Saturday, April 5, 2014

There Will Be a Sunday and Monday Blog Break…

4714aerocar-eaa Good Day World!

 I’ll be too far away from my computer to post anything on Sunday April 6th and Monday April 7th…by design.

Speaking of design…

 Molt Taylor is revered as a kind of patron saint of the flying car. His design was so good Ford was interested in buying it.

Despite building the first practical car that could fly, he was unable to get it mass produced however. Find out why in this board.

See you Tuesday.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, April 4, 2014

Essay: What Vietnam Was like in 1970 for a 19-Year Old Soldier

Good Day World!

Forty-four years ago this month, I was a combat engineer serving in the Republic of Vietnam.

One year earlier, I was a high school student without a care in the world and eager to graduate so that I could get on with life. Be my own boss. You remember what that was like, don’t you?

My squad’s mission was to sweep for mines on a two-lane dirt road laughingly referred to as Highway 22. We would get up at first light and haul our heavy mine-detection equipment out and take a stroll down that reddish dirt road until we finished, usually at noon.

The VC, who watched our every move from hidey holes, enjoyed putting “Bouncing Betty’s” beneath piles of buffalo shit as they knew the odor offended our Western sensibilities. The hoped we’d pass over the putrid piles rather than bother disturbing them. I never saw the trick work, but heard it did somewhere else from guys in other units.

I can tell you that it was no fun probing for live bombs with a bayonet in a stinky mess. I got use to it however, as I got use to everything in that alien world somewhere in the Central Highlands that spring. How I managed remains a mystery to me today.

Army units were assigned to provide us security and walked along both sides of the road bristling with weapons as we did our job swinging those heavy bulky mine detectors. We always had close ground-to-air-support. We could call in “Puff” the Magic Dragon, Spooky, Golf Ball, or Spectre, which were a bunch of assorted gunships made from AC-47s, C-123s, and C-130s.

 Our security radioman could call those death-dealers in for a strike in a heartbeat. Charlie knew this and made it a habit not to wander around during the day. He just burrowed down into the ground and waited for darkness. Hoping that the mines he set during the night would kill some invaders during the day. Sometimes I imagined the enemy’s eyes following me. Patiently watching. Hoping to see me become a causality.

It was a feeling we all had to get use to. We were on constant alert for the many signs that could mean life or death. I found an old French anti-tank mine one day. Took off my earphones and handed my mine detector to my sergeant. I found it and that meant it was mine.

The earth stopped as I carefully probed the spot and slowly traced around the perimeter of the pressure plate. Time was meaningless. Sweat poured off my brow as I strained to recognize what kind of mine I’d uncovered.

I recognized it even as the sergeant said “French make.” That meant it would take at least 500 pounds on the pressure plate to set it off. Excellent for mangling vehicles like American trucks. Once I disabled it I sat down and drank some water from my canteen. I felt like throwing up, but the sensation passed.

 Highway 22 overlooked the Song Ba River. To be more accurate, the Ba River as Song means river in Vietnamese. We called it the Song Ba River because that’s what someone wrote down on the maps we used. Maybe that someone liked the sound of “Song” and modified the real local name as Americans did so often during the war. Who cares right?

We had allies out in the jungle too. We were staying in the An Khe area along the West bank where some Montagnards lived. They hated the NVA and the VC, so we became allies. The tribe that we had the most contact with was the Jarair. They were tough little nuts who were fierce fighters and who considered the Vietnamese their enemy from ancient times.

They also knew how to live off the land. They picked wild green onions, chopped bamboo shoots, and captured red ant nests using battery bags discarded by Americans. They’d take some of the rice they always carried with them and throw it into boiling hot water along with the green onions, bamboo shoots, and the red ants.

The concoction wasn’t bad at all. Kind of a minty tasting. Much better than the fish head stew I once had in a Montagnard village. While we’re on the subject of local cuisine, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Vietnamese Centipede, an orange-legged terror that runs from four inches to eight inches long and has an attitude.

 A nearby South Korean unit, we called them ROKS, liked to eat those centipedes. They put them in with their foul-smelling kim che (which already smelled bad enough to gag a maggot). They also ate monkey brains, but I’m not going any further with this.

There was a certain lizard there, about three feet long, that also figured into the local cuisine. I don’t know what it’s real name was, but we called them “Fuck You” lizards. They hung around trees and in the night you could hear them go: “Tik, tik, tik, phuk yu!” They really sounded like someone saying fuck you. If you listened long enough.

We’d tell new guys that it was Charlie out there taunting us, and that got their attention. Saw a Fuck You lizard with a flashlight one night. It looked like a miniature dinosaur and hissed at me! The next day I saw that lizard’s double draped across the back of a young Montagnard boy. He may have been Vietnamese. It’s hard to remember some details. It’s limp body spanned his shoulders and he smiled when I pointed at it. “Numba one chop chop” he said.

