Friday, July 04, 2014

Independence Day, 2014

Real fireworks, 1945. Yontan Field Okinawa. My Dad's MAG.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Fathers Day

Once, when I was small, my father taught me something useless. I had seen the old photographs and held the medals in my hand. Purple Heart and Bronze Star. I had been clamoring for stories of what he did in that war. What kind of guns did he shoot? Did he get to use his bayonet? How many Japs did he kill?

But he taught me something useless instead. He taught me how to figure out the firing order for an 18 cylinder aircraft engine. I had a pretty dim understanding of what cylinders did in an engine (I was only seven years old, after all), but I listened and I learned. Somehow I forgot about the war while we talked.

Sometimes he would tell me about his buddies from boot camp – the slim, smiling young men in the old photographs. I especially loved the story of the brawl they started one night in a bar, and how he escaped the Shore Patrol by slipping out through a bathroom window. And his friend who took him for a ride in a Corsair, a single seat fighter. They took out the radio gear to make room for my dad behind the pilot’s seat. The Corsair went into a dive so steep and fast that my father blacked out for a few seconds.

As I grew older my dad did share some of his darker memories with me. It was very different from what I had read in books and seen in movies. I began to catch a glimpse of the pride and terror of combat Marines, how they clung to each other as brothers, facing unimaginable horrors in a violent and pitiless crucible.

He described the queer, queasy feeling he got in the pit of his stomach, diving “ass over teakettle” into war as a tailgunner in a Dauntless Divebomber. And the queer, queasy feeling he got piloting a slow, ungainly Catalina PBY flying boat in a combat zone full of Japanese fighters. And the tight, heavy feeling in his stomach when he returned from a foot patrol near Yontan airfield on Okinawa, with only one other man of the ten who had left with him, and that man wounded and soon to die. He was seventeen when he enlisted. By the time he was nineteen he was a sergeant of Marines, and marked for life.

He was never strident. He didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t preach. He spoke of awful things in a flat voice and I knew the terrible price that had been paid by men like him in that struggle.

Many stories are told of the bond between father and son. Dramatic stories of courage, sacrifice, and impossible odds overcome by the power of a father’s love. But I think that bond shows its power most often in quiet, mundane ways. Like this:

1-8-15-4-11-18-7-14-3-10-17-6-13-2-9-16-5-12-1

That’s the firing order of a World War II vintage 18 cylinder aircraft engine - a bit of useless lore carried for decades as a token of love by the son, a symbol of that enduring bond, and a talisman for me to cling to and celebrate a life that ended years ago.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I remember.

(First posted June 19, 2005)

Friday, June 06, 2014

6 June, 1944 D-Day



The largest invasion in human history still came down to small groups of men - ultimately to the individuals - making heroic choices that collectively marked a turning point in history. The liberation of France and western Europe exacted a monstrous toll of blood.
"Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." - Gen. Eisenhower's Order of the Day

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014


IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, 1915

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Really, Netflix?

Netflix is fingering internet service providers, especially Verizon, for recent streaming video problems.

Customers who contact Netflix tech support are taken through the frustrating and time consuming mummery of resetting modems, told their wifi is inadequate, and encouraged to perform factory resets on streaming devices until they finally give up.

But the Netflix issues began with their 2013 "Super HD" upgrade. After the upgrade, many customers could no longer stream high definition to their TVs and began to experience seriously degraded resolution.

Now Netflix is blaming ISPs for the problems.

If download speed or deliberate "throttling" by the ISP is the problem, why is it that I can view Netflix movies in high definition on my laptop via Wifi while my Roku streaming device delivers Third World "2-dot" resolution via Ethernet cable?

Maybe Netflix customer service rep "Deneisha" spilled the beans in this February 1, 2014 internet chat:
Alright - thanks again for hanging in there with me, after doing some more investigation for you we definitely found what is going on here, based on all the details i have found on the HD feature, it seems our engineers are actually doing a site maintenance. And that includes some new features one of which was improve the HD quality that is being streamed through Roku, but reecently Roku has been making a few changes to some of their devices user interface as you should be able to see on your Roku's after updating them, and for some reason the HD signal is not reflecting on these players as they should/at all.. even when you do have awesome picture quality on your TV like you have on both your Oleva and your Apex ...but not to worry, we are almost through investigating this issue from our end here, we are also working with these device manufacturers like Roku to get this cleared up ASAP...
Really? Are you sure? Apparently she is:
I was advised that as soon as we have confirmed these updates we guarantee that you will be able to get HD on your Roku, what i will be doing right away though is flag the Roku's on your account and make a notation on your account so that our engineers are aware that you are having thing issue.. ,The good thing is you are definitely in good hands now.. we will do all we can to get this fixed for you ASAP.. and we thank you so much for ...
And yet Netflix is still blaming the ISPs.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Universal Truth

At the root of atheism is the desperate desire to be proven wrong.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Let's hope none of you have been too naughty.