Monday, December 26, 2016


Russian agitprop? . . . S.L.

I have been advised that this event: NATO Auditor General found shot dead in suspicious circumstances is likely Russian disinformation, and quite possibly did not even occur.

After posting the link on my twitterfeed, I was informed that this story emerged three days ago through Russian-linked channels. My anonymous source has been tracking, his suspicions are unconfirmed as of yet.

Confused, I asked, "You're saying the killing itself did not occur?"

Anon: "Seen no reports from West confirming this story. Only people linked to Moscow, Ankara or Tehran, who are critical of US/NATO. Just wanted to let you know . . . I'm glad you retweeted it."

Anon: I saw this on Friday. It's unconfirmed. May be Russian agitprop as you saw in the pics. Sibel Edmonds - a known former FBI "whistleblower" who has links to Turkey and Iran, was fired for national security reasons. The ex-Soviets are both too happy to push info coming from the east. Russia wants to split NATO; this is just them trying to cause fear.

Anon: I'm saying is that the sources are all coming from Moscow. I have no evidence from western channels to corroborate that the incident in question did occur.

S.L: You're saying this killing did not occur?

Anon: Look at the images. The description and the titles keep changing. This is the signature of disinfo not a real news scoop. If a NATO officer had really been killed, you would hear about it thru military and diplomatic channels, and the news wires wouldn't be so silent.

Anon: I sent the images to you so you can also see my math and why I flagged it. No evidence this killing took place and the sources of origin are all linked to Moscow or Moscow client states. Sibel was burned for espionage. Ex-Soviets . . . well . . . 'Nuff said.

S.L: Hang on - I will check my (work) security report, see if there is mention of this event . . . (Later) . . . No mention as of Friday a.m. . . . today is a Fed holiday, so I won't have an updated sec report until tomorrow.

Anon: This story first came out on/around 23 1630Z DEC 16. I've been tracking it closely and running into bear fur each time.
have a good holiday sir, this owl is watching as owls do.

Guess we'll just have to wait & see on this one . . .


Monday, December 19, 2016


Today's Electoral College vote is a good opportunity to present a lesson in how our Republic works . . . S.L.

Trump Won 3084 of 3141 Counties, Clinton Won 57. The number of votes that Clinton beat Trump by - 1.3 million - could all be contained in the five boroughs of New York City, or within the State of California. In other words, without the Electoral College, the entire United States could be ruled by the majority of the citizen within a single state, or in the case of New York, within a single city. The overwhelming victory of Republican candidates in both Houses of Congress and in State legislatures across the country does not represent the end of the Republic, but rather that our Republic - based on democratic principles - WORKS and is in remarkably shape for two centuries.


Sunday, December 18, 2016


What a week . . . whew . . . S.L.

Monday morning I let Puppy Dog out at 0400 - about the time I start my Mondays, because I have a two hour drive down to D.C., where I stay Monday thru Thursday. Puppy Dog goes on these adventures and usually shows back up around dawn, when Mrs. Stormbringer will let him in. Nobody knows where Puppy Dog goes on his adventures, but he's been spotted as far away as the Amish farm, a couple of miles up the road. Sometimes he goes over to the neighbor's house and hangs out with them, scarfs up some snacks during their breakfast routine. Puppy Dog is a border collie and he ranges far and wide.

Only on this Monday, Puppy Dog didn't show up at dawn.

Around eleven, Mrs. Stormbringer rustled up Daughter #1 and they went out to find Puppy Dog. That's when a very bedraggled Puppy Dog emerged from beneath the fir trees at the edge of the property. He was wet, covered in mud and pine needles, shivering, and not at all himself. They took him in, dried him off, and offered him food, which he did not eat. Puppy Dog went to his place on the sofa, lay down and shivered. He was not at all himself.

I didn't become aware of any of this until much later in the day, of course. I wondered what it may be. Sounded like he got a cold. Anyway there was nothing I could do about it, not until Thursday evening at the earliest.

Puppy Dog did not get better. I showed up late Friday afternoon and he was still off his food. I inspected him; there was no sign of contusions or internal injuries. There was no indication he'd been poisoned either - his eyes were clear, bright and shiny as always, no redness, no excess slobbering or tongue lolling out. It was a complete mystery what had come over him.

I put him outside so he could relieve himself and when he didn't come back after the better part of an hour, I went out to look for him. He was standing by the carriage house, wet in the rain and behaving in a strange manner, very confused. When I brought Puppy Dog inside I put water in his bowl, which he drank and then regurgitated. Water in, water out, right there on the floor by his bowl. He was shivering, so I wrapped him in a poncho liner and stoked the fire. Puppy Dog finally warmed up and stopped shivering.

Saturday morning Puppy Dog stayed on the leather sofa down in the Jungle Room, where the wood burning stove kept him warm. I offered him food, which he declined, no interest in even smelling a piece of meat or cheese, his favorite snack. Around mid-morning, Puppy Dog moved to the floor in front of the wood burning stove, and I stroked his face, said nice words, "Oh, you want to be warm!" At that point I had no idea the kind of cold that was creeping over him.

About a half an hour later I was in the garage and Mrs. Stormbringer came to me, she was in tears. "I think Puppy Dog is DYING!" I went to Puppy Dog by the fire, put my hands on him. He was very still, barely a pulse, I could barely see he was breathing. Puppy Dog twitched, moved his head twice like he was trying to bite something, and then he was gone.

Puppy Dog was eleven years old.

Puppy Dog and his best friend Tiny in their favorite place, on top of a poncho liner down in the Jungle Room.

It was right after we transferred back to Fort Bragg from Germany, in the fall of 2005. I took the kids to see the Halloween Parade downtown Pinehurst, and the Moore County Animal Shelter had some rescue dogs for adoption. He was eight weeks old, looking very smart with his distinctive black & white markings. The kids couldn't believe it when I said, "We'll take him!" On the drive home, Daughter #2 had her arms around the dog, and she kept saying, "I can't believe we got a dog!" It was like she was in a trance. We named him after a stuffed toy an old friend had given the girls, years before.

Puppy Dog had an almost magical effect on those around him. He could do all the dog tricks and nobody ever trained him, he trained himself. He could even do 'heel'; all I had to do was point to my feet and he'd heel, and he wouldn't even chase a rabbit unless I gave the word. He was agile, fast, gentle although known to nip at a stranger's legs if they took their eyes off of him, and he displayed human-like emotions. If I didn't take him for his daily run, he'd sulk. If people spoke good of him, he'd put his paw out, indicating he knew we were talking about him. He used to tug at the girls sleeves as he walked them down the driveway to wait for the school bus. I'd say, "Puppy Dog! Best Dog!" and out would come the paw again. He knew. He could understand.

Puppy Dog was an amazing dog. Everybody loved Puppy Dog.

As the years rolled by, Puppy Dog never showed the effects of age. At eleven, he still ran like a deer, and there's plenty of room around here for him to run, and plenty of deer for him to chase. And then there were his adventures. Off he'd go and we never knew where he went. The only thing that worried me was he'd go down to the road and get hit by a car, but the road is several properties over, and if he ever went there at least he never got hit. Puppy Dog was a country dog and he lived the best life any dog could ever ask for.

