Nov 12 2014

But I thought we lost the war during Obama’s West Point speech?

LTG Daniel Bolger (Citadel Class of 1978) has a very good book out chronicling the truth that a whole lot of people don't want to admit. For them, the wars were lost when the President of the United States decided to :1) not hang US troops out to dry with a worthless Iraqi government when they refused to negotiate on a SOFA treaty and 2) the day Obama gave a speech at West Point that acknowledged what many Americans already knew-that there was a limit to how much we could do for people who over the last 8 years had proven themselves completely worthless and unworthy of the sacrifices being made  on their behalf. And that a lot of Americans were sick of it.

Fortunately for us, there are some military professionals, who actually fought in the war, who know better:

As a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, I lost 80 soldiers. Despite their sacrifices, and those of thousands more, all we have to show for it are two failed wars. This fact eats at me every day, and Veterans Day is tougher than most.

As veterans, we tell ourselves it was all worth it. The grim butchery of war hovers out of sight and out of mind, an unwelcome guest at the dignified ceremonies. Instead, we talk of devotion to duty and noble sacrifice. We salute the soldiers at Omaha Beach, the sailors at Leyte Gulf, the airmen in the skies over Berlin and the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and we’re not wrong to do so. The military thrives on tales of valor. In our volunteer armed forces, such stirring examples keep bringing young men and women through the recruiters’ door. As we used to say in the First Cavalry Division, they want to “live the legend.” In the military, we love our legends.

Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story.  (Emphasis mine-SS)



Clearly this will get many "surgeaholics" riled up. Devotees of the theory of ever continuing warfare, and of never blaming the people of Iraq or Afghanistan themselves for the mistakes they made,  just does not fit the narrative. Troublesome facts are not the things they wish to hear:

We did not understand the enemy, a guerrilla network embedded in a quarrelsome, suspicious civilian population. We didn’t understand our own forces, which are built for rapid, decisive conventional operations, not lingering, ill-defined counterinsurgencies. We’re made for Desert Storm, not Vietnam. As a general, I got it wrong. Like my peers, I argued to stay the course, to persist and persist, to “clear/hold/build” even as the “hold” stage stretched for months, and then years, with decades beckoning. We backed ourselves season by season into a long-term counterinsurgency in Iraq, then compounded it by doing likewise in Afghanistan. The American people had never signed up for that. What went wrong in Iraq and in Afghanistan isn’t the stuff of legend. It won’t bring people into the recruiting office, or make for good speeches on Veterans Day. Reserve those honors for the brave men and women who bear the burdens of combat. That said, those who served deserve an accounting from the generals. What happened? How? And, especially, why? It has to be a public assessment, nonpartisan and not left to the military. (We tend to grade ourselves on the curve.) Something along the lines of the 9/11 Commission is in order. We owe that to our veterans and our fellow citizens

Reviews for Bolger's book, Why We Lost, are mixed-I agree with his conclusion- while I agree also with those who think he doesn't place enough strategic blame with our top level civilian leadership. Furthermore, its clear he thinks we had to invade-and that is a conclusion that is not borne out by history. The invasion of Iraq is the biggest Foreign Policy mistake in the last 30 years. Nonetheless he gives an objective and necessary telling of how we far exceeded our original needs and objectives after 9-11 and plunged into a global rat hole. That alone makes it worth the read.


One response so far

Nov 09 2014

Time to detox

Published by under The Citadel

Well the reunion has come to an end. A good group of guys made it from my company-and from the Corps in general. On Thursday there was a cigar and scotch social at the Yacht club that was marvelous. I was supposed to play golf on Friday-but events took a different path. Here is why:


On the morning after I got here-I went for a run. Was cruising along OK, coming down Calhoun street with the intention of hanging a right at Marion Square and heading down to the Battery. When all of a sudden, I tripped and went skidding across the concrete. My left and right hands were bleeding, my chest was scarred up and my elbows had a couple of nasty scars too. Thought I would just shake it off and keep going. After about 4 blocks-realized my hand hurt like hell. Fearing I had broken something, and knowing I had gone past an ER, I reversed course and headed back to the ER. I did not break anything-but the left hand was sprained. The next morning I had a very nasty bruise to show off.

