Monday, August 31, 2009

Politically Correct – Un-American Re-Defined

The war on the CIA carries on unabated by the US AG. The CIA Director of Intelligence, Leon Panentta has offered to have the agency pay for any lawyers they may need to defend themselves. This is like a cancer, one part of the US eating the other, from the inside. Our enemies must be laughing their asses off somewhere out there (in their caves). This will chill that once great agency to the point that it will no longer take chances, no one worth 2-cents will go to work there and it will become just a place for civil servants with security clearances to go and bid their time before retirement. The US frees captured terrorists from Gitmo, they go along without too much complaint when the Scots decide to play Blood for Oil game with Libya, and they turn a blind eye to thugs in Philly (with clubs) intimidating voter ALL on Eric Holders watch. All with his blessing or his consent. What a mess.

Then we have Diane Watson a congresswoman from CA, that says opposition to BHO is because he is "the first president that looks like Me", basically equating opposition to racism.

So many whites and Hispanic voted for BHO in hopes of putting race behind us, in hopes of changing the status quo with regards to racial stereotypes. Instead, these same stereotypes are being used as a bludgeon to silence debate and more importantly to put an end to opinions that are different then the BHO agenda. This is un-American. We got to this point in history of electing a black person to the presidency precisely because of debate, feisty and raucous debate; we embraced the idea of looking out past the status quo of a history of white men running the country. And what did it get us; now everything is a racial issue. Everything comes with blatant racist strings attached. Look at the health care bill, there are many provisions in there that gives preference to federal monies if colleges and universities show an acceptance preference to minorities. There are similar preferences in the so called stimulus bill, thereby funneling more money towards racially preferred companies. In the words of Robert Reich (economic advisor to BHO) they did not want stimulus money going to "white construction workers or highly trained people" and Charlie Rangel (congress critter and tax cheat from New York City) agreed with him. This is un-American.

In the end we as a once free and open society are no longer safe from within or without. Just pull down the ensign and put up a big white flag. I just hope one day to get my own ass to Alaska where maybe one could live without interference from the big government.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Navy Airedale – Ground Pounder Story #1, Part 2 My First Day on the Flight Deck

They stood there at the far end of the Medical compartment; they were discussing me or at least my situation. I knew this because they would each take a turn looking over at me and then returning to the group discussion. They were the Doctor treating me, a Corpsman, my Department Officer (Maintenance Dept. in lew of anyone else more senior as they were all still flying) and The Master Chief.

I was laying there on a rack (it's what we call a bed) with a sheet covering my legs. I had been stripped of my boots and pants in order for them to take an X-ray picture of my hip. I had been bowled over by a Hub cover that came off one of my very own squadron aircraft. I had thought I had lost the leg. It was still attached but it sure felt like it had been cut off. I had an ice pack on it at the moment.

The Doctor waived my X-ray panel around and heads nodded. The Master Chief took a long, hard look at me. I knew what he was thinking. It was his Job after all. He was in charge of all of us Roof Rats from my S-3 Squadron, he handpicked each of us. We were fodder for the Roof, to be eaten alive if necessary and he would get more young bodies out of the 100 or so available to him. I had escaped sort of, carried off in a Stokes.

I did not respond. Somehow, I knew I was letting him down. I knew he wanted me back on that horse. Get back into the grind as soon as possible. The problem was this horse ate people. It killed, dismembered and disfigured ad nausea. I was lucky to have all my parts. What was I to do? Plenty of others in the squadron had declined to go up there, most of the married men in fact. This was the all volunteer Navy.

He was thinking "Can I get him back?" Of that I was sure.

The party broke up and the two medical folks wandered off to a small desk top bolted to a bulkhead (it's what we call a wall). Scripts to be written, Medical file to be updated; paper work was the lubricant of the modern Navy. Unbeknown to me at that instance, updating my file was going to be one of many, many entries by various medical Officers and Corpsman over the next 4-years.

The Maintenance O and The Master Chief spoke to each other for a few moments. I knew the MO would not come over to talk to me, but The Master Chief would. I lay back and closed my eyes. I relived the few moments of pure terror I had some 30 minutes or so ago. Had I not stood up the Hub cover would have caught me in the head. I am sure the outcome of that would have been totally different.

Sure enough the MO left and The Master Chief came over to me. He stood next to the rack and looked down on me, I tried to gauge his mood. He pulled his cranial helmet off, and pinned it between his arm and body.

"Well, no broken bones in there "T", you should be able to walk. Soon maybe. Be best for you to get up and about as soon as possible." He spoke to me without looking at me; he was regurgitating what the Medical folks had told him. Well, maybe he had X-ray vision he was a Master Chief after all. They were appointed by Congress and had powers we mere Petty Officers could only dream of. I was a lowly 3ard Class an E-4; he was an E-9 and a God in our command.

The Master Chief had virtually built the Enlisted Cadre of my squadron. We had recently transitioned to the new S-3 Viking aircraft from the S-2 Tracker. He had a say in who came to the squadron and who stayed as far as the Enlisted were concerned. I showed up as an E-3 Airman fresh out of A-School. Trained as an Avionics Technician (specialized in Anti-Submarine Warfare equipment) I wanted dearly to work the Flight Deck. It was my only reason for joining the Navy.

The Master Chief had detailed me TAD as it was known, to a sister Squadron for 'seasoning', they still had aircraft albeit the older S-2 Tracker that was being replaced. He sent all of the new Airman there to see which ones worked out. You see, as funny as it sounds there are people out there that don't really want to work, or at least work hard. You know, rolling up the sleeves, getting sweaty, grimy and dirty. It was his way of taking the measure of the men he had available to him. Separate the Hard Workers from the pretty boy's.

I loved getting hands on any aircraft, old or new. I reveled in getting the chance to get up into the old Tracker, chasing broken wires, crawling into the hell hole, hauling heavy tube filled electronics. I loved learning analog systems which in just a few months would be replaced with new digital stuff in the Viking. I wore my Radar Tracks with pride (these were grease marks made by the very long worm drives that spun the Radar Antenna up and down, the grease would not wash off your cloths, it was a mark that only S-2 Technicians had on them).

