Say one for the Marines.

Coast Guard Aviation Association

The Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl

We are asking everyone to say a prayer for “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE the message spread if more could pass it on.

“God Bless America and God Bless the United States Marine Corps… Semper Fi, The Battalion motto “Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever

Little in the media about these guys because few seem to care:

  • Justin Allen, 23,
  • Brett Linley, 29
  • Matthew Weikert, 29
  • Justus Bartett, 27
  • Dave Santos, 21
  • Chase Stanley, 21
  • Jesse Reed, 26
  • Matthew Johnson, 21
  • Zachary Fisher, 24
  • Brandon King, 23
  • Christopher Goeke, 23
  • Sheldon Tate, 27

All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week!

Air Rage: Short term memories, long term profits.

When I was a kid flying around the world in cabin class, I can remember climbing into a BOAC VC-10 and being appalled that the seats were so narrow. I don’t think that I’d be appalled by that today. I think that the US airlines picked up the habit of shrinking seats sometime in the last thirty years, and that the Airline Rage that everybody blames on rude passengers is largely what I’ll call caged rat syndrome. Put enough rats in a small enough box, they’ll go nuts and start eating each other. I think it can happen to people, as well.

When I was a kid, six-foot tall men could sit upright in passenger class on most US airliners without their knees pressing into the back of the seat in front of them. I’m lucky, I’m only 5’7″, and I still don’t have my knees pressed into the seat in front of me. But 6 feet isn’t an unruly height for an average European American, and six footers spend entire flights feeling their knee-caps being slowly misshapen by the seat in front of them.

My most recent several flights have been aboard the aircraft construction monopoly’s 737-800, and they’ve been very uncomfortable flights. The construction monopoly has solved the problem of passengers reclining their seats too far by the simple expedient of limiting that recline to about three or four inches. It isn’t quite far enough to allow me to lay my head back in the seat to take a nap. When I relax, my head lolls forward, so if I do get a nap, I wake up with a desperately stiff neck.

I’m reaching back into memory, since documentation isn’t hanging out in the internet, but my memory tells me that the average Boeing 747 that sold on the US market in the 1970s seated about 435 passengers. Today that same airframe seats at least a hundred more people. The airlines complain that Americans are suffering greater girth to height ratios than they did a couple generations ago, and that is no doubt true. But those airlines cleverly ignore the fact that they’re crowding more bodies into the same airframes and expecting us to be just as comfortable. Add ineffective hypersecurity at the gates, and extra charges for meals, luggage and movies that come in boxes for a relatively small percentage of passengers. Then add in the fact that the authorities blame the passengers for air rage, which means that a pissed off cabin attendant can pour a cold coke in somebody’s lap, then have the passenger escorted from the plane if he barks or airs a grievance.

Air rage may be unacceptable, dangerous to other passengers, and childish. Still, given the 100% full red-eye flights that I’ve taken the last several times I’ve flown out of Alaska, with short me suffering far less physical aggravation than most of the Alaskans on those planes, I have to suggest that Airline Rage is also absolutely predictable, unavoidable, and fully preventable.

Screw the first responders! We have millionaires to protect!

Welcome back Republican Senators. President Obama will surely respect your strength. He fairly gave up a second term to see through the first step on the road to national health care. You filibustered the 9/11 first responders in order to make sure your millionaire buddies don’t face a tax increase. I understand. You’re afraid that the greater body of American millionaires will flee the country in despair if they’re forced to lie about 1% more of their incomes at tax time The lies they’ve generally told for years to make sure their real taxes run 10% or less are nothing compared to the insult of having to lie about 1% more. A tough decision, just like the president made. I hope those millionaires appreciate your unstinting sacrifice, you know, in letting New York first responders die and bankrupt their families trying to pay for medical care for the cancers and heart/lung conditions they developed while responding to what you call the first battle in the war on terrorism.

I admire your stances on party solidarity. While I’m not sure you really earned your pay as senators, I think you’ve more than earned your campaign contributions and side incomes. I’m sure several of you have bright futures with Halliburton and like industries.

On the Verge, Again

On the Verge, Again

I’ll start a new job later this month as a technical writer and editor for a federal government agency. I understand I’ll be editing technical and scientific reports, providing web-site content, possibly visiting Alaskan villages, and using desktop publishing tools to lay-out a very large periodic report for the Alaska branch of the Bureau.

I’m not at all sure I’ll have time to write the things I love.

By the other token, when I wrote my last completed book, I was working full time on my Masters degree, working part-time for money, and teaching two classes in order to learn that trade/stay occupied. It’s possible that I need to be overworked in order to be really productive as a writer.

I hope that is so.

I said goodbye to a very successful agent not long ago. He seems to like me, and he likes my writing, but he just doesn’t understand this whole business about zooks, ghasten, and the sort of people who will put their lives on the line to save the world, but won’t answer to a strong central authority. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked for a somewhat schizophrenic strong central authority for most of my professional life, lived with the idea that I have to follow orders without question, except for the illegal ones which I must recognize and refuse, supported bosses I didn’t trust, even when they were transparently about to get themselves fired and tar my reputation, worked cheek by jowl with the mysterious powers that be, even when it was painfully obvious that they were as warty and human as I am – but I have no trouble at all seeing that some types of people just can’t work within a controlling system, yet will still live and die to protect the civilization that puts food on the table and movies in the theaters.

The downside of losing an agent in today’s market is that my odds of successful mass market publication appear to go down significantly. The upside is that now I can write my next story without having to wade through a barrage of off-target criticism by a committee of agents who make it clear every time they put pen to paper that they just don’t understand the story and want to pigeonhole the author. I have to keep faith that eventually, I’ll find a U.S. agent that loves my stories, and not the unwritten ones in his head that mine remind him of. I’ll have to believe that, because my odds of being published through the services of an agency that was never going to actually market a story they wouldn’t understand, were actually nil. Odds can’t go down from zero.

In going to work for the Bureau, I’m most likely saying goodbye to a career in academia. I’ve enjoyed working in a university setting for the last several years far more than I ever thought I might. I’ve always been a campus junkie, always loved open lawns with kids throwing Frisbee between classes. Here in Alaska, that campus isn’t exactly a rolling garden, but a lot of people bring their dogs, who seem quite welcome, which for me is a great benefit. I’ll still teach the occasional class, I think. I seem to be a popular teacher, as long as I stay carefully in the adjunct professor box.

My family said goodbye to our last puppy this week. She’s happy in her new home in Canada, and I’m exceedingly pleased with how well she’s fitting in. Over the next several months, we’ll need to decide if we breed Danika the dog again, or look for a new female to breed Danika’s twenty-two month old son Sirocco with. Or, perhaps we’ll give up on the stress of selling rare breed dogs from Alaska. Letting a dog go after four months tears at the soul and leaves the children moping around the house.

I’m fifty this year. Looking back, it seems as though we’ve always been on the verge of something. I hope it really is the journey that’s important.