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Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 06:28 PM PDT

58 Years Ago Today,

by Otteray Scribe

We said "I do" and meant it.

We had 55 years.

I have never forgotten our anniversary. Never will as long as I draw a breath.

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By early September 1780, General Charles Cornwallis had just defeated the Continental troops under the command of General Horatio Gates. Cornwallis was in the area of Charlotte, NC, but a substantial body of his troops was in Georgia and South Carolina. Cornwallis made the tactical and strategic decision to move his troops north, into North Carolina. He knew he could defeat the Colonials (they called themselves Patriots) to his east in the more heavily populated eastern seaboard, but could not do it with the threat of Colonial militias behind him to the west.

Cornwallis had another problem, related to the first. The King did not want colonial settlers moving west into the frontier where he would have no control over them, or be able to collect taxes from them. Furthermore, the frontier settlers were armed and had formed militias. In those days, the militia was literally everybody old enough and fit enough to shoot a rifle.

Before he could attack Colonial armies to his east, he had to first eliminate the threat to his rear. Cornwallis ordered the brilliant, but quirky, Major Patrick Ferguson to take an army of about 1,000 Loyalists to the northwestern region of North Carolina. Their mission was to drive out the settlers in the area of the Watauga River.  There was a fort on the Watauga River, near a shallow water crossing called Sycamore Shoals. The settlers on the Watauga had created a self-governing community of a type never before seen in the English speaking world: a democratic government. Fiercely independent, they mostly just wanted to be left alone.


Have you heard of the Battle of King's Mountain before this?

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The salutation, "Happy Memorial Day," makes me cringe. The image below is what Memorial Day is about.  This is Mountain Home National Cemetery, in Tennessee.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The exact origin of the custom of decorating the graves of those who gave all in service to their country is shrouded by the mists of time and folklore. Decoration Day became official when General John Logan, issued General Order No. 11 on 5 May 1868. The first official observance of Decoration Day was 30 May 1868. On that day, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  Every year until 1971, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. That date was chosen for Decoration Day because flowers would be in bloom all across the country.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, making Memorial Day part of a three-day weekend.  When Memorial Day became just another long weekend with a day off from work, it began to lose its meaning as a day of remembrance and reflection. In 2002, the Veterans of Foreign Wars issued a formal proclamation, which stated in part:

“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”
Beginning in 1999, Senator Dan Inouye introduced a bill to change the date back to the original date of May 30, no matter what day of the week it falls. Parallel bills were introduced in the House of Representatives. Senator Inouye persisted in his effort to get the date changed back until he died. All the bills failed in committee. The mattress sale, beer, and hot dog lobby appears to be too powerful.

More on the meaning of Memorial Day below the swirl. Lots of photos.

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Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 06:29 AM PDT

CelticLassie has insurance!

by Otteray Scribe

Our CelticLassie was diagnosed with a malignant teratoma in the form of an endodermal sinus tumor at the age of seven months. It had grown so large that it had to be debulked, then she started on chemotherapy. A real witches brew of chemotherapy. By the time she was fifteen months old, it had grown back and needed to be debulked again.  She had a 50-50 chance, at best, of surviving the surgery, which took hours. The photo at the left is our CelticLassie a couple of days before she had that second major surgery. Frankly, I thought it would be the last photo of her.

Following the second major surgery, she continued chemotherapy until she was two. Treatments have improved since she was a toddler, but these cancers are killers. Although it was debulked, parts of it are inoperable. As the surgeon put it, "It is stuck to everything." In order to remove it all, he would have cut the nerves at the base of her spine. She would have been paralyzed and in intractable pain for however long she had to live. I told the surgeon, and my wife agreed, that the quality of one's life is more important than the length of that life. She still has a piece of the tumor the size of a golf ball in her lower back. The chemotherapy continued until about her second birthday.

When she was a teenager, she was having some problems and our family doctor referred her to a gynecologist. The OB/GYN ordered a CT scan, and when the results came back he freaked out, literally. He ended up calling her former doctors, getting the old x-rays and scans to compare to the new one. It has not grown since she was three, but is still there. The doctors believe it is all calcified scar tissue now, that the chemo killed the tumor; however, it only takes one live cell, so it is still a ticking time bomb.

When she was in grade school and high school, we got frequent cold calls from insurance companies wanting to sell us health insurance for our school age daughter. I always listened to their sales pitch, telling them we were definitely interested. You could feel the salesperson's enthusiasm at the possibility of making a commission. I answered the questions truthfully. There was always this long pause at the end, and you could hear the salesperson sigh into the phone. We were told they would have to get with the supervisor and would call us back.

We never got a call back. Not once.

More over the flip.

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Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 07:02 PM PDT

It Was Three Years Ago Today

by Otteray Scribe

Reed left us. The monster won and Reed lost. We all lost.

He just wanted to have an eighteenth birthday.

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Meet "Brother" Donny Reagan.  He is pastor of the Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ, located between Johnson City and Elizabethton, TN.  He records and archives all his sermons on the church website. Last week, some as yet unidentified member of his congregation sent his sermon of April 23, 2013 to several internet news and opinion blogs, including Raw Story and Gawker.

