When weather and My World permits, there’s nothing I enjoy more than lazing about on the backyard deck, maybe with a cigar and/or an adult beverage. The presence of a variety of birds is part of this suburban outdoor atmosphere.
Not exactly an Audubon collection … the usual regional 3Fs (fine feathered friends) … nothing more exotic than a red-headed woodpecker and the occasional hawk. And I am inclined to promote my particular patch of backyard as a avian attraction … via a copious amount of birdseed.
But no more … not for little while anyway. Maybe not at all this winter.
The current price of birdseed has ruined this for me, since I try to take care of the 3Fs through the coldest months after enjoying them during the warm ones. Then Biden-flation struck!
Black oil sunflower seeds sold at Lowe’s Home Center sold for $21 for a 40 pound bag earlier this year. An 18 pound bag of crushed corn bird seed (also a fav of a local doe and her fawn) sold for $8 just a few weeks ago.
Made my regular trek to Lowe’s two weeks ago. Black oil sunflower in 40 pound bag: $39! The cheap ground corn feed: $10 for 18 pounds!
That’s for the birds! Or more accurately, no longer for the birds.
Just another thing Biden has ruined with his Party’s “Pay to Stay Home” plan, flooding the economy with money to buy things no one is working to make, ship, or stock!
Maybe I’ll go back to feeding my 3F beneficiaries in the Spring, when I can enjoy their company. But until then …
Allow me the extravagance of offering you suggestions for the upcoming Pennsylvania Republican Primary. The most important choices to be made this year are for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pat Toomey and endorsements for the PA Governors race. Personally, I feel much stronger about our choice for the Senate race, so I’ll address that here.
First off, I have a real problem with carpetbagging politicians. “Carpetbagging” in the sense of those who relocate purely for the political opportunities they see versus an actual desire to live in – and fight for – a particular constituency. For this reason, I will never support Mehmet Oz or Dave McCormick.
Oz lived in Northern New Jersey; McCormick in Connecticut UNTIL Pat Toomey announced his desire to leave the U.S. Senate! Both moves were obviously made in attempts to maximize personal political power, where both men KNEW they could not win such exalted positions with the slate of current Senators in New Jersey and Connecticut!
Kathy Barnette, on the other hand, is not only a political neophyte but also a military veteran. She has corporate financial experience and served for years on the Board for a pregnancy crises center. She is an author, writing “Nothing to Lose; Everything to Lose: Being Black and Conservative in America”.
She’s a huge fan of Conservative mainstay, Newt Gingrich, and a frequent guest on Fox News, even demonstrating self-defense techniques for women and children, another issue of which she is passionate.
Kathy’s Day One focus includes objectives I personally feel strongly about … Protecting individual freedoms, Peace through Strength, Energy Independence, Healthcare autonomy, and – if you consider the shaky status of world food supplies – American Agriculture.
From a purely political perspective, I cannot ignore or over-estimate the prospects of a younger, dynamic, black American woman’s ability to draw members of her social demographic away from the crazed, whacked out direction the Democrat Party has taken in recent years!
Fortunately, that is the very least of Kathy Barnette’s qualifications and capabilities for representing the People of Pennsylvania in the United States Senate!
Blog posts have become few and far between, but from time-to-time I find it important to share thoughts, revelations, or – in this case – a few good books to share and recommend. Recently, I have taken to grabbing short novels or non-fiction accounts. These are quick reads, coming off Best Seller lists, National Book Award nominees, or other noteworthy sources.
Allow me to share a few …
The Greatest Beer Run Ever (Wm Morrow) by John “Chick” Donohue & J.T. Malloy
Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with the first few chapters of the book. Very little character development, a truly far-fetched plan, the possibility that Mr. Donohue had suffered a few too many blows to the head, and a rather sketchy way of describing the early parts of his adventure. This made it a tad unbelievable that a motion picture was in the works for the story; but at least – I figured – it would likely be one of the few movies that would be better than the book.
Chick Donohue, a born and bred New Yorker from Inwood, just north of Rockaway across the bay from JFK Airport. He was a former U.S. Marine, who served in Japan, and working as a Merchant Marine seaman when he accepted a barroom challenge to locate neighborhood servicemen and bring them all a beer (or two) to thank them for their service. The catch was all these young men were actively serving in Vietnam in those early years of that war.
