My own opinion 2 – Trump, Lies & Video Tapes

Mockingrump

Despite the title, I don’t actually have any videos to post, and I wouldn’t be able to even if I did. The free version of WordPress doesn’t support that, and I can’t afford to upgrade it at this time. Besides, most everyone is aware of @realDonaldTrump‘s most embarrassing moments. Theyre easily found with minimal effort. Most of them are still making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook.

I need to make something clear that may or may not have been so in my first opinion piece (My own opinion 1 – Change).

I do not like the far left any more than I like the far (alt) right, and I absolutely detest the hate-fueled, fear-mongering far right. Both get far too carried away with their political views and agendas. Also, violence advocated—much less perpetrated—by a few right and left wing nut jobs against any and all people regardless of political opinions, race, creed, gender, color, etcetera should:

1. Always be condemned by anyone and everyone with morals and/or a conscience.

and

2. Never be associated with or used to denigrate everyone associated with those movements. Their views may be extreme, but the majority of them (not counting the actual hate groups) aren’t violently so.

That being said . . . onward.

Much of the following comes from a rant I posted on twitter May 26th, though this is much longer and far more detailed because I’m not character limited here. Also, a lot has happened between then and now. Other bits are from older opinion pieces that I took down a while ago but am reusing now as they’re still relevant. So here goes.

First off, I am not in any way a leading business owner/employer, civic leader or any other type of community leader/activist. I’m not a well-known commentator or experienced political analyst. I don’t have any degrees in political science or journalism. In fact, besides the knowledge living gives everyone, (and bearing in mind that knowledge does not always equal wisdom), I don’t have any relevant experience at all, except maybe the kind those who’ve served a few years (or ten) in the military get, but Donald J. Trump wouldn’t know anything about that.

I’m just an ordinary average person like the majority of Americans out there. I do not identify as either democrat or republican. I will admit that the majority (but not all) of my core beliefs do tend to lean to the left, some further than others depending on the issue. I also do not identify with any specific religion, I’m more spiritually than religiously inclined. I dislike all organized religions equally, though I’m fully for and will defend others’ rights to believe and worship as they wish, when they wish and where they wish—with a few exceptions (public schools, for one, unless it’s privately).

About a month ago, our ‘so-called’ president claimed that appointing a special counsel for the Russia investigation would divide the country.

Divided-1

Well, @realDonaldTrump, here’s the thing. You are the one who has been dividing this country, starting with your bullshit ‘birtherism’ shtick, and continuing on in an uninterrupted flow up to and including today. Despite your painful, pitiful, sorry calls for unity, none has come nor is it going to. No one bought those lame, emotionless, half-hearted pleas then, and no one is buying them now. Your mostly hate-fueled rhetoric and false claims of persecution have done nothing positive for our country.

From the moment you first rode down that escalator in your gold-encrusted tower, you stepped up your divisive agenda, referring to all Mexicans as criminals, rapists and drug dealers and calling for their deportation.

You called for a complete and total Muslim Ban with a very broad and open-ended “until we can figure out what the hell is going on” tag line, which effectively let your most corrosive followers interpret as “forever.”

You still pursue extreme versions of both of these policies today, even though there were already adequate measures in place that only needed a little fine tuning (removing corrupt/incompetent managers, supervisors and senior personnel, and other possible improvements).

You’ve alienated and denigrated the the MSM, the Justice Department, the Judiciary itself, and all of our intelligence agencies with your constant accusations and #FakeNews bullshit. The Mainstream Media is not the enemy of the people, sir. You are.

You openly mocked a disabled reporter—and please stop telling us you didn’t … it’s on video—and you’ve done nothing at all designed to unite anyone except your cult core. None of us have the time, energy, inclination or experience to deprogram them, although we will welcome any of those who finally become disillusioned with your bullshit and see the light on their own.

You had a chance to begin uniting the country during your transition period, but you didn’t. Instead, you spent it undermining US policy, alienating our allies, toadying up to every dictator you could find, and apparently avoiding the chance to fill most of your cabinet positions. You could at least have used that time to denounce the overtly racist, minority portion of your fan base, but you didn’t. And, by the way, when your friends, closest advisors, appointees and policy makers (Bannon, Miller, Sessions, Spencer, Jones et al) are known racist assholes, you don’t get to claim you aren’t.

Your inauguration speech could have been a message of hope and unity; it could have been a chance to bring the country together and move forward, but it wasn’t and you didn’t. Instead it was a dark, uninspired message from an uninspiring man—a message of despair and division, appropriately delivered in the rain.

No, the sun did not shine upon you that day, but it did the next, when millions of women and their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, pets and all, did, in fact, deliver a positive message. A message of hope and unity that should have come from you, but didn’t.

You also could have delivered a positive and inspiring message to congress during your speech to them—but again, you did not, even if a few pundits were temporarily fooled into thinking you’d become ‘Presidential’. By the weekend, you, Donald J. Trumpcorrected that mistaken impression by accusing your predecessor of ‘wiretapping’ you in your own Golden Tower.

You could have publicly, repeatedly and believably denounced the rampant antisemitism that has markedly increased since your election/inauguration, but you didn’t. Not convincingly, anyway.

