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Jason Redman – An Inspiration

Today I was driving and turned on SiriusXM to hear Megyn Kelly interview a remarkable individual. The interview was so riveting that even when my errand was done, I parked in the shade to hear the rest of it.

Jason is a former Navy SEAL with quite a story of resilience, and an ability to overcome many obstacles that would sink many of us.

Because of his small stature, people tried to discourage him, including a Navy recruiter, of even becoming a SEAL. A second recruiter sometime later encouraged him to tryout.

From the time of WW2, the attrition rate for SEAL candidates (and their predecessors the UDTs) – has been a near constant 75%. Of every 4 who start the class, 3 will have dropped out by graduation. Jason talks a bit about the infamous “Hell Week“, and how that forces so many to quit.

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A Visit To Wendover Airfield

The Wendover Base Operations Building with restored Control Tower. Today a sleepy airport, 80 years ago a very busy place

I have always enjoyed seeing places of historical importance, with their evidence of importance hidden in plain sight. Virginia City, Nevada is such a place. To most of the visitors, it is simply an old western town whose shops now sell ice cream and T Shirts.

For those who know the history, it’s where Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain. It’s a place that produced so much silver that it built San Francisco, and was the beginning of a few major corporations today.

The Wendover Airfield is another such place. My curiosity about it was built over some years. On a past cross country trip of some years ago, I stopped there and saw dozens of old wooden buildings whose condition reminded me of the Bodie State Historic Park, which is kept in “arrested decay”. And there was a huge hanger just to the east of the main facility. It looked a bit different from a typical hanger, as it has offices or workshops all along the sides.

Hidden in plain sight.

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A Poem From Wendover Army Airfield

“WENDOVER FIELD”

We are the boys from Wendover Field,
Earning our meager pay
Guarding the folks with millions
For one sixty five a day.

Out in the wind swept desert.
Wendover is the spot,
Fighting the terrible dust storms
In the land that God forgot.

Out in the brush with rifles
Eating and drinking the dust
Doing the work of a chain gang
and to damn tired to cuss.

Out with the snakes and lizards
Heres where the boys get blue
Out in the wind swept desert
Two thousand miles from you.

No one cares if we are living
No one gives a damn
Back home we are soon forgotten
cause we are loaned to Uncle Sam.

All night the wind keeps howling
Its more than one can stand
Hell folks, we’re not convicts
We’re defenders of the land.

For the duration we must stand it
Many years of life we’ll miss
Don’t let the draft board get you
and for hell’s sake don’t enlist.


Out on this Utah desert
Its one helluva spot
Fighting in a terrific heat wave
In the land that God forgot.

But we are the men from the U.S.A.
and we’ll go without green grass
and some day we’ll catch Hitler
And shove Wendover up his —-.

We’re up at six each morning
Digging in the sand
No, we’re not convicts
We’re defenders of this land.

We spend our leisure hours writing to the gals
Hoping when we return again
They’re not married to our pals.

We have washed a million dishes
and have peeled as many spuds
We have our hands all blistered
From washing dirty duds.

All the inspections we have had
are worse than we can tell
and I hope its nice in heaven
For I know what its like in hell.

When this old life is over
and we work no more
We’ll do our final dress parade
On the Bright Golden Shore.

Then St. Peter will greet us
and suddenly he’ll yell
“Come in my boys from Wendover,
You’ve served your time in HELL.”

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Getting More Complicated By Making It Simple

My old Samsung 40′ LCD TV, at 8-10 years old, finally gave up. And unlike the old days where you’d take it to a TV repair shop, or the really, really old days where a repairman would come to your house (I can still remember them swapping tubes in the living room), when these things give up, you might as well toss them.

Only its hard to find someone who wants an old non-functional 40′ LCD TV.

Anyway.

Since the price has plummeted on these (my old TV was close to $1000, and the new 40′ TVs are $200-$300, I elected for a 55″ Smart TV. Although looking at some of those TVs at BestBuy, some looked big enough that they were ready to eat your house. And this boxed “small” TV wouldn’t even fit in my car.

A delivery service delivered it this morning.

