Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rolling Thunder - The ride to the Pentagon

I thought I was being lazy, not getting to the initial rendezvous until 0645. But that put me in the first dozen or so bikes, so I had a rink side seat for our police escort.

It it was a little past 0800 when 400 of us rode out. We had multiple cruisers and a motorcycle cop leading the way with lights and sirens. The police closed down not just surface streets, but I-270 south as well.

People led were lining the roadsides, pulled over on the Interstate honking their horns, and lining the overpasses to wave. It really felt like we are a part of something big. I guess we are.

The Pentagon is the final tally point, and there are TONS of bikes here. Maybe a couple thousand (including mine) just in this one parking lot.


More later.

Rolling Thunder

Today is the annual Rolling Thunder event where hundreds of thousands of motorcycles ride to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D C. An hour before kickstand up there are already hundreds of bikes assembling here in Frederick, MD.


This was a while ago. I got here at 0645 and so am pretty near the front, but there is a steady flow of newcomers.

There re are also a bunch of folks that are not riding to the final assembly point at the Pentagon, but rather will go to the wall by themselves. Almost as many.


Me, I want to be part of the experience. More updates later as the day progresses.

Jay Ungar - "Ashokan Farewell" Waltz in D Major

Decoration Day dates from the years immediately after the War of Southern Independence.  ASM826 posted a quote from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes looking back from twenty or thirty years at that conflagration.  This was perhaps the defining event in the Republic's history, and marked a generation, as the Great War and the Second World War would do to their grandchildren and great grandchildren.  This quote stands out in particular:
But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. For one hour, twice a year at least--at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves--the dead come back and live with us.
I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth. They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.
A million died, in a nation numbering 30 million.  It was a catastrophe to those who lived it: every family had a casualty, and decorating the graves was a very personal affair.

Today's music is not from those days.  It was written in the 1980s, but is not only in a style that would be recognizable to the veterans of that war, but is inextricably tied to that era because Ken Burns used it as the theme to his TV series "The Civil War" - PBS' most-watched program ever.  That series - and this music - is a fitting meditation on this weekend's Memorial Day holiday.



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Also seen while out on the Harley

Monocacy battlefield, with flags for Union and Confederate dead. The Union got whipped pretty badly but slowed General Early's advance on An undefended Washington D. C. until reinforcements could arrive.

Seen while out on the Harley


George Jones - 50,000 Names

This weekend isn't for barbecues and opening the neighborhood pool.

Memorial Day isn't about barbecues for Christian Golczynski.  He was eight years old when LTC Ric Thompson handed him the flag that had draped his father's coffin.  That was ten years ago.

This weekend will be the tenth Memorial Day where he won't be thinking about barbecues.  Next month will be the tenth Father's Day with an empty chair at the dinner table.

That  is what Memorial Day is about.

There are many Christian Golcynskis in this land.  Kids whose fathers (or mothers) didn't come home.  Memorial Day isn't about barbecues or opening the neighborhood pool for them, either.

This weekend as you go about your normal business of life, remember SSgt Marcus Golczynski.  And Christian.  And what that sacrifice means.  May this Republic be worthy of them.



50,000 Names (Songwriter: Jamie O'Hara)
There are teddy bears & high school rings
& old photographs that mamas bring
Of daddies with their young boy, playing ball.
There's combat boots that he used to wear,
When he was sent over there.
There's 50,000 names carved in the wall


There's cigarettes, & cans of beer
& notes that say I miss you dear
& children who don't say anything at all.
There's purple hearts and packs of gum
& fatherless daughters & fatherless sons
There's 50,000 names carved in the wall


They come from all across this land
In pickup trucks and mini vans
Searching for a boy from long ago
They scan the wall and find his name
Teardrops fall like pouring rain
Silently they leave a gift and go


There's   stars of David & rosary beads
& crucifixion figurines
Flowers of all kinds large and small
There's a Boy Scout badge and a merit pin
Little American flags waving in the wind
& there's 50,000 names carved in the wall
If you are interested in Christian Golczynski's story, here is an outstanding article about him.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Last Thing - A Brigid Memorial Day Musing

The last thing I saw was a disk of golden sun through a haze of smoke. In the few months I've been here, the sun and duty's risk are the only constants.

The last thing I heard was the report of fire.  Just one last wild spurring of colors made sound, shaping the hot blind earth into darkness.

The last thing I felt was an intake of breath, air drawing in deep. It lays warm in me, then stills. I thought nothing could reach me.

