Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Fury" Again with My Son--Nicknames


On Monday night, my youngest son and I went back to see "Fury" again.  Third time for him, sixth time for me.

By this time we were quoting the best lines to each other just before the characters said them.  On the way home the first thing we talked about was the point at which "Machine" got his nickname.  We left before the end right after the final battle started.  At that point the movie goes all John Wayne.  But the moments before that, when Norman becomes Machine, are some of the best in the movie.  It is in those moments that Wardaddy, Bible, Coon-Ass, Gordo and Machine each face certain death and each say, "Best job I ever had."

In that final battle, the other crewmen call Norman only Machine. Nicknames really stick.  My first gunner's nickname was Merc.  I don't remember his first name.

On the way home after the movie (at almost midnight) we had a long discussion of nicknames and what they mean.  We also talked about thickness of armor and how the outnumbered Germans beat France and Britain early in the war with fewer tanks.  The Germans invaded with 2000 tanks to 3000 for the British and French.  The short version is Guderian's tanks were on a 20-mile front led by Rommel.  The French and British spread their tanks like too little butter on too much bread from Switzerland to the Normandy Coast.

Happy New Year!

Other posts on Fury:

Fourth time watching Fury

Review

Faith in Fury

Memories


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What Place and Period in History Do You Want to Live in? HERE and NOW!



waving american flag


On a recent bicycle ride, a Trekkie on the ride told me about a Star Trek episode he liked in which the crew traveled back in time and visited great moments and times in history.  He talked about times and places he would want to visit.

I would like to visit Florence when Dante was alive, Rome when Julius Caesar ruled, and be in the room when the Constitution was debated.  But if I could live any time, anywhere, I would stay right here in America in the 21st Century.  No question.

It's not like America is perfect.  We have to be the biggest gathering of whining, privileged bitches in the history of the entire Universe.

But by living with whiners who have not missed a meal in their entire lives, I get to live in a time and place in which every injury I manage to inflict on my aging body can be fixed.  I live in a place where I can choose to fast, but otherwise I can eat every meal, every day and if I want to eat snacks till my ass fills two seats on a Greyhound bus.

This month on my Army drill weekend, I swam underwater with a GOPRO Camera making video tape of pilots, crew chiefs and flight medics going through water survival training.

Wow!!

I am 61 years old and because of 19 different surgeries to repair more than two dozen broken bones,  remove shrapnel from my eyes and repair torn ligaments, I can still serve in the Army.  And I can run, shoot and swim underwater, not just fill out paperwork.

With all the whining about our military, our enemies never do anything more than push us then run.  No nation is declaring war on us, invading our territory, or seriously threatening us in any way.

The protests in New York and Missouri and elsewhere say clearly that racial problems still afflict America in the 21st Century, but in my lifetime Black men in the South were lynched.  Jim Crow laws were enforced in "The Land of the Free."  In the 1950s America in which I was born, I could not have adopted two Black sons.  Not in Boston, Birmingham or Boise.

On Fox News, there is a war on Christmas, faith is under fire, and Jesus wants you to Open Carry.  But the freedom of worship in America is truly amazing.  World history reeks with religious murder. In most Arab countries they will kill their own citizens if they convert from Islam.  Our tolerance has led almost infinite stupidity in the name of faith.  Just try to imagine Joel Osteen walking the roads of Sanai and Asia Minor with the Apostle Paul and facing persecution and death with Joy!

Next month I will have surgery for the 20th time in my long, healthy life.  A life that keeps getting healthier!  I am writing this post in a warm comfortable home while my strong, healthy sons clean the kitchen and their rooms.  My wife is beautiful, brilliant and an Ironman, and she is the chair of the math department because women who have the drive and talent in America can do that stuff.  Two of my daughters already own houses.  One is having a baby next year.  One is on her way to an academic career.  Another works with very troubled Veterans.

In American in the 21st Century is where all this can happen.  God Bless America!!  He certainly has blessed me.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dunker Training--Flipping Upside Down in the Deep End of the Pool

Last week I went to Dunker Training for Detachment 1, Charlie Company 2-104th.  Aircrew members are strapped in seats with five-point restraints then flipped upside down in the deep end of the pool.