You spent your first days (month) appointing people who immediately began dismantling their respective departments (specifically: the aforementioned Justice Department, Education, The EPA, the State Department to name just a few). You’ve spent the majority of your time creating scandal after scandal and praising every petty dictator, tyrant and demagog that had nice things to say to/about you while spurning decades (centuries in some cases) old friends and allies. Well done, by the way. WELL DONE!

This continued even as you made your first overseas visits, embarrassing both yourself and, more importantly, us . . . the US . . . Americans . . . with your incredibly accurate portrayal of the stereotypical ‘ugly American’. The boorish, arrogant, petty, childish lout who needs to be the center of attention despite having accomplished little to nothing of real or lasting consequence.

Sad.

Your Travel Ban has been rejected multiple times; the Health Care proposals (Trump/Ryan/McConnellCare) being secretly concocted and put forward by both houses are a joke; you have no actual tax plan to speak of (that useless, one-page piece of shit doesn’t count); and most of your EOs are being legally opposed or only partially implemented.

And now . . . NOW, sir, you’ve got left wing nut jobs shooting elected officials and right wing nut jobs killing whoever they don’t like (POC and Muslims or suspected Muslims mostly, but others as well). Despite calls for unity from both sides after the shooting, that situation is already degenerating to the point where your @GOP supporters are using that incident to make and air extreme ads that are not only nauseating, but just plain old, outright lies.

All of this and I haven’t even gotten to the #RussiaCollusionInvestigations or the obstruction of justice #ComeyFiring yet, and I’m not going to bother going there. I’ve already more than made my case for you being a complete and utter failure as a president. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try or how many of your predecessor’s accomplishments you attempt to eliminate, your greatest achievement will never match the least of Obama’s accomplishments.

You will never be as loved or as respected or as popular. You will never be seen as anything other than a failure as a president, and most likely a criminal politically, as well as a mediocre criminal/businessman.

I realize that I am also of little consequence by myself, but I am not alone. While I’m sure your cult core and most of the complicit @GOP will always be with you (the complicit ones don’t really have a choice, anymore), they are not the majority. We are.

#TheResistance may be fragmented in some ways, but we’re united in far more. You are not now, and never will be, our President. We will not allow you, your racist/nationalist advisors/appointees, or the @GOP to dismantle our democracy. Despite this banner:

Not-Leaving

we aren’t going away. We aren’t giving up. The continuing obstruction of the @GOP will not stop us. We’re coming for you. Slowly but surely—WE. ARE. COMING.

Believe me.

RSL

#Resist

Moo 1 < Go to

My own opinion 1 – Political Change

A-Little-Rebellion

I feel fairly confident in stating that pretty much everyone wanted to see some sort of change in our representation during our last election cycle. Sadly, at least in my mind, the same people who wanted—demanded, really—that change, voted for and returned all of the same old clowns back to the house and the senate with relatively few and mostly insignificant changes. Except for one.

A very large percentage of our population somehow came to believe that a lying, buffoonish, narcissistic, immature, reality show clown who is almost certainly corrupt and quite possibly deranged would be a good president. While some of them may be starting to become disillusioned with this man, a fairly large percentage of his core supporters still believe in his constant cries of #FakeNews and complete bullshit that have come streaming out of his mouth (and his Twitter fingers) every day since he first rode down that escalator.

He promised change and he definitely brought some. Not all change is good, however, and change simply for its own sake is almost always bad. In this case, it has been very bad. I have no desire to get into all the things that have gone wrong (the #RussianHack of our election or the constant bombardment of our media by foreign sites before and after it) and are still going wrong. This isn’t about that—it can’t be, anymore.

This is about how actual change in the current system can be accomplished.

I’m guessing that there are more than a few people who are dissatisfied with our current two-party system. It was, in my own opinion (Moo), the second biggest mistake the founding fathers made. Personally, I’d like to see a zero party system or a thousand (infinite) party one. Either would accomplish the same thing—a lot of *Independent candidates. (*More on this below.)

It doesn’t require that any laws or amendments be proposed/submitted or approved/ratified/passed. No action of any kind is required by either house of congress, or any branch of the government for that matter. The only things really needed are: for the next generation of politicians/leaders to follow their hearts and offer real, rational, well thought out plans for the future – and an informed electorate (the rest of us) to keep a close eye on their careers, and the plans and policies they propose. (There’s an element of the media that needs to change/be involved also, but there’s nothing voters can do about that except not follow them.)

It won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be fast. There are a number of things that have to happen before these changes can occur. While most of the specific information and links that follow pertain to national elections for the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President, the basic premises can and should be applied to all elections from the local level on up. I believe that the local/state levels are where the real changes need to start, and are also where they have the best chances of succeeding.

First and foremost are our future representatives. Pretty much everyone knows that the office of the President of the United States comes up for election or re-election every four years and he/she is limited to two terms. I assume I don’t need to provide a link to prove that.

