Tuesday, May 31, 2005


That raises more questions that it answers. He was the No. 2 man at the FBI.

Remember the stories of J. Edgar Hoover’s secret files that made him the most feared man in Washington? Presidents couldn’t remove him because of so much he had on everybody.

Felt got passed over to head the FBI. Did Felt dig into his own secret files and get even?

I wonder what Felt’s politics were. Was he a Michael Moore type liberal?

I wonder if the next president who has to name an FBI Director will think twice before he passes over the No. 2 man.

This story will not go gently into that good night.

UPDATE: Doesn’t that open up another serious question? What can the FBI’s role as whistle blower be in matters that don’t directly concern the FBI? Wow! There is a serious problem to be worked out there. I see conflicts all over the place.

UPDATE: I changed Herbert Hoover to J. Edgar Hoover in the original. Dumb me. I'm getting old.

UPDATE: Many in the news business are pointing to this story to confirm the value of anonymous sources conveniently forgetting that Ben Bradlee demanded independent confirmation from two more sources before he would proceed.

Look what has happened to journalistic standards since then.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Almost 50 years ago I was in a little airport in a South American town. As usual for me in airports, I couldn’t figure out where to go for my next connection. I spoke no Spanish and none of the signs were in English. When I tried to find someone who spoke English, a tall, black policeman was pointed out to me.

The officer was very accommodating, very polite, and quickly solved my problem. His accent was interesting. He spoke English with a combination of Spanish and southern accents. I asked him if he had been to the United States, thinking that‘s where he picked up his southern accent. He said he hadn’t.

It suddenly occurred to me, and this was a revelation, the American southern accent is really a black accent. It was imported with the slaves from Africa.

I suppose that is well known among people who make a study of such things, but to discover it independently is memorable.

I have remembered it for almost 50 years.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


I am addicted to a WWII computer game called “Axis and Allies.” I play it, against the computer, 2 or 3 hours a day. It’s a timewaster that challenges my mind and relaxes me.

The AI (artificial intelligence or computer response) is so dismally poor that I have to give myself severe handicaps to make the game interesting. Every time I play the game it comes out differently due to some variations in the computer strategy and the luck of the battles. That’s
what keeps it interesting.

Today, after playing it over a thousand times, I found a better strategy in the middle game. I was dumbfounded at the implication. This is a game I have completely mastered. No general in the field could possibly be more adept at his profession than I am at my timewaster. And yet I found a better way after over a thousand campaigns. The general only gets one chance. Think of that. Think of that.

Recall the criticisms of the Afghanistan campaign before the fact. Weather was wrong at that time of the year. We’d be bogged down in winter. The Russians were bogged down there for years in all kinds of weather. Supply and manpower problems were insurmountable.

Afghanistan fell in weeks. It was a total triumph.

And so it went. Diplomatic and military victories piling up one after another.

Pakistan first had to be won over from supporting the Taliban to cooperating with the US.

Afghanistan fell.

Iraq fell.

Libya declared themselves reformed.

Syria withdrew from Lebanon.

Pakistan and India withdrew from the brink of war.

There are other claimed victories but with no real proof.

All of this came about with the sacrifice of less than 2,000 Americans. What a debt the world owes to those brave Americans. Millions of people now live in freedom because of the sacrifice of those 2,000.

When you witness momentous happenings you can do no better than to borrow from Churchill. Never in the course of human events has the freedom of so many been owed to the sacrifice of so few.

Credit the brilliant leadership that achieved so much militarily and diplomatically at so little cost.
It wasn’t all done perfectly, but they only had one chance. It’s hard to think that they could do much better with a second or third chance.

History will look back on our Middle East campaign as a magnificent achievement.

On this Memorial Day it makes me proud to be an American.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Das, my friend at SUNBREAK, did a rant on the Koran flushing incident and the effort of other big media outlets trying to cover for them by joining in the chorus. I agree with him. This is a comment I left on his blog:

You’re right. I should have done a rant about this.

