Monday, September 29, 2008

But All I Got Is A Photograph..................


My glacial creep into the technology of the 21st century continues. I now have a digital camera and hopefully will be getting some photos of whatever I am talking about or working on and place them on this blog.

Now, if I can just figure out how to do it.

It might not be pretty to watch folks. -grin-

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Little Runaway..........

I just recently saw in the newspaper that a employee at Home Depot was recently fired for chasing a shoplifter out of his store. Not more than a week later one of our local police agencies instituted a "no chase" policy for it's officers.

Now I know no one asked me, but I think that is a piss poor policy to have.

I know the logic, that by chasing the bad guys it may cause them to do stupid things to get away and endanger the public. That's why the no chase policy came up in the first place, a woman shoplifted from a store got into her car and ran from the police and hit another car killing two people. I have the greatest sympathy for the folks that got killed and the feelings of their loved ones, but somehow it got turned into the police officer's fault because he chased the crook. The letters to the editor in the local paper were full of that kind of thing. Folks, If the woman hadn't first shoplifted then tried to get away, well then NONE of this would have happened.

All I can see happening with policy like this is that folks WILL try to run because they know that once they hit a certain speed, then the police will give up and let them go. Just like with Home Depot putting it out that they will not try to stop you if you shoplift. I bet you a fat man (and here he sits) that they have a fairly significant rise in thefts.

Back when I was a young pup and limber I would run bad guys until I would drop. If I caught 'em fine and good, if not, well there was always next time. I never had a boss that would make the call for me. He trusted my judgement. Have we gotten to the point where we are so scared of law suits and taking responsibility for our actions that we can't do the right thing anymore? Lord I hope not.

Speaking of which, I figured I would share a war story with you. I was patrolling at one time when I was much younger and saw a fellow that just looked like he was up to something. I went over to talk to him and he took off running. Of course I gave pursuit and caught up to him and found some controlled substances as well as a concealed weapon on his person as a result of a "terry frisk" Well, sometime later, while testifying in court, this gentleman's P.D. started giving me grief about chasing his client when he took off running. It seems that he didn't think I had a good reason to chase him. Well, again I was young and full o' beans, so I told the P.D. that I was somewhat religious and when the defendant took off running, a voice told me Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." That ended the session and I was dismissed from the stand. After the case was over, the D.A. called me over and told me that while it WAS funny, if I ever pulled a stunt like that again in his court, bowing to my religious beliefs that he would crucify me.

I behaved myself in court after that.

Ah, For Just One Time I Would Take the Northwest Passage To Find the Hand of Franklin Reaching for the Beaufort Sea.........

My interest in historical sailors and sea voyages has led me to another fascinating book. (one of these days I gotta quit looking on ABE books site) The title of this little gem is "Frozen in Time unlocking the secrets of the Franklin expedition".

First a wee bit of a back round.

Man has always been on a quest to find the Northwest Passage, a water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic. This would have been a short cut to the treasures of the Orient and would have made the country that discovered this route both wealthy and powerful. There were many attempts to locate the passage all ending in failure. On May 19th, 1845 an expedition consisting of two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and 129 personnel commanded by Sir John Franklin set sail for the Arctic. The ships were last seen in the Arctic in August of that year never to be seen again.

Frozen in Time recounts the attempts at locating the Franklin expedition as well as trying to figure out what went wrong. After all this was one of the best prepared and equipped expeditions that had ever been sent out. They had 5 years supplies which could have been easily stretched to 7 years without many problems. So what went wrong?

The authors through archeology and forensic pathology make some surprising discoveries. To get this information, the authors as a part of a scientific study excavated the graves of three members of the Franklin expedition who had died in 1846. Because the graves were in permafrost the bodies of these three men were remarkably preserved. It was necessary to thaw out the bodies with warm water. This book has multiple photos of the bodies as they were being excavated and while they are graphic, somehow they invoke a degree of pity and compassion.

Testing on the bodies reveled that they contained a very high level of lead in the tissues. So much lead that it had affected the health of the seamen. But where did the lead come from?

The largest portion of the supplies packed for the expedition were packed in the newly developed tin cans. Based on empty cans found in relationship to other Franklin artifacts the cans were not sealed properly and had very large exposed seams sealed with lead. The hypothesis is that lead leached into the food product from the exposed lead and also some foods were cooked while still in the can thus giving even more lead exposure. With this much lead in a person's system it debilitated the body to such a degree that they were both prone to chronic sickness as well as mental instability which in the deadly conditions of the Arctic would lead to death.