U.S. Senate terms run for six years, with one third of the Senate seats up for election/re-election on even numbered years. – http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_index_subjects/Elections_Campaigns_vrd.htm

The House of Representatives, on the other hand, is a different story. All of its members come up for election/re-election every two years. – http://classroom.synonym.com/elections-house-representatives-held-two-years-12375.html

I recommend that everyone reading this click on those links and thoroughly read the contents (and follow at least some of the sub links). This is part of what I mean by an informed electorate.

That being said, the next things are some basic ideas/suggestions for how real change can be accomplished. This is not an all-inclusive list. Wiser souls than I should consider revising and/or adding to these suggestions. In fact, I recommend it.

Future Political Leaders (all levels):

One: Beliefs, Goals & Policies – It’s not possible to be everything to everyone, so be very clear and precise about your platform and do not vacillate once you’ve made it known. It will be restricted if you join a party, any party, so consider running as an *Independent very seriously before making a choice.

#Side note: There’s no such thing as an Independent Party. That’s an oxymoron. By definition, one cannot be part of a large group of people with common beliefs, goals and ambitions and still be independent.

Two: Campaign Financing & Promotion – Accept only individual donations. No donations of any kind from any business, PAC, SuperPAC, organization/group (AARP, NRA, NAACP, ACLU, Church etc.), or other private/public/religious enterprise. Make sure all donation records are kept open and public at all times. There are already laws concerning this,

http://www.cfinst.org/law.aspx

but some forms of donations can be kept private (certain types of PACs etc.). Don’t.

#Side note 2: I would have posted the links to fec.gov, but considering how much info has been changed/removed from all .gov sites by the current administration, I do not trust those at all.

Avoid negative campaigning & advertising. Stick to your own beliefs and policies and promote them positively. The other candidate(s) believe just as strongly in their message(s) as you do in yours, so try to avoid negative confrontations with them and do not marginalize your opponents or their supporters. No one wins when that happens, and it only turns the public off in most cases. (Debates are an entirely different story, but you should try to keep those as positive as you can as well.)

Also, denounce/refute any independent ads that concern or are about you or your opponents immediately, regardless of their content. Don’t let others make your case, they’ll want some sort of tit-for-tat.

Three: Media Coverage/Endorsements – This should probably follow along the same rules as corporate/organizational donations. Avoid allowing any media endorsements (newspapers, media groups, etc.) to have any influence in policy stances in exchange for their public support. Any endorsements from that area should come with no strings attached or not at all.

The Electorate/Voting Public (Us)

One: Above all else, keep informed and make every effort to get legitimate information from multiple sources (The candidates’ own official platforms first). Bear in mind that pretty much all other sources are going to be biased in one way or another to one extent or another, so keep an open mind when reading/listening to their opinions. Be especially leery of unsourced stories, or ones that claim to have witnesses/sources with only a first name such as Moe or Chaz or Kwasi or something.

At the risk of marginalizing some folks, I implore those who tend to read and believe only fringe news sites to please consider other, more mainstream sources and try to combine the information available from both areas. Much as I’d like to go on, it would only become a confusing and biased ramble so I’m going to stop here on this subject.

Two: Pay attention to all of the words and deeds of the person or persons you intend to support. Under the conditions proposed here there are going to be a lot of different positions taken by various candidates, and likely a fairly large pool of candidates if few to none of them follow/join a specific party.

This approach will eventually work itself out, but in the beginning it’s unlikely any one candidate will have a perfect platform. We will have to prioritize our stances in this regard and choose to support whoever we’re in agreement with on the most issues that are of the most importance to us as individuals at that time. Much of this will depend on the various candidates and on how they get their message(s) out.

The Media

This is where we, the voters, have the least amount of control except as far as viewership/readership is concerned, so I cannot give any specific steps for them to take. By design, the media outlets are free to cover any thing in any manner they choose. A free and independent media is both necessary and desirable in a free state, especially if it wants to remain free. Sadly, recent media coverage has not been fair and balanced (despite a certain organization’s claim), especially in this last cycle. As stated above, a lot of the unfairness was due to the huge amount of actual #FakeNews that was forced into our feeds (twitter, Facebook, etc.) and the ease and degree with which it was spread by those all too willing to believe it.

I especially recommend that all of the 24-hour news channels be viewed skeptically at best. Despite their claim, FoxNEWS is very obviously a conservative republican propaganda machine. msnbc is just as obviously a liberal democratic propaganda machine, though, in my opinion only (Moo), they do make some small attempt to present more sides of certain issues. I have no idea what CNN is trying to do, they seem to be all over the place. HLN does not qualify as a news organization at all (sorry HLN fans, but it’s true).

Generally, I tend to flip back and forth between CBS and ABC for evening and early morning news, and otherwise I follow the news feeds from my homepage and tend to pick and choose which stories to read depending on its source. Sadly, every damn one of them is ad-driven, which tells me one of the biggest problems going forward will be trying to reduce the amount of influence big bucks (the previously mentioned Corps. Pacs etc.) have on American politics. (Again, Moo)

Some final thoughts:

I realize that the list is incomplete and the above suggestions are simplistic and probably infeasible/unworkable as presented. Many issues have not been addressed (getting registered nationally if you have presidential designs is a major one, for example). They’ll need a lot of tweaking and reworking to be become even remotely possible. Considering the immense obstacles, they are likely completely impossible, but that doesn’t mean I can’t propose them, or that some future, modified, more workable version can’t be tried at some point.

