Before I start, let me say that Hawaii is wonderful. Really. The weather is great (pretty much all the time). The beaches are beautiful. The scenery is unparalleled. We are blessed to be afforded the opportunity to live there.

Having said that, good God do I miss the mountains. Our time here in the Pacific Northwest just reinforces that ache for the smell of pine trees, the sting of cold winter air, and the sight of a mountain with snow on it.

Those of you up at DA, I think it's about time you all get your ducks in a row and open up an active duty Chinook unit either at Fort Carson, Colorado (my first choice) or Fort Lewis, Washington (my second choice). Preferably, NOW. I would give serious consideration to offering up a body part if I thought it would do any good.

I miss SEASONS. I miss being cold. I miss fireplaces. Granted, some of the older housing units at Schofield Barracks/Wheeler Army Airfield have them but they never get USED because it's never COLD enough. I miss wearing fleece. I miss the smell of pine trees and winter air. I miss snuggling down under the blankets to stay warm as opposed to kicking them off because it's too damn hot in the room due to the fact that the trade winds decided not to make an appearance. I miss it all (well, most of it. Can't say I miss shovelling 3 feet of snow off my walkway or nasty grams from the housing Nazis about my driveway not being cleared to standards or it being dark at 3pm).

Yes, Hawaii is great. But it's not home. Home, for us, is somewhere near a mountain. Somewhere that sees the weather coincide with the season. Somewhere where you can actually remember what month it is based on what it looks like outside your window. Somewhere that fireplaces are not just decorative in nature.

We have just a few days left here and I am savoring each and every one of them. I'm still trying to figure out how to bottle up that smell that I miss so much. Yankee Candle has yet to come up with a fragrance that comes close. I miss mountain living SO much...guess you could say I'm homesick.


- hfs


Leavin' on a jet plane

Not sure what kind of access I'll have while we're gone.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Congress, that means you too you idiots. (sorry - had to get in one last dig)

While I'm gone, if you're bored, feel free to check out some of the links on the left!


- hfs


Michael Yon

This week, I want to shine the spotlight on someone that most of you know well but some of you may not have had the opportunity to know...yet.

Michael Yon was one of the first blogs that ever read back when I first became aware of blogging, and MilBlogging in general. I was hooked on the very first entry I read: Please Don't Shoot Us. His writing takes you there and you feel as though you are experiencing everything he writes about firsthand. I've heard from several spouses within the Deuce Four that his dispatches were the lifeline that helped them through their loved ones' deployment. I don't doubt it.

For those of you who do not know of Michael Yon, you might recognize a photo he took back in May 2005. You can view it HERE and HERE. The second link will take you to TIME Magazine's Top 10 Viewers' Picks - Michael's photo is amongst the Top 10. He is the only ametuer photographer in the bunch. Does not surprise me in the least. That photo is simply amazing. You can read more about the story behind the photo HERE.

I read a LOT of blogs. Very few bloggers touch me in a way that Michael Yon touches me. I look forward to his dispatches in a way that a child would look forward to Christmas. Lucky for me (and all of Michael's readers) his dispatches come more frequently than Christmas.

So please, if you haven't already, go and read. He's simply incredible. And, if you are so inclined, drop a few bucks in the Support The Next Dispatch tip jar. So far, his readers (if I'm not mistaken) have helped him buy not only camera equipment but body armor as well.

Micheal Yon

UPDATE:There is a NEW POST up and again, it's incredible. Make sure you turn up the volume.


- hfs


The Final Salute

Rarely do I read something in the print media that shakes me to the core. But the "Special Report" in the Rocky Mountain News titled The Final Salute did.

Read it. All twelve pages of it. It is heartwrenching. It is incredible.

I don't ever want to experience that knock on my door but if I do, I pray that it is someone like Major Steve Beck.


- hfs

h/t Blackfive


Matt Pottinger Joins the Marines

Mightier Than the Pen - Why I Gave Up Journalism to Join the Marines

In a way, I see the Marines as a microcosm of America at its best. Their focus isn't on weapons and tactics, but on leadership. That's the whole point of the Marines. They care about each other in good times and bad, they've always had to fight for their existence--even Harry Truman saw them as nothing more than the "Navy's police force"--and they have the strength of their traditions. Their future, like the country's, is worth fighting for. I hope to be part of the effort.

Dead on. Good luck Mr. Pottinger.


- hfs


How To Operate a Helicopter Mechanic

A long, long time ago, back in the days of iron men and wooden rotor blades, a ritual began. It takes place when a helicopter pilot approaches a mechanic to report some difficulty with his aircraft. All mechanics seem to be aware of it, which leads to the conclusion that it's included somewhere in their training, and most are diligent in practicing it.

New pilots are largely ignorant of the ritual because it's neither included in their training, nor handed down to them by older drivers. Older drivers feel that the pain of learning everything the hard way was so exquisite, that they shouldn't deny anyone the pleasure.

There are pilots who refuse to recognize it as a serious professional amenity, no matter how many times they perform it, and are driven to distraction by it. Some take it personally. They get red in the face, fume and boil, and do foolish dances. Some try to take it as a joke, but it's always dead serious. Most pilots find they can't change it, and so accept it and try to practice it with some grace.

The ritual is accomplished before any work is actually done on the aircraft. It has four parts, and goes something like this:

1. The pilot reports the problem. The mechanic says, There's nothing wrong with it."
2. The pilot repeats the complaint. The mechanic replies, "It's the gauge."
3. The pilot persists, plaintively. The mechanic Maintains, "They're all like that."
4.The pilot, heatedly now, explains the problem carefully, enunciating carefully. The mechanic states, "I can't fix it."

After the ritual has been played through in it's entirety, serious discussion begins, and the problem is usually solved forthwith.

Like most rituals, this one has it's roots in antiquity and a basis in experience and common sense. It started back when mechanics first learned to operate pilots, and still serves a number of purposes. It's most important function is that it is a good basic diagnostic technique. Causing the pilot to explain the symptoms of the problem several times in increasing detail not only saves troubleshooting time, but gives the mechanic insight into the pilot's knowledge of how the machine works, and his state of mind.

Every mechanic knows that if the if the last flight was performed at night or in bad weather, some of the problems reported are imagined, some exaggerated, and some are real. Likewise, a personal problem, especially romantic or financial, but including simple fatigue, affects a pilot's perception of every little rattle and thump. There are also chronic whiners complainers to be weeded out and dealt with. While performing the ritual, an unscrupulous mechanic can find out if the pilot can be easily intimidated. If the driver has an obvious personality disorder like prejudices, pet peeves, tender spots, or other manias, they will stick out like handles, with which he can be steered around.

There is a proper way to operate a mechanic as well. Don't confuse "operating" a mechanic with "putting one in his place." The worst and most often repeated mistake is to try to establish an "I'm the pilot and you're just the mechanic" hierarchy. Although a lot of mechanics can and do fly recreationally, they give a damn about doing it for a living. Their satisfaction comes from working on complex and expensive machinery. As a pilot, you are neither feared nor envied, but merely tolerated, for until they actually train monkeys to fly those things, he needs a pilot to put the parts in motion so he can tell if everything is working properly. The driver who tries to put a mech in his "place" is headed for a fall. Sooner or later, he'll try to crank with the blade tied down. After he has snatched the tailboom around to the cabin door and completely burnt out the engine, he'll see the mech there sporting a funny little smirk. Helicopter mechanics are indifferent to attempts at discipline or regimentation other than the discipline of their craft. It's accepted that a good mechanic's personality should contain unpredictable mixtures of irascibility and nonchalance, and should exhibit at least some bizarre behavior.

