Saturday, September 30, 2017

Haves, Needs, and Wants (Pinned Until 9/30 ; Scroll Down for Other Posts)

UPDATE: One more Day.

UPDATE: As of  9:00 AM PT on 10/9/2017, 15 donations for a total of $257.

Original: I guess you have to come out and ask, which is okay. 

In the last week, I've had close to 10K visitors at my blog and less than 10 donations, which took care of a goodly portion of my expenses! But there's the other portion ...


Internet $65
Electricity $65


Car Insurance $350
Partial Rent: $355


Gus's Famous Fried Chicken

I'd like to get 100 people to donate $10 each or more in the next five nine days. Can that happen?

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning Da Tech Guy Blog. Latest: Cottoned.

When you hit the Tip Jar, it helps pays for: A Roof Over My Head, Food, Gasoline, Car Insurance, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

About Money and Donating

I've mentioned before that a friend chewed me out -- in private -- because I've had a hard time making money lately. She said that there are plenty of online money-making opportunities (outside of blogging) and she's right. I've availed myself of a few of them and if I were to devote my whole day just to that, I'd probably be able to make a decent bit of change.

But I'd have no time to write or to pay attention to things so that I know what I'm talking about when I write.

I have about 10-15 subscribers/consistent supporters and I'm grateful for them. In addition, I'd like to have about 100 subscribers who give 5-20$ per month. That would be perfect.

If my work has some value to you, consider it and participate in this campaign. Thanks.

About my new Patreon account: I have two free, non-political videos up. The price will change as I improve.

Thank you, Jerry M., for the new baldilocks talks logo!

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning Da Tech Guy Blog. Latest: Cottoned.

When you hit the Tip Jar, it helps pays for: A Roof Over My Head, Food, Gasoline, Car Insurance, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy 70th Birthday to My USAF!

If you like what you read here, please contribute monetarily to the upkeep of the writer. 
Thank you! 

Officially, the United States Air Force was born on September 18, 1947, but I'm acknowledging it one day early. To commemorate the Berlin Airlift -- the USAF's first major operation -- I wrote the following which originally appeared at Pajamas Media on June 28, 2008.


Those of us who, while serving in the United States Armed Forces, found ourselves stationed in the American sector of Berlin after World War II and before the demise of the Berlin Wall knew that our mere location was steeped in history and import. One needed only to take a look at the pre-1989 map of Germany to know that our strategic situation was different, typifying the word “unique” — a word which grated our nerves back then due to repetition.

Our presence in that place and at that time has a complex description but a simple meaning. We, along with the British and the French, occupied West Berlin while our Soviet counterparts occupied East Berlin. And, further, the entire city sat smack-dab in the middle of the USSR’s premiere satellite country, the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany. 

We all know that this state of affairs ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. How the situation came to be is even more complicated; however, the transcendent symbolism wasn’t. We were an entrenched island of freedom encircled by a sea of imposed and enforced communism — a sea of totalitarianism — and our position was a plum one, so plum that, sixty years ago this month, the Soviets tried to drive us out to make their hold on East Germany complete. We, however, were obliged to push back — not by any type of treaty obligation, but by our own values. Thus was the first Cold War battle — the Berlin Airlift of 1948 — engaged and won.

All too few Americans are familiar with the Berlin Airlift, but all USAF basic trainees, officer candidates, and USAFA cadets can count on being required to recount the details of the mission also known as Operation Vittles. This mission is considered the first major successful venture of the infant United States Air Force, which had been in existence only one year.


Upon the defeat of Hitler and his Germany, each of the victorious allies — the UK, the USA, and the USSR — saw fit to take a bit of Germany for itself in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement. Winston Churchill (later Clement Attlee), Harry Truman, and Josef Stalin decided that each participant, along with France, would administer its slab of Germany and, in addition, Germany’s capital city of Berlin would be divided further by the four powers as follows.