I never felt what hit me. 
I think that was close, surrounded by the savage heat that no longer burns, the fecund odor of sand and earth that reaches not my nostrils, the incredible silence. Oh God, why is it so quiet?

I look down on my form from above, whole but without body, thinking I must have a concussion, as this vision could not be real.

I close my eyes and recite the steps to field strip my AR.  Bolt fully forward, remove the bolt carrier and the charging handle, and will unblinking eyes to clear my sight.

 But the vision didn't change.
They knock on my front door, with words that my wife's ears and heart will have to accept without proof, but for their sound.

They watch her search their words for anything that can hold sanity together, with language that is within her understanding.  But with the words she hears, she crumbles like fragile paper.

They gather up my things for her, a comb, a ring, a broken blade, a wallet photo of my Mom and Dad, their hair singed with ashen gray, where none before existed.

They send me home in a box, draped with a flag, in clothing I had never worn.
My body is buried in the late summer, the corn in fervent zeal, bowing before behemoth combines that will pull it into an oblivious end.

My name is spoken reverently, a soft force that drowns out the protesters.  It takes everything my Father has in him, not to confront. They know not what courage and duty really mean, their nothings as irremediable as my everything.

My wife says my name silently over and over until it takes shape and form, then falls into a sob as taps are played.  The sounds drift up to echo in heaven.

But sometimes an echo is heard
My gravestone sits as if listening and waiting, the cemetery vacant. The trees have long since turned gold.

My wife sits with my last letter, worn from the many times she's read it, the sun slanting through trees, quiet light upon the dying leaves. She reads of the restless moments of every last memory, taking what comfort she can from my words.

My words to her, of my love, of my fears, of the child she carries. The more she reads, the less she sees, as the writing becomes fainter, words wet with tears, until the paper itself crumbles away.

The paper is as fragile as she has become strong.
The cemetery is old now, my grave now surrounded by others, so many others. My eyes live on in a child I never met. My name lives on, on a stone in a place forever solemn, in a picture, in a flag.

I am everywhere, in memorial. I am here, in a tombstone, in the flag I hope you salute more than once a year.  I am part of the earth beneath you, of the wild, strong blood that formed this land, of all that lived, and should live, in freedom.

I am dust in the wind, the hard roots of the past, the sound of earth as it falls on a pine box, the broken body of the past, the invisible footprints of patriots.

I am your father, your son, your daughter, your mother.
I gave my life in service to my country. I am a memory that begins and ends with what is left, stakes in the hard ground on which to peg our history.

When the last thing you see is that disk of golden sun in the sky, remember me. Remember my sacrifice.

For I am everywhere, in the trees, in the wind, under your feet in a land that's still free.

 You never knew me but remember me always.

"Brigid"  (LB Johnson - author )   http://lbjohnsonauthor.blogspot.com/

To Us Who Remain Behind Is Left This Day Of Memories

Oliver Wendell Holmes left college in his senior year to enlist in the Massachusetts Militia. He was later commissioned and fought in many of the major campaigns of the Civil War. He was wounded three times. at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Chancellorsville. He survived, when so many did not.

