  However if the low ranking general signs off as having liked your little training program, you get more little training programs to run in front of higher ranking generals, which in turn gets you more government largess.  Key the suck up department and que up the ingratiation teams.

Needless to say, I didn't get off early.  What I did get was to be part of a VIP program for a ONE STAR GENERAL.  Probably a National Guard General, nobody would say who he was in command of, nor did I ever find out if anyone knew his name.  He had the magic stars on his BDU's, in the Army nothing else seems to matter.

The way our little program works is we have little groups of people assigned to tasks in each training scenario.  We have COB's (civilian on battlefield, my job), Role Players (native speakers), Op 4 (4 man insurgent teams) and the soldiers receiving the training.  The OC's we have assigned to run the training happen to be special warfare types.  Judging by the way the regular army guys genuflect to them they might be the real deal.   Each training scenario gets one team.  Except if a general is involved.  Then you get three teams.  That way the general gets to see a realistic representation of the training the troops are receiving.

The way things had been going is that the cohort of soldiers assigned to the training station had been on the wrong end of an operational butt kicking at the hand of the Op 4 guys all morning.  By butt kicking what I mean to convey is an absolute total embarrassment on all fronts ALL MORNING. Which is why they were having to repeat the exercise ad nauseam. This was accomplished by four kids from the Indiana National Guard, none of whom are old enough to drink off base.  For example, Op 4 stole an unattended hummer.  Then they stole a hummer with the gunner still in it manning his post.  They killed all of the army's team several times.  The tactics Op 4 used were unconventional, at least for the Army.  We used the same tactics playing Cowboys and Indians when I was a kid.  Apparently upbringing matters.

I should mention that I really did and do feel sorry for the OC.  He had a general coming and like he said, "generals like to see the good guys win".

So we set up a new and improved scenario for the general, with lots of extra people.  It looked very top notch and I was impressed with the job our guys were doing in the village.  I was able to see parts of it from my position in the shoot house.  My job was to be a civilian hostage during the Op 4 last stand.  In other words I was to try to not get shot. 

Everything went mostly according to plan.  The general came.  The troops rolled into the village.  We had lots of flyover traffic. They had a meet and greet.  Eventually they discovered that insurgents had control of a house in town.  The first Op 4 guy was ordered to make his stand in the open courtyard and most importantly, to die there quickly.  Which he did.  Guard pvts do what airborne Sgts say.  Even though he was 40 ft max from a bunched up platoon apparently none of the rounds fired from his gun hit their target.  The house was breached.  The remaining insurgents managed to not kill off too many of the soldiers.  This was accomplished by the OC "killing" off  one of the remaining insurgents in advance of the soldiers. 

On que I steeped out in front of the advancing squad.  I was yelling "don't shoot me" in Arabic.  They shot me anyway. So In my death throws I chucked some furniture in front of them to block their advance.  In turn the squad kicked and trampled my dead body, and then used my rotting corpse as a bullet sponge to hide behind. They fought off the insurgents that were now behind them, in the part of the house they forgot to clear in their hurry to shoot me.  In my roll as bullet barricade, I received some minor bruising, powder burns and lots of hot brass on bare skin.  I loved ever minute of it.

When the general was on his after action walk through, he was informed that all the dead civilians (me) were actually enemy combatants.  Being dead at the time, I didn't contradict the story.  The wounded civilians had been shot by the insurgents, who were using the house as cover.  The general was informed as my roll as cover.  He gave me a hard look, saw the foot prints, powder burns etc and smiled and gave me a thumbs up.  Judging by his smirk, I have to say that generals know that story they get is heavily filtered.  Generals after all like to see the good guys win.  This is most expediently accomplished by cheating.

I get to go back to playing war games for cash tomorrow.


What I'm Up To

My job, at present is to basically be an actor.  If you think about a civil war reenactment you will have a rough idea what I'm up to.  Every day I dress up as an Iraqi civilian living in a province of  Iraq.  There are several of us (non-Arabic speakers) paired with native Iraqis.  We act out scenarios in villages, roadways and towns to simulate actual daily operations in Iraq.  Some of the villages are large others are just small groupings of huts.  Sometimes we have just a handful of COB's (civilian on battle field, my job) sometimes we have several, plus the Iraqi's.  The "villages" are buildings made up to look like traditional Iraqi villages.  These are "built" and dispersed across a large military base.  Sometimes the layout mimics an actual (real) area in Iraq.  The Iraqi advisers tell me it is very realistic. Our language skills may be weak but the natives do most of the genuine communication, so the training is beneficial to the soldiers. 

A typical scenario is a village "meet and greet". Sometimes we are a friendly village, sometimes hostile, or mixed.  The soldiers never know for sure what our affiliation is or where our loyalties are.  Sometimes even though we are a friendly village, there may be snipers, IED's or a suicide bomber. Every once in awhile we change loyalty just because.

One of the returning COB's told me about a scenario they had where the village changed loyalty without informing the army.  What happened is the soldiers stopped in a friendly village to get intel.  Which was all well and good except the fools forgot to get their assigned interpreter from the pool before beginning the mission.   The friendly villagers were to give the intel and keep the soldiers from driving into an ambush.  Since they forgot their interpreter they had no idea what was being said to them.  (No one will ever speak English to a soldier when on location) When the unit moved out the villagers got more excited and tried harder to make them understand.  The specialist standing guard in the back of the hummer freaked.  His weapon was a 50 BMG mounted on the vehicle.  He opened up on the friendly village "killing" everyone.  For the rest of the months training every group of soldiers coming into the village were attacked, even though the village was marked "friendly".  Pay backs, just like real life.

The way our "weapons" work is pretty simple.  The rifles and machine guns are all real with adapters fitted on them to fire blank rounds.  They also are equipped with a very expensive version of laser tag.  So when they are fired they sound like real guns and they fire a laser beam.  If the beam "hits" your receiver, it beeps letting you know you're dead.  The explosives are talcum powder packed behind compressed air with a loud sound effect device.  If you get hit with white powder, you're dead.  In addition to the hummers and other transports they do fly overs while we are working.  Its fun.

We were warned not to photo the Iraqi's, or the towns etc.  The reason is that some of these guys are targets for terrorist attack.  I've heard the story of two of the men and how they came to help train our troops. Both of them had family killed because they or someone in the family were suspected of helping Americans. They hadn't actually done anything.  Neither one of these guys were in any way political prior to converting to help Americans.  Now that they have joined us, they and/or their families (or what is left) are marked for death. Posting pictures would only endanger them.  I had thought about posting pics of the area and talking about some cool stuff I've seen.  I'm not going to do that either because that would give away our location and the exercise is still going on.  I'll do a "Res Wanders" post after they have left.


Blogging Will Be Lite

I'm off in the AM to go help with troop training for Guardsmen going to Iraq.  I'm on contract till the end of the month.  So when your reading about the snow and rain we're getting this next week, think of me, I'm camped out in a tent on the prairie till further notice.

Does anyone know why it is so darn awe full important that the day start at 0400 hrs?  Perhaps its so I'll be tired enough to sleep on the ground in the cold rain at night.