Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cloud of the Week

Botzie is letting me use his old 300mm Nikor lens that I was able to play with uptoon for the first time yesterday. Digital conversion math: 300mm x 1.6=480mm! While walking around in the afternoon Tuesday with the big gun I saw this huge cloud forming to the east of the Jar. Notice the roof of Charlotte's main Library at the bottom of the frame for a bit of scale perspective.
What Jeff said is perfectly correct, "This lens is going to make your camera the accessory." More data transfer from this old/new piece of glass will follow soon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

OuT oF CON-Troll

Con-involving abuse of confidence. Troll-(in Scandinavian folklore) any of a race of supernatural beings, sometimes conceived as giants and sometimes as dwarfs, inhabiting caves or subterranean dwellings.

The other day I was clicking over to Brado's Blog when I came across this recent satellite image of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The sun appears white hot in its reflection on the surface.
Here is an image from the Net taken approximately 65 days earlier, the cause and effect apparent of an ideology out of control which in turn created a major ecological cry sis.
I learned that these are not photographs, they are images of collected data. When I studied the satellite image I began to notice small but very cosmic details that coincide with actual feelings that I have been having on the ground here in Charlotte, especially over the past few weeks. If you look closely you will see that it appears that 1/3rd of the Gulf's surface in the center is covered with the gray matter of oil particulate. I wondered if what I was looking at had been altered to enhance the implications so I searched other sources and only found a constant repetition of this truthful oil coated rendition.

As I stared at the drip-like slick I realized and felt at the same time that the water's surface had been transformed from its natural translucent state to a reflective one. The 'clean' waters to the south, east, west and a few small patches north seem to be holding on to their original translucent quality. But, the light shiny gray area being made up of over 100 million gallons of black gold(2.69$ a gallon) in the center was reflecting sun light. What happens to the atmosphere when the natural clean evaporation is taken away and it is replaced with photons bouncing back upwards off of the aqua mirror created by lack of control from the minute I go to put a few bucks worth of what I have to buy into a tank because I cannot create it to get around?

HEAT-Lack of rain clouds coming up from the gulf that normally provide me, my family and friends with water and balance to the pastoral system surrounding us may be another result. Within the context of more sun beams bouncing around our summer atmosphere becomes more heated exacerbating the dryness and continues in an on going self feeding circle. Most of our good rain comes from the clouds generated in the Gulf of Mexico. Under these conditions that are expanding dramatically and constantly even while I type, the AQI continues to maintain poisonous levels that keep us in orange spiking to red. No one has to tell me about it because as I ride around and move my physical and emotional body through it, I can feel it, hear it and try to understand it.

My garden is dying in a manner that I have never witnessed. Without a place to hide the tall plants appear almost blasted with radiation.

I have a pessimistic feeling that our entire region is about to experience a summer that we have never seen. Today we will experience the 18th day of plus 90F that we have had here in Charlotte this June. That is apparently some sort of record, in this Victory Society that may be received as good news or a win. However, I caution that as with every victory comes a very real and sometimes three times more powerful consequence. The entire energy crisis right down to the core of what is, has never been more apparent to me than it is within our culture right now. All we have to do is move that first down marker ahead a few more inches, the chain tightens and without control I am on the ride that is going for it.

This opinion is mine, my thoughts clear based on my interpretations of what is really going on all around me. I feel like I am standing right next to it because when I look directly at it, it is there for me to see.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Pictures from Around Town

