August 18th, 2014
|10:22 am - Dien Bein Phu.|
As in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu which was fought in 1954 and gave notice to the French that their imperialist aspirations were dead. In fact, they were buried in the mud, blood, and artillery shells of the conflict. For a story which I have been writing, I have been reading this and that about Dien Bien Phu when I wasn't trying to re-read the Sagas. Over the weekend I finished my third book about the battle. This does not make me an expert, but as such it does allow for an opinion to be expressed:
The Americans do not really have an opinion about the battle. They see it as something of a pre-lude to their involvement in Vietnam.
The French would rather forget Dien Bien Phu, and seem to have assigned it to books, etc. The books about the battle explains a lot about the French attitude and involvement of the Americans in Vietnam. The French saw the Americans as fools in the 1960s and 1970s, if only because the French were fools in the 1950s.
Thoughts on those involved:
General Henri Navarre: Commander in Chief of Indochina forces--the equalvient of Westmoreland--before and during the battle. It's too easy to judge this man a fool. The movivations behind his forming and building a fortified, entrenched camp at Dien Bein Phu remain something of a mystery to me. Arrogance? His dislike of General Cogny? What? Yeah, ok, almost everyone told him that the encampment was a good idea and would bring out the Viet-Minh. They were correct; the Viet-Minh came out with Artillery, which was not anticipated. They also came out with anti-aircraft guns, which effective cut off supplies.
General Cogny: Commander of the Northern French Forces: did not like Navarre at all, and didn't seem to like the idea Dien Bein Phu (I'm beginning to see why the French call it "DBP") in the first place. At one point he told Navarre that he ought to be slapped. Hero? Fool? Who knows.
Colonel/General de Castries: Commander of DBP. Cast by some authors as an idiot/coward. Cast by other authors as a victim of bad fate. He was a the wrong soldier assigned to wrong duty at the wrong time. A calvary soldier without calvary in charge of essentially infantry. See Navarre.
Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel Pierre Langlais: Paratrooper: if the French had won the battle, he would have been the hero of it. Judged defacto commander of French Forces at DBP.
Lieutenant Colonel Gaucher: Commanding, the 13th Demi-brigade of the French Foreign Legion (infantry): the French sacifice of DBP. Killed in the first attack by the Viet-Minh.
General Giap: Viet-Minh overall commander. Considered a genius these days. I suppose one does not ask a genius an impertanent question: how is it you allowed your 10,000 prisoners of war (taken after the battle) to die in the droves they did? Some 7000 prisoners died in Viet Minh hands while you marched them to their prisoner camps. The sick, the wounded, the disarmed, etc. starved to death while you and your commissars (as some authors put it) tried to convert them to communism. Why didn't you force the French to take of their own and evacuate their soldiers? Military practicallity? Political Practicallity? Revenge?
Ho chi Minh, aka Uncle Ho: Revolutionary. Anti-imperialist. Supposed-communist. Whatever. See my comments on General Giap.
August 12th, 2014
|11:26 am - It's now later...|
The first week of vacation was spent getting ready for the second week of vacation--which is to say getting ready for Pennsic 43. I did other things, like all the dishes, most of the laundry, bathroom cleaning, etc. You know, mundane stuff.
The second week was Pennsic 43. I am sorry that I did not have a chance to visit all of you. Such large events are always political, and, honestly, I was having some anxiety about SCA politics. For this reason, Pennsic was a low-key, "under the radar" event for me. I fought, mostly; four of the days was get up at 8 AM, eat, put on my gear (slowly), and report to the battle field. After the fight it was crawl back to camp, strip, shower, and then rest or eat or something.
The only Pennsic departure was Wednesday. I did not fight the Baronial Champs tourney because of the rain. Conversely, my class "Dem Bones" went pretty well, and even had a couple of interested folks at it. This is fairly important to me--I teach to find folks interested in my interests.
The Honda Fit performed admirably.
I did not party, etc. The fighting was fierce as I had ever seen it. I was sore, but had a good time.
|08:35 am - Vacation.|
I'll post about it later.
July 25th, 2014
|03:03 pm - Now...|
the long wait. It's 3:00 PM. 2 hours. Seems like such a short amount of time. Applying Blowney's Theory of Boring Relativity, the time waiting to leave has an effect on perceived length. The shorter the time, the longer it seems. I have no idea of the affect of gravity--it probably just sucks.
Next I will be taking off because, A. I can, B. I had no idea how long Patrikia and I were going to be at Pennsic, C. I need to sleep, & D. I need to get ready for Pennsic. I have never had such anxiety about going to Pennsic as I've ever had. Am I worried about the weather? No. Am I worried about the fighting? No. I'm worried about keeping my foot out of my mouth.
July 21st, 2014
|11:21 am - Fetid...|
..foul, filty, Philadelaphia. Yes, the heat and humidity is upon us. Let us hope it won't be at Pennsic.
Pennsic activities are beginning to firm up. OY.
But before that, there's was this last weekend.
On Saturday, I went to the EK Novice Tournament. All is good.
On Sunday, I napped, did laundry, and worked on this and that. I did not write.
This week I'm in charge of Cell No. 42. Double Oy.
I am suffering from Helm-Lust, a sub-genis of armour lust. And Pennsic is coming....
My Personal Pennsic Schedule:
Saturday, 8/2: Arrive. Set up tent. Put stuff in tent. Park car. Get gear inspected (hopefully)
Sunday, 8/3: Attend opening ceremonies (I'm Settmour Swamp's Champion). Other duties
Monday, 8/4: Field battles
Tuesday, 8/5: Woods battle. Triple Oy. Various other duties.
