Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Happy Air Force Birthday!

Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force! For 62 years, the Air Force has merged technical excellence with mission focus -- ensuring that American power is without peer in the air, in space, and most recently in cyberspace.


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Memorial Day



Coast Guard Birthday

The U.S. Coast Guard is our nation's oldest continuously-serving maritime agency. What began under Alexander Hamilton's Dept. of the Treasury in 1790 (as the Revenue Cutter Service) has become the standard bearer for preparedness and service to our citizens.

From the Coast Guard website:
1790-Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's proposal to build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue (Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine this service would officially be named the Revenue Cutter Service (12 Stat. L., 639) in 1863. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department. This date marks the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard.
Happy Birthday, Coasties!

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March is Red Cross Month

From the American Red Cross website:
"Honoring a tradition dating back to 1943, President Bush has issued a proclamation recognizing March as Red Cross Month and lauding the 'remarkable achievements and contributions' of the American Red Cross."
Many of us know the Red Cross as the place we donate blood, or take our First Aid and CPR classes. But the Red Cross is so much more.

For instance, the Red Cross, though more than 700 local chapters, is positioned to respond quickly to disasters -- whether it's a single-family home fire or a major catastrophe. Red Cross "Disaster Action Teams" provide food, shelter, emotional support and emergency assistance to those in need more than 70,000 times each year.

The American Red Cross works solely through the generosity of its donors and volunteers, and provides all of its disaster services free of charge -- without any federal funding. I encourage you to contact your local Red Cross chapter and ask how you can volunteer your time. Or, to contribute to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, go to http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Together, we can save a life.

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Big changes are afoot in Oz. First, and certainly most importantly, Lady of Oz is expecting:

The little cashew is due in late September, so we're hoping for a cool Tennessee summer.... And since I'm probably twice the age of your average blogger (i.e., shlok + tdaxp = Oz), this is doubly joyful -- and doubly daunting!

As if adding a third child isn't enough for 2008, I have moved on to other professional opportunities. It was a fun year-and-a-half with Enterra Solutions -- I learned volumes from Stephen DeAngelis and Tom Barnett, and am thankful for the opportunity to hitch my wagon to their star. However, my role in Tennessee and the company's explosive growth in other areas (e.g., Kurdish Iraq) were not a good fit.

So, effective tomorrow, I will join Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam and his extremely impressive team at the New England Complex Systems Institute as their Director of Program Development. Since I have long believed that "Complexity Theory" will be for the 21st century what "Quantum Theory" was for the 20th century, I am very excited to help apply new scientific methods to everyday challenges.

In addition to joining NECSI, I am also launching a new company: EMC2 LLC, a consulting and team-building firm that seeks to fill a void between high-level emergency management and local (individual, family and company) disaster preparedness.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

Strange fascination, fascinating me ... :-)

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[Moblog] New 'Polar Bear 6'

LTC Richard G. Greene Jr, USA, received the colors of 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, at a change of command this morning at Fort Drum, New York.

If leadership is "the liberation of talent," the 'Polar Bears' are gaining a commander who can inspire them to achieve more than they knew they could.

I was not a distance runner until Rich Greene picked me to join his team for the 1999 Army Ten-Miler - and have run six marathons since. We seldom did family road trips until we drove over 1,000 miles to Rich's wedding in Aledo, Illinois 7-1/2 years ago - and braved the Alaska Highway in 2004 to visit him in Fairbanks, Alaska on the "Mother of All Road Trips".

And my appreciation for the liberties we enjoy, the elegant strength of our Constitution, and the urgent importance of our operations overseas, are stronger for knowing Rich.


UPDATE: See 4-31 singing "The 10th Mountain Division Song"
(45-second .AVI file, 17MB).

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Veterans/Remembrance Day

The armistice that ended "The Great War" (World War I) was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month: November 11th, 1918. Europeans commemorate this day as "Armistice Day", Americans as "Veterans Day", and citizens of the Commonwealth as "Remembrance Day".

Poppies grow in profusion in Flanders (northern Belgium), where many many casualties of the war were buried. The poem "In Flanders Fields" was written by a Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, in the trenches on the battle front a day after he witnessed the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. The poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

As we honor the service of those who ensure our security, let us also remember those who gave their "last full measure of devotion" -- in Flanders Fields, and elsewhere.

