Monday, October 31, 2011
Joseph Collins served in the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and has protected our country as a law enforcement officer for more than ten years. Raised as a pastor’s son, Joseph is a courageous man who loves his family and loves his God.
Enjoy, and If you have a few minutes I encourage you to take the time to watch this extraordinary clip:
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Still trying to battle my way through this hiccup on Blogger that won't let me post imagery - so I'm trying it via my DingleBerry device; we'll see - S.L.
I'm in DC this weekend, staying at the home of good friends who over the years have provided me a quiet place to cool my heels between adventures.
Pictured here is their cottage - it is a veritable writer's sanctuary - I've done some of my best writing at that desk.
UPDATE: Glitch with imagery resolved. Stand by to Stand by. - S.L.
Anyway it's Sunday so this is apropos . . . cheers, Sean
Click HERE for a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel, done by Villanova at the request of the Vatican.
Amazing what can be done with modern technology. Simply follow the directions for fantastic views, especially the +, zoom in, icon.) use the mouse to access all areas of Michelangelo's masterpiece. To view every part of Michelangelo's masterpiece, just click and drag your arrow in the direction you wish to see. In the lower left, click on the plus (+) to move closer, on the minus (-) to move away.
This is especially spectacular if you have a large high-definition screen! Too detailed to appreciate on an I-Phone.
The Choir is thrown in free.
Now everybody can enjoy a little bit of Rome on their computer.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Rule # One:
If you pull into my driveway and honk, you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as Hell not picking anything up.
You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.
I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear baseball hats on backwards and your trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off your hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open-minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your hat on backwards, underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my pneumatic nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist. And while I'm at it I will rotate your baseball hat so the visor's in front, like it should be.
I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I WILL kill you.
In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."
I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.
As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like change the oil in my car?
The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness.
Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T- shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose-down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.
Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless God of your Universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My personal intelligence network is extensive and it is everywhere. I also have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for an inbound re-supply chopper. When my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to start cleaning my guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car. There is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Michael Yon has opted to piss off just about everyone over the past few years.
What started as a simple, balanced thread to talk about Yon’s views on medevacs and the removal of red crosses, turned into a thread all about Yon by Yon, after Yon became rude, arrogant, and threatening towards members of the forum.
The thread started on ProfessionalSoldiers.com, a website that includes more than 1,000 members, made up former and active Green Berets. The site is run by Jeff Hinton, a former Green Beret who is well-known for outing Green Beret impersonators, including the now-former Pipeworks Software chief Robert Daly who I briefly wrote about recently.
In case you were on the fence about Yon, now he’s managed to piss off former and active Green Berets . . .
If you want to get more perspective on the story, jump over to Blackfive
Today's Bird HERE . . .
. . . and because I was absent yesterday, Thursday's Bird is HERE
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Last Cold War-era B-53 Thermonuclear Bomb Dismantled
Experts have separated around 300lb (136kg) of high explosives from the bomb's uranium "pit".
One of the biggest nuclear bombs ever built at a hefty 10,000lbs, the B53 was the size of a minivan and 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
It was first put into service at the height of the Cold War in 1962, and remained in the US arsenal until 1997.
The bomb was designed to hit targets deep underground, such as bunkers in which military and civilian leaders might be sheltering.
Known within the illicit arms dealer community as "El Presidente"
Today's Bird HERE
Chao Phraya River: approx 50cm from bursting banks IVO the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Millennium Hilton Hotel.
Today's Bird HERE
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
My French hosts took me out for a special meal at lunchtime. The gent sitting next to me was explaining the specials, written on a chalkboard; "And zis wan ees le poullet - zee chicken - served weeth zee pommes de terre wheech ees zee patoto - and zees wan is le bif-thtek served weeth le croquettes, and zees wan ees a delightful mash of zee meat served weeth zee hash . . ."
I said "Yes, I can understand the menu."
"Oh well een zat case," he turned around.
"Of course, the second I said that, I can't understand a thing that's up there."