Recently, Puppy Dog's pal Tiny, the Jack Russell, was stricken by a severe bout of rheumatoid arthritis. It comes every winter but this was the worst its ever been. She's been in pain, could barely move, and not happy at all. It was so bad she would go to a corner of the Jungle Room to relieve herself, not wanting to deal with the cold air outside. We began discussing the dreadful option that all dog people must face, for an aging pet. I'd remember how Tiny used to bound through the woods, working with Puppy Dog to slay rabbits and squirrels, and it was heartbreaking to see this one-time bundle of energy lay around in a weakened state with the saddest look on her face.

Puppy Dog & Tiny with their first kill.

But this week, after Puppy Dog returned with his mysterious malady, Tiny experienced a miracle rebound. It was almost as if Puppy was an empath dog, and had given his energy and health to her. Tiny has been up and jumping around, wagging her tail and wiggling her body as if to say, "Look at me! I'm all better! I'm like a new dog all over again!" She's even been running out to the front yard and barking her head off, letting everyone in the neighborhood know who's boss. It's incredible, and in retrospect, its like Puppy Dog really did some extra special Puppy Dog magic to help his old friend.

Old Friends.

At least, that's what I believe happened. As incredible as it sounds, it makes absolute sense. Puppy Dog's last act of class was to help his lifelong friend and hunting companion with that special kind magic he had.

Sayonara, Old Friend. See you at the Bridge . . .

I called a close friend over and we dug the grave down by the creek, which is the property line and the starting point for Puppy Dog's many adventures. A cold, light rain fell as we dug. The ground isn't yet frozen, the clods came up quite easily as I swung the mattock. I could have done it all by myself but I simply didn't want to be alone as I dug that grave. We held off from burying him until #2 could come home to say her farewell. I've got him wrapped in a blanket in the garage, which for now is the morgue. Today I'll put Puppy Dog in the ground, and put a flagstone on top to mark the spot.

There will never be another dog like Puppy Dog. Never in a million years . . .


Friday, December 16, 2016


Check it out - I'm writing for American Military News these days - S.L.

Op-Ed: A Cheatsheet & Brief History Of The World’s Secret Languages & Covert Codes

It is generally agreed that the writing of language was invented in ancient Sumer, Mesopotamia around 3200 BC. I’m quite certain that the requirement for codes and secret languages followed soon after. Soldiers, spies, and even businessmen have a requirement for clandestine communications. Over the centuries, millions of ciphers and codes have emerged. The intent of this article is to explore three basic types of codes and the principles that drive them.

Read the rest of it HERE

Thanks for your support!


Sunday, December 4, 2016


Wild Eye, Battle of Polygon Wood, Sept 1917

John "Barney" Hines (1873–1958) was a British-born Australian soldier of World War I, known for his prowess at collecting "souvenirs" from German soldiers. Born in Liverpool, England, in 1873, Hines served in the Royal Navy, the King's Liverpool Regiment, and the Australian Imperial Force AIF. He arrived in Australia shortly before World War I began and volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. Although discharged due to poor health in early 1916, he rejoined in August that year and served on the Western Front from March 1917 to mid-1918, when he was discharged again for health reasons. During his period in France he proved to be an aggressive soldier, and gained fame for the collection of items that he amassed, but was undisciplined when not in combat and frequently punished. Following World War I, Hines lived in poverty on the outskirts of Sydney until his death in 1958.

Hines was born in Liverpool in 1873. When he was aged 14 he attempted to join the British Army, but was returned to his mother after she protested. At the age of 16 he successfully enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged the next year after contracting malaria.

During the following decades Hines drifted between jobs and countries, including spending three years in the King's Liverpool Regiment and serving as a guide in the Second Boer War, before immigrating to Australia. He was a large man and much of his body was covered in tattoos. Hines may also have been illiterate, though he was capable of signing his name

When Hines first joined the AIF on 24 August 1915, he falsely claimed to be 28 years of age. In the year before he joined the Army he had worked as a seaman, engineer and shearer. He was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit in January of 1916. In May 1916 Hines successfully rejoined the AIF, this time giving an age of 36 years and seven months. By this stage of the war medical requirements were less strict due to the need for reinforcements to make good the AIF's casualties. Hines was assigned to the 45th Battalion and departed Sydney for Europe onboard HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 22 August 1916.

After completing training in England, Hines joined the 45th Battalion on the Western Front in March 1917. In June that year he captured a force of 60 Germans during the Battle of Messines by throwing hand grenades into their pillbox, and was later wounded. He returned to his battalion in time for the Battle of Polygon Wood in September, where Frank Hurley photographed him on 27 September surrounded by the loot he had captured. Hines was an aggressive soldier and it has been claimed that he killed more Germans than any other member of the AIF. Though brave in battle and admired by his fellow soldiers, his behavior was erratic at times. The wartime commander of the 45th Battalion, Arthur Samuel Allen, described Hines to a journalist in 1938 as "a tower of strength to the battalion . . . while he was in the line".

Hines' enthusiasm for collecting German military equipment and German soldiers' personal possessions became well known within and possibly outside of his battalion, and earned him the nickname of "Souvenir King". Although he collected some items from battlefields at Ypres and the Somme region, most were stolen from German prisoners of war. He kept the items he collected for himself, and there are no records of any being handed over to the Australian War Records Section, the AIF unit responsible for collecting items for later display in Australia. Hines sold some of the items he collected to other soldiers, including for alcohol. The photograph of Hines at the Battle of Polygon Wood was published in late 1917 under the title Wild Eye, the souvenir king and became one of the best-known Australian photographs of the war. Many soldiers identified with Hines and were amused by his collection of souvenirs. The photograph was used as propaganda, and a false story developed that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II had become enraged after seeing it.

Away from the front line, Hines developed a record of indiscipline. He was court martialled on nine occasions for drunkenness, impeding military police, forging entries in his pay book and being absent without leave. He also claimed to have been caught robbing the strongroom of a bank in Amiens, though this is not recorded in his Army service record. As a result of these convictions, Hines lost several promotions he had earned for his acts of bravery. He was also fined on several occasions, and the resulting need for money may have been one of the factors that motivated his looting. A member of the 3rd Battalion described Hines as "not normally a weak man but rather one . . . uncontrolled". An officer from the 45th Battalion stated after the war that Hines had been "two pains in the neck".

In mid-1918 Hines was discharged from the AIF as being medically unfit due to hemorrhoid problems. He arrived back in Australia on 19 October 1918. While his Army service file records that he was lightly wounded on two occasions, Hines later claimed to have been wounded five times.

Hines was traumatised by his experiences during World War I. For 40 years afterwards he lived in a humpy (a small, temporary shelter made from bark and tree branches, traditionally used by Australian Aborigines) made of cloth bags near Mount Druitt on the outskirts of Sydney, and never married. The humpy was surrounded by a fence on which he hung helmets taken from German soldiers; he became well known to locals, though school children were afraid of him. Hines was unable to find consistent work, and lived on his Army pension as well as income from odd jobs and selling his souvenirs. He gained renewed fame when the photo of him at Polygon Wood was displayed at the temporary Australian War Museum in Sydney (the predecessor of the Australian War Memorial) from 1933, and several newspapers and magazines aimed at former servicemen published profiles of him. An article in the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia's magazine Reveille in 1934 highlighted Hines' desperate living conditions and stated that he had been unemployed for four years. Several former soldiers sent money to him in response to this article. Hines' pension was also doubled, though this income made him ineligible for relief work during the Great Depression. Despite his poverty, Hines traveled to Concord Repatriation Hospital each week to donate a suitcase of vegetables from his garden to the former soldiers being treated there.

