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"Optimism (light) is the power that ultimately defeats fear (darkness)."

Friday, September 30, 2005

Eye on your privacy - "Book Sellers" You Out

That is a bit difficult to read, wouldn't you say? But what would you say if someone told you that one of the nation's largest book printers and sellers was doing just that - to you?

As I was perusing my blogger list, I stumbled on this headline, "McGraw Hill: Publisher to Avoid -- Spammer!". Now that really caught my attention! Especially when the blogger is a fellow plane lover and avid reader. I didn't suspect HogLog would be outing a spammer, so I just had to read the posting. I was shocked!

It seems that there is a whole lot of spammin' goin' on out there, and the spammer is McGraw Hill! Take this little warning from your glideslope system: PULL UP, GLIDESLOPE!
"But today, I found out that the company has been and continues to sell all its contact lists to subscribers. This includes lists they get from booksellers (such as Borders), lists they get from people returning comment cards, and even lists they get from the editorial side of the house."
Huh? The "continues to sell" was the big miscalculation of altitude. I didn't know it was that bad. Then, even after a slight correction, warning bells again: PULL UP, GLIDESLOPE!
"What's worse, McGraw-Hill has its spamming done by an outside Spam house, EDITH ROMAN HOLDINGS, which probably commingles the McGraw-Hill addresses with those it uses to push Herbal V1AggRA and GENUINE FAKE ROLEX. (There appears to be a connection to some kind of spam gang based in Egypt, as well)."
SHEESH!!! Buying a book is no longer safe anymore. What the heck has happened?

What's even more HILARIOUS is that McGraw Hill is selling an anti-spam toolkit book!

Thanks for the warning, !

Stay Tuned to ...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

OK, I can honestly say, JP Made Me Do It!!!!

There is no way that I would be doing this for any sort of return. I do not, and will not, take anything in return for doing this blog entry to help JP over at . He is working on building enough internet momentum to provide superb traction for - I want to do my part. If you are reading this, please do your part as well by writing a small blog item and then direct a "" to and .

Now you ask, what am I going to do with my "Thank You" from if I win (picture Tiara atop my camo-covered-helmet)? I am donating the made if I win to another soldier, their direct family, or one of their close friends. I want my free offer to go to one of the people in his . It is my way of giving back to those that have served or are serving now. Why not let that person that was with JP give a little something of their sacrifice to someone they love?

This isn't huge, just something I thought might bring a smile to someone out there. Someone that would enjoy a snapshot of their son or daughter, nephew or niece, cousin, uncle or aunt, dad or mom, grampa or gramma (or gran and grandad, whichever term you hold dear!).

Yes, I served, and so did JP. I am not serving now. There are many fine men and women that are serving now to keep me, my wife, my two daughters, and my family safe.

So, you slackers! Sheesh, do these slow moving need a SWIFT kick once in a great while. OK, maybe more than a great while, it feels like every twenty dang minutes!

(I feel like saying in /'s voice, "My Precious" right about now - was in my head there for a moment, sorry)

Stay Tuned to ...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Military.com: Officials Warn of Donation Scams

!!! LinkedInUSAF WARNING !!!

posted a warning today about scammers and donations for relief. In short, they are warning everyone to ensure that the organization is legitimate. An article sent to me as an e-mail update dated today from stated the following:
"The fraudulent activities are not restricted to web pages. E-mail solicitations for donations are also prevalent. There are several avenues people can take to ensure any donation they want to make goes toward the charity of their choice. One is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency released a list of registered, legitimate charitable organizations ... which includes contact information for each organization..."

"Another avenue available to people is the USA Freedom Corps, a coordinating council housed at the White House ... through its website at www.usafreedomcorps.gov. Also, Air Force Aid Society officials announced the establishment of a hurricane relief fund where the organization can track contributions being made specifically for the purpose of helping Airmen affected by the hurricane. People can find information about this program through the AFAS Website. People who receive suspicious e-mails or who are directed to suspicious Websites should report the activity to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/sentinel or call them at (877) 382-4357."
So, help your neighbor and airman, just keep a wary eye out for !

