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Showing posts from September, 2011

Great Book by Brit Chinook Pilot

I wrote a review for Books and Culture of Sweating the Metal by Alex Duncan, Chinook Pilot in Afghanistan:



NEIL GUSSMAN
Sweating the MetalHappy 50th Anniversary to the Chinook helicopter. Happy 50th Anniversary to the Chinook helicopter! This month, the huge, twin-rotor aircraft capable of carrying 40 soldiers and tons of cargo marks 50 years of service in the US military and in the air forces of more than two dozen other nations. In 2011, the Chinook was in the news around the world. On May 2, the Chinook helicopter on the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden extracted the Navy Seal team as well as the crew of the ill-fated Blackhawk that crashed on landing at the Bin Laden compound. Bin Laden's body left Pakistan on the Chinook. The Chinook's size made it possible to complete the mission when the primary Blackhawk was down. In August, that same colossal size (a full 99 feet from the front of the forward rotor to the back of the aft rotor) made a Chinook a big enough target that a sin…

Amazing Race

My sister is a personal trainer living in the Boston Area.  She thinks that the two of us should try to compete in The Amazing Race which begins a new season tonight.  I haven't ever seen the show, but will watch tonight's episode.  If any of you are fans, let me know what you think.

Happy 50th Birthday Chinook! Flood Rescue Videos

Happy Birthday Chinook!!  The big helicopters mark 50 years of service today.
You can follow links from my battalion's Facebook page if you want to know more.

Scroll down and you can watch videos of our helicopters rescuing flood victims two weeks ago.

By the way, if you have not LIKEd our page yet, please do so, and send the link to your friends.  I post all the pictures from drill weekends on the battalion page and my page.

In Iraq, a very funny soldier who hated wearing PT belts on base created a PT Belt fan page that has more than 16,000 fans.

Firing the M203 Grenade Launcher

Continuing with my Heaven in Camo weekend, this morning I got to fire a half dozen rounds from an M203 Grenade Launcher--the standard grenade launcher for all army units.  M203 is the designation for the entire weapon. The grenade launcher itself is the 12-inch tube underneath the barrel of the rifle  or carbine it is attached to.

The weapon fires 40mm grenades and loads like a shotgun.  We fired dummy rounds.  The live rounds are high explosive and have a kill radius of 5 meters so you don't have to make a direct hit to be effective.

300 on the Fitness Test!!

I got the maximum score on today's Annual Physical Fitness Test:  300!  55 pushups and 80 situps in two minutes each and 22 minutes to ride 10k on the bike.  The bike is pass/fail.  I had 28 minutes to pass.  The last five times I took the test I scored between 288 and 297.  It was great to finally get 300.  If you are wondering how I could ride the bike--above age 55 I get my choice of running, walking, or riding.  Once I got the max score on the other two events, I did not want to mess up like last time and run 20 seconds too slow and miss 300.

For the rest of the day, I took pictures of a blackhawk and a chinook picking up Officer Candidates School trainees and went to the battalion picnic with Nigel and Jacari.  After that I talked to a couple of friends at the armory and rode 30 miles.

Life doesn't get much better than that!

PT Test and Picnic This Saturday

The first day of drill this weekend begins with the annual Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) in the morning, then the battalion picnic in the afternoon.  My sons are going to the picnic.  They will spend the morning at Jacari's former foster Mom, who lives six miles from Fort Indiantown Gap.

I have a lot of wonderful days in my life, but a day that includes working out, riding my bike, competing, eating grilled meat, hanging out with the boys--life doesn't get much better than that!

Except next month when will have a three-day drill and get to fire rifles and maybe machine guns.

When SFC Larry Christman said, "Gussman thinks all this training is an amusement park" he had my number.

Another Warning Order--and NASCAR Tickets

Flooding across eastern Pennsylvania is bad enough that I got another warning order about activating the Guard for flood control.  What a mess!!!  They evacuated Wilkes-Barre today.  Rivers are cresting way above flood stage all across the mid state.



On the plus side, if I don't get activated my oldest daughter got me and my sons tickets for the Richmond NASCAR race.  Richmond is arguably one of the best tracks on the circuit:  short, fast, wide enough for passing.  I hope we get to go!

I Went to a Movie!!!

Ok.  Not a big deal for most of you, but the second to last time I was in a movie theater was in 2005 to watch "The Devil Wears Prada" with my whole family.  Meryl Streep is as mean as two buckets of rattlesnakes in that movie.  It was a lot of fun.

I also remember the last two movies I saw, though I could not watch the second one to the end.  When I deployed, my roommates insisted that I had to watch "Full Metal Jacket."  I liked it a lot more than I thought I would because the guy who went crazy in basic training was Vincent D'Onofrio, later the star of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent."  The other movie they wanted me to see was "300."  They thought I would like it because it was historical.  It was horrible.  It was the battle of Thermopylae made into a cartoon.

The last time I was in a movie theater was to see "Restrepo" with a friend who just returned from Afghanistan--and was on the way back.  This documentary of life at the…

I'm SHRINKING at Gap

Tonight after we left the Apple Store, I went three stores down in the Park City Mall and got a new pair of Gap Boot Cut Jeans.  The jeans I currently own are Gap Boot Cut Jeans size 34-34.  
I tried on a new pair of the same size.  They were huge.  I bought size 32-34.  They fit fine.  Did my waist shrink two inches in the five years since I bought the last pair?  Not likely, I weigh 4 or 5 pounds less, but that's not two inches of waist size.  
It turns out Gap has joined every other retailer in shrinking putting smaller size labels on larger clothes.  So the 32 waist jeans I bought today are about the same fit as the 34s I bought in 2006.  We live in a fat country.  Maybe in 2016 I will buy 30-34 jeans.

Writing Checks

My wife pays all the bills in our house, so I don't write checks.  I don't think I have written a check in a store in the last decade, certainly not in this millennium.  But I do look out for people who still write checks.  I live in Lancaster County PA, so people really do.  In grocery stores the best way to avoid a check writer is by going to the automated check out line.  No one who writes checks in public would be in that line.

Just now I am sitting in the Apple store waiting for my appointment with a Genius (the repair guys in the Apple store).  While waiting in the Apple line--seated at a stool with my laptop using their WiFi--I saw a guy at the Genius bar paying for something his teenage son got repaired.  The guy was writing a check!!  First time for everything.  I have never seen a check written in an Apple store.


Savage Hot Air

Tonight I couldn't sleep so I went to the gym.  The students are back in class, so the gym is open from 6 am to Midnight.  On the 0.7-mile drive to the gym I tuned to the "Savage Nation."  This talk show is at the extreme of bad taste in the world of talk radio.  In that two-minute trip Michael Savage (born Michael Weiner) said, "Whoever put the Navy SEALs on a slow Chinook helicopter that can't turn should be tried for murder."

Pathetic Asshole that he is, Weiner is not restrained by facts.  The Chinook is the fastest of the Army's four main helicopters:  the Blackhawk, Apache Longbow and the Kiowa.  As to its ability to turn, I have ridden in Chinooks both in the US and Iraq.  They can land in tiny Forward Operating Bases and take off spinning around in barely more than their own length.  Chinook pilots can fly their 60-foot aircraft (99 feet from blade tip to blade tip) 50 feet or less off the ground at 160 knots.  The Chinook is a great aircraft, bu…