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Bay Area Day Trips and the Computer History Museum

I recently made a visit was to the Computer History Museum in the heart of Silicon Valley, and learned some surprising facts about computers, going back to ancient Greece. What surprised me is that electronic computers didn’t suddenly appear in the 1940s with ENIAC, but had their germination in 1890 with the first widespread use of punch cards. And that was also the really beginning of IBM.

Learn about the origins of MP3 music files, and the song from ground zero – and many other things! Know how the term “counter” became applied to the kitchen?

Lots of pictures and more, and we are running out of room here. It’s over at Chicago Boyz.

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The Shame of Stanford University

One of the main reasons I came to admire Carroll “Lex” LeFon was his intellectual curiosity. He had a quality that, let’s be honest, one has to try and nurture. It’s too easy to “pick your side” and then find fault with anyone holding a different view.

Particularly in these politically-charged days.

I believe it has to come down to a respect for others. Not putting oneself first above everything.

I learned most of what I know about naval aviation thanks to Lex. He wrote some of the funniest stories I’ve read, and some of the most instructive.

But his real core was more than funny and instructive stories.

Many of his “posts” were of such a nature that to call them “blog posts” does him a disservice. They are more on the essay side of the scale.

If I had to pick one essay of his that exemplified him, this is the one. He picks one of the ugliest things one person could do to another, and asks the reader of that revulsion that most of us would have – does it come from a conscience given by God, or is it more secular in origin?

“Religious/philosophical discussion follows. Those who don’t like that sort of thing, or aren’t capable of joining it in a civil fashion are encouraged to seek their entertainment elsewhere.”

He was genuinely curious about the beliefs of all.

One of his “best friends he never met” was a journalist from the UK, of which “they agreed on virtually nothing“. But they respected each other and were curious about the other’s beliefs.

Although I never met him, nor even had an Internet conversation with him, I have come to believe that if he had been surrounded with readers who simply agreed with him, he would have become bored quickly and Neptunus Lex would probably have slipped back into anonymity in Sandy Eggo way before 9 years.

But that’s just my opinion.

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Reno Air Race Memories

With the announcement that this September will mark the end of the nearly 60 years of the Reno Air Races, I thought I would mention my experiences there over the years.

I’ve written about some of those experiences here, here, and here.

I started going there in the late 70s, a 2.5 hour jaunt up I-80 from Sacramento. Then (if you were lucky) no wait heading north from Reno a few miles along US 395 to Stead Field. For many years I used to make it an annual pilgrimage. I’m a bit embarrassed to say in later years I got a bit jaded wondering if “this year” I would see something new and exciting. Of course, then I realized that what I was seeing, after the great air race venues of the 30s, was probably the last of its kind.

It was all the more remarkable by the huge increase in the value of these old warplanes. I believe that the top prize for the Gold Division – the Unlimiteds – was something like $100,000? Which was huge in 1964, its first year, when one could buy a Mustang for $10,000 and go racin’. Now with fewer than 100 airworthy Mustangs, with the value of the remainder worth in the millions, even winning wouldn’t cover the expenses I would think.

Those who did race did it because of the love of the race and they were very wealthy.

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American Graffiti and Wolfman Jack

There are times when I have seen a movie years ago, and then when re-viewing it years later, see it with a new appreciation. American Graffiti is one of those movies. It helped that I recently saw this program on YouTube, The Making of American Graffiti.

It was only director George Lucas’ second movie, and he had a terrible time just convincing the studio to make it. They balked, and only until he got Francis Coppola on board. Coppola had just finished making what would be known as one of the best films in history. And he and producer Albert Ruddy had their own trials in making that movie.

Lucas hired young actors who in time would become famous in their own right, and when he was done after only a month or so of filming, Universal Studios didn’t know what to do with it. As Lucas explained in the documentary it was pioneering in several aspects. I’ll let you watch the documentary for that. And he made that entire movie for the unbelievable sum of $700,000 or so. He said in the documentary that if you had invested in that movie it would have had one of the most profitable returns in movie history.

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Searching For That Part That Was Unobtanium

A search detailing my quest to find a replacement for a small plastic part on my 27 year old Mercedes-Benz. I learned some interesting things along the way. Since I posted a few pictures, and we are running low on space, it is over at Chicago Boyz.

It’s also a peek into the future.

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Top Gun Navy Lieutenant Royce Williams Jr

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A Tribute to a Real Top Gun – At Last

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