The Master Chief saw this exuberance and contrasted that against the two or three Tech's that sat in the air condition shop all day. This was at a Naval Air Station in north Florida so the air conditioning was an important clue how one would work out. Many times I was soaked in sweat from the waist up and still smiling, still volunteering for yet another Gripe to work off. The pretty boy's did my paper keeping me on the line in the sun. The Master Chief picked me and I was more than happy to serve as one of his Roof Rats. Well, until today.

I didn't know how to answer, I was used to responding to The Master Chief with an automatic "Yes Master Chief" or "Right now Master Chief". I was not sure there was any other way to respond to him (you never say Sir despite the superior rank, it's a Chief thing, something about working for a living or parents being married when born, who knows). He tapped me with his bunched up glove and said he would be right back. I watched as he walked over to where the Medical Officer was sitting. They spoke, both taking turns looking at me.

I knew what The Master Chief was asking, "How soon can I get him back up on the Roof?" The Doctor nodded his head and gestured with his shoulders like he did not know. The Master Chief shook his head slightly acknowledging whatever the Doctor had said. He was looking directly at me when he did this. The look on his face was a mix of disappointment and contemplation.

He walked back over and gave me a smile. "Well "T", they are going to give you some drugs and a Light Duty Chit. That should take care of you for a few days, till you are well enough I guess."

"There is nothing wrong with Light Duty "T", you need it, you should take it. You can't be up there and scared of the place, you have to have your wits about you. So, you take all the time you need."

He walked away. I lay there playing the words out in my mind. Every word. Master Chiefs just don't go around throwing words around, they mean something.

After a few minutes I climbed out of the rack. I took a few test steps. It hurt like hell. It wasn't just the weight on the leg it was the pivoting the hip does as you step. I sucked it up, found my pants and boots. It took me 20 minutes to put on my boots, I almost passed out a couple of times.

After I dressed I limped over to the Corpsman, he had watched me closely as I dressed.

"You know they don't need you up there. There are plenty of others to cover your job." He said. He was a First Class, an E-6. I wondered why he worked down here in the nice, clean, and quiet and air conditioned compartment.

"I know." I said. He handed me a prescription for a med he said I should take before I went to bed, I would not be able to sleep without it he said. Then he gave me another piece of paper. It was a Light Duty chit. "This will get you out of work."

I took it grudgingly; he picked up on the vibe. "You are not indispensible PO "T", nothing you do up there is important." He said. I looked at him and shook my head in the affirmative; I did not believe him though.

This was important to at least two people.

I limped around on the mess deck (it's the same deck where Medical is located) for maybe 30 minutes, making complete circuits bow to stern. I wanted to go up to my shop and stew but I was not sure I could take all the ladders (that's what we call the steps or stairs between each deck), 4 all told to get to my shop. I was still in a lot of pain and needed to get used to it or get some drugs. On each circuit I passed the pharmacy, the little hole in the glass beckoned to me wanting the slip in my pocket.

I finally climbed the first ladder that got me to the Hanger Deck. I had to take a break the climb had really hurt. I tried walking again, limping forward through the middle of the hanger bay. It was relatively empty as we did not have the whole air wing on board, just the two squadrons doing CarrQuals.

Again, after maybe 20 more minutes I tried another ladder and then another and then the last one that put me on the 03 level. This was the deck where my shop was located. It also housed the Squadron Ready Room and our Maintenance Control. It was Maintenance Control where The Master Chief would be.

I made my way to the shop and was able to sit for a spell. I was not in as much pain as when I had started out almost an hour before. My hip was really tender but I think the pivoting and turning was getting better. I gathered my belongings that had been brought here from medical. My cranial helmet, gloves and my float coat. The Float Coat. It was a white one with a large black checker board on the back. It signified that he who wore it was a Final Checker. It was handed out in my Squadron by The Master Chief but only after you proved yourself worthy. He would want this back if I did not return to duty.

Duty. That is what this was all about. It was what The Master Chief was trying to tell me down in Medical. Was it my Duty to go back? Was it his Duty to get back up there? How many men would go back after a near death experience? I did not know. I was only an E-4 he was the E-9. He was The Master Chief he could have just ordered me back to duty or demanded the Float Coat back.

I limped out of the shop and made my way to Maintenance Control. I stepped into the Air Conditioned compartment that was only half filled with Admin people since we were not fully deployed to the ship. An AZ2 noticed me first and mentioned something about a cat dragging me in. I did not acknowledge his remark; I looked towards The Master Chief's office. His Cranial was on a peg just outside so I knew he was in there. Another Admin Chief came over and asked how I was. "Ok I guess." I said. "I am here to see The Master Chief." He nodded and walked over to the office, knocking on the bulkhead before stepping inside. It was protocol; mere humans were not permitted to simply step in unannounced on The Master Chief.

There was some murmured discussion in the office that I could not make out and they both emerged. The Admin Chief simply got out of the way as The Master Chief charged out, he was like that. Went nowhere in slow step, if he was going anywhere it was important and he went at a brisk pace. Same here. He crossed the distance of the small space quickly. I wanted to step backwards away from him but dared not.

He stopped in front of me his eyes burning a stare into my own.

"How you feeling PO"T"?" He said.

"It's sore and hurts." I said

"So, what's your story?" he asked, his tone had changed.

I knew what he was asking. I was standing there in front of him holding my flight deck gear, helmet and float coat. Was I coming or going? Would I leave the Float Coat with him to re-assign to another.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the Light Duty Chit. I handed it to him and said "It's not made out to anyone in particular."

He unfolded it and looked at it, confirming what I had said.

"I thought you might hold it, in case you need it for later when it gets tough up there." I smiled at him and rolled the Float Coat up and into my arm and onto my back. "I'll see you topside." I said and left him standing there. I think that was the first time in over a year that I had known him that I saw him smile.