The basic operation of a mechanic involves four steps:
1. Clean an aircraft. Get out a hose or bucket, a broom, and some rags, and at some strange time of day, like early morning, or when you would normally take your afternoon nap) start cleaning that bird from top to bottom, inside and out. This is guaranteed to knock even the sourest old wrench off balance. He'll be suspicious, but he'll be attracted to this strange behavior like a passing motorist to a roadside accident. He may even join in to make sure you don't break anything. Before you know it , you'll be talking to each other about the aircraft while you're getting a more intimate knowledge of it. Maybe while you're mucking out the pilot's station, you'll see how rude it is to leave coffee cups, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and other trash behind to be cleaned up.
2. Do a thorough pre-flight. Most mechanics are willing to admit to themselves that they might make a mistake, and since a lot of his work must be done at night or in a hurry, a good one likes to have his work checked. Of course he'd rather have another mech do the checking, but a driver is better than nothing. Although they cultivate a deadpan, don't-give-a-damn attitude, mechanics have nightmares about forgetting to torque a nut or leaving tools in inlets and drive shaft tunnels. A mech will let little gigs slide on a machine that is never pre-flighted, not because they won't be noticed, but because he figures the driver will overlook something big someday, and the whole thing will end up in a smoking pile of rubble anyway.
3. Don't abuse the machinery. Mechanics see drivers come and go, so you won't impress one in a thousand with what you can make the aircraft do. They all know she'll lift more than max gross, and will do a hammerhead with half roll. While the driver is confident that the blades and engine and massive frame members will take it, the mech knows that it's the seals and bearings and rivets deep in the guts of the machine that fail from abuse. In a driver mechanics aren't looking for fancy expensive clothes, flashy girlfriends, tricky maneuvers, and lots of juicy stories about Viet Nam. They're looking for one who'll fly the thing so that all the components make their full service life. They also know that high maintenance costs are a good excuse to keep salaries low.
4. Do a post-flight inspection. Nothing feels more deliciously dashing than to end the day by stepping down from the bird and walking off into the sunset while the blade slowly turns down. It's the stuff that beer commercials are made of. The trouble is, it leaves the pilot ignorant of how the aircraft has fared after a hard days work, and leaves the wrench doing a slow burn. The mechanic is an engineer, not a groom, and needs some fresh, first hand information on the aircraft's performance if he is to have it ready to go the next day. A little end-of-the-day conference also gives you one more chance to get him in the short ribs. Tell him the thing flew good. It's been known to make them faint dead away.

As you can see, operating a helicopter mechanic is simple, but it is not easy. What it boils down to is that if a pilot performs his pilot rituals religiously in no time at all he will find the mechanic operating smoothly. ( I have not attempted to explain how to make friends with a mechanic, for that is not known.) Helicopter pilots and mechanics have a strange relationship. It's a symbiotic partnership because one's job depends on the other, but it's an adversary situation too, since one's job is to provide the helicopter with loving care, and the other's is to provide wear and tear. Pilots will probably always regard mechanics as lazy, lecherous, intemperate swine who couldn't make it through flight school, and mechanics will always be convinced that pilots are petulant children with pathological ego problems, a big watch, and a little whatchamacallit. Both points of view are viciously slanderous, of course, and only partly true.

by William C. Dykes
Jolly Green

Helicopter flight: A bunch of spare parts flying in close formation.

Got this in an e-mail from a Safety Center friend of mine down at Rucker...

Anything that screws its way into the sky flies according to unnatural principals.

You never want to sneak up behind an old, high-time helicopter pilot and clap your hands. He will instantly dive for cover and most likely whimper...then get up and smack the shit out of you.

There are no old helicopters laying around airports like you see old airplanes. There is a reason for this. Come to think of it, there are not many old, high-time helicopter pilots hanging around airports either so the first issue is problematic.

You can always tell a helicopter pilot in anything moving: a train, an airplane, a car or a boat. They never smile, they are always listening to the machine and they always hear something they think is not right. Helicopter pilots fly in a mode of intensity, actually more like "spring loaded", while waiting for pieces of their ship to fall off.

Flying a helicopter at any altitude over 500 feet is considered reckless and should be avoided. Flying a helicopter at any altitude or condition that precludes a landing in less than 20 seconds is considered outright foolhardy.

Remember in a helicopter you have about 1 second to lower the collective in an engine failure before the craft becomes unrecoverable. Once you've failed this maneuver the machine flies about as well as a 20 case Coke machine. Even a perfectly executed autorotation only gives you a glide ratio slightly better than that of a brick. 180 degree autorotations are a violent and aerobatic maneuver in my opinion and should be avoided.

When your wings are leading, lagging, flapping, precessing and moving faster than your fuselage there's something unnatural going on. Is this the way men were meant to fly?

While hovering, if you start to sink a bit, you pull up on the collective while twisting the throttle, push with your left foot (more torque) and move the stick left (more translating tendency) to hold your spot. If you now need to stop rising, you do the opposite in that order.Sometimes in wind you do this many times each second. Don't you think that's a strange way to fly?

For Helicopters: You never want to feel a sinking feeling in your gut (low "g" pushover) while flying a two bladed under slung teetering rotor system. You are about to do a snap-roll to the right and crash. For that matter, any remotely aerobatic maneuver should be avoided in a Huey.

Don't push your luck. It will run out soon enough anyway.

If everything is working fine on your helicopter consider yourself temporarily lucky. Something is about to break.

Harry Reasoner once wrote the following about helicopter pilots: "The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by an incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to."

Having said all this, I must admit that flying in a helicopter is one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences I have ever enjoyed: skimming over the tops of trees at 100 knots is something we should all be able to do at least once.

And remember the fighter pilot's prayer: "Lord I pray for the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the balls of a combat helicopter pilot."

Many years later I know that it was sometimes anything but fun, but now it IS something to brag about for those of us who survived the experience.

Made MacGyver laugh. Me too.


- hfs



I am a member of the spouses' club here on post. Each month they have a luncheon. I'm usually more on the ball and get reservations made at the CDC (Child Development Center) far enough in advance that it's not an issue. This month, the luncheon snuck up on me and by the time I realized it, all the slots at the CDC were full. The spouses' club has a contract with CYS (Child and Youth Services) to provide on-site child care during these functions. It's called STACC (Short Term ALternative Child Care). I prefer to take my kids to the CDC because I can choose the time, they are away from me, and I like the staff there better. With STACC, the child care is only available during the luncheon, the kids are RIGHT there (mine don't behave as well when they are on site with me as opposed to being at the CDC), and I"m not all that impressed with the staff.

Because the CDC was full, I needed to make a STACC reservation. No big deal. The luncheon is Thursday and the deadline for making the STACC reservation was Tuesday at noon. So LAST Thursday, I try to call the phone numbers listed in the club newsletter. No answer.

I call again Friday at a differet time, thinking maybe I just caught them during a training time. Again, no answer. Hmm...

Monday rolls around and I try again. And again, no answer. No voice mail. No message. Nothing. Just 2 minutes of ringing and then a message: "No one is available to take your phone call. Please try again later." and it hangs up on me. Now I'm a bit irked.

Tuesday 0800 and I'm on the phone again. The first two phone numbers (the ones from the newsletter) don't get me anywhere. So I call the CDC and they give me a third number. I call it. No answer. (sensing a theme here?) I call the CDC back and ask them if they know any reason why I can't reach anyone. Nope.

So I ask for the main CYS number - I figure I'll find SOMEONE via the main number who can help me. Again, nothing. Between 1100 and 1211 (mind you, the deadline was 1200) I tried continuously to call four DIFFERENT phone numbers and never was able to reach ANYONE. So now I'm screwed. I have a reservation but no child care. Great. So much for a little adult interaction this month.

So I'm fired up and I write a letter to the director of CYS:
December 14, 2005

Director of Child and Youth Services
Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

RE: STACC accessibility

Dear Director,

I am a member of the spouses' club and was planning on attending the luncheon scheduled for December 15, 2005. The CDC on XXXXXXXX was unavailable during the luncheon timeframe so I attempted to make a reservation with STACC using the information provided in the Hui Lei on Thursday, December 8, 2005 but was unable to reach anyone. I tried again on Friday, December 9, 2005 with the same result.
Again, I called the STACC contact numbers on Monday December 12, 2005 and again, no one answered. Tuesday, December 13, 2005, I began dialing at 0800, hoping to reach SOMEONE by the deadline of noon. I tried the two phone numbers listed in the Hui Lei with no success. The line would ring for approximately two minutes and then I would hear a recording that “No one is available to take your call. Please try again later.” I called the CDC to see if they had additional phone numbers for either STACC or the central CYS office. From 1100 to 1211, I attempted to call all FOUR numbers – again, to no avail.
The phone numbers I had were:
• XXX-XXXX (in newsletter)
• XXX-XXXX (in newsletter)
• XXX-XXXX (given by CDC)
• XXX-XXXX (main CYS number given by CDC)
Even though I had FOUR access numbers and began my attempts to make STACC arrangements five days prior to the deadline, I was unable to do so. This is unacceptable. The spouses' club has had the STACC arrangements in place for some time now so there is no excuse as to why I was unable to get through to make a reservation. Because of this, I will have to cancel my luncheon reservation due to lack of child care.
I am incredibly disappointed in both STACC and Child and Youth Services. It is frustrating to me to have this resource available but be unable to access it when I need it. I will be filing a complaint with ICE along with this letter. I will also be sending a copy of this letter to the post paper and to the Garrison Commander. I hope that your office can work to resolve the problem quickly so that no one else has to deal with the frustration I dealt with for the past five days. I do not plan to deal with STACC again.