Hines told a journalist in June 1939 that he was seeking to join the Militia and hoped to fight in another war. He attempted to enlist in the military during World War II, despite being in his 60s, but was rejected. An article published in The Nepean Times during 1943 claimed that Hines had attempted to stow away on a troop ship in 1940, but was found and sent ashore before the vessel sailed.

On 28 January 1958, Hines died at Concord Repatriation Hospital aged 84 or 85. He was buried in Rookwood Cemetery in a grave which was unmarked until 1971, when the Mount Druitt sub-branch of the Returned Services League of Australia paid for a headstone. The Blacktown City Council also renamed the street on which he lived in the suburb of Minchinbury to John Hines Avenue, and a monument commemorating him was built at the nearby Mount Druitt Waterholes Remembrance Garden in 2002.

A large version of the famous 'Wild Eye' photograph was accorded a prominent position in the Australian War Memorial's permanent building in Canberra after it opened in 1941. The photo was also included in the 2014 redevelopment of the Memorial's permanent World War I exhibition. In a short biography of Hines published in 2002, historian Peter Stanley commented that "'Wild Eye's' bravado conceals a deeper pathos" and he "was a man whose skills in fighting were needed and whose knack for souveniring was admired, but he had few gifts that a peaceful society valued".


Saturday, December 3, 2016


Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Rangers lead the way!

Monday, November 14, 2016

My Technique for Learning Foreign Languages

I have always considered speaking foreign languages a requirement for professional soldiers . . . S.L.

Growing up overseas, I was exposed to several languages through environment and of course formal study in school. While this experience is a definite advantage, it is not an absolute requirement. My father grew up in Australia, didn't leave the country until he was in his thirties, and by the time he was in his forties he spoke Indonesian and Thai.

Over the years I developed a system to gaining limited working proficiency in any language in a relatively short period of time – a couple of weeks to a couple of months. During the course of my career I shared this technique with my colleagues and it works.

This is my technique:

I take five 5”x8” index cards (because in the Army I learned that the world revolves around 5”x8” cards) On the first card, I write the greetings; hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night, etc., please and thank you, prepositions (in, on, below, above, near, far, behind, in front, out of, etc.) and conjunctive adjectives (before, after, now, later, yesterday, tomorrow). On the second card, I write the number system, phrases associated with simple arithmetic and money, days of the week and months of the year. On the third card, I write questions and answers associated with asking and receiving directions - to include the cardinal directions - and phrases involving airports, train stations, taxis, and checking in and out of hotels. On the fourth card, I write phrases associated with shopping – to include what to ask for at a pharmacy - how to buy food in a market, and how to order a meal in a restaurant. On the fifth card, I write useful phrases involving who, what, where, when, why and how many.

Nowadays there are numerous translation resources available online, but in pre-Internet era, doing this involved the use of a dictionary and a good phrasebook. In some ways, the old way was more effective; it required a bit more focus and effort, which seemed to intensify the learning process. Study your cards daily and learn the ‘helper’ phrases. The goal is to be able to experience basic day-to-day situations without breaking into English.

Advantages of learning foreign languages include widening your horizons; it’s becoming essential, you’ll meet new people and it’s great for traveling. After learning one language, it’s a thousand times easier to learn the next one. When you study languages you become smarter, by definition, and you’ll stay smarter for longer. Speaking a foreign language boosts your creativity, builds up your self-confidence, and as an added bonus, employers love it (and they’ll love you more). Anyone can learn a foreign language – consider; an infant can do it – and my technique really is this simple.


Friday, November 4, 2016


I wrote this story this past summer when I was on the road 'Down South', to coin a phrase. It is one of the collection of stories that I will soon self-publish as an e-book - The Long Bar - I've been talking about it for awhile, so maybe its time to give everyone a preview. This fantastic tale is narrated by a patron in the Long Bar, telling his story to Mike, the bartender. - S.L.

© Sean Linnane, June 2016

San Cristobal, capital of the Republic of El Cristobal, lies at the foot of Xiuhtecuhtli, the Mayan name of the volcano that looms ominously over the sleepy city. The ancient Mayans worshiped Xiuhtecuhtli, offered it human sacrifices – virgins were thrown in there annually. The soil on the slopes of Xiuhtecuhtli was particularly fertile for the cultivation of corn, manioc, cacao, potatoes and coffee. And for the Mayan’s offerings and adoration, Xiuhtecuhtli would periodically reward them with eruptions that wiped their fields and villages away, and caused widespread havoc.

And then the cycle would repeat and the Mayans would start over again.

San Cristobal is a throwback to a better time, a time before the hustle and bustle of modern life and all the complications that come with it overtook once pastoral Central American backwaters. The Economic Officer at the American Embassy suggested to me it’s the success of agrarian programs. “There’s more money in the countryside, the volcanic soil is incredibly fertile,” he indicated the volcano through his office window. “Why go to the city? For a campesino to leave the farm and move to the city is to be sentenced to a life of poverty, a permanent slot on the lowest class of society.”

And so San Cristobal remains a unique destination, a quiet provincial town, almost a time portal to the Good Old Days. Somehow I didn’t take the concertina wire and the sandbagged fighting positions on all the official buildings seriously.

Meanwhile Xiuhtecuhtli smolders. The sacred mountain is a forgotten god, a looming presence, overlooking the activities of the mere mortals below...

* * *

“You had one job to do, Linnane. Get your team down to this dinky little place nobody has ever heard of - Cristobal - and ride herd on them while they do what they it is they do. One job! So how the hell did you end up in the middle of a revolution and overthrow the government... on YOUR FIRST NIGHT IN TOWN???

“Well, Chief, it really all started back here in the States, at the airport, when I met my future self - or at least one of my future selves - getting on the airplane...”

“Huh?” Chief stared at me in consternation, and damn near bit through the butt of the half-smoked cigar that hung eternally from his lip.

* * *

We are all ghosts, haunting our past selves as we look back at them in our memories. There is the sensation of someone ‘walking on our grave’. It comes with a shudder, and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Time and space are not a linear progression of course – Einstein explains this to us. There are intersections and it is inevitable that people cross over; possible evidence of time travel or forms of ‘immortality’ are not unheard of. And so it was the day I encountered my future self, as I boarded my flight to Republica de Cristobal.

Making my way down the aisle I noticed a tattoo on a gentleman’s right arm; a Chinese dragon. The same Chinese dragon I have on my right arm. I mean, EXACTLY the SAME tattoo as mine ...

Glancing over the gentleman I noticed he was tanned, dark hair without a trace of gray - this despite the fact he was evidently several years older than me, and dark piercing eyes. For all the life of me it seemed I was looking straight at an older version of myself. I was tempted to get his attention, roll up my sleeve and reveal MY dragon.

Then I noticed something else. The gentleman – if indeed he was my future self, somehow physically present in this plane – was missing his left arm, directly above the elbow...

* * *

The night I checked into my hotel there was some kind of gathering outside in the street. It was a big crowd, with a woman leading the crowd, giving some kind of speech on a megaphone. Well I had reason to go outside. I wanted a bottle of wine, so I was making my way down the street to a local tienda de vinos. Coming back with my bottle of wine under my arm, I made it less than a block when it became evident the sidewalks were non-navigable, and so was the street, with all the people.