Sadly enough, the very thing that was suppose to save the lives of the crew, served as the cause of their deaths on the cold, lonely Arctic waste.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Will Rant And We'll Roar Like True British Sailors,

Well I am back from Maryland and back in the swing of things at Casa Williams.

I must say that I was just a little disappointed with the event I went to. Not that the event it's self was bad, from all that I heard from the folks that were there as well as what I saw it seemed to be a great event. My disappointment came from the fact that my knee let me down once again. I got to the event about 7:30 on Saturday morning and found Doc and Miss Jan set up and ready to go. Doc had his medical gear and Ms. Jan was there in support. That was all the Dragon crew that was there. The boss was down with the flu and no one else on the crew could make it. I brought my rope stuff and worked up a ditty bag for a shipmate and just talked to the public. We were set up between the Royal Marines and the 21st so I had plenty of reenactor friends to talk to also. And of course, Ms. Jan to flirt with. After off-loading the car, I had a pretty good walk in from the parking area (even with finding a handicapped spot in the visitor parking. which was only one quarter the distance that I would have walked from the regular reenactor parking. ) Now one of the good things about setting up where where we did was the fact that I had good friends in both of the surrounding groups. Every now and then, I was offered refreshments which I was much too polite to refuse. Hard cider and M&Ms, are a perfect finish to a plowman's lunch. -GRIN- Since I wasn't able to take to the field, I had even made arrangements to have a buddy show up to serve as a surrogate trigger puller for me. Mr Randal of the Virginia branch of my family said he would show up so that I could drink a few after hours if I so desired. (I refuse to drive a car after even one drink of alcohol. I have seen that kind of foolishness screw up way too many people)

As the day progressed, the knee got worse and worse, until when it was time for the the park to shut down for the day I gave it up and went back to the Randall homestead where ice bags, tens unit and knee established a therapeutic repartee.

All in all, a bust of a event for me, but I was glad I went so I could spend time with my extended family, shipmates and friends.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Farewell and adieu, to you, Spanish ladies.........

Well, in a few hours I head north to the Chesapeake for a 1812 event where I get to portray a Royal Navy sailor from the HMS Dragon. This will be the first big event for 1812 I have attended and am looking forward to seeing how they do it. I will give a full event report on my return, as well as fill you in on other odds and ends that I have been playing around with.

King George and old England forever!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good bye, and Thanks.............

I saw on the news today that General David Petraeus is handing over the command of his troops to another to take a well deserved promotion. Our country owes this gentleman a great deal for his many and untiring efforts in Iraq. He has turned things around militarily so that we can at the very least, see a bright light at the end of what was a long and dark tunnel.

My feelings echo what Sam Watkins said when he heard that Joe Johnson had been replaced as the Army of Tennessee's commander:

"Good bye, old fellow. We loved you, because you made us love ourselves"

Thursday, September 11, 2008


For some reason, I remember it being slightly overcast. Several times I have heard that the sky was brilliant blue, a perfect day up and down the east coast. But I don't remember it being that way.

I had just dropped my good wife off at the Greensboro airport so that she and her mother could go to California to a wedding. I was off duty that day and had to go to pick up some bread for a Revwar event scheduled for that weekend. Other than that, I didn't have much on my dance card, other than a very loose idea to run down a best buddy to have some lunch with.

When I am driving, I normally listen to CD's but that morning I was channel surfing the radio when I started hearing about a possible airplane crash into one of the World Trade Center building. First thing that popped into my head was "What kind of dumbass would fly into a big building like that? " As I continued to listen, what I was thinking was echoed by the disc jockeys. Then the second airliner hit the second building. It was pretty obvious at that point that there was something terribly wrong. I didn't know what else to do, so I continued on and got the bread then when back to the house. There were several messages on the machine, mostly from the good wife wanting me to come back to the airport to get her. The feds had ordered all aircraft to be grounded and she wasn't going anywhere until I got back there. I got back into the car and went back to the airport, still listening to all the reports, the shock quite obvious in the voices of the commentators on the various radio stations. By the time I got back to the Greensboro airport, the details of the attack had become more clear. The hit on the Pentagon, rumors of a aircraft going down in PA, and the constant talk of massive casualties. The good wife and myself were somewhat subdued as we went back home. When we arrived we flopped in front of the TV and watched the story unfold. We just couldn't tear ourselves away from what was like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

That is my memory of 9-11-01. I guess every generation has it's "what were you doing when?" moments. My dad and mom remember what they were doing when they heard about Pearl Harbor. My sister when she heard about John Kennedy being shot. 9-11 was my generations "moment" It was the time that our world changed forever.

