Archive for March, 2008

Time to Grow Something

Monday, March 31st, 2008

In response to rising gasoline prices, many Americans have chosen to spend more time at home. In addition to slightly reducing demand for gasoline, it presents an opportunity for that “quality time” so many wealth-seeking experts told us in the last decade would fix our family woes. But other things are keeping us at home too.

Grocery bills are rising, but so are restaurant prices. Food costs are helping Americans to decide to eat at home a little more. Some folks say that might be good for our waistlines, but that’s more of a stupid comment than a solution-oriented discussion.

We’re in trouble.

As oil prices sky-rocket, it is producing a cascading effect into everything else we buy.

Petroleum price increases the costs for transportation, packaging, and processing every consumer good we use–including food. Global food prices are just starting to show the systemic influence of high oil prices. This will affect all the nations.

Even in times of feast for Americans, food shortages are all over the world. Americans have a long history of trying to feed the world out of our charity-mindedness. However as Americans feel the crunch of oil and food based inflation, the shortages around the world will increase. When the crunch hits America hard enough, our charitable givings will slow and maybe decrease, who knows–maybe even stop.

People will starve.

Before they starve, they will seek food using all means available to them. They will riot, loot, kill and even form organized raids into other communities. Some nations will go to war. For food. Then the people will suffer from starvation and war.

America will feel an obligation to do something about the wars. It will take a while before we learn to just watch the other folks around the world kill themselves while we try to balance our budget. Thankfully, we’re not at that point yet.

Some have argued that the solution to the food problem is just to grow more food. Sounds simple enough, but that takes energy. Increased energy demands will drive the price of oil higher, making everything, including food, cost more. We really can’t fix this problem until we fix the energy problem.

Interestingly, one solution is to use a portion of our food supply to make biofuels. Using grain that would normally feed cattle to stretch petroleum reserves causes the price of grain and then of beef to rise. At the same time, transportation and processing costs increase because the cost of oil continues to climb.

Billions or maybe even trillions of barrels of oil lay under a frozen north, hidden in shale, or off the coast of the United States. The American government has rules and laws in place that prevent the harvesting of those energy resources. Well, at least it prevents US oil companies from drilling there. The 36 Cuban oil wells operated by Chinese oil companies as close as 50 miles off the coast of Florida will not extract oil fast enough to stop the starvations that will probably happen within the next few years.

All this sounds a little like a well-meaning man trying to survive the winter in a forest. He doesn’t want to hurt the trees because his teacher told him in the third-grade that trees are people too. So he burns his coat to stay warm for a while. Eventually he faces the winter cold without a coat or a fire. He is then faced with the choice of freezing or growing a brain.

We need to grow a brain.

It just makes sense.

Welcome Spiff

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I want to introduce our newest BOB member.

Lt Col Rife, a.k.a. Spiff, is a dear friend of mine from my Doctrine Center days.  I remember the day he was almost killed by General Dugan, and it was my fault.  Thinking back on it, it’s funny now.  Thinking back even a little more, it was even funnier then.

I had made a quiet joke about one of the generals attending the North American Aerospace Symposium, and Spiff lost it.

You see, the general was apparently straining to hold on to his youth.  His hair piece was all one youthful shade of auburn.  Of course, it was sitting on top of a wrinkled old guy’s head.  The other dozen generals sitting around him were more comfortable with the aging process, and their heads were adorned with various shades of salt and pepper, with different amounts of scalp showing.  The general in question was as obvious as a lighthouse on a dark night.

Meanwhile,  General Dugan was the guest speaker for the dinner.  He was at the podium, making a very serious speech.  Except our table is missing it because Spiff is having something that looks and sounds a bit like a seizure.

My joke had struck Spiff as exceptionally funny.  And then he couldn’t control his laughter.  His face got quite red as he fought to regain his composure, only to lose it when ever I made eye-contact with him.  Tears flowed from his eyes, and he was trapped in a vision of the lighthouse’s rug flapping in a strong wind.

General Dugan was not amused.  I’m not sure how any of us at the table survived that night.  I must have blocked it from my memory.

Spiff retires in July.  I’ve told him all about our 11th of the month updates.

We used to share room 11 at the doctrine center before I moved into the “big office” but that is another funny story altogether.

This brings our membership to 29.  Wow, with that many folks, you’d think we’d have more postings on the 11th.  Oh well, everyone’s busy I know.  Me too.

Take care, my band of brothers,

The Chuck

Reverend Wright was Irreverently Wrong

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

No! God has not damned America.

To the contrary, He has never blessed another nation to any greater extent.  And no other nation has blessed the world to any greater extent.  The relationship between giving blessings and being blessed can be a precarious one.