Somebody bumped me sideways and then I was in the middle of the crowd. The crowd was getting ugly, people were yelling at me in Spanish and I couldn't understand a word they were saying and things were on the verge of going out of control. When people started putting their hands on me I realized I had to do something to turn the sentiments of the crowd in my favor so I did the only thing I could think of - I hollered out at the top of my lungs:


Those were the magic words, apparently, because right away everyone started yelling: "¡VIVA! ¡VIVA!" They picked me up and then I was crowd surfing as the mob made their way to this huge imposing building which I presumed was the Presidential Palace. All the while, you gotta understand, all I was doing was trying to stay alive.

There was a momentary lull at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the imposing edifice, so to keep the spirit of the thing alive I did the only thing that seemed natural at the time: I hurled my bottle of vino rojo. It shattered at the entrance of the marble wedding cake of a building, the crowd surged forward and the Presidential Honor Guard dropped their rifles and ran for their lives.

I guess you could say I christened the beginning of a new era...

* * *

The human wave that was the popular revolution busted down the doors of the Presidential Palace and poured in like a flood, dragging me along. Everywhere you looked they were ransacking the place, until we reached the offices of El Presidente himself; the Inner Sanctum of Power of the Republic. An uncomfortable quiet fell over the crowd, and one by one the rioteers dispersed until it was only the leaders of the mob - and myself - who remained. There was no sign of the former occupant of these ornate offices.

My comrades-in-arms looked about in wonder as it all sunk in, what they had just accomplished. Incredibly, they’d overthrown the hated dictator... with my help, apparently. Then the woman who had led the chanting with the megaphone - not one hour before - looked to me, excited.

“Señor, now YOU are the new EL PRESIDENTE ! ! !” All her colleagues beamed, their smiling faces showing their approval at this logical conclusion.

El Presidente... the title had a nice ring to it. I felt a momentary surge of power go straight to my head.

Meanwhile the smoke had not yet cleared out in the palace grounds, they were still manning the barricades in the streets. In the palace courtyard my predecessor was being given the customary retirement ceremony for dictators who fail to make the last flight out of the city to the South of France... complete with blindfold and last cigarette... occurred to me that I’d just won the booby prize...

“Er, I think a better idea is for la Republica to have its first WOMAN ‘La Presidente’ - think of the legitimacy in the eyes of the international community - much more beneficial for leveraging grants and loans from the World Bank and the international community, no? - versus a gringo like me who can only order a beer in Spanish. I think I can serve the Republic better in a more utilitarian role... Minister of Agriculture, perhaps?

Agriculture means farmland, and as far as I was concerned, the further away I could get from all the madness going on in the capital city, the better. As soon as possible I caught the train to the interior, way up in the mountains, to inspect the state of agriculture in Republica de San Cristobal.

There was much to see in the countryside. An afternoon was spent exploring an ancient Mayan pyramid. It was fascinating to clamber about its step sides, to climb the steep staircase up its center. I imagined the priests and acolytes conducting the Ceremony of the Sun. Did they actually perform human sacrifice, and were these volcanic stones once drenched in blood and gore?

Meanwhile the thing about the arm had been bothering me; the premonition was weighing on my mind. I was really anxious about the possibility of losing my arm. It was a tricky thing. What does one do when one has had such a vivid premonition? Such a significant indicator of a future mishap?

We finally arrived at our first destination and los campesinos were waiting, their bright smiling faces beaming as they presented their harvest. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. I was looking at more cannabis than I’d ever seen in my life! Marijuana, Mary Jane, hemp, reefer, dope, more weed than I could ever imagine existed even, dried and cured, bales and bales of the stuff. I mean, there was a LOT of grass! Enough to stone an army...

“But where are the food crops?” I asked, incredulous.

“Bah!” they snorted and hissed. “Thees ees better Señor! Thee ees mucho dinero!” And of course they were right. Any poor bastard can slave away growing corn and beans – this was a cash crop. But how could I apply for grants from the World Bank? “And there ees MORE, Señor!” they exclaimed as they walked me over to the poppy fields and the coca plants growing on the mountainside.

Of course I took notice of the scowling hombres with the military-style caps and crossed bandoliers, toting assault rifles and shotguns. As of any drug-producing operation, this was far from any sort of pastoral idyll.

I put my face in my hands and shook my head; no, no, no a thousand times no, this was not happening to me. Somehow I’d gone from a trip to the bottle shop to the de facto leader of a street revolution to candidate for El Presidente to the head representative and ministerial administrator of a national level drug growing operation. How the hell was I going to get out of this mess?

My senior staff assistant sensed my stress and anxiety. “What you need Señor, where you must go, are los aguas termales minerales – the mineral hot springs.”

This didn’t sound like a half bad idea. Anything to get me away from the drug fields and those heavy rifle-toting characters.

We made our way towards the mineral hot springs, first by truck until the trails became almost impassable. We then took an ox cart up the slopes of Xiuhtecuhtli, the smoldering volcano which presided over the entire countryside like a sulking god. A guide accompanied us, one of the camposinos, who prattled on in a dialect that I assumed was a mix of Spanish and Mayan.

My assistant translated; “This flowering tree is a powerful hallucinogen, if you take this flower you will go directly to the mental hospital. But the flower is very good; if you place the flower beneath your pillow you will sleep soundly, the deepest most restful sleep.

“This plant is inedible, it is poisonous. If you take the seeds and eat them, you will transform into a crazy animal and you will endanger yourself. One time, a campesino took the seeds and the next day they found him naked, trying to outrun a diesel locomotive. The locomotive won, of course, and he died.

“This little animal,” our guide picked up a tiny snail, its shell smaller than the small buttons on a button-down collar shirt, with a curious purple stripe that followed the spiral pattern around its yellow shell, and held his finger out allowing it to travel to my hand. “This little animal can enter the body.” At least that’s what I thought I heard the translator say – he was speaking Spanish, after all, which I barely speak.

I imagined he meant the premature form of the snail? Entering the body through the mouth, or the ear perhaps? I hated to think he meant the urethra, or the other orifice. “It enters the body and it will live inside the mind.” He must have meant the brain but he used the word mente which means the mind, the consciousness. I shuddered at the thought of a snail occupying my consciousness. I placed my finger to the hallucinogenic tree and observed the little fellow making its way across.

And then we arrived at the hot mineral springs, a primitive spa featuring bamboo huts and many pools constructed of haphazardly placed stones and mortar. The jungle canopy provided shade, and the steam of the hot springs rose up. It was impossible to see the entire area as it wound around the mountain. The springs were quite hot, but there were also pools for cooling off. Our guide took us up the mountain to the beginning of the springs, where a large placard announced:

(The Sulphur-Rich Waters)

“Embellacen la piel, el cabello y las uñas y mejoran la circulación sanguínea. Sus efectos analgésicos ayudan a disminuir grandamente el estrés y los Dolores musculares y artricos ya que mediante el proceso de Osmosis el azufre y le resto de minerales medicinales son absobidors por las células del cuerpo...”

It went on:

“...logrando asi beneficiarnos con sus propiedades antiinflamatorias, inmunoestimulantes y regeneradoras las cuales están cientificamente comprobadas desde hace más de 2000 años.”

