Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public Enemy

The Colonel has found out a great deal about himself recently and would like to thank the kind folks who so civilly and courteously enlightened him.

1.  The Colonel is a terrorist. 

Of all the "ists" he has been called, this one comes as quite a surprise.  Still the Colonel would like to extend his thanks to an unnamed member of the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives for making him aware of this fact.  It must be a fact, because the Vice President of the United States was the person to whom the comment was directed and he not only did not chide the congressman (as he surely would have done, were the Colonel not a terrorist) but he is reported (by another Democrat congressman in the room) to have agreed with the assessment.  The Colonel is a terrorist.

2.  The Colonel has Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters' permission to take a noncircuitous trip to Hell. 

The Colonel was heretofore not aware that Congressional permission was required for such a trip, and thanks the gentlelady's gracious grant of such.  Heck, Hell can't be much worse than Mississippi in August..., or California anytime, for that matter. 

3.  The Colonel is a hostage-taker.

There was a time when he was part of an elite organization whose missions included in-extremis hostage rescue, and the Colonel is chagrined to learn that he must now retrain. 

4.  Jesse Jackson says the Colonel is actually a neo-klansman.

This, too is quite disconcerting.  Heretofore in posts hereon, the Colonel has vociferously denounced the Ku Klux Klan and it's mouthbreathing, sister-chasin' members. 

(Good thing the Colonel doesn't have a sister.) 

5.  The Colonel is really an enemy of the state.

Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson, she of snappy red cowboy hat wearin' fame, says that the real enemy is the Colonel.  The Colonel assumes she means that he is no longer bound by the oath he took nearly four decades ago to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic."  If this is true, it actually comes as quite a relief -- there are so many churlish characters currently undermining our Constitution that the Colonel has been in quite a quandary over where to start to "defend the Constitution against all enemies" and was beginning to feel a bit guilty about his inability to prosecute an adequate defense.

There has been one recent description of the Colonel that he already knew about himself.  President Obama described the Colonel a while back as clinging to his faith and his guns.

He got that right.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Storm Warning

The novel the Colonel has been working on supposes a Category III hurricane hitting the Northeast megalopolis -- overwhelming the Feds -- followed in a couple of weeks by a 7.8 temblor on the New Madrid fault. 

So much for originality...

News of the 5.8 earthquake that rattled the East Coast today is taking up all of the oxygen in the room, but the Colonel's eyes have been glued to a hurricane gathering steam south of the Bahamas.  Hurricane predicted paths five days out are notoriously inaccurate. 

But, this much is clear:

If a Category IV hurricane races up the Eastern Seaboard this week, or any week, there is great potential for a disaster that will make Katrina pale white in comparison.

The following Forward extract from the Colonel's book in progress (working title: "Tallahatchie") provides a concise 200 year history of hurricanes hitting the vicinity of New York City.

"Three years after the earthquake series [New Madrid, 1811/12] that struck the middle Mississippi Valley, a Saffir-Simpson Scale Category 3 hurricane struck New York City, washing over Long Island and dramatically rearranging the barrier island features.  Another even stronger Category 4 storm, the so-called Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane struck the city in 1821, swamping Manhattan under a 13 foot tidal surge.  Seventy-two years later a mere Category 2 hurricane made landfall on Long Island and completely washed away a mile long barrier island and brought waste deep water to the streets of Brooklyn.  One and a half million inhabitants were eyewitnesses.  
In September of that year a hurricane formed off the west coast of Africa and rapidly grew to Category 5 strength.  The monster storm roared straight west across the Atlantic until it was north of the Bahamas and then turned north.  On the afternoon of September the 21st, only a couple of hours short of astronomical high tide, the storm sliced across the middle of Long Island, having weakened to a strong Category 3.  Still, the hurricane carried with it a storm surge in excess of fourteen feet.  Making landfall as it did to the east of Manhattan, the city only experienced 75 mile per hour winds and minor flooding as winds backed up the East River.  The Eastern end of Long Island, on the storm’s stronger right side, took the brunt of the storm.  Barrier islands and inlets were rearranged; roads and structures washed away, and 100 people lost their lives.  The storm barreled north across Long Island Sound and bulls-eyed the city of Westerly, Rhode Island.  The eastern quadrant of the storm pushed full moon and Autumnal Equinox tides straight up Narragansett Bay and poured thirteen feet of water into downtown Providence.  Although on the weaker western side of the hurricane, water piling up in Long Island Sound inundated Connecticut’s coastal cities and caused the most damage from a natural disaster in that entity’s 350 year history.  By the time the storm tracked over Massachusetts and New Hampshire and then dissipated over Ontario, Canada, nearly 800 people were dead.  The storm destroyed or severely damaged 30,000 dwellings, destroyed 25,000 automobiles, and severely disrupted rail and road transportation for weeks.