The UK, the USA, and France were to occupy the western part of Germany (later the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany) while the USSR occupied the east. But because Berlin was so far east — Berlin is only 43 miles from the Oder-Neisse line, a.k.a. the Polish border — the city was entirely surrounded by the part of Germany that was occupied by the Soviet Union.

Stalin had plans for the defeated and prostrate Germany and wanted the entire country to pay for its ravaging of the USSR, but the British, French, and American presence interfered with those plans. The three Western powers might not have been all that sympathetic to Germany’s plight, but the state of the German economy was a drag on the rest of Europe and the powers did indeed fear the spread of communism, so something had to be done. Enter the Marshall Plan — aid from the USA to not only rebuild Germany, but potentially all of Europe — and the introduction of the deutschemark.

But this did not, of course, apply to Stalin’s Europe — the countries and areas where the Red Army had gained a foothold (the Warsaw Pact nations) — or at least Stalin would see to it that it wouldn’t apply. If Stalin couldn’t have all of Germany yet, he would have all of East Germany, to include the entirety of Berlin. To that end, he decided to set up the Berlin Blockade, allowing no land traffic to cross from West Germany to West Berlin. He would starve the Western powers out of the city, leaving the natives at the mercy of their new masters.

The Soviet ban of Allied land traffic in East Germany didn’t happen all at once; it started with simple harassment in March 1948 with the demand to inspect every train from the West and was brought into full effect by late June. At that point, the city was left with barely more that a month’s worth of subsistence and since the Western powers had never negotiated access rights to the three land routes to Berlin with the Soviets, there was nothing they could do about the ban. However, access to the three corresponding air lanes had been negotiated, making the West’s choice clear. They would supply the city by air, daring the Russians to break their agreement and shoot them down.

On June 26, 1948, the first two of many USAF cargo aircraft (C-47s and later C-54s and C-82s) made their way from Frankfurt Airport to Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin. The Royal Air Force followed suit the next day landing at RAF Gatow Airport in West Berlin’s British sector.

Eventually, the air forces of the rest of the English-speaking world — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa — and France would join in the effort. On that first day 80 tons of food and supplies were delivered to Berliners; by September and with the joint effort, 225 C-54s carried more than 5,000 tons of food, milk, and coal per day to sustain the city.

As with every large-scale effort, lives were lost. Eighteen British servicemen, thirty-one of their American counterparts, twenty-one British civilians — passengers on a British aircraft harassed by the Soviet Air Force — and six German civilians lost their lives in accidents related to the airlift. In addition, the Soviets harassed many of the flights, but none of the Red Army’s air forces or air defense forces was able to hinder a single sortie.

The Allied effort to keep its portion of Berlin alive was a daily one and by the time the airlift ended in September 1949 the air forces had delivered more than 2.3 million tons of cargo — milk, meat, medicine, coal, and sundries. (The Soviets had yielded much earlier, lifting the blockade in May of that year.) During the 479-day effort, the deliveries had become so systematic that one aircraft touched down at Tempelhof every three minutes 24/7. Combining the traffic at Gatow and the quickly constructed Tegel Airport, a French endeavor, an Allied aircraft landed in West Berlin roughly every 62 seconds. This record was facilitated, and accidents reduced, by strict rules on instrument landing in all weather.

Twin Berlin Airlift memorials, Plätze der Luftbrücke, stand at Rhein Main Air Base in Frankfurt and at Tempelhof. (Subsequently, located at Tempelhof was Tempelhof Air Base; it is where West Berlin’s USAF contingent was based before the reunification of both city and state.)

“Service before self”

Emblematic of what the Berlin Airlift meant to the city is the legend of Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber.

Halvorsen, then a lieutenant and a C-47/54 pilot, would make his round-trip sortie from Rhein-Main Air Base to Tempelhof. At Tempelhof, the 27-year-old would notice the bedraggled and thin children loitering outside of the airport. He got the idea to give them a special treat, using a handkerchief to wrap candy rations, fitting the bundle with a parachute and instructing his loadmaster to drop the treasure from his aircraft on his way into the city. He told the children to look for him to deliver his cargo; they would know his aircraft because he would wiggle his wings.