As I continued to read the unusual Spanish verbiage I strangely began to completely understand every word:

"Embellishes the skin, the hair and the nails and aids the circulation of the blood. Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects greatly help decrease stress and muscular sickness and arthritis because through the process of osmosis, sulfur and the rest of the medicinal minerals are absorbed through the skin into the body cells thus achieving benefit with its anti-inflammatory, immuno-stimulants and regenerative properties which are scientifically proven over 2000 years."

We entered the waters and it was indeed very restful and relaxing, but the heat eventually drove us to the cooler pools. Then we’d return to the hot sulphur to soak some more and enjoy its rejuvenative effects which were quite noticeable.

My intent was to remain in the countryside for a week or more, as long as it would take to do a complete tour and determine the needs and capabilities of the plantations. By now my Spanish was perfect, which was odd because all I’d studied in school was French and Latin but there you have it. Odd because I was picking up more than just vocabulary and grammar, I was getting the slang and the local idioms and I even understood the Mayan dialect of the campesinos. There was something more; vivid dreams that seemed to follow into the waking state. Visions of strange creatures from the bas-relief carvings around the pyramids, come alive and talking to me, advising me in my affairs in the countryside.

The volcanic rumblings and tremors were increasing in tempo, to almost daily, and yet the seismic instruments of the meteorological station located halfway up the volcano gave no indications in the signals they transmitted. The fantastic creatures that now spoke to me constantly – an enormous rooster-like bird, a surreal jaguar, a dog-headed man, an enormous feathered serpent – insisted it was necessary we climb the volcano.

Our ascent of Xiuhtecuhtli, the ancient Mayan god, took over six hours, and every inch of the way I was totally out of my skull. I knew they were hallucinations, but they were absolutely real. As real as this bar we’re standing in now, as real as the people around us even now as I speak.

When we got to the instrument station the problem with the transmissions was immediately obvious. A large volcanic boulder lay squat on top of what remained of the station – angle irons and wires and the steel instrument housing protruded out like a large insect squashed beneath a giant’s toe.

To my affected vision the sky was yellow and the mountain was deep purple. There was a rumbling, quite a shaker, and Xiuhtecuhtli coughed a large red hot missile that landed like a mortar round less than half a football field away. Xiuhtecuhtli coughed again and this time a cloud of volcanic ash spilled over the crater and rolled towards us. To my wildly hallucinating mind, a vivid purple cloud of volcanic ash, pulsing and breathing as it rolled downhill toward us.

Xiuhtecuhtli was in eruption. We ran for our lives, of course.

* * *

The evacuation was chaos. The railway was an early casualty of the volcanic ash and the red hot, semi-molten boulders Xiuhtecuhtli was spitting out. The dirt roads and trails out of the hinterland were jammed with ox carts and donkey carts and ancient trucks overloaded until their suspension groaned and hundreds of thousands of campesinos on foot, some pushing bicycles laden with possessions, some beating hapless horses and donkeys.

It took us the better part of two weeks to make our way out of the disaster area. At night we slept under the open skies with the campesinos. None of them seemed aware it was el Ministro de Agricultura with whom they shared their food and drink. Not that it mattered; the only authority that held any power or influence over the affairs of men anymore was Xiuhtecuhtli, the angry God of Fire.

The situation in the capital city was just as chaotic. Between the clouds of volcanic ash plastering the outer suburbs and the almost continual tremors, existence had relegated to daily survival and supplies were running out. Rivers of red hot lava were pouring down the slopes of Xiuhtecuhtli, and the capital city lay right in their path.

I made it to the airport and flashed my passport to a gentleman who was obviously an official of the US embassy. “I gotta get on that plane!”

“Who are you?”

“I’m a US citizen!”

“Yeah, but are you connected to the embassy?” he shouted over the noise and confusion. “This is an official flight. Embassy officials only.”

To hell with that. “I’m the Minister of Agriculture!” I shouted.

He must have thought I said I’m involved with working with the Ministry of Agriculture, some kind of humanitarian operation. Whatever he thought didn’t matter, the man waved me by and I was able to get a seat on what turned out to be the last flight out of there. My last sight of San Cristobal through the passenger window was what looked like a barrage of red hot boulders landing on the far side of the runway and exploding, sending shards of volcanic debris in all directions. I felt sorry for the poor souls left behind. Who wouldn’t? It was like the Last Days of Pompeii.

Back in The World my employers didn’t have much to say to me. The back-pay they owed me made the ass-chewing bearable, and I still had my arm. Still do, in fact. The hallucinations seemed to have quieted down a bit, or at least they’re manageable, which makes me wonder how much of the whole thing really happened and how much was some kind of waking dream – going right back to the beginning, the encounter on the plane, the one-armed man?

* * *

“You still worried about losing an arm?” Mike asked, pouring his guest another beer.

“Nah,” he said, looking at his arm as he flapped it like a wing. “The only thing I’m worried about is the when and where, and the pain. I lose this arm and I win the lottery.”

“How so?”

“I got it insured.” He coughed, a bit of a hack, and a gob of some kind spittle flew out, landed at the foot of the bar. Mike glanced down and saw ... a tiny little yellow snail, with a purple line that followed the spiral of its shell ...


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


STORMBRINGER is about Honor, items of military interest, literary and artistic themes, and the international security situation. I am a professional soldier, a writer and a thinker. I try not to let politics intrude . . . S.L.

This summer I told a dear, old friend that I am not a political creature, that I do not post politics on social media. This is true, however I have since begun posting a few political images & memes on Twitter, FB, etc. This is as a counter to the unbalanced propaganda I've seen long-time friends post on their social media. I never go along with the crowd, I am a free thinker and I instinctively question the popular wisdom. I certainly do not trust what the talking heads on the squawk box dish up for us, especially when it is endorsed by the powers-that-be.

AND SO I post anti-Hillary material. For what its worth I am not a Republican - I am an American first, a Conservative second and I only vote Republican because voting the other way is simply unthinkable. I do not especially care for Donald Trump - he is not a Conservative, he was a Democrat for a hell of a lot longer than he's been a Republican and I honestly do not care for his style. He turns me off as much as he turns off all the liberals I know.

But this election is not about whom we vote FOR . . . it is about whom we vote AGAINST. For a long, long time I have said that if Mussolini was running against whomever Team Obama / Clinton put up there, I'd vote for him. Hell, I'd vote for Daffy Duck before I voted for Hillary Clinton. Well maybe I spoke too soon because look who we got.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, I can't wait for this election to be over. This is the craziest political season since the Emperor Caligula made his horse into a senator, and the senator's wives into whores. When it is all over this time next week I will take down all the political propaganda I have posted to date.

This is the craziest political season since the Emperor Caligula made his horse into a senator, and the senator's wives into whores.

Now if you think right, you can go out and do your part to Make America Great Again. And if you think the other way then you must deal with the knowledge that you have voted for the only candidate to run for the Presidency while currently under criminal investigation by the FBI, and that your candidate Hillary is the single most unethical, corrupt, dishonest individual to run for the office of President of the United States . . . EVER.

That is all.

