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Socotra House Publishing: Purveyor of Glib Words to the World

Socotra House Publishing is a small press dedicated to publishing and distributing the historical works of Vic Socotra, a non-mortal fellow who captures American and military history with aplomb.

Life & Island Times: Failure to Communicate

Editor’s Note: Yep. it is getting this nuts.

– Vic

Failure to Communicate

Author’s note: I was bemused yesterday when I heard the former DHS Director remark in an aside that the FBI Director (and those of National Intelligence, the CIA and the NSA) didn’t share with him or his intelligence folks for months during the summer of 2016 the facts behind the Russian hacking of the nation’s voting machinery infrastructure and the DNC.

*******
When this former Obama administration DHS chief said there were “glitches in communication” between the FBI and DHS, I stifled a wry smile at yet another US intelligence community failure to share. It was reminiscent of the FBI’s failure to share key pre 9-11 information regarding 9-11 plotters aircraft simulator training with the rest of the IC. This then cued my inner Strother Martin’s Cool Hand Luke character Captain.

——–

062217-LIT

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate
Some departments like DHS they just couldn’t reach
So, we get what we heard here yesterday
Which is the way FBI wanted it
Well, it still doesn’t get it
Sixteen years after 9-11
I don’t like it any more than DHS
But everyone else couldn’t care less

Look, our voting machinery was under attack
But for months DHS was not told jack
Were Comey’s hands tied
Or was he just playing both sides

And the cable news war drones on with undiminished snide
For the love of country, hooray for our side
News cycle swept last week’s horror aside
But bloody hands, time won’t hide
They’ll be revealed after a surprise mass homicide
And history says time is not on our side

We’ll likely wear black armbands
When they attack our country, man
Then everybody’ll be fightin’
For our promised land

Meanwhile while we wait, cable news will be selling soldier stories like produce in a human grocery store. These tales ain’t that fresh, just recycled tropes of past glories.

Copyright © 2017 From My Isle Seat
www.vicsocotra.com

Postcard From the Swamp #3

It is hot, muggy and finally it is really Summer. That happened shortly after midnight, concluding the longest day of the year, which Jim Champagne at Willow’s famed Amen Corner always maintained was exactly the same length as every other day- some just have more daylight than others.

I have always been a bit of a fatalist. The Day With The Most Light signals that we are now going to start going back to the darkness. I kind of like it right now.

062117

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra
www.vicsoccotra.com

Midway Commemoration on Midway

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Gentle Readers,

You noted our commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the great conflict off Midway Atoll 75 years ago. It was at the beginning of the month of June, on the actual days that defined history. Today, the last remnants of the battle were being resolved though the memories will never fade. The Japanese were retreating west. The damaged USN ships were returning for repair and replenishment at Pearl.

The party at Joe Rochefort’s quarters for the code-breakers was wrapped up after three days of celebration, and the partiers had gone back to work in the Dungeon, 24×7, to continue the effort to defeat the Empire of the Sun. But a quarter century ago, something fundamental had changed on this Father’s Day.

I will let this account stand as the one that defines the struggle, delivered at the very place at the focus of those climactic events. Retired RADM Sam Cox, current curator of all the U.S. Navy’s history, memorabilia and wreckage strewn across this wide and verdant world delivered this memorial to those who fought, died and won on the very sands that were the focus of the most titanic Naval battle since Trafalgar.

Sam notes:

“It was a career highlight. Deeply moving to have been on Midway Island, and to finally actually get in the basement at HYPO (seen the outside door a bunch of times before.) Here is the piece that I wrote on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at Midway that went to all flag officers, plus the CNO’s Midway speech.

The link to the Chief of Naval Operations speech is at:

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/cno/Richardson/Speech/CNO_RemarksBattleofMidwayCommemoration.pdf>
www.navy.mil

“Here is the text of my address on Midway Island, delivered at 0700 Monday, 5 Jun, 2017”:
Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 12.05.17 PMor of speaking here.”