Even if anyone starts following this plan, it will take several election cycles for any results to start becoming noticeable. At this point in time, I support anyone and everyone who is dedicated to removing Donald J. Trump and the majority of the gutless @GOP asses who are selling our country out and allowing *45 to destroy our democracy. #Resist #NeverTrump #IllegitimatePrez

RSL

Go to > Moo 2

The Weatherman – Laurie Axinn Gienapp

the_weatherman

Intentional or not, this turns out to be a cautionary tale about how easily public opinion can be manipulated, an especially relevant message in these times. There is intrigue, suspense, danger, and maybe a little bit of fear at how this might become a real thing.

The characters are interesting and believable, as is the plot line and concept behind the tale. Weird as it sounds to say this, readers are taken on a fast and furious ride through the world of weather forecasting. Compelling enough that I read this in one sitting.

There needs to be a sequel. Soon.

RSL

ps: Not every story has to have raging hormones, ravening beasts, or overly heroic heroes. For certain Hollywood types who might be looking for something a little different, this could be it.

Available at these sites:

Google Books

Amazon

Barnes&Noble/Nook

Book Depository

New Realm Vol. 04 No. 08 – Various Authors

New Realm is one of several monthly magazines published by FictionMagazines.com, usually featuring five short fantasy stories from five different authors.

#

Story #1 – The One by R. S. Leergaard

For fairly obvious reasons, at least to me, I won’t be reviewing/critiquing the first story because it is mine. I will say that the story called “The One’ was written in June of 2013 for a monthly challenge at a fantasy writers’ site. The challenge was as follows:

Your challenge is to write a story based on a cliché that’s in some way reversed. For instance, the the heroine rescuing a beautiful prince from an enchanted tower. It doesn’t have to be a gender issue, though, just a cliché turned on its head.

That’s what I did with ‘The One.’. More accurately, I took several fantasy clichés and exaggerated them to the point of cartoonish silliness, and maybe turned one or two of them a little sideways.

#

Story #2 – Wurm by Jill Hand

Wurm is an ancient dragon who has survived to modern times and is being less than capably – and honestly – represented by his current servant, Dennis Twombey. And then the lawyers get involved and things go from bad to worse as Dennis has to juggle several problems – including his daughter, her mother and a RenFair owner (Sir Richard Blott) – at once while keeping Wurm happy.

A lot of little but interconnected things happen that lead up to a final confrontation between Wurm the dragon and Sir Blott. Although it’s not your typical happy ending, the story does end happily as Dennis learns a valuable lesson about honesty and fairness … and that, as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing.

Far too many stories, movies and tv shows these days seem to think that a story isn’t any good unless it contains blood, guts and “gritty realism” and that gets to be a little draining at times—at least to me. I can see that sort of thing any time by simply turning on the cable news channels or almost any drama series.

It’s kind of nice to read a feel-good story with a happy ending once in a while. 🙂

#

Story #3 – A Trail of Breadcrumbs by Alice Loweecey

An interesting little tale that takes a bit of a turn when the bounty hunter, Jade, discovers the criminals she’s hunting are her own brothers. Also complicating matters is the constant danger of Alternate World collisions and changes those events sometimes cause. In the middle of the hunt for the rest of her brothers – she’s already captured one – another Alt-World collision occurs, sending Jade back in time five years where she learns of a different history where her brothers aren’t the criminals she believed them to be. Or maybe it’s not that simple.

This tale has several twists and turns in it, and it leaves everyone – including the reader – wondering which reality is actually real.

#

Story #4 – Godswap Apocalypse by Terry Ibele

Who knew there was so much red tape involved in the transferring of God’s power? Certainly George didn’t. And what good is it when the only thing one has figured out how to do is end the world? These and others are questions George had never received an answer to until his latest universe scenario landed him in an office building where such things are decided.

This story is an often amusing account of how even the universe and the transfer of power from God to God is governed by certain bureaucratic rules and regulations.

#

Story #5 – The Shadow Ward by Brian Barr

One of the nine necromancer flutes, the flute of Saturn and Mercury, has been stolen and the Shadow Ward, Ludwig has been sent to retrieve it. His search takes him from stable hand to pirate to the former slave and current possessor of the Babylonian flute, Mawuli, aka Sarah. She and her common-law husband, Patrick Goodfellow, almost destroy Ludwig before re-enforcements arrive to save him and return the flute.

There’s a lot of back story and other details told, of course, but in the end, the twist here is that the bad guy wins, though one is left to wonder if there is such a thing as a ‘good’ necromancer.

#

The common theme for all five stories, as far as I can see that there is one, is that all of them have some sort of plot and/or character twist that turns the story away from the usual and expected conclusions. All-in-all this could be a fun and interesting addition to anyone’s collection of anthologies.

RSL

SatCom School – San Deigo, Ca.

I re-enlisted for six years while I was in Guam. Aside from the re-enlistment bonus I got ($16,000 over six years … minus taxes) I also received more Navy ‘C’ School training at NTSC San Diego on the ‘CUDIXS’ satellite communications system. I knew it was going to be an interesting experience right from day one.