I planned to drop off the letter to CYS this afternoon in between other errands. CYS is usually located right next door to ACS (Army Community Services) and has been ever since we've been here. Welp, not today. I go by there today and see that - *gasp* - they have MOVED!!! Is there a sign? Nope. Nothing. Great. Thanks for the heads' up. I stop and ask someone outside if they know where CYS went to and they tell me. When I finally find the place (it's on a road with NO STREET SIGNS IN A BUILDING THAT, UP UNTIL A FEW MONTHS AGO WAS UNUSED!) I head inside with my children to hand over this letter.

I sign in and I am the ONLY person there. There are 3 women sitting at various desks. Takes them a few minutes to call my name. Ok, fine. I hand the woman the letter and ask her to give it to the director of CYS. She asks me what the letter is in reference to and I explain to her that I was unable to, over the course of 4 days, access the STACC staff in order to reserve a spot for my children so that I could honor my luncheon reservation for the spouses' club and how frustrating that was.

Get this! She has the AUDACITY to look me in the eye and wave her hand about and say,
"As you can see, we've been in the process of a move."

She then goes on to tell me that they have had trouble with phone lines. Nothing to the effect of "I"m sorry you had difficulty." or "How can we help you with this now?". Nothing. Just the wave of the hand.

It was at that point that A.) I was glad my children were over in the little play area and B.) I quit being nice. I looked her in the eye and told her that a LACK of preparation on CYS' part does NOT constitute an emergency, nor does it justify an inconvenience, on MY part.

I told her that CYS should have had contingency plans in place to accomodate STACC requests and other business during the move (gee, like making sure the f-ing PHONE LINES WORK BEFORE THE MOVE IS ACTUALLY MADE?!? Or how about keeping at least one staff member in the OLD location with the OLD phone number still in place until the NEW location and the NEW phone numbers were up and running?!? What a farking concept...). It's not hard to prepare for stuff like this! Really.

How f-ing hard is it to think beyond the tip of your damn nose and see the big picture??? C'mon people. It's really not that tough! Or, how about cluing the CDC (and the spouses' club - the ones relying upon YOUR office to DO THEIR JOB!) into the fact that your office has moved and you're having trouble with the phone lines? How about an accessible voice mail recording???

So not only will I be passing along the original letter to the Garrison commander, the post paper, and the ICE hotline, I'll be including the addendum detailing the incompetence and utter lack of customer service I received through CYS.


Once again...advice:



- hfs


Merry Christmas to you too, Alan

Fed Boosts Interest Rate again.

As if money wasn't tight enough as it is. Thankyouverymuch Mr> Greenspan. I appreciate it. Can you put a BOW on that for me?

Why is it that every flipping time I feel like we're going to actually make some headway on our debt load, something (or somethingS) pops up and knocks us back? Dammit.

Maybe the 3.1% pay raise the military is *supposed* to get will cover the increased interest charges...


- hfs


‘I Should Give Up?’

Newsweek/MSNBC story

Governor Schwarzenegger is considering granting clemency to Stanley "Tookie" Williams whose execution is set for this coming week. Hopefully he will not turn into a "girly-man" and will uphold the jury's decision that this "man" be put to death.

Newsweek did an interview with Stanley "Tookie" Williams (see link above) that just made my blood boil.

There’s a common perception in the outside world that it would be “better to be dead” than to be locked away for the rest of your life. You are fighting almost until the final hour for yours. Why do you want to go on under the conditions you live in?
First and foremost, I have the heart, the fortitude and the redemption to fight. I’m not culpable. I’m not guilty. I’m not a quitter. I’ve been fighting all my life. Being black is the paramount [reason]. This integrity and fortitude I possess has been foisted down to me from my ancestors who fought to stay alive when they were in slavery, who fought to stay alive during moments of lynching, on down through profiling and other attacks of injustice.

Twelve people found you guilty. Not that juries can't be wrong but after TWENTY FOUR YEARS no new evidence has been put forth, no new trial has been proposed. Nothing has been put forth to dispute the jury's findings. And if you REALLY want to get into it, even if you ARE innocent in THIS case, shall we then delve into the murders you committed during your time with the Crips?? I'm sure that there is enough there to warrant another death sentence - multiple times over.

But getting back to your original claim that you are innocent with regard to the charges against you...where is the evidence? Why hasn't your legal team petitioned for a new trial? There isn't any new evidence because you are GUILTY.

If you had been able to sit in the room with Arnold Schwarzenegger during your clemency hearing, how would you have asked him to spare your life?

I would first and foremost say I am innocent, and if I am granted clemency, I will continue to do my work. I believe that what I’m doing is working. The tens of thousands of e-mails I receive--well, I don’t get e-mail, but that my Web site receives--from people saying they have been helped, demonstrates it’s working, helping people to escape from [lives of violence]. Even if I were granted clemency I wouldn’t rest on my laurels. I recently had the opportunity to meet with the president and CEO of the NAACP, Bruce Gordon. What resulted was a violence-prevention curriculum that the NAACP will sponsor. They are going to use my books and other works to help preserve and teach those who [want to turn their lives around].

And HOPEFULLY Gov. Schwarzenegger would call bullshit just like I would. Did it EVER occur to you that, had you NOT created the Crips (and thus aided in the inception of the Bloods), NONE of your books or your speeches, or your assistance with curriculum would EVER be necessary. Just because thousands of people write to you doesn't mean that you deserve to live. Thousands of people wrote to Jeffery Dhamner, to Charles Manson, to Susan Smith. Does that mean that they are worthy of drawing their next breath? NO. It just means that there are stupid people out there who believe you.

As for Mr. Gordon and the NAACP, what a tragedy it is that an organization designed to help further the African-American community is, instead, trying to help a man who is responsible for devastating that community.

The prosecutors told the governor that your refusal to “debrief” or, as your supporter have said, “to become a snitch” about the Crips sends the wrong message to young people. Why don’t you tell them to cooperate with police? To tell them if they are witnesses to a crime? To help them solve crimes?

Let me say this to you and to the world. I have transformed my life. I am no longer a violent man. I will not, I will never do anything to cause harm to any human being on the face of this planet. If I feel that opening my mouth will harm another human being, it does not matter who they are, what their color or creed is. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. That is something I have vowed to God. My vow to God is more important than what I say to any human being on the face of this earth.

By NOT debriefing and not helping law enforcement break the Crips and other gangs, you ARE making yourself responsible for the further harm of others. Innocents as well as the not-so-innocent. But instead, your sense of righteousness - warped though it is - protects those who would do others harm.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams has been convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. In TWENTY FOUR YEARS, not one shred of evidence has been put forth to challenge that conviction. If you're still unclear as to the details surrounding the case, educate yourself by reading my previous post on this issue, Governor Schwarzenegger Don't Be A Girly-Man.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams deserves the death penalty. Period.

UPDATE: California High Court Refuses Williams' Stay

UPDATE December 12 Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Williams
Good. Good.


- hfs


Five weird habits...just five???

I've been meme-d by Lorelie over at An American in Italy with "5 weird habits." Only FIVE? Aw, hell, this is going to take some effort - not in coming up with five but NARROWING IT DOWN TO just five. Crud.

1. I cannot, CAN NOT, sit still and talk on the phone. I HAVE to be doing something else at the same time. Pacing, folding laundry, you name it. I have a hard time sitting still, regardless of whether I am on the phone but this idiosyncracy is magnified when I am on the phone.

2. I must have Dr. Pepper with Taco Bell. Not Coke. Not Pepsi. Not Sprite or root beer or anything else. Dr. Pepper or nothing at all.

3. When we are getting ready to take a trip, the house must be spotless before we leave. No dishes in the sink (they all go in the dishwasher and then I run the dishwasher as we are heading out the door), no laundry in the baskets, no lint on the carpet, no trash in the trash cans. If we're going to get broken into, I want to KNOW and I can't KNOW unless the house was spotless before we left!

Additionally, I must unpack the suitcases the minute we get back. Dirty laundry must at least go into the hamper, if not into the washer. Toiletries must be put away. Suitcases must be returned to their storage spot. I literally can't sleep unless these things are done.

4. If a picture or other wall-hanging is askew, I must fix it. I actually have a mini level on my keychain for situations like this. I've been known to level artwork at museums, doctors' offices, etc.

5. My closet is organized by type of clothing (pants to be hung, skirts, dress shirts, T shirts, sleeveless shirts, dresses) and by color within each section of clothing. My socks have separate drawers - one for everyday socks and one for dress socks. Even my jeans, which are folded in a drawer, are organized by their level of dressiness - 1 stack of nice jeans and 1 stack of everyday jeans. Ditto on the shorts.

MacGyver, on the other hand, is not nearly as organized. He's getting better (more thanks to the Army than me) but still nowhere NEAR my level of OCD.