The MSM seem to have dropped all pretense of having any morality. They try to defend “fake but accurate” Newsweek with more fake but accurate stories of their own. Now they have real sources--- the ex-detainees who belong to al Quaida. The same ex-detainees who have been taught to always claim desecration of the Koran.

The MSM know that to publish such anti-American propaganda puts our servicemen in greater danger. They don’t care. They have no morality. They are like petulant children striking back at a stern adult.

This is the worst thing they have done yet. They will pay a heavy price for it as they sink lower and lower into their degradation.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


This is one of the few jokes I have remembered:

A teen age boy joins the armed forces, goes through basic training, and returns home on leave.

He strangely silent for days, giving only monosyllabic answers to all questions. His family gets worried that perhaps the experience of basic training has harmed his mental faculties.

Finally, at a family dinner, with everyone seated around the table, his father confronts him.

“What’s going on, son? What have they done to you?”

The kid looks confused. “Who?” he asks.

“There in basic training. Did they do something to you? Did they tell you not to talk to us?


“Then what’s going on? Why don’t you talk to us?”

The kid looks down at his plate and says, “I’m afraid I’ll fuck up.”

That story has stayed with me because it is so true to life. (Yes, I plead guilty. I did it too) Basic
training is one of the most foul-mouthed environments anyone will go through in their lives. It’s a bunch of teenagers becoming men and trying to hurry up the process with their mouths.
Reverting smoothly back to the life they left is difficult.

Many years after my basic training I was married to this very sexy lady for over fifteen years off and on. We had a tumultuous relationship. During that time I worked in construction in a nearly all male environment.

One day, after many years of ups and downs in our relationship, it suddenly occurred to my wife that she had never heard me swear.

She asked me about it. “You work with men all day. Don’t you swear on the job?”

Without missing a beat, I replied, “Every fuckin’ sentence.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The US wants Karzai to stamp out poppy farming in Afghanistan. He, of course, knows that if he tries to do that, he will be deposed. I wonder if we know that.

Afghanistan is a very poor country. A great deal of their economy is based on producing the raw materials of narcotics. The regional chiefs (war lords) derive almost all their money, power and authority from that industry. A huge percentage of the population make their living off of it. Karzai could not stay in power without their support.

Here (I immodestly proclaim) is a perfect solution:

Turn the whole problem over to the United Nations. That should satisfy almost everyone.

The UN will send their dreaded letters of inquiry. The UN will send their much feared, crack inspectors. The UN will pass dozens of scary resolutions. In the end nothing will be done and almost everyone will be happy.

The internationalists will be happy that we deferred to the authority of the UN.

Karzai will stay in power.

We will keep our most prized trophy and ally in the Middle East.

Bureaucrats in the UN will have another ripe area to milk for bribes.

I can’t understand what the hell we’re doing mixing in the internal affairs of an ally in the first place. We should stay the hell out of the drug problems of other countries. If we solve the problem in the US, the worldwide problems will fade away.

For that, I have a perfect solution. (Stay tuned.)

AN AFTERTHOUGHT: With all those UN types stealing money right and left, it puts those "stingy" comments after the tsunami in context, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


There wasn’t a lot to do on Guam. Our (nearly) all black unit had a small dayroom with one pool and one ping pong table. The rule on the tables was, winner stays.

I wasn’t very good at pool so I didn’t challenge there much. But I could play ping pong and often took the table for a while.

There was a small muscular kid that I knocked off the table a few times. He may have beaten me also but I don’t remember. I didn’t think anything of it. He was just another face to me but it seems he took it personally when he lost.

Once, after losing, he came up to me and said, “You’ll never beat me again.” He was pretty intense.

That shocked me. I had no idea he, or anyone else, took the game so seriously. I was dumfounded and couldn’t reply.

The result was that he psyched me out completely. I not only couldn’t beat him, I couldn’t beat anyone else.