Soon his cohorts joined him in the practice and the unofficial act of kindness and diplomacy — later supplied by private U.S. organizations like the National Confectioners Association — became known as Operation Little Vittles.

Halvorsen, who retired from the USAF at the rank of colonel, is now 87 and a revered figure in Germany. [UPDATE 2023: Colonel Halvorsen died in 2022 at 101.]

Goodbye, Tempelhof

As a result of the reunification, Berlin found itself with an excess of airports, with Schönefeld (which served East Berlin), Gatow, Tegel (which was built during the airlift), and Tempelhof. Gatow is now being utilized by the Bundeswehr but is closed to air traffic and Tegel is scheduled to be closed in 2012. With all civil air traffic scheduled to take off and land at Schönefeld — set to be renamed Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport — this left Berliners in a quandary about Tempelhof. 

Should it be preserved for its historical and sentimental significance? Or should the obsolescent reminder of Germany’s dark past and Western magnanimity which costs the financially ailing city 15 million dollars per year be closed and dismantled? Legally, 25% of registered voters must vote in the affirmative for the non-binding referendum to pass. Only 21% of that number voted to save the airport, probably dooming the airport to closure before the end of the year. (There’s still a sliver of hope.)

For me it’s like reading about a plebiscite on whether an old friend should be euthanized; for four years I was a part of that USAF contingent stationed and housed at Tempelhof. John Rosenthal sees the partially eagle-shaped building as a monument to “the darkest period in Germany’s and Europe’s history.” Perhaps. However, it became a place in which a fully racially and ethnically integrated uniformed service of the freest nation on Earth set itself down to defend Europe from further and equally lethal tyranny. More personally, it is the site of a lot of good memories. Simply put, it was my home.

World opinion and Halvorsen’s 21st-century legacy

Could the U.S. and its allies mount a similar rescue in this century? Certainly, though the reaction of recipients and the rest of the world might be starkly different in this different generation.

Of late the world has been beset by natural disasters which have yielded casualties in staggering numbers. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean (225,000+ deaths in eleven countries) and the 2008 Myanmar cyclone (133,000 dead/missing so far) required the type of emergency aid which only the United States military has the training and the resources to dispense.

These recipient governments, however, have seemed reticent about the nearness of the United States military since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Myanmar’s military junta has seemed more willing to risk the deaths of potential millions of the country’s citizens — due to the scourges that logically follow a cyclone in a developing country saddled with a dictatorship — rather than risk invasion and overthrow by the U.S., no matter how unlikely and illogical such an invasion might seem to Americans. Additionally, the junta understands the quite logical idea that appearing weak might lead to a citizen-led overthrow. That weakness would be revealed by the Americans, who can provide what the junta cannot.

And tangential to the perception that the proximity to the U.S. military will get a dictator overthrown, the U.S. military has followed the Berlin Airlift example and spirit in Iraq, building schools, hospitals, and clinics and handing out candy and toys to youngsters in places like Kirkuk, while American civilian organizations provide much of the toy/candy inventory.

As proof that the U.S. will still help a country out without overthrowing that country’s leader, the USAF’s older sibling, the U.S. Navy, in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, dispatched aircraft carrier groups — with each vessel capable of producing “100,000 gallons of potable water per day and pumping it to shore from up to two miles away — disaster relief assessment teams, medical units, and sealift units to the affected countries including Indonesia, even as Indonesia’s vice president voiced his ingratitude and his wish for the U.S. military to be gone as soon as possible.

Gail Halvorsen in 2005

However, it is Colonel Halvorsen who gives the definitive answer to whether anything resembling the scale and effort of the Berlin Airlift could be achieved today. When it was pointed out that his unauthorized act of kindness toward the children of his country’s former enemy could have earned him a reprimand from his superiors, he shrugged the notion off and repeated part of the core values of the USAF: “Service before self.” Apparently the colonel’s superiors recognized that his impromptu kindness was emblematic of that motto.