This Russian Family agreed to pose for me in front of the fountain on the Square. I was amazed at how happy they seemed to assemble into this tight family formation. Notice the young lad in the front right, he must be Dicky's biggest fan in the Russian Federation.
Perpetual Construction in the form of throw away bail out eases the minds of investors in the South End is near.
Born to be wild'ish.
Innocence in the form of light.
Jazz, three piece style fills the air in front of the Corporate Center.
Serious delivery rolling...
Cosmopolitan transfer touches the fringes.
Vic at 125th of a second.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I swiped this training aid from the net. The picture of the nut clutching squirrel and the butt to head dragon flies were made by me with the little big Sony.
Everyone is talking about the weather and how hot it is. Yesterday when I got home just before 1700hrs the trusty barn thermometer read 98F. Out in the way back I saw this little fella completely cracked out on a limb holding his nut like the two dragon flies below were going to take it from him.
As luck would have it for the squirrel, these dragon flies were too busy practicing their refueling technique to worry about some squirrel's nut.
The real story however for all creatures attempting to operate outdoors on days like the ones that have been happening recently is not the heat. Yes, it is very hot but the problem is compounded by the ground level ozone or O3 for short. Yesterday was predicted to be in the high 90s with a Code Orange Ground Level. In fact a few places around the Piedmont hit 100F and the entire region's AQI went to 161(10 points passed the end of Orange) in the middle of the day giving us our first CODE RED this year.

With another day of near 100 degree temps today, the AQI will most likely be in the 150 plus range giving us back to back Code Red transfers. Remember it is not the heat that is making it hard on you, it's the gaseous poison that can not go any lower than the ground you are walking on but it can stack up on itself hundreds of feet above your head. Enjoy the VOCs(Volatile Organic Compounds) today everyone, I know I will!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roll Camera


2010 New Belgium Urban Assault Race / Charlotte from Rich Dillen on Vimeo.

Before and during the NB UAR on Sunday that Kevin and Josh clearly won, I was wearing Sir Richard's GoPro HD Cramera(beer speak for camera) on the Chesty Puller Harness. I am not very proud of the fact that I missed a lot of the back half of the course but I do have an excuse. This was my first experience using the GP and I FAILED, again. Rich did a great job editing the C(for Crap) roll that I gave him.

Anyways, in this film you will see Who's this Joey smiling like a white adult version of Rolo, the VANQUISHERS Kevin and Josh, a coed team of Mustache riders, Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, various other smiling faces and of course my little buddy leading the charge.

The other thing you will see is me going down the water slide at Ray's doing my best impression of Fat Bastard. I know that the angle is super wide that is bent on my close up face which foreshortens the top of my head and times three widens my chin but man is that an ugly mug that seems to be swimming in ten pounds of extra flesh. Thank goodness y'all get a laugh at my expense.

If I ever get the GoPro again I promise I will try to be more aware of its functioning capacity.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Keep Getting Fagged(not that there is anything wrong with that), I Mean Tagged in an Album

Unidentified photographer took this quality picture of me cutting the concrete during the dance portion of the impromptu Mustache Contest. Notice that this image reveals I would have had a better chance to win had the contest been a Drunk Hobo Dance-A-Thon. I swear I saw a bum dancing just like this in front of Speed Street's Main Stage a few weeks ago, that is where I must have learned the groove.
Less than a year ago I joined Facelift Book in an effort to have more 'Friends'. What a deal that turned out to be because I now have over 300 of them! So, if you read my blog and did not know that I can be your 'friend' feel free to request and I shall confirm our 'e-friendship'. An additional reason that I set the thing up was so that I could force my B-Log to more corners of the web with electronic ease. As in life I have discovered that nothing that easy occurs without consequences(like being photographed dancing horribly).

While out in public for the first time this year during Sunday's NB UAR I was encouraged to take part in the Mustache Contest down at the Main Stage. When I got to the apron I immediately figured out that I was not going to be judged on my face art alone. Thank you for the encouragement people. No, I was going to have to dance in front of a hillside of staring cycling Tifosi. Even with a few of the hoppy beverages inside of me my heart began to race. I have never enjoyed dancing since being a small child because I never considered myself good at it. Now I was going to have to do it in front of many people and an MC. Fear set in, I was first in line and then the music started as my inner body embarrassment sky rocketed almost causing the involuntary function of my repository system to stop. I came close to freezing solid forgetting that I grew up in the awesome 80s and knew a few break dancing moves which I wish I would have pulled out from deep inside my suitcase of dance skills. Instead the memory of that Hobo NASCAR fan dancing in the sun in front of the Foghat cover band playing "A fool for the City" came into my mind and I tried my best to imitate his lucid moves.