I have a lot of thoughts about that day. First is the sheer numbers involved. It was hard to get my head around the number of people that were killed that day. Stalin, a man who killed a bunch of people in his time, once said, "one death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic." Sadly he was telling the truth. Large numbers of deaths don't seem to be real to the average person. That is why I made every effort to try to put a human face on the folks that died.

Another thought was that I became very angry when people compared 9-11 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was a military instillation, 99% of the people killed were military personnel. While the December 7th attack was totally against the American sense of fair play, there was at least a effort to act within the rules of war by the Japanese. Their target was the U.S. Pacific fleet. On 9-11, the only motivation was to kill as many people as possible and their target was civilian. It made no difference to the hijackers as to age, sex, race or background of their victims. A large body count was all they wanted as well as publicity for their cause.

I lost a bunch of brothers and sisters that day. Their bravery and valor shall always be remembered. There were 343 firefighters and first responders as well as 72 law enforcement officers killed that day. Responding to the call of duty, they ran into that man made hell, as most others ran out.

John 15:13 says it best,

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Wanna be Elected.......Part Deux

I am beginning to have just a little bit more faith in the American electorate. This is a quote from a blog I keep up with when it was announced that Sarah Palin was McCane's choice for V.P.

"I'd hit that.

Like the fist of an angry god.

And just to prove that I'm not totally shallow, I'd even vote for her in the morning"

America can rest easy now.....................

(I gotta admit it DID make me laugh however)

I don't know who put the Liquor in the well but I think know who found it...........

As you know, I like to commemorate various historic dates on this blog. Well I missed one that was pointed out to me by a shipmate on his blog.

But first, a little background. A few years back while rambling through the library at Guilford Courthouse N.M.P. I discovered a small book with the title "Cups of Valor" written by N.E. Beveridge. It was a amusing look at the relationship of strong drink with members of our military throughout history. I was so taken with this book I bought my own copy.

A little research into the author reveals that Beveridge was the pen name of Harold L. Peterson one time chief curator of the National Park Service. Anyone who is into history knows who Peterson was and knows why he was somewhat reluctant to have his name attached to a book about drinking. Mr. Peterson's volume is where I am obtaining the information for this blog entry.

Having said that, the date that I missed was August 31st 1862. The previous July, a general order was issued to the U.S. Navy to the effect that " As of the 1st day of September 1862 the spirit ration shall forever cease"

Alcohol has had a very long tradition with the sea and seamen. It was considered a right and privilege to be given alcohol as a part of the seaman's pay. The U.S. Navy had followed this tradition from it's birth but with a few changes. Rather than the traditional Rum, Whiskey was issued. (No doubt an economy move but also because whiskey was thought to be more "wholesome")

However, due to the various temperance movements there had been several attempts at "drying out" the Navy. In 1840 the ration was cut in half. Finally on that most horrid day, August 31st 1862 it was done away with. So as not to cheat the poor sailor out of his due , his pay was boosted 5 cents a day to reimburse him for the stoppage.

That is not to say that the Navy went totally dry, seamen and marines could still buy beer and wine on shipboard and at shore stations. The Navy department put a end to this practice with General Order 508 dated February 3rd 1899. This order stated " It was forbidden to sell all malt or alcohol containing beverages on board ships or shore stations" That made the Navy dry for the enlisted men.

The Officers however were still able to buy beer and wine for the officer's mess (and hard liquor which was winked at when consumed in the officer's cabins) This too was halted in 1914 when Josephus Daniels was appointed Secretary of the Navy by Woodrow Wilson. (Yep Andrew, the News and Observer one. This is one of the reasons I can't stand that paper to this day) Daniels was know as a teetotaler and thought that every one else should be also. One of his first acts when he was appointed was to issue General Order 99 which forbid " the sale of any kind of alcoholic beverage to anyone, on any navy property ashore or at sea" This regulation was in place until the end of national prohibition in 1933 when alcohol was allowed back on naval bases but not on shipboard.

So there you go. Interestingly enough, the British navy continued to issue rum to it's seamen until 1970 at which time they stopped the practice.

Oh yeah, one more thing. The term "a cuppa Joe" was navy slang for coffee, the strongest beverage available on board a ship after Joe Daniels had his way.