Chris Calhoun made an excellent video of the training:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW8q03Xsihg&feature=youtu.be

Here's two more videos:

First one going into the pool:

video

When a helicopter crashes in water, the crew has to be able to get out of the aircraft and get their passengers out of the aircraft. "Dunker" training teaches downed aircraft drownproofing to pilots, crew chiefs, flight medics and other aircrew members. On December Drill Weekend, Det. 1 of Charlie Company, 2-104th (Medevac) put eight aircrew members through a day of "Dunker" training. This first video shows a pilot and a flight medic flipping into the deep end of the pool at Somerset Senior High School. They are wearing flight suits and helmets and land upside down in a five-point harness in 12 feet of water. They cannot unstrap until the divers doing the training stop shaking the Dunker--this is to simulate moving blades in the water. Each trainee flipped into the water several times. 
Above CW2 Sara Christensen and SSG Pamela Leggore were the lucky duo upside down in the water.


Below is an underwater view of Dunker training.

video

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to Wear a Suit.


This is an Army blog, so why I am writing about wearing a suit?  Because soldiers will need a job or need to wear a suit at some time in their lives.  And as our culture becomes more "Casual Friday Every Day" it is very clear that wearing suits is becoming a lost art.  And of all people, soldiers can put themselves in the right frame of mind to wear a suit.  Because wearing a suit well is not just about the suit, but how you think about wearing a suit.

So let's begin with first principles.  When you wear a suit you are wearing it to identify with a group--not to be your own special, individual, wonderful self.  This is important.  The primary reasons men and women wear suits is to apply for a job, work at a job with a dress code, or attend an event at which people dress up.  In each of these occasions, the man or woman wearing the suit is saying, "I am part of this group;  I respect this group."  

From this point on, I have specific advice about selecting and wearing a suit that may or may not apply to women.  I don't know, because I don't wear women's suits.  So from here on I will address only men.

If you have a suit you should lay out the suit and the accessories on a bed.  Along with the suit, you should have a shirt, tie, belt (or braces), shoes, and socks.  If you are lucky enough to have a full-length mirror, put everything on and check yourself to be sure your suit fits.  The pants should gently rest on the shoes, the sleeves should just reach your wrists showing less than half an inch of shirt cuff.  The shoulders should be even with no bunching of fabric.  

Although pattern shirts are perfectly fine, matching the tie can be tricky.  The safest shirts are white and medium-blue dress shirts with classic collars.  Yes, I know, your favorite shirt is a button-down collar Oxford.  Save that shirt for casual wear.  Remember, in a suit, we are part of the group.  Before we leave the subject of shirts, there is no such thing as a short-sleeve dress shirt.  Period.  Never wear a short-sleeve shirt with a suit or jacket.  And for that matter, don't wear a tie with a short-sleeve shirt.  It's like wearing a leather belt with pajamas.  It's always wrong.

Belts and shoes should be black or brown and match.  Black shoes with a black belt, brown with a brown belt.  That's it.  Braces are a whole separate subject.  Email me if you want to know about them.  Yes, I have heard that shoes and belts come in white, red, green and other colors.  If you are in a Broadway musical and need such colors, the wardrobe manager will tell you, otherwise, black or brown, but not both.

And now we have arrived at the most difficult item:  The Tie.  Bad ties, like facial jewelry and neck tattoos, can ruin any suit they are worn with.  A tie is made of silk with stripes less than an inch wide that slant down to the right.  Left is more typically European.  Nothing wrong with left, but remember, we want to blend.  


Now you know what you should wear.  You should not wear novelty ties.  If you love My Little Pony, or the Buffalo Bills, or just Buffalos, save your unique good taste for your sweatshirt.  Pattern ties can be just fine, but they can also be quite strange.  Better to start with stripes and try a pattern later.

This post is long enough so I will talk about buying a suit in a later post.  

One more word for readers who may be circumferentially enhanced.  One of the real strong points of a good suit is that it properly drapes bodies that should not be on public display.  Rather than a long discussion, take a look at Gov. Chris Christie in his usual $3,000 suit then flip to the Gov. in a windbreaker.  In nylon he looks like a tent.