Stay Tuned to ...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Postcards from the edge of LinkedInUSAF

Word came in from the Pentagon and I cannot use the "Hap Arnold Wings" in my image for this group. It's too bad, 'cause I think the flow between all the objects seemed just right. And, the colors were too dang cool, ya know?!

Oh well, I have built another one. This time, ya can't play celebrity smack-down on this one. I mixed up a couple of things, plus a photo I found a billion years ago from a friend and whacked these images into one badge for the group. I hope everyone that is a member likes the new badge! Leave a comment so I can close this out later this week.

On another note, a few more people have joined the Yahoo Group. Welcome! We are growing slowly, but for ex-USAF folks to join I believe that there may be a misunderstanding. I figured I'd jot down what the group is all about to clear things up.

The LinkedInUSAF Yahoo Group is:
  1. For retired, separated, and active duty USAF personnel. ONLY. This blog is open to anyone, so have fun!!!
  2. There are no dues or duties - joining the group is free!
  3. You can turn messages to either digest or off to keep the chatter down.
  4. Log in whenever you want to check out the information we have available.
  5. Put your connection information up if you want folks to contact you.
  6. Add your LinkedIn profile information so that others may connect with you too!

As for this blog, it is open to everyone, no restrictions, so have fun and add comments as you go.

Stay Tuned to ...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

National Pride, Gimbal Lock, and Dead Reckoning

I was MilBlogging tonight, click, click, and then I stopped. Right in front of me were words that just screamed out at me: Where's Your Pride? Well, of course I had to read this, because, well, Air Force Wife challenged me. Here's the snippet that did the old smack down and made me really think:
I have posted before about my irritation in the response of many people now to the National Anthem. Although usually the majority of people around me stop - there are a few who don't, and no one ever calls them on it. Not that we really CAN say anything about it - it's an unenforceable rule, especially when it comes to dependents. But have we as a nation sunk so low that even many people who have chosen to serve in the Armed Forces blow off the symbol of what they are serving?
Yikes, that really says a ton in a very short paragraph. I was locked in, and kept going. What came next stopped my thinking and hit my heart:
And let's be honest, we are not honoring and respecting George Bush when the National Anthem plays - we are honoring and respecting the country which we love enough to die for, to give up our most beloved for, if necessary. Who is or isn't the president should not be a factor whether we are respectful or not. And if it is, I think we can easily be classified as a "fair weather patriot".
Now, hold on to your hat, 'cause this is the clincher (for me):
It takes pride to move forward. Pride in ourselves and what we can achieve. Pride in the system that allows us the flexibility to become what we can and move forward. The National Anthem is but a symbol, but the ability to recognize and integrate symbolism (and opposable thumbs) is what separates us from the rest of Kingdom Animalia and makes us what we are. Our life is full of symbols - crosses, crescents, stars of David, flags, company logos, even the dollar is a merely a representation of the capital our government professes to hold in one way or another (simplistically speaking, of course).
After reading her post, all the way through, all that came to mind was, :great:

I really cannot find the correct emphasis to place on that word: great. I could use an exclamation point, but it seems like I'm overdoing it. When I typed it, the word great, I sighed inside - because some have lost the code, the camaraderie, the commitment, the love, the sacrifice, the respect, and the honor. She is asking where has it gone, and I can honestly say I too have seen the same reaction to Revelry or Taps or the National Anthem - when I was active duty from '81-'87.

It is still very hard to put my finger on it. These questions hit me then, and still do today after reading her post:

  • Was it that they are people of varying ages?
  • Maybe they are civilians or a dependents of a service member?
  • Was it who was the President at the time?
  • Am I on an Army, Navy, or Air Force base?
  • Are these people just flat out bored with their lives?
When it was "time" I stopped on the sidewalk or patch of grass, I nearly got hit by cars when I'd pull my car over, I'd find people bumping into me annoyed that I stopped, like, "What the heck?!" Was my stopping that much of a bother - "do I offend?" (as Ducky said in Pretty in Pink)

But, those "infractions" aren't all just for the flag or our country. Often times I'd see other enlisted guys go out of their way to walk a decidedly circuitous route so that they wouldn't have to salute an officer.