For instance, the initial group of Americans were blessed with miracle after miracle in shucking off the yoke of a mortal king.  A new nation was formed.   It was an imperfect union.  Yet, it was more perfect than anything else on earth.

As time went on, many challenges arose.  Our elected leaders made choices, based off of a set of values that were passed down to them from history.  As “acceptable” changed, we changed.  Some of the most influential voices during our revolution and then formative years of the nineteenth century were from the pulpit.

We eventually battled with ourselves.  Killing a million Americans, laying waste to several states, and from the ashes we rebuilt ourselves into a single United States called America.

Then America offered its youth to rescue Europe, and maybe even humanity, from the horrors of the “Great War.”  While our work was global, our leadership was pushed to the backseat of the world order that followed.  A generation later, the world was in the grasps of National Socialism and other shades of Totalitarianism that threatened to snuff out the last hope of individual freedoms.

Fortunately, America chose to once again answer the call for help.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives for the millions who were dying at the hands of evil from that mid-twentieth century global war.  Our outlay of treasure for the cause was without equal in history.  After the dirty part of stopping evil was done, America demanded a front seat in global leadership.

Since then Americans have continued to freely give their lives and treasures so that the world might have a chance to know peace, prosperity, and liberty.  America is the bright, shining city on a hill that leads the world with her productivity, prosperity, and technology.

Even when America was attacked on 9/11 she showed great concern for humanity.  Possessing the power to kill by the tens-of-millions, America showed great restraint by choosing to surgically removing two evil governments from power, freeing their people, and teaching them to fight the terrorists lurking in their midst.  It takes a long time, and it cost a lot to do it like that.  America has a long history of investing in peace with it’s blessing of technology and treasure.  Likewise Americans don’t just rely on their elected government to organize all the investments.  Billions of dollars are collected by Americans by way of private organizations that do what they can to make life better for folks at home and abroad.  Many American dedicate their lives to going to strange, often wild lands just so they can help others.  Too many of those folks ultimately give their lives in that quest to bless others.

These blessings are not unnoticed by the all powerful, all knowing God.  He blesses America because America is good.

The occasional corrupted clergy-person may be able to whip his congregations into a frenzy with poetic lies to the contrary.  While it might keep hate alive, and promote the growth of racism in his flock, it won’t change God’s perspective.

God is never fooled.

Oh certainly, America is still less than perfect.  The holocaust on America’s unborn will be a stain on our country forever.  Individual Americans will continue to commit horrible crimes like pedophilia-based crimes, rape, and murder.  Some American politicians will violate the trust given to them by lying, cheating, stealing, and tolerating others that also do.

Yes, tolerating them is bad too.  You can’t always be a uniter, sometimes you have to divide the goats from the sheep.

But even with all this imperfection, there is still enough good in America for God to tarry with his judgment on the world.

Yes, America is imperfect, but it is still more perfect than any other nation.  God is still blessing America for being good.

While past blessing performance is no guarantee of a nation’s future favor with God, they do provide a common-sense guide for future sermons.

It just makes sense.

OIL SURGES TO $500 A BARREL, RIOTS IN CONGRESS

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

OIL SURGES TO $500 A BARREL, RIOTS IN CONGRESS

By The Chuck
15 March 2028

WASHINGTON–Oil prices finally broke the $500 a barrel threshold, closing slightly lower at $499.69 by the end of the day.  Once considered impossible by the petroleum market experts, the breaking of this barrier suggests the price of oil will never stabilize.  After the markets closed, President Jose Villa called an emergency session of Congress.

“We’ve waited long enough!  The increasing demand for oil, as our world has suffered the harshest winters in recorded history over the last decade, has drastically brought about our economic downfall.  Now is the time to act.  It might even be to late too undo the damage.”

President Villa’s critics were rebuked by thousand of protesters, who were able to rush past Capitol Police barricades.  It took almost an hour to clear out the protesters, and another two hours to clear out the effects of the tear gas.  Nevertheless the halls of congress were cleared and the session continued.

Since the implosion of the Democratic Party in 2012 and then the Republican Party in 2016, political debates have often erupted into violence.  Fortunately during Friday’s clash, only three people were killed with less than thirty requiring hospitalization. Speaker of the House Jung Mao required medical attention from on-scene medics due to a head wound from a thrown brick.

Members of the America First Party accused Villa of organizing the violence by using supporters of his Norte American Republic Party.  A fact he flatly denied.

