More on the tigerstripes

Prairie AFB received a visit from the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force last week. All of us enlisted folk assembled in the gym to hear him. He's a talented speaker.

His last topic, after rotation lengths, force shaping, and pay and benefits, was the proposed new tiger stripe utility uniform. The CMSAF asked us our general opinion of the uniform, pros first and cons second. By an unscientific measure, the volume of the huahs, it appears that the tiger stripes are not only disliked, they're intensely disliked.

CMSAF went on with his pitch, though, as a seasoned senior NCO must. One point he raised was that the current BDUs cost too much over their lifecycles. Because we are expected to press and starch them, they are useless in real combat and they wear out prematurely. The new uniform will save Airmen and the Air Force money over the long run because we'll be putting less effort into maintaining them, and the AF will be replacing them less often (i.e. they can reduce uniform allowances?).

Hell, I could fix that problem in ten seconds.

  1. All USAF activities will immediately read and heed the care label affixed to the Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Camouflage Uniform.
  2. Specifically, all USAF activities will suspend the application of starch, sizing, or other fabric treatment not specifically authorized by the fabric care label affixed to the Battle Dress Uniform and Desert Camouflage Uniform. Pressing with a cool iron will be the only authorized and compliant method of maintaining the professional appearance of these uniforms.
  3. Further, all USAF activities will cease to direct, require, or recommend Airmen to apply starch or sizing to BDU and DCU. Orders to the contrary shall be considered unlawful.
  4. Any activities or functions which require Airmen to appear in creased or starched uniforms will direct Airmen to appear in blue uniforms appropriate to the weather and occasion. Commanders will weigh the need for professional appearance of their Airmen against the demands of the mission, and set the uniform accordingly.
  5. All Airmen are reminded that the BDU and DCU are combat utility uniforms, intended for harsh service in possible contact with the enemy. As such they are a weapon system, whose use and maintenance is as critical as those for an aircraft, munition, or C2 system. Misuse and premature wear due to unauthorized maintenance practices will not be tolerated.
  6. Commanders will use open-ranks inspections and surveillance with thermal imaging devices to ensure compliance. Inspectors General will note this aspect of uniform maintenance and appearance as a special interest item (SII).

All I'd need is CSAF's signature.

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A seismic spike in WUTT's hit counter, attributable to readers coming here from the blogroll at Seewhatyoushare, a blog about the stuff that people don't know they are passing on peer-to-peer networks.

Welcome, and come back often.

The Cabinet Man Gets a Visit from the Friendly Local Constabulary

(What song is playing? “Good Things”, Sleater-Kinney)

Background: I shoot a lot. Nearly every weekend I'm at the range. My favorite weapons are my .308 MBRs and my various 7.62x39 semi-autos. Whenever I can get some ammo for these things at a good price, I'm quick to “buy in bulk”. I usually buy at gun shows, being careful to shop around and get the best prices. Anything gun-related in Maryland is expensive so I do my research and make sure I'm getting a better price than I can get at My Favorite Gun Shop.

One of the bargains out there right now is the imported 7.62x51 NATO ball ammo from Australia. It shoots very nicely in all my MBRs and I have a favorite gun-show vendor that gives me a break on anything I buy from them because (1) I'm a good customer (I buy a lot!!), (2) I'm reliable (I buy everything I ask them to bring down for me), and (3) I'm just plain handsome!! There was a gun show in Northern Virginia today and I phoned in my order after agreeing upon a great price on four cases (3200 rounds) of Aussie surplus. I cruised the show, borrowed their hand truck and loaded my trusty F350 with my prize.

When I got home – about 4:00 PM – I grabbed my four-wheeled dolly cart and stacked all four cases onto it, sparing my back and biceps. I wheeled the 250 pound load into my apartment and found a spot amongst the packing clutter to store it until I move back to CO in three weeks. I exited the apartment to tend to a flat tire I got this afternoon and I was running around outside investigating its failure. After finding a broken valve stem, I threw the tire into the back of the truck and headed back inside. Just as I entered the breezeway, I noticed a Montgomery County police car cruise past my truck and give it – and me – a long glance. I paid it little attention and went about my business.

Once inside, I glanced out the window and noticed that the patrolman was circling my truck and talking on his radio. Hmmmm... I had forgotten to get a ratchet strap out of the truck so I figured I'd get the strap and get this over with. I popped out the door at which point the patrolman asked if the truck was mine. I said 'yes' and he said, “Good, you saved me some work.”