I once went "sorta" out of my way _to_ salute an officer. I didn't recognize him right off as I was fumbling in my wallet at the same time, walking out of the BX on Rhein Main AFB. I refused to use the "wallet trick" to keep from saluting an officer. I worked on the flightline. The "warriors" of the US Air Force are in the air, we stay on the ground. Respect? You Bet! I looked up, knowing I still had enough time to be respectful, and I slowed and snapped - he looked at me dead square in the eyes and said, "No need to salute, airman, you keep me safe!"

What on earth? I was blank. I followed him back into the BX. I needed to know who the heck said that, and why. Turns out he was a navigator, a very good one, and he knew that without us, all he'd have is plain old "dead reckoning" (we Nav Systems guys and Navs know that is an understatement, 'cause you can reckon all ya want, but, you're dead lost!). He flew into West Berlin, via the corridor, often. Without Nav Systems, it is a very tense couple of hours to say the least! Especially during the Cold War - Migs would still take out a C-130 lumbering along. Well, OK, some of those Hercs have some ... stuff ... to help ... 'nuf said.

Today, many years later, in my daughters school yard, they say the Pledge before class (oh yeah, in CALIFORNIA no less!), and it is K-8. There are always parents standing around during the Pledge, and I am still RAM-ROD-STRAIGHT, left hand gripping my seam, no daylight between my cuffs. Those parents may look and they may stare, but if one of those bone-heads says, "Play ball", I'll cuff 'em. Other than the fact that they have the wrong song, and venue, they have lost what's important - respect and honor.

Maybe that is where it has gone? Has the media and those in Hollywood inflicted a "mashed potato" culture on us all, thereby bringing the flag lower and lower ... ??? You know what happens if Old Glory touches the ground ... 'nuf said.

There are those of us who still hold Old Glory high. We still salute on Flag Day, 4th of July Parades downtown, or on base, in the direction of the base flag pole. And, yes, I made sure I knew where the nearest pole was when the time came.

Thank you for the "cross check" I received tonight, Mam. No more "gimbal lock" here, I know my way again.

Stay Tuned to ...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remember? Of course ...

It's 9-11 today ... I suspect just about every military blog (MiliBlogs Ring) is being updated today. This particular MilBlog is wrestling with a multitude of emotions, reactions, and observations. There are quite a few things that have happened this weekend - other than my dropping a 60lb door on my foot! owwww-ch

What would I do if it were me? I'd go. No question.

Would I be scared? OK, who wouldn't be? Anyone that goes right into action is always scared. But, and this is huge, each soldier, sailor, and airman looks within, and without, and sees everything is bigger than ones own self. I can relate to a scene I saw last night on "Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers". Stay with me folks, it is short (yeah, right you say, my last entries weren't short!)
At "Helm's Deep" the last of a single people are backed into a corner. All the women and children are even farther in, deep within the caves behind the fortress. Everyone being protected is scared, and depending on those brave men above, fighting a horde that engulf them by thousands and thousands (600 men, old men, and young boys against 10,000 of the enemy). As I watched these brave souls fight to save those that they love, as well as those they do not even know, it struck me - those frightened people are the faces we see on "the line".
We defend the unseen. No matter your religion, race, color, or party, we take the lead before the evil horde destroys what we all hold so dear: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!.

Is there honor in what we do, no matter what role we play? I say yes.

There are often folks that support a mission we never see. There are very few moments where the Special Forces get credit bestowed upon them in public - often these teams get no mention at all. In fact, these days they are only mentioned when it is related to their losses. When the chips are down, they enter where no one else ever would to extract and collect, process, forward, and maintain mission critical information, support, and coverage. One such group which I have had a tiny bit of interaction during active duty is the 7th SOS. I was blessed with the opportunity to support this team, in a very small way, when I was stationed at Rhein Main AFB, Germany. The 435th Avionics, Radio, Radar, and Instruments teams were often asked to supply the 7th SOS with equipment, time, and logistics when needed.

Every time they called, it was an honor to help.