40 minutes later on Cat 1, AG703 came before me for a Final Check. No grudges held, I patted her down with loving devotion, paying particularly close attention to her one remaining wheel hub cover. I would kneel down as painful as that was and hold my left hand out with my thumb pointing Up. I would work the rest of the night and every day and night of that line period.

Epilogue: Some 14 months later The Master Chief would retire. He had 22 years in, had single handed and through herculean efforts on his own had won the Squadron the Battle E award (this for the best VS Squadron over the last year, 1977) no small feat. He was leaving on top, no one could blame him. I was asked to be one of his Side Buoys, a kind of honor. Side Buoys are 8 close and respected friends and comrades who form two columns that the Retire walks between while they salute him as he departs. I was not only the youngest I was the lowest ranked (now a 2nd Class or E-5).

At the end of the ceremony, after all the speeches and farewell stories The Master Chief stood before the Side Buoy's, the Boatswain Mate commenced piping him over and he walked between us. When he got to me he stopped, turned slightly, smiled at me and pulled out a slip of paper. He winked at me and then made the final steps out into retirement. The slip of paper he gave me was the Light Duty Chit I had given him some 14 months ago, a lifetime ago as it were. A new lifetime. Mine.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Checkers in white float coats, in the midst of air ops, waiting for their next victim, this one is an F/A-18 on board the USS Enterprise. US Navy Photo.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Swamp – At Home in SEPA

You will see me refer to this place that I live as The Swamp. Here is why:

I live in an area of PA that was settled relatively recently. Remember dear reader I was born and raised in New Mexico where history pre-dates the European arrival in the America's by many hundreds of years. So, these Pennsylvanians have only a relative notion of history and it starts in the late 1600's.

The original European settlers were mainly of Germanic decent (called Goschenhoppen's, yeah, don't ask cause I don't know, but that is what they were called). They arrived in this immediate area in the very early 1700's which had been parceled out by William Penn himself and established as the Frankfort Trust. You see these early German immigrants were persecuted back home for their religious beliefs. Bill Penn was sympathetic and carved out a sizable tract for these new arrivals, he just did not want it to close what was to become his beloved city, Philadelphia. Geographically speaking, we are some 50 miles north and west of the city proper.

Upon arrival the Germans found good arable land with plenty of watered meadows. One of the first things they did was build a large church, they were Lutherans you know. They built this lovely church not even a mile from my abode using brick brought here from Hanover Germany. Lots of bricks by the way as the church is big. It is the first Lutheran church built in America. The site for this church was up on a small hill up off the bottom ground or the meadows. This is because the meadows you see were the true appeal the German farmers for this area. The arable ground with good meadows or schwamm in the Germanic dialect spoken in the day, proved too good to pass up and the Germans stayed.

First Lutheran Church in America built with bricks brought here from Hannover Germany. Circa. 1707.

You see these meadows were important to the German new comers because of the kind of hay that was grown in these meadows. Especially over the winter months. The hay grew thick and plentiful and allowed farmers to feed their cattle the hay over the winter. They would simply go out and cut a swath and bring that back to their barn, usually built up on high and dry ground. The cow was very important for the milk they produced mainly because they used it for producing Butter. Butter it seems was a very important commodity back then you know, before the introduction of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and such. Butter was second only to Wheat as a cash crop in these parts. I am sure it was sold to the many people living in Philadelphia. They weren't good enough to live with them but they would eat their butter, thank you very much.

So, the meadow was important to the settling of the local area. Within maybe a mile of my house is the confluence of many creeks and small rivers; the Minister Creek, the Swamp Creek (both of which are small rivers actually) and there is the Shublish and the Scioto creeks that pass and of course the Reifsnyder as well. These all converge near here and all told make for a lot of meadow ground. There were lots of German farms in this area long ago.

Not that many now as we have had so much residential development. We still do have one family farm run by a German descendant and he still heard cattle. In fact maybe a quarter mile from my front door as the crow fly's is the Suloman Dairy farm and milk store. They don't make butter there today, as I guess that has been taken over by mass production from the great big dairy cooperatives.

No, they turn hay into Ice Cream over at the Suloman's place. Oh we are blessed with its rich, sweet goodness a short walk away. And we absolutely love Ice Cream here in my house. It was one of the reasons we choose to buy in this development.

There are cows here, they must have been inside getting milked when Icame by with my camera.

So the area around here is called the Swamp. The main road through my township is called Swamp Pike. You cross bridges over all these creeks and rivers on every road you travel. Water is everywhere, there are Meadows everywhere. It's a lovely place; they just need a good Taco stand and I would be in heaven. Can anyone say Bob's Burger?

Ye Ole Homestead. My home on Pheasant Lane. That is the flag I call "The Big One" which is only flown on special occasions.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To Do List – Counter Protest

Yeah time to roll the sleeves up and get into the fray. I have done some small things. I emailed the White House when they were still running their "Snitch" hotline and reported a couple of Web Sites that had 'fishy' information, or at least information that was contrary to what the President was going around saying. These were Nancy Pelosi's website and the AARP website. I am guessing that neither the President or Nancy had read the 1018 page bill nor had they actually tried to coordinate their message to the public. Each one was out there saying stuff that was contradicting the other, bully for them. I love it when the Dem's stick it to themselves. I fingered the AARP because their "Facts versus Myths" page was actually more like "Lie's versus Myths" and they sending me membership packages, so their link went to the White House too.

I have not heard back if the White House is sanctioning either or if they are even investigating. This is becoming a problem with this White House, returning calls that is. I have called them maybe a dozen times trying to get an appointment for an oil change for my Chevy Malibu. What do I have to do, drive down there and get my MAXX into the White House motor pool for service? I guess when the motor seizes it will then qualify as a Clunker and I might qualify for a handout.