He politely said that someone had called the police concerning some “questionable” items I removed from my truck and he was sent to make sure there were no potential threats to my neighbors. I had about two seconds to make a plan. My first thought was to put up my guard and play hard-ass. But in those two seconds, I decided not to do that. Instead, I grinned, nodded my head, and rolled my eyes. I said, “I know what caused the alarm” and motioned for him to follow me. I had put the cart just inside my door and I knew I could get thru this without dragging him through all the moving clutter.

The patrolman stood in my doorway and I pointed to the four green wooden ammo cases as I said, “Ammo.” I grabbed a case and spun it around to show the bright orange triangle that screamed “EXPLOSIVES”. I said, “I'm guessing that's what caused the alarm.” He nodded and asked what it was. I explained and he asked me if I minded popping open a case so he could confirm its contents if anyone asked. I didn't feel like getting into a 4th Amendment argument and figured, “what the hell”. My favorite gun show vendor had never accidentally given me hand grenades instead of NATO ball ammo so I took my chances. I cut open the tie wraps that held the latches closed and raised the lid. Whew!! No grenades. Just 800 rounds of 7.62x51. I opened one of the boxes and showed him the blister-packed ammo. He gave me a nod of approval and a quick smile that I suspect contained a small amount of relief. I gave him an (unnecessary) apology for scaring someone and he thanked me and went on his way. He never asked for my name (he didn't need to – he knew the truck was mine...) and I didn't get any lectures or questions I thought were founded in suspicion.

So, that was that. Part of me wanted to play hardball: deny the truck was mine, refuse to let him in, refuse to open the case, insist on a warrant, demand to know my accuser. Part of me just wanted to clear up a misunderstanding between an obviously reasonable cop and a cowering sheeple that got nervous as I unloaded ammo in the open, in broad daylight, while making no effort to be sneaky or covert. I chose the latter. Time may prove me wrong but I think I made the right choice. The cop had to believe I was on the up-and-up. I was polite but not obsequious. I was helpful but not to the point of looking desperate. I'm sure there's now a report somewhere with my name on it and a note that I had 3200 rounds of ammo stacked near my front door. Had he and I stood our ground and let his duty collide with my rights, that report would still have been made but it would say that I was uncooperative, guarded, suspicious, blah, blah, blah. Red Flag!! Instead, it might just say I was helpful and handled the situation with grace and humor. (Nah....)

But again, part of me wanted to play hardball. I'm getting ready to move and my apartment is a mass of boxes, including no fewer than 12 empty rifle boxes that were in plain site of the patrolman. I don't know if he saw them – I will assume he did. I'll be pondering this decision for many days as hindsight is always 20/20. If nothing comes of it, then I feel I made the right choice. The police can make my life miserable whether I had cooperated or not. While I drift more and more into the “question authority” mindset each day, I still hold out a small glimmer of hope for common sense from the Powers That Be, especially at the lower levels.

What would I do differently?? First, I would have torn off those damned orange stickers when I put the cases in the truck to begin with. (The heat index in Virginia had to be over 100 degrees today and I won't admit to having full use of foresight in that matter.) Without those stickers I'm sure the “concerned citizen” would have found little to be concerned about. I'll also be more discreet in the future when moving around cases of ammo. Second, I would have asked the patrolman to wait outside while I wheeled-out the cart of ammo. He wouldn't have had a chance to “glance around” and I could have accomplished the same task without being deemed uncooperative. A good friend of mine who's a military cop warned me to never let a policeman into my house without a warrant. I dropped the ball on that one. I'll do it much better next time. Hoping, of course, that there never is a next time.

What really gripes my ass is that there is some knucklehead in my apartment complex that probably thinks I'm a terrorist. (I can think of NOTHING that's further from the truth...) He/she has seen too many commercials asking citizens to narc-out their neighbors. They've read too many 1-800-123-TIPS signs. They've nothing better to do than to spy on their neighbors and call 9-1-1 when they wet their diaper. I'd love to pose a few questions to the sheeple that unleashed upon me one of Montgomery County's finest. First, if I was trafficking in explosives, why would I leave on the orange stickers?? Why would I move the stuff around in plain site, in the middle of the day?? Second, why didn't you just ask me what it was I had?? Moving the stuff around as I was, I was obviously not trying to hide anything. If you're curious, ask. Third, why don't you get a life?? Stop being a good little PATRIOT Act spy and try skipping the Two Minutes Hate every once in a while.

So that's the end of my rant. Hopefully I didn't screw up. Hopefully the cop is cool and he'll pass along that I am too. Hopefully the whole thing will come to nothing. I know that's a lot of hope but that's just me.




It has come to my attention that my Air Force is lapsing into a groundless notion that addressing non-commissioned officers as "sir" and "ma'am" is somehow respectful.