So much for golf.

It worked out well though. Met lots of great friends, saw the place that I started in, and we told the same old lies to each other. It is always amazing to me how I can meet these guys after five years-and pick up as if we had seen each other yesterday. 

Pictures to follow.

6 responses so far

Nov 04 2014

The pilgrimage

Greetings from Frankfurt airport! I am at the beginning of my every 5 year pilgrimage, wherein I return to the sacred soil in Charleston South Carolina. There to contemplate the journey that life took me on since departing Lesesne Gate for the last time as a cadet. To savor the joys of seeing friends again and to feel the sting of all the dreams you had that were later denied you. In their faces, those dreams appear and taunt you. It is at one and the same time a joyous few days and among the most bittersweet of my existence.

Reunions are a time of mixed emotions for me. For one thing, over time, my ardor for my alma mater has faded what it once was. I can no longer answer "yes" to the question, would I have done it again, knowing what I know now, if could go back and do it again? Probably, but then again, possibly not. In the long view of hindsight, and the path that I know,  a different background life might have taken me to. Then again, one can say that about pretty much any experience in life, and my time at the Citadel prepared me well for the travails and joys that followed me through the curving path that has brought me to this airport lounge today.

I have a resolve to remain more quiet than outspoken this reunion, how well I stick to it, is something that remains to be seen. For one thing, it will be hard enough seeing some of the classmates, who by now are clearly what society terms " successful". 8 of my classmates became generals, (none of us became Admirals, although we do have one or two SES's, folks who connived that after leaving active duty), many who run their own companies, a successful newscaster on a major broadcast network and even two successful authors. And then there is me. Well traveled to be sure, literate and well informed beyond compare, but hardly what any would call, "successful" whatever the f*ck that means.

It is also through the lens of hindsight, that I have come to realize that many of the "facts" I was taught, but not the ideals, were just plain wrong when examined in the real world. My view of these has changed dramatically and I count for loss many of the things I used to believe were bedrock truth. I like to think it is the ideals that were instilled by the institution in me, but even that too may be a flawed interpretation of the situation. I just know its been a long journey and I am thankful I am where I am now, politically, philosophically, and mentally. To think were I could have been on my trajectory out of that gate makes me shudder.

So it seems, to be the (sort of) quiet observer is the way to go through the weekend. Wishing all well, remembering well those who will never make another reunion and giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and I would be well to remember that.

If you are in the whining states of America today, be sure to vote. It is your right, hard earned, even if some of you will squander it on fools.

10 years ago this week, I was again traveling to a reunion-having turned in miles to fly first class on ANA, NRT to IAD. First Class on ANA does not suck, but it was hardly the flat bed seat world we see now. Still it got me to DC all right where I had decided to break my journey thinking it would be cool to see an election from the standpoint of being in the nation's capital. It was made all the more edgy in my humble opinion because it was one of the first times I had voted against the GOP candidate, this vote being driven by my then and still current revulsion at the disaster that man had unleashed with his egregiously stupid invasion of Iraq. I ended the evening in a bar in Alexandria, awaiting them to call the results of Ohio-which would determine the election. Ohio goes Democratic, Kerry wins. If it goes Republican, the grey hair wins and we get four more years of war.

Well, you all know how that turned out, and the present gloomy world rose up to plague us all. The crowd in the bar was pretty evenly split so it was some interesting people watching, but the tea party had not been developed yet and the GOP had not yet descended into its current insanity, so the conversation over beer was reasonably civil.

I expect I will have reason to drink heavily tonight because the wrong side will win-but at least I will do it in my favorite world. That of the traveling man. Have a great day….AND VOTE!


3 responses so far

Nov 03 2014

Again it comes down to how many bother to show up

Published by under Hypocrites,Politics

Tomorrow is election day in the United States. Since I will be on my 5 year pilgrimage to the sacred soil in Charleston, I have already submitted my ballot via absentee. Fat lot of good it will do me, since my Senator is running unopposed ( thank you Citizens United and the inability of the state to have a two party system anymore). My worthless excuse for a Congressman is going to win in a walk thanks to his continuous sucking up to the demented folks in the tea party and and the governor has ensured that only he will be the guy to vote for in the election. This is what passes for constitutional governance in parts of the South today.  ( Meanwhile in New York, the GOP incumbent is under indictment, but is expected to win anyway).

