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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

    Friday

    "The storm of a lifetime," one media moron called it. This "storm of a lifetime" became a Cat 1 hurricane last night and is now a tropical storm. I don't know why the media types all have to enlarge every act of nature into a disaster. Nevertheless, all that wind and rain will cause damage. Be glad it wasn't the ravening monster described by CNN and their ilk. Of course, the fact Florence was a hurricane at all is all Trump's fault. OG
  2. Old Guy

    CH-47 upgrades

    https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2018-08-23/boeing-assembling-first-block-ii-chinook Looks like the Chinook will serve until the 2060s. I can just see a young Army pilot in 2065: "Yeah, I found out my great-great-great grandpa flew one of these in some Asian war way back when . . ." OG
  3. Old Guy

    A tale from the Csim vault for Byron

    And there's a lot of that. Slack, I mean. Who's this Dark Helmet guy? Who are you? What were we talking about? Um . . . never mind.
  4. I figure Byron could use a good laugh, if not today then in a week or so. This one should bring back memories. The Peach Popskull Caper Once upon a time a retired sailor named Boats lived in an old Airstream trailer with a rat named Ferox, a cat named Thurgood -- but referred to as TCat -- and a camel named Camel. There was also a strange character who didn't exactly have a name. The other Airstream residents called him Dark Helmet, for the huge helmet he wore whenever he made an appearance and uttered one of his incomprehensible phrases. Note: Dark Helmet's sex is unknown. In fact, his exact species is the subject of much debate. DH is designated herein as "he" merely for convenience -- I mean, no one wants to look under the helmet -- not even Camel. DH was tolerated around the old Airstream because once a month a UPS truck would pull up and deliver several cases of C-rations along with a couple bales of hay for the camel. All addressed to one Dark Helmet, Esq. Since none of the other residents had an income it behooved them to tolerate a fair amount of strangeness on behalf of DH. It must be said that Boats had a Navy retirement, but it was split five ways -- one part to him and four parts to as many ex-wives. One part of very little will not go far in supporting a sailor, a rat, a cat and a camel. DH required no food, as near as anyone could tell. He never ate, nor did he excrete anything other than daft phrases. Exactly why parties unknown were sending food each month was not something to be investigated. Looking too closely at a goose laying golden eggs -- or even a C-ration producing one -- is an exercise fraught with danger. Thus the Boats household. One dreary weekend Boats decided it was time to brew up some popskull, a novel yet descriptive name for a type of homebrew intoxicant popular with sailors everywhere -- when actual, bottled-in-bond booze isn't available for geographic or economic reasons. "We have lots of C-ration peaches saved up," he explained. "Also sugar and a couple other secret ingredients. We need a large, clean barrel, preferably food grade plastic or something of that nature so the peach popskull isn't rife with leached poisons." He was proud of the word "rife" and for the next few days he repeated the phrase "rife with leached poisons" until the others were darn sick of hearing it. He had to stop there and explain to the rat and the cat and the camel exactly what "leaching" and "poison" meant. Ferox also had to be convinced that the words "food grade" weren't meaningless bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. "If it don't eat me first, it's food," he stated in positive terms. Coming from the only animal in the Airstream who would eat C-ration ham and beans with evident delight, his words carried the weight of truth -- at least for rats. "So," said Boats, "who will help me find a food grade container?" "Not I," said the rat. "Not I," said the cat. "Not me," said Camel. Dark Helmet entered the tiny kitchen from -- another dimension? There was no door in that wall. He stood quiet for a moment, dripping water on the floor. "I find your lack of faith disturbing." No one said anything. DH turned and walked? wobbled? rolled? toward the back of the trailer. "Well," said Boats, "then I shall go and get the food grade container myself." And he did. "Next up," he said, upon returning with a clean food grade container, "is to open all these cans of peaches and dump them into the clean food grade container. Who will help me with all that opening and emptying?" "I won't," said Ferox. "I have a hot date waiting down under the dock." "I won't," said TCat. "I can't work an opener with paws." "I'd help," said Camel, "except" -- he brandished an oversize hoof -- "you know. Cloven hooves." "Then I guess I'll have to do it myself," said Boats. So he did. Some hours later, he called the residents together. Ferox was not present. "Now we must open all these little packages of sugar and dump them into the clean food grade container along with the