Friday, September 30, 2005

SFC Buzz Robertson is someone I want to know

Mr. Completely is another pacific northwest blogger who has joined the Project Valour blog team, and who I hope to meet one day soon. He started blogging about SFC Robert "Buzz" Robertson a few weeks ago, requesting that cards and emails of support be sent to help keep Buzz's spirits up.

I just received this email, and I am posting all of the relevant parts below.

I am writing to ask for your help.

My nephew, Sgt. Richard (Buzz) Robertson was wounded in Iraq last week. He had shrapnel in his liver and stomach. The worst of his injuries is a lacerated spinal cord. He is currently in Walter Reed Hospital and has a 50% chance of ever being able to walk again. Buzz and his unit were in an up-armored Humvee when they hit an IED near the border of Syria. Several of the men died so we are very lucky that Buzz is a survivor.

His wife and baby daughter are visiting him daily - and his mother, my sister, has been with him all week and will stay in Washington DC until they operate on his spine.

Meanwhile a crowd of Code Pink idiots are protesting the war outside of Walter Reed Hospital where the patients and their visitors can see them. My sister reports that instead of demoralizing her, it makes her angry for the lack of respect shown for our war heroes.

What Buzz needs most right now is to know that we as a nation are grateful for his service and wish him well. Please send him a cheerful get well or thank you card. Thank him for his service. Let him know your thoughts and prayers are with him.

Buzz's injuries are serious - with the worst being the damage to his spine. In the Wednesday Update, it looked like the next week would be spent preparing for transfer to a long-term rehabilitation facility for spinal injuries. However, the latest news is a bit of a setback, and notes that he will continue to be at Walter Reed a bit longer. Luckily his wife and 3-year old daughter are able to visit him every day.

Also contained in Mr. Completely's update yesterday is the news of another of Buzz's mates arriving at WR ... one of the soldiers, in fact, who helped to pull Buzz from his destroyed vehicle. Chuck Yerry needs to hear from all of us as well - he has already lost most of his right leg, and there is damage to his left as well. Please go visit Mr. Completely to get the contact information, send emails, send cards, and keep these men and their families in your thoughts and prayers!

Lastly - to all of those who drove Project Valour, and donated to it and to Soldiers' Angels, here is a wonderful example of the positive effect. You see, Buzz is using a laptop brought to him at Walter Reed by the Soldiers' Angels group ... This is what it's all about, people!

UPDATE : Here are the addresses for Buzz and Chuck...

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Patient: SFC Richard C. Robertson
Room 5861
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20307

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Patient: Chuck Yerry
Room 5734
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20307

Also, you can send emails of support to either Chuck or Buzz at:


The same action that wounded Buzz took the lives of three other men in his unit / task group :

Sgt. 1st Class Trevor J. Diesing, 30, of Plum City, Wis.
Master Sgt. Ivica Jerak, 42, of Houston, Texas.
Cpl. Timothy M. Shea, 22, of Sonoma, Calif.

You can read more about them at Echo9er's site , where there are links to the DoD announcement.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Gun Pr0n

While driving through the Swiss countryside one day, we took a side trip to the town of Vallorbe. It's not a name I had heard before, but the picture in the guide map showed a tank, so of course I couldn't resist!

Fort de Pré-Giroud is "an extensive military complex dug into a hillside in 1937 to defend against possible incursion by enemy forces over the nearby Col de Jougne from France. An innocuous chalet on the surface hides vertical shafts giving access to chilly labyrinthine tunnels and a whole subterranean bunker, complete with kitchen, dorms and a hospital, capable of supporting 130 people."

Three 7.5 cm guns were mounted to cover the valley completely, and are still present today :
click for hi-res

Also present are the soldiers' rifles, all lined up in their numbered stands :
click for hi-res

The tour was conducted completely in French, as our guide could not speak much English. They had a great info sheet in English, but we had to return it at the end of the tour. It was fascinating anyways, and well worth the time to drive into the hills and visit.