Regardless,  be sure to vote. If nothing else it gives you a right to bitch.

By all odds the GOP will take control of the Senate which means the prediction I made way back in April of this year will start coming true. it ought to be a fun time to be one of the 10-15% of American citizenry that actually is sane and understands that the world we live in is changing. Sadly most of us understood too that the country was killing itself slowly a long time ago and began exploring other options.

But, for those of you stuck in the whining states of America next year ( as I may in fact be as well-at least for a couple of years) here is preview of the fun and games ahead:

In Kansas recently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who’s in a tough race for reelection, made a statement that left me puzzled. “A vote for me is a vote to change the Senate back to a Republican majority, and we’ll get things done,” he said. “And it means a stop to the Obama agenda.”

Wait a minute, I thought. Which is it—ending the status quo of Washington gridlock? Or ratcheting up the gridlock by obstructing President Obama? You can't "get things done" in Washington without the president's signature, and no matter what happens in this year's elections, he's not going anywhere for another two years.

Yet these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I’ve heard them from candidate after candidate. And the paradox behind them gets to the question political watchers are increasingly pondering: If, as seems likely, Republicans take the Senate, what then? Will the GOP see its takeover as a mandate for ever more extreme partisanship? Or will the party suddenly turn conciliatory, ushering in a new age of progress? A new Republican Senate majority will put the party at a crossroads as it tries to reconcile these two competing promises.



I'm a total pessimist-I expect a war of vetoes and override battles to ensue and nothing will get done in 2015. I fully expect to be victimized by another government shut down, and my stocks to take a beating when we default on bond obligations.  There are those who think things may be different, I think they are fools:

But with control of both houses of Congress, Republicans would be on the hook for Congress’s actions. They alone would get the blame if Congress remained dysfunctional—and they alone could claim credit if Congress actually passed bills with popular support. If Republicans passed such moderate, constructive legislation, Obama would be hard pressed to simply veto everything they put on his desk.

And of course we can never underestimate the desire to go "legacy shopping" on the part of Obama. " What scares me also is what Obama will agree to".

At least in the abstract, however, there are a number of bills a Republican majority could pass that Obama would agree to sign. Obama—the real Obama, not the left-wing warrior of conservative fever dreams—loves the idea of bipartisanship and has been frustrated by a GOP he sees as unwilling to come to the table. He has agreed in principle, in the past, to ideas like the grand bargain, which his base loathes. Liberals also suspect Obama is willing to allow the Keystone pipeline, a decision on which he has delayed in the face of intense pressure from environmentalists. Most liberals contemplating a GOP Senate majority have focused their preemptive ire on the image of a vengeful McConnell threatening more brinksmanship and shutdowns. But perhaps it’s the dealmaking McConnell they should fear more.

Some, in fact, are already worried about this. I recently asked a top Democratic strategist why he worried about a Republican Senate takeover when, after all, McConnell would still need Democratic votes to pass legislation and Obama could still block bills with a veto. “What scares me the most,” he said, “is what Obama will agree to."

In the meantime, your country will fall further and further behind in global competition that the rising multi-polar world will create.

This is your democracy America, the one your own stupidity created.

3 responses so far

Oct 29 2014

Going too far……..

The S.O. and I had a marvelous time in Austria-and for what it is worth, October is a great time to visit. The mountains are still glorious, there is a little early snow, but for us at least-the weather was nice and we did a lot of hiking. A good extra long weekend for all. Too bad I had to come back and read about this.

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea has banned servicemembers from buying drinks for workers in “juicy bars,” which have long been suspected of involvement in prostitution and human trafficking.

While the military has maintained a zero-tolerance policy toward prostitution, buying drinks in exchange for female company was not strictly prohibited by USFK. That changed with a new policy letter released to troops on Oct. 15.