So I am thinking it is now time to get more involved at a local level. I joined this local 912 group but they were pretty lame. I think the organizer was mainly interested in 'networking' for a job (he is a marketing guy) and several of the more active were selling bumper stickers, t-shirts and such. I don't be grudge them for wanting to make a buck (we are conservatives, you know the working class), but I thought I was joining one of those reactionary groups, you know get together and stand on the street corner somewhere with handmade signs. But no, this bunch was happy meeting in diners, eating and hawking each other's products (I understand the Marketer hooked up with one of the bumper sticker makers and now I get their mass emails from them).

Now, I live in the PA 13th Congressional district which is held right now by Allyson Schwartz. She sits on the House Ways and Means Committee which is kind of an important assignment as that is the committee that 'writes' the tax code. I put that in quotes because I really don't think congress critters actually write anything. I think they pimp out their whole job. She is also on the House Budget Committee as well. She is considered a Rank-and-File democrat by her voting record that is when she votes. She only votes 54% of the time. No telling what she is doing for the rest of the time she spends in DC.

To me she would be one that you would want to protest but I can't find anyone interested. She is hiding and not having any town hall meetings nor does it appear is she seeing constituent's one on one either. I have emailed, snail-mailed her and I even used her website to try and get a meeting with her. No doing. I guess it is best to keep your head down when your party is pushing Ugly around like it was sliced bread.

My district is one of those gerrymandered mess's of a district. I live way out in farm country but a majority of the constituents of the district are 50 miles away living in the city of Philadelphia. Solidly democrat, the Great Northeastern part of Philly is where my wife was born and raised until into her High School days when her parents moved the family out into the suburbs. The white exodus that occurred in the late 60's left a lot of abandon homes, business and industrial buildings in this portion of Philly. A lot of the people of the City fled shrinking its overall population and congressional clout. When I first moved here in 1979 the city was the third largest in population in the nation. Today, it's lucky to be the 6th when the next census occurs. It's been run almost this whole time by Democrats, Mayor and City Counsel. The suburbs around Philly are solid Republican territory but to negate that influence and keep as many Democrat Congress Critters in DC, they jumbled up the Districts. We used to be in the 15th, but you can see the shape of the district below. What a mess.

Ah well, maybe I'll strike out on my own and stand at the end of Allyson's driveway with my own sign. What to put on it however, what should my message be? I'll have to work on that. I do have plenty of poster board, left over from my daughter's college days.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

IHS and the MSM – The search for honest reporting

There is a lot of debate about Health Care Reform but there is only one reason that I oppose the kind of reform that is being pushed by BHO, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (has a more evil trio ever combined arms, I don't know) is that it will transform our Health Care system over to a massive Government Run health care system.

Government run health care. Just mull that over a minute. Say it again and think about what it means. Government run health care. We have a history of that, right here in the USA. Let me explain, it's ugly and it's a very personal thing for me.

My Mother was born into the Jicarilla Apache Indian Tribe. Part of the formerly great Apache Indian nation, they were kept in captivity for some 39 years outside of their original tribal areas (Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma). When finally "released" they were relegated to living on Reservations established by well meaning white people (well maybe, they were still carrying a grudge for my Mothers people). These reservations are nowhere near the size necessary for the Indians to return to their original lives (without the fighting and killing) and become self sufficient. They would require Government help to get by.

The Government, understanding this established many policies and agencies to 'help' the Indian with living in this strange new world. One of these over arching policies and agency is their Health Care policy and the Indian Health Service. Known as the IHS, this agency was established in 1887 to provide Native Americans (Indian Americans) with health service.

This agency operates clinics in 35 states around the country including Alaska. For well over 100 years the US Government has provided cradle to grave health coverage for the Native Americans in this country.

Why is this not touted in the press, why indeed is the Administration not advertising the fact that we have Government health care in full operation in the country today? Why not simply expand it to cover all 300 million Americans using the IHS as a template? Hmmmm, what could it be that the Administration, the Democrats and the MSM are all hiding from?

Let's take a look. Here is a startling series of facts. In the 1900 census there were 237,000 Native Americans remaining and there were 114,000 people counted of Asian descent. This is out a total of more than 62million Americans (see reference 1), so their portion of the population for both peoples was very small in 1900 (less than .1% for each).

What are they today?

Well the Asians account for 4.4% of the overall US Population (as of February 2006) or over 13 million (see reference 2). This is despite not having a US Agency dedicated to providing them health care. This is from them having to milk out health care the good old fashion way, from the free market system.

Over this same time the Indian Americans increased their population to a whopping 2 million or to 0.68% of the US Population (see reference 2). Stunning. It seems as if the US Government was trying to rid the country of its Natives! I mean you cannot survive as a distinct culture if you cannot grow your population. And this great health care service is slowing but surly eliminating the Indian Americans they are supposed to take care of.

This is why I don't support Government run health service. And it is more personal than you realize with me.

The Indian Americans in this country have infant mortality that is way higher than the average of the rest of Americans (2005 numbers, 6.9 All Races, 8.1 Native Americans, see reference 3). Death in the IHS Clinics is so common place that many pregnant Indian American mothers resort to extreme measure to stay out of them.

I am an example of that distrust and fear. When my Mother went into labor she demanded my Father drive her to the nearest Anglo (their word for anything white) or Public hospital. It was 80 miles away. On the way out of the little reservation town they drove past the Clinic she was supposed to go to, it was less than 2 miles from home. I was born in the back of a Rambler Classic sedan some 60 miles into that 80 mile drive. My chances of survival were better in that car alone with my little family than they were in the IHS Clinic.

This speaks volumes.

Why does anybody trust the Government to something as intimate, and important as you health care? They cannot do it better, that is a foregone conclusion.

Can they do it cheaper? Well, let's see. In 2007 the average resident of the US spent $7,421 dollars on health care (see reference 4). Seems like a lot but we have the best free market system in the world. That is a lot of money.

This is what you hear the Dem's saying all the time; they have to make health care more affordable!!! How many times do you hear them rant about the high cost of health insurance?