In addition to the tank outside, there were several artillery pieces - a 10.5cm, a 7.5cm and second model of 7.5cm.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Home Sweet Home

We had a lot of driving to accomplish yesterday, as we started the day in Venice, and needed to catch our plane in Zurich this morning. The Hubster graciously agreed to allow me one last side trip, to the lovely fairyland castle of King Ludwig II.

It all looked So-o-o simple on the map, but it turned into a real driving marathon! We left Venice at 8am and drove north, hitting Innsbruck, Austria around noon. We continued on the main highway a bit further, then rambled through the country side for an hour and a half to reach the environs of Schloss Neuschwanstein.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Unfortunately, we had to wait 90 minutes until the next available tour. It was definitely worth it - but it made for a LONG day, as we didn't get into Zurich until about 9, and then couldn't find our hotel!

This morning we got up at the crack of dawn - the equivalent of 9pm last night here in Seattle. I got 2 hours of sleep on the flight home, and I'm a bit tired now, so more pictures and travelogue will have to wait.

I'm off to sleep now - in my own bed .. Yay!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Quick Update from Venezia

We successfully navigated the AutoStradas and other roadways between Firenze and Venezia on Thursday, and checked into the lovely Westin Lido Palace, which is a lovely resort on Lido Island next to the actual island(s) of Venice.  The Adriatic is lovely, the sun is shining, and we couldn’t ask for better weather.


Friday was spent working on the trade balance on the glass islands(s) of Murano.  Many shops and many footsteps later, we realized that the shopping had to end, or we would need new luggage to take everything home!


In a few minutes, we will be walking down to the boat docks to again ride into Venice, today’s agenda is the Plaza San Marcos, then more shopping and other entertainments.  I may not have another chance to blog until Tuesday, since we arrive home on Monday after a full day of flying. 



Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Top of Europe

No pictures to share yet … but the trip is going well.  Arrived in Zurich on Wednesday morning, and then connected to Geneva, where we rented a car to drive to Lausanne on the north shore of Lake Geneva.  Absolutely lovely place. 


By far the most wonderful side trip that we took this week was the railroad tour to ‘The Top of Europe’.  There is no way in Hades that I will ever climb the Eiger using pitons and rope.  But I looked out of the North Wall from a point about a third of the wall up the face  … from the Inside!  What a hoot.  The tunnel goes through the solid rock, and comes out on top for an absolutely stunning view.


Heading to Florence / Firenze tomorrow … Ciao!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Shooters! New e-postal match up ...

The Analog Kid has announced a new e-postal shooting match. This one is a leetle different ...

Here is the scenario:

Your town has been hit by a hurricane. While your incompetent Mayor has ordered an evacuation, the street gangs stuck out the storm so that they could loot the empty homes before people came back into town.

You stuck it out at home as well. Now you have to contend with them wanting your property, your wife and your daughter.

To Really appreciate the fun, go over and read the whole thing, and check out the 'totally inoffensive' target!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering 9/11

I was at work when we started getting news of the planes hitting the towers in New York City. A co-worker was watching the news on his computer, and he kept saying "One of the towers has collapsed", at which we scoffed - thinking that was impossible. Then I saw the image of the second tower, with smoke billowing out of it, and realized he was right. Disbelief and shock numbed me speechless.

We moved to the nearby conference room to watch the TV news, and I stood with other employees from all over our floor as we tried to absorb the horror of airplanes used as weapons, and the loss of life. I comforted a friend (also named Barb) who had family in the city - thankfully we learned the next day that they were safe.

Relief that I had no one close to me killed or injured was overshadowed by sadness for all of the families who would never be the same. I remember thinking at one point that I was relieved my own parents had already passed - because the horror would have broken their hearts.

The company sent out notice that volunteers were being accepted to man teams who would travel to the east coast to set up data centers, assist in the recovery of the systems of affected companies, coordinate free tech support, etc. Virtually all of our little team volunteered, although none were called. We continued to assist customers, with any call coming from the affected areas being routed as a priority.

It was four years ago, but these memories are as clear as ever. I don't think of them every day, but I pull them out to remember periodically - so that my resolve stays firm.

