Monday, October 16, 2017

Texas Rules

OK - This might not be your cup of tea (or coffee) or whatever.  But down in the Republic of Texas (yes, we were a Republic from 1835 to 1845 before we joined the USA) we live a different sort of life.  Most folks who have lived all of their lives in Europe, NY and CA do not understand it, but we have a lot of open land.  Unfortunately, not everyone you meet is a friend out there. 

Most of us older folks learned to quit fighting with our hands (too many broken/bruised knuckles) and now have legal, concealed-carry permits.  You do not need a CHP for a fire arm in your home.  So, here goes nothing.  This is usually called, "Texas Gunfight Rules".  Please don't send me any emails nor comments calling me a "gun nut" nor a "right wing nut" nor anything like that. Just some common-sense rules for living in the plains of west of the Mississippi River:

The “unwritten rule” of Gunfight Rules is, of course, always have a gun.  What is locked up and away from you is of no use.  What is unloaded and cannot be loaded in 1 or 2 seconds is of no use in a panic situation.

A: Guns have only three enemies: rust, liberal politicians, and unthinking spouses.

B: It is always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

 (This from "Blue Bloods.")

C: Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.

D: Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arm's length

.  (Actually, if the threat is deadly, keep them at least 20 feet away - studies have shown that a highly-trained attacker can move in for a kill with only a knife before a trained police person can draw and shoot.)

E: Never say, "I've got a gun!", without being prepared to use it.   If you need to use deadly force, the next sound that they hear should be the safety on your gun clicking off.  My Dear Old Dad always taught me, “If you pull the gun you had better be pulling the trigger.  Otherwise do not pull the gun.  Never pull a gun just to threaten someone.  It doesn’t work.”

F: The average response time of a 911 call is 24 minutes; the BEST response times are about 10 minutes.  Response time where I live is about two hours depending on the time-of-night.  The response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second or 1150 fps for a 9mm.

G: The most important rule in a gunfight is: If you absolutely can't avoid it, Always Win!

H: Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. . .  You may get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it because it'll be empty

I: If and when you are in a gun fight:  If you are not shooting, you should be loading.  If you are not loading, you should be moving, If you are not moving, you're probably dead.

J: In a life and death situation, do something. . .  Liberals may argue, but do something!

K: If you carry a gun, some people might call you paranoid.  Nonsense!  If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?

L: You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much a universal language.

M: You cannot save the planet, but you must do everything you can do to responsibly save yourself and your family.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spider Solitaire Strategy

[updated 15 Oct 2017]
[updated 16 Oct 2017]

A friend of mine complained a while back that I never publish anything technical any more.  OK - this is kind of technical.  Kind of.  Sort of.

After playing Spider Solitaire from Branium for many years now, I have finally come up with a (somewhat) fairly successful strategy for a two-suit game.  (Single-suit game is for children and I have NEVER beaten the four-suit game. Just never took the time and brain power to attack it.)  The following rules are not absolute but if followed them they might give you a somewhat better than average increased advantage.  Just for fun, look at your statistics now, reset them and then check them again about 500 or 1K games later.  (Yeah, well, I play it a lot when waiting for a taxi or bus or for meetings to start.)