“The people are just upset because the price of oil is destroying their lifestyles.  I’m submitting a bill to congress that we harvest the 10.5 billion barrels of oil in ANWAR.  In addition, the oil shale in Green River Basin contains nearly 2 trillion barrels of oil we can use.  And finally, we need to drill the oil fields  off the coast of Florida.  We have been transferring our national wealth to foreign lands for too long.”  The members of the Norte American Republic Party gave Villa a standing ovation.  However there are many obstacles to overcome before this can become a reality.

Currently China, the largest economic power in the world, operates over a hundred oil platforms in the international waters off the coast of Florida for Cuban companies.  It is not expected that the Chinese government will let any attempts by the US to drill in what has been their oil harvesting region for the last 20 years go without challenge.

President Villa is still a very popular leader and is expected to win his re-election bid later this year.  Some noteworthy accomplishments were going back on the gold standard in 2025, fixing the value of gold at $3500 an ounce and then convincing India to allow a US astronaut to go along on their 2027 voyage to Mars.

Getting an American back into space was a moment of great national pride, especially  after the humiliating eviction from the Moon by Japanese landlords in 2022.  If the energy crisis can be overturned, the US might even restart their decommissioned  space program, as long as they can get a permit from the United Nations space regulators.

Wait!  It’s only 2008, and we still have time.

The United States has many challenges in front of us. If we don’t use things to our advantage, someone else will win the advantage.

It just makes sense.

Oh yeah … 11 March

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Wow, things got really busy around our house.  I lost track of the calendar until Andy threw a brick my way. 

We had a little trouble with one of my grandsons.  He’s doing much better now, but he had a seizure.  It was Malachi’s second time for something like this, so we’re all a bit touchy over it.  Cindy has been watching Asher during the day while Amanda stays in the hospital with Malachi and then doing a shift change with her while Amanda has been working in the evenings.  Emily has helped us out by providing cover between shifts during transportation.  When I get home from the SAIC job, we stay pretty busy, either here or there.  We think Malachi will be  coming out tomorrow … if all goes well. Plenty more pieces to that story, but I’ll spare you the details now. 

My novel won third prize in the ABNA contest.  Sounds pretty good, eh?  Except there were 736 other books that won the same prize.  It’s kind of like 3rd place, but not really.  But its pretty good because there were literally thousands of folks that entered. So for now, I have to decide which path I will take with the book.  My standing in the contest suggests strongly that I need to edit/rewrite it one more time before submitting to a publisher.  So that’s probably what I will do.  The other option is to POD it, and get busy with the second book.  I should probably collect a couple more rejections before I do that … probably. 

I get my first crown tomorrow.  Oh joy.  About 10 or 12 years ago when they finishing rebuilding one of my molars to where it is about 1/2 amalgam, the dentist told me, “The next time they work on that, they won’t get a way with just filling it.” And he was right … it cracked a while ago eating some overly tough beef that I refused to surrender.  Oh well, the price of protein can be high. 

This election year is turning out to be quite a show.   It seems you almost can’t say anything about the Democratic Party’s front runners without being labelled a racist or a sexist.  It would be an interesting twist if McCain decides to ask Condi to be his VP, and she decides to put herself through it. 

Oh, I have a new computer. It’s a Mac Pro … and yes, it is really cool. I did have to learn how to compute all over again.

Sorry, I was late in posting.  This month went fast. 

11 March came & went…

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Must pretty quiet on the home fronts…things are starting to get into a routine around here. 

 Took a trip to Wichita for a meeting about future software versions for the B-52 avionics.  Interesting watching the green suiters, most of which were either my navigator or former students.  There was a guy there who used to be my radar when I first arrived at Wurstmith.  Reed might remember, Berry O’Neal – bombing Berry, the best radar in SAC and he would tell you so (only because he was the #1 radar that year at Bomb Comp!)

The thing that was most interesting, or sad, was the fact of what they were all asking to be included in that software release; from the pilots asking to have fly-to commands on thier GPS-IU tacan so they can step it out and monitor time control – their reason “so they don’t have to ask  the nav over interphone and garbage it up with too much chatter”!  Or the Navs having so much info on the different MFDs that they wouldn’t have to pull out their speed dividers and actually navigate.  They all wanted their bells & whistles, I had to ask the question, whose flying the jet? whose navigating? and whose communicating!  If anything, it was interesting to see who is making the grade and where they are going.

Took my M-1 Garand out shooting this past weekend…had a blast!  I bought it through an Intel troop back at Wurstmith along with some ammo.  The wooden stocks were not very good, so I won a set on eBay last month.  After dis-assembling it (all the way down to the rear sights), I managed to get it back together.   Definitely didn’t have any help from the original army manual!  But I did find a website for gun collectors that had some pretty awesome step along with some good pictures.  My only fear was when I started shooting where I would hit the target or not.  Did great at 50 yards, so-so at 100 and scared the target at 200!  I going to have to work on that.  over all not bad considering it doesn’t have a scope.