“75 years ago at this time (yesterday) this island had just been attacked by 108 planes from four aircraft carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. On a six month victory spree, the Japanese expected to catch Midway by surprise. Instead, they were surprised to find 3,000 heavily entrenched and fortified United States Marines, who had made a pact amongst themselves, that no matter what happened, at Midway there would be no surrender. The Japanese were also surprised to find Midway reinforced with aircraft, 127 total, and every plane that was flyable was already airborne, thanks to early warning provided by Navy PBY Catalina flying boats flying from this lagoon, and which had already found the Japanese carriers. One of the Catalinas had already damaged a Japanese tanker with a torpedo on a daring night strike, the first hit of the battle by either side. Despite being heavily outclassed by the technologically superior Japanese “Zero” fighter planes, the Marine fighters defending Midway did not hesitate to attack the inbound Japanese airstrike, shooting down several aircraft before the Zeroes turned the tables and shot down most of the Marine fighters, of 28, only two returned to Midway in flyable condition.”

“But between the Marine fighters and the intense anti-aircraft fire put up by the Marine defenders on the island, almost half the Japanese planes were hit. Eleven were shot down and 14 seriously damaged. The loss of these aircraft would have a profound effect later in the battle when the Japanese launched their last-ditch strike against the American aircraft carriers, instead of having 18 torpedo bombers left on the carrier Hiryu, there were only ten. And had the US carrier Yorktown taken one more torpedo hit than she did, she almost certainly would have gone down in minutes, with much of her crew, rather than staying afloat for two days, and U.S. casualties might have topped a thousand.”

“Also at this time (shortly after 0700,) the first American strike aircraft from Midway Island had reached the Japanese carriers. Six navy TBF torpedo bombers and four US Army Air Force B-26 bombers carrying a torpedo each commenced their attack, and ran into 30 Japanese Zero fighters. Yet, the American planes did not turn away. In fact the Japanese had not encountered these new types of American aircraft and they proved incredibly difficult to shoot down, and the first planes shot down were two Japanese Zeros by defensive fire from the American planes.”

“Increasingly desperate to knock down the American planes, the Japanese fighters had to fly into the anti-aircraft fire from their own escort ships to do it. Two of the TBF’s got close enough to launch torpedoes against the Japanese carrier Hiryu, which out-maneuvered them, and one heavily damaged TBF launched a torpedo at the light cruiser Nagara, which missed. Only one of the six TBF’s made it back to a crash landing on Midway Island. Of the B-26’s, one was shot down, and two dropped their torpedoes at the Japanese flagship, the carrier Akagi, which avoided them. But the second B-26 buzzed the Akagi and shot up her flight deck with machine gun fire.”

The third B-26, whether uncontrollable or whether the pilot deliberately tried to crash into the Akagi with his crippled aircraft is unknown, but the B-26 missed the Akagi’s bridge by a matter of feet, almost killing Vice Admiral Nagumo and his staff. Two of the heavily-damaged B-26’s crash-landed on Midway.

“However, it was the extraordinary valor of the TBF and B-26 crews, and the anti-aircraft defenses at Midway, that convinced Admiral Nagumo that Midway Island was a very real and serious threat that had to be dealt with immediately, setting in motion a chain of decisions that would lead to disaster for the Japanese. Because, what Nagumo did not know, was that at this very hour, 117 aircraft from the U.S. carriers Enterprise and Hornet were already launching to attack him, and 35 more from the Yorktown would launch soon after.”

“About an hour after the first attack, 27 US Marine Corps dive-bombers from Midway Island reached the Japanese carriers, and they too suffered very heavy casualties, almost half were shot down, and despite numerous near misses no Japanese ship was hit. As it happened, the torpedo bombers from the three U.S. carriers then reached the Japanese carriers in successive waves, and of those 41 aircraft, only six returned to their carriers, and none of their weapons hit a Japanese ship.

The sacrifice of the torpedo bombers and the planes from Midway was not part of the plan, but was the result of the fortunes of war. What they did, however, was to keep the Japanese from getting their counterstrike airborne before, at 1020, 48 U.S. navy dive bombers appeared over the Japanese carriers and in the course of five minutes changed the course of the war, and of the history of the world.”