Ping pong is a reflex game, free movement is everything. My coordination got thrown off completely. My movements became stiff. I quit trying to beat anyone who was halfway good. In an effort to get my coordination back, when I got the chance, I would only play against the worst players.

Gradually, and this took weeks, my coordination started to come back. I started to play some of the better players. I could even beat some of them. But that kid, I just couldn’t beat.

Every time he beat me, he taunted me, calling me “chump” and “easy pickins” and “ham fatty” (I have no idea what that means). I didn’t mind too much because my coordination was getting better. It, and my confidence, were returning.

In playing ping pong, I belonged to the Yogi Berra school. When asked what he thought when he was at bat, Berra replied, “I can’t think and hit at the same time.” That was the way I played ping pong. Hit it hard when you can, hit away from them when you can’t hit it hard. That was the way I played everybody.

Then, for the first time in my life, I started to study an opponent. I watched the kid’s game closely when I wasn’t playing. After a couple of games I saw his weakness. He had a great forehand and a great backhand, he could kill anything hit away from him. But stuff right at him? That gave him a problem. He couldn’t slam a ball hit right at him. Wow!

Next time I played him I showed no mercy. I had him beat from the start and taunted him throughout the game as he had done to me for the last 30 or more games. It was simple, just the reverse of the way I had always played. If I couldn’t hit it hard, I hit it right at him.

After I beat him I called him a chump and reminded him he’d said I’d never beat him again.

“Well it took you long enough,” he replied.

“Yeah,” I said, “but now, you’ll never beat me again.”

I thought he’d work on his game as I had. His weakness seemed easy to overcome. Then he’d come back and challenge me.

That’s not what happened.

He would never play me again.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


One of my jobs in Iran was site exploration. They sent me out to future construction sites to locate and map raw materials. That meant sand, rock and water.

I would also plan where our camp would be and locate where to build an airstrip. Well, more than locate actually. On two sites I designed the strips and ran heavy equipment during their construction. On the other sites I did a complete survey and turned the notes in to our Tehran office for them to do the design.

Usually, when the first plane landed, my job would be over and I would leave on it. I did a lot of the same thing later in Viet Nam.

That kind of stuff required a lot of driving around the country. (Drive in, fly out.) Iran at that time (around 1958) did not have a lot of roadside facilities for vehicles. Gas stations were spaced just short of a full tank apart. Most towns would have just the one station. If you thought that would lead to long lines, you’d be mistaken. There weren’t many cars.

Once while driving from Tehran to Sanandaj, I had a mishap. The hood latch broke on our vehicle and the hood popped up blocking the windshield. We had nothing to fasten it down. There was no signs of civilization near us except for the road.

Luckily, I wasn’t alone this time. A little Greek engineer, a linguist, was with me. He had been in Iran many years and spoke Farsi and other languages common to the area.

It was obvious he had to go to the next town (I think it was Kermanshah), while I stayed with the vehicle, not realizing the seriousness of our situation.

My companion hitched a ride and was back in two or three hours with a mechanic.

The little Greek came up to me, his face aglow, and said, “We are saved! He is an Armenian!”

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I have movies on every day. Some I watch, some I don’t watch. There are 6 English language movie channels on cable here in Bangkok (all with Thai sub-titles). They never sleep.

Then I brought more than a thousand movies with me on tape. Many of those I’ve never seen or don’t remember seeing.

Here’s a few observations:

I thought Rosanna Arquette was sexy as hell when I first saw her. I like the mousy looking type with a great body. Well, okay, even a cute body. Okay, even an acceptable body. I’m not picky. She even did a nude scene in an early movie which is a big plus in my rating book.

Then her career sort of hit the skids. She was still around but she no longer starred in theatrical movies.

I guessed it was because of her layout in Playboy that hurt her. It was pretty bad. Whoever chose the photos to use should have been fired.