C-ration peaches. Who will help me with all that tearing and dumping?" "Not I," said TCat. "It's time for my nap." "Not me," said Camel. "Cloven hooves. Remember?" "Okay," replied Boats. "I'll do it. I'll do it. Where is Ferox?" "Making meals for me," said the cat. "Humping his brains out," added the camel. "I wish I was." Dark Helmet swooped in from Orion or wherever. "Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them." "Motivate a rat?" cried TCat, forgetting for a moment that DH never listened to argument or advice. "What would motivate a rat more than a female in heat?" "Or me," sniffed Camel. Dark Helmet faded away. "What now?" asked Boats. It was a rhetorical question. He knew what to do next. "It's time for the secret ingredients. I'll take care of that." And he did. A month later, right after the next C-ration and hay bale delivery, Boats called the Airstream residents together again. "The popskull is ready. Who will help me strain the good booze from the bits and pieces and moldy things floating in the not so clean food grade container?" "Not me," said Ferox. "I might fall in." "Not I," said the cat. "I'll help with the tasting though." "Not me," said Camel. "I have an appointment with a bale of hay." "Then I shall do it myself," said Boats, who was beginning to get damned tired of all the do-it-myself crap. Dark Helmet came in via the front (and only) door for a change. "You don't know the power of the Dark Side!" He vanished with a wet pop. Boats went ahead and strained the good booze from the bits and pieces and moldy things floating in the not so clean food grade container. Then he washed the food grade container until it was clean again and poured the finished popskull back into it. Now it was ready for taste testing. TCat was standing ready, cup in hand -- er -- cup in paw. Boats eyed the cat and the cup. "How'd you do that?" "Practice." "How come you couldn't open cans of peaches or rip sugar packets open?" "I didn't practice with openers or sugar packets." Who can argue with logic like that? Boats poured a liberal dose of popskull in TCat's cup. "Have at it. You want something to mix with it? Coke? Lemonade?" TCat paused. "Do we have any coke or lemonade?" "No. All we have is this half-empty bottle of furniture polish." "Thanks, no. I'll just take it straight up." "Okay. It's your funeral." Now, Boats was no prophet, but they did hold a short funeral for TCat on the following morning. Boats recited the Lord's Prayer, that being the only prayer he knew. After the weighted bag holding TCat's mortal remains sank from sight, the survivors returned to the Airstream. "I shoulda cut it with something," mourned Boats. "Maybe some fruit juice or -- I don't know -- something." "Soak my drink in straw," said Camel. "That might make it less lethal." But it didn't. Camel was too large for any bag they had, so his rigid body went into the bay on the outgoing tide. Boats wanted to dump the peach popskull at the same time. "No way!" cried Ferox. "I'll take it down to the dock tonight. Us rats will figure out a way to drink your popskull. It smells so peachy and alcoholic. There must be a safe way to get hammered on the stuff without becoming dead. Leave it to me." "Okay," said Boats. "Have at it." He even helped Ferox roll the food grade container down to the rat conclave that evening. Dark Helmet met them at the end of the dock. "Don't fail me again, Admiral." He rose straight up into the dark sky. "He couldn't have been talking to me," said Boats. "I was never an Admiral." "Me neither," said Ferox. "See you in the morning." Alas, he did not see Boats or anyone else the next day. Ferox the rat and ten thousand of his relatives clogged the inner harbor until the next tide. The dead rodents were observed to have broad smiles frozen on their little faces. And the whole harbor smelled of peaches. Boats walked to the end of Lighthouse Point and watched the dead rats washing out to sea. Dark Helmet wandered out of the water and stopped in front of the old sailor. "Obi-wan has taught you well." Startled, afraid he'd been caught out, Boats stammered, "Obi-who?" Dark Helmet didn't vanish straight away, but hesitated for several seconds. Finally, and with a sad note in his voice, said, "Obi-who? Obi-when? Now I've forgotten my . . ." He sagged to the sand and disappeared, helmet and all. For half a heartbeat, Boats heard soft, tittering laughter. Then it was gone. End
  5. Old Guy

    Prayers for Byron (JClark) Audler

    Get better, Boats! That's an order. Well, not an order really. A hopeful suggestion? Anyway, we're thinking of you. OG
  6. Old Guy

    Wednesday

    Same here, man. Haze obscuring the mountains. Lightning caused fires all around. OG
  7. Old Guy

    Tuesday

    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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Old Guy

    Thursday

    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
  14. Old Guy

    Sunday

    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
  15. 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
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