“The biggest mistake the Japanese made was reflected in their own operations order for Midway, specifically the statement that “the enemy lacks the will to fight.”

“The Japanese could not have been more wrong. After the humiliation of Pearl Harbor, not only was the “enemy” – the men on Midway and the ships nearby – willing to fight, but they were willing to press home their attacks in the face of overwhelming odds and even in spite of staggering losses.”

“Every U.S. bomber that found the Japanese either dropped their bomb or torpedo on target, or were shot down trying. Although many bombs and all the torpedoes missed, not one U.S. strike aircraft is known to have turned away in the face of the most intense Japanese opposition.”

Somewhat surprisingly, there was only one Medal of Honor awarded for the battle, posthumously, to Captain Richard Fleming, USMC, flying from Midway Island, for pressing home his attack on a Japanese heavy cruiser on the 5th of June.

“However, over 200 Navy Crosses were awarded to Navy and Marine Corps personnel, most to aviators, many posthumously, an extraordinary record of bravery and sacrifice under fire for which our nation should be eternally grateful, and which should never be forgotten. In honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, our Midway veterans, COL John Miniclier, USMC (Ret) and SGT Ed Fox, USMC (Ret) will now lay a wreath at this memorial.”

“Honor guard, post. ”

Hand salute.

(Wreath Laying)

“Taps.”

“Ready, two.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we commemorate this battle.”

“We do not celebrate it. Over three thousand Japanese sailors lost their lives. And although we were bitter enemies at the time, for many years now Japan has been a very close friend and ally. The official tally for the U.S. was 307 deaths, however we do not know how many more perished months or even years later from their wounds or the effects of traumatic stress.”

“307 lives may seem like a reasonable price to pay for a victory of this magnitude, but that certainly was not the case for their families and loved ones. So I would ask everyone to join me in a moment of silence, followed by a singing of the Navy Hymn Eternal Father, in memory of all those who suffered as a result of this battle.” (silence).

“Thank you.”

“Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!”

Samuel J. Cox
RADM, USN (Retired)
Director of Naval History
Curator of the Navy
Director, Naval History and Heritage Command

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Arrias on Politics: Bumper Stickers and the Constitution

I saw a sign the other day that said something along the lines of: “I don’t know where you came from, but I’m glad you’re my neighbor.”

‘Glad’ means happy, delighted. It is more than simply neutral, it’s a positive thing; in this case it would be that: “it’s good (for me) that you’re my neighbor.” The owner of the sign is, as it turns out, stridently opposed to Mr. Trump.

So, was the owner of that sign really glad? What if the new neighbor to whom the sign is directed is cooking meth in the basement? Or running a child slavery ring? Maybe they’re converts to the worship of Ba’al and Tanit and are going to start making human sacrifices in the back yard? What if he supports Trump?

I thought of that sign again the other day after Congressman Scalise and several others were shot.

So, what makes good neighbors? At the simplest level it’s someone who fits in, who isn’t going to affect me negatively. They maintain their house and property (I don’t want my house to lose value); obeys the law (who wants criminals next door?); is considerate (any heavy metal music at 2 AM every night?); and follows basic rules of common politeness (chickens are okay in the country, not so much if you live in suburban Washington DC, where I saw the sign).

Will the neighbors care if someone paints their house shocking pink? A little, perhaps, but it depends on the neighborhood. If the house is 15 feet away, that’s one thing; if its 500 feet away, as with my neighbors in southeast Virginia, that’s another.

But that’s the simple part.

What about someone who has a different religion? Among my immediate neighbors I know there are Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Jews, Lutherans, AME, Hindus and atheists. As far as I can determine, no one appears to care. There are also Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers; Trumpers, Clintonistas and Never-Trumpers. Everyone still talks. Is there a common thread?

Yes, there is; that thread is the Constitution.

Everyone in the neighborhood understands one simple thing: we stay within the boundaries of the Constitution. No one talks about it, but it’s clearly understood. The citizenry are the source of power, government works for us, the rules apply to everyone and everyone follows the rules – and we all know what those rules are. And then there is the Bill of Rights. Everyone may not be able to quote it verbatim, but everyone understands its essence.