My super white romp skills were not enough for the victory but they were enough to be Tagged, one of the negative side effects of being on Facelift Book. If I had tagged you I could understand but I do not do any tagging at all unless it is during that game that Ms. Arcen and I play with the dogs out in the way back. Come to think of it, her and I modified the original game not long ago by adding the aspect of an arm punch. We call it Pag. So, we run around the yard pagging each other on the arm yelling PAG while the dogs chase us around and try to get in on the full contact fun. I think that Facelift Book should have an application where I can start pagging people who tag me. Note to self, that e-game would be fun and all but it may be a whole lot easier to just continue to avoid society.

Addendum to Today's Post is called the Compost:

For the past 3 months I have been working on my food production and waste compost pile/box built by me. I have been taking temperature readings since last week and have been blown away to discover a constant 140F in the inside center of the pile. My friend taught me that Composting is a spiritual event so I spear it religiously in the evenings which turns the nitrogen loaded goodness into black earth chunks. More on this to follow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Belgium Urban Assault Post-Race Report


The face of 19th place:
All HAIL winners KEVIN AND JOSH of yesterday's NB UAR in Charlotte. Now I would like to take a minute to revisit my Top Ten reasons for 'Racing' in The New Belgium Urban Assault Race:

1. The facial hair was a big hit, I received 3 total compliments from two guys and one girl. WIN
2. I got chicked several times over. FAIL
3. I said die, not find out information before hand or stage my mom in the audience to bell me when the goods got out. I got beat by one present messenger and several former ones, good work gentlemen. Shame on me! FAIL
4. Belgium Beer quality is top grade and the DIVAS RULE! WIN
5. Memories of Trans Germany made me realize I have fun on my bike a lot! WIN
6. The funny looking mustache may have gotten me an unofficial 2nd place in the Mustache Contest. WIN
7. The heat was hot but I did not seem to notice. WIN
8. My partner always comes up with good ideas and other than the near White Rabbit incident reoccurring it was a brilliant experience following him around the Jar. WIN
9. Jake, I wore the jersey that you gave me for the first time out in public. I hope a top 20 finish is good representation. WIN
10. My town is where I have worked since July 3, 1998 lack some travel time and a 5 month sabbatical. I guess I am the bitch. FAIL

Looks like a 7 to 3 WIN victory over FAIL.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Belgium Urban Assault Pre-Race Report

Self Portrait of my newly acquired Game Face.
Billy Fehr's Top 10 Reasons for 'Racing' at the New Belgium Urban Assault in Charlotte NC tomorrow:

1. I have just molded the coolest facial hair transfer that I have ever seen on my mug.
2. I Would like to finish a race that I do NOT get chicked at which seems to happen to me as often as I participate. Wait, there was that one time in the year of The Cool that I came in 3rd with only Dude and Jason The Red ahead of me on a non-sanctioned Alley Cat.
3. My partner and I agree that we will die trying to stay ahead of any present, former or ex Charlotte Messenger. There are high shame stakes in this one.
4. New Belgium brews good tasty Beer.
5. Belgium is near St. Wendel and In St. Wendel es tut sich was!
6. Did I mention the facial hair?
7. It is gonna be hot just like it has been for the past few weeks!
8. I am riding with the 2006 24Hour Solo SS MTB World Champion who asked me to do this!
9. I want to make Jake Kirkpatrick proud...
10. This is my town bitches.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ingenious Genius-It's ON

photo donated by the Jordy Moore Philanthropic Social Engineering All Knowing Power Tap Think Tank. Jordy had his cram(drunk for camera), I did not.
Shortly after Rich rolled out of the Cool and Cool over my morning coffee and obligatory daily game of dueling lap top Battleship with Yurgen yesterday, a cycling couple rode in. I noticed the practicle application of recycled material in the form of a box for bike rack program initiated by the male half of the couple. This guru of all things half ass'ed gave us a few hints as to the design philosophy of such an engineering marvel. First off drinking beer is the easy part, especially when it is Miller 'High' Life. After the liquid part was consumed and the bottles were sent to be recycled this thinker realized that he needed a place to keep his change. A few holes must be applied to the box after wrapping it in heavy packing tape for durability and weather proofing. Then Bungee her down on both ends and you have a box on your rack that any homeless bum in the QC would be proud to roll with because that is how they roll.