How much does the US Government spend on the Native Americans? Yeah, with the entire Treasury of the US behind it the Health and Human Services (which is the Department that the IHS is in) spends a mere $2400 dollars per Indian American. Cheap enough for you? If you are a senior, try buying all your Med's on that amount every year. You want a new hip, better bring one with you. Everything is rationed. Everything is planned by the bureaucracy. If it was not thought of last year, you don't get it this year.

Whatever you do, don't get sick after June. They just don't have the budget to take care of you for the full year.

You see none of this in the MSM. I have seen only passing comments on this, no big story or investigation. The Administration gets a complete pass and you know as well as I that they would simply blame everything on the Bush Administration. And that is partially true, as many, many Administrations are to blame. The one thing the BHO Administration does not want is people drawing comparisons between the IHS and that BHO desires for Universal Health Care for the entire country. Not a good track record.

Native Americans don't complain. They suck it up and take it. They are a broken people. They 'lost' the war for the great country they once lived in. To this day the best outcome for a Native American is to leave their culture behind. It is what my Mother did and why I was raised for the most part in the big City. Away from the reservation, away from the squalor and decay that is so prevalent on the reservations.

That is why so many Indian Americans run from their heritage; to get away is to survive.

No Government health care for me, if I had wanted it I would have stayed where it was free. Of course I would most likely be dead right now, but it would have been free.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

(1) US Census Bureau, Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990
(2) US Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey
(3) CDC 2008, National Vital Statistics Reports, Table 6
(4) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group, 2007 National Health Care Expenditures Data

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TMI - Canning Tomato's

The start and near the end of the process is shown here. The fresh Toe's are waiting in the back near the scalding pot. In the foreground I have sterilized jar's waiting for prep (the upside down ones) and jar's that have the spices, garlic and olive oil are next to get Toe guts. I I add salt to the filled up jar's and then cap them. When I have enough for a batch in the boiler (usually 8 jars) I haul them out for processing.

Here you see Toe's swimming in near boiling water. Some of this cooking gear is only used for this purpose. The pan and strainer the Toe's are sitting in are such tools. Same for the large pot processor below.

Here you see Toe's waiting in ice water to have their skins removed. A tedious process but so worth it. Whole skinned Toe's are put in to the La Machine for chopping. I do not puree the Toe's, only chop.

Chopped Toe's are placed into the large Bowl. We use this same bowl for making torrtlla too. From the bowl I spoon out the Toe guts using a straining spoon. The juice that is left behind is saved off and strained for Tomato juice.

The boiling water bath canner. I can get up to 12 quarts in this pot but usually it is only 8. This pot is so big I cook it on my grill. The Beefeater 2000 does the job and I have had two such pots on this grill in the past.

The finished product. I was able to put up 29 quarts. Stored in our basement along with some jelly and soon some pickled veggies as well.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

More Air for the rest of Us

Yes, folks Ted Kennedy has passed. Father, Husband (sometimes), senior senator from Mass, the Liar Lion of the senate, the poor car driver, expert swimmer and political wrangler has gone on to meet his maker. I hope Mary Jo is waiting by the pearly gates to, you know bear witness for what passed for his life.

I won't say more as the bile in my gut is broiling over the adulation the MSM is heaping on this Luckiest Man on Earth. He escaped criminally negligent homicide charges because of his name and family connections.

I just wonder what Smacked-Ass of a leftist the good people of Mass will vote in and saddle the rest of the country with. All these many years, 47 in fact, we have had this piece of communist excrement in power and the voters in the Bay State have left him there. Growing in power with every year he remained in office. John Adams I am sure can now stop spinning in his grave, at least until that other crap head comes out of hiding, John Kerry.

I can't believe both of these men will get ground in Arlington. Well, they won't have problems growing grass on top of them. Manure this rich will grow anything.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Domestic Tranquility – Recurring Theme of Life at Home in the Swamp

Just what does a JimmyT do when the Wife is away?

So, the Wife (Mrs. T) went out of town for a few days. She went to a Marine Mom's convention, a meeting of Lady Friends, Marine Mom's or Wives all, to commiserate and hang out. They will build up care packages for their Son's and Hubby's deployed to the AF, they will laugh cry and do all those Girllie things.
Good for Her. Great for Me.

What to do? Well, come into my world but please, don't laugh. It is what I am.

One of my favorite past times is eating. Yeah, I know hardly a past time. But it is something I know something about and one of the things I love eating is Pasta.
Now, Mrs. T is part Italian, and I think all of that Italian in her is that part that makes Pasta sauce. Mrs. T's pasta sauce is to die for. I Love it. And it is best when she has home grown tomatoes to use in her sauce building.
That is my Job. I am the Tomato supplier. I Can Tomatoes.

This is the time of the year in these parts when Tomatoes are ripe. I grow them but this year we have had a late blight throughout this county and several of the other counties around here. The blight was caused by some kind of fungus that got into the commercial growers that feed the baby plants around the south eastern PA region. Well except for the Amish who grow their plants from scratch by seed. They are so smart those Amish.

Like most every family garden around here, my crop of plum tomato plants was devastated. Out of 20 plants only three survived to give me only a few tomatoes. Not enough to fill even a single quart jar much less the 20 or so that I need to keep me in prime pasta sauce for the next year.

Good for me I live not too far from those famous Amish farms of Lancaster County. Better still, they take American Dollars for their farm products. And did I mention they know a thing or two about growing Tomatoes? A short drive and 20 bucks later and I have in my possession 40 pounds of beautiful plum tomatoes. Oh, be still my pasta loving palate.

The canning process is hardly scientific but there are some things you need to know. For me that first thing is that it makes a huge mess. The stripping off of the skin of all those tomatoes and then squishing them into a paste, packing into jars and boiling them in water is very much akin to war in a kitchen. It makes a mess.
The last thing I need while I am performing my Husbandly duty is to have the Wife standing around complaining about well, the tomatoe squirted on the window and wall, spilled on the floor and splashed onto the front of the stove, dripping down onto counter tops and spilling out everywhere.

The best time to can tomatoes here in the Swamp is when Mrs. T is not home. Preferably, far from home. This was the perfect weekend.