We all also understand something else: we all know where our property stops and starts. There are a few walls, a host of drainage ditches, and seemingly everywhere, lines of trees and hedges, clearly delineating where one yard stops and another starts.

Which really signifies respect: respect for each other, respect for each other’s beliefs, respect for property, respect for the law.

But in some parts of this nation that respect seems to be unraveling. Particularly in California where, for example, free speech on college campuses seem less free, or similarly in New York or New England. Or even on a baseball field in a Washington, D.C. suburb.

This is dangerous terrain we are crossing. If we are to avoid anarchy, chaos and violence, there has to be acceptance of rules and limits. If you believe that a particular individual is not legitimately holding office there are legal procedures you can pursue. That is how a civilized society functions. The only justification for stepping outside the law is when moral imperative outweighs obedience to that law. But to accept that imperative is also to accept the consequences of any further action.

Asserting that President Trump is not legally the President makes for interesting cocktail circuit conversation but no one seriously accepts that; he won the election and there is no serious legal challenge to that statement.

Asserting anything beyond that, that the Trump administration is fundamentally immoral and must be resisted outside of normal political give-and-take, therefore places any such believer outside the law. There is no middle ground. You may resist passively or actively. But you are still outside the law and must suffer the consequences.

Which brings us back to the question of bumper-sticker philosophy: What makes a good neighbor?

Respect for the law. That’s something to be glad about.

And after all, no one is glad James Hodgkinson was their neighbor. Right?

Copyright 2017 Arrias
www.vicsocotra.com

Living in UFR-Land

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I don’t do these hybrid tales very well. I used to think these “inside baseball” accounts were useful excursions for those who can mostly ignore the daily follies of the central government, but it occurs to me that it is not quite worth the time. I do have to remark at this juncture that things were so weird here in DC this week with the testimony, investigation, Congressional shoot-em-ups and attempted assassinations that I hardly know what to make of it all.

I have a regular morning meeting with my former Boss at the Enormous Contracting Company where we both worked for the better part of a decade before rapacious senior management decided to acquire a smaller and hungrier company and replace all our people with theirs. Kind of cold blooded, in my opinion, but it was a good run, and I liked all the people that were laid off with me. She reminded me of the big Friday Conference that was not on my calendar, since I had screwed up the registration form, which for reasons best known to the organizers, wanted the body text in the subject line, which offends my sense of good order and discipline.

So that is how I found myself behind the wheel of the Panzer at 0730 on the Dulles Access Road, headed for the second Industry Outreach day at the sprawling headquarters of one of the more prestigious consulting firm in Tysons Corner. They are not having a good week, either. I saw in the messages this morning they are currently under investigation by DoJ for improper billing procedures to the Government. So many investigations it is hard to keep track of them.

Attending for the company were our BD lead, crisp and professional in suit and tie and Vic Socotra, resplendent in a white seersucker suit, white bucks and snappy red clip-on Bow Tie.

The conference room was filled nearly to capacity with representatives from the usual Defense and IC contracting crowd. Government presenters included the Acquisition Chief, the chief of the Contracting Activity, the Agency Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the legendary and irascible Contracting Officer. He has been there since Christ was a Corporal and is supposed to be running the Industry Outreach Program. As things stand, he laughed and told me he was the highest paid event coordinator in town.

I will tell you what: there was plenty of hot coffee, regular and un-leaded (why?), pastries, fruit and more bagels than I have seen at Einstein’s Brothers and enough cream cheese and jam in tubs to make them worthwhile.

The Contracting Officer responsible kicked things off and introduced the representatives of the host company and covered admin matters before introducing the Acquisition Executive, who gave an extensive ramble through his charter from the Director (DR) on the leadership vector he is expected to follow.

Key bullets: expect many seniors at the Agency to move by October in keeping with the DR’s policy of not allowing his executives to plant their roots too deep in any one office.