He went home when the remnants of his regiment was disbanded in 1864, studied law, and most famously served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Twenty years after his service, he spoke on Memorial Day to a gathering of the Grand Army of the Republic. Here are his words from Memorial Day, 133 years ago.
____________________________________________________________________________
Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer. Not the answer that you and I should give to each other-not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth--but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.
So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble. The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperilled by their mutual endeavors. I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling. I know that I and those whom I knew best had not. We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every men with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief. The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed. You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south--each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other. As it was then , it is now. The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier's death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side.
But Memorial Day may and ought to have a meaning also for those who do not share our memories. When men have instinctively agreed to celebrate an anniversary, it will be found that there is some thought of feeling behind it which is too large to be dependent upon associations alone. The Fourth of July, for instance, has still its serious aspect, although we no longer should think of rejoicing like children that we have escaped from an outgrown control, although we have achieved not only our national but our moral independence and know it far too profoundly to make a talk about it, and although an Englishman can join in the celebration without a scruple. For, stripped of the temporary associations which gives rise to it, it is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.
So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhpas a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall-at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.
When it was felt so deeply as it was on both sides that a man ought to take part in the war unless some conscientious scruple or strong practical reason made it impossible, was that feeling simply the requirement of a local majority that their neighbors should agree with them? I think not: I think the feeling was right-in the South as in the North. I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.
If this be so, the use of this day is obvious. It is true that I cannot argue a man into a desire. If he says to me, Why should I seek to know the secrets of philosophy? Why seek to decipher the hidden laws of creation that are graven upon the tablets of the rocks, or to unravel the history of civilization that is woven in the tissue of our jurisprudence, or to do any great work, either of speculation or of practical affairs? I cannot answer him; or at least my answer is as little worth making for any effect it will have upon his wishes if he asked why I should eat this, or drink that. You must begin by wanting to. But although desire cannot be imparted by argument, it can be by contagion. Feeling begets feeling, and great feeling begets great feeling. We can hardly share the emotions that make this day to us the most sacred day of the year, and embody them in ceremonial pomp, without in some degree imparting them to those who come after us. I believe from the bottom of my heart that our memorial halls and statues and tablets, the tattered flags of our regiments gathered in the Statehouses, are worth more to our young men by way of chastening and inspiration than the monuments of another hundred years of peaceful life could be.
But even if I am wrong, even if those who come after us are to forget all that we hold dear, and the future is to teach and kindle its children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that this day is dear and sacred.
Accidents may call up the events of the war. You see a battery of guns go by at a trot, and for a moment you are back at White Oak Swamp, or Antietam, or on the Jerusalem Road. You hear a few shots fired in the distance, and for an instant your heart stops as you say to yourself, The skirmishers are at it, and listen for the long roll of fire from the main line. You meet an old comrade after many years of absence; he recalls the moment that you were nearly surrounded by the enemy, and again there comes up to you that swift and cunning thinking on which once hung life and freedom--Shall I stand the best chance if I try the pistol or the sabre on that man who means to stop me? Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first?These and the thousand other events we have known are called up, I say, by accident, and, apart from accident, they lie forgotten.
But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. For one hour, twice a year at least--at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves--the dead come back and live with us.
I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth. They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.
I see a fair-haired lad, a lieutenant, and a captain on whom life had begun somewhat to tell, but still young, sitting by the long mess-table in camp before the regiment left the State, and wondering how many of those who gathered in our tent could hope to see the end of what was then beginning. For neither of them was that destiny reserved. I remember, as I awoke from my first long stupor in the hospital after the battle of Ball's Bluff, I heard the doctor say, "He was a beautiful boy", [Web note: Lt. William L. Putnam, 20th Mass.] and I knew that one of those two speakers was no more. The other, after passing through all the previous battles, went into Fredericksburg with strange premonition of the end, and there met his fate.[Web Note: Cpt. Charles F. Cabot, 20th Mass.]
I see another youthful lieutenant as I saw him in the Seven Days, when I looked down the line at Glendale. The officers were at the head of their companies. The advance was beginning. We caught each other's eye and saluted. When next I looked, he was gone. [Web note: Lt. James. J. Lowell, 20th Mass.]
I see the brother of the last-the flame of genius and daring on his face--as he rode before us into the wood of Antietam, out of which came only dead and deadly wounded men. So, a little later, he rode to his death at the head of his cavalry in the Valley.
In the portraits of some of those who fell in the civil wars of England, Vandyke has fixed on canvas the type who stand before my memory. Young and gracious faces, somewhat remote and proud, but with a melancholy and sweet kindness. There is upon their faces the shadow of approaching fate, and the glory of generous acceptance of it. I may say of them , as I once heard it said of two Frenchmen, relics of the ancien regime, "They were very gentle. They cared nothing for their lives." High breeding, romantic chivalry--we who have seen these men can never believe that the power of money or the enervation of pleasure has put an end to them. We know that life may still be lifted into poetry and lit with spiritual charm.
But the men, not less, perhaps even more, characteristic of New England, were the Puritans of our day. For the Puritan still lives in New England, thank God! and will live there so long as New England lives and keeps her old renown. New England is not dead yet. She still is mother of a race of conquerors--stern men, little given to the expression of their feelings, sometimes careless of their graces, but fertile, tenacious, and knowing only duty. Each of you, as I do, thinks of a hundred such that he has known.[Web note: Unfortunately for New England, no such "conquerors" have played for the Red Sox since 1918]. I see one--grandson of a hard rider of the Revolution and bearer of his historic name--who was with us at Fair Oaks, and afterwards for five days and nights in front of the enemy the only sleep that he would take was what he could snatch sitting erect in his uniform and resting his back against a hut. He fell at Gettysburg. [Web note: Col. Paul Revere, Jr., 20th Mass.].
