Thursday, October 26, 2006

It Ain't Mississippi, But It'll Have To Do

For six months out of the year, living on the coast in the Florida panhandle reminds me of the way the Norwegians take their saunas--only in reverse. Instead of lingering in the sauna and taking quick plunges in the snow outside, we hyphen-Floridians (there aren't any native Floridians left in the state--only New York-Floridians, Canada-Floridians, and this Mississippi-Floridian) linger in the cool of our air conditioned homes and vehicles and take quick plunges into the heatumidity (heat and humidity are one word down here) out of doors. But along about the end of October the air begins to cool slightly, the humidity drops below 80%, and it is actually pleasant enough outside to linger and survive.

The past two days have been as Fall-like as it gets around here and I spent each afternoon indulging my favorite hobbies--hunting and fishing. Actually, hunting and fishing is my life and work is my hobby. I once made the mistake of half-jokingly telling my Sergeant Major that hunting and fishing was my life and the Marine Corps was my hobby. He started breathing again and the red left his face when I added, "But I'm passionate about my hobby!" But, I digress...

Yesterday afternoon I sat on a field planted with brown top millet and scanned the skies for fleet-winged grey darting mourning doves. At least I remember that they are fleet-winged grey and darting. I didn't see any to prove the description yesterday. Typical of most of my forays afield, I saw everything but what I was hunting. A mature bald eagle flapped low across the field and at the far end swept up in a climbing turn that reminded me for all the world of one of the fighter planes attending the base on which our field was located. He seemed to know exactly where to catch the thermal that quickly vaulted him hundreds of feet up into a lazy upward spiral. When he drifted up and away so far that I strained to focus on his speck, I dropped my gaze back to ground level and caught site of movement entering the field to my right. Not fifty yards away a flock of hen turkeys and young of the year strutted on to the field and froze, a dozen pair of beady eyes locked on my form. We all remained motionless for a minute or so and then one of the mature hens put-putted and Ben Franklin's choice for our national emblem disappeared so quickly back into the brush that I wondered if I had really seen them at all.

This afternoon, the wind eased up enough to lure Semper Fish and me onto the water and we cruised boat docks and creek channels in the local bayou casting for reds and speckled trout. A pair of dolphins joined us as the sun began to set and I put down my rod to watch them frolic in the oranging light.

Most days I don't think I like Florida--most days, but not today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Second Annual Gregory Men Weekend

If you belong to the "I believe Bambi was a real live animal and not a cartoon" set, you probably want to stop reading this particular blog at this point and go back to daydreaming about a world in which food magically appears on your plate, it's safe to swim with great whites, and grizzly bears let you pet them in the wild. If however, you understand that the natural order of the planet is that man occupies (if somewhat tenuously) an elevated position in the food chain (by virtue of larger brain-size and the ability to make and use tools), then you are probably safe to continue your waste of time reading this inane accumulation of electronic representations of the caffeine-induced thoughts emmanating from the wrinkled recesses of my grey matter. But, all of you squeamish girly-men (and women) out there have been appropriately warned.

This past weekend occasioned the Second Annual Gregory Men Weekend--an event steeped in the rich tradition of men freed from the bondage of shaving and conversing with women, released from the strictures prohibiting freestyle scratching, and given over to the pursuit of game animals occupying lesser positions on the food chain. My boys and I hunted deer every waking daylight minute of a 3-day weekend--interrupted only by the annual and inevitable ritual of watching the Rebels lose to Bama.

On Friday morning I was perched high in the leafy boughs of a poison sumac-enshrouded (another post will be devoted entirely to rash relief) tree overlooking a small field planted with a mixture of grass and clover guaranteed by its vendor to "attract deer by the droves." After two hours of slowly stiffening into a close approximation (complete with camoflague resembling its leaves and branches) of a large knot on the side of said tree, the one and only deer I was to see for the entire weekend walked onto the field, ambled over to a position front and center of my stand, and provided me the opportunity to draw my bow and miss, again. This, too, has become a well-respected tradition of the Annual Gregory Men Weekend.

Friday evening #2 son was perched in the same tree, and, in his words, was "covered up in deer," one of which he shot at and missed (he claims he was trying to make me feel better about my miss). I was sitting elsewhere, covered up in sumac, and no deer.

Saturday evening #1 son was perched in the same tree, and his aim with a bow was appreciably better than mine and #2's. He found us and breathlessly told us of the buck he had hit and in what direction it had gone. We followed a rapidly diminishing blood trail in the dark for a couple of hours, then lost the trail, and resolved to resume the search at first light the next morning.