I asked the creator of this fine display of American thought process if he and his cute female partner were coming out to the New Belgium Brewing Urban Assault Race this weekend to get some. She giggled while twirling her hair with a long finger and answered for him that she was not ready to 'race' and that she needed some more experience in the saddle. The man spoke up saying that even though he was not racing he was planning on drinking a 12'er of the Fat Tire and then making a rack box out of the empty cardboard. "This time I am gonna shellac the box and line it with felt, that way my change won't rattle and make noise", he said with a huge smile.

Anyways, I will be out at that event this weekend with my partner Team Dicky who came up with this idea not long ago. It will be an honor to ride the wing of someone who has so much influence in the cycling industry. I think the last time that we partnered up was a criterium for beer over ten years ago that we lost to some power houses. We have both individually put away many Charlotte miles since then so watch out suckas, it's on!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Part I 'Kinetic Interlude'

The last few hours in the previous darkness seemed to go by fast, leaving me with only vague memories of the actual physical events that happened during that time space. As we were spinning towards the first glimpses of sun on Day 5 I found my camera and handed it to my desert buddy to document me and where I was at that point in time. The oil smoke had shifted and allowed a bit of light to come through illuminating our location, the ubiquitous objective.
Sitting in that e-tool scratched out hole in the sand with the busy Marines of Golf Co. over my right shoulder I am facing not only the camera but the western wall of the Agricultural Ministry a hundred meters behind the photographer. In a straight line to my direct left or north is that east/west highway some fifty meters distant and void of any traffic at all. There were a few burned out vehicles littering the sides of the highway directly in front of us. Way off to west I could make out the famous north west highway intersecting with the one right in front of us. The only sounds that I heard were the post battle noises being made by the guys who had just walked through what they had never seen before. Weapons were being broken apart, cleaned, lubed, put back together and function checked. Small amounts of food that came in the form of a business contract were consumed with what water we had in our canteens. Marines were moving around at will talking to each other about what they had just seen and guessing at what possibilities lay in front of us. There was some scuttlebutt going around that we should be prepared to move at any time but for the remainder of this day we would stay right here in this incredibly exposed position and protect this spot from the invisible entity that had held it for the previous six months.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Part I 'Kinetic Interlude'

Minutes later it became completely quiet again. Out of nowhere during this lull in the commotion going on around us, I saw a monstrous bright orange blue white flash erupt a hundred meters to the front left. It was immediately followed by the intense sound of an explosion. That really got my attention as well as that of my team mates who had started to dig a little skirmisher trench in the dark. I remember wondering to myself, what could have caused what I just saw and felt? Was it an RPG round? We were told they had them but that explosion seemed way bigger than what I pictured an RPG's impact being. Could it have been an inbound artillery round? Maybe that was it but would our air support not have already destroyed their guns? At some point Curtie Wertie blurted out with a high pitched Arkansasonian accent, "Was that an RPG, was it Fehr, was it an RPG? It had to be an RPG."

I watched off in the distance towards where the explosion and light interrupted the gun fire. What I just saw I thought for a second that I had seen before during training back in the States and abroad on two different Med Cruises. The light flash bang and report that I had plainly witnessed a minute before reminded me of watching a TOW Missile hit a target. If that was a TOW then it came from a friendly firing in our direction or was that an outbound round going towards an enemy target that fell short? If it was inbound that theoretically means the small arms fire is coming from a 'friendly' source as well. What the hell was going on seemed to confuse me even more as additional rounds started popping off down range from all around me. I could see the muzzle flash of a 60 lighting up Weigert's gritting teeth and pink face to my left.