His brother , a surgeon, [Web note: Edward H.R. Revere] who rode, as our surgeons so often did, wherever the troops would go, I saw kneeling in ministration to a wounded man just in rear of our line at Antietam, his horse's bridle round his arm--the next moment his ministrations were ended. His senior associate survived all the wounds and perils of the war, but , not yet through with duty as he understood it, fell in helping the helpless poor who were dying of cholera in a Western city.
I see another quiet figure, of virtuous life and quiet ways, not much heard of until our left was turned at Petersburg. He was in command of the regiment as he saw our comrades driven in. He threw back our left wing, and the advancing tide of defeat was shattered against his iron wall. He saved an army corps from disaster, and then a round shot ended all for him. [Web note: Major Henry Patten, 20th Mass.]
There is one who on this day is always present on my mind. [Web note: Henry Abbott, 20th Mass.] He entered the army at nineteen, a second lieutenant. In the Wilderness, already at the head of his regiment, he fell, using the moment that was left him of life to give all of his little fortune to his soldiers.I saw him in camp, on the march, in action. I crossed debatable land with him when we were rejoining the Army together. I observed him in every kind of duty, and never in all the time I knew him did I see him fail to choose that alternative of conduct which was most disagreeable to himself. He was indeed a Puritan in all his virtues, without the Puritan austerity; for, when duty was at an end, he who had been the master and leader became the chosen companion in every pleasure that a man might honestly enjoy. His few surviving companions will never forget the awful spectacle of his advance alone with his company in the streets of Fredericksburg.[Web note: The legendary suicidal charge of the 20th Mass. Regiment occurred on Dec. 11, 1862.] In less than sixty seconds he would become the focus of a hidden and annihilating fire from a semicircle of houses. His first platoon had vanished under it in an instant, ten men falling dead by his side. He had quietly turned back to where the other half of his company was waiting, had given the order, "Second Platoon, forward!" and was again moving on, in obedience to superior command, to certain and useless death, when the order he was obeying was countermanded. The end was distant only a few seconds; but if you had seen him with his indifferent carriage, and sword swinging from his finger like a cane, you would never have suspected that he was doing more than conducting a company drill on the camp parade ground. He was little more than a boy, but the grizzled corps commanders knew and admired him; and for us, who not only admired, but loved, his death seemed to end a portion of our life also.
There is one grave and commanding presence that you all would recognize, for his life has become a part of our common history. [Web note: William Bartlett, 20th Mass.]. Who does not remember the leader of the assault of the mine at Petersburg? The solitary horseman in front of Port Hudson, whom a foeman worthy of him bade his soldiers spare, from love and admiration of such gallant bearing? Who does not still hear the echo of those eloquent lips after the war, teaching reconciliation and peace? I may not do more than allude to his death, fit ending of his life. All that the world has a right to know has been told by a beloved friend in a book wherein friendship has found no need to exaggerate facts that speak for themselves. I knew him ,and I may even say I knew him well; yet, until that book appeared, I had not known the governing motive of his soul. I had admired him as a hero. When I read, I learned to revere him as a saint. His strength was not in honor alone, but in religion; and those who do not share his creed must see that it was on the wings of religious faith that he mounted above even valiant deeds into an empyrean of ideal life.
I have spoken of some of the men who were near to me among others very near and dear, not because their lives have become historic, but because their lives are the type of what every soldier has known and seen in his own company. In the great democracy of self-devotion private and general stand side by side. Unmarshalled save by their own deeds, the army of the dead sweep before us, "wearing their wounds like stars." It is not because the men I have mentioned were my friends that I have spoken of them, but, I repeat, because they are types. I speak of those whom I have seen. But you all have known such; you, too, remember!
It is not of the dead alone that we think on this day. There are those still living whose sex forbade them to offer their lives, but who gave instead their happiness. Which of us has not been lifted above himself by the sight of one of those lovely, lonely women, around whom the wand of sorrow has traced its excluding circle--set apart, even when surrounded by loving friends who would fain bring back joy to their lives? I think of one whom the poor of a great city know as their benefactress and friend. I think of one who has lived not less greatly in the midst of her children, to whom she has taught such lessons as may not be heard elsewhere from mortal lips. The story of these and her sisters we must pass in reverent silence. All that may be said has been said by one of their own sex---
But when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
weaned my young soul from yearning after thine
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
Comrades, some of the associations of this day are not only triumphant, but joyful. Not all of those with whom we once stood shoulder to shoulder--not all of those whom we once loved and revered--are gone. On this day we still meet our companions in the freezing winter bivouacs and in those dreadful summer marches where every faculty of the soul seemed to depart one after another, leaving only a dumb animal power to set the teeth and to persist-- a blind belief that somewhere and at last there was bread and water. On this day, at least, we still meet and rejoice in the closest tie which is possible between men-- a tie which suffering has made indissoluble for better, for worse.
When we meet thus, when we do honor to the dead in terms that must sometimes embrace the living, we do not deceive ourselves. We attribute no special merit to a man for having served when all were serving. We know that, if the armies of our war did anything worth remembering, the credit belongs not mainly to the individuals who did it, but to average human nature. We also know very well that we cannot live in associations with the past alone, and we admit that, if we would be worthy of the past, we must find new fields for action or thought, and make for ourselves new careers.
But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.
Such hearts--ah me, how many!--were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year--in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life--there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier's grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march--honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.
But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death--of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen , the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I went to the woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

