17MAR2019 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As a native inhabitant of New York City and a parochial school inmate with deep family roots in the NYPD, I grew up with the yearly ritual of the St. Patrick’s Day parade with its kilted and bagpipes playing policemen and endless blarney about the religiosity of the City’s inhabitants.  But I still think fondly of the ritual.  Also March Seventeenth is Camera Girl’s Birthday so she is honorary Irish and celebrates by making corned beef and cabbage for dinner.  So a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to any and all Irish and other fans of the day.

10MAR2019 – OCF Update

I’m finishing up the book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America,” and without exaggeration it has been an eye opening book.  Dividing the country by the origin of the founding stock in each geographical area explains many things that weren’t previously understandable.  Now granted, the writer is firmly in the lefty camp but information is still information.  I should start writing something early next week.

I’m starting to post a bunch of butterfly shots I took a week ago at a conservatory.  That should break up the winter monotony of white snow.

I haven’t been very inspired by the political news lately.  Everything seems to be about the 2020 election.  Seems a little early for everything to grind to a halt.  I’m sure something will break soon.  Mueller for instance.  But I did find myself thinking about who the actual Dem candidate would be.  For all the talk about women of color, I think the candidate will be either Creepy Uncle Joe or Bernie Sanders.  But without a doubt the VP will be Kamala Harris.  She’s the female Obama and needs the grooming for her own run in the future.

Either way it should be an hilarious campaign.  The debates should be the stuff of legend, a veritable blooper reel of comic goodness.

It’s been insanely busy at work so things have had to slow down on the site.

 

post script:  First tests using the Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount with my Sony A7 III and the 90mm f\2.8 macro lens were very promising.  With only the minimum of calibrating the polar axis 30 second shots were completely usable.  But I can tell the post processing stuff will be an enormous learning curve.  This will be a very long story.  I’ll revisit this in late spring.

 

16FEB2019 – OCF Update

This has been a pretty eventful week compared to the preceding few.  William Barr was approved as the new Attorney General.  The President has declared a National Emergency on the southern border and expressed his intention to use that declaration to build a wall on the border.  The useless Congress has produced a bloated awful budget document.  The President continues to chip away at the Obama legacy such as the “disparate impact” criterion by which even good legislation is made worse.  Amazon has reneged on their decision to put a headquarters in New York City, much to the sorrow of Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo (they really need the tax dollars) but much to the delight of that dingbat Ocasio-Cortez.  Even the Chicago Police Department couldn’t acquiesce in Jussie Smollett’s lies about being attacked by MAGA quoting noose brandishing hooligans and seem to have identified the alleged attackers as a Nigerian actor on the show Empire and his brother.  Another four or five Democrats have declared their 2020 Presidential race aspirations.  One of them, Elizabeth Warren was mocked mercilessly by Howie Carr in the Boston Herald because of her ongoing exposure as a lying hypocrite who used her fake native American ethnicity as a ticket to the Harvard Law School faculty and thereby fame, fortune and a senate seat.

I have some more winter photos and I’m embarking on a project in astrophotography.  And because this is Orion’s Cold Fire my first subject will be in the constellation of Orion and I’ll use the Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount to track with.  I’m very excited but full of trepidation over the time needed to master the equipment side of it.

On the review side I’ll continue to plow through the Twilight Zone and I’m a third of the way through the latest Galaxy’s Edge volume (Retribution) and will review it when completed.

Now I’m off to my grandson’s basketball game.  Have a nice Saturday everybody.

The Z-Man Addresses Fraternal Isolation

This post is along the same lines as my ideas about the need for a new fraternal organization.

http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=16461#comments

Without a doubt the isolation is one of the biggest penalties we are paying for allowing leftists to destroy our society.  Reading this reinforces my belief that starting something new is the way forward.

 

10FEB2019 – OCF Update

Looking ahead to next week, I assume the big news will be the Senate vote on Barr.  I read that the vote should be done this week.  The media will probably throw a fit about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mueller unleashes some new nonsense or even his final report.
The last volume of the Galaxy’s Edge “Retribution” will arrive this week.  Actually I got a copy last Friday but the first eight pages were missing so I sent it back.  It’s the final volume but now they’re calling it the end of Season One.  Good Lord, how many seasons will there be?  Well, I’ve been enjoying the series immensely and I’m sure that will continue for a long way still.
I was threatening to put out my recommendations on Sony E-mount lens choices.  I’m still working on that.  I’ll be putting out some winter landscape and macro photos of the day starting this week.  And in the distant future I’m planning on some astrophotography.  I’m looking into what kind of star tracking drive I should get.  I saw an amateur photographer’s site who had a multiple exposure overlay of the Andromeda Galaxy that was a thing of beauty.  I’m very jealous.
Of course I have the Twilight Zone episodes to review.  And I have some old country (or folk) music reviews and other dribs and drabs coming up.
And finally, soon I assume there will be some more substantive stuff coming out of Washington.  The Wall and the Swamp.
Stay tuned.