 One night I got drunk drinking Tiger Beer with some buddies and somehow ended up walking towards the Song Ba River. Heck I don’t know why I did. Maybe to relieve myself. I was drunk. I don’t think I was going there for a swim. I clearly remember a young boy coming out of nowhere. He stopped me from getting any closer to the river by pulling on my arm urgently.

I tried to shake him off and fell down on the muddy ground. That was the last thing I recalled when I woke up the next morning with a splitting headache still on the ground. It was early but the sun was rising when a couple of my buddies came looking for me. After giving me a ration for being outside the camp perimeter I told them about the kid.

“One of them, Crow, shook his head in wonder and pointed out to the river. “If you would have gone any further down that bank you would have slide right into rolls of razor sharp barbwire just beneath the waters edge!”

 There was nothing I could say that would explain that feeling of having dodged danger like that. I might have drown if I got tangled up in it while drunk. I didn’t because some nameless little boy took pity on one stupid grunt that night. It was one of the strangest things to happen to me in my time in country.

This incident happened during the last week of April 1970. We got orders the same week that we were going to Cambodia! But that’s another story that may, or may not, be told another day.

I hope this essay helps you understand what it was like 44 years ago for a 19-year-old boy who had to become a man fast in a foreign land. It helps me to share this part of my history and hopefully help people understand war is hell.

For some soldiers like me with PTSD, the war never ended. I live with tortured memories that still come unbidden. Yet, I manage to lead a somewhat normal life (what’s that anyway?) and I don’t fight my battles every day. Most of the time I’m diverted by my daily routines.

It’s the nights that sometimes get really bad, when the nightmares come in terrifying clarity. But medications have lessened their terrors, and I only seem to have trouble certain times of the year…like now. Counselors call it an “anniversary date” and attribute it to extremely bad times in a person‘s life.

I’m not sure about that. If it were the case, then why not the whole year? At least that’s the way it seems to me. I guess it really doesn’t matter what anyone calls it; this isn’t my best time of the year and that usually extends through June.

Thank you for reading this. It helps to share.
Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Supreme Court Gives Republicans Something to Cheer About, Again

Good Day World!

Our conservative, Republican-loving Supreme Court once again gave the Republican Party something to cheer about.

A 5-4 decision striking down aggregate campaign-finance limits has Republicans dancing in the aisles.

And why not? The plaintiff in the case, Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama, is a Republican, and the Republican National Committee even filed a brief in support of him.

Here’s the upshot of this biased decision: NBC's Pete Williams reports it invalidated the limit on how much any individual can contribute to all federal candidates ($48,600) and political parties ($74,600).

A Republican mega-donor like Sheldon Adelson - or a Democratic mega-donor like George Soros –can now donate to an unlimited number of candidates and party organizations, as long as the contributions remain within the caps.

Combined with this latest decision and the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which led to an explosion of spending from outside political groups, it’s going to be easier than ever to buy votes.

The Republican Party typically has a wider base of these mega-donors. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, six of the 10 biggest donors to outside groups in 2012 were Republicans - including Adelson at No. 1, who spent a whopping $93 million that election cycle.

But guess what folks?

All that money didn’t buy the last election. The thing the Republican Party doesn’t seem to understand is until they have a broader appeal – bringing more minorities into the fold – no amount of money is going to buy the presidential election. There’s only so many angry white guys, and their numbers don’t come near the rest of the population.

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Duke Kahanamoku: Let’s Go Surfing Now with the ‘Father of Surfing’

Good Day World!

Surf’s up today!

It’s time for a people feature. Don’t you love reading about interesting people?

Take this guy:

“Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was a Hawaiian competition swimmer who was also known as an actor, lawman, early beach volleyball player and businessman credited with spreading the sport of surfing.

"Duke" was not a title or a nickname, but a given name. He was named after his father, Duke Halapu Kahanamoku, who was christened by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in honor of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was visiting Hawaii at the time.

The younger Duke, as eldest son, inherited the name. His father was a policeman. His mother Julia Pa Ľakonia Lonokahikina Paoa was a deeply religious woman with a strong sense of family ancestry.

When Duke became a household name due to his swimming feats, many people thought he was of Hawaiian royalty. It was assumed by many that he was a duke and that it was his title. He was a very modest and unassuming man who got a chuckle of being thought of as royalty and never hesitated to set the record straight about his lineage.” (via Wikipedia)

I’ve assembled this learn board featuring longboard legend Duke. It shares a video of him in action (1939 and in color!) and a lot of other interesting things about this fascinating man. Enjoy!

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Something tricky this way has come!

I know it’s April Fool’s Day.

Any fool knows that right?

The internet is full of pranks right now.

News editors, advertisers and search engine operators around the world are letting their hair down and trying to see what they can sneak past the general public.

It can be a challenge to spot the fake among the genuine news.

Here’s an interesting round-up of 2014 April Fool’s pranks.

If that’s not enough for you check out these April Fool’s Day jokes.