“Paying for companionship directly supports human trafficking and is a precursor to prostitution,” USFK commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti wrote in announcing the change. “This practice encourages the objectification of women, reinforces sexist attitudes, and is demeaning to all human beings.”

Oh really? What part of, "this is beyond your authority you pompous, moralistic, hypocritical, piece of shit", do you not seem to understand?

On the plus side, SATO travel is expected to be experiencing a record uptick in travel bookings to Thailand and the Philippines, while at the same time, the Army is training more SAVI counselors to deal with expected upsurge in sexual harassment, fraternization and fighting on base that is expected to ensue.

But hey, it makes the feminists happy, so what else really matters?


So, paying a girl for companionship is a sin, eh? I take it that applies also to stateside bars where you buy girls drinks in the hopes of taking her home later.  So, how exactly are they going to enforce this? If a GI is drinking with a girl in the bar are there going to be people looking over his shoulder to see how much he paid and how much change he gets back? Some GIs run a tab on their credit card. Will there be someone inspecting his receipt when he pays up?

I will reiterate a key point I have made time and time again over the years. The law of unintended consequences can be brutal. And this rule will be full of unintended consequences. I expect the bar owners will come up with some alternative business practices, they always do-like buying your drinks at the door and receiving a "receipt good for "X" number of drinks. Or better yet, having you buy songs on the juke box instead-and then get drinks as a "bonus".

This is a continuation of a really disturbing trend among the flag leadership of America's military today. Namely, that they think they can legislate morality with the stroke of a pen-even when the conduct is perfectly legal. ( Even if it is not necessarily advisable). This, quite simply and bluntly, is none of the General's fucking business.

There have to be limits. The idea that one gives up all legal and common sense rights, just because some prick does not want to piss off a bunch of feminist lackeys is astounding. Especially in a world were a guy can suck off another guy in the barracks with impunity, but a straight Airman or Soldier cannot buy a girl a drink or 4 and let her stroke his thigh while she pretends to like him? Jesus H. Christ! One may be concerned about it, sure. But the idea that you have to regulate every thing a guy does off duty is just fucking ridiculous.

And illegal.

As one wag pointed out, "This practice encourages the objectification of women, reinforces sexist attitudes, and is demeaning to all human beings.”-"Is he talking about buying drinks for the juicys or the annual visits by NFL cheerleaders? "

Its a good point. So too is the rather pertinent question of, are you going to ban women buying men drinks in bars? Or stateside going to a Chippendales bars?

The military is not a "moral profession".  I'm sorry, but that is the truth. Regulations should make sense and avoid creating incentives to break them. This stupid rule does not pass that test. 








6 responses so far

Oct 13 2014

You only see the “Y” in the road-you don’t see the end of it.

The S.O. has had to work all this weekend, and I have been on call for my job. Basically its a payment up front for the both of us-for we will be in Austria for her birthday at the end of the month. The timing is less than optimum, but I have a deposit on our place to stay already put down and I don't want to lose it. So, this holiday weekend has been a quiet one. It's nice having the S.O. gone, I savor the time alone, probably because I get so little of it.

It is also a good time to think and reflect. That's a part of my inability to write these days-there is a lot to think about. Next few months will become busy and then it will be 2015. That years is going to be one I will have to make some decisions, and I have no idea what they will be. But I suspect I won't like them. The tough times are coming, I fear-and there is little I can do to stop them.

I did go to a festival in the nearby town yesterday. It was nice. It was an open shopping day ( most stores in Germany are closed on Sundays). Walked through the town, and of course stopped for a couple half liter glasses of beer.

No good deed goes unpunished however, and so shortly I will be going out to do the list of errands the S.O. has left for me. I find it odd how much I am enjoying this time alone at home. I should want to be heading out, but I don't. It's fun being lazy this holiday.

Tomorrow will come soon enough and off to work I will go.

Since this is Coloumbus Day holiday, I would like to depart by pointing you to an article by Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic. It was originally published in 2002. But its worth a read again.

Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Have a happy holiday.