We follow Chick on his adventure after landing a job on a the Drake Victory, a reborn World War II Victory ship, now running supplies down the Atlantic coast, through the Panama Canal, and across the Pacific to Vietnam. He dutifully lies to his commercial captain when they land, and begins to trek through the war landscape to find those on his list of Inwood fighting men.
All well and good, if a bit dull.
Then we find out Chick misses his ship’s sailing; gets waylaid by visa and passport issues, and ends up in Saigon as the 1968 Tet offensive, where North Vietnam changed everything Americans thought about what would become an extremely costly war! This is clearly the most interesting part of Donohue’s story as he witnesses first-hand the battles around the U.S. Embassy and President Thieu‘s Presidential Palace. This not only vastly improved my opinion of the book, but also my interest in and potential of the movie (Released in 2015).
I think I will dig it up and watch.
2. The Army of the Potomac Trilogy (Anchor Books) by Bruce Catton
OK … Admittedly, this is a repeat read. Not something I do routinely, unless the story is especially intriguing, well written, and interesting in perspective. But this collective work is well worth the repeat!
I read this trilogy roughly 15 years ago, when I immersed myself in Civil War history for roughly 18 months. This was long before I even tackled Shelby Foote’s mammoth The Civil War trilogy. If you have read Foote’s work, you recognize the need to treat such a treastise from the 10,000 foot elevation, where strategy, politics, and geography can be aptly addressed and incorporated.
The Army of the Potomac Trilogy covers the Civil War’s primary theatre (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania) from an entirely different perspective. Limited to the struggle in the East, the storyline focuses on the detailed life of the soldiers, front-line officers, and generals of the Army of the Potomac. Reading it, it is very difficult to ignore the lives of those who directly fought that war and the exasperating proficiency of a Rebel army led eventually by the brilliant Robert E. Lee.
Volume 1 … Mr. Lincoln’s Army Beginning with the scramble to protect and defend the nation’s capital, the book’s primary tale is with the methods used to build, train, and elevate an army made largely of unprofessional soldiers, volunteering from all parts of the United States still loyal to or split in their loyalties to either side. Much is focused on the caustic relationship between Union General George C. McClellan and President Abraham Lincoln, as they tussle over the use of the army and the political pressures of a conflict threatening the entirety of the United States. Battles covered range from the first Union disaster at First Bull Run to the single largest casualty event, the Battle of Antietam Creek (Sharpesville) and the issuance of The Emancipation Proclamation.
Volume 2 … Glory Road Following Antietam and his refusal to pursue his damaged foe, McClellan is cashiered and a host of generals line up to take their turn leading Mr. Lincoln’s Army. Disasters ensue at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness. But the Army of the Potomac rebounds to its greatest victory, as it turns back Lee’s attempt to invade the North at Gettysburg.
Volume 3 … A Stillness at Appomattox In his desire to ground the Confederacy and its armies down to the nub, Lincoln turns to General Ulysses S. Grant, after successful campaigns in the western theatre. Grant proves to be a merciless and ceaseless fighter. Just what Lincoln wanted and needed to pursue, corral and diminish Lee’s army and the Confederacy’s hopes for an eventual military stalemate and coexistence with the Union. The final chapters shed light on the post-war preparations and discussions between Lincoln and Grant. The final scenes leading up to the surrender at Appomattox are mesmerizing.
If you are a student of the Civil War or just an avid reader of U.S. history, do not miss this trilogy.
3. The Stranger in the Lifeboat (Harper) by Mitch Albom
A disaster at sea on a stormy night off the coast of West Africa involving icons of government, industry, the arts, science, and finance. All but a handful are lost, the rest huddled in a single life raft. The survivors come across a man – still alive and floating in the ocean. They assume he was part of the super yacht’s crew, but no one remembers him.
When they ask him who he is, he responds with a stunning claim. He is The Lord!
What would your reaction be? How easy – or difficult – would it be for you to accept such a claim in your most desperate hours? Would he be greeted with warmth and relief, or cynicism and derision?
The story is a page-turner, moving back and forth between the Sea and those soles on a leaky, miserable raft floating across the North Atlantic and away from help off the coast of Africa, and Land where a police inspector investigates the finding of the raft and the contents of a notebook diary kept by one of the adrift survivors. It’s a compelling story with several somewhat predictable twists at the end.
But the real story involves the identity of the bizarre stranger, his claims, and the survivors struggle to survive. Without revealing too much in the way of spoilers, the key to the story and the purpose of the stranger’s appearance are revealed in an eye-opening and joyful conclusion.