Take Due Notice Thereof and Conduct Yourself Accordingly,


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rangers vs Special Forces: Hostage Rescue

A prospective client asked me all about scenarios involving airfield takedowns - all the who-where-what-why-when's & how many's . . . I told her it all depends on so many factors & variables, to include what kind of troops available . . . this led to a conversation regarding the difference between Rangers and Special Forces, and so I shared with her the following parable from the ancient sagas of US Army Special Operations . . . S.L.

The Chief of Staff of the Army asked his Sergeant Major - who was both Ranger and Special Forces qualified - which organization he would recommend to form a new anti-terrorist unit. The Sergeant Major responded to the General's question with this parable: If there were a hijacked Boeing 747 being held by terrorists along with its passengers and crew and an anti-terrorist unit formed either by the Rangers or the Special Forces was given a Rescue/Recovery Mission; what would you expect to happen?

Ranger Option

Forces/Equipment Committed: If the Rangers went in, they would send a Ranger company of 120 men with standard army issue equipment.

Mission Preparation: The Ranger Company First Sergeant would conduct a Hair Cut and Boots Inspection, while the officers consulted SOPs and held sand table exercises.

Infiltration Technique: They would insist on double timing, in company formation, wearing their combat equipment, and singing cadence all the way to the site of the hijacked aircraft.

Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived, the Ranger company would establish their ORP, put out security elements, conduct a leaders recon, reapply their camouflage, and conduct final preparations for Actions on the OBJ.

Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would be completed within one hour; all of the terrorists and most of the passengers would have been killed, the Rangers would have sustained light casualties and the 747 would be worthless to anyone except a scrap dealer.

Special Forces Option

Forces/Equipment Committed: If Special Forces went in, they would send only a 12 man team (all SF units are divisible by 12 for some arcane historical reason) however, due to the exotic nature of their equipment the SF Team would cost the same amount to deploy as the Ranger Company.

Mission Preparation: The SF Team Sergeant would request relaxed grooming standards for the team. All members of the team would spend a grueling afternoon at a quality spa ensuring physical abilities would be honed.

Infiltration Technique: The team would insist on separate travel orders with Max Per Diem, and each would get to the site of the hijacking by his own means. At least one third of the team would insist on jumping in HALO.

Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived , the SF Team would cache their military uniforms, establish a Team Room at the best hotel in the area, use their illegal Team Fund to stock the unauthorized Team Room Bar, check out the situation by talking to the locals, and have a Team Meeting to discuss the merits of the terrorists' cause.

Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would take two weeks to complete and by that time all of the terrorists would have been killed, (and would have left signed confessions); the passengers would be ruined psychologically for the remainder of their lives; and all of the women passengers would be pregnant. The 747 would be essentially unharmed, the team would have taken no casualties but would have used up, lost, or stolen all the "high speed" equipment issued to them.


Friday, October 14, 2016


In Thailand, one witnesses the deep respect given King Bhumibol and the Royal Family by the Thai people. That respect was earned; everywhere one looked was evidence of the King's great works and his love for his people. I wish to show my respect & to honor His Majesty on the occasion of his passing . . . S.L.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช - pronounced P'humip'hon Adunyadet) known as King Bhumibol the Great, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 70 years, 127 days. He held Thailand together during VERY difficult times, and helped lead Thai people to prosperity. His story is very unique, and quite remarkable. He was one of the greatest kings of all history.

His Majesty led Thailand during extremely challenging times - throughout the Indochina Conflict - and personally helped bring prosperity and stability to Thailand and throughout the region. For the many difficult decades following World War II, Communist insurgencies existed in every country in Southeast Asia. Thailand was an anchor of stability, the keystone that held the region from total collapse. This was due in large part to King Bhumibol's direct influence, thanks to his remarkable character.

Westerners who have never visited Thailand cannot fully appreciate the King's influence. In Thailand, they had a Communist insurgency, but the majority of the Thai people never supported this despite the difficulties & extreme poverty experienced in the provinces. This was directly due to the King's personality. He was revered as semi-divine. As Communist guerrilla movements took hold and even prevailed in neighboring countries, in Thailand the Communists failed to gain traction.

In Thailand, democracy is not like in the West. There are many coup's-de-etat - most of them bloodless, thank God. When a coup - or a counter-coup - takes place, the leaders seek the official blessing of the King. Without this blessing, the leaders of the coup (or counter-coup) must pack their bags and go into exile. As such, King Bhumibol practiced much more direct influence over the political affairs of his country than his royal counterparts in the West.

Thailand emerged from the difficult war years and rode a wave of economic development as one of Southeast Asia's 'tiger economies'. When I returned to Thailand in the late eighties, I observed that a middle class had emerged. In large part because of the King's personality and tremendous influence, Thailand has no enemies. Everybody loves Thailand.

In recent years there has been trouble within the Kingdom. Following years of domestic political strife, the military took power. There have been human rights issues - it is not my intent to discuss this here. Ironically, it is the heavy-handed military government that may actually ensure a seamless coronation of the Crown Prince.

There will be difficult days ahead. The Thai people pray for King Bhumibol . . . I pray for the Thai people . . .


Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I've carried one for over twenty years - S.L.

The kukri, or khukuri (in the Nepalese pronunciation) is the distinctive curved Nepali knife that is synonymous with the Gurkhas of Nepal. The kukri is respected around the world for its fearful effectiveness as a close combat weapon but it is also an humble multi-purpose tool has been using in centuries in Nepal for everyday tasks. It is the symbolic weapon of the Gurkhas throughout the world, signifying courage and valor in battlefield. It is a part of the regimental weaponry and heraldry of the Nepal Army, the Royal Gurkha Regiment of British Army, and Gurkha Rifles in Indian Army. It is known to many people simply as the ‘Gurkha knife’. Many famous knives of the world - the Bowie knife, stiletto, scimitar, Roman short sword, samurai katana and Filipino bolo - all share a role of great historical significance because of their cutting edge over other weapons, but the most famous of them all is the kukri.

A Nepali boy is likely to have his own kukri at the age of five or so and necessarily becomes skillful in its use long before manhood. By the time a Gurkha joins the army, the kukri has become a chopping extension of his dominant arm. This is important because it is not the weight and edge of the weapon that make it so terrible at close quarters so much as the skilled technique of the stroke; it can claim to be almost impossible to parry. But it is important to remember that the kukri is a tool of all work; at home in the hills and on active service it will be used for cutting wood, hunting and skinning, opening tins, clearing undergrowth and any other chore, even digging holes. From this it is plain that there can be no truth in the belief that a Gurkha must draw blood every time he unsheathes his blade.

t is difficult to imagine a more honorable saga in all the annals of war than the story of the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies . . . I had the honor of serving with these consummate professionals in Kowloon & the New Territories, 1989 -S.L.

Some western historians believe that the kukri was based on European weapons brought to Central Asia by Alexander the Great. Other researchers trace its history further back to the domestic sickle and the prehistoric bent stick used for hunting and later in hand-to-hand combat. Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous British explorer, soldier, orientalist and spy (1821–1890), ascribes this semi-convergent origin to weapons from several regions such as the Greek kopis, the Egyptian kopsh, the Iberian falcata, the Illyrian sica, as well as the kukri. Similar instruments have existed in several forms throughout Central Asia and were used both as weapons and tools, and for sacrificial rituals. Burton writes that the British Museum housed a large kukri-like ancient Indian falchion inscribed with Pali characters. Among the oldest existing kukri are those belonging to Drabya Shah (circa 1559), housed in the National Museum of Kathmandu.