5 responses so far

Oct 05 2014

Pumpkin Fest

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

In Ludwigsburg, they are running a Pumpkin Fest. In German the word for Pumpkin is Kurbis(with an umlaut). It's held in the garden of the palace in Ludwigsburg. Probably most amazing-besides the Pumpkin Wine, Soup, and Pasta-and beer-is the Pumpkin Figures.

See for your self:


And Elvis, had to stop by:



And when you have to go-you have to go:


The Earl of Locksley dropped by:


And lets play dinosaurs!


And the bees were out:



3 responses so far

Oct 04 2014

Back to blank paper.

Thank goodness it is a new month. Last month was at the same time, marvelous and deeply depressing. On the marvelous front, the return to Japan was without a doubt the highlight of my year.  Returning to Germany however was a big swoon and a drop to a real low. There are a bunch of reasons for this. 

To start with, there is a lot of churn at my work. The unintended consequences of the megalomaniac's merger from hell are coming home to the roost. The biggest of which is the revelation,  that the merger exposed,  about the great disparities in compensation among people doing exactly the same work. More discouraging in the long term, is the inability of this soulless individual to recognize, that he could take some straightforward steps to correct the worst issues-and also avoid the repeated ethical bypasses he takes to keep all control solely in his hands. Even though we "divorced" because the relationship was most unsatisfactory, and the "customer" we work for recognized he was getting f*cked at the drive through-there is still a lot of damage that was done and cannot be quickly undone. And we who all came in about the same time-with expectations of upward mobility-are becoming more than a little disillusioned. We are probably going to lose one, maybe two people in the next few months-and their replacement process will be iffy at best. So my work level, at least in the short term, will increase. And of course it makes even more bittersweet, my return to Japan,  when it gets coupled with the increasing realization that getting back there to live is / or will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The pain that alone engenders is excruciating.

But life, on many levels, has to go on. For the short term, I have to remain focused and attack my work, but also keep an eye out for the writing that is visibly scrolling itself across the wall.

Which leads me to the public disappointment. I don't think I am saying anything earth shaking when I say that on the global news front-the last month just sucked. Chief among my public concerns is watching the United States sink back into the quicksand that is yet another war for Arabs who cannot solve their own issues-or put their silly religious disputes behind them. It may in fact be that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not up to the task of dealing with this issue. But I know with certainty none of his potential GOP successors is up to the challenge-just as his predecessor was not up to the challenge of dealing with 9-11 or it's aftermath. His decisions created this mess in the first place, chief among them being the utterly disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. All of the current agony, as well as the United States political and economic dysfunction stems from that one single disastrous, completely flawed decision by a deeply flawed man. 

And its troubling our country has no memory of this chain of events. When the consequences are plainly in front of it. And yet, the march of the war lovers goes on again and again-second ( or third) verse, same as the first.

It would do us all well to think about this:

It’s important to remember that moment now, amid our current bout of war fever. It may be worth attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for purely humanitarian reasons. After all, the United States launched air wars against Serbia (twice) and Libya without claiming that their regimes posed a national-security threat, and ISIS is more savage than either Slobodan Milosevic or Muammer al-Qaddafi. It may be worth attacking ISIS because of the threat it poses to our allies in the Middle East. If unchecked, the group could destabilize not only Iraq and Syria, but potentially Jordan and Saudi Arabia too. (Judging by social media, ISIS has a lot of fans in the kingdom of Saud.)

But, for the most part, that’s not how this war is being sold. It’s being sold as a war to protect the United States homeland against a profound terrorist threat. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein recently said, “The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” Her Republican colleague Jim Inhofe has claimed that ISIS is “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” and that as a result, “We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation.”

This time, the press needs to aggressively investigate whether that’s true. If it is, then the Obama administration should be considering ground troops, as General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East,reportedly requested—domestic politics be damned. We sent them into Afghanistan, after all. And if the ISIS threat really is greater than the al-Qaeda threat was on September 10, as Inhofe suggests, then there’s a case for doing the same in Iraq and Syria today.