Yet, HE'S the one who folds his underware and I do not.

Go figure.

Like Sgt. B I don't tag people but you're free to mooch it off of me if you want - just let me know in the comments and I'll pop by and read yours!


- hfs

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Homes for Our Troops and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Team Up Again!

Homes For Our Troops and ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition teamed up for a second time to work on a project for a deserving wounded veteran.

The show's theme is "Holiday Wishes": Members of the makeover team revisit one family who has received a makeover in the past and join them on a mission to pay their fortune forward.

Watch Homes for Our Troops be a part of this 2 hour episode! It will be a heartwarming show that will make you feel great!

Sunday, December 11, 2005
7:00pm est
On the ABC Television Network

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Homes for our Troops


- hfs


December Hooker Pr0n

I managed to borrow a scanner from a friend and scan in a bunch of pictures that I did not have digital imagery of. So, for those of you who crave it, here is some more Hooker Porn for you!

I'll have to have MacGyver double check these to make sure I get locations and other info correct. He was the one taking the pictures so he would know better than I.

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Anchorage, Alaska.

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I believe this was during a DLQ (Deck Landing Qualification) mission down in Sitka, Alaska.

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Snow. Lots of snow. This must have been a spring day because it is actually sunny and not twilight. On the right, you can see Hangar 1 - it's a historic landmark due to its use during the Cold War.

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The sunrises and sunsets in Alaska were breathtaking and not just because it was usually -20*F outside.

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Landing in snow. I'm sure MacGyver still has dreams of landing in snow.

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And yet another snow landing. All this practice and yet DoD calls up the Savannah unit to go to Afghanistan and fly up in the Hindu Kush...never did understand that one. Another reason I don't work for the Army.

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Sling load.

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I have no idea where this bridge is. I'll see if I can find out.

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That "speck" in the bottom left corner of the photo is a Chinook. I think this was base camp at Denali (aka Mount McKinley). Gives you a bit of perspective on how BIG the mountain is...

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This is one of my favorite shots. MacGyver participated in the extraction of a fossil (several tons worth) up in the Brooks Range. It was a joint mission with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was one of the last things Major Young did in her time as Sugarbear commander.

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Flying in formation.

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Yes, that is some psycho (not MacGyver...he's the one taking the picture) dangling out of the bottom of that helicopter. Takes all kinds, I suppose!

Hope you enjoyed your porn! If you want clarification or have questions about any of the photos, drop a comment and I'll get back to you!


- hfs


Sick Christmas humor

Got these in my inbox today - snorking Coke out your nose is painful...

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- hfs


Joseph Smith gets what he deserves

Joseph Smith sentenced to death

First, I want to know WHO the hell the 2 jurors are that voted AGAINST the death penalty. In Florida, in a death penalty case, the ONLY way that he could have been spared the death penalty is if there were mitigating factors and there were not. I think the two jurors that were against giving the death penalty need to have a mental evaluation.

Second, to those who are against the death penalty...many of you will say that it is not a deterrent. Shut up. If nothing else, it's a deterrent to the person who committed the crime who is put to death. Joseph Smith will NEVER again hurt another person once he is killed. Those of you who say that it's more expensive to enforce the death penalty than it is to house an inmate in jail for the rest of their life...shut up. What you fail to take into account is the societal cost that we - and by "we" I mean law-abiding citizens - have to bear. WE have to worry - constantly - about the safety of ourselves, our families, our friends. WE have to worry about the people we associate with, the people we let into our homes and our lives, the people at our children's schools, the strangers on the street.

Personally speaking, I am willing to bear the cost of effectively enforcing the death penalty as opposed to bearing the cost of allowing animals such as Joseph Smith take another breath.

From the Yahoo! story :
Defense attorney Adam Tebrugge argued for a sentence of life in prison without parole, saying it would punish Smith, protect society and provide "a fitting conclusion to this horrific case."

I must forcefully disagree with Mr. Tebrugge here. Sitting in a jail eating, sleeping, and breathing is NOT adequate punishment for this animal. Nor does it protect society. Removing him from the face of the planet DOES. As for a "fitting conclusion to this horrific case"...NO. It is not a fitting conclusion. A fitting conclusion would be for Mr. Smith to die in the same manner in which he killed Carlie Brucia. If you REALLY want to know how I feel, I think it should be televised but we won't go there right now.

"The Joe Smith, the drug addict who was out of control, will never exist again because he will be kept away from drugs."

Are you HIGH?? It's easier to score drugs INSIDE jail than it is to do so OUTSIDE. Besides, if he's facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, there is no motivation for this man to toe the line. He will face no real consequences for further deviant behavior. But he will be able to COMMITT further deviant behavior because he will be ALIVE.

He raped and murdered a CHILD. Kill him. And let Hell deal with him.


- hfs


I don't GET this

The NAACP is crusading to save Stanley "Tookie" Williams's life.





The NAACP is trying to save the life of one of the men responsible for the creation of one of the most notorious and deadly gangs in the country. A man who, directly and indirectly, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of African-Americans as well as the destruction of the African-American community in Los Angeles and throughout the nation.

And yet, the NAACP chooses to fight for THIS man's life? Why not back the idea that Tookie Williams face up to the consequences of his actions and instead place their support where they purport it to be - behind the African-American community.

Choosing to try to save this "man" is a slap in the face to the African-American community.

Via Right Wing News:

How ironic of a stance is that for the NAACP to take? After all, Tookie Williams has done more damage to black Americans in the last 25 years than the Klan, Robert Byrd, and David Duke combined. Tookie Williams co-founded the Crips and how many black Americans have those animals murdered since then? How many black kids have they helped to get hooked on drugs? How many black Americans have they raped and robbed? How many black neighborhoods have they turned into hellholes full of people who were afraid to come out of their own houses when those scumbags were on the street?

My sentiments exactly.


- hfs


Governor Schwarzenegger, don't be a "girly-man"

When one person kills another, there is immediate revulsion at the nature of the crime. But in a time so short as to seem indecent to the members of the personal family, the dead person ceases to exist as an identifiable figure. To those individuals in the community of good will and empathy, warmth and compassion, only one of the key actors in the drama remains with whom to commiserate—and that is always the criminal. The dead person ceases to be a part of everyday reality, ceases to exist. She is only a figure in a historic event. We inevitably turn away from the past, toward the ongoing reality. And the ongoing reality is the criminal; trapped, anxious, now helpless, isolated, often badgered and bewildered. He usurps the compassion that is justly his victim’s due. He will steal his victim’s moral constituency along with her life.

- The Killing of Bonnie Garland, by Willard Gaylin

The Los Angeles County District Attorney had this to say about the case:

On February 28, 1979, Stanley Williams murdered Albert Lewis Owens during a robbery of a 7-Eleven convenience store. On March 11, 1979, Stanley Williams murdered Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang and Yee-Chen Lin during a robbery at their family run motel, the Brookhaven. In March of 1981, a jury convicted Stanley Williams of the first-degree murder and robbery of Albert Lewis Owens, the first-degree murders of Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang and Yee-Chen Lin, and the robbery of Tsai-Shai Yang.

The jury also found true the allegations that Williams personally used a shotgun during the commission of each of the murders and robberies. Finally, the jury found true the special circumstance allegations of robbery-murder and multiple murder.

On April 15, 1981, the trial court, following the jury’s recommendation, sentenced Williams to death. On October 11, 2005, the United States Supreme Court denied Williams’ petition for writ of Certiorari. On October 24, 2005, Williams’ execution date was set for December 13, 2005.

This cold-blooded killer, Stanley Williams, now seeks mercy, the very mercy he so callously denied Albert, Tsai-Shai, Yen-I, and Yee-Chen. Stanley Williams does not deserve this mercy. In fact, despite the overwhelming nature of the evidence against him, and despite the non-existence of any credible defense, Stanley Williams has steadfastly refused to take any responsibility for the brutal, destructive, and murderous acts he committed. Without such responsibility, there can be no redemption, there can be no atonement, and there should be no mercy.

For nearly 25 years, justice has been held in abeyance while Williams took advantage of a legal system designed to protect his rights. His rights have been protected. It is now time for the victims’ voices to be heard. We ask that clemency be denied, and that the ultimate punishment, imposed so many years ago, now be fulfilled.

Can someone explain to me WHY Hollywood is so damned disconnected from the rest of the world? Why on EARTH do celebrities value Tookie Williams life over the lives that he took? How can they sleep at night?

And, aren't these the same people that advocate FOR a women's right to choose? Does that strike any of you as hypocritical??? Why is Tookie Williams worthy of life but a baby is not?

