Black Friday! I understand it has the name based on businesses using the promotions to get their businesses in the “black.” For those of you without any accounting background, losses are done in Red while profits are done in Black, hence the name Black Friday. Unfortunately to me, the term has other more ominous meanings. Now it means people starting to stampede an electronics store before the Thanksgiving turkey had a chance to cool off, much less settle in. It has gotten crazy. Some start it before Thanksgiving, and there are some, who shall remain nameless, that start pushing Christmas stuff before Halloween! An example of this random madness was on a local news report, and driven home with an interview of two rather “robust” sisters. It seems that this particular family takes their Thanksgiving Day quite seriously, by starting the ritual the night before Thanksgiving itself. What do they do every year to show how thankful they are? Well, they check into a local motel for the holiday. Why? Is it so the family can gather from all over for the holiday? Nope, it is because they will be “right across the street” from the “Super Wally World.” If you are now feeling puzzled, and perhaps going “WTF?!?”, then you will get my point. If not, then keep reading. It seems that these two ladies, and several of their other sisters and mother, leave their husbands at home, presumably munching on some sort of “turkey loaf” from the sandwich aisle, to watch football and fend for themselves. These women’s plan is simple, their spouses will be distracted by the turkey sandwich, beer, and football, while all the “women folk” (their words, not mine) gather to plan out their shopping trip. Actually, calling this a shopping trip is probably an incomplete statement. Instead, the term “operation” is probably more fitting of a description. In the rather lengthy interview, these “ladies” (using this term somewhat loosely), explained that their shopping trip will start at one minute after midnight on “Black Friday,” and will run the whole day and on into the following Saturday. They did allow that they will take a few short breaks, but this was to take “their stuff” back to their rooms, and presumably to eat something. Then again, they do have food now at this “Super Wally World,” so why stop at all? Regardless, as the interview continued, and my jaw sank into a very close proximity with the floor, it hit me. I guess, “to each his own.” Still, from the looks and the overall demeanor of these “ladies,” I don’t know whether to feel joy or sadness for their “husbands.” If it were me? I’d be happy for the sandwich and the quiet, since these “women folk” scared the living crap out of me! (I don’t say this lightly, since I’ve actually been shot at by people who were not overly fond of my continued existence.) Now you are asking, “was there a point to all this about Black Friday?” Yes, and in fact, the answer is simple and rather obvious. Sadly, if you have to ask, then you probably wouldn’t get it........ ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today is Thanksgiving, so clearly is all about giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For me, it includes thanks for the end of my work week, thanks for those who read this blog, and then there are my greatest thanks. . . . Like my loving family that tolerates my idiosyncratic behavior, and who will be gathered to see a turkey get butchered by someone who should never wield a knife. There was a time I could wield such a device with great precision, but those days left with the addition of glasses. Now, I’m having a good day if I can see the turkey, much less carve it. Still, as we muddle through the day with huge quantities of tryptophan coursing through our arteries, with the ubiquitous football game on in the background, take a minute and give some serious thanks for the men and women still out there on the front lines around the world. Yes, I’m talking about “those guys.” You know the ones who are sailing the seven seas, or serving on a DMZ, or in a base camp, or maybe out on patrol in the roughest spots around the world. You know, “those guys” who give up being with their families on a day like this, so that we can spend it with our families. These are the people we should be remembering and for whom we should be especially thankful. Their sacrifices of time away from their loved ones and friends, their deployments around the world on this and every other day, are what makes the difference for the rest of us. For them, I am especially thankful, since without them, where would we be in the big scheme of things. Yes, I’m biased, since I’ve been one of “those guys” who did it. I guess that just means that I know how badly it stinks to be in that position. For them, and their families, the sacrifices are huge. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers every day, but when you are seated around that table today, be sure to take just a moment to remember them for all they have done, or will do, so that you can butcher that bird. (Unless you’re a member of PETA who is carving a “soy based turducken,” in which case, I somehow seriously doubt you’re reading this in the first place!) So, today of all days, take a moment and reflect on those who have made it possible for you and yours to share the day. Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Michael S. Pauley
For those who must travel on this holiday, may your flights depart and arrive on time, may the roads not be covered with ice, and may your relatives appreciate what your did to get there! Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Michael S. Pauley
The down side to a “short” week is that the everyone I know in the entire world is broken into two camps. The first camp are those people who, planning ahead, made the brilliant decision to disappear for the whole week on a variation of a week’s vacation. Those people are far brighter than myself, and to them I can only applaud their better sense. The second camp, unlike the first, have decided that since it is a short week, they are now compelled to cram all five days worth of “crap” into the remaining available days - (be it two, three, or in some cases four). Personally, I would like to remain neutral, but unfortunately, the second camp has drawn me in whether I wanted to be there or not. Now the week is more about trying to find someone not in the first camp to respond and deal with the issues generated by those of us in the second camp. Next year, I’m taking the whole week, since the present state of affairs is a lot like trying to dance to a waltz, while listening to a polka, being played by a heavy metal band on electric ukuleles and bongo drums. In other words, just shoot me now! ~ Michael S. Pauley
This past week, sandwiched between “Nuclear Options” in the Senate and the local mugging news, was an interesting story of a 390,000 lbs., 235 foot oops! You may have read this already, so it is old news. A Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, which is a huge modified 747 built to carry some seriously large cargo, landed at the wrong airport. Unfortunately for these guys, the runway where they landed is only 6,101 feet long, and according to their specifications, this beast needs about another 3,000 feet for a normal takeoff with a full load of fuel. The conversation with Air Traffic Control went like this:
Controller: Giant 4241 heavy, confirm you know which airport you are at?
Pilot: Well, we think we have a pretty good pulse.