Then I saw a movie in which she starred with Christopher Reeve. It was The Aviator, made in 1985. The reason for her career downturn became clear. This is basically a 2 person movie, so they have to carry it. She dropped her end. To say she gave a poor performance is an understatement. She gave one of the worst performances in the history of the world. I could only stare at the screen in disbelief.

She must have had enemies in the studio. Studios almost never release something that awful.

If you can find The aviator at your video store, rent it. She is so bad it’s funny.


For a long time, I couldn’t stand Jack Nicholson. His accent and slow speech pattern did more than just annoy me, it drove me to distraction. To me it was about as pleasant as fingernails scratching on a blackboard. And he spoke exactly the same in all his movies for years. Some actor.

Then he suddenly dropped the stupid accent and became a real actor. His performance as a mob hit man in Prizzi’s Honor is one of the best of all time. He did his homework. He must have studied tapes of John Gotti and Sammy the Bull and others for hours on end. It paid off. He had it down perfectly.

The body movement, the facial expression, even the accent, it was all authentic. A great job.


On the other hand we have Steve Martin. He played a mobster in My Blue Heaven. This one is a comedy and it’s pretty good.

But Steve Martin’s New York mobster accent is awful. From beginning to end, it’s off. It’s so far off that it detracts from the movie.


When I was growing up in San Francisco, I was a racist. We just about all were. We hated blacks even though we didn’t know any. What we hated was the caricature of the black that we accepted as real. I’m talking about the late 30’s to the late 40’s.

In our school, Portola Junior High School, there was one black, Wilber Graves. But I never thought of him as black. He was just one of the guys. In his senior year he was elected school president so I guess a lot of people thought like me.

When I joined the Air Force in early ‘48, that service was fully segregated. In basic training there were all black units and all white units. In tech school there were no blacks. I doubt if many schools were open to them.

After tech school, being then a surveyor by trade, I was assigned to an Air Installation Group. Air installations were the same as base engineers in the army and a ‘group’ was the same as a battalion.

Air installations was one of the few places where blacks could be assigned. Every group had three squadrons (companies). Two would be all black and one all white. This was the same throughout the Air force.

In 1950, President Truman ordered segregation ended in the services. In some places there was much resistance to this. In my outfit, one black was transferred to the white squadron.

When the Korean war started, my enlistment was extended a year and I was sent overseas, ending up on Guam.

On Guam, I became the token integration. I wound up being the only white in an all-black barrack. Quite a shock for a racist.

Being a black outfit, we got the worst facilities on the base. The barracks were single story wooden, open from end to end, that dated from WWII. The toilet was disgusting, an 8-hole outhouse where everything dropped into a hole in the ground. It was too much for this city boy. I’d walk a half mile to use other facilities. Every outfit had better stuff than us.

I spent 14 months in that black outfit on Guam. It would be silly to say that my best friends were black because my only friends were black. We went to movies, the PX, service clubs, into town, everywhere. Only with blacks.

Of course there was friction. But everyone was on their best behavior and there was much less friction than I experienced in an all-white outfit.

A couple of months after I got my 4th stripe, they moved me into senior NCO quarters. But that didn’t change my socializing at all. It just gave me a more private place to sleep and a better latrine. I still hung with my friends.

I wasn’t a racist anymore.

Footnote: I ran into a friend from the old neighborhood after I’d been on Guam 8 months. We walked to my barrack together. I didn’t think anything of it and forgot how it might look to him. He took one look inside and turned around and walked away without a word. When I saw him back home a year later, he shunned me as if I were diseased.

UPDATE: I got an email from an old friend on this subject. This is some of what Alvin Duskin said:
It's interesting that the only name you mention from old times is Wilbur Graves. He was older than us as you know and lived a few blocks up Silliman Street from me. He was the only black I knew and I greatly admired him but I barely knew him. Anyway, one afternoon I was playing tennis at Portola Playground, right across from my house ... when Wilbur walked by. He stopped for a while and then came over to talk. He said he'd like to learn to play tennis. I said I'd teach him and so we met once or twice a week for a few months. We got to know each other.The punch line is that about almost a decade later I was half way through boot camp in the Marine Corps when I heard that Wilbur had been killed in Korea. A platoon leader in the army, a captain I heard.