04FEB2019 – OCF Update

It’s been pretty quiet on the political side.  From my point of view anyway.  The Virginia Governor outrage doesn’t interest me because either way Virginia is run by a Democrat.  Everything else is just us waiting for President Trump to get tired of waiting for Congress to not do anything and do something on his own.  This week is the SOTU address.  Probably nothing much there.  Thursday the Senate subcommittee votes on Barr for AG.  That’s big.  The military situations in the Middle East and Venezuela are important but it looks like nothing substantive will happen anytime soon.  For me Barr is the big news and that’s four days from now.

Here in New England it’s Super Bowl rehash.  Blah, blah, blah.  Honestly I’ve skipped the whole NFL season for the second year in a row and it’s now standard operating procedure.  Same as the Oscars, same as the Hugos. No different.

I’ll start to dig out some interesting stuff on the edges.  I think the de-platforming stuff is going to be more in the news now that some legal push-back is occurring.  And I’ve found some winter woodland photo opportunities so I’ll be putting up some different stuff up soon.  The Twilight Zone has been fun so far so I’ll keep churning it out and we’ll see what other reviews I can find.

Stay tuned.

The Worriers Are Worried

One of the guys in the office is agitated.  He thinks Trump has collapsed and the world is coming to an end.  There are articles this guy read that say that Trump is caving on judicial appointments to some of the Circuit Courts.  And also, he’s worried about the Wall not getting built.

So, what do I think about all this?  My bottom line is Barr must get approved soon.  I saw that Graham gave the Dems an extra week before the committee vote takes place.  I read that this timing will give Mueller the opportunity to damage the President during some announcement he is working on.  Fine, Graham is useless, I know that.  My read on this is that Barr should be approved by February 15th.  If by March he isn’t approved then I’ll start to think that Trump is trapped.  Getting control of the Justice Department is the most important objective Trump needs to get done right now.  If he lets that slide then there is little hope of reining in the Deep State that is running amok arresting his friends and associates at will.  So that is what I tell those panicking.  If we reach March and Barr isn’t Attorney General then I’ll admit Trump has been boxed in and won’t be able to clean out the Justice Department.

But getting agitated does nothing.  Start taking concrete steps in your own life to protect yourself and your family from the terrible people and things that are going on all around you.  Form alliances and relationships with people who have shown themselves to be reliable and you can trust.  Support people who are brave enough to identify themselves as supporting the truth about what’s going on.  Ignore the liars and cowards of the establishment republican slate.  Don’t support them and don’t give them a penny.  If the Democrats take the Presidency then we are the real resistance.  They will dismantle this country.  They showed us that under Obama.  Then we have to decide how we respond to that.  Make a stand or leave or become slaves.  Those seem to be the choices.

PTSD and the Military

This nation does a terrible job of dealing with PTSD in the military. Anyone who has seen combat will have PTSD to some degree. It may not manifest itself until much later (as it did with me), and it may not be terrible, but we all have it.

My family is a military family. My father’s family arrived shortly before the US Civil War and fought for the Union. Mom’s people (Blackfeet) have been warriors since time immemorial. Both sides of the family served in and saw combat in the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Global War On Terror and the Cold War. We have members in the US military right now and we have seen action in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of the combat veteran members of the family I have been able to speak with have had experiences and memories that haunt them to some degree.

I had two great uncles and a very young uncle in WWII. My one great uncle flew P-51 Mustangs in Europe (3 confirmed). He was on a fighter sweep and latched on to a JU-88 and pumped fire into it. It flamed and he saw the crew hit the silk. However, one of the crew had a canopy on fire. My great uncle circled back, determined to do a mercy killing with his six, fifty caliber guns. However, the German beat him to it, drawing a pistol and killing himself seconds before his chute collapsed and his body fell several thousand feet to the ground. After that, my great uncle never pursued an enemy plane if they broke off and ran. He’d shoot at them if they attacked, but if they ran he let them go. He could not kill another man the way he saw the German die. The fact that he steeled himself to commit coldblooded murder as a mercy killing also bothered him no end. He did not want to machine gun the man, but it was a better death than falling five thousand feet to earth. While he did not have to do it, watching a man so desperate and so much in fear that he killed himself also haunted him. He never flew after WWII as a pilot or a passenger. He hung up his wings, as they say.

My young uncle was a tank crewman and later a tank commander under Patton. He went ashore after D-Day with Patton for the breakout. During the war he had I think three tanks shot out from under him and saw friends killed right next to him. That was bad enough, but he was one of the GIs who liberated Buchenwald and saw the horrors when they were fresh. What he saw in Buchenwald horrified him more than any combat or loss of fellow crewmen. When they found former guards in the area, they brought them back and gave them to the survivors who pretty much tore them limb from limb. After that, they did not take a single German SS prisoner for the remaining weeks of the war. They shot them where they found them. Buchenwald and what they did afterward haunted him the rest of his life.