If, on the other hand, ISIS lacks the motivation and capacity for anything close to 9/11, then President Obama’s stated justification for even an air war looks weak. So far, the press hasn’t done a good enough job of determining if this is the case. Many publications have uncritically accepted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s claim about the number of Americans who have gone to fight with ISIS—a figure that New America Foundation terrorism expert Peter Bergenargues is dramatically exaggerated. Other media commentary simply assumes that if Westerners go to fight with ISIS in Iraq or Syria, they’re destined to attack Europe or the United States. But that’s not true. Bergen notes, for instance, that of the 29 Americans who have gone to fight with the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab, none have tried to commit terrorism against the United States. One reason is that many of them ended up dead.


The problem is, no one can answer for me the key question: How does this end?

I don't think anyone in power knows the answer to that question either. And there is one more thing:

I am continuing to come to the conclusion that, despite all efforts to the convince us to the contrary, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Islamic faith. I'm kind of in agreement with Bill Maher on this-even though he is taking a lot of heat for his statements to that effect. Maher called Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

Yes, the number of extremists are a minority-but there seems to be no one of authority in Islam, including so called "Islamic" nations,  who have the balls to stand up to this minority. Or publicly denounce it. It's a part of the problem-and its a big reason why the invasion of Iraq, or anywhere else did not work-because of a tired adherence to stupid parochial bickering-Arabs always screw things up.

And thus we are back to the central question: How does this all end?

I don't know, and I don't think you do either. There 1.5 billion Muslims in the world however. So today – the future continues to look bleak.

Have a good weekend.

Lots of things could threaten the United States. The critical question, as the U.S. launches a war against ISIS that will likely take years and have myriad unforeseen consequences, is what “could” actually means. This time, the press needs to do a better job of finding out.


7 responses so far

Sep 28 2014

Still here, you greasy bastards.

Published by under Blogging

Two weeks without posting is obscene. I should be doing better and I resolve to do better. However in my defense, things have been busy, I've been depressed, and I've been in a funk. A real funk-and its taking me a while to work through. But make no mistake, I'm still an honest to God blogger.

Lots on my mind right now. Yet one more war in the Middle East is a good way to start. I don't know where it ends-and that troubles me greatly.

But till I can assemble my thoughts-have a great weekend.


4 responses so far

Sep 13 2014

Too much fun

Published by under Japan Living

Sorry for the lack of posting. I have been enjoying my time here in Japan and reminiscing about how much fun it was. I really have missed being here. Germany is ok, but I really thought I would be back working in Asia by now.

That has not happened.

The S.O. has a lot of family issues going on-which was one of the reasons for this trip. I've tried to be supportive as I can, and I have also been pleasantly surprised that my Japanese language skills have held up better than I expected. Was able to converse reasonable well with her family, and when we went to an appointment for some S.O. business issues-I held my own in understanding and contributing to the conversation. That, needless to say is a big victory for me.

Alas, it all comes to an end tomorrow as we board a plane for the long trip back. Sadness will envelope me I am sure as I board the bus for Narita. I sure as hell am not going to wait so long to come back.

Pictures to follow.



12 responses so far

Sep 05 2014


Published by under Uncategorized

That is what you say in Japanese when you come home. Hopefully a loving specimen of Japanese womanhood greets you with a beer and a cheery, "O kaeri nasai" when you do.

We spent the last week at my father's house-after a quick stop in Shopping Mall. Did not really want or need to go to Shopping Mall, considering I was just there, but since my employer was paying for the trip home for my home leave. That was where I had to go to.

Spent the week in hot and humid North Carolina and got up this morning to get on the plane. It was 2 hours late departing which made our connection to Tokyo a tight one. Fortunately we were able to get upgraded and ended up on the upper deck of the 747. The upper deck is nice. Was able to sleep on the plane.

Now we are at our lodging, trying to gut it out and stay up long enough to make the body clock sync when we go to sleep. Don't know if it will work.

But it sure is nice to be back in Japan.smiley

No responses yet

Aug 27 2014

One of my pet peeves……..

Published by under Time wasters

I am sorry it’s been a long time between posts. I was on travel to the US, partly for business and partly to see my son. The business days tended to be long and involved and when I got back to the room-between drinks, dinner, binging on Netflix and doing my courses-something had to go by the wayside. So that is not a good excuse-but it’s the truth.