San Diego, Ca 5a

Secondary gates into the training center.

During roll call on our first day of class, as the instructor, an E-6, was checking off the names, he called out, “Drill?”

Everybody got a WTF? look on their face when he said that, but no one answered. After a few seconds he called out “Drill,” again, but there was still no answer, just a lot more questioning looks. Finally, after the instructor called out “Drill,” for a third time, one guy said, “Do you mean Drye?”

Most of us started laughing as the instructor checked his list again and said, “Oh, right. Drye. Sorry, I misread that.” but George wasn’t about to let that go.

“What do you mean, you misread it?” George said. “It’s Drye. D-R-Y-E. Drye. How the hell do you get Drill out of that? Is your list handwritten in cursive or something?”

He had a nice little diatribe that went on for about a minute and a half or so, with other comments about how he’d had his name mispronounced before, but no one had ever called him Drill until that day, and several other choice words.

By that time all of us were laughing pretty hard and it was too late for George to do anything about it. He was Drill from that day on, and it took almost no provocation to get him going on that rant for the next six months.

I knew right away that I was going to like this guy, and even though they spit us up after the first two classes (some went on to the the shipboard version of the system while others of us went to the shore based one) we still hung out together after hours sometimes. One of the guys, Greg, I think, had a sailing license, so a bunch of us rented a sailboat a couple of times and sailed down to Black’s Beach once and out to Catalina another time.

During testing periods, when only the testee was allowed in the classroom to work on a physical problem, the rest of us spent a lot of time in the lounge doing crossword puzzles and playing hangman. (I used to have an entire three-ring notebook filled with hangman puzzles).

There were five of us in the shore-based class that hung out together quite a lot. Me, Dave, Wayne, Ray and Bill. I’m not going to give their last names here, partly because I don’t remember all of them and partly because they aren’t really relevant here, (unlike George’s story). We went out on the town ocaasionally, downtown a few times, but mostly we hung out at a place called the Whirlybird Inn (more on that in another story).

One of the times we went downtown wasn’t to go drinking . . . we went to a movie theater to see ‘The Amityville Horror’ when it came out. We jumped in the appropriate places and whispered the usual comments such as, “Jeeze, I’d have been out of there ten seconds after the first ghostly groan/vision/flying object/etc.” and pretended not to be scared when we really were. It was a pretty creepy movie at the time. 😉

The comments continued, of course, after the show and we stopped at a small diner to get something to eat. I don’t remember what the other guys ordered, but I was in the mood for some chili and rice, and while we were waiting for the order and joking around with the waitress (it was pretty late and there weren’t any other customers) we all noticed a guy with a white apron running across the street toward a late night grocery store. One of the other guys – Dave, maybe – said, “I wonder what he’s doing?”

Just kidding around, said, “He’s probably going to get a can of Hormel Chili.” which drew a couple of short laughs from the others, until we looked to see if the waitress also thought it was funny. Instead of laughing, though, she had a slightly embarrassed look on her face and was blushing a little. We all realized at the same time that that’s what he really was doing and we started laughing for real.

She got over it pretty quickly when she saw that none of us were going to make any sort of deal out of it. Hell, I thought it was hilarious, and it pretty much took our minds off the movie, which we’d been discussing with the young lady before that. The other waitress that was still working then came over and joined the conversation after that and we had a pretty good time for a night that we didn’t go out to hit the bars. 🙂

Injuries and Things

NCS Agana, Guam map

This is probably going to be my only post about my time in Guam, (Aug. 1977 – Apr. 1979) but not because I didn’t have any fun there. It’s a sad but true fact that members of the military services were not particularly well liked or well treated back in the 60s, 70s and much of the 80s. Some places were worse than others as far as that goes, and Guam and Hawaii were two places where the military was especially disliked at the time. I don’t know how it is now.

During my 20 months on Guam I never found a little corner bar type place (like Noah’s Ark in Okinawa) where military personnel were welcome and I never met anybody else who did either. So, most of my spare time there was spent playing softball and golf (which I played as often as I could afford), and most of our trips to beaches for cook-outs and frizbee and stuff were to ones on military bases (mostly at Agana itself or at Pati Point on Anderson AFB).

But . . . these posts are about fun and/or funny things that happened while I was in the Navy, and I’m not going to get into the whys of that shit . . . so enough about that.

I lived in the barracks at Agana, Guam for the whole time I was stationed there, but I worked at a transmitter site called Barrigada.

NTF Barrigada Guam 1

NTF Barrigada, Guam

Most of the guys I hung out with for my whole time there also worked at Barrigada, and five of us (Mark, Ed, Joe, Benny and I) spent a couple of seasons in a bowling league. We called ourselves ‘The Pretenders’, the running joke being because we were pretending we knew how to bowl, but actually the name was influenced by the Jackson Browne album of the same name.

I don’t recall ever actually repairing a single transmitter the whole 18 months I was stationed in Okinawa, but at Barrigada something clicked. I don’t exactly what, when or how it happened, it just did. I was especially good at the power supply, IPA (intermediate power amp), and PA stages.