Wednesday, 8/6: Baronial Champion's tourney in the morning. Class in the afternoon. EK Court.
Thursday, 8/7: Bridge battles
Friday, 8/8: Fort battle? Get ready to leave.
Saturday 8/9: Leave.
Lots of bashy-bashy, which does not thrill me. But there you have it.
July 14th, 2014
|01:54 pm - Not Quite...|
...ready for Pennsic. This weekend at practice I tried,
--the re-built gorget.
--plywood shield blank #8.
--the new demi gauntlet.
--the easy-release chin-strap.
--the "zoom-bang-esque" shirt.
What sort worked:
What needs work:
The demi-guantlet need better padding. The shields handle was too big. The chin-strap's nylon webbing isn't the right stuff; the thing kept coming loose. At the very least I need to replace the webbing with better stuff, but that can come after Penncic. The current chin-strap is very good.
Meanwhile, I have to find garb.
I will be at the Novice Tournament is coming weekend, the 19th.
July 7th, 2014
|09:19 am - Getting Ready. |
For Pennsic, at least I think I'm doing that.
Thursday night there was a armour workshop wherein I helped "finish" two helmets by rivetting "D" rings into them for chin-straps. This process used up all the rings I had waiting to be used. No Big deal. Something was actually accomplished and progress was made.
Also Thursday night had a dussie of thunderstorm with quite a few lightening strikes.
Friday, July 4th, Independence Day was rainy for most of the day. I "completed" a gorget rebuild. I took a nap. At 4 in the afternoon the rain stopped, and so I invoked my inner Boy Scout and fired up the Weber Grill for the grilling.
Saturday had spendid weather and so I drove to Tandy Leather for supplies, which is to say rivets and "D" rings. I also bought a new Phillies ball cap.
Sunday was hotter, and so I drove to fight practice to see how to set-up our tent. Just before leaving, someone asked me if I had any "D" rings for his helmet.
Various modifications and additions to gear need to be tested. This will be done before Pennsic.
A few thoughts about bits and pieces for equipment. I don't mind having things like "D" Rings around the Existentialist Muffin Workshop for those folks (including me) who need such stuff, but um...should I be bothered by folks who need parts for their stuff right before the big event? Should I charge them? How much? And why the hell can't folks realize that I have preparatory things to do before the big event? In the end I remember that I was a bother at certain points, and was treated with kindness by my elders, they had their limits as well. What are mine?
June 30th, 2014
|10:39 am - Karma, again? |
I had a four day weekend. Thursday morning was spent at a Cub Scout/Webelos day camp talking about the Middle Ages. This was a good thing.
Friday was spent in the car, taking Patrikia to visit Sedalia, wherein in both were going to attend a "Dark Shadows" convention. We arrived, after I got lost. A rarity, at least in the past. Once again, various Karmic forces are in the works. Well, we arrived, and then they left. I was alone with unfamiliar Feline Godz and wondering where I was going to have dinner. I took a nap and watched an old episode of "Top Gear." The logic of this arrangement was that an SCA Event--War Camp, aka Meleepalooza--was 15 minutes from Sedalia's house. Convenient, which in the end turned very useful indeed.
Saturday was the spending of Karma Point just in order to get through the day. I showed up early at the event--in order to get a good parking spot. Thus Karma Points were spent. Meleepalooza was, well, a fuck-up parking wise in the most personal way that was Karmically possible. I almost got thrown out of the event, but alas, volunteering for fund-raising silliness pretty much kept me there. Add to this of really having no where to go--and nothing to do there, and can you see just how frustrating things were. THEN add to this situation being blasted in the right elbow during the second field battle. Then the heat. Blah. Blah. And blah again. By the end of the day I was exhausted, de-hydrated, hungry, lonesome, and having the feeling of being just a bit out of sync and obsolete. The SCA used to be easier, folks. Really. Honest. I didn't have to go thru all this just to park.
Sunday was spent driving Patrikia home to Casa Meow and then recovering from Satuday. My right elbow has a very nasty looking bruise which hurts. Ok. Par for the course. I have to heal up. If it hadn't been for the gear, I'd have wound-up in the hospital.
The biggest thing I did this weekend was read Keith Richard's memoir "Life." There's a guy with a much more interesting karma than me. I continue. Pennsic is waiting. My mom thinks I'm nuts for going.
June 23rd, 2014
|01:45 pm - Plans.|
I spent part of the weekend working on a plan for next weekend. I will be attending the war camp (aka "Meleepallooza") in New Jersey, where much, I hope will be accomplished. I hope.
After this, it's let's get ready for Pennsic. Really.
Meanwhile, Casa Meow is experiencing techical diffifulties of the television sort. The possible solutions are infuriating.
Back to it.
June 16th, 2014
|10:32 am - Dogs|
I like dogs. This weekend was full of dogs. This last Saturday at "War Camp" I got to meet "Corbin The Destructor," a 6 month old pup who pretty much loves everyone and wants to meet them. Yesterday, Sunday, I got to see "Wendel," your basic doofus Swissy dog and his nose. Wendel is just one of the boys, when you really look at it.
I fought ok at War Camp, and certainly got it out of third gear when needed. Sunday Patrickia and I had lunch with the "owner" (aka chief human food provider) of Wendel, who we haven't seen in too long.
I good time, and pretty good weather.
Meanwhile the humidity is moving into the Municipality of Oz. It's almost smoothie time. Almost. I'm working on plans and have started to re-read Viking Swords.