Today, the behemoth megalopolis that is New York and the major cities to its north and south, and whose built-up areas merge and extend nearly without interruption from Washington, DC to Boston, is home to three times the population that existed in 1938.  The building boom that ensued after the Second World War has increased the density and subsequent vulnerability of the infrastructure in the region by a factor of 10...  "

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finding Miss Brenda

As the two dozen or so of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will recall, the Colonel's vast holdings are situated just north of the cultural center of the universe and home of the Harvard of the South (by reciprocal agreement, Harvard is allowed to call itself the Ole Miss of the North): Oxford, Mississippi.

Oxford is a wonderful place; a delightfully traditional, yet understatedly progressive (in the best, not political, sense of that word) town whose resident population doubles and halves with the convening and adjourning of classes at the school for which the town's founders named itself to attract the state's grant of it's flagship university one and two-thirds centuries ago.  There are times in the year when it is a pure joy to amble through town, cruise it's byways, and frequent its stores and shops.  But, anyone who has lived in this area for more than a year knows that there are times when it is just plain prudent not to get on the road and go to town if you can avoid it.   

Last Friday -- Move-In Day for the population-doubling attendees of Ole Miss' Fall Semester -- was one of those days.

The Colonel's consort, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, evidently didn't get the memo.  And the Colonel, willfully oblivious to specific times and dates -- with the exception of the time for sunrise and sunset and the opening dates of the college football and hunting seasons -- agreed, in his calendar ignorance and preference not to do chores outside in the sauna of August in Mississippi, to accompany his Lady on her bi-weekly shopping foray.

Traffic was gridlocked on every major artery into and out of Oxford. 

Actually, "gridlocked" is an understatement that does not account for the antics of hundreds of coeds in SUVs attempting to rewrite the laws of physics.  Where only a week before, the Colonel had cruised contentedly and with so little competition for lane space that he could dawdle and gawk at the beauty of a southern town in quiet, unhurried serenity, there now existed a clogged river of revving engines and unblinking brake lights.

The Colonel sat patiently at a traffic light through a half dozen cycles, and then turned to his bride, "Do you trust me, Honey?"

"Of course not!  What are going to do with my car?  Don't do something stupid!"

With that ringing endorsement bolstering his confidence, the Colonel gunned the engine, leaned on the horn, and executed a series of tire-squealing turns that so startled two dozen motorists in close proximity that two dozen other drivers not in close proximity heard through their cell phones loud gasps followed by the unmistakable sound of a cell phone hitting the floorboard.

Notwithstanding the distracting harmonic blend of high-pitched tire squeal and high-pitched female screech resonating in his ear drums, the Colonel managed to reorient 90 degrees, dart down a little known sidestreet (little known because it isn't exactly a street), squeeze through an alley, and zig-zag across a parking lot to reach their intended destination.

"You're going to get a ticket!"

"Not likely; ain't no cop gonna try that move!"

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was still complimenting her man's driving skill as they walked into Kroger, "I can't believe you did that!  You never cease to amaze me!"

The Colonel reached for his lady's hand to thank her for her compliment but she brushed his hand away.  Obviously, she didn't feel worthy to even hold his hand.

Inside the store, 27.3% of the female student population of the state's flagship university were cramming the aisles making a run on Lean Cuisine and Diet Mountain Dew.  Miss Brenda sent the Colonel to grab a bunch of bananas while she navigated down the bread aisle.  Upon completion of his mission, the Colonel turned to reacquire target lock on Miss Brenda and was dismayed to discover that she wasn't anywhere in sight.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has long since mastered the art of instantaneous in-store disappearance.  The Colonel can turn his head for just the most minute of moments and Miss Brenda will vanish into thin air in a move not even David Copperfield could replicate.  When that happens, the Colonel has learned that the smartest thing to do is to go hang out in the sporting goods department and let Miss Brenda find him.

Kroger doesn't have a sporting goods department.

They got everything else.  Tools.  School supplies.  Flowers.  Light bulbs.  Kitty litter.    

But, they ain't got a gun, fishin' pole, nor carton of stink bait in the whole place. 

"Don't panic," the Colonel told himself, surveying the sea of petite young ladies into which his bride had disappeared.  "Just look for the prettiest lady in the store."

When the Colonel got tired of that, he decided it was time to go find Miss Brenda.     