Tookie Williams has been convicted of murdering 4 people in cold blood. He is the co-founder of one of the most notorious and deadly gangs in this country, the Cripps. Growing up in Southern California, I remember watching the gang wars play out on the TV and the streets. His "creation" is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, many of them innocents caught in the crossfire.

Like the DA's rebuttal said, this "man" has yet to admit or accept responsibility for the murders he was convicted of committing. He continues to claim his innocence. Yet, if you listen to Snoop Dog, Jamie Foxx, and the other celebrities who are clammoring for Tookie's clemency, not once do THEY refer to him as an innocent man. If they truly believe what Tookie Williams proclaims - that he is innocent - then WHY will they not take a stand and refer to him as an "innocent man"?

Because he is not and they know it.

Tookie Williams has been nominated for the Nobel Prize. BFD. Just about anyone can be nominated. Hell, we awarded the damn thing to YASSER ARAFAT, world-renowned terrorist. Yeah, the nomination means a lot...

Tookie Williams has written childrens' books, urging them to stay away from gangs. How about if Tookie Williams had never started the Crips in the first place? How about if he actually DID something worth noting - opening up to law enforcement about the inner-workings of the Crips, providing details regarding murders that have never been solved, helping law enforcement truly make strides against gangs and the havoc they wreak? But he will not. He doesn't want to be a snitch.

What...is he AFRAID that someone will try to take retribution against him for snitching??? He'll be DEAD - what the hell does it matter? If he had truly renounced his ways as gang leader and truly wanted to help to eliminate gangs from society, he would have done this years ago. But instead, he writes childrens' books and gets himself nominated for the Nobel Prize as ploys to keep himself alive.

From the DA's rebuttal :
Stanley Williams does not deserve the mercy of clemency. The evidence clearly establishes that Stanley Williams shot-gunned Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and Yee-Chen Lin to death. These murders were truly horrific.

What man orders another human being to lie face down on the floor and then proceeds to shoot him two times in the back at close range with a shotgun? What man later laughs when he tells his friends how the victim gurgled as he lay dying? Stanley Williams, the admitted cofounder of one of the most violent gangs in existence, is that man. What man, days after shotgunning Albert Owens to death, forces his way into a motel and executes three members of a single family? Stanley Williams is that man.

One can only imagine Albert Owens’ terror as he lay face down on the floor of the storage room at the 7-Eleven and heard the first shotgun blast that was fired into the security monitor. Was he hoping against hope he would not be shot to death? Was he thinking of his two young daughters and whether he would ever see them again, hold them again, tell them how much he loved them again?

Before crossing paths with Stanley Williams, Albert Owens had proudly served in the United States military. He had fathered two beautiful daughters. He had recently moved to Los Angeles to make a better life for him and his family. Stanley Williams took that dream away. He took it away from Albert, his daughters, and his entire family.

Imagine the fear that engulfed Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and their daughter, Yee-Chin Lin as they experienced their last moments alive. Imagine the terror and despair of Robert Yang, the son of Yen-I and Tsai-Shai Yang and the sister of Yee-Chin Lin. Robert testified at Williams’ trial that he heard the sound of someone breaking into the motel, followed by screaming and gunshots. When Robert entered the motel office he saw all of his family dead or dying as a result of the shots fired by Stanley Williams.

Tsai-Shai Yang came to America in 1973 in search of a better life. Her husband, Yen-I, arrived a short time later. In July 1975, the Yangs purchased the Brookhaven Motel. Tsai-Shai and Yen-I ran the motel with their son Robert. At the time of their murders, in addition to Robert, the Yangs had five other children. They also had ten grandchildren.

Yee-Chin Lin was visiting from Taiwan when Stanley Williams murdered her. Yee-Chin was married with three children, a 10 year old daughter, a 13 year old son, and a 14 year old son. When Stanley Williams shot-gunned Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and Yee-Chin Lin to death, he not only took their lives, he stole the hopes and aspirations of the entire Yang family. Little did Yee-Chin’s children know that when they said good-bye to their mother as she left Taiwan for a short visit to America, she would never again return home.

In the petition filed in support of Williams’ request for clemency, the claim is made that Stanley Williams is today a different man. Even if that were the case, the jury’s determination that Williams suffer the penalty of death for his crimes was appropriate and should be carried out. Additionally, Williams has never accepted responsibility for the murders of Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and Yee-Chen Lin, nor has he accepted responsibility for the devastation of their respective families. Williams claims he cannot accept responsibility for these murders because he is innocent. A thorough review of the evidence simply does not support Williams’ claim of innocence. Additionally, Williams has never accepted his responsibility for his plot to escape from the Los Angeles County Jail while awaiting trial. Does an innocent man, a man who is represented by an experienced attorney of his own choosing, plot to escape from custody prior to his trial? This plot to escape from custody involved the plan to kill two sheriff’s deputies, witness Alfred “Blackie” Coward, and the other inmates on the bus. Moreover, this plot to escape from custody and commit additional murders was proven beyond any possible doubt by Williams’ own words, including “[a]s for Blackie hes (sic) only he (sic) heart beat away from death.”

What must not be forgotten is that Williams’ escape plan also called for using dynamite to blow up the sheriff’s transportation bus after he escaped from custody. Williams’ motive to murder all of his fellow inmates on the bus was to prolong his time to escape. In other words, he hoped to prevent the authorities from quickly discovering who, if anyone, had escaped from custody. In an act so demonstrative of Williams’ willingness to kill, he was going to commit mass murder by dynamite, simply to allow himself more time to escape. These are not the actions of a man of peace. Instead, these are the actions of a cold-blooded predator who puts no value on life, unless it is his own.

The petition for clemency filed on Williams’ behalf further contends that he has turned his back on the gang lifestyle of his younger years. However, Williams’ refusal to debrief proves otherwise. As Vernell Crittendon explained on 60 Minutes, if Williams debriefed it would send a powerful message to those who look up to Williams and seek to emulate him. Williams’ refusal to debrief, and his characterization of the debriefing process as “snitching” clearly shows that Williams has not turned his back on the Crips gang, a gang he co-founded. No doubt Williams could provide substantial, in-depth insight into the history and structure of the Crips gang. Additionally, there can be little doubt that Williams could provide significant information relating to many unsolved crimes, including murders both inside and outside the prison walls. This information would help bring closure and some sense of justice to the families of many, many victims.

In the Killing of Bonnie Garland, Willard Gaylin, a psychiatrist, wrote that when a murder is committed there is an “. . . immediate revulsion at the nature of the crime.” However, as Dr. Gaylin explained, the victim soon “. . . ceases to exist as an identifiable figure.” As time passes “. . . the ongoing reality is the criminal” and ultimately the criminal “. . . usurps the compassion that is justly his victim’s due.”

Governor, do not allow Stanley Williams to usurp the compassion that is due Albert Owens. Do not allow Stanley Williams to usurp the compassion that is due Yen-I Yang. Do not allow Stanley Williams to usurp the compassion that is due Tsai-Shai Yang. And do not allow Stanley Williams to usurp the compassion that is due Yee-Chen Lin. Williams has already taken their lives and devastated their families. Stanley Williams does not deserve your sympathy, leniency, or mercy.

The People respectfully request that the Williams’ petition for clemency be denied and that the death sentence imposed by the jury almost twenty-five years ago, and affirmed by every reviewing court, now be carried out.

I hope that Governor Schwarzenegger sees through this excuse of a human being to the true disgusting creature that dwells inside and allows the verdict and the punishment to be carried out.


- hfs

h/t Booker Rising

Andi could use some love

Andi, of Andi's World could use some love today. If you get a chance, head on over and let her know she and her husband are in your thoughts and prayers.


- hfs


Government and You E-News (NMFA)

Each week, NMFA sends out an e-mail titled "Government and You E-News". It's a round up of all of the pertinent issues that NMFA is working on. If you'd like to read the information in its entirety, you may do so HERE.

Here are the headlines :
1. Families Still Waiting For “Families First”: The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) has announcing that the Families First Program, DoD’s latest effort to re-engineer the household goods move process, has entered a “strategic pause” and will not be implemented in early 2006 as recently planned. This delay in a program that was originally intended to be implemented by October 2005 means that families must wait longer for an important benefit: full replacement value reimbursement for goods that were lost or damaged in a move. Congress authorized full replacement value reimbursement in the FY 2004 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but tied its implementation to the roll-out of the Families First re-engineering. Thus, families must wait longer to benefit from something routinely provided in most corporate moves and to Federal civilians. Families First will also feature improved customer service measures.

In announcing the strategic pause, the SDDC noted the difficulties in developing the web-based system that is needed to manage the program. It intends to use this system to provide customers with 24/7 access to personal property shipment information and the ability to contact their movers throughout the move process. The system is intended to allow servicemembers to settle claims directly online with their movers.