· The AE’s daughter worked for the company that was hosting the conference .
· He is deeply rooted in the Pentagon’s Joint Staff J-8 acquisition programs
· The Agency doesn’t have any ACat 1 or ACat 1a programs, since nothing they do breaks the $195 Million threshold established by the DoD 5000-series instructions. He is hiring to get more help, but attrition is high.
· He will do one-on-one meetings with industry in his office, or is willing to visit.
· Will establish an “Acquisition Review Board.”
· Is eager to have select industry sectors for small group discussions at the Officer’s Club.
· Spoke extensively about the PEO concept but did not describe how they work.
· He may change to “PEO” the names of groups in AE that seem to be working.
· Will work on better and further out pipelines for industry
· Will be transparent
· Specifically mentioned HUBZone utilization as a challenge he will meet.
· Will rely on the provisions of DoD 5000.74 and 5000.02 Instructions.
· The challenge to obligate 50% of funds by March 31, 80% by 31 July and 100% by 30 September.
· We are currently living in UFR-Land (Unfunded Requirements). Money talks ant the other stuff walks.

The articulate Chief Information Officer in the Directorate for Systems (CIO/DS) was up next as he described his campaign of “CIO Implementation.” He began by asking if there were any members of the working press present, explaining that DR had received a lot of ink for his remarks about Agency’s relevance at a recent Conference held by a sister Agency, using the metaphor of Kodak, inventor of digital imagery and their decision to ride film-based products into corporate bankruptcy. He explained he understood the audience, since he had been a Business Development person, 1994-95, before joining the Agency. His charter is to make Agency the “Hub for Defense Department Intelligence.”
He emphasized the critical nature of continuing training in new technologies, which resonates with a lot of folks. He wants rapid innovation- “90 days” is his benchmark, not years. Key points for him:

· Cost for Performance.
· Disruptive technology that drives change- like Uber (and the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge of 2016).
· Getting to “eleven nines” in reliability- available “99.99999999 of the time.”
· Cloud issues.
· Big Data.
· Social media analysis.
· Mobile platforms.
· The Internet of Things.
· Training to accommodate all the above.

He was supposed to be followed by a Speaker who was intended to give a commercial about the huge DoD Intelligence Information Systems Conference we drag ourselves to each summer, but she did not appear. The meeting was running long but lurched back on time after the break. We were encouraged to attend the event in steamy, stifling St. Louis in August.

After the intermission, the Contracting officer took to the podium to conduct a briefing on “Contracting/Acquisition/Procurement and the Forecast.” He gave a detailed account of how acquisition works and the importance of defining valid requirements, funding and the contracting and evaluation process. There was nothing new or surprising in his presentation, though with a lot of specifics about the baffling process. There was an interesting sidelight on the multi-billion dollar Solutions of Intelligence Analysis contracts, which will re-competed late this year, and which he used for the demonstration of the utility of Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) vehicles.

The prime role was to establish grounds for the evaluation of the “Reasonable” nature of the proposals his office receives (which in the run-to-the-basement on pricing since the wars ended, the bids are often not executable as awarded, wit the successful bidder re-neotiating payment as the mission fails. Ugly strategy). He went on to give a very detailed depiction on the arcane process of going from requirements identification, funding, RFI issuance, industry days, Q’s and A’s, amendments, proposal submission, evaluation, award and finally protest resolution. He seemed a bit defensive on the issue of protests, which are now routine, even in the pre-solicitation phase. He stressed that “only 10%” of them were successful like it was a warning for us vendors to save our money and shut up and leave him alone.

He encouraged questions on the fly from the audience, and was peppered with them from the audience. One off the most penetrating was from an old shipmate, now with a company that has just graduated from Small Business status. Don’t get me started on that whole thing. The Agency got a strange ruling on the interpretation of a successful protest in another Department, and managed to let the old contract shudder to an end without replacing it. That is what I got hired to do, and why I am always looking over my shoulder to see if retirement is narrowing the gap and following closer behind.

The CO says the hunt to find contract vehicles on which to place expiring Task Orders is hurting a whole class of vendors, since without knowing where and how they and where they will come out, and not knowing if they are going to be set-asides or Full-and-open competitions. Many of the smaller companies will not being prime contractors on the multiple-award contract vehicles and as a consequence, may not be able to compete for work they already have. The Contracting Chief said she would take that on.