We are in a war - and we have to win it.

As I look around, I am deeply touched by the offerings of my blog friends : Fuzzybear Lioness sang a Requiem, Kat reminds us how personal the war is, Snarkatron remembers the day that started like any other, John ties the past to the present, Jack still has questions, while Sgt B provides candles in the darkness and offers his remembrance.

ALa takes a long view, returning to the sites of many terrorist attacks over the years. Check to see if you remembered all of the acts of violent terrorism she recalls.

Lex finds it hard to believe that it has been four years. Mrs. Grayhawk has a pictorial timeline : 8:45 am, 9:03 am, and 9:43 am. Blackfive reminds us we are One People, and points to Grayhawk's post on Rick Rescorla - someone you should know.

MORE Memories ...

MSG Keith

Meanwhile, SF at SFSays has a prediction.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More Goodies...

Almost forgot the link to this week's Carnival of the Recipes, hosted beautifully by Jordana at Curmudgeonry, and including a meatloaf recipe from SWWBO that looks yummy!

Meanwhile, The Armorer proves that he can predict the future, and Cassandra has pictures of the National Zoo's littlest Panda to Oooh and Aaah over...

Happy Saturday

WhooHoo!  Late last night the Visitor counter tripped over 20K.  The visitor was from Renton, Washington, and logged in around 10:39 pacific time.

Sorry, No prizes.  Leave a comment to let me know who you are, and thanks for stopping by!  

It's a nice, wet Saturday here in the PNW - surprise, surprise.  So I wandered around a bit to see what's shakin'.

Looks like The Crazy Ride Lady is getting used to her new equipment.   Curious AFSister uncovered the reason for Sean Penn to travel to New Orleans.  That Straight White Guy, Eric, celebrates 2 years of blogging - but he's worried about the new skirt design ... for men!

MSG Keith has a new Now and Then post up, and once again provides information you just won't find in the MSM.  Meanwhile, the Heartless Libertarian lives up to his moniker

Over at Diary of a Hollywood Refuge, the Huntress gives a detailed analysis of the poor box-office turn out for the summer.  She also has some juicy rants - just start here and work your way down!

Lex is off to Monterey to get his head filled to the brim.  I'm also going to be on the road for the next couple of weeks, so this post is my first attempt at posting by email.  Either way, though, I'm going to have way more fun in Europe ... Neener-Neener! 

Speaking of travel, have you ever wondered just how busy the U.S. skies are with air traffic?  Check out this movie of one day's traffic - it's cool, and a little bit scary!  (Note : the file is big, and may take a few minutes to download - give it time)  H/T to the Top Men at Wohba.

John of Argghhh! has updates on the Katrina relief efforts and support from foreign sources.  He also has a link to the best picture story of what really happened in New Orleans ... very eye opening, and awesome pictures!

In that vein, Blackfive shares a video showing the work of the 20th Special Forces National Guard unit in New Orleans. Watch closely towards the end of the video, as you see several rescued people and animals being transported - note the t-shirts of some of the DMAT CA-4 team from San Diego who are assisting. Yes, they take donations as well ... just sayin'.

Speaking of donations - Smash's Katrina donations challenge with Code Pink continues through Monday.  Get your donation to the American Red Cross added to the challenge.  Left / Right / Center, we don't care who donates, it's not about us - it's about the people who need to get their lives started over again, and the ones who are still in danger.  Go here to read the rules and make a donation.

There ... that should keep you busy for a few! 

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More 'Rescuers' Behaving Badly

Another example of people behaving outrageously was observed by a family of British tourists last week.


Female survivors urged to flash breasts for help
Rescuers told gals on rooftops to 'show us what you've got'

Female survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were urged by government rescuers to flash their breasts in order to receive help in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

That according to English tourists who are now just returning to the United Kingdom, relating their horror stories to British media.

Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was on his annual vacation at New Orleans' Ramada Hotel with his wife Sandra, 37, and their 7-year-old son, Ronan.

"I could not describe how bad the authorities were, taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs," Scott told BBC News.