Monday, May 09, 2005


She’s a funny lady. I was a regular listener when I could find her on the dial. I wish her a long, healthy life.

Funny thing is, I found her first on the Don Imus Show. She did a bit on TV, outside the studio, playing an airhead blonde in a car, that was hilarious. (Imus was simulcast on radio and TV.)

So what was she doing on the Imus Show? He almost never has conservative commentators on that show.

I once challenged him to be a man and stand up and say what his politics were. So, being Imus, he stood up and lied. He announced to the world that he was a Republican. That, of course, was playing to the majority of his relatively small audience.

He then tried to explain why all the commentators on his program were liberal by saying all his friends were liberal. Right. And then he just happened to vote for Kerry. Talk about no balls!

So what was Laura Ingraham doing on that show? It might have been a contractual thing. They both had shows that were struggling on MSNBC at the time and were co-promoting.

She was very good, very funny, and very effective on the show. There was some humorous give and take between her and Imus. I think the problem was, she was too good and too conservative.

After a lot of teasing back and forth over weeks, Imus chose to be offended when she said he looked like a girl swinging a golf club. He, just like a girl, threw a snit fit and banned her from the show. As I said, she was too good and too conservative. She would pretty much destroy all the arguments of the liberals that he loved so much.

Now she is recovering from an operation for breast cancer. I wish her well. I wish her a complete recovery and a long, healthy, happy life.

I must point out though, she is part of the lunatic fringe of the Republican party. When the FCC began their gangster-like suppression of free speech, she came down squarely on the side of repression and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Those are the people who will eventually put the liberals back in power. They are overreaching even as we speak.

She is getting married. Good for her. Everyone should get married a few times. It builds character and helps to distribute the wealth.

I must confess, I have often imagined her sex life. In my imagination, it involves black leather and whips.

No, no. Nothing to do with me. I don’t go that way. Forget that.

But you want a laugh? Picture her in black leather with assorted whips. And the object of the whipping is Don Imus!

Now that there’s funny!

Sunday, May 08, 2005


On February 1, 1963, I was sent to a small chopper base far down the Mekong Delta. It was near a small town called Soc Trang. The field there had been built by the Japanese. They had used it to attack Singapore 22 years before. My job was to rebuild the landing strip so Air Force fighters (prop fighters) could operate in support of the U S Army helicopter company that was already there. When I heard the helicopter company called themselves the tigers, the Soc Trang Tigers, I didn’t think anything of it. A lot of combat units adopted nicknames.

I landed before noon in a C-123 with a native survey crew and a Jeep pickup loaded with equipment. The plane had been specially equipped with rockets to assist taking off from the short strip. I found quarters for the crew and I was assigned to a tent alongside the flight line.

I asked the location of the latrine and was told to follow the concrete walk around. It was the next building beyond the Officer’s Club. Following the directions, just as I passed the Officer’s Club, I came face to face with a large tiger. It occurred to me in a flash that this might be a new method of controlling diarrhea. I discarded the notion almost immediately because it seemed to be having the opposite effect on me.

The Officer’s Club and latrine were each about 80 feet long and parallel to each other with about 30 feet between. The tiger was chained to a manhole in the middle of that area but the chain easily reached beyond the concrete walks which ran past each end of the buildings. No one was paying attention to the tiger and the tiger didn’t seem to be paying much attention to me. But why take chances. I walked through the club and crossed to the latrine on the side away from the tiger. I thought they might as well lock up the latrine at night.

