I love hi-tech as much as the next person

I love hi-tech as much as the next person, but I try not to obsess over it. The first typewriting machine I owned was a Royal Sabre manual portable typewriter vintage 1970’s. There was once a case for it, but that’s long gone. It was my first laptop. I like the clickity-clackety sound of old typewriters, but am annoyed by electronic keyboards that attempt to mimic them.

In the bunker, the old typewriter still anchors a corner of a glass table top. An old typewriter sitting on a modern looking table is not at all out of place. Like my Dad’s old solid-state radio, it’s one of those relied on anchors. It would take considerable restoration to make it function properly. It was hi-tech. I could type in red or black, set “magic” margins and columns, yep hi-tech. The spell checker was my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and the tool to expand my limited vocabulary was a Roget’s Thesaurus. They still grace the shelf just above my current typing machine. There was no grammar checker either. I relied on what little I recalled from stern English Grammar teachers.

I don’t know why they seemed so stern with a furrowed brow peering out over the glasses perched on the end of their noses. I was not the one receiving little stars on my work. She was perky with turned up nose and a pony tail. My acknowledgement from the unbendable grammar lady came in red ink followed by multiple exclamations points. If you’re curious, I do not believe she did irreparable harm to my self-esteem. On the bright side, she did occasionally compliment the content of compositions but still gave me a C or a D for poor grammar and punctuation. The D would be underlined. In red.

When the lights go out, I don’t know how some of us will communicate. Can you imagine a world without home computers, smart phones, and Lord help us social media? Not long ago, I saw a cartoon. It pictured a group of children walking the sidewalk appearing headed to school. In the picture, every child was walking and looking at their cell phones. Someone captioned it, “The Zombie Apocalypse.” These days, we’re not teaching them how to handwrite the English language. When I was a kid (heard that lately) it was called penmanship and also drew red letter critiques. I saw another cartoon with pictures of a road atlas and topographical maps asking with the advent of GPS if anyone knew how to use them.

What got the rusty brain apparatus moving on our high-tech world is the new heat and AC system I just had installed. My trusty, yet antiquated furnace died. Being the same age as the air conditioner I elected to replace both. My perspective might seem odd, but I grew up in the hollows (hollers if you’re local) of West Virginia. Our house was heated by coal and wood fired stoves in the winter and in the summer cooled by mountain air and open windows. Mom solved the humidifier issue by placing a pot of water on a stove top. We did just fine.

My old furnace and air conditioner were simple on and off systems. Meaning each would come on with full power when called and then shut down once they achieved the temperature called for by the thermostat. That’s frowned upon these days, hi-tech, high efficiency, and very high prices are upon us. I don’t have a thermostat. At least not something you might recognize as one. It’s actually a tablet connected to a magnetic mount. It controls everything, well except for Suzie-Q. It lights up when I walk past. It communicates directly or via my home wi-fi network. It even takes orders from Alexa. Imagine. This thing is so hi-tech that if I remove the thermostat tablet thingy from the wall and walk into another room it will run the appropriate system to bring that room to the thermostat called for temperature. The manual for the thermostat is a big as the one for the furnace.

Here’s what I know. I have two functional wood burning fireplaces and I’m keeping them. And Carolyn, do not correct my grammar. Please.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

 

It’s the doggoned truth

There is truth in this world. I declare this from experience. There is absolute truth. My damn furnace has never failed me in the summer. So there. There is more truth. It’s out there, you only need to think about it.

For example.

Here in the land of the free, we’ve managed to turn the world’s best system of government into lose, lose, and lost. It does not matter where the power temporarily lies. The side out of power does everything possible to prevent the side that’s in power from accomplishing anything. It’s a real cluster whatchamacallit, but they call it gridlock. However. There’s always a however. They are always able to embrace and pass outrageous spending bills that sends the pork back home.

With every election, fraudulent or not, the sides flip and the power and the drivers of the death spiral flips. Americans cheer the sides like it’s some kind of game. It’s not a doggoned game. These people hold the fate of our nation in their greasy hands. The evidence indicates that they do not give a rat’s rear end about it either. Or you, or me. Yep, we cheer as our country twirls around the drain.

Our politicians pound on one another for what I’m convinced is akin to a World Wrestling Federation show, naming, shaming and investigating while back slapping and having drinks and smoking cigars off mic and off camera. What did one of them just say? Investigations are sexy, legislation not so much. It was the guy with a skinny neck that looks like he has a popsicle stick up his, well you know what I mean.

We do not have an effective government. At least not one that functions as designed. It’s because the people we send to govern have totally lost their way. It’s not about what they can accomplish for the country, but how much wealth and power they can gain. Some of them are downright stupid. Take the lady from New York who can’t name the three branches of government and compares the migrant invasion with Jews fleeing from the Nazis. It takes big city intellect and sophistication to send such a genius as that to Congress.

We do not have a government. It’s a freaking zero sum power struggle, a war. A circular firing squad with the American people in the pivot.