We went to the woods, the Queen of the World and I.  There we met co-blogger and brother-from-another-mother ASM826 and Mrs. ASM826.


There is a peacefulness in the woods that is hard to capture anywhere else.  Cooking over the open fire, sleeping under canvas (well, what passes for it in these space age days), watching bald eagles fishing, not looking at your email or even posting for a whole weekend.  Living, in Mr. Thoreau's words, deliberately.

It was awesome.

And driving back home not via I-95 and the never ending bottleneck from Fredericksburg to Springfield, that was pretty awesome too.

On Memorial Day: Part I

This was shared with me. I share it with you. There is another writing to share, older by more than a century, perhaps tomorrow, before the trips to the beach and lakes and the picnics begin.

Remember.

ASM826

__________________________________________________

Orlando Sentinel
28 May 2016

War and Remembrance – My truth endures from Grandpa and Lt. Persons 

:by Maloey Jones

In 1968, I was 21. A Marine four months back from Vietnam, I was visiting Grandpa, walking with him in the cool of an autumn evening. As we passed the woods near his house, I asked him: "When do you ever forget?" Everyone was telling me to forget about the war in Vietnam. After all, I was home. We walked in silence for a while. Then Grandpa answered, "You never forget them, and you never should."

It had been 50 years since he had lost his eye in the trenches of World War I. He still carried the memory of the dead with him, the buddies who didn't return. Grandpa knew what haunted me, prompting my question. Nearly another half century since that fall day, I struggle with how to live my life. Should I stop torturing myself for living while comrades died so young?

After a long and deadly battle, we finally got resupplied with C-rations. I stood in line to pick up my allotment when the supply clerk asked, "How many?" We were supposed to pick meals for each squad member; each squad was supposed to send one man to get the chow. I was too ashamed to tell him there were no other squad members. I feared he'd ask, "Why are you the only survivor?" I was too afraid he'd blame me for living. I know that I blamed myself.

I finally answered that I needed meals for one. He asked again, "How many in your squad?" I told him twice more one, before he looked up into my eyes, and gasped. Finally he handed me a case of C-rations. I walked away. Later the word came down that we were no longer an effective fighting unit, we'd sustained too many casualties. We were waiting for the helicopters that would lift us back to our base camp; when I pulled my helmet down over my eyes and quietly allowed my shame, and hurt for all those dead Marines to run silently down my face in the form of tears.

Lt. Persons was my platoon commander. He'd missed the whole operation, away on battalion business, but he'd caught the first helicopter out to the battle site. As he handed out water, the lieutenant lifted my helmet and asked me if I wanted some. He saw my tears. He dressed me down He said I should keep it together "in country," that after we returned to the world we could cry all we wanted. Later, back at base camp, I asked him how he dealt with all the Marines who had died. He told me that he was going to first keep himself together so that he could get himself home. Then he would live life to the fullest, he said, for those who'd have given anything to make it back to "the world."

A few months later, I had wrangled my way out of the grunts and into an office. I was in a rear area of Da Nang. As I smoked with a couple of Marines, one said he was from my former outfit, Delta Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines. I asked about Lt. Persons. He had been among those killed in action. I felt as if a cold hand gripped my life, squeezing out the last bit of feeling.