The tiger’s name was Tuffy. He had been given to the company about two weeks before, shortly after several unarmed choppers had been shot down in an action. Morale had been at its lowest and the presence of the tiger had given everybody a big boost. He was just a cub, I was told, little more than a year old. But I was unconvinced. When a tiger reaches my weight, as this one had, he would be treated with respect no matter what his age.

Between the latrine and Officer’s Club, in the tiger’s area, were a couple of horseshoe pits. Some of the most thrilling matches I have ever seen took place there. There was one Warrant Officer in particular who was obviously as nervous as I around the tiger. But his love of horseshoes was greater than his fear of the tiger and he played regularly.

The tiger sensed his fear because every time the Warrant Officer took his eye off the tiger, Tuffy went into a crouch and stalked him. That made playing in a twosome difficult because the W. O. had to walk from pit to pit and it was awkward to watch the tiger while walking away.
Occasionally the W. O. would forget Tuffy, hard as that may be to imagine, and the tiger would stalk right up behind him and spring at him.

Tuffy would rear up with his forelegs outstretched, but the W. O. would manage to turn just in time to slap him on the nose. Tuffy would then sulk off to wait for another opportunity.

Once he didn’t turn in time and the tiger draped both forelegs over the Warrant Officer’s shoulders while he playfully gnawed at the back of his neck and head. It took three men to lift the tiger off, but there was no harm done and the horseshoe game continued as if nothing had happened… almost.

That W. O. was one of the bravest men I have ever known. To be as afraid of the tiger as he obviously was, and yet play horseshoes in that area was an act of great courage. He was not the only man the tiger stalked. Anyone in his area Tuffy considered fair game. It was just that he had singled out the one man for special attention. I would pay to see horseshoe matches staged in similar circumstances. Or even croquet.

After work one evening I was heading for a shower in the latrine when I met the Company Commander and Tuffy taking their daily walk. The tiger had me sized up correctly because he took one look at me and went into his stalking operation, even though I was facing him. He glided along the ground, advancing on me step by step, dragging the C. O. behind on the end of a chain.

I don’t know what I would have done a few days before but I had had time to size up Tuffy by then also, and the situation struck me as ludicrous. I laughed and asked the C. O. of the tiger intended to eat me. Tuffy came out of his crouch and paid no further attention to me from then on… unless my back was turned. In that way he treated me as he treated almost everyone else in the company.


The company had a second mascot. A mongrel dog named, believe it or not, Tiger. The dog had been with some Special Forces guys and was a veteran of many parachute jumps. When his comrades rotated to the States, the dog joined the helicopter company.

The dog treated the new mascot with suspicion to say the least. He sniffed at the tiger from fifty feet away or farther, sometimes upwind. Some pilots, anxious to bring the two together, held the tiger (four or five volunteered) while others carried the terror stricken dog for a close-up sniff.

The dog wanted no part of it. He struggled so furiously he probably didn’t even get a sniff. Or perhaps he did get a sniff and struggled all the more.

When freed, the dog zipped a hundred feet away before turning to give some parting, face saving, barks. Tuffy appeared disinterested throughout.

Next day, the dog had figured just about the limits of the tiger’s chain and sniffed from there. He tried a few tentative barks. When these weren’t met with massive retaliation, he took heart. For two solid hours, always staying beyond the length of the chain, he barked at the tiger. Tuffy did not acknowledge the dog’s existence with so much as a glance. Finally the canine type tiger was chased away by off duty pilots who got fed up.

The day after Tuffy was lying in the sun alongside the concrete walk about ten feet inside the furthermost limits of his chain when the dog returned. He took up his previous days post just out of chain range and, after a few introductory sniffs and warm up barks, resumed his full scale barking.

After ten minutes of that, the tiger, displaying indifference which bordered on contempt, rose and walked twenty feet further into his area. Without a glance at the dog, he again sprawled.

The dog was heartened by the apparent victory. He advanced to within fifteen feet of the tiger and resumed parking.