More calling out down the line. Sit-Reps were rapidly communicated to team leaders who were calling for more ammo for their men. Orders were being shouted back as well. The sound of real ammunition being shot stopped and was replaced by the clanking of gear all around and the commands of NCOs directing our movement. We were not where we were supposed to be to provide cover for the advancing line platoons. A green star cluster went up signaling us to get ourselves forward another click and to the left or west. My team picked up the crew served weapon and we walked off with another gun team towards the highway running parallel a click in front of us. This time when we hit the ground there were Marines from First Platoon already in their hasty little holes on our right. Our team plus that of Weigert's and now Varchmin's were tacked onto the line that was First. Second Platoon was on our left strung out in their dug out holes facing the highway. I could hear them but not see them at this point in the middle of the night on Day 4.

Another blast of gun fire came down from the direction of the highway and the Ministry Compound wall. Golf Co. sent it back and then there was screaming off to the right. Corporal Clayborne had been hit in the back side my an M-16 shot fired by one of our Corpsman overly excited in the moment as he ran from out of the track. From a few meters away I approached then stopped as I saw moon beams and other Marines helping their injured comrade laying face down in the sand. I heard the First Sergeant's voice yelling at Clayborne whose face rolled over into the light of one of the flash light's beam. Apparently from less than 10 meters the 5.56mm bullet had hit Clayborne's canteen cover snap, gone through his can of water, then down through the metal of his canteen cup cradling the canteen, then back out of the canteen when the projectile hit the clip on his deuce gear, through that belt and then his cammie bottoms into the top of his right ass cheek. They were cutting away his clothes and I remember hearing him asking about going home and the Purple Heart. The First Sergeant sounded like a character in the movies telling the soldier that his wound was not bad enough for a Purple Heart and to top it off it had bee fired by a 'Goddamn' Doc in the U.S. 'Goddamn' Navy. Clayborne was going to be fine, the copper ball did not have enough velocity by the time it had ripped through his deuce gear to tear through his flesh. Corporal C. was then medevaced to BN support somewhere in the rear darkness. I watched from near my barely dug in fighting position as they loaded him into the back of the track closest to him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Layers of Clouds

The Cloudscape rolling in from the Northwest yesterday started at about 1725hrs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Part I 'Kinetic Interlude'

During that dark midday frag orders came down multiple times describing slightly different and constantly changing scenarios. Ultimately Golf Company would soon be making its final move on line north towards the ever constant objective, a space of linear terrain marked, outlined and highlighted on the map. This piece of land started directly on the outside of the western wall of the Kuwaiti Agricultural Ministry and intersected with what I remember as a roughly two mile section of the main east/west Highway running out of Kuwait City, a few miles to the immediate east. At this point we were told to expect a battle with what was left of Saddam's retreating Army. It was a strange circumstance that was being reported by command in that the fleeing soldiers we had been chasing are running for their lives and creating huge choke points on roads leaving Kuwait. Some of these Iraqi Soldiers were still holding on to what had been theirs because there was no place for them to go and what they did have was vested in the defense of their previous tactics to arrive at that point. This final push north would begin in a few hours.

Our stick loaded up then the track pulled forward to line up with the rest of Golf Company which linked up with Fox Co. to the east on the other side of that wall making up the Agricultural Ministry's western border. The heart of the Ministry was the Battalion's objective with the support of four reinforced Companies each having a planned responsibility to carry out. The vehicle lurched and groaned its way over the packed sand. It was evening black ink moist sky but still not a drop of particulate falling onto us. At times if a little light came through the oil shroud looked suspended, just a tall building's height above us. It had depth, width, length and a three dimensional elongated quality in angle perspective looking up from earth. Nothing about it was translucent, there was not a thing to hide, it was a reflective dark image staring down at me as I headed straight for it.