I will never forget Lt. Persons. Now I hope you won't ever — not him or any of the others who've given their all for the United States. Don't forget them while you're having a barbecue on Memorial Day. Don't forget them while at the beach. Don't forget them the next time a politician says we need to intervene in a conflict without a clear cut path to victory.

Never forget that these heroes put their most precious possession —the coins of their lives — into the hands of their country.They handed over the coin freely, trusting that it would be spent wisely.

Let us never forget that, either.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to back up your data at home, Part II - A brief digression on backups

ASM826 emails:
Rule 1: Every mechanical device fails. 
Rule 2: Every hard drive is a mechanical device. 
Rule 3: It's the data you care about.

Redundancy. Don't back up once because two is one and one is none.
A fairly new technology getting more widely deployed is Solid State Disks, storage that is made from memory chips rather than rotating disks.  This helps a bit with Rule #2, but only a bit.  Sure, there's no drive, platter, and spindle anymore, but if your house burns down you have lost the SSD just like you would have lost your traditional hard disk.

Two is one and one is none.


So think about your data, and how many copies you have:

1. You have a copy on your computer.  This is one copy, but remember: one is none.

2. You have one on your backup device, once you've backed it up.  That's two copies, but two is one and one is none, amirite?

3. You need something here.  Long time reader, friend, and biker dude Burt emails about this:
Be very careful with single-disk backup solutions.  If the single drive dies, you're screwed. 
If you're gonna use a locally-connected backup system, at least use a RAID-1 (mirrored) system.  That way, if one of the drives fails, you can recover your data and transfer it to another media before the other drive fails.  (I use 2 NAS systems: one is a 2-drive RAID-1 system, the other is a 4-drive "striped RAID-5" system - and some data resides on both systems.)
RAID stands for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks, and has been around for years and years.  You won't get one of these for $115 at the Big Blue Box store, but you can get twin disk RAID devices for maybe $300.  Each drive mirrors the other automatically (RAID-1).  The downside is that you only get half the storage space; the upside is that you get item #3 above, which gives you your third backup location.

If you get a twin disk RAID-1 backup drive, you will have three copies: on your computer, on the first disk of the backup drive, and on the second disk of the backup drive.  At this point, a lot of stuff has to go bad for you to lose your data.  That can happen, but now you're talking about catastrophe, like your house burning down.  I'll deal with that tomorrow in Part III (off-site and cloud backup).

Two is one, and one is none.  You want to aim for three.  You also want software that will do this automatically for you.  That will be Part IV.

Bleg

Long-time reader and fellow blogger Southeast Texas Pistolero and his wife Sabra have suffered a house fire, and are in a jam.  Any help you can offer (including clothes, bedding, toys, etc) would make a big difference.

The Universe (Over)Provides

We heat with wood. That makes wood gathering into it's own hobby. I spend a fair number of days through the spring and summer cutting, splitting, and stacking, so that in the winter we can run the stove.

I have friends with wooded property and they are generous with what I can cut. I watch for downed trees after storms. This year it seemed like I was a bit behind, needing another 7 or 8 pickup truckloads to feel like I was ready.

Last week I got a phone call from a friend from the dojo. He was out for a morning walk and walked past a tree crew getting ready to cut down a large oak tree. The head of the crew asked him, "Do you know anyone that would want this wood?" He called me.

The crew was from out of town and only had two dump trucks, one covered truck for the chipper to fill and one for the larger limbs. They were willing to give the wood away to avoid making multiple trips back to their yard.

They filled my pickup. When I returned, they filled it again. Then they used their small skidder to fill their dump truck and followed me home. Twice.


She came out to look at the second load being dumped and said, "Stop asking the universe for wood for a while."

We have been heating with wood for about 25 years. I am reaching the age where I wonder how much longer I'll be able to do it with a chainsaw and a hand maul. Particularly when the rounds look like this.


I am grateful to have this wood, free and delivered, and will start from the back, where the size is easily managed. When I get to the big ones, maybe I will rent a gas powered hydraulic splitter for a weekend.

Glad I Wore the Browncoat - A Brigid Post

I thought with everything going in the world the last day or two we could use a smile

A dear friend of mine had a post up a while back about how she met her husband on Twitter and how he proposed. I actually met my husband on the Internet.  It wasn't a dating website or anything like that.  I was writing for various magazines and had a very popular blog dealing with tools and firearms and cars and other popular "guy stuff" (since closed due to post election trolls) and he was a fan and his Dad was Secret Squirrel, someone I knew well.  My name came up and an introduction was arranged. Due to our age difference (25 years) we were just "best buds" online, and talking on the phone for several years. Then we met in person and well, that, my friends, was that.  We were married two years later. The journey was chronicled in The Book of Barkley but for my bestie gal friend Sam, tonight is the chapter of the proposal.