Tuffy again rose and retreated twenty feet farther to about the center of his area. He again sprawled, paying no attention to the dog. The dog didn’t miss a bark as he advanced to his post about fifteen feet away.

The tiger was up in a flash. The dog turned immediately and raced for safety but the tiger was much too fast for him. Tuffy caught him with room to spare and pinned him to the ground with a great fore paw. The dog yelped at the top of his lungs while the tiger took a long, leisurely close up sniff. Apparently satisfied, he let the dog up and returned to the more important business of basking in the sun.

Shortly after the two began playing with each other regularly. Tiger seemed to bully Tuffy. He barked and growled and leaped on the tiger and gnawed away at various parts of Tuffy’s anatomy. Tuffy seemed inept in defense.

They worked out a subtle signal to signify the end of the play period. Tuffy would pin Tiger with a fore paw. Tiger would yelp until released and then take off on a dead run. Play was over for the day. Next day they would be back at it.

One evening in the club a couple of guys decided to play a game with the tiger who was just outside a window. They peeked at him and then ducked away. Tuffy entered into the spirit of the game immediately. When they peeked he crouched down, tail sweeping, all alert. When they ducked away he became slightly confused. He came out of his crouch a bit but watched the window just as closely. When they reappeared he resumed his crouch, muscles tensing. About the fifth peek, the clowns had a tiger in their laps. He leaped right through the screen window.

Now they had a problem. The tiger was inside but still chained up to the outside. Worse, alcohol had clouded their thought processes somewhat. Their first instinct was to lift the tiger and push him out the window.

You ever try to push a tiger out a window when he didn’t want to go out that window?

Probably not.

I wouldn’t have tried that, but I was in no position to give advice having less experience with a tiger than anyone there. That was the reason I kept far away. If they had asked me I would have advised to try peeking at him from outside the window, but my judgment was also clouded.

Finally some genius undid his chain and walked him out the door and around to his area.

My job ended in a few months. As often happened, I was out of there on the first regular (non-modified) transport plane that was able to land and takeoff.

Some time later I ran into a couple of the pilots in Saigon. Over drinks, they brought me up to date on their pets. Tiger (the dog) had been wounded in an action on their perimeter. It was only a flesh wound. He now wore a purple heart on his collar.

Tuffy’s disposition remained mischievous and friendly, but he grew to unmanageable size. The company finally had to send him to the Toledo zoo.

Footnote: I wrote this story many years ago for my first writing class. If the style seems a little stiff, that’s the reason. I changed a little but very little. It’s not too bad for a beginner though.

UPDATE: I read elsewhere that the tiger had been there much longer than two weeks before my arrival. That seems logical considering how well the animal fit in there. I can’t remember where I got my information. Any comments or corrections from the guys who were there are welcome.

UPDATE: For lots of pictures of Tuffy as well as the Soc Trang base go to http://oc-kahuna.com/vietnam.htm

UPDATE: More pictures http://www.cantho-rvn.org/soc-trang.html

Saturday, May 07, 2005


While at the Soc Trang base I had an interesting run-in with military intelligence. At that time I was pretty green having only 6 months in country.

We desperately needed rock to lay down for the air strip. Soc Trang was way down on the Mekong Delta. The whole delta was a giant alluvial deposit, washed down from China. There wasn’t a rock within miles.

There were rock vendors in Can Tho. Can Tho is a large town on a river about 40 miles to the northwest. However the Viet Cong had closed the road to Can Tho. That is what the local military told me. That is what my people in Saigon told me.

The chopper guys offered to take me there and back. I didn’t want to put a whole chopper and crew out of action for a day. Plus I wouldn’t have transportation once I got there. Plus I would be obliged to make it quick with a chopper and crew waiting. It was all too awkward.

I mentioned my problem to one of my Vietnamese guys who happened to live in Can Tho.

He raised a quizzical eyebrow. “You want to know for sure?” he asked.