It took all day this last Sunday, 13 straight hours on my feet but I was able to get 29 quarts of prime plum tomato paste and three quart jars of pure tomato Juice. The Juice I use for Bloody Mary's and for de-skunking Lady, the Princess Pomeranian. Try as we do, she still can't tell the difference between the occasional skunk and the neighborhood cat. And trust me, the Juice does work!

Did I mention I love Mrs. T's pasta sauce?

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Catch and Release

Letting Terrorists out of captivity, alive.

First we had the Pan Am 103 bomber let go on compassionate grounds. Now the US has released a terrorist held at the notorious Gitmo prison. The US has released Mohammed Jawad who was 'detained' in 2002 for throwing a hand grenade at SF troops. (story is here: He was sent to Gitmo in 2003 and has spent 1/3ard of his life in prison. Mohammed was the youngest person kept in Gitmo at an age somewhere between 12 and 17, no one knows for sure even Mohammed. The ACLU represented him at Gimo and won his release based partly on the lack of evidence.

Two things bother me about this, the first of course is this issue of using a Criminal standard with regard to the collection of evidence in a War Zone. What the ACLU is asking for is absolutely insane. You can't have Fighting men (be they Army or Marines) stop everything they are doing to collect evidence. Can you imagine in your mind what they are asking for here: taking pictures, measuring angles and trajectories, molds of foot prints in the ground, taking finger prints, putting trace material into little bags? Holding hearings and witness interviews. Then when the CSI's done with the scene – resume fire fight!!

Simply asinine, it speaks to what the AG, PressBO and the entire anti-war left understands how one fights a war. If you make taking prisoners a burden and then let them go again, why bother. Simply kill them in the field.

The other thing that bothers me is the ACLU. How in the world did they get in there, a military base, a secure military base, and get their hooks into the process of defending the War Prisoners. I can see letting the Red Cross in to take a look around, make sure the 'captives' have water in their cage and such other creature comforts as our prisoners would receive when captured by the enemy.

But the ACLU. They need to find the guy that decided that and put him in Gitmo!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Navy Airedale - Ground Pounder Stories #1

My First Day on the Job:

We all called it simpy "The Roof". It was 4.5 acres of steel. And I am not taling about beer can steel; this was good old fashion Iron. And nothing but, thick too! The Roof was designed to take a pounding from aircraft weighing more than 70,000 pounds and more. There were no soft edges; even the surface was covered in a layer of the deepest anti-ski material that man was capable of putting down. This stuff removed skin right down to muscle if you had the misfortune of falling and skidding on it. The Roof respected no one, it may well be the very bedrock of all Navy Aviation because it is so demanding and unforgiving. It truley seperates Naval Air from any other flying service.

I loved working on the Roof.

I will say this up front; it was the hardest, dirties, most mentally challenging work I have ever done and would go back there in a minute if I knew the place would wound not kill me. Time and age has a degrading affect on your reflexes and you need all of them working at full capacity to work there any length of time and survive. It is work for the young of mind, body, heart and sprit.

When I first went to sea with the S-3 or Hoover, I was not the only one that was doing something new. The squadron, VS-31 Topcats, was new to the S-3 as well as the Air Wing and ship since the S-3 was just then being fielded. Every time an S-3 Squadron deployed it was a milestone since the aircraft was brand new. All 11 of our aircraft came straight from the Lockheed factory in Burbank. They still had that new plane smell when we got them. It would be a few months yet before they started taking on that familar smell of BO, sweat and vomit. Hmmm, how sweet.

So, when I first went topside to 'catch' my first S-3 it was new for everyone not just me. Now my Job at the time was two fold. I was to be the Avionics shop rep or Troubleshooter who would handle any last moment problems with the aircraft's extensive avionics package. My second Job was as a "Final Checker".

Checkers do the final touch on the Jet prior to the catapult ride off the ship. We checked all the fittings on the Jet, looked for hydraulic fluid and engine oil leaks, made sure there were no panels loose or open, we verified that the landing gear linkages and door lingages are free and not binding and the hydraulic reservoirs were full.

We basically patted down the Jet while it was being attached to the catapult. You had only the time it took them to position and hook the Jet to the catapult to finish the check and assume a position where the Aircraft Handler could see you give him a thumb: up or down.

You also watched the aircraft flight controls while the Pilot did a 'wipeout' of his flight controls making sure they were working and not binding. This was usually done with the aircraft at full power, screaming to get airborne. The pilot would then salute the Handler who would hand the aircraft over to the 'Shooter' and he would signal the actual launch of the Jet off the ship. The famous tip on the deck.

On this first day we were working only with my squadron of S-3's and the Hummer Squadron flying the E-2 Hawkeye (this was the Early Warning Squadron) from VAW-117. The plan was to start late (1100 hours or 11:00am) and work the aircraft doing both Tounch-n-Go's and then Cat-n-Trap's. That is the Pilots would practice landing and then start taking the wire and stopping, then immediately going to a catapult for a launch and them back into the pattern for another landing. At sometime there would be a pilot switch between the two front seats so the right seater could get some Qual's in also. Usually this is accomplished while the aircraft was being refueled on deck, with the motors running, known as a Hot Switch. My Squadron was bringing all 11 aircraft and the Hummer squadron was bringing all 5 of thier birds as well.

We were starting late because the plan was to do Night Qual's as soon as it got dark and work till around midnight. It was going to be a long first day. To a man, we were all excited and ready.

And so it went for the first 3 or 4 hours. A Hoover would trap and as it crossed the lowered Jet Blast Deflector I would trot over, signal the crew and start my Final Check. Sometimes I would do the Port side of the Jet, sometimes the Starboard. We worked in pairs to cover the whole Jet. When a Hummer was on the cat, I and eveyone else not involved in launching that aircraft would wait our turn in the "Pig Pen". This is a safe place (relatively speaking of course) between the two bow catapults. It is a painted box on the deck where you could stand and then squat down for each launch. It was just a place that was relatively out of the way of the immediate launch in progress.

Safe, right?