Scott said there was a group of girls standing on the lobby's roof, calling out to passing rescuers for help.

"[The authorities] said to them, 'Well, show us what you've got' – doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and [the rescuers] said 'well fine,' and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That's the sort of help we had from the authorities," he said.

New Orleans is noted for women flashing their breasts in public, especially during the annual Mardi Gras festival.

Scott called the relief operation "horrendous," noting police officers had taken "souvenir" photographs of stranded people begging for help.

No real surprise here, is there? It's just another data point in a huge pile of evidence that people come in all types, even within the so-called 'authorities'.

But it would be nice to think that the people who actually took the energy to man the rescue boats looking for people in distress would be from the top of the barrel, instead of the bottom ... wouldn't it?

H/T to fellow Denizen Boquisucio.

Ben Stein is a *Real* Celebrity

We've all had a good little laugh at the misguided attempts by celebs such as Sean Penn to help out in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Anyone who takes a photog along on a 'rescue mission' needs a major lesson in effective use of resources.

But there are people out there in celebrity land with a head on their shoulders. Ben Stein is one of them, and this is a fine piece of leadership ...

Get Off His Back
By Ben Stein

A few truths, for those who have ears and eyes and care to know the truth:

1.) The hurricane that hit New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama was an astonishing tragedy. The suffering and loss of life and peace of mind of the residents of those areas is acutely horrifying.

2.) George Bush did not cause the hurricane. Hurricanes have been happening for eons. George Bush did not create them or unleash this one.

3.) George Bush did not make this one worse than others. There have been far worse hurricanes than this before George Bush was born.

4.) There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful or makes them aim at cities with large numbers of poor people. If global warming is a real phenomenon, which it may well be, it started long before George Bush was inaugurated, and would not have been affected at all by the Kyoto treaty, considering that Kyoto does not cover the world's worst polluters -- China, India, and Brazil. In a word, George Bush had zero to do with causing this hurricane. To speculate otherwise is belief in sorcery.

I encourage you to read the rest, it's great stuff!

Don't Mess with these Evacuees!

Imagine that you've survived Hurricane Katrina, and made it to Houston alive, and are flying to Denver. Another passenger gets testy with the flight attendent, and starts pushing and slapping her.

What would you do? Personally, I like the solution these folks used ...

Passengers Beat Up, Duct Tape Unruly Man On Flight
Jason Tervort Allegedly Shoved, Slapped Flight Attendant

DENVER -- Some passengers on a recent Frontier Airlines flight carrying hurricane evacuees from Houston were in no mood for an unruly passenger.

On that Tuesday flight, Jason Tervort, 26, allegedly walked up to a flight attendant in the center aisle and tried to make an announcement.

He had said, "Ladies and gentleman, I have an announcement to make. My name is Jason," according to witnesses.

When flight attendant Sarah Dinkelman tried to get him to sit down, he allegedly pushed and slapped her, saying, "I'm a man," according to the arrest affidavit.

That's when other passengers stepped in, beating Tervort before tying him up with duct tape. The men said he was spitting, biting, and yelling profanities so they had to use duct tape to tie his arms and legs to the lower rail of the seats on both sides of the center aisle.

Police officers met the plane at Denver International Airport where they arrested Tervort. Officers noticed blood down the center aisle for several rows and pooling of blood near the back of the plane where Tervort had been tied up.

Tervort now faces federal charges, including interfering with a members of a flight crew. He had recently been discharged from the Army.

None of the passengers who stepped in will face charges.

"They used the amount of force necessary," police spokeswoman Virginia Lopez said. "With what happened in the past (Sept. 11, 2001) you don't know what this person is going to do. They did what they had to."

Between the lessons of 9/11, and the emotions of dealing with the past week, I think they demonstrated remarkable restraint myself.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Great read

A new post from Bill Whittle is always worth waiting for, and his latest is no exception. Take your cup of coffee, tea or whatever over to his place and read Tribes.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Songs for the South

Here's a way to get a little music, and double your dollar for the American Red Cross to help the victims of Katrina.