Does anyone survive? What happens to the man who claims divinity? What was his ultimate purpose in appearance at such a desperate time, and his refusal to end the plight of those who survived the ship’s explosion?
I was enthralled. I was entertained. And I was enlightened!
Yes, the Omicrons are here among us. Hopefully not among you or me, just the collective Us.
Omicron (apparently because Media talkingheads constantly repeating B.1.1.529 would be a marketing and evangelizing nightmare) is just the latest and greatest in the corona series of social and behavioral controls promulgated by perpetually perplexed, constantly behind-the-curve “experts” and politicians.
As bewildering as this has become, perhaps we have reached the point where we must come to this rather obvious conclusion:
MegaDeath Corona virus(es) are FOREVER out of The Genie’s Bottle,and no level of Human Social Torture is going to get that cork back on!
Maybe it’s time we realize this is not going to end anytime soon. That’s “soon” as in years, likely a decade or more. Maybe it’s time to accept the consequences of stupid China human tricks, even if none of The Civilized Nations are brave enough to confront the responsible criminals.
Maybe it’s time to get along with Life in all its normal freedoms and glory. Maybe we should refuse to be shackled to the Dread of Infection. Maybe those “at risk” individuals will always and forever be at risk.
Maybe it’s time for Individuals to make Personal and Responsible decisions as to how their Future will play out in the shadow of this heinous insult inflicted by Others. Maybe the “experts” will confess they will never have all the answers, leave us their advice and the Choice to follow along … or not – at our own peril, and get off our backs!
Maybe …But either way, The Genie ain’t getting back in the damn bottle!
When we were young my father occasionally drove the family over to the Naval Air Station (NAS) Willow Groveobservation lot to watch takeoffs and landings near the southern end of the air station’s runway. It was treat for us, especially my brother and I, when we were visiting family in the area (Warminster, Lansdale) or out for a summer drive.
Long after I started a family of my own, we moved to Horsham and a house coincidentally less than a mile from that now closed airbase and the observation parking lot we loved to frequent. Personally, as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy involved in the logistical support of everything the Navy flew (and eventually floated), I enjoyed the sight of military aircraft flying lazy circles over the area and loved the all too infrequent airshow demonstrations.
But as with all things, change occurred with the Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) recommendations from the U.S. Congress in 2005. And since then the 111th lost its Warthogs to a collection of other ANG units around the country, and became a non-flying unit assigned the MQ–9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV).
So as an homage to local Air National Guard, the A-10 Thunderbolt “Warthog”, and Horsham’s NAS-JRB Willow Grove history, I decided to dedicate my most recent aircraft model project to this stalwart, fear-inducing close air support warrior. I found the aircraft model featured prominently at Hobby Lobby with a 40% sales reduction!
History of the 111th Fighter Wing
Created as the 103rd Fighter Squadron in 1924, the squadron was assigned to the Pennsylvania ANG in 1946, stationed at Philadelphia International Airport; and federalized in 1950 during the Korean War.
As the 103rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) the unit lost 2 RB-29 reconnaissance aircraft and their crews in June 1952 when MiG-15s shot them down over Vladisvostok, Russia. The loses were originally attributed to “weather reconnaissance” over Japan in the heat of the Cold War, and it wasn’t until 1993 that the true nature of the mission was revealed to the families of the lost.
In 1963 the 111th Tactical Air Support Group was moved from PHL to brand new facilities at Willow Grove Naval Air Station, tasked as a C-97 transportation unit. In 1988 the group received the OA-10A observation version and assigned Forward Air Control (FAC) and observation duties. They received their first universal version A-10A aircraft in 1996 with an appropriate re-tasking to Close Air Support (CAS) and Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) duties.
Redesignated as the 111th Fighter Group (1992), then the 111th Fighter Wing (1995) the unit took advantage of its new mission and aircraft during deployments to Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm (1992) and Operation Southern Watch (1995). After the 9/11 attacks the group volunteered for additional deployments including Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan. In 2003 the 111th took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing close air support for U.S. Army, Special Forces, and joint coalition operations.
Bye, Bye to “Warthogs” in our skies
The end came quickly for the fighter pilot mission of the 111th when the Department of Defense (DoD) recommended deactivation of the 111th Fighter Wing for the 2005 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) legislation (the same legislative measure that resulted in the closure of Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove).