An SDDC press release stated: “This pause will allow time to create a more efficient program oversight process, revise our timeline, which will provide ample time for user training while not interfering with peak moving season (May through September).” It also stated the agency “remains committed to launching …Families First.” NMFA has long advocated for the changes to the household goods process that are supposed to be part of the Families First program, especially the implementation of full replacement value reimbursement. We are concerned regarding this latest delay, believing families have waited long enough for the promised improvements to the move process, especially the full replacement value reimbursement. We will continue to press DoD to implement this program as soon as possible. For more information on the Families First program, go to: http://www.sddc.army.mil/Public/Personal%20Property/Families%20First. (Source: http://www.transcom.mil/pa/body.cfm?relnumber=20051118-1)

2. NDAA Goes to Conference: House and Senate Conferees will begin work on reconciling the difference in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 1815 and S.1042. In preparation for the Conference, The Military Coalition (TMC), an umbrella organization of 36 military-related associations of which NMFA is a founding member, sent a letter to Conferees outlining its position on the various issues of contention. In its letter, the TMC indicated its strong support for Senate amendments that would:

* make the recently-increased $100,000 Death Gratuity paid to survivors of combat-related active duty deaths permanent and payable to survivors of all active duty deaths (this was a priority NMFA legislative goal for this year),
* end the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) (another NMFA priority),
* immediately implement the paid-up provision for SBP for retirees who have paid premiums for thirty years,
* expand access to TRICARE on a premium basis for all National Guard and Reserve members,
* provide for immediate concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability pay for disabled military retirees who are rated as unemployable, and
* reduce the Guard and Reserve retirement age by three months for each three months mobilized to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Coalition also urged Conferees to support House provisions to:

* exempt military commissaries from DoD privatization efforts
* require DoD to pay shipping costs of commissary and exchange products overseas rather than passing these costs along to military consumers stationed overseas, and
* increase Permanent Change of Station household goods weight allowances for senior enlisted servicemembers.

The Coalition also referenced its concern about Service end strengths, noting the mission stress currently placed on the force. For more information on The Military Coalition, go to: http://www.themilitarycoalition.org/.

3. Traumatic Injury Protection Added to SGLI: Servicemembers will be enrolled in a new program December 1 that will expand benefits provided through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). The Traumatic SGLI benefit provides payouts of up to $100,000 for servicemembers with traumatic injuries. Benefits will be retroactive from October 7, 2001, for servicemembers who have lost limbs, eyesight, or speech or received other traumatic injuries as a direct result of injuries received during operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. The benefit does not apply to servicemembers suffering from disease. Those enrolled in the SGLI program will notice an increase in their premiums when this program goes into effect. The Traumatic SGLI (TSGLI) benefit will be rolled into the basic SGLI program and will cost $1 a month. TSGLI cannot be declined unless the servicemember also declines basic SGLI coverage. For more information on the new program, go to: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/legislation/TSGLIFacts.htm.

4. TRICARE Reserve Select Premiums to Increase: DoD recently announced the premiums for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) for calendar year 2006. By law, TRS enrollees must pay a set proportion of the cost of their coverage. Premiums will increase by 8.5 percent, to $81 per month for servicemember-only coverage and $253 for servicemember and family coverage. TRICARE Reserve Select is offered for purchase by certain members and former members of the National Guard and Reserve who were called or ordered to active duty, under Title 10, in support of a contingency operation on or after September 11, 2001. They receive one year of TRS eligibility for every 90 days of continuous service. Servicemembers and their unit must agree for the member to stay in the Selected Reserve for one or more whole years to qualify. TRS premiums are adjusted January 1st each year. For more information on TRS, go to: http://tricare.osd.mil/reserve/reserveselect/index.cfm.

5. VA Prescription Co-Pays to Increase by $1.00: Co-payments for outpatient medicines prescribed through Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities will increase by $1.00, to $8.00 per 30-day prescription, on January 1, 2006. This is the first change in the VA prescription drug co-payments in four years. The $1.00 increase will not affect Priority Group 1 veterans, those veterans who have an injury or illness connected with their military serviced resulting in a 50% or greater disability. The increase will however have an impact on veterans in Priority Groups 2 through 8.

Priority Groups 2-6—veterans with less-severe service-connected ailments—will see their prescription drug co-pays rise by $1.00, but their annual out-of-pocket expenses for VA medications will remain capped. The cap will rise to $960.00 per year, however, which is an increase of $120.00 over the 2005 cap.

Priority Groups 7 and 8—those veterans with no service-connected illness or injury—will also see their co-payments increase, but there is no cap on annual prescription payments for veterans in these groups. Read more of the specific details about the co-payment increase at: http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/PressArtInternet.cfm?id=1047.

6. Fewer War Wounds Suffered in Iraq are Fatal: The survival rate for U.S. servicemembers wounded in Iraq has reached 90 percent, higher than in any previous war, and 10 points higher than in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The major reason, says the general in charge of Army medical training, is improved trauma care being delivered moments after injury by medics and a growing number of soldiers trained as combat lifesavers. A few years ago, the Army created the Joint Theater Trauma Registry, a tool to track what occurs for severely wounded patients, from injury through arrival at a stateside medical center. The data confirmed what some trauma experts had been preaching: that the greatest potential for saving more lives was better, more immediate point-of-injury care. That meant enhancing the skills and responsibilities of combat medics, and teaching many other soldiers lifesaving techniques offered through a new Tactical Combat Casualty Course.

The three great threats to body-armored soldiers who receive traumatic wounds are blood loss from damaged limbs, sucking chest wounds and obstructed airways. (Source: http://www.stripesonline.com/articleprint.asp?section=104&article=32212&archive=true)

7. Military Benefits: Which Did You Say is Most Important? Approximately 600 respondents completed NMFA’s recent Military Benefits Survey and told us what they thought were the most important military benefits. Did they choose the same ones that are important to you and your family? Here are a few interesting points from this survey:

* More than 90% of the respondents, including 72% of Guard and Reserve respondents, stated that the commissary and exchanges are important to them.
* 46% of the survey respondents use the commissary weekly or more than once weekly. 28% of the respondents use their exchange benefit at the minimum at least once weekly.
* 80% of the respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with their commissary benefit. Almost 70% of the respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with their exchange benefit. While several respondents mentioned they were often able to find prices lower than the exchange prices at civilian stores, others noted how important exchanges were, especially to servicemembers and families stationed overseas.
* 30% of the Guard and Reserve (G&R), 55% of retirees and 48% of the survivor respondents were not aware of local community retailer discounts for military families.
* 80% of the respondents stated they would shop at stores more often if they did offer discounts to military families. 90% of the G&R respondents stated they would shop there more often and 70% of the retirees and survivor respondents would also shop at those stores more often.
* The fitness center was the top MWR activity choice for respondents, followed by the movie theater and the swimming pool.
* Overall, the top three military benefits selected by respondents in this survey are the Commissary, Exchange and MWR programs.

When asked which military benefit not covered in this survey respondents felt was most important, almost half of the respondents listed the medical/dental/pharmacy benefit. Other important benefits mentioned were Housing/BAH, education programs/schools, and Family Support Centers. When asked what is the most important military benefit not mentioned in this survey, one respondent wrote: DoD Schools. This is the one constant in our children’s' lives. We may move from country to country, but our children always know what to expect when they enter a DoD school. The staff is outstanding and curriculum is standardized. Another respondent stated: All services make a great difference in our lives. Moving from post to post and having all these things available is extremely important.

* Almost 67% of the respondents were military spouses, 10% were retirees, and 13% were servicemembers. 67% are Active Duty and 11% Guard and Reserve affiliated.
* 42% of the respondents were affiliated with the Army, 28% Navy, 15% Air Force and 9% Marine Corps.
* 65% of the respondents are between the ages of 26-45.

Would you have answered the same as these respondents did? Log on to www.nmfa.org/surveys today and look at the survey results. While you’re there, check out our new Quick Polls and tell us what you think! Maybe you would have said this: Being able to spend time with my service member is the MOST valuable benefit that can be offered!

Look for a new survey on Pay and Compensation in January!

8. November is National Adoption Month: Even though it’s the end of the month, it’s never too late to remind folks about adoption opportunities. Military families make great adoptive families and NMFA is working with a variety of organizations to provide more information for military families interested in adopting and thus to help ease the process for them. To learn about the adoption process, familiarize yourself with the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website (http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/). To learn about the nationwide program promoting the adoption of children out of foster care visit the AdoptUSKids website (http://www.adoptuskids.org/). Finally, to learn about the benefits available to military families who adopt, including a reimbursement for some expenses, access the NMFA fact sheet DoD Adoption Reimbursement Program (www.nmfa.org/site/DocServer/DoD_Adoption_Reimbursement_11-05.pdf?docID=3561). There are even provisions in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that address benefits for military families who adopt. One provision would provide a special adoption leave of up to 21 days for servicemembers who have just adopted. Another would expand the types of adoptions eligible for reimbursement of expenses by DoD. NMFA will keep you informed about the disposition of these provisions as the FY 2006 NDAA is passed.