My other great uncle was a Marine in the Pacific. He didn’t come back. He was on I believe Saipan (his wife was sketchy on the story as it hurt her and she didn’t remember or else suppressed details). The Japs counterattacked and he was wounded and could not get away. They dragged him back to their lines and used him for sword practice, trying to make him scream so they could scare the other Marines. According to his wife, the men in his unit said he would not scream in pain. He was a Blackfoot warrior. They recognized his voice as he cursed the Japanese until they finally got tired of him and decapitated him. When the Marines counter-counterattacked and pushed the Japs back, they recovered what was left of him. My great aunt despised Japanese for the rest of her life. She realized than modern Japanese did not kill her husband, but she could not get over how he died and never forgave them. She had PTSD, too.

My father served in the 101st Airborne in Korea. His sneak patrol was airdropped way off target (happened quite a bit in those days) and almost on top of a ChiCom infantry unit. In a four day running battle, his patrol fought their way back to Allied lines (actually, Australians). Only my dad and two others survived. On the first night, they had to lay quietly next to their dead buddies and watch rats eat them. If they made noise to chase away the rats, the ChiComs machine gunned where they heard movement and they fired flares to try and catch the Americans in the open or moving. After Korea, my father never flew on an airplane again. When he was transferred to Los Angeles from Ohio during the moon shot program (he was a machine engineer for North American/Rockwell), we drove to Ohio every year for vacation. Nor would he ride on a Ferris wheel or anything that reminded him of flying or parachuting. And he hated rats with a passion. We boys shot rats on grandpa’s farm and dad paid us a bounty on every dead rat we showed him.

I served in the Marines in Vietnam. I had just tuned 19 when I made it to 2/5 Marines and a week later Tet 1968 started and we were sent to Hue. I saw lots of men die. I killed people. Constant door-to-door combat. But the worst was when we were on a patrol after we had retaken the city and was ambushed. We called for extraction and the closest choppers were USAF. They landed and got us. My best friend was shot as we climbed aboard. I got off the chopper, picked him up and threw him in the chopper, covered his body with mine to protect him from more bullets and we got away, but he’d taken an AK burst. There was a medic on the chopper but my friend was leaking faster than the medic could patch him, then the medic found a bullet hole in his chest and stopped trying. His head was in my lap and he was begging me to save his life. I could not save him, no one could, and I could not take his place, although I would have if it had been possible. He died with his head in my lap and I held him until they came and took him away when we landed.

I had been so numbed to combat and death and killing after Hue that I did not properly mourn his death. Helluva thing to do to an 19 year old kid. I put it behind me to help me survive the rest of my tour. I went on to serve my tour, get out, stay out a while then join the Army and the Rangers. I have squeezed the trigger on people, I have used a knife, a garrote, and set off Claymore mines which turned men into strawberry jam. I have called in mortar, artillery and air strikes. I have even used my bare hands. Yet I slept well at nights and I was not self medicating on booze or drugs. When I retired I thought I had lucked out and not gotten PTSD. I thought I was too tough for PTSD.

I was wrong on both counts.

Almost forty years after my friend died in my arms I was at the USAF museum in Dayton, Ohio with some cousins. I was in the Vietnam section. I’d seen it before and it didn’t really bother me. However, they had recently added a new exhibit to the Vietnam section. It was a USAF Jolly Green Giant helicopter. They put it back in Vietnam colors. I turned the corner and saw it and I stopped as if I had been poleaxed. In a flash I was back in Vietnam with my best friend’s head in my lap and he was dying, begging me to save him, in the belly of a Jolly Green… just-like-this-one. I stood there and began crying, hard but quietly. It took me about five minutes I guess to get control of myself and I completely soaked my bandanna/ handkerchief with tears and my running nose. I put my hand on the nose of the chopper for balance. One USAF youngster pulling duty in the museum came by and said; “You can’t touch the exhibits.”

I turned to him with what had to be death in my teary eyes and said; “You shut up!”

He left and I saw him no more. That’s when I realized NOBODY was immune to PTSD. I had now had the dubious honor of joining the club to which my older male relatives were members. I can now pass by the exhibit with no more than a sniffle and a little dampness in my eye. But I understand better what my senior relatives meant. I could no longer just sympathize, but empathize.

The efforts of the government to deal with PTSD are pitiful. Small wonder why veterans commit suicide at the rate of about twenty each and every day. Mostly the government ignored it. They covered up suicides after WWII, Korea and even Vietnam to prevent “shame” to the family. They even shamed men (and women) who had it. Brave men and women. A lot braver than me. Seeking counseling could cause you to lose security clearance and even miss promotion. Then they gave counseling but it was by doctors who had usually never even fired a rifle or had a fistfight as a boy, let alone seen combat. Ineffective. Then they over medicated it. Give them antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs and turn them loose to live on the streets then claim you did something. I tried to get treatment (counseling) for mine but I was told it was “too late after the war” for me to qualify, as if I was jumping on the bandwagon to try and claim additional benefits. I had to work through it myself.

I was lucky. I could have been one of the guys living under a bridge, self-medicating with booze and heroin until it hurt so bad that I took too much heroin trying to make the memories go away and wound up dead. Another statistic. We really need to do a better job of healing both the bodies AND minds of our returning warriors. We’re making some headway but not enough by far.