This team rarely is spoken of except within the confines of a mission. 9 brave souls lost their lives in a training mission in 2005. Have you heard, or do you remember the news sound bite? I suspect not. Do you subscribe to Air Force Magazine (as an Air Force Assoc Member, you get your copy, as I do) or read articles? If not, please say a prayer when you get a chance - or, better yet, contact them to make a donation to the families that are left behind. You can contact me at my e-mail (LinkedInUSAF@gmail.com) or I am sure that their website administrator can handle your support (go to 7thsos.com).

Are there folks that do extraordinary things of which no one is aware? Every single day.

Why is it that there are very few of us out there, willing to sacrifice for folks that spend so much time blaming and not enough dealing and executing? 'Cause they haven't grown up and they seem to actually look out for only themselves - even though you see what the news wants you to see. In fact, this lack of sacrifice is often an affliction of purview - their's is too short to be effective, or they have altered their purview to suit their own selfish desires.

Can you support the troops and not support the mission? The mission is the troops, so you figure it out. I already have, and I'd sign up to help. To support the troops is to be a troop.

Walk The Talk.

Talk to me if you have walked it, my friend. Don't tell me how to think either - especially if you have never walked where we have, when we have sacrificed for all of you. And right now you may be thinking, "What an arrogant son of a #&*@%*!"

And, what do you think we are thinking, yet we never ever say? We won't say it, because we respect you, your opinion, and your convictions. In fact, WE DEFEND THEM, DAMMIT! True honor is to hold ones tongue, never protest, never shame those that have fallen, never leave anyone behind, respect the "chain of command", and always support and pray for those that have gone before and after me.

What we think isn't harsh at all, or derogatory - just simply, saddens me that you cannot understand us one bit.

Stay Tuned to ...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

USAF and RAF Collide, 40 Years Apart

An out of the ordinary day today when it comes to recounting things that happened to me during my time in the Air Force. I was chatting with a few co-workers about some music that was playing in the background from her stereo - "Rockin' Into the Night" by 38 Special. It just jumped into my head why this song is so much a part of me.

... some time ago ...

In USAFE there is a NATO exercise that happens every year called Flintlock. It is a treat if you get the OK to "play nicely with others". I think, for the most part, Flintlock was in England the whole time I was stationed at Rhein Main AFB in Frankfurt, Germany.

The year that I got my chance was in 1984. It wasn't too cold, and it is NEVER too hot there! But this one evening, getting oh so bored playing spades, or hearts, or were we playing poker? Never mind, we were dead-to-rights BORED. It was a slow day for flights. A few were on some short sorties, and I volunteered to help on recovery. Any chance that I could get to stand by an active aircraft, on the tarmac, my butt was out there!

I teamed up with the "Follow Me" driver. He needed to pick up a power unit (MD80) and a fire bottle. The whole time we drove around, we had his boom-box (remember the good old days?!) on the seat and 38 Special, BOC, and the Scorpions were CRANKED. Needless to say, when the Italians came cruising by, we got an odd sort of look in our direction.

Well, our Hercs came home, he "sticked" 'em in to their spots, and we went back to the hangar.

... the next day ...

Now, it's rare to have history collide between two people that live a few cities, states, or provinces apart. In the military this can happen a little more often than most, 'cause in the end there are only so many bases and so many mission profiles! The odds really begin to become astronomical when the collision is over generations, and two countries military air forces. The most amazing collision came for my Dad and I when I was on this particular TDY known as Flintlock '84.

Now, when TDY, and there is a specific mission profile to be followed, and this profile requires that there be a tad bit of secrecy, you keep your trap shut. It so happens that on this Flintlock mission, we were to be as secretive as possible. There were quite a few things going on around the world, it was still the Cold War, and on an open line you never mix two pieces of information that can link one element of the mission to another - like your location and the actual mission name (code name or otherwise, not wise!).

... the next day ...

I was up kinda early because I new I'd have a little time to walk around, take some pictures of the base, and generally snoop around this old time RAF base (no flightline shots, dang!). In fact, the next day a few of us were going to take our other half day off and go on a short trip. Something tickled my mind when I was eating breakfast - Dad was stationed over here in WWII as an RAF Radar/Radio guy. My Dad was born in Manchester, England. He served in the RAF, and was stationed somewhere in southern England - where, I had no clue. I do know that I was pretty close to sorta south, so, maybe it is only an hour drive and I could just take a picture of the gate of the base where he was stationed.