9. Coming Home: The Impact of PTSD on Military and Veteran Families: On Thursday December 8, Representative Lane Evans (D-IL, 17th), the Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is sponsoring a Congressional briefing and panel discussion to highlight both the pivotal role families play in encouraging a servicemember or veteran to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how PTSD can affect military families. Invited panelists include representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, mental health and family therapy experts, military and veteran service organizations, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. NMFA Director, Government Relations, Joyce Raezer, has been invited to participate in the family to discuss the family perspective on this issue. The briefing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on December 8 in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Remember NMFA when Making Your Combined Federal Campaign Contribution: #2113! Thank you for your support!


- hfs


National Military Family Association

I realize that a large portion of the people who read my blog are military spouses. How many of you have griped about the quality of housing? About Tricare? About education for your kids?

I'll admit it - I do. Why do you think I started this blog? But I am not one to merely sit and gripe. Once I have confronted an issue that is bugging me, I try to find a solution. Griping (by itself) gets you nowhere. Acting on an issue does.

For those of you who do have complaints/concerns/issues within military life that you feel need to be addressed (and hey, who doesn't??) what if I were to tell you that there is an organization that exists to act on your concerns?? An organization acting on behalf of military families around the globe that will go to local and state governments, the Department of Defense, and even Congress to alert them to issues affecting the quality of life for military families.

That organization is the National Military Family Association.

Their mission statement:
To serve the families of the seven uniformed services through education, information, advocacy, and programs.

Their goal:
To create an environment that provides for the security of military families; free from financial, physical, and psychological needs.

NMFA is a non-profit organization that is focused solely on quality-of-life issues affecting military families. If you're asking what they DO, here is a good overview:

* The offices of the federal, state, and local governments, as well as DoD, call on NMFA to identify the needs of military families and offer suggestions for solutions.

NMFA is the ONLY organization that puts the military spouse and military family FIRST. NMFA's work benefits ALL military families and future generations of families.

Take a look at the following list of issues that I am sure many of you are familiar with:

* TRICARE for life
* WIC overseas
* Supplemental funding for civilian schools that serve military children
* Increased Famiily Separation Allowance
* Survivor Benefit Plan benefits for the suvivors of active duty deaths

Which of those changes were requested by the DoD?

Not one of them. Each of those items listed above was the result of NMFA's work on the behalf of military families. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Go on over to the National Military Family Association website and check them out. and keep checking back here - I'm going to start highlighting some of the news from NMFA on a regular basis.


- hfs

A man, a mike, and a barstool

Went to see Lewis Black in concert Sunday. Damn funny man. I'm not sure what was funnier - his thoughts on Hawaii (and his observation that, based on how beautiful it is here, it's no wonder that 1 in 10 teachers are absent from work on any given day) or his belief that, in order to win the war on terror we must elect a DEAD president...namely Ronald Regan (his theory being that, in order to defeat an enemy that is more horrific and terrifying than we've ever encountered, we need to show the terrorists that WE are more insane than they are. What better way to do so than to elect a DEAD president?)

His opening act, John, was funny too. There was a sign language interpreter on stage initerpreting for a deaf woman in the front row and he was messing with her. At one point, he decided to hop down in to the audience and asked the audience, "Aren't the acoustics in here GREAT?!?" The deaf woman signed, "How would *I* know?!?" The rest of audience got it and just about died laughing.

Lewis Black had to deal with 2 hecklers, including a local woman (I assume local based on her accent) who chided him to "say something positive!" Um, honey, have never WATCHED Lewis Black on TV??? She must have been given the tickets or have won them somewhere - I can't imagine she would have paid money for tickets without knowing WHO Lewis Black and expecting a "positive" experience. Duh.

If Lewis Black is headed to your town, I'd encourage you to go see him - he's hilarioius. Just be forewarned that he's NOT positive and there is a plethora of f-bombs to be had in his act.


- hfs



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SparkS is the same person who won the auction for the Chinook print that I put up to benefit Project Valour-IT during the fundraiser (more on that in a minute). He also won a personalized cartoon from Chris Muir who does the Day by Day series.

Thanks SparkS!

Now, to the rest of you...I want to extend my own personal thanks for your support for Project Valour-IT, especially during the fundraiser. The totals were posted and the final tally was jaw-dropping. Go check it out! And remember, our ORIGINAL GOAL was a mere $21,000. You all surpassed that in 3 DAYS. Amazing.

I'm sitting here, babysitting the turkey (and the apple pie, the sweet potato apple casserole, the homemade cranberry relish, the apple cole slaw, and the sparkling cider that is chilling in the fridge) listening to Christmas songs and trying to reconcile all of that with the fact that it is 80 stinking degrees outside. Makes it a bit difficult to get into the "mood". But today is all about being thankful (as is the rest of my life) so here are some things I am most thankful for :

* my family
When we moved to Fort Campbell, it was with the knowledge that MacGyver would be deploying within the year. I did not expect to have him home for the holidays this year. But then we got orders to move to Paradise and we dodged that deployment bullet. I am truly thankful that he is with us again this year. I pray that these holidays go by quietly and quickly for those having to endure them without their loved one.

And, even though we are separated by thousands of miles, our extended family is another huge blessing in our lives. Families are the most amazing things and ours is no different. We have West Point grads, rocket scientists, talented wood-workers, passionate, intelligent people who would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it, doctors, homemakers, and teachers. What an amazing group of people and what a blessing.

* our health
This year has been one of medical issues but, all in all, we are all healthy and our extended family is doing well. Those that we prayed for throughout this year are holding strong and I am most thankful for that.

* our country
Despite the issues that this country has faced over the past year, this is still the best place on Earth to live. And the men and women who fight for our country and fight to keep us safe and free deserve our utmost thanks and gratitude. Thank you.

* our friends
Despite the nomadic nature of the military lifestyle, we have been blessed with wonderful friends - both military and civilian. I am truly thankful for each and every one of them - without you all, our lives would be bleak. You all add such warmth and vibrance to our lives and I cannot imagine life without you. Thank you.

* our children
Challenging though they may be at times, I cannot imagine my life without them (nor do I want to). Someone once told me that having children was like having a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body and that is incredibly true. I sat and watched my children play at Princess Trouble's school yesterday as we got ready for her Thanksgiving luncheon and I was overcome with such a wonderful feeling of love and pride and thankfulness for these two amazing people I am blessed with in my life.

What a wonderful day. What a wonderful life.


- hfs

p.s. Happy Birthday to my brother!!!


Things that make you go "hmmmm....."

If you're on the staff of the advertising company charged with creating a new ad campaign for Intel, how the HELL do you come up with this ----->

Want incredible entertainment experiences in your lap?

I'm wondering what the PR people at Intel were wondering when they put this advertising campaign together.

If you haven't seen the ads on TV, you can go HERE to view the ad. Click on "Video/Audio" section and then on "Intel Ad Campaign Showcases".

I'm wondering how this made it past the FCC censors...


- hfs


Glimpses of futures

Mudville Gazette points to two articles today that literally scare the hell out of me. Hopefully, they will scare the hell out of you and everyone else in this country too.

NewsBusters takes a look at Congressman Murtha's involvement in the decision to withdraw from Somalia back ini 1993. And, for those of you who do not remember how that move emboldened Osama bin Laden, here's a direct quote from him (via PBS' Frontline interview with him back in May, 1998:

"But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the ‘heart’ of every Muslim and a remedy to the ‘chests’ of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu."

Neptunus Lex follows up on the NewsBusters' piece with his own incredibly insightful and terrifying post, envisioning what would come if this country were to cut and run.

So we leave, the job undone. What happens next?

Jaafari’s government struggles on a while, trying to accommodate the Sunni west. The hard-won victories on the banks of the Euphrates fade away in memory as the fat men consolidate their power. The mayhem continues in the capital, just to keep the funding lines open from Syria, from Saudi. Just to keep the jihadi’s showing up for more. Just to keep the Shia off-balance.

Tit-for-tat murders escalate as blood feuds replace the throttled rule of law. And as always, in that sad, shattered land, fingers wet to sample the prevailing winds. The Iraqi Army fights, dies, fragments, falls apart and is replaced by local militias. The Sadrists take up arms in the east, the Badr Brigades in the south, the pesh merga in the north and the Saddamite Ba’ath in the west. Everywhere, the knives are sharpened.