For months I have failed to disabuse you of this notion. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to become one. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to prepare her Airmen to recognize rank, render each rank its proper respect, learn their own places, and aspire to higher rank themselves.

Every time you address an NCO as "sir" you are committing two offenses: you are showing disrespect to the place and the accomplishments of the NCO standing before you, and you are suggesting that you do not know, or do not attend to, the difference between brass and chevrons. This is one of the first things taught you when you stepped off the bus and into the Air Force; forgetting first-day material is not forgiveable.

I would argue that it constitutes a third offense, one to decorum and tradition. Some Airmen offer the rationale that "it couldn't hurt" to address an NCO as "sir" or "ma'am," that more politeness is better. I assure you it is not. Rather than being received as brownnosing, this careless form of address signals to the NCO that you literally don't know who you are talking to. Nor is it effective brownnosing to confuse an experienced, mature NCO---with humble beginnings just like your own---with a butterbar who's still finding his ass, or a squadron commander who probably knows your ass better than you do after a single glance at you.

If you want to go above and beyond, if you're convinced that more is better, then give General Jumper an extra five in the morning. Give up the cigarettes. Cut twenty seconds off your mile and a half. Finish your CDCs. Keep your genitals in your pants and keep your eyes open.

And call me Sergeant.


Quote for the day

So Teresa Heinz Kerry has been busted for telling a reporter to "shove it" after delivering a speech on the need for civility. Her mistake, in my opinion, was not to say "shove it," but to preach for civility.

Common Sense at Liberty and Power


One of Colorado's Native Sons Returns Home

(What's in the CD player??  "A Stare Like Yours", The Thermals)

Colorado, I'm coming home!!

After sixteen years in Maryland (12 + 4 = __), I've had it up to here.  (Take my word for it, the threshhold has been exceeded...)  I had some plans to partner with an old business associate at his existing company but, alas, it wasn't to be.  Too much uncommon ground as it related to salary, capitalization, and control.  He still needs a hand but he'll have to do more soul-searching before he'll be able to loosen the reins.  Most importantly, it would have left me stuck on the East coast.

So I took matters into my own hands.  Given the collective wise counsel-- and the occasional prodding -- of B-Mac, Axle, and Fuze (all CO locals), I "up and quit" my stint in the Golden Handcuffs, reserved me a rental truck, and set my sights on my former hometown of Colorado Springs.  I have yet to find a job or a house but I'm optimistic nonetheless.  I'm visiting next week, during which time I will (1) have a job interview, (2) find a humble abode for all the stuff that owns me, and (3) buy my very own piece of God's Country.

I know I'll feel -- and be treated -- like an outsider for a while.  Hopefully just a little while.  My CO friends tell me I've adopted a strange -- almost Pennsylvania-like -- accent, of which I'm not aware.  Getting rid of that will be difficult perhaps.  I spent nine years in ColoSpgs before I landed here in MD and my last serious visit was more than a bit disorienting.  I knew the road names but forgot where they went.  Landmarks I expected to be in a certain place were hidden or gone.  My favorite military surplus store jumped to the other side of the street and its emphasis on 'military' was lost somewhere along the way.  But I'll recover quickly, I'm sure.

I hope the job interview goes well.  It would be a nice change of pace from designing DSL modem software.  (DSL has paid the bills but it's as spiritually rewarding as watching paint dry.)  If the new job doesn't work out then I'll do my best to re-ignite my own engineering company, which, BTW, still exists as a CO corporation.  At least my attorney is convinced that it is, given that he bills me regularly for services that only he and The State deem warranted.

For me, the most exciting part is the land.  TCM's Hideout.  Even at 40-something, I have yet to carry a mortgage.  (I know, that's good and bad...)  I have never set down roots, due either to lack of ability or lack of desire.  Just as I have an uncontrollable "salmonic" urge to swim back upstream, I feel the need to have a place to call Mine.  I'll eventually get a Real Home Mortgage once the dust settles but for now,this piece of land I'm "jonesing" after will do just fine!!

So, sometime next month, there will be the white streak of El Puerqo Grande (my F350's moniker) and a rental truck headed West.  My ex-wife's former father-in-law has kindly offered to drive one of the vehicles.  He prefers EPG -- as do I.  It'll be an arm-wrestling match each morning.  I'd like to make the trip via motorcycle but that doesn't lend itself well to getting Stuff to CO.  So the motorcycles will be trailered and the Slow Crawl out I-70 will be my fate.

And, it can't happen soon enough.

Now I just need to find the closest rifle range to ColoSpgs.  :^)

It's all good!!