Understand that as it was happening then we did not know or see the originating point of the small arms fire as if we could identify it by sight. I only saw the physical form and places of our objective a day later when we were on top of it and the oil smoke had shifted above our heads allowing for a bright desert sun to shine down on what lay before us. The following 24 hour conclusion summary is based on, the information passed to us during post operation briefings, my memories and discussions with fellow 2/4 Marines over the years. During this last move the burning oil, the worst oil spill in the World's history blocked out all light making it impossible to see.

I looked out of the top hatch with my body half in, half outside of the armor of the track. There were a few small lights out in the distance to the front right of our movement but they were completely swallowed up by the night. More grinding of the Amtrack's engine filled the space of darkness then the first shots at us came in from the direct front and right near that wall. Our track turned hard left, the ramp dropped and we ran out to the front hitting the deck a few meters ahead of the vehicle. The small arms fire zipped across our frontage in the form of glowing hot tracers two and three at a time. More incoming rounds from far away rushed by in bursts. The only ones that I could see were the tracers, I knew that for every one of those flying by there were many more that I could not see. Golf Company responded with a heavy barrage in the direction of the source. I could hear commands being shouted over to the right. Silence, then more inbound fire that had been adjusted and was coming more towards us than down and to the left.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Recent Imagery

As you can obviously see I just made a change to the appearance of the way my blog is laid out for your viewing pleasure. I think it looks alright in this different form from what you had been seeing and who knows one day it may change again...

In the meantime I would like to share these relatively fresh images that I have made with an older lens.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Part I 'Thoughts of Fear'

Sleep came easy in the prone position face down on the hard packed sand earth we were now attached to. We were laying in an arched semi-circle 10 meters or so out in front of the track. The other tracks of Golf Co. were spread out in an echelon to the right of us roughly 75 meters apart. Even though I could not see the rest of the Marines of Company G for the blackness, I knew that they were out there presumably resting just like we were. More time passed carrying us into the pitch black morning of our fourth day out. It was February 27, 1991 in Kuwait.

I do recall someone remarking how this was the darkest 1030hrs that they had ever seen. Little did we know that we were very close to our objective on the western edge of Kuwait City out there in the black distance. It was densely quiet at this spot except for the small chatter that occasionally broke the silence. My eyes never seemed to adjust because there was just no light anywhere and the oil smoke continued to roll like a horizon to horizon curtain not far above our heads. We ate some more MRE chow, watered up, checked weapons, smoked and talked to each other about what we thought was going to happen next.

As often occurred over the last nine weeks, my thoughts drifted to home. I guess by definition I technically did not have one but I felt certain that maybe it was time to get back to the States, get out of the suck and start my own. Surely that would have been more productive than the outcome of the present situation that I found myself in. It is amazing how interconnected those two opposing realities of ownership actually are. One without the other does not exist and from the perspective of each reality respectively it is difficult to make that attachment. It is almost as if the American culture is onto something with their own ownership rationalization to actually chose 'not' to think about it. While the person in the Military longs to have what those not in simply go to and from on the daily but never realizing that without their present role on the world stage none of the illusion of home ownership would be possible in the form it is now.

I had a few pictures of St. Lissa and my family that I pulled out of my small cammie notebook and I stared at them under the red light of my moon beam, olive drab issue, one each. My thoughts lingered, inspired by the movie screen on the inside front of my forehead skull playing color film based on memories of the past.

At this point I became a bit scared in the darkness. The next 24 hours were inevitable and I would surely face them with wide open eyes but the fear came in anyway. In this type of absence of light my mind gave in to consider all that was unknown before us. The eyes of my colleagues must have looked like mine did to them. Everyone was having similar thoughts about what it was going to be like to go through with this all the way to the end. No matter the outcome for at that point we had no idea with the real objective still ahead. We were actually conditioned to expect the worst even though up until just before this final operation within an operation we had not felt any fierce resistance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Part I 'Bright Light Fades into Blackness'

The sun was blinding and what I was watching looked like a slightly over exposed color movie film from the 1950s playing out a modern warfare scene in all directions around me. Other Cobras buzzed by making silent for brief seconds the roar of our own track. The Gunny had referred to Nostradamus' visions of fire breathing locusts and I could plainly see that these Cobras were not only armed with that 20mm Chain Gun but they were also loaded with a TOW missile plus Hellfire and 40mm Rockets. Fire. We did not dismount at any point as we made it through this built up area. When I turned around and looked back towards where we came from, I saw Mounted Marines and Army Tanks spread out across the sand towards the end of my field of vision.