"Oh, well zees wan ees a kind of a paste, served weeth au gratin, and zees wan ees a lovely gruel served weeth bat wings zat I haven't had seence zee boarding school so I weel be having zat wan . . . what weel you be having?"
"Ah, bien sure, zee cheecken."
A basket of French bread was placed on the table and I took a piece, broke it, and created some excitement when I lifted the lid off the mustard pot and started spreading it on the bread.
"Alors Sean, zat ees le moutard."
"Yes, I know."
"But you are putting eet on le pain, eet ees not le burre."
"Yes, I know."
"But eet ees le moutard."
"Yes, I know. This is the way they do it in Africa. The French people down there taught me this."
"Les francais? En Afrique?"
"Oui, les francais de quelle vivens en Afrique. Les pied-nois." - the 'Black-feet' - the French who live down there, the ones who remained in Africa; remnants of the French Empire (which never really went away, just sort of changed in nature). The Colonials. As a Colonial myself, I always had an affinity for my fellow Colonials.
"Ah, zey use le moutard, instead of le burre?"
"Exactement. It makes more sense in the tropics, and it's really good avec le vin rouge."
"Ah, bravo! Le moutard au pain avec le vin rouge c'est bon!" and they all started spreading this intense horseradish mustard all over the bread, and washing it down with flagons of good French red wine. And it IS good.
"C'est bon! C'est bon!" I think I just started another fad . . .
I love France. I am a total Anglophile, and I understand that the French are supposed to be the enemy, but I can't help it there are some aspects of French culture that I really enjoy.
When I say I love France and the French culture, I'm talking about this kind of lifestyle:
The French to me are not my enemy they are my friends - they have a certain savoir faire - and we must always remember that without France there would have never been an America, n'est ce pas? Maybe I have a love-hate relationship with France. Whatever. At the height of the Franco-Americaine anxieties of 2003 in the lead up to the Iraq Invasion, my boycott of all things French never extended to their wines, and I could never bring myself to ask for an order of 'Freedom Fries'. To me they were always "pommes frits". Of course I was living in Germany at the time so that was an easy one to get away with.
Later that night, after updating STORMBRINGER, I took off for a stroll around the streets of Paris. My second - and last - night in town; no time to take in the sights, no Tour d'Eiffel or Louvre for me. The least I can do is lurk around like a refugee from a Victor Hugo novel, and do my bit to add to the local color.
Using an old area reconnaisance technique, I started walking in ever-expanding circles; pressing out a further city block every time to fully explore my little quadrant of Paris. The cafes were full of boulevardiers; I quickly covered at least a sixteen-block area before falling back on a quiet cafe in an ancient building marked "l'Hotel de Chevallier" - chevallier is French for knight and I am a knight so that is the cafe for me.
"Bon soir. Est ce que ton couisine ouvert?"
"Oui bien sure! Nous avons le poullet avec le pommes de terre ou le bif-thtek ou le croquettes ou un souffle de bat wings avec eye of newt et tongue of toad. De quelle preferez vous, monsiueur?"
"Ah, bien sure, le biftek."
"Et du vin."
"BIEN SURE LE VIN!" and he starts going into the whole procedure where you have to taste the wine - something I didn't expect with the bottle of house plonk. I learned how to do this right with the correct nod years ago from a Yugoslavian friend down in Aussie; I keep it in my arsenal right up there with the quintessential Gallic shrug which I perfected during the Evacuation of Yammousoukro.
Apparently I was pulling it off; blending into the local scenery that is. My host the barkeeper was blabbering on and on and I speak French but that doesn't mean I understand it. I learned le francais in Africa, and the Africans speak French like they speak English; slowly amd correctly and they pronounce every word. The Parisians speak French very quickly - not as bad as the Puerto Ricans and Cubans speak Spanish which is faster than an MG-38/42 Spandau machinegun - but they speak from the backs of their mouths and they intentionally slur all their words and I'm half deaf from a quarter-century-plus of working with explosives, firearms and heavy machinery, and quite honestly I can barely understand what people are saying to me in English half the time, let alone le francais with all those ooh's and ah's . . .