Controller: Giant 4241 heavy, roger, you…it appears you are at Jabara.
Pilot: Um, say again?
Controller: Giant 4241 heavy, we saw the plane on the radar and it appears you are at Jabara Airport.
Pilot: Say the name of it again? Controller: Jabara. Controller: McConnell is 9 miles south of you. Pilot: Yes sir, we just landed at the other airport. (This transcript of the transmissions between the cockpit and ATC, is not official, and was obtained from the webstory published by a local news source, at ( http://www.wistv.com) My understanding is that they gave it a shot, without the full load of fuel, and got that monster back in the air from the much smaller runway. Still, how does this happen? Humans make mistakes, and in crappy weather, when you’re trying to spot the airport after breaking out of the clouds towards your “approach minimums,” it happens more than you might think. Fortunately, for all involved, nobody was hurt, unless the pride of the aircrew counts. I’m just thankful that it wasn’t me. Since there was once or twice in my active military flying career when the question of fuel, weather, and altitude made the question a very real one. In fact, I once recall asking myself, not whether I was going to bust minimums, but instead, “How FAR are we going to bust the minimums.” Thankfully for me, we broke out of the clouds in perfect alignment for the airport where we wanted to be, right at the minimum altitude as published. In lay terms, that statement means, “THANK YOU GOD! For getting me here safe and in one piece!” ~ Michael S. Pauley
It is amazing what you’ll have to do when you are trying to dredge a channel. Outside of Savannah, Georgia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the United States Navy, have brought to the surface a portion of a Civil War Ironclad. The CSS Georgia was moored near the old Fort Jackson and she had a substantial hand in guarding the Savannah River channel from the Union Navy. To her credit, no Union Naval forces got past her, and her crew eventually scuttled her and escaped when the Union Forces finally advanced and took Savannah in 1864. Now, with the need to make a deeper and wider channel, the effort is underway to remove the wreck of the CSS Georgia. (They have “bumped” into her before, in the 1960s, but now they have to deal with it, so they can expand the channel to handle the latest and larger ships coming into the Port of Savannah.) From personal experience I can say that I’ve seen portions of the wrecked ship out in the water, while visiting the old Fort Jackson, and her legacy is at least a part of the basis in the first book for the “defense” of the Savannah River area from the nightly advances of the Gomers. Sure, the weapons were simple then, but the concepts were there, and CSS Georgia played her part. As a result, this is an amazing piece of history about the construction and ideas that went into making the CSS Georgia. Naturally, this gets me excited, and I am looking forward to seeing more as they raise what is left to the surface. ~ Michael S. Pauley
I’m not completely sure what it means, but there are changes afoot in the Indian Ocean. This week the Russian Federation finally transferred an Aircraft Carrier from their navy to the Nation of India. I say finally, since the deal dates back to at least 2008, and has been fraught with numerous delays. Now, along with having their own indigenous built Aircraft Carrier, this increases their naval aviation capability to a fleet of two such vessels. The 'why' is simple, since India sits in a strategic location with more than a few threatening neighbors who live nearby, so it makes their acquisition understandable, and their desire to increase their defense capability more than understandable. Still, it is an interesting twist that they sought an older Russian ship for the job, when they have shown that they have the ability to produce their own. This begs the question, “what is the hurry?” Still, it will be interesting to see what aircraft they use, where they get them from, and how they will employ this vessel as they incorporate it into the Indian Navy. I realize I am a defense geek, but for me, this will be very interesting to observe, since the implications are huge. ~ Michael S. Pauley
CAMOUFLAGE AND THE KISS PRINCIPLE
I am an avid reader of the Stars and Stripes. I know this seems like a throwback to another era, but I have found it to be one of the best ways to keep up with trends across all of the services. For example, several things of interest popped up today. In my book, I point out the flaw of having each service design its own camouflage uniform, and now today, I have learned that the Army is scrapping, or at the very least, putting on hold the search to find yet a new “camo” pattern for issue to the troops. This was a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort, which is now a much lower priority for the Army. I hit on this in the book, so I won’t kill it again here, but after spending 2.9 million dollars, you’d think someone would realize that the KISS principle should apply. (KISS, by the way, is Keep It Simple Stupid!) Oddly enough, we got through a World War, Korea, and several other wars like Vietnam, without looking like a computer screen. It amazes me that we just don’t go back to what we know works. Still, how could one justify another “Legion of Merit” if one didn’t suggest that we complicate the obvious. Which is why we are putting sailors in blue camouflage, which I’m sure helps when they fall overboard into a blue ocean. Then there are the separate patterns used for the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and by hunters everywhere. Do you think that maybe this getting just a little out of hand? I am just sayin’! ~ Michael S. Pauley
So far, I’m most impressed with the response of the Department of Defense, and specifically the United States Navy, to the Philippines Typhoon disaster. The man in charge on the ground is Lieutenant General John E. Wissler, USMC, the Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force. They have organized their relief efforts into Task Force 505, with a headquarters near Manila, P.I., and their coordination efforts are huge. The news coming out of the area is encouraging, especially given the monumental task being faced by “all hands” in the region. The main airport at Tacloban has been receiving the C-17 traffic provided by the Air Force, to get heavy equipment and food into the survivors to allow for sustainment during what will be a long recovery.
For those that don’t know, Tacloban is located in the northeastern corner of the Island of Leyte, in the Philippines. It was highly contested in our return to the Philippines during World War II, and only one of several population centers on that Island. For example, Ormoc, located on the west coast of the island, is another such population center, and we have heard very little about their plight. Right now, the effort it will take to get things back to livable in the Philippines will be massive. So, today, all my best wishes go to the People of the Philippines, and specifically the islands of Leyte and Samar, along with General Wissler and his task force. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.