Back in front of the column I could start to see the buildings of little towns popping out of the sand, we were moving passed the first urban area that I saw during this exercise. There were roads, empty two story homes, telephone lines and occasional bomb destroyed Iraqi Military vehicles littering my view. More Helos chopped over head flying in support of this push north towards Kuwait City. We continued to move in the direction of our third night out which would carry us into the unknown of Day 4. At that same moment in time the UN was full of meeting and debate back in New York City. Plans for the next War in this theater some 12 years from this time were being set into motion.

I cannot quite recall getting more of King Fahd's free gas on the twilight of this third day out but I know that it happened even though my physical memories are clouded. There was another jam at the tankers and rubber bladders. Grimy charcoal and oil smoke blackened Marines were off to the side in small groups, smoking and eating some MRE chow then burying the rubbish where they stood. It was getting dark again. Hours after the sun went down we had moved under another thick black low hanging veil of oil smoke. We were now getting ready to enter our fourth day of this operation and from the outside on the top of the track I could not see anything, not even the hand in front of my face, there was absolutely no light. Our track had stopped with the rest of Golf Company and it was quiet near midnight. All star light from the never ending, always expanding universe was blocked out by the burning oil wells out there roughly 180km in the distance to our east and north. I'm not sure if we were told to or not but we slept for a while at this spot we were stopped at. Team sized Fire watches were posted in the real and then came a few hours of rest.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Part I 'Bright Light'-While in New York the U.N. Prepares

Battalion 2/4 poses in the sand from near our last position in Saudi Arabia. Bobby Lasher called me recently telling me that he has had this picture for years and that he wanted me to have it. I told him that all I really needed to do with it was make a quick snap then he could have it back. He insisted that I keep it as a gift, so I did.
Part I continues from where we left off.

The column of Amtracks that was BN 2/4 pulled away leaving hundreds of south marching Prisoners of War behind for other support units to deal with. Our movement north continued under an extremely bright sun in the scorching heat of early afternoon. I remember spending a lot of time on top of our track behind the 60 taking in as much of the barren white landscape as I could. The desert looked exactly that, hot white under the intensity of the sun. Even the crystal clear blue sky above me appeared more brightly vivid than I had ever seen, contrasting on the white horizon and upward like a positive/negative image. Only the tracks dotted the desert radiating their heat in the form of those optically illusive rising liquid lines against the desolate landscape.

More time passed, we stopped in line and waited while scouts went ahead. The data came down that we were about to enter another Iraqi built up area. This time it was dug in Infantry that had left dozens of holes empty over the past few days during their retreat north and back towards Iraq. We were told not to expect any resistance. It was a bizarre sight in all directions as we moved straight through this built up defensive area facing us. I saw at least fifty sand bagged bunkers spread out across the perfectly flat white sand. Some were larger structures with sections of their roofs visible above the ground while others were smaller two person and single person fighting positions that seemed to blend into the floor below us. As we got closer I could see that the sand bag reinforced tops of the smaller holes were covered in sand for camouflage. This area was an incredible sight indeed.