CHAPTER 38 - Simple Evening

It was supposed to be a simple evening. It was an early day at work, but I was home in time to get a quick shower and get dressed up for a dinner date. EJ had been overseas for a couple of weeks on business and was flying in to see me for a quiet evening.  We enjoyed the evenings like this, making dinner together, both of us loving to cook.  Then we’d play an old fashioned board game or take Barkley for a long walk. EJ would play with him, talking to him as if he were human, while I got a bubble bath. Then we’d curl up on the couch, Barkley usually shoving his way between us, to lounge against us until everyone was sleepy.  Weekends we’d play with the tools in either his garage or mine, building on things stronger than wood.

Somewhere over the course of a friendship of many years and a bonding over bad knees and bad dogs, EJ became a big part of my life.  I’d missed him a lot while he was gone, our talks of the future becoming more serious.  Tonight, I was wondering, would he pop the question?

But first, I had to feed Barkley and take him outside to potty.
My neighborhood is a quiet one, with both young and retired couples.  I have a police officer on one side of me, a young couple on the other.  All of them are great neighbors. The young couple has a rescue dog, a smaller yellow lab/terrier mix. Barkley likes to bark at him out the front window but is mostly ignored, despite his attempts at engaging the hound by leaving his calling card on the front bushes.

The block was quiet, so in a hurry to get ready, I let Barkley out to do his business.  After that, he sniffed everything, then trotted in through the garage and went into the house, off leash, just as he'd done several hundred times. He'd patiently wait in the kitchen for his treat, while I cleaned up the deposit and a few others made earlier in my yard in the dark. One thing about a ninety-pound dog, if the barking does not scare burglars away, the land mines in the yard might. As based on volume, they might think you have a grizzly bear on premises. So I kept one of those big long-handled scoopers that is open on one end and has a secondary shovel-like thing to help gather everything up.

But as I finished that up, lo and behold, the neighbor arrived home with baby and dog in tow, the dog jumping out of the car off leash to go into his house.
I wasn’t sure I could get all of his landmines in the scooper in one trip, but with careful balance, I did. It really was the perfect plan. Until Barkley heard the dog from deep within the house and rushed out the back door, out the open garage door, racing over to the neighbor's drive to finally meet their dog.

I rushed over to collect him, wielding a pooper scooper that had more crap in it than most political campaign commercials.  Barkley was over in the dog's face with the typical Labrador retriever “hi there, hi there, hi there, play with me play with me play with me” like some demented door to door magazine salesman.

The neighbor dog did not like Barkley in his space, trying to make friends on his turf, and immediately launched into “bark bark bark bark” complete with crazed eyes and snapping teeth inches from Barkley's face.

It was all show; the teeth were not making contact though they could have, but Barkley was freaking out, never having been set upon by a weird stranger (if he'd on-line dated as the rest of us have, it might not have been so traumatic). So I lunged for his collar as my neighbor pulled his dog away, one arm stretched out, the other swinging up, not realizing what I had in my other hand (yes, you can see this one coming).

Pooper Scoopers make a dandy catapult with the right angle and force.

The load of dog poop went up, and then, as gravity is likely to make it do, it came down.

Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!

It was raining down on their driveway like a bad day in Beirut (so glad my coat is brown).

The dogs are now suddenly friends, sniffing and wagging tails, the neighbor apologizing profusely as he takes his dog and the baby from the car seat and goes inside to get the family situated.

Barkley back inside with the door firmly closed, I got paper towels, a plastic bag, a broom and water to clean their driveway, which I was doing, hair disheveled, looking like I was a very sore loser in a game of Poop Paintball.

Just then EJ rolled up, all dressed up, more than for typical travel, with a bottle of expensive wine.

I think about all he could have said if he weren't laughing so hard, but what he said was, "Would you like red or white wine with that?” - Brigid

(By the way - I said yes)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to back up your data at home, Part I - How to pick a storage device

Comrade Misfit asks what I recommend for backing up data.  With the rise of Ransomware, your risk is going up, not down.

That's actually the place to start: your risk.

