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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting on with the project

I have recently attended two classes//lectures given by Thomas Umstattd at the Writers’ League of Texas offices. I think I have learned quite a bit about getting this blog thing to move along. The classes are about blogging and not about writing—except for the part about finding more time to write.

Fred Meredith, one of my writing group buddies is also in the class. This gives me someone to bounce ideas from the class off . Last night, Leslie Torish, a former member of our writing group, was also in attendance—it was great to see and talk with Leslie again.

The first class—7 Secrets of effective author blogs—turned out to be closer to 15 secrets. Actually, some weren’t so secret. All were common sense and fairly easy to employ; some required a little more effort than others, but not a big deal.

The 2 main points that really stuck with me were to: (1) provide value (may be harder than all the other secrets) and (2) Focus. My primary blog is not focused at all; especially in the way Thomas recommends. On my random entries blog I am usually all over the map; commenting on anything and everything that strikes me as needing (well, not always needing) comment or clarification.

The easy actions I immediately fixed the very next day: adding the Twitter and FaceBook share buttons up close to the top. I don’t yet understand how I will know if any visitor uses these—maybe I’ll learn this in a subsequent class.

Another interesting quirk that Thomas suggested was to incorporate numbers (i.e. 6 things that make you question) and questions words (who, why, where, when, etc.) into the posting titles. I went out and changed my last 2 posting the very next day to conform with this suggestion. I don’t know yet if I will go back and alter the others or not.

The second class—How to write more & work less—turned out to be just a bit deeper than the 1st class. The suggestions were more life structuring than simple actions. Again, there were many more (12) recommendations than just a paltry few and were followed by 3 time saving tools and 12 bonus tips.

I would think the 2 main points from this session were (1) prioritize your activities and (2) track where you spend time. Knowing and analyzing where you are wasting time can probably regain you plenty of time to offset the tracking of where your time goes during the day.

There were some other good ones like (a) keeping a ToDo list, (b) go to bed, (c) learn to use Google and (d) avoid useless online activity. All good ideas but during my retirement day, my biggest distraction is letting the pups in and outta the house—dogs with short attention spans can consume a lot of time.

The time saving tools: (1) Scrivener—maybe only really available on Macs, (2) Own an iPhone or smart phone—I don’t and currently don’t plan to go there any time soon, and (3) buy and read the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen—I might just consider, especially if I can come across a copy at the Half-Price store next time I’m in there.

The bonus tips were really directed to those that have some personal traits that need working on. These included such topics as:

  • Finish what you start
  • Practice the discipline of REST
  • Read the whole page
  • Don’t repeat the same task more than twice
  • Maximize wasted time
  • Write your schedule in (the metaphorical) pencil

As soon as I get this posted. I’m gonna look over the rest of my notes and see what I can take up next to help improve getting on with my project.

Or I might get another one of those Greyhound Bus sized brownies I cook the other day and take a break—the pups are outside anyhow!

Just maybe I’ll just go back to the current entry I was working on and finish it.

Whadda ya think?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ration supply distribution and frequency

Rations, in the Army, are routinely distributed three times a week, unless operational requirements calls for something different; let’s say maybe a daily distribution.

While this is somewhat unusual; it may be exactly what is required. This was actually the case much of the time I was in support of this mission in Alaska. The maneuver units, infantry, armor and artillery were without the facilities to maintain and move rations around unless they were utilizing C rations solely—this they could handle for a short duration. The rest of the brigade units: engineer, support, etc had the transportation assets to move their supplies but not the storage facilities. During the summer, while the temperatures didn’t reach extremes, produce left un-refrigerated can spoil very quickly. During winter maneuvers everything freezes after very short periods of time without the ability to maintain some level of temperature control.

On the three times a week schedule; the breaks usually follow a schedule referred to as 2-2-3. This schedule would generally work like this: on Monday, the break would consist of 2 days of rations – Tuesday and Wednesday; on Wednesday, the break would consist of the next 2 days of rations – Thursday and Friday; and then on Friday, the break would consist of the final 3 days of rations – Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The next Monday, the cycle starts all over again. The daily schedule would be referred to as 1-1-1.

The brigade I was assigned to in Alaska was a separate infantry brigade. Transportation assets to any degree existed only in the support battalion—the company I was assigned to was one of the four supply and support units assigned to it: A Company – the administrative and personnel element, B Company – the maintenance and repair parts element, C Company – the medical element and D Company – the supply and transportation element. Command and control was provided through a small headquarters and headquarters detachment.

My Class I Section would draw rations from the nearest commissary officer, sometimes army and sometimes air force, whichever made the most sense to do so from. We always took a 2-2-3 break and then distributed to our supported elements as mission requirements dictated—usually 1-1-1. I had the personnel and storage facilities—tents and heaters not refrigeration units—to maintain and move the rations as required.

Often, this could get to be a quite anxious situation. This was especially true when we were conduction operations in remote locations and had to fly the rations via air force aviation. Arriving at the tail of a big bird with a trailer load of three days rations expecting to load and go only to find out there is a maintenance or weather hold, either in the winter or summer, can cause the hunt for shade or warmth to become a complete scramble to say the least—I’ve been exactly there many times and it is not fun. I’ll tell you about a couple of those sometime.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pictures - To Jack's House

C-123 Provider

C-123 – Provider

Crew – 3

Cost $601K (Thousand)

80 ft long – 110 ft wing – 34 ft high

Empty wt – 30,000 lbs

Gross wt – 60,000 lbs

Speed - 245 MPH

Ceiling – 25,000 ft

Range 1500 miles

C-141 - Starlifter

Crew - 6

Cost $42.3MM (Million)

168 ft long – 160 wing – 39 ft high

Empty wt – 148,120 lbs

Gross wt – 323,100 lbs

Speed - 500 MPH

Ceiling – 41,000 ft

Range – 2500 miles

C-141 Starlifter

Eielson AFB Flightline and the hard to find “Jack’s House”

2LT Ronald Acuff – Eielson AFB

2LT Larry Wilson – Eielson AFB

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nenana Ice Breakup Dates

Nenana Breakup Dates:End of Winter - Start of Spring - UPDATED through 2015 Contest
(for you conspiracy theorists - dates prior to 1960 and post 1990 are bolded)
>1960s (Bolded) > 1990

Early Dates:
20 Apr  1940 1998
23 Apr  1993 2012
24 Apr  1990 2004    2015
25 Apr   2014
26 Apr   1926 1995
27 Apr   1988 2007
28 Apr   1943 1969  2005
29 Apr   1939  1953 1958 1980 1983 1994 1999 2003 2010
30 Apr   1917  1934 1936 1942 1951 1978 1979 1981 1997

Later Dates:
1 May              1932  1956 1989 1991 2000 2009
2 May              1960  1976 2006
3 May              1919  1941 1947
4 May              1944  1967 1970 1973  2011
5 May              1929  1946 1957 1961 1963 1996
6 May              1928  1938 1950 1954 1974 1977 2008
7 May              1925  1965 2002
8 May              1930  1933 1959 1966 1968 1971 1986 2001
9 May              1923  1955 1984
10 May            1931  1972 1975 1982
11 May            1918  1920 1921 1924 1985
12 May            1922  1937 1952 1962
13 May            1927  1948
14 May            1949  1992
15 May            1935
16 May            1945
20 May            1964  2013