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Old Guy

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Old Guy last won the day on November 12 2017

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About Old Guy

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    The Old Spec-5
  • Birthday 02/27/1947

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    Columbia Falls, MT

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  1. Old Guy


    Hey! What's up? Every time I log in I get a message saying the connection isn't secure. That only started a few days ago. OG
  2. Old Guy

    I see we got a new paint job and all new emojis

    Us old 🦕 are left even further behind. I hardly ever got beyond the 😀. OG
  3. Back in my youth . . . yes, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth . . . I studied Military history with an eye on the exciting stuff. Advances, withdrawals, mistakes, accidents of fate, all the eye candy of war fighting. Only later did I begin to appreciate the importance of logistics. On some levels, logistics aren't particularly important. Custer's problem at the Little Big Horn had mostly to do with a failure of leadership and poor tactical decisions. Logistics didn't count for much unless you factor in long-term errors such as the Cavalry Board mandating rolling block single-shot carbines instead of some kind of reliable repeater. The Winchester '66 Yellowboy or the '73 Winchester carbine spring to mind. Any number of other, generally small battles would have similar characteristics. The campaigning in Italy during Punic Wars would have required a good deal of logistical support for both sides. Over the years both the local population and locally available forage would have been severely drawn down. As Mike points out the overall effect would have depended on population levels at the start. One would have to evaluate probable levels of surplus supplies as well, though both armies probably took what they needed and to hell with the local population. That also would have degraded available assets over the years. I strongly suspect that non-military population would have suffered far more casualties than the armies did in all their battles combined. Later history bears that out. A year or so ago I read Erikson's Malazan fantasy series and enjoyed it. Later, on second reading, I realized the author had severely underestimated the damage done to local towns and cities during the military campaigning. Several large island locations were depicted as enduring the depredations of not one but two or three ravaging armies. The time span was too short for more than partial recovery of the areas concerned. While some attempt was made to depict fairly reasonable methods of bringing in outside supplies, the events occurring on the very dangerous oceans and along the sort-of-magical pathways made it difficult to account for all the goods needed even by relatively primitive armies. Probably no one else would be bothered by such a situation. Otherwise the books were damn good. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He's bored. Jim
  4. When dealing with ancient battles (and some more recent examples) I usually reduce the reported casualties by at least half. The Carthaginians claimed to have killed 55,000 Romans. The Greeks put the number at 70,000. Roman accounts usually refer to about 40,000 killed and around 5,000 captured. In the course of reading military history I've learned a great deal about logistics, that important element that gets overlooked by historians, especially ancient chroniclers. For instance, Lee at Gettysburg could not adequately supply 75,000 men in a fixed position for more than 3 or 4 days. Wagons sent on scavenging missions could only go out for about a 1-1/2 to 2 days before they had to turn around and return. Otherwise, the amount of food and fodder they could carry over primitive roads would largely be consumed by the foraging troops. Whether Lee actually had 75,000 men "present for duty, equipped" is another issue. In the years leading up to Cannae, Fabius had, as is pointed out above, developed a strategy of denying the Carthaginians necessary supplies, making him dependent on supplies from Africa and Spain. While he undoubtedly managed to obtain food and feed for animals at sword point, his ability to supply his army was seriously constrained. The Romans, too, had supply difficulties. The presence of major armies in the peninsula had a damaging effect on crops and the number of food animals. Moving supplies in carts was also an inefficient way to keep an army supplied. To the extent possible, I suspect both armies used coastal cities and rivers to move goods. Taken together, these difficulties had to have an effect on the size of both forces. Given that ancient writers always had in mind the attitudes of their audience, it is obvious that each had reason to inflate the numbers. Modern historians generally put the number of Roman dead at Cannae at around 20,000. Personally, I think that's still too high, but because we have no reliable writings from the time, I have to say that's just a kind of educated guess. Anyone interested in the logistics of ancient armies should read a supremely dull book called: Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, by Donald Engels. It has excellent information about the carrying capacity of various draft animals (the most efficient beast of burden is . . . drumroll, please . . . a man). There is also good deal of information relating to supply problems faced by armies in the era before mechanization. Some of that info is useful right up to the present day. Analyzing Wehrmacht supply problems during WW2 is clarified once you understand that this force that more or less invented mobile, mechanized warfare, continued to carry large portions of their supplies using horses and wagons. Sorry for the long-winded post. It's snowing here and I didn't have anything else to do. Jim
  5. Old Guy

    Ahab in the Afterlife

    Apparently a number of folks still like reading stuff like this. For some reason most don't comment like people did in the past. I wonder why. Beats me, Lieutenant. Ahab. A strange character. Be glad I didn't include one of his many soliloquies. OG
  6. Old Guy