Jaafari is assassinated, or removed in a coup, and a “unity government,” a triumvirate of Shia, Kurd and Sunni attempt to stop the bleeding. But in the west, the fat men continue to plot, consolidate and butcher. This is their Iraq. The gutters run red, and at night the sound of gunfire and explosions merely set off the continuous ululation of the widowed, maimed and orphaned.

Another coup takes place against the ineffectual central troika. A Shia general takes his place at the palace and the murdering escalates. The Kurds have had enough and take their leave, bringing Mosul with them and all the oil wealth of the north. The Turks eye a nascent Kurdish homeland uneasily, frowning. They draw their own swords and sharpen them. Forced emigration of Arabs from the north, a reverse “Arabization,” fuels the rage in the center. The philosophical middle ground evaporates, leaving the dialogue to be carried out by the most extreme. Baghdad becomes Beirut. The ones that trusted us die in their tens of thousands, and six thousand miles away we cannot pretend we did not know that this would happen. The remorseless eye of international media feeds all of it into our living rooms and we cannot look away. Some of us will blame it all on the man who sent us in. Others will blame it all on those who called for us to leave. Never having lost a fight in battle, our soldiers will feel betrayed - few of the next generation will wish to follow after them.

And all of this will scarcely matter, because while we hurl recriminations upon each other, they will continue to die in industrial quantities. Eventually the south secedes, aligning itself with Islamic Republic of Iran in order to protect itself from the increasingly desperate depredations of the resource-starved Sunnis. The Saudi’s clutch at their robes and put their own fingers to the air, while the worst of their princes expiate their guilt at all the whoring and drinking they have done across the causeway by sending millions more to Wahhabist madrassas throughout south asia. The streets burn in Kuwait.

At this point, although it seems but small beer compared to the anguished cries of a million souls, gas is $5 per gallon and you are bicycling to work, if you still have a job.

The Syrian Ba’ath recognizes that we are done for another twenty years or so, and organizes more clandestine mayhem in Lebanon. Civil strife, bombings and another coup precede a “request for assistance.” The Syrian army returns to their Lebanese barracks. Those who waved flags for the Cedar Revolution offer up their bodies in resistance, certain that the world will come to their aid this time. They die disabused of that notion. Everyone else takes note: Murder bonds are up, freedom bonds are down. Don’t make eye contact.

Once again the rockets begin to fall to earth in the north of Israel. Once again the Israelis shoot back. The Iranians call our bluff, and the reactors go to work re-processing spent Uranium. The jihadis congratulate themselves on having been proved right: They knew we weren’t up to it. Thus gratified, ranks swelling, they go back to planning new devilry, using the tools and infrastructure of relatively modern Arab state.

To me, that's enough to give me an ulcer. You thought 9/11 was bad? It would be NOTHING in comparrison to what could be coming down the pike if we cut and run now.

On a more hopeful note, Uncle Jimbo, posting for Matt at Blackfive gives us a glimpse into the future. The picture at the end of the post is priceless.


- hfs


The spotlight is back

The Lance Armstrong Foundation is my spotlight for this week. Yes, it's not really a blog but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. So there :P

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) believes that in your battle with cancer, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. From the moment of diagnosis, we provide the practical information and tools you need to live strong. The LAF was founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

We serve our mission through public health, advocacy, research and education, including creating comprehensive survivorship resources for people living with cancer.

I've been cognizant of LAF since I read his book, It's Not About the Bike and have become even more interested in the Foundation since my BIL was diagnosed (as well as my dad for the second time) with his cancer.

I wear my LiveSTRONG bracelet with pride every day.

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- hfs


I see your true colors shining through

So the House Republicans finially grew a spine and found their huevos. Thank goodness. They forced the House Democrats to put up or shut up. The forced a vote in the House on whether or not we (the United States) should pull our troops out of Iraq immediately. The resolution was based on Jack Murtha's assinine demand that we pull our troops out of Iraq and nearby bases within six months.

The final vote was 403 to 3. Four hundred and three of our representatives voted AGAINIST Murtha's proposal. I believe Hugh Hewitt commented that the Democrats were "sound and fury signifying nothing". All bark and no bite.

The left has spent months and months holding marches, holding rallies, holding press conferences and when they were finally called on the carpet to back up their blathering, the only thing they were found to be holding was...well, you know.

Three votes. Three. Pathetic. The three that voted FOR the resolution were : Democrats Cynthia A. McKinney of Georgia, Robert Wexler of Florida and Jose E. Serrano of New York. Way to go y'all. I truly hope, when they come up for re-relection, the voters will send them a strong message that support of our troops is essential to keeping their jobs.

Now that we have cleansed that temper tantrum from our systems, how about we get back to WORK?

...cowards cut and run. Marines never do.

And thank God for that.


- hfs


Oh. My. Goodness.

I can't believe what I am watching. I am sitting here, watching our House of Representatives actually debating and voting upon a resolution to withdraw troops from Iraq.


There are quite a few blogs that are covering this a lot better than I could :

Michelle Malkin

Stop the ACLU


No End But Victory

I'll have more to write after listening to these windbags bloviate. I'm torn between being thrilled that the Republicans finally found their huevos and forced the Democrats to put their money where their mouths are and being appalled that we are actually having to put this to a vote.


- hfs

No End But Victory

Sgt. Hook passes along a letter from the mother of a 101st soldier. It's worth a read and it's worth a forward. Pass it on.

My fellow countrymen and women, we are not overseas for our country alone but also another. We are here to spread democracy and freedom to those who KNOW the true taste of it because they fight for it everyday. You can see the desire in their eyes and I am honored to fight alongside them as an Infantryman in the 101st Airborne.

Freedom is not free, but yet it is everyone’s right to have. Ironic isn’t it? That is why we are here. Though you will always have the skeptics, I know that most of our military will agree with this message. Please, at the request of this soldier spread this message to all you know. We are in Operation Iraqi Freedom and that is our goal. It is a cause that I and thousands of others stand ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for because, Cindy Sheehan, freedom is worth dying for, no matter what country it is! And after the world is free only then can we hope to have peace.

The timing of this letter couldn't be better what, with Congressman Murtha flappinig his gums.

Matt over at Blackfive points to a good website to check out and a good way to counter those Senators whose bloviating undermines the morale and motivation of our troops overseas. Go check out No End But Victory. I firmly believe that it is time for those of us who believe in our mission in the Middle East and want nothing more than to see it succeed to rise up and make our voices heard.

From their mission statement :
Duty. Honor. Country.

I know those words don’t mean much in the halls of the Senate, but they do to a large group of Americans.

Sheepdogs, Rise Up! The time is now.

Harsh words are coming.

Too many would play politics before securing a peace endanger the Iraqis, our troops and us at home. Motivations to withdraw early from Iraq run the gambit of defeatist rhetoric to political protectionism.

The motivations of certain Senators that voted for a withdrawl in Iraq are suspect:

(1) Conservatives and Moderates are playing the polls for the next election because, right now, the President isn’t popular..
(2) Liberals don’t want the military to meet the expectations of the American people resulting in a political sea change in the states.
(3) A few might truly believe that we can meet those expectations and win the war in 2006 and pull our troops out of a safe and democratic Iraq.

Aside for those in category three (idealists or those without cognitive capacity), those who voted for the amendment are putting their own interests ahead of the mission (duty), ahead of everything other than keeping their cushy jobs (honor), ahead of their constituents (country).

Who among you believes that this is NOT politics over country? NOT Senate self-preservation over our soldiers? NOT the fate of their careers over the fate of Iraq?

This is about cutting and running for political cover or gain. Nothing more.

It is entirely possible that, in the end, certain Senators will not be viewed as cowards by their constituents. However…

They will be viewed as cowards by the Iraqis.

Deservedly so.

These demands for withdrawl will be a clarion call to Syria and Iran to keep sending terrorists. It sends a signal to Zarqawi to keep going for just twelve more months. It sends a signal to our allies - particularly Tony Blair who’s been nothing short of miraculous in this fight - that we will always run from adversity because the last forty years has shown that Americans don’t have the stomach for it.

This is our one chance to do it right. To get back on track. To show the world that we mean business.

Sheepdogs, contact your Senators. Contact your congressmen. Call the Congressional switchboard to be connected to any Senate or House office: 202-225-3121.

Write letters to the editor of your hometown papers. Call people. Call your VFW. Call your American Legion. Call your Marine Corps League. Get involved.

Don’t let the politicians hand victory to the terrorists.

To quote Matty O'Blackfive (love that moniker) :
No. End. But. Victory.

That pretty much covers it.


- hfs

h/t Blackfive


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...