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Borrowing is for the Birds

The Colonel's ornithological passion and enlightened desire to provide help for the least among the residents of his rump republic is beginning to reveal unintended consequences.  There is palpable fear here aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere that currying favor with the feathered fauna on the grounds of Eegeebeegee is creating a dependency class for whose provision the resources of the Tallahatchie Free State are increasingly stressed to sustain.

Take, for example, the state bird of the Colonel's virtuous and less and less virtual republic, founded as much hand-on-wallet as tongue-in-cheek: the ruby-throated hummingbird.

From the first of April through the end of October each year, the grand gardens adjacent to the Big House play host to a hummer host whose natural numbers have swollen to unnatural levels due to several large sugar-water feeders that attract veritable buzzing clouds of the diminutive hovering jewels.  So many hummingbirds have habituated to the handout that the Colonel's grocery bill swells seasonally with the addition of several tons [literary license warning light blinking] of sugar with which he daily replenishes the dole. 

With so many handout-habituated hummingbirds hovering hungrily [abnormal alliteration alarm sounding] above the grounds of the capital of the Tallahatchie Free State, their notorious territorially anti-social behavior is manifested exponentially.  Above the ever-present hum of scores of pairs of wings, a shrill chatter of complaint about disrespect rises and falls as the tiny birds crowd in constant contention at the limited leads to the Colonel's largess.  It is a good thing that hummingbirds are of such limited mass and without the means to ignite flames or carry markers, else the Colonel would fear for a feathered flash mob of arson, looting, and vandalism.  

"Cut 'em off!," the callously conservative, yet otherwise kind-hearted Miss Brenda cries.  "They can fend for themselves quite well!" 

"Too cruel!," the Colonel counters.  "Besides, they love me.  See how they flock around me when I refill the feeders?"

"They're eating us out of house and home!," the Colonel's consort complains.

"Don't worry," the Colonel mollifies his mate, "I'll go borrow some sugar from the neighbors."

"They'll eventually stop loaning you sugar," the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda warns.

"Have no fear, my dear, I'll plant some sugar cane."


"Why, in the fenced-in garden, of course.  Can't have the critters eatin' all the cane."

"Where are we going to grow our vegetables thenWe have a lot of mouths to feed, right now."

"C'mon, Miss Brenda, we'll worry about that next year..."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dakota Meyer, Marine

"The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pleasure in presenting the





For service as set forth in the following
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers. Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe. On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers. His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines. Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and, as turret gunner, killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out. Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Affection Reflection

Thirty-five years ago this past weekend, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda made the biggest mistake of her life and the result was the best thing that could have ever happened to the Colonel.

On Sunday, the 31st of July, the Colonel and his lady celebrated the 35th anniversary of their wedding.  

For about twenty years now, the Colonel and Miss Brenda have brought the house down with the following routine:

Innocent Questioner:  "So, how long have you two been married?"

The Colonel:  "Thirty-five years...[2-beat pause for maximum comedic effect]; three of the best years of our lives."

[4-beat pause while IQ and any interested by-standers trade puzzled looks]

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda:  "Those were the years he was deployed."

Gets 'em every time.

In what is sure to become a highly anticipated annual ritual, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda sat with the Colonel for a rare quiet and reflective interlude Sunday afternoon. 

With five adults and two pre-schoolers under the roof,  the two dozen of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon have no idea how rare quiet and reflective interludes are here at the Big House aboard the Colonel's vast and well-defended holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.

The Colonel and his Lady sat for nearly an hour recalling, recounting, and remembering where they were on each of their wedding anniversaries; beginning with the first (and certainly not the last) spent separated--he at Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia and she ensconced in a tiny efficiency apartment on campus at Ole Miss.  Many anniversaries were coincident with duty station moves.  Many others were remembered for being the first with a particular child, or without that child as he or she left the nest.

The Colonel and Miss Brenda chuckled at the memory of the tenth anniversary trip to the Bahamas.  While checking through customs, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda clung tightly to the Colonel's arm and gushed to the customs agent, "It's our tenth anniversary!"  

The agent looked up from the paperwork and dead-panned, "I...don'"

There must be a government gulag somewhere in North Dakota, to which all prospective Customs and TSA agents are sent to strip them of all humanity, feeling, and common sense. 

The Colonel made a point of reminding the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda that for their 20th, he took her to Hawaii...and they got to stay for three years.  She made an even sharper point of reminding the Colonel that she was not a beach person and that Hawaii is a great place to visit, but an even greater place from which to return.  The Colonel thereafter refrained from attempting to convince his Lady that she had been fortunate to have been married to a roguishly handsome soldier of the sea whose postings took her to far-flung exotic locales about which most others only read.  

Truth is, the Colonel has been the fortunate one.