The kukri came to be known to the Western world when the East India Company came into conflict with the Gurkha Empire, during the Gurkha War of 1814–1816. It gained literary attention in the 1897 novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. Despite the popular image of Dracula having a stake driven through his heart, Mina's narrative describes a climactic battle between Dracula's bodyguards and the heroes, at the conclusion of which Dracula's throat is sliced through by Jonathan Harker's kukri and his heart pierced by Quincey Morris's Bowie knife.

All Gurkha troops are issued with a kukri. In modern times members of the Brigade of Gurkhas receive training in its use. The kukri gained fame in the Gurkha War for its effectiveness. Its continued use through both World Wars enhanced its reputation among both Allied troops and enemy forces. Its acclaim was demonstrated in North Africa by one unit's situation report: "Enemy losses: ten killed, ours nil. Ammunition expended: nil." Elsewhere during the Second World War, the kukri was purchased and used by other British, Commonwealth and US troops training in India, including the Chindits and Merrill's Marauders. The notion of the Gurkha with his kukri carried on through to the Falklands War.

On September 2, 2010, Bishnu Shrestha, a retired Indian Army Gurkha soldier, alone and armed only with a kukri, defeated 40 bandits who attacked a passenger train he was on in India. He killed three of the bandits, wounded eight more and forced the rest of the band to flee.

The Origin of the Kukri knife

The oldest known kukri appears to be one in the arsenal museum in Kathmandu, which belonged to Raja Drabya Shah, King of Gorkha, in 1627. It is interesting to note that it is a broad, heavy blade. However it is certain that the origins of the kukri go far further back. There is one tenable story that Alexander’s horsemen carried the “Machaira”, the cavalry sword of the ancient Macedonians, in the fourth century BC on his invasion of north-west India. Its relationship with the kukri is plain. A third century sculpture, of which only a much later Greek copy exists, shows what is probably a Scythian prisoner of war lying down his arms. The weapon looks amazingly like a modern kukri.

In 1767 Prithwi Naraayan Shah, King of Gorkha, invaded the Nepal valley: In September 1768 Kathmandu surrendered and Prithwi Narayan became the first King of Nepal. That his troops defeated much larger forces must be credited at least in part to their unusual weapon, the kukri. It is reasonable to suppose that this was the beginning of the universal custom of Nepalese troops carrying the kukri, a custom that spread in time to Gurkhas serving in the British and Indian Armies.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


Called in an airstrike on himself . . .

Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko with wife Katya, in happier times.

The Russian JTAC officer that died in Syria on March 19 reportedly ordering an airstrike on himself to take as many enemy fighters with him and not be captured alive has been identified as Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, 25 from the village of Gorodki in the Orenburg region of Russia. He was a husband to his wife Katya and a father to a child not yet born. Lieutenant Prokhorenko could have been our enemy yesterday or tomorrow, but as soldiers we respect the valor he displayed on the battlefield and will raise a drink tonight in his honor. Below in the comments is the transcript of his last radio call as it was posted on the pro Kremlin semiofficial website .


Prokhorenko: command I am compromised, I repeat I am compromised.

Command: Please say again and confirm.

Prokhorenko: They have spotted me, there are shooting everywhere, I am pinned, requesting immediate extraction.

Command: Extraction request acknowledged.

Prokhorenko: Please hurry I am low on ammo, they seem to [be] everywhere, I can’t hold them for too long please hurry.

Command: Confirmed, hold them off, continue returning fire, retreat to a safe position, air support is monitoring, state your coordinates

Prokhorenko: [gives coordinates which are blurred in the transcript]

Command: [command repeats coordinates which are blurred.]Confirm

Prokhorenko: Confirmed, please hurry I am low on ammo, they are surrounding me, bastards!

Command: ETA on evacuation 12 minutes, return to the green line, I repeat return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: They are close, I am surrounded, this may be the end, tell my family I love them dearly.

Command: Return to the green line, continue returning fire, help is on the way, followed by air support.

Prokhorenko: Negative, I am surrounded, they are so many of these bastards!

Command: Extract ETA 10 minutes, return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: I can’t they have surrounded me and are closing in, please hurry.

Command: return to the green line, I repeat return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: They are outside, conduct the airstrike now please hurry, this is the end, tell my family I love them and i died fighting for my Motherland.

Command: Negative, return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: Unable command, I am surrounded, they are outside, I don’t want them to take me and parade me, conduct the airstrike, they will make a mockery of me and this uniform. I want to die with dignity and take all these bastards with me. please my last wish, conduct the airstrike, they will kill me either way.

Command: Please confirm your request.

Prokhorenko: They [are] outside, this is the end commander, thank you, tell my family and my country I love them. Tell them I was brave and I fought until I could no longer. Please take care of my family, avenge my death, good bye commander, tell my family I love them!

Command: [No response, orders the airstrike]



Saturday, March 26, 2016


This is an old one . . .

Two crows were sitting on a telephone wire in Mosul when an F-15 went screaming by on full afterburner . . . one crow said to the other:

"MAN ALIVE! That bird sure was flying fast!"

The other crow said:

"Yeah, well if you had two assholes and they were both on fire, YOU'D FLY FAST TOO ! ! !"

That's all for now . . . carry on . . .


Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Somebody asked me today: 'StormBringer: are there any grubs that we cannot eat?' Now, I'm not a bug doctor, but I have never heard of any grubs we are advised not to eat, although I do recommend to cook your grubs first. Below are some general guidelines for when it comes to eating bugs . . . S.L.

Insects (bugs & grubs) are the most abundant life-form on earth, readily available as a food source in a survival situation. Insects are easily caught and provide 65 to 80 percent protein compared to 20 percent for beef.
Avoid all adult insects that sting or bite, hairy or brightly colored insects, and caterpillars and insects that have a pungent odor. Although certain types of tarantula can be cooked and eaten, advice is to generally avoid spiders and of course common disease carriers such as ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.

Insect larvae are also edible. Insects such as beetles and grasshoppers that have a hard outer shell will have parasites. Cook them before eating. Remove any wings and barbed legs also. You can eat most insects raw. The taste varies from one species to another. Wood grubs are bland, while some species of ants store honey in their bodies, giving them a sweet taste. You can grind a collection of insects into a paste, mix them with edible vegetation, and cook them to improve their taste

Rotting logs lying on the ground are excellent places to look for a variety of insects including ants, termites, beetles, and grubs, which are beetle larvae. Do not overlook insect nests on or in the ground. Grassy areas, such as fields, are good areas to search because the insects are easily seen. Stones, boards, or other materials lying on the ground provide the insects with good nesting sites.
Most species of ants are edible. Because ants secrete an acid when threatened, this gives them a vinegar-like flavor. Ants can be roasted with salt. Queen ants have large, fatty abdomens, therefore provide more nutrition than regular ants.

To harvest ants, one can put a stick on an anthill, wait for it to get covered with ants, then shake it off into a container. Roasting them right away will kill them quickly and prevent them from secreting much of the acid which gives that vinegar-like flavor. Ant larvae are found in clumps under rocks, or on top of anthills when they are being moved or kept warm. They have no sour flavor.
Slugs, like their cousin the snail, are edible and highly nutritious. Slugs are an abundant food source, especially in warm, wet environments. However, slugs (and snails) are host to a potentially dangerous parasite: rat lungworm. They contract this parasite by eating the feces of infected rodents. If a human eats raw snail or slug, these parasites will not live in the body, but can produce a toxic reaction called eosinophilic meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, a sheath surrounding the brain, and can cause severe brain damage. To avoid this, cook all snails and slugs before you eat them.