He finished his remarks on the process and was about to conclude when the Chief of Contracts interjected that the audience was still waiting for the Forecast, since it was the only reason a lot of people came.

His summation was this: “Nothing big until mid-October and the new Fiscal Year. Nothing else has changed since the last outreach session. Then he repeated the current state of affairs at the Agency: “We live in UFR-Land.”

It is always interesting to find stuff like that out. Useful information to know where you really are.

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Postcard from The Swamp

Just when you thought it could not get stranger…

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Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Rubicon

rubicon

So, the morning messages included an insightful essay from an old shipmate that analyzed the decision that Great Caesar made about crossing the Rubicon River, heading south and ending the Republic of Rome. It had lasted a half a thousand years, so it was a significant one.

He decided to trade the Republic for an Empire, the like of which had never been seen, and the aftermath, when it eventually came, left the northern hemisphere in darkness that lasted a half millennium. And then the rise of the West, which apparently lasted until today or tomorrow.

This birthday past for me was not one of the linear succession of dates- you may remember them, if you are of an age. “21” was a big deal- drinks on me!

The 40th- God, I am really this freaking old! Gray hair! Yike!

The Fiftieth- “God, this is getting serious! Get me a drink!”

The Sixtieth- “Oh, Shit!”

Sixty-six is different, since it comes with an actual entitlement- full Social Security with no penalty for taking it. I presume that means life for me, as we know it, is over.

“Don’t worry about it this morning,” I thought as I tried to untangle a numb shoulder from the bedclothes. I reached for the tablet reader and opened the email account to see my retired pals talking about the Rubicon and Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall.”

That encyclopedic edition was among the last hard-copy bound volumes I purchased before realizing that my own decline (and eventual) fall were actually happening, before my very eyes.

I only open the last volume in the series to read the account of the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks. There is too much other stuff to worry about- a full thousand years- with the mid-point being the before-and-after of the Rubicon.

The part that gets me, always, is when Gibbon tells us of the Emperor’s children being led away from the Cathedral of Saint Sophia (about to become the grand mosque) in chains. It is sort of the definition of Hubris and The Fall all in one chapter, and not dissimilar to our world today.

The weekend was OK, though. The usual suspects were at the pool, staged by hour, along with several kids who have grown before our eyes, and one of whom we taught to swim. There were some toddlers who will, and women who have enough confidence to embrace motherhood in such a wonderful act of affirmation that it made me want to weep.

So, a great and epic weekend with calls to the young men who I helped into this world. There is nothing quite like that, along with watching those thirty-something couples who are watching their young around the pool.

I suppose we will see how this all turns out, since it will regardless. But to have a Monday morning so filled with joy and trepidation is quite remarkable. This life is precious, you know? Before the Fall, anyway.

Vic

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Birthday

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It was epic, even if the events of the day swept over me and meant I never left the property at Big Pink. It was worth it. Epic.

Among he other things that happened while I wasn’t looking in the course of the day, I think I won the Front Page bar pool on the Belmont Stakes, which I forgot to watch. I got a note from a dear pal who was out camping with his daughters, though he declined to spend the night in the Great Outdoors. It was so evocative of years and places past. I really enjoyed his camping vignette. My goodness, we have all slept in some strange places in our times, and the determination of his young ladies to rest in the wild is part of the mosaic of life they will carry forever.

I woke in a field in Norway on MidSummer’s Eve one time a half century ago to see a fox gnawing on the red hair of a woman sleeping near me. Or she was sleeping briefly, better said. The subsequent shrieking made for an earlier morning than we had anticipated, though when the sun comes up at 0300 I suppose that is to be expected.

Along the way to waking this particular morning when at long last there is no denying that I really am who I am, I also came to the realization that I over-stressed something in my bad leg with the big swim yesterday. I hate falling down, and this was no help. Still, it is important to keep calm and carry on, right?

I traversed the living room and was pleased I had locked the front door. I unlocked it and popped my head out of the burrow and realized I hosted a party on the patio last night. I walked out onto the patio to take a look, not knowing what I might find.