I’m seriously wondering if Google or someone else is playing a prank on my blog today! I average over 12,000 views daily, but today they’ve just dropped through the floor!

Yesterday I could look at my stat counter continuously moving – recording views. Today the stat monitor is changing so slowly it’s unreal. Only about a sixth of the normal views thus far. I don’t know what’s happening.

Possibilities: Malware attack; Google prank; some hacker who doesn’t like me screwing with stats; or simply a SLOW DAY for views! I guess I won’t know for sure until tomorrow.




Ancient Abydos: 3,300 Year-Old Egyptian Tomb Discovered

In one of the burial chambers the archaeologists found a sandstone sarcophagus, painted red, which was created for a "scribe" named Horemheb.

Good Day World!

 I’ve got an exciting discovery to share with you today.

If you’re like me, all things about ancient Egypt are exciting. New discoveries rate 5 stars in this blog. Check this one out:

(In one of the burial chambers the archaeologists found a sandstone sarcophagus, painted red, which was created for a "scribe" named Horemheb.
Credit: Photo courtesy Kevin Cahail) View full size image

 A tomb newly excavated at an ancient cemetery in Egypt would have boasted a pyramid 7 meters (23 feet) high at its entrance, archaeologists say.

The tomb, found at the site of Abydos, dates back around 3,300 years. Within one of its vaulted burial chambers, a team of archaeologists found a finely crafted sandstone sarcophagus, painted red, which was created for a scribe named Horemheb. The sarcophagus has images of several Egyptian gods on it and hieroglyphic inscriptions recording spells from the Book of the Dead that helped one enter the afterlife.

There is no mummy in the sarcophagus, and the tomb was ransacked at least twice in antiquity. Human remains survived the ransacking, however. Archaeologists found disarticulated skeletal remains from three to four men, 10 to 12 women and at least two children in the tomb. (Original story at LiveScience)

(Gallery: See Images of the Newly Found Tomb)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Reason Why Girls Flipped Out When They Saw the Beatles

Good Day World!

I’ve read some interesting things about the Beatles over the years, but one of the most fascinating is this article via Business Week: 

“Typically, we equate crying with sadness and fainting with illness.

The truth is, our brains are actually pretty dumb, and any sudden, strong emotion – from happiness to relief to stress – can elicit these vulnerable physical reactions.

Our autonomic nervous system (the “involuntary” nervous system) is divided into two branches: sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”). Acting via the hypothalamus, the sympathetic nervous system is designed to mobilize the body during times of stress. It’s why our heart rate quickens, why we sweat, why we feel ready to run. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, essentially calms us back down.

The parasympathetic nervous system does something funny, too. Connected to our lacrimal glands (better known as tear ducts), activation of parasympathetic receptors by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine results in tear production. So for those fans relieved to finally see their Fab Four, tears were commonplace.

For others, though, the sudden activation of their parasympathetic nervous system is accompanied by something much more dramatic. A quick drop in blood pressure results from vessels widening and heart rate slowing, hence the fainting.

Fainting, crying … exactly the things you’d want your hero to see you do when you finally meet them, right?”

Snippet from Science Explains Why Girls Went So Crazy For The Beatles
Time for me to walk on down the road…Abbey Road that is!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Check out the Festival of Color in Spanish Fork, Utah today

Good Day World!

Every year in the early spring, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah (approximately 50 miles south of Salt Lake City), hosts one of the largest Festival of Colors events in the Western Hemisphere.

On each of the two days of the festival, scheduled “throwings” of colored powder occur throughout the day. These throwings are preceded by countdowns led by an announcer over a microphone.

Throughout the festival, musicians play traditional music that features the names of God, and they lead the crowd in mantras.

Participants mingle in the crowd in front of a stage where people dance, crowd surf, form conga lines, and generally have fun. Click here for information on the festival today, or, plan ahead for next year.

Here’s a link to this year’s festival – a Photo Gallery – from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Those who aren’t interested in the crowd can eat authentic Indian food, visit the temple’s llamas, shop among a variety of vendors, or explore the outside of the temple. The temple’s interior is closed during the Festival of Colors to preserve its cleanliness.

Between scheduled throwings, it is entirely commonplace for participants to throw, smear, or sprinkle the colored powder on each other.

This colorful festival in Spanish Fork is based on the Hindu religious holiday Holi (pronounced the same as holy). The celebration of Holi began in northern India but has since spread to southern India, other South Asian countries, and even the rest of the world. Because Holi is celebrated as a two-day event in Spanish Fork, the experience is very different from what one would experience in India, where Holi is celebrated as a holiday that can span several days.

Dr. Charles Nuckolls, a professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University, explains one of the biggest differences: “In India, Holi is not a crowd process. There can be crowds, but that’s not really how it works. You don’t stand in place and wait for the powder to descend upon you. You could be walking anywhere and somebody pops out and throws color on you.” (Via Stowaway)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...