Slugs sometimes eat things we can’t — toxic plants and fungi, poo, etc., so gut them by first killing the slug by chopping its head off, then simply squeeze out the entrails. The slug will shrink considerably, and you will get slime on your hands. Cook them chopped up in a stew, or roasted over the fire or chopped, marinated and sautéed, if you have the ability to do so!

Snails are abundant in spring and can often be found in good numbers, making them a good food source. The usual method of preparation is to steam them five to ten minutes, remove from the shell and sauté. They are quite tasty, though if you leave the guts in and they have been eating bark (one of their favorite foods), they will have some astringent flavor. All of the above cautions regarding eating slugs apply to snails. Snails, like slugs, may consume vegetation or fungi toxic to humans. To ensure snails are safe to eat, steam them, remove the shell, then slit the belly remove the cooked entrails.

Inhabitants of open meadows, grassland, fields and some forests, crickets are a delicacy in many traditional societies. They should be fried or roasted before eating. Crickets are excellent pan-fried or oven toasted, with a bit of oil and salt if you like. The legs should be removed before eating as they can catch in the throat and are irritating. Crickets can also be dried and stored for future use.

A simple trap can be made using a Mason jar and some bait. Dig a small hole in the ground of a cricket-inhabited area, put the jar into this hole and move the soil back into place around it or simply put the jar on its side on the ground. A piece of bait is then placed in the jar (a slice of apple, oats, bread, carrot, lettuce, or a banana). In the morning there should be some crickets enjoying themselves in there. Put the lid on the jar, with holes poked in if you want to keep them alive. As a variation, put water in the jar along with the bait and the crickets will drown. Often people use a solution of molasses and water or stale beer for this; other sweeteners or foods mixed with water may also work.

Grasshoppers inhabit similar terrain as crickets and are similarly prepared and esteemed. They can be harvested by hand in the early morning before they are fully awake, using the same type of traps as described above for crickets, or using more ambitious methods.
A method of harvesting grasshoppers - if you have enough people - is holding hands to form a human wall, and walk across a field of tall grass, herding grasshoppers into a tarp on the other end of the field.

Earthworms are highly nutritious. Worms often come out during heavy rains when the soil becomes so saturated with water they need to get out or drown. A method of trapping them is to dig holes (about six inches diameter, >12” deep), in clay soil. After a heavy rain, the bodies of countless drowned worms will be present in the holes.

Worms’ bodies are filled with dirt, which makes worms sandy and unpleasant to eat. This dirt can be removed by purging (soaking them in water for 3–24 hours) or taking a worm in one hand and squeezing the dirt out of it with your free hand’s fingers. After purging, their flavor can be a little bitter. Drying them mellows this flavor, and reduces their sliminess. Frying worms until crispy also makes them more palatable.
Maggots are a traditional superfood. They are also probably the most revolting insect one could imagine. Maggots are extremely fatty and a rich source of essential amino acids, making them nutritionally far more valuable than lean meat.

Aphids are another edible insect. Depending on what foliage they are feeding on, they can range from slightly bitter to sweet. Upon finding an infested plant or patch of plants, simply collect the aphids and eat them fresh or incorporate them into a meal as a nutritious supplement.

Termites are also cuisine in many traditional societies. They can be harvested individually or in small groups and then toasted in a hot pan. They have a high oil content relative to the size of their body and are quite tasty, with a slightly nutty flavor. Winged termites (alates) are larger and fattier. Alates are harvested using a lamp with netting around it. They are attracted to the light and will collect on the netting. The wings are shed easily by winnowing after they have been toasted. A candle next to a mirror at dusk at the right time of year can yield good results.


FM 3-05.70 US Army Survival Manual (formerly FM 21-76)
AFR 64-4 Vol I USAF Search & Rescue Survival Training
SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


DONE . . . and done!

AND . . . a quiet drink to celebrate: Long Bar Story (Rough Draft) final chapter written complete . . . . . . now all I gotta do is edit, edit, and edit again - three or four times - throw in some illustrations, because everybody likes to look at pictures while they're reading a book full of words . . . S.L.

A LONG TERM GOAL has been to become a published author, but I never seem to have been able to bring a project to completion. There's always some damn distraction - work, mostly. My work is complex and takes me to some pretty exotic destinations. Finally last summer I had some time on my hands, pulling late night shifts while doing maritime security on the oil platforms in the Gulf of Guinea. And so I started writing the stories that became The Long Bar.

My influences are Somerset Maugham for the tropical locales where his stories take place and his subtle sense of irony, Conrad for the dark, introspective ambiance of his works, and of course Hemingway for his brevity and style. Searching for a plot had me hung up but I was determined not to let that stop me, and so the plot became a writer - in a lush tropical locale - struggling with writer's block, and the stories that unfold around him. I set the end of December for a target end date, then got hung up on the final chapter. It was late November and I simply could not get the thing to go down. I'm deployed right now in fact, in the Congo - the setting for Conrad's Heart of Darkness of course - and its been a rough time. This weekend I decided I'd knock out that last chapter come Hell or High Water, and lo and behold I did it.

Nine chapters, between two to three thousand words each, and each one stands alone as a short story on its own merit, but there is an intertwining common theme and they actually play out in a sort of chronological order. The main character owns & operates an unconventional hotel, located on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. The hotel is actually a series of traditional Thai houses - baan - interconnected by a series of multi-level decks. In the middle of the hotel is a traditional pub: The Long Bar. People come and go, there are some long term residents, events happen and misadventures play out.

The Long Bar is a working title. I'm considering something else, perhaps "Drops of Rain" - inspired by the Highwayman, by Jimmy Webb and performed by The Highwaymen: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash. A country song about reincarnation that takes one all the way from a highway robber in old England to the captain of a starship, across the Universe Divide. I have always loved that song.

Themes include adventures that start in the here and now and vector off in other-worldly directions, science fiction, Thai animism, Thai Buddhism, Chinese spiritualism and the Hindu view of the Universe. Humans interface with spiritual beings, often without even being aware of it, and karma drives the action to ironic conclusions. Think Somerset Maugham meets The Twilight Zone. Or rather, YOURSELF - meeting ME - in a traditional pub, at an exotic hotel on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea, in southern Thailand.

A question now is how to publish? Traditional book route doesn't pay much, versus ebook format. I'm leaning toward the latter. Since I announced my achievement - a complete manuscript - publishing people are coming out of the woodwork. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

For the record. I have written three books, this is the first one that made it all the way to the end. That means there are two other manuscripts - action/adventure in the kind of places my work takes me, with the kind of people I work for and with - so if a publishing house picks me up, they've got at least two more coming down the pipeline. And when you read my book, you'll be reading a book that was written on an oil platform off the coast of Nigeria, in a luxury hotel in Addis Ababa, snowed in a basement in Pennsylvania, and completed on the veranda of an ancient colonial-era hotel in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is why I've been so quiet, and I thank each and every one of you for your support . . .