No matter who has the seat of power, the American people are the losers. The motto for Babylon on the Potomac and their media lackies should be who can we destroy today. Seriously, I get images in my mind of medieval butchery except the barbarians scaling the walls and wreaking havoc have sprayed on hair-dos, porcelain crowns, tailored suits and wear an I’m a Congress person lapel pin or have a Whitehouse press pass hanging around their necks.

For most of these people, nothing worthy exists outside Babylon except for possibly Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, Philadelphia…. People out here in the hinterlands, they believe, are simply not cultured enough to understand how things really work. This is why they insist that we take away the electoral college. So, the brilliant inhabitants of the big city population centers can decide how the rest of us live.

Face it. If you vote at some point you have voted for a liar. Calling someone an honest politician is like saying someone is pretty ugly. Can’t be both.

We have narcissistic former presidents that can’t go home and shut up. No, it’s not just the current one suffering from diarrhea of the mouth. They’re all aghast that someone from outside the political clubhouse, not named Bush or Clinton, was elected president. Someone who for most of his adult life greased the palms of those same politicians in order to conduct business in their cities. The politicians fear outsiders entering into the billion-dollar industry of American politics. The fear it so much that both parties continue to try to take him out. Even the Chief Justice and another on the Court have had something to say about it. What’s worse for them is that he’s exposed country club members for what they truly are and for whom they work. Here’s a hint. It’s not you and me.

One Congressman said they’d nuke Americans that refused to give up their weapons. Certainly, he didn’t mean actual nukes, but his stance is quite clear and he’s not the lone ranger in thought. Americans, hopefully, are not gullible enough to give up their legally owned firearms even in the face of force. And hopefully there are enough people in local and federal police forces and the armed forces that will defend the constitution against domestic enemies.

There a dangerous push by progressives from both parties toward more government, more socialism which is the little brother of communism, and more control of the people. A short history lesson: First they were communists. When the American people frowned upon that, they became progressives. When that wasn’t working, they called themselves liberals. That modern version of liberalism has taken such a pounding that they’ve returned to calling themselves progressive.

We may come out of the other side of the current state with America intact. We may come out the other side looking like Venezuela. And that’s the doggoned truth. I think.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

Have a Blessed Thanksiving

It was always a special event to serve Thanksgiving dinner to Soldiers while wearing dress blues. Soldiers always had a big smile on their faces when being served by their leaders. They especially liked it when the Mess Sergeant supervising the operation kept telling the servers to watch the serving size or they could run out. I don’t reckon I ever made it through my shift as a server without getting something on my uniform. This was usually pointed out by my wife when I finally joined my son and her for our meal together.

While in the Army, my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner had to be first in 1971 during Basic Combat Training at Fort Ord, California. It was the first time I saw an Army dress blue uniform. The Senior Drill Sergeant, First Sergeant and Company Commander wore them. The other Drill Sergeants wore their Class A service uniforms. Every member of the cadre was a Vietnam Combat Veteran. I would later come to realize that was behind the intensity and urgency with which they pushed and trained us.

I remember that Mess Hall scene as clearly today as if I was still standing there. What was typically very business like with lots of kitchen noise, little or no talking, and Drill Sergeants yelling out for the dining room orderlies wasn’t there. Tables were set out in long rows all of them covered with white linens. Some trainees were able to have their families there. We entered the Mess Hall and were positioned behind a chair. Once everyone was in, we were seated and then table by table we moved through the serving line. The cooks typically served us wearing white tee-shirts and aprons and moved us through as quickly as possible. This day, they were decked out in heavily starched cook whites and where polite as we moved through the line. Back in the barracks, we were allowed to call home. I made my collect call home and talked with my parents until the Drill Sergeant reminded that others were waiting. On that day, my leaders and comrades in arms became my extended family. It was a great Army day.

As you go through this day of thanksgiving, take a moment. Remember at many locations around this world, Soldiers married and single are separated from their families. The bonds they have with fellow Soldiers is significant for them, but there is no bond closer than real family. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. God bless them everyone.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’m an American- The political left was speaking ill of me long before Donald Trump was elected President

I’ve been busy with something that’s taking a lot of time and thought. It’s been keeping me from regular posts to the blog. But these days things build up making it necessary to do a mind dump to remove the noise and clutter that tends to break one’s concentration and thought patterns. It’s therapeutic. It lays things aside allowing focus.

The political left was speaking ill of me long before Donald Trump was elected President. When decades of globalist-oriented government failed, I was told: “…it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” The statement says a lot about the person who made it and the ideological mindset of those whom he represents. I’m bitter? Every time the media speaks, I hear I’m hateful, angry and a threat to our country. I’m told my constitutional right to keep and bear arms is responsible for all gun violence. Christianity is mocked as a matter of routine even from the Whitehouse and the floors of Congress. I’m called a racist because I believe in secure borders and “legal” immigration. If I want the factories to return so that my middle American neighbors may ply their learned skills and trades to earn a decent living, I’m anti trade.