Predictable wreckage, and I had neglected to bring it in before retiring.

One of the jetsam items left behind with the bag of sodden chips and a suspect bowl of mostly consumed onion dip was a Mylar balloon, shiny and wishing the recipient a happy birthday. It was from Margaret, the most thoughtful lady I know.

It was still valiantly straining to take to the sky, weighed down by a plastic clip in the mulch next to the patio table. I took the weight off the tether and walked out to the parking lot to avoid the overhanging trees, and set it free. I saw the beginning of the ascent but wound up talking to a still-tethered thirteen-year-old dog, who apparently felt precisely the way I did.

I normally don’t litter, but I wonder who will wind up with it, thinking it is trash? They will never know the feeling of liberation I feel today.

– Vic

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Playlist

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So, my best friend called this morning to start it all, and it went well, or at least as well as it could have been since I had hoped to be in the Friendly Islands and avoid the whole thing. Oh well, didn’t work out that way. But the cancelled trip gave me some un-programmed time to think.

I staggered out to the pool when the call was done, drawn to the sparkling water the danced in our old-school pool.

Once I exchanged pleasantries with Joanna the Polish Lifeguard, who is one of those young women that I hope has the best of lives. Looking out over her coming century I wish her luck. On the deck, I connected the waterproof IPod and plunged into the cool water under the serene blue sky. Then I spent 90 minutes of vigorous swimming, listening to my book and avoiding any contact with concrete.

I watched families come and go as I plodded in the water, thinking back to what it had been like dealing with tiny kids and floaty arm bands and pool toys and how much I loved being a Dad.

Eventually, I had other things to do in the afternoon, but decided not to do them.

I retreated to my patio and thought I might read. The delightful day seemed to call out for music, and the age of my IPad and lack of storage meant the only audio thing left on the tablet was a playlist of the “25 most played” songs. I listened to them all, and my God, traveled across the decades, from the fantail of a warship in the Philippines to Nashville and beyond. I thought about the people who I loved who are not here anymore. and some of the lyrics that called them up before me caused fat tears to run down my cheeks.

It was this day in 1951 that a completely inexperienced couple drove to Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital to experiment with having a child. Dad checked Mom into the OB/GYN and went down to the cafeteria to have a slice of apple pie. These things are mysteries best left to women and Doctors, and in those days, fathers were not welcome in the delivery room.

An orderly came for him before he could raise his fork, and said that Mom and I wanted to see him.

On my 66th birthday, it seemed to work out pretty well. God bless you all. No shit.

Vic

Sent from my iPad

Life & Island Times: My Give a Damn’s Busted

Editor’s Note: It was an interesting day. I think I will go for a swim.

– Vic

Author’s Note: During a morning when I couldn’t decide between Comey-tose and Comey-geddon, I penned this.

Marlow

My Give a Damn’s Busted

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Well they filled up my head
With so many lies
Then twisted my heart
‘Til something snapped inside
I’d give it one more try
But my give a damn’s busted

They try to crawl back into my heart
Say they were wrong
Stand out in my yard
And cry all night long
Go ahead and water the lawn
My give a damn’s busted

I used to want to really care
I wanted to see them do somethin
All they do is dig their own holes a little deeper
Naw
Sorry
Nothin’

They say the country’s got issues
Tell us we’re all victims
It’s all the other party’s fault
They say after all I didn’t pick ’em
Maybe somebody else’s got time to listen
My give a damn’s busted

Well their staffs say
It was all a mistake
A product of alt news
And my 24/7 co-dependent media ways
Should have quit these enablers back in the day
My give a damn’s busted

I used to want to really care
I wanted to see them do somethin
All they do is dig their own holes a little deeper
Naw
Sorry
Nothin’

It’s a desperate situation they say
No tellin’ what might happen to you
If I don’t forget and forgive them
They say the nation is through
Come on, I respond, give me somethin’ I can use
My give a damn’s busted

I used to want to really care
I wanted to see them do somethin
All they do is dig their own holes a little deeper
Naw
Sorry
Nothin’

Copyright 2017 My Isle Seat
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