Purchase a CD for $10, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Red Cross. In addition, Microsoft will match 100% of the purchase price, so that the total donation is $20. (note : There is a 61 cent Paypal fee, so the total purchase cost is $10.61)

Why is this matched? Because all of the music, recording and creation costs have been donated by various Microsoft employees and the Digital Music Division.

To read more about it and order a CD, go to

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Bless the beasts and the children ..." (updated)

From the outside, the wrangling of the various political entities strikes me a bit like a bunch of children fighting over the ownership of the playground. John has a good debate going on the topic here ... make sure that you read the comments, because that's where it gets going.

The news that truly depressed me tonight, though, was the reporting about people who have been forced to abandon their pets to be evacuated, and some who have chosen to stay - rather than leave their animals behind.

For some of us, our pets are our children - I can completely sympathize with people like the man in this story. Imagining my own neurotic little furball trying to fend for himself in a harsh world without safety, food or water is enough to break my heart.

Then I visited Castle Argghhh, where scrup'l Muffy reminds us all to think of these small (and sometimes large) Afterthoughts. She points out some of the groups who can use our help to aid these abandoned and trapped animals.

Places like the ASPCA (Hurricane help page) and the Pet Finder organization. Something as simple of clean water, and a dry crate, will be a huge improvement for these little friends who depend on us.

As Muffy says ...

life be tough teacher. gives test first, then lesson. hurricane test be hard on hy’umuns and lesson be painful. test be harder on others, who not know there be lesson to follow.

only know test.

only know hy’umuns left them, did not know why.

Muffy Speaks


NOTR at Rofasix
wouldn't leave his furry family members behind either. (H/T to John Donovan at Castle Argghhh!)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Satellite imagery of New Orleans

NOAA's National Geodetic Survey site has top down imagery of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

For New Orleans, go to this link, and then select one of the boxes to zoom in to the image. Pictures like this really bring home the devastation.

Where's the News?

John asked in this post whether others were seeing evidence of the mobilization efforts that he knew were ramping up.

I heard on the radio that soldiers of the 81st Armored Brigade of the Washington National Guard would be going to help out. I don't watch local news on TV, so I did a little searching online. Here are some of the stories that popped up :

Washington State

Other areas

And, predictably, the NY Times is blaming the lack of response on the war. (Free registration required)

One of the major points in this piece is that the Guard should have been involved earlier and in larger numbers.

But it's already a very costly game of catch-up. The situation might have been considerably less dire if all of Louisiana's and Mississippi's National Guard had been mobilized before the storm so they could organize, enforce and aid in the evacuation of vulnerable low-lying areas. Plans should have been drawn up for doing so, with sufficient trained forces available to carry them out.

I agree. The local and state governments should have had plans in place, and if there were plans, they should have been implemented sooner. One of the keys here is that the federal government is being blamed for not reacting more quickly. And the Guard soldiers should be available. In other words - not off fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It's too late for that now. But the hard lessons of this week must be learned and incorporated into the nation's plans for future emergencies, whether these come in the form of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Every state must now update its plans for quick emergency responses and must be assured by the Pentagon that it will be able to keep enough National Guard soldiers on hand to carry out these plans on very short notice.

The article goes on to state that a larger active-Army would be required to allow the Guard to focus on their own states. This is all well and good. In fact, I would love to make the active Army grow, but I'm guessing that these same folks would fight at spending more federal money on that, when it means making a tough choice vice something else in the federal budget.

I still haven't heard anyone (in the MSM) point out how slow the reaction was at the local and state level. Did Lousiana's governor Blanco call for Guard involvement before the storm struck? Why not declare Martial Law the minute the levees were breached - it was a foregone conclusion at that point, and the ultimate civil unrest and human disaster were predictable.

There's more than enough blame to go around, if you ask me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This is good!

For all those who have been watching the progress of Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss, of the blog From My Position..., Chuck and Carren arrived home yesterday. Expect light blogging while the family reintegrates.

Keep on getting better, Chuck!