The next day we picked up the trail again and followed it to the point at which we had lost it the night before. We puzzled over the tiny blood droplet clues that seemed to indicate that the buck had traveled in one direction, but following that azimuth led to nothing. We back-tracked and found a track that indicated the deer had planted and cut left like a reciever on an out pattern and followed in that direction for nearly twenty yards before we thankfully found the next drop of blood.

During this evolution, I lamented my poor eyesight and color-vision deficiency, but marveled at the ability of my sons to see the tiniest speck of blood and press on to the next. We followed the deer's trail for several hundred yards and then found him where he had expired on a wooded hillside. Much hooting, hollering, fist-pumping, high-fiving, knuckle-bumping and mono-syllabic grunting ensued.

#1 now has his "wall-hanger" and I couldn't be prouder.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Race is On

The crazy commie personality cult north of the 38th Parallel popped a nuke underground yesterday. I'm not sure why the world has been hyperventilating about this occurrence--we have believed that the hermit kingdom had several nukes for nearly a decade. The only reason they tested one was to get our reaction--kind of like when my grandson makes sure I'm looking before he walks over and yanks on the leaves of one of Miss Brenda's house plants.

I guess we should be worried that this might have been a seller's demonstration of a product's capability. The cash-strapped Li'l Kim Kult could be hawking its latest war wares to would-be buyers like the jihadis. But, the reality is that having the basic technology to set off an atomic device is not the same as building a deliverable device. Remember how big our first atomic weapons were--it took the largest four-engine bomber in the world at the time (the B-29) to lift and deliver just one. Neither the north Koreans nor the jihadis have an aircraft or missile (yet) that can deliver something the size of a Buick. I'm not saying the kimche kommies couldn't eventually develop the delivery technology and miniaturize a nuke to the point that it would fit, but I don't think they have it now.

Of course, they could put an A-bomb on one of their "fishing boats" and smuggle it out to a buyer or to a target. But, my limited yet insightful experience "manning the wall" on the Korean peninsula tells me that we keep pretty good tabs on stuff getting moved around up north and on boats getting special attention. For a year, I spent every morning in an intel brief on how many of Kim's watercraft ("fishing trawlers", subs, etc...) were in port or at sea. If an nK boat leaves DPRK territorial waters, we follow it.

And, if a nuke were to pop in a western city somewhere, it would be fairly easy to determine (by the radioactive signature left behind) from whom we received the gift. Exchanging gifts is so much more fun when you have much more to give than to get.

But, the miniscule (probably smaller than what we dropped on Japan 61 years ago) nuke pop in north Korea yesterday will act as the starting gun for a race in the Western Pacific Rim. Using Kim's nukes as an excuse, Japan will probably begin building their own. Japan is already debating changing the offensive capability prohibitions in the constitution MacArthur wrote for them when he served as military governor of the defeated Nipponese nation. Having a nuclear capable Japan is probably not a bad thing in the short run--helps keep the Chicoms in check.

The real fear is whether the Nationalist Chinese on Taiwan will use Li'l Kim's weekend fireworks as an excuse to join the nuclear arms race. They would dearly love to have a nuclear deterrent against PRC aggression. The problem is China might be forced to preemptively launch the Taiwan invasion force it has been building for a couple of decades now in order to prevent the Nationalists from joining the nuke club. That event starts a real world war.

Fear not, gentle readers. The end of the world is not in man's hands.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Weird, almost surreal, business trip this week. One of my client's corporate convention is in Las Vegas this week and they invited me out to give a presentation on the progress of our project for them. Twelve hours in airports and airborne busses on Monday and Wednesday for a thirty minute brief on Tuesday afternoon. Seems like a waste of money, doesn't it? Doesn't bother me in the least--the client paid for it.

The client evidently has more money to spend than they let on when we were negotiating our contract earlier this year. After dinner last night, they brought in a special guest for intertainment--Jay Leno. I kid thee not. And, it was the best 1 hour monologue I have ever heard--not one blue word and every punchline was a side-splitter.

There is no doubt that you have landed in Vegas--there are rows of slot machines on every concourse in the airport. Perhaps most surreal is the fact that even literally surrounded at every turn by one-armed bandits, and with tons of time on my hands, I never dropped a coin in a slot the whole time I was in Vegas.

For my next trick, I will spend another year in Panama City, Florida, without ever going to the beach.