The last A-10A Warthog flew out of NAS-JRB Willow Grove in 2010. In 2011 NAS-JRB Willow Grove ceased all flight operations. The respected, always welcomed A-10A Warthog flyovers of Horsham and neighboring communities are no more. The 111th’s “Warthogs” divvied up among several remaining Air National Guard units.
A portion of the NAS-JRB Willow Grove property was designated the Horsham Air Guard Station in 2011. In 2013 the 111th Fighter Wing was assigned General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The military drone is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high altitude observation. The UAVs are flown remotely out of the Horsham Air Guard Station, but no drones actively fly out of the now-closed U.S. Navy property.
We used to track our “two-week” COVID-19 lockdown by the day. Now it looks like we will be tracking them not by days, weeks or even months …
Here’s what I have been doing with my wealth of free time during the lockdowns. It’s an old hobby I resurrected with the unwitting assistance of the snarkier people in my Family. Little did they know …
What this harmless family joke turned into was the re-lighting of a hobby interest decades-long in the dormant portion of my brain right next to fantasy sports leagues, bowling, and dressing-to-impress. It was the perfect time-absorber for someone searching for sanity preservation during COVID CrazyTime!
Model assembly – at any age – can be fun and challenging. And if you are a bit OCD, having endless hours trapped in your home let’s you be crazy obsessive!
There are thousands of models in all shapes and sizes (scales), whether you are into planes, ships, tanks, cars … whatever. When it comes to aircraft models, there’s a huge difference in the thoroughness, clarity, and complexity of the kits and the instructions that accompany them.
I have found that Tamika makes the best model kits. (See the F-14D above.) They are complex, but thoroughly illustrated and assembly clues (slots, spots, part trees) are logical and easy to follow. Italieri makes very good model kits (See the V-22 above.), but some of the detailed assembly is intuitive.
Regardless of the overall quality of the kits, I found it frequently helpful to refer to on-line photos of real in-use aircraft to replicate details, including paint schemes, equipment placement, decals, etc. There is even a site – Draw Decal – that can provide high-quality markings for any military aircraft and the squadrons that fly them. (See MV-22 as an example.)
On the other hand, my last model foray was somewhat disappointing. Years ago, when I worked in support of the Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk program, I had built an SH-60 model. It was damaged beyond repair during an office move; and I wanted to replicate it.
Bought a 1/72 scale HH-60H Seahawk – the USN Search-And-Rescue (SAR) version – from Italieri, and it was a major disappointment. Pushed through and completed the model despite directions lacking detail, poor fittings, and impossibly small detail parts (one reason why I prefer the larger 1/48 scale models).
The lesson to learn is “You get what you pay for.” There’s a huge difference between picking up a “bargain” model, such as a $19.99 Italieri HH-60H disaster, and spending a hefty $100. for a well-developed Tamika F-14D. Live and learn.
My next project looks a bit more promising for kicking off COVID Year 2 … although I did get a great 40% off deal at Hobby Lobby ($29.99 retail), a great place for model supplies and paints).
Not sure what I’ll do once I have run my course through military models, but thinking maybe crocheting.
Birthdays – for me these days – serve no benefit other than reminding one how fast those Lifetime Milestones are flying by. This one had the added attraction of officially designating Yours Truly as soon to be in need of advanced medical treatments.
65 … The Medicare Year … YEA! Could it get any worse? Of course it could …
I spent the morning at the DMV (PENNDOT Division)!
Hello Blogging, my old friend …
Every year at this time I have to consider the prospect of letting go of Cranky Man’s Lawn. Been a long time, and my attention span for fascination and obsession usually runs 10 years max.
We started our journey here in 2011. (That weirds me out.) And lately, every February I have to convince myself that hanging around would be good. For me at least … With a micro-blog you are – more often than not – talking to yourself.
This year I really thought this was it. CML had run its course. What more could come of this? Let’s just end it.
And then last week – true story – I get two comments from a woman, whose father used to own a bar/restaurant in our old neighborhood (Frankie Masters Tavern), about a blog post I had written that very first year. Without revealing details, she appreciated the chance to reminisce about her parents through a very brief memory I shared.
Then her brother chimed in. It meant a lot to them and to me. How can you throw that away?
Having My Cake and Eating It
Weight-conscious, healthy people and cake haters are no fun with which to celebrate birthdays. No one wants to eat my chocolate-frosted cake Carol so meticulous prepared.