NTF Barrigada Guam 2

AN/FRT-40 100KW HF Transmitter

Benny Allen started calling me IPA Bob, and one of the Radiomen (I don’t remember his real name, but he called himself Doctor Touchenstein – Dr. T for short) started calling me SuperTech (in a cartoon-ish sort of way). While I secretly liked both names, I wasn’t real fond of being called them out loud. Benny and I could roughly tune one of those to the right place (using the black knobs on the second and third sections) before powering them up just by knowing the frequency ahead of time.

Those are some of the ‘Things’ from the title.

As far as the ‘Injuries’ go the lesser of the two happened when I was playing softball a couple of months before I left. I hit a slow-rolling infield grounder at the time and the first baseman was blocking the base as I got there, so I had to step over his leg in order to tag the base. I was safe by just a bit, but I turned my ankle out sideways as I tagged first and heard a really icky crunching sound as I did. I thought I might have broken it at the time, but it turned out that sound was just a couple of ligaments being stretched out way too far.

The doctor said later that I probably would have been better off if I had broken it. It would have healed more cleanly. Since VA medical coverage does not include ‘sports medicine’, especially for recreational leagues, I spent about a week on crutches and about a month with ankle wraps before I could walk semi pain free.

The second ‘Injury’ was actually the first – time wise – and happened at one of the few off-base places we visited often—Talofofo Falls.

Talofofo Falls

This place appears to be protected now, but back then people visited and spent the day at the falls on a regular basis.

One of the things all visitors to the falls were warned about right away was that there was a fairly large rock about eight feet under the surface right in the middle of the pond below the falls. While diving from the large rock on the left side of the falls (from this vantage) was not strictly prohibited, it was highly recommended that only shallow type dives be attempted.

But I, in my 22+ years of wisdom at the time, decided to try a 1½. I aimed (or thought I did, anyway) away from the rock, and while I did manage to complete an acceptable dive, I also grazed the rock with my head. I still had my hands in front of me, and did catch the rock with them first, but I couldn’t quite keep myself from grazing it.

It didn’t hurt at all, and I thought I was okay as I got out of the pool. Mark was complaining that I hadn’t given him a warning I was going to do that, so he didn’t get a picture of it. While he was doing that a woman walking by said, “You’re ear is bleeding.”

I’m like, “Really?” and started feeling the top of my head because that’s where I hit the rock. It turned out the young woman was a nurse or something, so she looked at the wound and said I was going to need some stitches, and should do so immediately. So we had to leave after being there for only about 20 minutes or so (which caused a fair amount of more bitching from Mark).

I finished the beer I’d already opened as we packed up to leave. Turned out the nearest military hospital was quite a ways away (about two more beers) and by the time I got there and it was determined I’d need four stitches, it was also determined I didn’t need any anesthetic—and they were right. That didn’t hurt either.

Leaving Okinawa

This one needs a bit of a set-up before I get to the day the packers (not the Packers) and the inspector came to pack up, inspect and send all my stuff on to my next duty station, Guam.

The Set Up

I came home early one morning after a night out (maybe 3 am or so) and went to the fridge and grabbed the milk for a swig or two before going to bed. I only bought half gallons back then because a whole gallon usually went bad on me before I could drink it all. Anyway, I was taking a drink out of the carton when I noticed this grey sort of shapy thing out of the corner of my eye on my left and turned to see what it was. What it was, was a freaking cane spider about the size of my hand.

Now, it’s possible (and even probable) that my mind has exaggerated the size of that spider over the years, but the damn thing was BIG I’m telling you, and it scared the shit out of me.

Cane Spider

This is not the actual spider from then; I never consciously let it crawl on me. This photo does approximate what was in front of my face that day, though.

I’m pretty sure I teleported to the middle of my kitchen, because I don’t remember actually moving there. I just know that one second I was standing at my refrigerator with a giant spider a couple inches from my face, and then I was ten feet away with milk coming out of my nose and coughing “HOLY SHIT!”

I considered, and immediately dismissed, any thought of squishing it for two reasons:

  •  Because it would have been really ickily messy, and

  •  I wasn’t sure what might happen if I missed

Instead, I got out my handy dandy can of Raid (Okinawa also has a fairly large species of cockroach that can fly, so I always had a can of Raid around) and sprayed that thing thoroughly. In fact, I emptied about half a can on the thing but it didn’t move or react in any way. I’d swear the damn thing just gave me a sort of ‘meh’ shrug.

So, with the Raid being ineffective and me being unwilling to squish it, I made a deal with it instead. I said, and I did literally say this out loud. “If you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.” I said a lot of other things too, but I don’t remember all of the exact words. As far as I know, it accepted the deal because, while huntsman type spiders aren’t dangerously poisonous, their bites are very painful and leave a noticeable mark (so I’ve read) and I never woke up with a bite. It went about its business of eating the occasional cockroach, I’m guessing, and I went about mine.

And that’s the setup.

Leaving

The navy sent some local company to pack up my things a few days before I was to leave, and the air force sent an inspector to make sure I wasn’t taking anything I shouldn’t (such as local flora and fauna, etc.)