In the seventeen minute sermon, he rails against interracial marriages and biracial children. Reagan says he doesn’t consider it right for white people and black people to marry. He calls such relationships “hybreeding.” So one might know this is not a slip of the tongue, he says it repeatedly.

Jump over the orange burning bush for some quotes and the video of his sermon, but if you go there, don't complain you have not been warned.

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Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways…Chardonnay in one hand…chocolate in the other…body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming “WOO HOO, What a Ride!”

 - author unknown, but often attributed to Hunter S. Thompson

This is an anniversary diary. It is the 35th anniversary of an accomplishment by a woman, Sabrina "Sib" Jackintell, that has not been surpassed, and may very well never be matched or exceeded.

Women do not get the recognition they deserve, and to compete in a male dominated world, have to be twice as good at everything. Barbara Jordan once said, “Life is too large to hang out a sign: For Men Only.” I am an admirer of women who are smart, strong, competent and accomplished. I was married to a woman like that for 55 years, but she flew west in 2011.

This story is about one of those women. Sabrina “Sib” Jackintell died two years ago at the age of 71, just two weeks before her 72nd birthday.

Follow me through the orange rotor cloud for more....

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The Super Bowl is famous for its innovative and creative advertisements. There was one you did not see.


 Vitaly Robertus of Moscow started building and flying rubber powered model airplanes when he was seven years old. He graduated to gas models and flew control line for a time, winning many control line competitions. Later, he got into flying radio control model airplanes. If you look at his work, it is easy to believe he was an excellent student, graduating at the top of his class in all his academic pursuits. Now an engineer, he helped found the Moscow model airplane club, called RusJet.

In 2011, he competed in the Jet World Master's competition in Dayton, Ohio. The Jet World Master's has two classes of competition: 13.5 kg maximum weight and 20 kg maximum weight (including fuel). Vitaly brought a beautiful scale model of the Yak-130 advanced jet trainer. The detailing was so good, it blew the competition away in its class. When it came to the static judging, the judging was not even close. There was now a new bar set on what would be required for a model builder to win the Jet World Masters competition. Vitaly Robertus took his trophy and winning model back home to Moscow. Being a pretty smart guy, he knew he now had a large target painted on him by every serious model builder in the world.

More over the orange wake turbulence.


Is this the best scale model airplane to date?

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It is New Year's Eve, so in order to assist those aviators and airport bums who enjoy entertaining at home, I present the secret recipe for the concoction known to RCAF personnel as "Moose Milk". Originally made with milk obtained from a lactating Alces alces, the practice was eventually curtailed.

Too many pilots and flight crew members began attending morning "sick parades" due to a variety of "non-combat related" injuries, leaving no one to "slip the surly bonds".

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Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
    - Buddha
Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.
   -Meteor Blades
Random acts of kindness on the other side of the orange snowflake.
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"You follow the rules for you, not for the enemy. You fight by the rules to keep your humanity. If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute, I will shoot you down myself."
 - Luftwaffe fighter Ace Lt. Gustav Rödel (right), to rookie fighter pilot Franz Stigler before his first combat mission.
 It was December 20, 1943, seventy years ago today.

A rookie American B-17F bomber pilot on his first mission, 2nd Lt. Charlie Brown (left), found himself alone in the skies over Germany, struggling to keep his big four-engine bomber aloft. Only one of the engines was fully functional. The others were either stopped or barely generating power. They had been part of a raid on a German aircraft factory. Of his ten crew members, there were only three who had not been wounded. Brown himself was wounded by shrapnel, and had passed out from hypoxia, regaining consciousness as they got to a lower altitude. The tail gunner, S/Sgt. Hugh Eckenrode, was dead. Charlie Brown's B-17 was riddled with holes from anti-aircraft fire and bullet holes from an attack by German fighters. Blood was smeared on the outside of the big bomber from badly wounded crew members. With all the damage and partial power from the engines, Brown was unable to maintain airspeed and altitude. All the holes and bent sheet metal created tremendous drag.

As his crippled B-17F lost altitude and airspeed, Charlie Brown dropped out of formation, becoming a straggler. He was a sitting duck for any German fighter who might come up after them. His heart sank when he realized his flight path was taking him directly over a Luftwaffe fighter base.

 Standing by his plane on the ground as it was being fueled and serviced, Franz Stigler (right), one of Germany's top aces, saw the B-17F go over. He had already flown combat missions that day, shooting  down two B-17 bombers. One more aerial victory would win him the coveted Knight's Cross, the highest award a Luftwaffe pilot could earn.  He saluted his crew chief, climbed in the Messerschmitt, and took off in pursuit of the low flying B-17.

Within a few moments, the fast fighter closed in on the tail of the B-17, which had the name Ye Olde Pub painted on the nose.

The Luftwaffe ace was horrified by what he saw lumbering through the air ahead of him. He had never seen an airplane in that condition before, and wondered how it managed to continue flying.

Rest of the story over the orange flak burst...
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