    Ahab in the Afterlife

    The muse appeared after a long absence, somewhat disheveled and reeking of bad whisky. Anyhow, she carried a page torn from a book. Scrawled on the page was the basic idea for this tale. Having writ, I decided to inflict it on you lot. Ahab in the Afterlife Fifth Under Clerk Boswell watched as the last occupant of Purgatory made his way up to the reception desk. The man stumped his way slowly up the last steps and looked around. “A sailor, sir,” whispered Bartleby, Second Scrivener. He stood behind and slightly to one side of the Under Clerk. “Obviously,” sneered Boswell. “What gave you the first clue? The wooden leg? Tattered pea coat?” Bartleby shot a quick, graphic gesture toward Boswell's back. “Skin that remains sun-darkened even after years in the Purg, sir. What is that great spear he's dragging along?” “Search me. You're the keeper of odd information. Fifth Under Clerks can't be bothered with such trivia.” Boswell sniffed. “Whatever it is, he'll have to leave it outside.” “I'm sure you're right, sir.” Privately Bartleby wondered if he shouldn't call Security. The approaching man's face had a hard, vicious cast to it. “Good day,” called Boswell as the hulking figure halted a few steps from the desk. “Your name, please, so we may decide your future status.” “Have ye seen him?” cried the man. “Moby Dick. Have ye seen the creature?” “Ah . . .” Boswell glanced around, startled. “We – we have no – have welcomed no one by that name.” He dove to the white marble floor, dodging the mad motion of the wooden handled implement gripped in the man's right fist. “Moby Dick. That be his name. The White Whale!” Boswell huddled behind his desk. “We – that is – Bartleby! Call Security before this madman takes my head off!” Bartleby had already moved well beyond reach of the spear. “I believe it to be a harpoon, sir. Not a spear. Our mariner was evidently a whaler in life.” Calming somewhat, the man turned his ferocious glare on the Second Scrivener. “A whaler I am. Ahab, by name.” “Ahab. Ahab.” Bartleby ignored his whining Under Clerk and made his way to a bank of files. “The name is familiar.” He pawed through a pile of scrolls and selected one. “Here it is. The Final Sinner in Purgatory to be Granted Early Entrance to the Celestial Realm On Account of Closure of That Same Venue; to wit: Purgatory. Your name is therein inscribed, Mr. Ahab.” “Captain Ahab, to you, sonny.” Bartleby bowed. “Of course, Captain. A thousand pardons.” Ahab banged the marble floor with his harpoon. “Moby Dick! The White Whale! For nigh on two hundred years I searched Purgatory for the beast. Not a trace. Where lies the Celestial Ocean? There he will be, there I will hunt and kill him again. He will not escape me.” Fifth Under Clerk Boswell climbed back into his chair and made an attempt to regain control. “Sir. Mister . . . ah . . . Captain. Please put down your weapon. You can't take that thing into Heaven.” In answer, Ahab snapped the harpoon down, bringing it to a rock steady position a hairbreadth from Boswell's left eye. “Can't what? See that iron? Forged in blood it was. With it I took Moby Dick's life and with this same iron I will rid Heaven of the beast.” Boswell fainted. His slack body slid to the floor. Ahab glared at Bartleby. “Who is he? Has he no taste for sharp iron?” “His name is Boswell, Captain. He has no taste for melodrama, especially in the form of dangerous equipage and weaponry.” “Well . . . I'll not have him sailing with me on the hunt for the White Whale.” “A prospect that is unlikely to dismay him, Captain.” Bartleby hesitated. “I may have information that will be of value to you – in your hunt.” Ahab clumped around Boswell's desk and sat in the Under Clerk's chair. “Don't try to hinder my quest. I would smite the Creator himself were he to stand in my way.” “Exactly, Captain. That sort of language, by the way, is the main reason for your extended stay in Purgatory.” “So. I may have to moderate my speech, if not my intents. I had thought the long sentence had to do with the so-called “madness” of my quest.” “Oh, no. We get those all the time. You can't imagine how many take up the quest to find the Holy Grail.” “Hunting the White Whale is no paltry quest.” The Captain massaged the flesh just above his wooden leg. “Moby Dick took my leg, then my life – but not before I killed him.” “Actually, Captain. Moby Dick didn't die.” “Didn't die? Moby Dick not dead? How can it be?” “Our records indicate that Moby Dick swam away from your place of death, wounded but not unto death. Your . . . ah . . . your remains were attached to the whale by a tangle of ropes.” “The creature bore me away? And him still living. When did he die?” “We don't record such deaths, Captain. It might have been noted in your record if he had died as a result of your . . . harpooning.” The old Captain sat silent for a long time. Boswell began to stir. Finally, Ahab stood up, leaning heavily on his harpoon. For the first time he had the look of a tired old man. “Send me back.” “Pardon? Back where?” “Purgatory or Hell. It matters not to me. I am no fit occupant for Heaven.” “You'd be surprised, Captain.” Bartleby smiled. “Besides, Hell won't have you. Never would. It's in your record. I think they believe you'd soon be in charge. You're not a man to tolerate slackness.” “The road to Hell is crowded with idlers and slackers,” muttered Ahab. “Purgatory, then.” “Out of the question. The place is closed. Orders of the Church.” Ahab sagged even further. “Back to Earth?” “Impossible. But whales aren't hunted there anymore.” Bartleby thought of what Ahab would make of the current inhabitants of Earth. “You wouldn't like it, Captain.” “What then? I am no psalm singer.” “Actually, we don't do much of that here.” The Second Scrivener consulted a card file. “Here's a possibility. The Forces of Good are heavily engaged with things from outside the Galaxy, out on one of the spiral arms . . .” Bartleby's voice trailed off as he saw blank incomprehension on Ahab's face. “Ah . . . just think of it as a distant part of Creation.” “Aye. Outsiders? Some of Moby's kind, I'll warrant.” “Well . . . Moby Dick wasn't really an outsider, but if the analogy works, hang on to it. These Outsiders need hunting and killing . . . or at least to be driven away.” Ahab straightened up. “Sounds fine to me.” He glanced up at the Pearly Gates. “Where can I . . ?” “Go? A guide will be along in a moment.” “No.” The Captain shuffled his foot. “I need to go . . . you know? It's been a long time.” “Oh, sure. Through the gate, first building on the right.” “Thank you.” Again Ahab hesitated. “Can I take my harpoon?” “Take it with you. I have no idea how Outsiders are fought. A harpoon might be just the thing.” End
  7. Old Guy