I was in the bedroom with the movers watching them pack up the stuff the inspector had already approved, and she was in the kitchen checking the rest of the stuff I’d already sorted through and decided to take with me. Suddenly there was this very high-pitched scream from the kitchen, and – I really really didn’t mean to, but – I could help laughing just a little, because I knew what had happened.

I said, “I take it you met my spider.”

There was only silence for a few seconds, and the a very soft voice said, “Yes.

The two movers were saying, “Nan de? Nan de?” which is essentially “What? What?” so I tried to tell them what happened, but I didn’t know the Japanese word for spider and they didn’t speak English. Finally I just made my hand run across the floor and said “Oki.” which means big.

It wasn’t exactly the proper word or context, but they got the idea and both ran into the kitchen to see it. I followed them. I guess her scream startled the spider enough that it ran back behind the refrigerator where it lived, though, because it was gone when we got out there.

The inspector was still standing in the middle of the room, looking kinda shocked. I said, “I’m sorry. I probably should have told you about it, but it doesn’t usually come out in the daytime. I don’t know why it did today. It scared the crap out of me, too, the first time I met it.”

I told her the full story behind my first meeting with the spider, (which I never named in case you’re wondering). She got a hold of herself pretty quickly after that, and even smiled a little bit when she saw that the movers were trying to crane around behind the fridge to see the spider, (I’d shown them where it went).

So even a plain old ordinary thing like moving ended up having a story for me to tell, all because my spider chose then to make a rare daytime appearance. 🙂

Fourth of July (2) – 1977

This one is a relatively short story that happened just a week or two before I was transferred from Okinawa to Guam.

There were no plans for a get-together of coworkers this time, but I did go down to Gate 2 Street and get some fireworks, anyway. Pretty much the same things as the year before: bottle rockets, fountains/showers, roman candles: that sort of thing. This time, however, I just figured I’d shoot them off in the driveway and maybe the neighbors would come out with their own, or at least watch while I set off mine, and that is sort of what happened . . . eventually. The thing is, after work, while I was waiting around for it to get dark, I ended up falling asleep. Next thing I knew, it was dark and I was under attack.

I was awakened by the sound of small pops—bottle rockets to be exact—going off at minute or so intervals around both porches and over my roof. I’m not sure how many they sent my way before I woke up and figured out what was going on. Once I got my bearings, I peeked out the window and saw the neighbors getting ready to launch another rocket at my house. I decided not to go out and surrender, but, instead, I left the lights off, grabbed my bag of fireworks, and went out the back door.

Watching them from the back corner of my house, I saw that after they launched a rocket they ducked back around the corner—laughing and talking, though I couldn’t hear what was being said from where I was—so I waited until they fired the next one and ducked back, then ran down the stairs and around the far side to the back of their house, sneaked over to their side, and watched them get ready to fire another one. I could hear them from where I was, this time, and the conversation went something like this . . .

Dad: “I wonder why he’s not responding. Are you sure he’s home?”

Mom: “I’m pretty sure. We heard him drive in, and his motorcycle is still in the garage.”

Dad: “Huh. I don’t think he’s the type to just ignore us.”

Mom: “Maybe he’s sleeping.”

Dad: “Maybe, but he doesn’t strike me as a heavy sleeper. He might be up to something.”

(The above is not verbatim—it has been almost 40 years after all—but it’s pretty close.)

Their son was mostly just laughing as far as I can recall, and while they were discussing what I might be up to and deciding whether to launch another one, I got out a bottle rocket of my own.

– Side bar: As I’m writing this it suddenly occurs to me that, since I didn’t smoke back then, I’m finding it hard to remember how I managed to light the bottle rocket. Best I can recall is I either lit a punk before I left the house (most likely, I think), or I bought some matches, but I don’t remember doing that. –

In either case, I did have a way to light it, and while they were still wondering if I was home or not, I let my rocket go (aiming by hand since I also forgot to bring a bottle). It arced over their heads and popped in the driveway, but they heard the fuse and had already turned around with smiles I could see even in the semi-dark.

Dad: “Aha, he was up to something. He’s behind us.”

I told them how I was asleep at the start of their offensive, and how I managed to get behind them and stuff, and it was mostly just casual conversation after that. We set off the rest of the fireworks in the driveway like I’d originally planned and sat around talking for a little while after that, then they went back inside and I went out for some drinks and to spend one of my last few nights with my then girlfriend.

A Good Deed

A rather short story this time. 🙂

I came home from work one afternoon and found the neighbor’s young son sitting out by the driveway when I rode through the gate. He had his head resting on his chin and looked pretty sad to me as I rode past into the garage to park my bike. Kinda looked like he either had been crying or was about to when I sat down next to him and asked what was wrong.

He told me that neither of his parents were home and he couldn’t get in his house and he was worried that something had happened to both of them and quite a lot of other stuff that kinda just came pouring out. I wasn’t really sure how to handle this kind of thing, but I told him that being that they were both in the military they were probably just working late. He was pretty adamant they weren’t though since one of them was always home before him. Always!

I didn’t really have any toys like a ball or a frisbee or anything back then or I would have just tossed it around with him until one of them got home. I wish I’d thought of going up on his roof to get some of the toys which were likely back up there, but that never occurred to me.