America’s present-day Armed Forces and its leadership would indeed, like Colonel Halvorsen, do what is morally right. However, such an effort would not garner the “good opinion” and goodwill of the world the way the Berlin Airlift did. But America’s inclination to help doesn’t stem from a desire for the world’s good opinion in the first place.


  1. The Cajun Navy carries the spirit of the Berlin Airlift.
  2. Tempelhof is now a refugee camp.
  3. Colonel Halvorsen is still kicking at 96. [see update above]
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Happy 79th Birthday to my father, Philip Ochieng!

As most of you know, God saw fit to give me three fathers besides Himself. The other patriarchs are Johnny Dorn and John Simpkins (RIP). All of them have shaped the person that I am in countless beneficial ways.

Of course, Philip and I look alike, but it was remarkable to find out how much I have inherited from him without benefit of his interpersonal influence.  

My father is a professional writer who puts forth two columns per week; ditto for me – though I am far less accomplished than he is. I had no contact with Philip until I was in my 30s and, therefore, certainly did not know what he did for a living until then. (We met face-to-face last year for the first time in over 50 years.) But, I knew that I wanted to make a living as a writer when I was 11.

We both speak German.

We have both published books; both of us have done some editing work. And check out the color scheme of our covers!

I picked my book cover's color scheme -- illustrated by Chris Muir of Day by Day Cartoon fame  -- because Albuquerque is the plot's location. (Chris's offerings are not always Safe for Work, which is the only reason I'm not linking to him in this post; my family would not understand.) Still, the similarity, taken together with the others, freaked us both out.

DNA tells the story.

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Symptom: the Coconut Treatment

From time to time, I use the term Coconut Treament. It's a personal coinage which I defined some years back, but it hasn't taken hold, so I still get askance comments when I use it. Here's the metaphor again.
Take a coconut, slice it in half, scoop out the meat from both halves and toss the meat—the substance--into the garbage disposal. Then take a pile of dog manure that Fido deposited into your yard, fill both halves of the coconut shells with it and glue the halves back together. What do you have now?
 A "coconut."
Take the meaning of a word or term, "scoop" it out (disregard it), and insert a meaning of one's choosing therein. That's the Treatment.

On his Twitter feed, Glenn Reynolds shares a perfect example of the Coconut Treatment, as noted by a guy named Chet Cannon.
Cannon shouldn't be surprised at this tactic; we see people do this everyday, so much so that it has become normal. Ask me how many times I've been call a racist for, say, defending conservative principles or for my long-term side-eye at Islam.

This type of thinking is merely a symptom of the rampant epidemic known by its fancier name --postmodernism. As with any other disease, attacking the symptoms eases the patient temporarily, but he still has not been cured. I think that this is the cure, but it's a voluntary one.

In the meantime, we should all be wary of this type of thinking, especially within our individual selves.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Seemingly Random Near Miss

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
--Psalm 90:12

Many others are sharing what they were doing when they found out about the attacks of 9/11, so I might as well do so -- along with something else I don't think I've mentioned previously.

On the morning of 9/11/01, I was up puttering around and drinking coffee. A bit after 7AM PT, my landline rang; it was my great-aunt Alma. Without preamble, she yells: “Turn on the TV!” I did and we stayed on the phone and bore witness for about two hours. Judging from the time difference, all planes had reached their endpoints by time Aunt Alma called.

After we hung up, I got dressed and went outside. At the time, I lived roughly 10 miles east of LAX and almost directly under its constant inbound traffic.

You don't realize how accustomed you have become to a certain sound until that sound is absent.

There was also no street traffic. It was as if the world had gone silent and still.