“Well, yeah, of course.”

“Come on,” he said. “We go into Soc Trang.”

We drove to the bus station in Soc Trang. A bus had just arrived from Can Tho. The driver told us the road was open.

“How can that be?” I asked.

The driver looked at me curiously. Americans were rare in that town. He told us again that the road was open.

Something was very wrong. I didn’t know whom to believe. But the bus was here and had just made the trip.

I asked my guy, “If I drive up there will you come with me?”

His eyes lit up. “Yes sir,” he replied. “Can I visit my family?”

That cinched it for me. If we hit a VC road block, there was a chance they wouldn’t kill me. They sometimes took Americans prisoner. Him, they would kill.

“Sure you can visit your family. We’ll stay overnight.”

When I got back, the pilots looked at me as if I were from another planet. They had given me up for dead.

I was hustled into a debriefing.

“Why did you go up there? That road is closed.”

“The road is open. Who told you it was closed?”

“That came from ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam).”

“ARVN troops manned every outpost all the way up there. They had to know the road was open.”

‘They told us it was closed. Who told you it was open?”

“A bus driver. Why don’t you just check with bus drivers to find out which roads are open? You
could truck in all your supplies instead of having to airlift everything.”

”Those are not authorized sources. That is ARVN’s area of responsibility.”

Just as a footnote, I did make the trip by helicopter later. The chopper was hit by hostile fire when taking off from Can Tho on the return trip. No one was hurt.

I made the “dangerous” round trip by road twice without incident.. I made the “safe” trip once and got shot at.

Go figure.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


There are three sports channels on cable here in Bangkok. They carry 5 to 7 soccer matches daily. Soccer seems to have no season so they carry games year round.

Watching the highlights is interesting because they show only the goals and spectacular saves. In the actual matches, goals are rare. One team recently played a season of something like 30 games and allowed only 13 goals. It’s a long wait between highlights.

I’ve tried but I just can’t get into it. I think the big attraction for the fans is getting drunk and singing in the stands.

Matheny hit a grand slam today (as I am writing this) for the Giants while I was monitoring his at bat on the internet. There was no picture but there was pitch by pitch results.

Last season the cable TV carried about 3 baseball games a week, some were delayed. Day games in the east start at 1 AM our time. Night games in the west start at 10 AM usually. Sometimes the telecast would be repeated once or twice.

I found 3 games a week to be enough. That satisfied me. This season there have been no games on. Perhaps it’s because the NBA is still going. They telecast several NBA games a week. I have little interest in that. Their season seems to go on forever.

I found a good remedy for the absence of baseball telecasts. CBS Sports has a great on- line baseball scoreboard. I can follow every pitch of every game being played. It’s the best
scoreboard I’ve ever seen, totally satisfying my baseball hunger.

Monday, May 02, 2005


There are advantages.

I was going to open this bit by saying The Jungle Princess has no enemies. But, in thinking about it, I guess she has. There are several younger, very pretty, English speaking friends of hers who have lobbied to come live with us since we have plenty of room. I never saw any of them again. Maybe I should call the police.

Then there was her older sister. Her sister and her two sons visited and stayed a week. When I heard she was leaving I told TJP it was all right if they stayed longer.

“No,” she said. I love my sister but she must go now.”

I deduced that it was more of a decision of TJP.

Those exceptions being made, TJP has no enemies. In our neighborhood, she has made friends with everyone.

There are some things that go without saying about Bangkok so, of course, I shall say them.

The tourist trade is very important.

There are clubs and bars everywhere, seemingly, rivaled only by 7-11 stores.

In our neighborhood there are probably many people connected directly or indirectly with all of that.

Many people in our neighborhood are Buddhist.

Buddhist drink little or no alcohol.

There seems to be an occasional bottle that falls between the cracks and into their hands.

They have little use for them so they give them to their good friend, The Jungle princess.

Living in a Buddhist neighborhood.

There are advantages.