So, there I am in the Pig Pen, waiting my turn. A Hummer was just then going into tension on Cat 1 and I took a knee to get down and take the blast from the E-2 when it was tossed off the pointy end. At the same time we had one of our S-3's doing a Tounch-n-Go in the landing zone.

That's how it is on the Roof; stuff happens all around you and all of it is stuff that will kill you. You have to watch all of it, all the time.

So, while I am down on my knee, in those few seconds with the Hummer at full strain on the cat and my back to the landing zone, AG703 did her Touch-n-Go and just for fun, it shed a Hub cover.

This is a kind of hub cap on the wheel. It is about 6 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep and made of maybe a quarter inch thick aluminum. There is some weight to it but that's not too important in this instance, it had momentum. This momentum came from the aircraft speed of some where near 100 knots (120 mph). This is the approach speed of the S-3 give or tak 10 knots. No matter, this piece of aluminum popped off and flew itself like a missile down town, looking for a victim.

You guessed it, Me.

People told me later that it sounded like an artillery shell coming in, that whistling sound but this one ended in a thud.

My fledgling self protection alarm sounded in my mind and my instinct was to stand up (I couldn't go anywhere except into more dangerous places). The hub cover caught me in the righ hip. Not bad, it could have been the right side of my head and maybe the end of Me right there.

The impact was so hard that it lifted me up several feet and spun me around tossing me forward and into the Pig Pen where several other men were waiting out the E-2 launch, they broke my fall. Pandemonium broke out around me, the E-2 finally departed and people circled me, there were many scared faces staring down at me eyes bluging out. You see, I was thrashing about like I was hooked up to electricity. You know how fish out of water look, yeah Me.

A pair of Corpsman came up and took over, holding me down and trying to calm me. I was sure I had lost a leg and even whent they held both feet up for me to see I thought they were lying. One of the first things they teach you in first aid training is to reassure the patient so they dont' go into shock. I knew this. So, in my mind they were just holding my severed leg up next to the attached one to reassure me that I was Ok. It was not working.

So, they brought out a Stokes which is a basket style litter or strecher and strapped me in and hauled me away, off the Roof and downstaris to Medical, inside the ship. I was the first casualty of the line period, I wouldn't be the last. Nor would this be my last ride in a Stokes. In the nearly 4 years of working up there I would be carried away two more times. Those are stories for another day.

Epilogue: The story of my recovery and return to work is another story. It is more of a story about the relationship between a very young sailor and an ole salt Master Chief, a story of a strong will and a legacy, one that I will cover in a future post.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Plague of the Unknown

As you know my second son (SN2) is an infantryman in the US Marine Corps. He was actually trained as a mortar man and when needed he mans one of the 60mm tubes (the Mk 244 I believe, I was a swabbie and I leave all this hands on killing stuff to the professionals) but like all Marines, he is an infantryman (Rifelman) first. Back in May he deployed with his unit to Afghanistan and is currently somewhere in the Nawa District of Helmand Province. A hot and hary place. Lots of killing going on there and in other nearby districts, lots of IED's and various booby traps and mines left for the Marines to find.

Not a good place. I mean, if you were a Drug Lord and wanted to vacation there and see where most of the world's Poppy comes from then this is the place. But, not if you are a parent of a Marine Infantryman sent there to "Make Peace or Die" (which is the motto of the Battalion my son is assigned to).

We have not heard from him in more than 30 days and we are tense and of course, worried.

We have had many sleepless nights here in the Swamp (++). A couple of times a day, every day, I do a Google and Bing search for the latest of what is happening there in the AF. I also search for photo's and pictures that are released from either the military or the many news agencies that have embedded reporters and photographers. Looking for pictures or video of SN2, anyting that would show him and confirm to us that he is still Ok. I have found the occasional photo of his actual unit; sleeping in holes dug into the hard earth looking not unlike open graves, another of them carrying a wounded comrade to a waiting medivac helo, and another of most of his platoon strung out along a long canal firing their rifles at an unseen enemy.

Some nights are worse than others when we hear in the news or find a posting about fatalities from the AF. "4 Troops killed in Southern Afghanistan" was one such just this last week. There was little else in the actual AP report, two killed by gunfire and two more in an explosion, all Marines. We watch the street all day and night worried that the next car to pull up our street is the "Official Use Only" government car with a CASREP and a Chaplin onboard. New's this bad is always delivered in person. Late at night I lay there trying to sleep, I am one of those that hears everything when I sleep and when it's a car on the little road I come up out of snooze to DEFCON2. Which of my neighbors are still out I think, doing a quick mental inventory of cars in the driveways on the street, could it be someone out for a late night snack? Was it someone simply lost and was just going around to get back on the Pike and out of town? The car drives past our house and turns down the Rabbit Run. I return to DEFCON4, close eyes, sleep comes eventually. Until the next drive by that is.

So, for the next day or two I scan every little bit I can off the Web, checking for names on causality reports. These ones this last week were from the North Carolina unit and I feel relief, my eyes tear and I have to pause to control the emotions that overtake me. I weep not just for the loss of more fine Americans but because of the guilt I feel, because the names mean, they were not mine. Guilt. Yeah, the guilt from thanking god it was some other parents son that was killed. And I hope and pray for all the rest of them over there. Not just the Marines but the Army guys too. And yes, the many Navy and Air Force personnel as well, they all have skin in this game.

I know they all can't come home and my shame and guilt is that I don't care so long as just this one does.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

++ Note - The Swamp is the local term for the geographic area here in Pennsylvania that I live and Blog from. In a future post I will elaborate. JvT2

Friday, August 21, 2009

Festering and Gangrenous

Here are some of my thoughts on the Health Care debate. This may be covered again in additional posts later, this one deals with this idea of 'Reform'.

Reform, what is it with the Dem's and reforming things that are pretty much working? Even the most pessimistic poll's out there show that a large majority of Americans arenot only insured but are happy with their Health Care. and I am talking about numbers above the 80% mark too which is a huge number. Yet, the Dem's want to toss out the whole kit; the bath water, the bath tub and the children in the tub too for that matter.