Much, much later, I reflected on something else. At the time, I was in the USAF Reserves. Reservists and Guard members are required to perform an Annual Tour – two weeks of Active Duty each year. At the beginning of that summer, I had orders for my Annual Tour -- location: Washington DC -- and those orders were for the two work weeks just prior to September 11, 2001. However, at the beginning of August, the orders were cancelled due to lack of unit funding – each fiscal year begins on September 1.

When I found out that American Airlines Flight 77 – the plane that crashed into the Pentagon – had been bound for LA, I shivered. Had my orders not been cancelled, it’s very likely that I would have been on that flight.

And homeward-bound.

For several years afterward, I had forgotten about this; probably, I blocked it from my consciousness. I don’t remember what brought it back to my memory, but I haven’t forgotten it since.

UPDATE: Glenn's readers are welcome -- well, most of you. :) I'd love it if you'd check out today's other 9/11 post, one which is not about me.

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning Da Tech Guy Blog. Latest: Tribalism is Natural.

This is my JOB. It pays for: A Roof Over My Head, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility. 

Yamasaki's Towers

This is a repost from September 11, 2010. Over the years, I've posted many memorials to the events of September 11, 2001, but this one is my favorite.

Minoru Yamaski

It bears repeating on today of all days--building sound structures requires work, planning, wisdom and inspiration. Most importantly, a climate must exist in which all of these attributes may flourish:
After years of negotiations, debate, and drawing up and redrawing up of plans, it was decided that the World Trade Center would consist of 15 million square feet of floor space distributed among seven buildings. These would include two towers that would soar over a quarter mile into the sky. The towers would top the Empire State Building by 100 feet. Some people, architects among them, wondered: Could such lofty skyscrapers be built?
'Yes' was the answer of at least one man; one who blossomed in the climate called America:
Minoru Yamasaki was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Seattle in 1912 and studied architecture at the University of Washington in 1932. He then moved to New York to complete his professional education, and established a practice in suburban Detroit, Michigan, in 1945. Yamasaki designed several major Seattle buildings including the Federal Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center, 1962), IBM Building (1964), and Rainier Square and tower (1977). He is best known as the chief architect of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. Upon completion in 1976, the WTC’s twin 110-story towers were the world’s tallest buildings. Yamasaki died of cancer in 1986, and was thus spared seeing his greatest work destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
During WWII, Yamasaki and his parents were protected from FDR's internment by his second employer, Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls.

Allegories and ironies abound.

While his Japanese kinsmen were acting against Americans, Chinese, Filipinos, etc. based on the assumption that the former were ethnically superior, Yamasaki, the American, was living his life according to the American ideal of individual excellence--even as FDR's America was falling monstrously short of that ideal.  And it is pertinent that it took individuals to protect the Yamasakis from their government; for self-interested reasons to be sure, but how much does that matter in view of the results?

The Japanese and persons of Japanese descent -- and other East Asians -- have a well-deserved reputation for excellence in most any endeavor and it is no secret that this excellence stems from elements of the Japanese culture.  Like very many other ethnic groups, Japanese immigrants to the United States came to America with their cultural baggage--both good and bad--and did what successful new Americans do: they adapted.  They retained the elements of their culture which are compatible with the American Ideal (individual excellence), discarded those elements which were not (ethnic tribalism/supremacy) and, for the most part, passed on the positives to their wholly American progeny.

Yamasaki's Twin Towers were a testament to excellence and to the soundness of the American Ideal.

It is indeed a blessing that he did not live to see his masterpieces destroyed by those who hold ethnic and religious tribalism more sacred than individuality, but though Yamasaki and his Towers reside only in our memories now, nothing can destroy what that fine American achieved in a climate created just for men and women like him.

This is my JOB. It pays for: A Roof Over My Head, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

On Love, Taking a Stand, and Clear Vision

The following is an edited version of a post I wrote on my 49th birthday -- seven years ago -- at my old blog. Contemporaneous items have been removed.


During my morning reading and prayer, it “occurred” to me -- again --to ask God what His will is for my life. I wanted to know what I was or wasn’t doing that is against His will. Was there something I needed to do more of? Had I failed to ask ‘how high’ when God told me to jump? Every person still breathing has an assigned mission, whether it be great or small.