There were a couple others out shooting, but they brought along their arsenal; hunting rifles, AK-47s – various versions, and a few others I couldn’t recognize.  Still I had fun shooting again.

Heather and Clayton auditioned for Bossier Community College student film – both have call-backs tomorrow.  Heather’s Diamond Jack’s commercials hit the street this week, not to mention she’s on their billboard downtown.

O’well time to go…I’ve started work on that Fw-190 and it needs some attention now.

 Cheers,

Freebird

Jack of all Trades, Master of None

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

According to the Associated Press, the Air Force will change the way bomber crews organize for their nuclear training missions.  B-52 crews will train exclusively for nuclear missions for 6-months at a time, maybe even 12 months.

This is supposed to be the solution to fix part of the process that resulted in some serious mistakes in the handling of nuclear weapons back in August.  However, the Air Force had better be careful when it comes to executing this strategy.

A reader of the Feb 29 news story could be led into believing that B-52 crews will begin some kind of cycle where they transition between nukes and non-nuclear training missions.  Let’s consider the flow.

One scenario might be, the crews begin a 6-month cycle of nuke training.  At first the crews will be astonished at how little they really know about nukes.  Then about the time the cycle is completed, they will finally be comfortable with the mission.  

But then they have to go back to the C-mission only to discover that they’ve forgotten a lot of things.  Without a doubt, they will have lost their edge.  After a month or so, they will build their proficiency and almost be ready to deploy, which they will.  They’ll live the C-mission once again, while they support the ground operations of the Global War of Attrition on Terrorism.  But eventually the party will end.

They’ll start another N-mission cycle, only to discover they’ve forgotten a lot of things.  After a  few months, they’ll be as good as new.  Rinse and reapply.

In the end, we’ll have a process where the B-52 crews are uncomfortable with their mission about 1/3 of the time.  There has to be a better way.  Here it is:

Assign a B-52 squadron a nuke mission.  Keep the others units conventional.  This way, the Air Force will always have a fully competent, capable, and confident nuclear B-52 force.  Meanwhile the conventional tasked B-52 units will be able to concentrate on the knowledge and skills required to support the AEF missions.

Some folks might argue that the nuke squadron will at a disadvantage when it comes to promotions because they won’t be logging combat hours.   However, all but the most junior B-52 crewmembers have logged plenty of combat sorties since the GWOT began.  Veteran aircrews could be assigned to the nuke squadron.  Their previous combat time should be sufficient to satisfy any combat squares that need checking to demonstrate their leadership potential.  

Following the First Gulf War, six months worth of combat sorties carried many aviators from captain up to colonel and even beyond for some, all without additional combat time.  Besides, if the officers sitting on promotions boards can’t understand the leadership potential of qualified nuclear crews even if they haven’t orbited over Asia for long hours, the Air Force has already promoted the wrong people.  Finally, the purpose of military service isn’t for promotion.  The core values are declared to be integrity first, service before self, and excellence in everything they do.

Just as the decathlon champion does not take the Olympic gold medal in each of the separate events, or as the medical general practitioner does not replace a neurologist, we live in an age of specialists.  We need a cadre of heavy bomber nuclear experts.

It just makes sense.

Hey Guys!

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Man Time goes by and before you know it the month is gone!! I think that since I have gotten older time has certainly passed at a faster rate!

Sherry came to visit for a week an dthat was great! I will be able to see more of her this semester with spring break and summer coming up. I am applying to a school much clser to home.  Right now my commute is 4 hours every day.  This school is virtually around the corner, Wando High school.  The Senior Aerospace Science Instructor is retiring.  I am one of 6 being considered and my first interview is Wednesday 5 Mar.  You never know unless you try! If I don’t get it, it just means something better is in store in the future!

I was pretty amazed about the B-2 crash.  Pretty much right after lift-off it seems. Incredible for a plane that can virtually compensate for most problems all by itself! Hopefully it wasn’t caused by a MX mistake or something like that.  

I have to say I miss flying the old BUFF.  If you get the chance , buy the book “BUFF”.  it is really good and you can identify with everything that happens in it. It is a Vietnam era story, but it applies even during the conflicts we were involved in flying the B-52.  The same issues, bitches and complaints haven’t changed!!

Have a great couple of weeks guys and it is always great to hear from all of you!

Cheers

Johnboy