All of a sudden several AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters showed up on our flanks not high off the ground at all. Sun light glared off of the wind shields of these flying machines as they passed slowly by, sometimes reversing course then appearing again. There were a few above us and forward keeping an eye out ahead of our movement. Less than thirty meters off to my left I saw one of these helos fly by and cut a fast 180 degree turn, immediately positioning itself facing the rear entrance of one of the smaller defensive holes. I watched as the pilot sitting directly above and behind the gunner lowered the skids to just a few meters above the ground. Then the Cobra slowly moved forward with its 20mm Gatling Gun under the gunner leading the way towards the rear facing exit of this Iraqi defensive position. The tips of the gun's three barrels disappeared into the exit way while the pilot held a hover almost perfectly still for a few seconds before backing out slowly. As the guns cleared the bunker I could see two Iraqi soldiers walking with their hands high in the sky surrendering to the 20mm front gun of the helicopter. They may have been the last two left from the Unit that had occupied this fortified area.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Noah's Memorial Day Portrait

I was jumping around from local blog to blog last night when I came across this image and caption posted below on the Meck Deck. The synchro is fine as long as I keep looking at it and making the connection to what is really happening all around me. There is not much to say on this fine damp Friday morning, instead I share with you this clear photograph created by Chip Somodevilla that looks deep into the emotional body of a Country at War.
A young woman lays down on the grave of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Noah Pier on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery May 31, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia. Pier was killed February 12, 2010 in Marja, Afghanistan. This is the 142nd Memorial Day observance at the cemetery. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Max and his Death Transfer

Max-Born in early 2001(birthday unknown) Died June 1, 2010

When I pulled the 3 x 5 card down off of the cork board at Poplar almost eight years ago, I did not know much about the Great Dane but I knew we had enough space to help. The pen scratched note made it clear, Need Help Finding Home for year and a half old Great Dane. And so goes the story of finding Max who came here to Dooley out of the back of an S-10 pick up truck at a very emaciated 113lbs. His healing began immediately when the existing pack of Mary and Danger let him in the circle of truth without aggression. I learned that the Greater Dane is a German breed from as early as the late 14th century that was bred to hunt. Their tall muscular bodies give them great speed and agility allowing for a swift attack. Within a year of Max getting here he had gained a very healthy thirty pounds that he had been missing which brought him up to around about 140lbs. Max's eyes were bright and he always seemed alert and ready to go for a walk or a car ride. Wow, he was a big dog. We taught him the basics and he even learned how to shake as an older dog can easily learn new tricks contrary to the popular metaphor. Two other dogs entered the pack permanently over the last few years and Max let them in immediately. There have also been dozens of foster animals that have come and gone over the years and once again Max always let them in graciously.

It could not wait until last night. We took him to our vet very early yesterday morning in the rain. The clerk signed us in and then took us to an examining room where a nurse showed up to explain what was about to happen. She had us lay him on a soft white blanket on his side so that she could insert an IV Catheter into a vein in his back right ankle. When the nice Doctor came in he began talking about the process again, it all made sense verbally even though I could not hear what he was saying because I could only feel Max's heartbeat through his shoulders. Max's heart in my finger tips was louder than the voice of the Doctor right in front of me. The Doc's words drifted inaudibly up into the bright fluorescent lighting. My chest cavity started to feel as if it were filling from the bottom to the top with cement. There were two syringes. One small with a mild sedative and a larger one with the clear pink anesthetic that would become the over dose. The Doctor then did what we had asked him to do. Max went into a quiet sleep first with his eyes still open. Then came the second injection and within what seemed like no time his heart peacefully stopped beating. I felt his pulse end for ever and I petted his large face for the last time. He looked quiet, almost like he had morphed to a human form deep in thought and very much at peace with his internal death transfer.

Max was a big hearted dog that did not realize his true physical size. He was indeed a gentle Giant with an extraordinary bright light. He will be missed and remembered for ever.

Besides us, Max is survived by:

Mary-The Mother
Danger aka Seal Blubber
Rocky-Bluder of the Year
Zoo-The Tongue Rolling Dog
Yancey(named after the Ridge I was on when they brought her home one Sunday)
Santara-Yes Ms. Arcen, the Bird is posted today!
Plus two fish that were born here and a rescued rabbit named Scarlet that has not yet been seen in photos.