After admitting publicly that I'd had an abortion, I received many compliments for my courage and honesty, but I felt neither courageous nor particularly honest. It wasn’t false humility; it was simply a feeling that there was more—as if there was something else I needed to face. And there was.

The accolades I received for that admission were watered down by a very sobering state of affairs in my life. The one person from whom I needed love and support has, because of my confession, repeatedly ridiculed me for it--seeming to want to induce shame in me for being so public. The irony contained therein is that, prior to my admission, I had avoided blogging about abortion due to the shame I had felt for doing away with my own child. Admitting it publicly was an attempt to free myself from that shame and it was done in the hope that at least one young woman reading would realize that she did not have to be the fool that I had been.

Abortion was my greatest shame and, though my eternal guilt has been washed away by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior, its earthly effects have been extremely painful, spiritually and emotionally—the consciousness of sin and the regret at committing a form of suicide.

The interesting part is this: when God opens your eyes, your spiritual vision is 20-20. The person who wants me to feel shame for my admission once claimed to love me. But, my being continues to be shaped by God and when He says, “Stand,” I have no choice. And what I’ve had to face is this: anyone who would ridicule me and attempt to provoke shame from me for my obedience to the Lord cannot possibly love me.

Even more interesting is the realization that when you are doing what you know is morally correct in the sight of God—when you take a stand in the name of Jesus Christ—any chastisement you receive is an indication that you are on the right path. Additionally, the source of that chastisement will give you a clear view into the soul of that source. Be sure to pray for that soul, however.

On Honor

The primary recipient of our honor as individual human beings is to God and is simply outlined in Mark 12:30-31; each human being is commanded to love God with an entire heart, and with full mental power and to love one’s neighbor as self. Love is the variant of honor that should constantly pour from our being—the highest type of honor.

For the longest time, I did not understand what it meant to love God, this incorporeal being. But how does one love a sentient earthly being? We communicate. We talk to that person and, most importantly, we listen to them and when we do this, we trust that the communication consists of truth—we extend good faith to our beloved. (And we show love by rejoicing in our beloved’s happiness and comforting him in his pain. And we never, never, never ridicule our beloved when he reveals his soul.)

With God, loving Him has an extra component, of course. Since He’s omnipotent and omniscient, we show our love to Him by doing what He commands and trusting that the commandments of a loving God are meant for good. We extend to God the ultimate in Good Faith.

After talking to Him (praying in the name of Jesus Christ) and listening to Him (reading the Word), we do what He puts in our hearts, in spite of any earthly consequences. We take a stand.

So, my eyes are open and my vision is clear. I will continue to stand for the unborn and the murdered.

And I will remember that true love is (Holy) spiritual.

Though my story seems sad, I feel set free; very happy and peaceful. Peace is what I prayed for. It's a great birthday gift.

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning Da Tech Guy Blog. Latest: Stinking Facts.

This is my JOB. It pays for: A Roof Over My Head, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility. 

My August 2017 Post Digest from Da Tech Guy Blog

Alfonso Bedoya in the Treasure of Sierra Madre
There are a few more than usual because I filled in for my good friend Fausta while she was moving into a new home. Fausta also blogs here.

DCCC Will Support Candidates Who Say They Choose Life
Atheists in London are Braver Than American Ones
Tried and Tried Again (Linked by Instapundit)
Social Media Storm Chasing, Part One
Social Media Storm Chasing, Part Two
Refusing to Flash the Gang Sign
Back in Time
Slave Cars
Math Geek Memories
On the "Special Needs" of Black People
Stinking Facts

Every Tuesday and Saturday, I blog at the award-winning Da Tech Guy Blog

This is my JOB. It pays for: A Roof Over My Head, the writing of My Next Book(s), and Utilities--especially Internet and COFFEE! Yes, coffee is a utility.