All to get at what? To do what precisely?

Oh they claim they want to get costs under control, to get more competition (how many times have you heard that spoken about the Public Option as a wedge aginst the private companies, in the name of competiton) into the current system. They want to reduce individual costs and make all Health Care better. But can this be true if the plan to get all of this is to throw it all out and start over from scratch?

Hardly, me thinks they progest too much!

If they wanted to address costs why are they not doing something to the cost generator? Costs here are that the Government is paying (meaning you and me Tax Payer). We are talking about the out of control Medicare and Medicaid costs. Nothing in the various Bill's proffered (including HR3200) even attempt to make a change within the Medicare/Medicaid system that would reduce the costs of these massive programs that are not outright cuts in service. That is except for electronic medical records provisions but they could do that now without this massive (1018 page) Bill. So, what's up really?

If they wanted to address costs to individuals why did they not then include even modest Tort Reform measures in this Bill (and they are not even talking about this in the three Senate Bills)? No, no I am not for granting Doctors blanket immunity, but they need some kind of protection from tthe many Land Sharks out there that eat Doctors for lunch, Dinner and Midrats too (can you say John Edwards?). Yes they need to be punished for mistakes that they make but limiting punitive damages and instituting Looser Pay would go a long way to filtering out the nuisance lawsuits which tend to make Doctors practice defensive medicine (perscribing Lab's and Tests just to cover their Butkus). I guess the Trial Lawyers Association checks have cleared?

They could address the competition issue by simply allowing Health Insurance business to operate accross state lines. Increasing the insurance pool allows an Insurance company to sell into a better mix of policy holders thereyby driving down their costs. Let's take the sad state of affairs in Pennsylvania, where the State and more importantly the Federal SEC has failed to stop the merger and acquisition activity within the Health Care business segment. Now we have just a few Health Care Insurance underwritters operating within the state. Unfortunately for us living here, that pool of policy holders is on average very old. PA has the 2nd oldest population in the country (only Florida has an older population) and that means for anyone underwriting health insurance, large costs. Now, if these few companies could sell policies into a larger pool OUTSIDE the state where they could dilute this pool with young folk, they will be able to run down their costs to everyone. This is not rocket science.

What about this 'Public Option', yeah I think we need something that is there as the 'safety net' to cover the very poor and those that fall through all the cracks. There should be something that on could subscribe to that would cover very BASIC health care ONLY. This should be something that is the bottom floor and it should not be an alternative to or compete with the Private sector. This should be something that is used only as a last resort instead of going to the Emergency Room.

I don't know what to do with Medicare or Medicaid, I have to study them some before I can say anything cogent, I do know that they are out of control and like any Government program they will consume everything it its path unless it is reined in. HR3200 and everything being contemplated by the Senatedoes nothing to help in this area.

Sorry, this is not the change we were looking for.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

“Oh the Humanity”

Earlier today Scotland officials released the convicted terrorist Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi (his full name goes on and on). Convicted in 2001 of killing 270 innocent folks - men, women and children in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland. The release was ordered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill who termed it a "compassionate" release because al-Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer (supposedly) with only 3 months of life left.

Compassion. Interesting word, if you dig deep enough into its history you find it was constructed from "together" and "to suffer" which seems counter intuitive. If it was me deciding on compassion for this individual (he is not a man in my book he is barely human as far as I am concerned) I would have simply put him down. In those old days after evisceration he would have been dismembered and his head 'posted' on a pike for all to see and his arms and legs sent to the far reaches of the empire. Admittedly, that empire is much smaller today but dismemberment is still appropriate in this case.

Breaking News: On landing in Tripoli, Libya, Ali al-Megrahi was greeted by thousands at the airport and honored as a hero to Islam.

Anyone else see that coming?

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Standing Up

Yes - another voice joins the drumbeat. Yet more 'noise' in the ether. Still and well, we have that right and I am exercising same here, with your help of course.

What makes me different than the tens of thousands of existing voices out here? Well, frankly - nothing. Absolutely nothing. but that is the allure and also the charm of the Liberty we enjoy (or at least right now). This is what I think makes America great. The mixing of the disparate peoples and cultures that make up the American scene. The addition of ideas and voices into the "great melting pot" form our society. The homogenized voice is more akin to 'noise' but taken discretely, one Blog at a time and you have a voice. I am here to add to that cacophony and give volume to my ideas and thought. Stirring that pot as it were.

What you will find here? I will ramble on about most anything, the military, our society, nature and space. I will rant about politics, politicians and the government. Occasionally I will throw sports a bone as I am a fan of Ice Hockey and NASCAR. I garden and love techonology. Did I mention I raise Koi too? I hope for peace in our country but fear the growing revolution and will talk about all of these things and more.

Who am I? I am a mid-centurion having been born and raised in New Mexico; I now live in Eastern Pennsylvania. I was brought here by my service in the U.S. Navy after almost 5 years of sea duty. Shore duty brought me a loving Wife and the end of my sea going days. That Wife has brought me three lovely children and a great life very much different than I could have dreamed of.

I worked for 35 years on the S-3 Viking aircraft used by the Navy and I have recently had to move on to 'honest' work in the private sector with the retiring of the Mighty War Hoover. I now work for a company making Simulation and Training equipment for the military completely shedding my long career of working in aerospace. I do miss that but one must do what one must do.

My children include SN1 serving with the Indiana Air National Guard, DT1 the college Girl who recently graduated from college (and the only Liberal, sorry can't win them all) and SN2 serving an infantryman in the USMC. Oh, and don't let me forget 'Lady' the 4-legged joy in all our lives, the Princess Pomeranian debris magnet and bundle love and fur that she is.

These People make up a place here in PA, a home as it were. My experience in their midst give me Life.

There are others, people and places to be sure. I will mix them here as a recipe along with my thoughts and concerns along with yours as the spice in the mix. Please feel free to comment but please do so without animus. No enmity here please, and Thanks for stopping by.