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ORNL Honors Vets

Oak Ridge National Lab held its 8th annual "Veterans' Day Parade and Celebration" today, which featured a rousing "military medley" by the Roane County High School Marching Band and a blunt, no-nonsense speech by GEN(ret) Carl Stiner (former Commander, Special Operations Command). GEN Stiner decried the lack of sacrifice on the part of too many Americans with respect to the "War on Terror", and equated the dwindling pool of "qualified" applicants for military service to America's declining status as a superpower.

Most of the evening has been spent getting ready for this weekend's six performances for The Nutcracker, sponsored by the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association. Eldest child will be in both the "Party Scene" as well as the "Snow Scene", while I have been recruited to be a "Party Dad". Should be fun....

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Cub Scout Campout

The Cub Scouts of Oak Ridge (Pack 226) braved the wilds of Tennessee's rustic "Frozen Head State Park" this weekend. Since our Tiger Den (1st graders) were the largest den present, they got to be the "Honor Guard" for the presentation of the colors.

With nighttime temps in the high 30s F. (single digits C.), it's a good thing we loaded these boys up with Calories during evening s'mores around the campfire!

Fearless Pack Leader Keith Jeter taught the boys knife safety, while other parents provided stories and knot-tying lessons. After a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and sausage (plus a few shots of espresso for the adults from my hand-pumped portable espresso machine), we hiked to the nearly-dry DeBald Falls.

After breaking camp and getting back into T-Mobile coverage, I was happily surprised to see fully half of the NCAA "Top Ten" football teams lose -- allowing unbeaten Cal (who narrowly defeated #11 Oregon in what SI's Stewart Mandel calls "... easily the season's most compelling game to date ...") to nip at USC's heels in the #3 spot in the nation. Hmmm.... Two PAC-10 teams in the Top 3, while five teams in the top 18 hail from west of the Continental Divide.... Wonder what that says about the SEC? :-) BTW, casual observers who check the AP Poll "Top 25" should note that #6 is not the defending champ Florida Gators, but rather the Bulls of South Florida. The Gators have dropped to #9.

(Congrats to Dan at tdaxp's 'Huskers, who have moved into the Top 25 rankings and hold the top spot in the Big-12 North.)

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Rollin' on the River

Man-cub Jarrett (aka "Wind Runner" to the Indian Guides Tribe in Oak Ridge) and dad (aka "Eagle Claw") joined the Tribe for a rafting trip down the Hiwassee River in southeast Tennessee this weekend. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was running both generators upstream at the Apalachia Reservoir's hydroelectric plant, so we had good flow on the river.

However, the lack of rain this past summer meant the water levels were particularly low -- so many of the lips and crests in the river meant a lot of abrupt halts for our raft. That, and the fact that Chief Big Trout and I were among two of the heaviest guys in the tribe (and therefore had the deepest draft of all the rafts...).

On the return trip home, my truck's new Optima battery began to fail. Since it was less than 24 hours old, I began to suspect my old battery (which was running just 9.6V after I exchanged it last night) was not the only problem... So, after tapping this new one out entirely (so that not even the spark plugs had enough current) and stalling a few miles south of the town of Etowah, we needed a short tow truck ride to the Advance Auto Parts in town to (a) buy a new alternator, (b) install a new alternator (a feat I haven't done in nearly 20 years), and (c) replace the now-dead less-than-24-hour old Optima battery. At least that battery was still under warranty....

I arrived home in time to watch the final three minutes of Cal's 45-27 victory over Arizona. ROLL ON YOU BEARS!

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Duty and Service

The blogosphere has been replete with dialogue on "service" and "duty" -- and the perception of grass-roots activism within the State. Noteworthy bloggers who have recently addressed this topic, in addition to my post last week, include Dave D. at Small Wars Journal, General of the Hordes Subudei Ba'adur, Purpleslog at D5GW, as well as both Chirol and Younghusband at ComingAnarchy. Even TIME magazine has made "The Case for National Service" a cover story topic.

Interestingly, there has been a good deal of honest (and sometimes contentious) replies to these posts. Some admit their personal lack of service, while others see the resurgent public interest in community service as a lack of confidence in "central governments". Could it be the looming anniversary of 9/11 (and last week's KATRINA anniversary)? Or the impending U.S. presidential election and a definitive change of administration?

I'm curious what visitors to Oz think. Care to comment?

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