Now I’m back in Germany-but only for a short while till I begin a trip I have been planning for some six months, a voyage back to the promised land of Japan. It’s been 4+ years since I have set foot in Japan, 2.5 years since I set foot anywhere in Northern or Southeast Asia. To say I am more than a little excited about it is an understatement.

So as I prepare to drop off the grid for a while ( about 2 weeks to be accurate) I wanted to do a quick post on one of my biggest pet peeves: e-mail. Or rather, people who complain they don’t have enough time to get through their e-mail. I had the misfortune of hearing two Lieutenant Colonels whine and complain about how they spend so much time dealing with e-mail, they don’t have enough time to get anything else done. Since one of those same LTC’s seems always to find 1.5 hours for a mind numbing staff meeting each week-and another 1.5 hours each day for a workout, ( and the other one is always dealing with child care issues-welcome to the modern world) I know for a fact that this is utter bullshit.

 E-mail is the curse of our generation and those that are yet to come. Yet, I think some of the complainers really don’t know how bad things were in the “good old days” of OCR printers and messages, message diary entries, and messages that had to go all the way to the CO for signature. You have amazing tools at your disposal to deal with e-mail these days-it disgusts me when you don’t know how to use them.

 It especially makes me angry when I hear a flag officer complain about his e-mail load. What that tells me, is that you don’t know how to delegate responsibility to subordinates-and more importantly, you don’t know how to :1) read for content and context and 2) scan and sort necessary e-mails from trash. As an O-7 in a modern military, you should be able to do better.

I get between 75-100 e-mails in an average workday on two different networks. I am almost always able to work my way through the pile in relatively short order in the morning and before I go home at night. I do long for the days of yesteryear, when I could use POP mail to drop into my e-mail accounts at night while drinking beer, but thanks to events of the last few years that is impossible to do. The key is understanding a few fundamental rules about e-mail, and for that matter, about work in general. So I provide these rules and suggestions for your consideration.

Rule #1: Not everything is worth doing to perfection. Some things are worth doing only good enough and others are not worth doing at all. The trick is to know which is which.

For e-mail the corollary would be-not every e-mail needs to be answered. And those that do, do not always have to be answered by you in writing. Phone calls are quicker.

 For my two LTC friends above, they have the double curse of being grammar and word Nazis-added to the idea that they subscribe to the notion that we have what I call, “Twitter flags”, e.g., Admirals only have a little time so you can only give them the bulletized version. I think that is total crap.

Rule #2: Outlook is a powerful tool, IF, you will learn how to use it.

Here is an example. I have a coworker who says he hates the “preview pane”. With all due respect, he’s an idiot. The sorting rules and preview pane of Outlook are your friends not your enemies. Especially the preview pane. I use it religiously and have my outlook set up with calendar on the right of the preview pane. I make it a point to scan through all my new e-mail using the preview pane first-then I go back and read in detail the ones I judge to be important. I scan paragraphs quickly-not necessarily to read for total comprehension, but to scan for warning flags of things that are dangerous and need to be responded to.

And here is an adjunct rule-if you have a secretary, or a chief of staff or exec, they better be trustworthy enough to read your official mail and you should have no qualms about sharing your inbox with them. Three sets of  eyes can spot warning flags better than one. ( Caution if you do this, have some checks and balances and fire the person that does not safeguard the contents.) Lots of times they can alert you to something you missed, or in many cases they can take actions on your behalf.

Rule #3: Action and CC lines mean different things. If you are not an action addressee on a e-mail, give thanks, take note of an e-mail and move on. Come back to the e-mail if you need to later.

Rule #4: Start at the top of the pile and work your way down. That will help you resist the urge to respond immediately, which is usually never a good thing. You will also generally find out that a problem has worked itself out without you having to intervene at all save for reading about it.

Rule # 5. For writing replies-see rule #1. If it is really important, and you have the luxury to have subordinates “ghost” the reply, let them do it. Its good training for them.  But if you do this-be a man and ask them for the desired text only. Don’t be one of these flag officer pussies who insist on having the whole e-mail including addressees laid out for them. That wastes time. There  is a word for flag officers who make subordinates create an outlook shell and then put addresses and text in that shell: morons.