Suddenly it occurred to me I just closed a loop in my life that began when I was about thirteen and I first learned about Ernest Hemingway . . . my mother was hosting a bridge party and I was obviously getting in the way so my sainted Auntie Helen stationed me on a stool at the bar and explained to me that I was Ernest Hemingway having a gin and tonic at the bar on the left bank of the Seine . . .
"Oh he wrote a few books, he was a kind of an adventurer, and he lived in Paris in the twenties, hung out in those cafes and wrote about everything he did on the battlefield . . .
"What's the Left Bank?"
"Oh you know it's that part of Paris where all the Bohemians lived."
"Who are the Bohemians?"
"The artists and the writers - you'd fit right in . . ."
Silvia Beach, Ernest Hemingway, and friends outside Shakespeare and Company, circa 1919.
Over the next few years I read every Hemingway book I could get my hands on and like many young men he inspired me and I idolized him. Then as I grew up I came to realize he really only wrote two or three books that were worth anything and a lot of what he wrote is pure tripe and I'm not going to turn this blog into a some kind of a shrine to an egomaniac. Still, he was a man's man, and he revolutionized the writing style - the whole stream-of-consciousness thing - and I use this style when I write so you've got to give credit where credit is due I suppose.
My pursuit of the Hemingway-esque lifestyle continued throughout my adventures in Africa . . . a long, drawn-out saga in Mauritania . . . an encounter with le 13eme Demi-Brigade, Legion Etranger on a battlefield in Cote d'Ivoire . . . my post-retirement activities as an 'independent contractor' . . .
And then it strikes me - I'm here enjoying la vie boulevadier because a lot of good men that I stood next to paid the ultimate price, gave all so I could make it to where I am now . . . what can I say? You get some good ones, you get a lot of bad ones . . . one thing I can say is I paid my dues, and I enjoy every waking hour on behalf of those who cannot enjoy anything any longer . . . and I never forget to honor them at every war memorial I pass by . . .
War memorial in London, the inscription reads below:
. . . I SEEK OUT war memorials and I am not ashamed to admit that the tears well up when I stand in front of them because I am so unworthy . . . this is the TRUE meaning of the cliche: "It's a rough job, but somebody's gotta do it . . . "
All the people out there who understand what a Survivors Guilt Complex is all about - and you know who you are - you understand this . . . I've got a Survivor's Guilt Complex so big you could photograph it. I swear to God - I attended a strangers funeral in Chicago - a kid I never knew, never even met - got himself kia'd in Afghanistan, and the whole town of Joillet turned out to the high school gym - I heard about it at work and it was on my way back to the hotel so I showed up to pay my respects and I swear I cried like a baby . . . couldn't stop the tears, they came down like water . . . PTSD is REAL . . . that's why I live every moment like it is a precious gift from God - because of the fact that I'm here because better men than me are not . . .
With these poignant thoughts in mind I make my way back to my hotel . . . tomorrow morning was coming up fast and that big ol' jet airliner . . .
Today's Bird HERE
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Yes it was Paris but as per usual in my weird and wonderful life it was business not pleasure . . . only one day in town and they had me stuck in the office all day . . . this is my third trip to the City of Lights and I am yet to lay eyes on the Eiffel Tower . . .
And so the Mad Man of Tripoli meets Justice . . .
To all you Bleeding Heart Liberals out there who deplore violence and can't deal with seeing a ruthless murderer with a bullet in his brain: let us never forget that thes was the man behind:
The bombing of the La Belle Discotheque nightclub in West Berlin on April 5, 1986, killing three people - U.S. Army Sergeant Kenneth T. Ford, Sergeant James E. Goins, and Nermin Hannay, a Turkish woman - and injuring 230 people, including 79 American servicemen. Some of the victims were left permanently disabled.
The Murder of British Policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, 17 April, 1984 - she was only 25 years old when she was gunned down outside the Libyan People's Bureau in London.
The downing of Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie - on 21 December 1988, “Clipper Maid of the Seas” was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground in southern Scotland.
This warms the cockles of my heart,
This is how I will always remember Qaddaffi . . .
. . . would that all terrorist scum meet such an end . . .