Dang, I'll call home. There is a phone box outside the Enlisted Club/Pub here. I'll just hop right on down there and call home. Sweet! Dad can give me some directions and I'll tell the guys we should make a small detour so I can do a little "recon" for Dad!

It'd be a great day that day! Time to explore!

I walked around the base a little and snapped some photos. It was soon lunch time so I wandered back across base and went to the chow hall. The US Army was there en masse since this was an Airborne Mission - and we flew them into the drop zones. The computer nav systems that I support light the "green" and "red" lights over the jump doors. The Army serves a TON of food, I can tell you. One bummer is that since they carry 40lb packs, weapons, and chutes, they need some heavy foods - that's bad for us "toolbox pilots"! Damn lucky that this TDY was short - all the beer, Army food, and some slow shifts I was gonna weigh a mite more than when I arrived!

After lunch, I wandered down to the phone box and called my Mom and Dad. When I call home, no matter who answers, someone else is always quick to pick up! Mom answered first and called my Dad to pick up. I told them why I hadn't called at the regular time on the weekend (they worried, I knew that, 'cause they love me).
Side note: remember, this was during the Cold War (might I remind you) and there were folks in Germany that hated us and routinely placed bombs under USAFE forces vehicles, outside bases on railroad tracks, ya know, jerks! That is terrorism too, ya know. Hmmm, people have hated us for a long time. Naw, that's right, everyone in the world just wants to give the USA one great big "group hug"!
We talked a little about my last week. And then I asked the million dollar question, "Dad, you were stationed in the southern part of England in the RAF, right?" He answers, yes (duh, that's right Steve, state the obvious first). My next words are for all the marbles, "Dad, I'm at a base right now in England, kinda near Norwich outside a town called Kings Lynn. Do you know a base called RAF Sculthorpe [i mispronounced it as skull-thorp]. I want to see if you can give me directions on how to get to the RAF base where you were stationed, since I am here."

The line was very silent.

I started to think, DANG!, I didn't use enough money for this call, or there is some sort of delay going "across the pond" as Dad likes to call it. But, then I hear him take a slow breath and my Mom says, "Stan?"

[i can only laugh now, as i always do when i remember this, 'cause i know Dad is dumbfounded right now on the other end - i'm clueless - and he is very speechless, which is very uncharacteristic!]

My Dad says the real money question, "Is it spelled S-C-U-L-T-H-O-R-P-E ?"

I scream out, "Yeah! That's it!"

He says, "OK, it's pronounced [shull-thorp], and I can give you directions."

Whew, cool, this will be sooooo cool! I can get in the car with some friends, they'll think this is pretty cool, and then we can have a pint and talk about the cool day trip we took!

I then say, "Great, I have a pen and some paper, how far away is this?"

He says, after a huge pause, "After you hang up, face the pub, turn to your left, walk down the street a bit and then turn right. Now, you'll walk for a little bit and turn right, then left, look up, and those big ugly buildings are my barracks."

Silence ... on my end of the line now ... Doh!

"NO WAY! I AM ON THE BASE!?!?!?!?!"

We all start laughing!

I get a "long distance hug" from Mom and Dad on the phone. I get more information. I tell him the houses we are staying in. He tells me to go into town because Norwich [pronounced nor-itch, folks] is pretty this time of year. The mustard fields are bright green and yellow - they just seem to go on forever. I can barely remember much as we run all over that town!

Well, except the fact that I'm seeing things my Dad did almost 40 years before me during World War II. He was in the Air Force (the Royal Air Force). He defended his country. Bombers, fighters, escorts, transports, all sorts were in and out of this small, quaint part of England. Later, he traveled thousands of miles, changed his citizenship to become a US Citizen, an American (we aren't hyphenated, my friends, uh-uh, he wells up every time he hears the Star Spangled Banner, says the Pledge of Allegiance, or hears The US Air Force song because of my service in the USAF), he's changed careers and worked for United Airlines, met my Mom, had all of us - you know, the usual.

... back to today ...

As I started out saying, collisions across generations, countries, and air forces is amazing. Wouldn't you say?

Stay Tuned to ...

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