    Cloudy and gray with a light wind blowing. Snow cover is reduced to "patchy". Looks like a 35-40 degree day with rain at times. My cold is better and the antibiotics seem to be handling the sinus infection. Life looks a lot better. Jim
  8. Old Guy


    High of about 40F today. Partly cloudy. The snow is melting slowly - which is how we want it to melt. Too much rain on top of the snow pack makes for flooding. Struggling with a bad cold. Is it my imagination or do colds seem to hit harder as we get older? Sniffling in Montana, OG
  9. Old Guy

    Saturday (St. Patrick's Day)

    Ah, the Irish. Some of my forum tale characters have been of Irish extraction. Here's a paragraph from one such tale. People were of two minds about Dub's silence. Some figured he just didn't have anything to say. Others were certain he had taken a vow of silence in some strange Irish cult. Everyone knew the natives of Ireland were prone to doing odd things. They knew that for the simple reason that a sizable portion of the town population was of Irish descent. Dub's habit of taking his pay each month and drinking himself into a stupor wasn't seen as unusual. Half the town did the same thing, including many of those who weren't, as far as they knew, Irish. The person who can identify the story it's from wins the kewpie doll (simulated, of course). OG
  10. Old Guy

    This Month in the Vietnam War: March 1962-1975

    I saw a Bob Hope show at Cu Chi in about November of '67. Raquel was featured in that show. As you can see from the pic, I was not very close to the stage. OG
  11. Old Guy


    Good for Lottie! Serves her old employer right. Payback is a bitch. Jim Oh, yeah. Bright sunshine, light breeze, but cold here. About 15F.
  12. Old Guy

    Our Schnauzer, Tehya

    Thanks, Whiz. I went and picked up her ashes today. It's pretty sad around here right now. Poor Rascal is trying to comfort us. He already seems to be adapting to being the only dog. Jim
  13. Old Guy


    Donnie, forget NASCAR. The local dirt track or paved oval is the place to be. They run real races and the air stinks of gasoline and burned rubber. Sometimes they even have demolition derbies and school bus races. And everybody stands for the national anthem. Jim
  14. Old Guy


    Blizzard conditions here in NW Montana. Temp around 11degF. Wind 20-30 mph. I have drifts blocking the front door and driveway. Won't be able to play with, I mean WORK with my snow blower until tomorrow. Jim
  15. Old Guy

    Our Schnauzer, Tehya

    Thanks again, guys. Tehya was a very special little dog. Like Doug, I can't remember feeling this bad after the death of a close relative, except my brother who died at 37 from cancer. Of course, none of those folks lived with us every single day for 12 years like she did. They weren't part of the daily fabric of our lives. She was. I'm glad I was able to share my grief with the Csim community, as reduced in numbers as it is. This place has been a refuge of a kind for a long time for me. Too bad we don't have something like EAW to draw us back together. Regardless, thanks for your condolences and thanks for the memories. Jim