However, when he mentioned that he couldn’t get into his house, it reminded me of something that I’d completely forgotten about, and I suddenly got up (surprised him a little, I think) and said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

Amazingly for me, the thing I went looking for was still in the middle junk drawer in my kitchen, right where I put it over a year before. He was still sitting there when I came back with the third key the rental agency had given me when I first rented the place.

I said, “You know, a long time ago the agency gave me three keys, but I was never able to figure out what this one was for. I doesn’t fit either my front door or the back one, and it doesn’t fit the door to the storage area below the stairs either.”

He was looking up at me then with a hopeful look in his eyes when I went on. “Come on,” I told him as I led him back down the short path to his house. “Let’s just see if maybe this key might fit your front door.”

Damned if it didn’t. He got a big smile on his face when I gave him the key and asked if he’d be okay now. He said yeah, he would, and I told him that it was his key now and that needed to take good care of it.

It seems like that would be the end of the story, and to be honest I thought it was, but . . .

A couple nights later I was just lounging around, listening to some music and reading a book (I don’t remember which one) when there was a knock on my door. It was the neighbors and they were bearing gifts. Well, a gift. The wife (I believe I called her Mary in a previous story) had baked me an apple pie to thank me for being nice to their son earlier.

That was just so damned cool I was completely overwhelmed. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before or since. 🙂 🙂 To use an entirely overused and inaccurate saying – That was awesome!

Fourth Of July (1) – 1976 (Bi-Centennial)

I don’t remember exactly where this story starts. Possibly at work on the 4th, or possibly a day or two before. I only remember that at some point or another, several of us at the Awase site decided to celebrate the bi-centennial at [David’s] house. (No, I don’t remember his last name.)

To that end, Cyrus Brooks and I were tasked (or possibly we took it upon ourselves) to go down (up?) to Gate 2 Street and get an assortment of fireworks.

Gate 2 Street Night Life

Gate 2 Street at night

Largely, what was available there was pretty much all the same things you can get at any stand here—bottle rockets (both the noisy ones and the ones with exploding showers), roman candles, various ground shower displays, etc. So, after work, off we went to cruise Gate 2 Street to see what was available at the various outdoor shops.

A curious thing about Okinawa, at least then, was that while it was not illegal to sell fireworks, it was illegal to buy them. Just as the lady at the stand where we bought all the things we wanted (and lots of them) was giving them to us, a couple of local foot-patrol policemen came up and took all of our fireworks away. The lady from the shop immediately got into an argument with the officers, which Cyrus translated as best he could, (he, like Willie, was married to an Okinawan, so could speak Japanese fairly well). This was how I learned about that curious law.

In any case, the woman lost her argument and the police confiscated our fireworks and continued on their way. But, while Cyrus and I were standing around wondering what to do next, the woman handed us another bag filled with all of the same fireworks we had just bought. When we reached into our pockets to pay again (which neither of us could really afford) she shook her head and waved us off and told us not to worry about it; that the police would bring her fireworks back later. Apparently, after long exposure to U.S. troops being stationed there, the police are well aware of what the Fourth of July means, and do their best to limit the amount of ‘celebrating’ that goes on. So we got our fireworks and immediately proceeded to prove that the police might have been on to something.

We drove over to BC Street and had the crazy (and somewhat stupid) idea to shoot some roman candle flares out the windows in celebration.

BC Street, Okinawa 2

BC Street

It was our intention to shoot them straight up in the air so they wouldn’t land on people on the sidewalks, but I’m not so sure a few of them didn’t get away from us. After I lit the first one and handed it to Cyrus, who was driving, I turned to light my own, but … before he could transfer it to his other hand and point it out the window, the first flare went off, bounced off the roof above his head and landed in his lap. By this time mine was lit too, so I had only one hand to deal with the situation while still keeping my candle pointed out of the car.

For his part, Cyrus had one hand on the steering wheel and one hand pointing his candle out the other window. This meant he had zero hands of his own left to deal with the burning flare under his ass. So he’s bouncing around in his seat trying to drive the car and also keep more flares from going off in the car … and also screaming at me to get that ball of fire out from under him. (He wanted me to pick it up and throw it out the window.)

Now, there was not a chance in hell that I was going to pick up a ball of fire, and besides, I was laughing too damned hard to be of any use, plus I still had to keep my flare pointed out of the car. I don’t remember for sure if I managed to brush it out of his seat and onto the floor or if it just went out on its own, but we did get through the ordeal unscathed. We did, however, cause something of a stir on BC Street, so we (Cyrus) decided not to go out to the main road to make our getaway.

He took an alley over to, and across, Gate 2 Street, before going out to the highway and back to the housing area on MCAS Futenma where [David] lived. As we crossed Gate 2 Street, we did see a couple of police cars with their lights flashing heading toward BC Street, but whether or not that was because of us we never found out.

The funny thing is, while we were shooting off the rest of the fireworks at Dave’s house, the base police showed up and took our fireworks away. Apparently it’s illegal to shoot fireworks off on base, even during the bi-centennial celebration.

Go figure.