If it’s just a minor matter that needs acknowledgement-then respond quickly, and move on.

Rule #6. Learn to use Outlook rule sets-and learn how to archive. Generally if an e-mail is over a month old, you don’t need it and you can archive it. This makes your e-mail inbox smaller.

Rule #7. Go see rule # 1. If you are a leader, e-mail should be a small portion of your day. If you are spending too much time on e-mail, you are in over your head.

Trust me-these rules work. I am a big believer in managing by walking around, and I refuse to get chained to my desk all day. I also believe in things like Blackberries, and letting people work from home, or at least have access to e-mail at home to the max extent possible. I know some people hate these ideas-but I am the kind of person who works best in spurts. Having the BB with me, allows me to pace myself and do more productive things. I am not a slave to my Blackberry. It is a slave to me.

Thus endeth the rant for today. 

4 responses so far

Aug 27 2014

Can’t believe I missed it.

Yesterday was Women's Equality Day. And I totally forgot about it. I'm so depressed. wink


After all, there are some hard facts of life:


And while you are at it-get me a beer:


Ok Honey?



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Aug 13 2014

The darkness that always lurks beneath the surface.

Published by under Memorials

I wanted to write a quick not about the tragic loss of Robin Williams. His death will most probably be ruled a suicide. And I expect ( and in some of the worst corners of the internet-we are already seeing) the holier than thou brigades are already spouting venom-not understanding in the least the struggles one must deal with, once you get the Scarlett "AA" tagged upon you.

Its common knowledge that Williams struggled with issues from addiction. What most of the do gooders seem to ignore, is the heavy burden America's system of shoving you into the hell that is AA does to you. Addiction treatment is not about stopping drinking. Plenty of people do that for protracted periods of time with no effort. It is the idea that they foist upon you that you can never do it again-that creates the inner conflict that grows and grows and grows. Especially since it is complete and total bullshit-most alcoholics recover on their own, and do perfectly fine drinking again, once they realize that there is personal responsibility. The treatment industry is about control-not fluids. Its about their iron clad demand that you cede control of your life to someone who in all probability is more fucked up than you are. And they stick a double whammy on you in that they tell you , that you can never take that control back.

Only by rejecting their ideas-and demanding to live your life on your own terms can you ever get some peace back. I know, because I lived through the hell of having a worthless bastard tell me how I had to live my life. It took luck and a great deal of anger and planning to escape from the shackles of the "program" he abandoned me into. I don't think I can ever forgive him for his callousness and indifference.

What does this have to do with Robin Williams? Well, a lot I think. The conflict of being a talented individual, knowing you are talented, and then being forced to be subjected to an idea that you are worthless and powerless-is a huge conflict. It creates inner struggles and a feeling of futility at being told you are not "like everyone else". Even when you are. it takes a great deal of struggle to break free.

Not everyone is up to the struggle-no matter how successful they are.

So all the people who so easily dismiss his struggle-I have no use for. The trolls who have been coming out and writing really reprehensible things-I also have no use for. They may think it can never happen to them-trust me, it can. And don't kid yourself, your so called friends and allies will abandon you in heartbeat. Such is the nature of America's coerced treatment machine.

So God rest the soul of Robin Williams, and if he is any just will grant him access to glory. To all those who attack him after the fact-I spit upon you.

I loved a lot of his movies-and I think he was a gifted and talented man. Since I was aware of him from my college years-his work literally spanned the length of my adult life. And he was a great.



He deserves peace and a place in heaven. Those who think otherwise-can leave my sight now.

7 responses so far

Aug 11 2014

Just kill me now…..

Published by under Fun things!

Once again I have to apologize for the lack of posting. The S.O. and I went on a marvelous trip to Austria. And now we are back.

And work got even more suckier in the interval.

So, pix to follow-and now I ask for appeals to save me from flag induced O-5 ambition. Trust me pal-you are still getting passed over.

In the meantime-help me think about this:


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