Everybody has a different risk profile, and you should do some thinking about yours.  Think about the types of data that you have on your computers, phones, and various devices:

  1. Each of these has an operating system, which actually takes up quite a lot of disk space.  However, as long as you can re-install (say, from a recovery partition), you probably don't have much risk here.  Quick way to check: if your device has a "factory reset" or equivalent sort of feature, you're probably good to go.  Personally, I wouldn't back this up because resetting will cause the system to download all the updates since it was installed.  Importance level: LOW.
  2. You will have some sort of documents - letters, budget spreadsheets, taxes, that sort of thing.  Recreating this will be a royal pain in the tail end, so you will want to save this.  It's also probably not much data - you won't need a lot of space for this.  IMPORTANT NOTE: if this data is for a business that you run than this is MUCH more important.  Importance level: HIGH.
  3. Photographs are often times irreplaceable.  They also take up a lot more room than other documents.  Importance level: VERY HIGH.
  4. Music (and video) files are the biggest consumer of disk space - the rule of thumb is that MP3 music requires 1 Mbyte of disk space for every minute of music.  That's 1 GB of disk for 20 albums.  If you are like me and buy music on CDs (I LOVE used CD stores) than you already have a backup for this.  If you like to buy music from iTunes, then if you burn it to CD you will also have this backup.  Otherwise, your backup needs will get much bigger.  Importance level: NONE (music on CD) or HIGH (iTunes).
So for the Borepatch household, our backup needs are modest - a fairly small size for documents and a larger one for photographs.  None at all for OS or music.  As an example, the laptop I'm writing this port on only has a couple Gigabytes of music (I haven't loaded much) but almost 8 GB of photos.

Note that your mileage absolutely can vary, perhaps by a lot.

Also, and this is important - you need to calculate this for every computer and phone you have.  You will have some homework to do before you can start even thinking about what device to get to back the data up.  I mean, how frustrating would it be to buy a shiny new storage thingy and find out that it's too small?


Remember, too, that the number of devices that you have will grow over time.  You will need more room on your backup device in the future than you need today, just because you have more devices.  You will also need more room because you will accumulate more data over time.  Since I don't want to replace my backup device very often, I like to have maybe ten times as much data as I think I need.

For Castle Borepatch, all the devices add up to probably 200 GB - almost all of this is music and photos.  This means that I need 2 Terabytes of backup space.  It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't.  Here's one that you can get for a little over $150:


It's a Western Digital WD MyCloud Personal which comes in 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB versions.  It will plug into your home router so all your computers will be able to connect to it over WiFi.  There are other choices as well, lots of them good.

So you've calculated how much backup space you need that will give you sufficient future growth room.  You've found a decent device for not too much money.  This will give you one backup location.  If your house burns down, you will lose not only the computers with their data but the backup device as well.  Part II of this series will discuss off-site backup to address this.

Part III will discuss what software you can get to make backing up your data automatic.  If you have to remember to back up, you will forget, and that's when you lose data.

"Losers"

That's what Trump called the suicide bombers.

It's about time.  So far we've just seen candle-lit vigils.  Or glorification of the bombers:


It's high time to remove any glamor from what these animals do.  Trump is on to something here.  Hopefully everyone will pick up his term for this.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Bunny Loves You - A Short Brigid Post

The form of love.

When I was about three I got this incredibly fluffy white bunny for Easter.  I LOVED that bunny and carried it around everywhere and slept with it each night. I even told my parents that when I grew up and got married Bunny was going to sleep with my husband and I.  Every so often Mom would wash it and hang it up by the ears on the clothesline to dry. It went missing somewhere in my early teen years, my discovering science and cars and coffee and other semi-adult things.

But recently, Dad found it where my Mom had carefully wrapped it up and put it in a sealed container deep in the recesses of my childhood closet before she died while I was still in school.  Dad mailed it to me.  It has almost no hair, no eyes, no whiskers.  I didn't even notice.  I just removed the wrapping paper, holding it close and breathing in the scent of my Mom's Chanel No. 5 and I cried.

It's still my favorite bunny and I never stopped loving it as much as I did that first day I got it.  I'm lucky to have a spouse that feels about me the same way.  Although I don't have the thick hair of my youth, and my stuffing has shifted with age, he still holds me that close.

The bunny sits up high on a shelf where Abby the Lab can't get to him, but every time I look at it I just smile.

Texas basketball


The other 49 (lesser) States can play the game any way they want.

In The Deep Dark Woods

Foraged for our dinner at nearby supermarket. Spent a long weekend away with good friends. Solved the problems of the world (if they would just put us in charge).