The truth is, I’m not a globalist. I’m an American. Rather than being anti anything, I am pro American. I am a patriot with an unwavering allegiance to the country of my birth. An allegiance to the exceptional country as founded on the precept of individual liberty. I live under an oath without an expiration date, a sworn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I will fulfill my oath. Since patriotism has not yet been demonized, I’m being called a nationalist. Some adding the descriptor white to it intoning that I am some sort of a supremacist. No, I’m just an American. A patriot or nationalist as you choose. None of it means anything more than I believe in sovereignty of our country, self-governance, self-determination, and freedom. I stand to welcome anyone into our country who arrives legally, wants to make a contribution to our society, and who willingly embraces American ideals rather than bringing with them the failed systems they escaped.

The very declaration, I am an American, is being turned ugly. It’s been headed in that direction ever since the misguided youth of the 1960s began to burn bras and draft cards and clamor for free love and legal drugs. Their minds poisoned by the evils of capitalism and the utopia of socialism and communism. That generation became university professors. Following five decades of political indoctrination on our college campuses, here we are. One of our political parities is so rigid they’ve become a wholly owned subsidiary of the establishment donor class. But don’t be too hasty with assumptions, the other party has its donor class as well and it filled vacancies left by retiring cowards with progressives. Please do a little research. You will soon learn that Progressive is interchangeable with Communist. To the ignorant, progressive is a little more palatable to the ear. They are more in line with trashing our Constitution rather than supporting and defending it.

I know it makes me a modern-day pariah to even think it, but multi-culturalism fails. There will always be one or the other seeking dominance. We should hold tightly to our heritage and ethnicity. It is who we are. But if America is to survive, we must all embrace our national motto, out of many one. Out of many cultures comes an American culture. Not a utopia, but the best ever conceived by humans.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam

During service, my path crossed with Charles Stokes’ a few times. We were Senior ROTC instructors. He was at Seton Hall and I was at Gannon University, a small Catholic school located in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. On one such occasion, we were attending a wilderness instructor’s course around Seneca Rock, West Virginia. We were organized into teams and Charles was my team leader. For several days we were spelunking and rock climbing and on the final day humping to the top of Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest point. It was clear that Charles was an old hand a much of what we were doing, except for possibly when we were in a cave several miles underground.

On our final day, we stopped for our break. I was thankful because I was carrying a sack of oranges in my ruck. Except for my oranges, the other food items spread around the team were gone. Now these were not your typical oranges, they more closely resembled basketballs. As I hauled them out (Charles may not recall) Charles asked me where I got the rucksack I was using. Turns out it was probably familiar to him as it was loaned to me by a Special Forces Master Sergeant I worked with at Gannon. Our paths crossed once more at ROTC summer camp at Fort Bragg.

In the fall of 1997, I was invited to be one of the first enlisted Soldiers to attend the Sustaining Base Leadership and Management Program of the Army Management Staff College. I soon learned one of the three professors assigned to my group was Charles Stokes. Charles was a professor, but at his core still a noncommissioned officer guiding, leading and mentoring.

Charles is the real deal. Let me tell you about him. He is a Special Forces Soldier who spent 7 years in Southeast Asia. He served on classified assignments in Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. He is a graduate of the United States Institute for Military Assistance, Operations and Intelligence Course; US/Foreign Weapons Course; Static Line Jumpmaster Course; and Honor Graduate of the US Army Ranger School. He is also a graduate of the US State Department Laotian Language School. He taught Senior ROTC at Seton Hall University and served as the Senior Operations, Security, and Intelligence NCO for the Military District of Washington, DC, before retiring from the Army. As a civilian Charles taught Leadership, Management, and Decision Making at the Army Management Staff College.

Not long ago, I was privileged to read Charles’ book manuscript, Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam. I’m going to share with you a brief review of a gripping story. On this Veteran’s Day weekend, I encourage you to pick up a copy and read the long-awaited story of Vietnam Veterans.

Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam
A book review by J. D Pendry, Command Sergeant Major, U. S. Army, (Retired)

Charles Stokes, in his excellent book Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam, masterfully tells the story Veterans of the Vietnam era have longed to have told. From the unique perspective of one who lived it, a career Special Operations Soldier and Vietnam combat Veteran tells the story of the Vietnam era Soldier.

Soldiers of the time will readily identify with the characters. The Garrison Soldiers, McNamara’s 100,000, black marketeers, Mamasans, business girls, recon Soldiers, the too often caught in the middle Vietnamese Villagers, and the Viet Cong. As their lives evolve and stories intertwine, war touches all of them from the middle school dropout become Recon Team Tail Gunner and from goose herder become lethal Viet Cong tracker.

Charles takes you on multiple journeys. Each one a story of its own. Each one intertwined with another. Whether it’s being conned by smooth ladies of the night or isolated and fighting for your life, he paints a vivid portrait and drops you right in the middle of it. You will feel the sweltering tropical heat and experience the chill of the monsoon rains. No doubt some will re-experience anxiety, relive the brotherhood of warriors in intense combat, feel the heartache of losing a brother, recall the brief reprieve of R&R, and feel the letdown of a too often unwelcome return home.

You will thoroughly enjoy this story. If you are a Vietnam Veteran it’s your story from your typical socio-economic background to the grind. You’ll catch yourself going back to your time. You’ll re-read. My prediction is someday you may see this story, your story, unfold as a major motion picture.