Before I started this strategy, my percentage of winning was around 4.2% but then it climbed to 19.4% after about 450 games.  I have now gotten up to 17.3% after 1100 games.  (Well, I did have a couple of 100+ losing-game runs.)  This has been over about six months of playing so it takes a while to get any meaningful results.  Anyway, this is just a set of general rules and not meant to be a hard-and-fast guide to winning.  You still have to plot your way around the board and use some brain power.
  1. The first objective is to turn over the hidden cards.  Give that a priority of 100.
  2. The next priority is to get long runs of the same suit - give that a priority of 90.
  3. The next priority is to make King->Ace runs a quickly as possible.  Try to make at least two runs before you have the last two stacks left to play.  If you have not done that, probably you will not win the game.  Probably.  I have won a couple of times but not normally. Priority of 80.
  4. Given a choice, always play a card from the smallest stack.  That means that you should start from one of the six cards on the right before playing one of the four cards on the left when first starting the game.  After that, if you have choice of two or three cards to play, pick the one on the smallest stack of cards.  Priority of 70.
  5. NEVER EVER make a cross-play (defined elsewhere) on a same-suit run of four cards or more UNLESS you can immediately uncover that mistake and correct it by playing that card elsewhere.  OK - I have done it sometimes just to get a card uncovered near the end of the game when all else seemed lost but it never has worked out well for me.
  6. If the cards to pick to play are all the same, pick the play with the largest card.  i.e., pick a Queen over a Jack or an 8 over a 5.  Why?  Just because...
  7. If at all possible, try to get an empty slot so that you have a choice of which card or stack of cards to put there so that you can have an option of playing a better suit of cards.
  8. If you have a choice of playing a card on a different suit (a cross-play, 5-of-heards on the 6-of-spades) or a same-suit play (5-of-hearts on the 6-of-hearts), ALWAYS play the same-suit play unless you can make the same-suit play in the next play or so.
  9. Set the  options so that the game can pick the play for you.  Meaning that you can just click on the card and the game will make the move for you.  You can always pick "go back" to reverse the move it the game makes the wrong move but (usually) it makes a better move than you would have made.
  1. Try to keep long runs of the same suit if possible 
  2. As the game progresses, during a play, keep one leg open as long as possible for "transportation."  This will become increasingly important in the later stages of the game.  You will have put "something" in there before proceeding to the next stage so try to put something that has little importance to your overall goals.
Anyway, these are just some general guide-lines that seem to work for me.  No real logic to them.  They just seem to work.  I may add some later as I think of them.  Check back from time-to-time and add some comments if you like.  I usually publish comments with credits to the person(s).  TTFN


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anti-Company Policies

Or, How To Sabotage Company Meetings And Routines


Now, this is a topic with which we should all be concerned.  It seems that way back in WW II, the forerunner of the CIA published a document for the underground in Nazi-occupied territories on how to upset Nazi war efforts.  Believe it or not, many of these activities are still being carried on today in many companies in the free world by unknowing and well-meaning employees who do not know that they are unknowingly harming rather than helping the company.  Listed below are some of the "suggestion" from that WW II document:

Managers and Supervisors:
  1. Demand written orders for everything
  2. "Misunderstand" orders.  Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence of such orders.  Quibble over them when you can.
  3. Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders.  Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver until it is completely ready.
  4. Don't order new working materials until your present stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will cause a shutdown.
  5. Order high-quality materials that are hard to get.  If you don't get them, argue about it.  Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior products.
  6. In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first.  Always see that the important jobs are assigned to the inefficient workers of poor machines.
  7. Insist on perfect work on relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those that have the slightest flaw.  Approve others that whose flaws that are not visible to the naked eye.
  8. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials are sent to the wrong places in the plant.
  9. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  10. To lower morale, and with it production, be pleased with inefficient worker; give them undeserved promotions.  Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly against their work.
  11. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  12. Multiply paper work in plausible ways.  Start duplicate files.
  13.  Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, andso on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  14. Apply all regulations to the last letter.
General Interference With Organizations and Conferences
  1.   Insist on doing everything through "channels".  Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.' 
  2. Make "speeches."  Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.  Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.  Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
  3.  When possible refer all matters to committees for "further study and consideration."  Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five.
  4.  Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes and resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meetings and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  7.  Advocate "caution".  Be unreasonable and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoide haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on
  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision.  Raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group and whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
In light of full disclosure, the original idea for this was taken from the blog of a friend of mine BUT he made the mistake of disclosing the location of the original document which, unfortunately, also gave many, many idea for sabotaging railway lines, bus lines, undergrounds, power plants, natural gas plants, bomb plants, ammunition plants, etc.  I think that ISIS has enough ideas of their own and that they don't need any more from us.  Anyway, this is supposed to be humorous and not REAL ideas for sabotage. 

Bottom line:  Do you know anyone like this?  (We used to call such folks "anal-retentive".)  Have you seen this kind of behavior in any of your meeting or office procedures?  If so, try to pass this around and discourage it.  Immediately.  It might just possibly make for better office and/or meeting behaviour.  Bon Chance!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Real Programmers


For those who regularly visit my almost hidden-from-view postings, I thought that we might revisit Bernstein's now-famous (infamous) take-off from "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" book.  


Real programmers don't eat quiche. They like Twinkies, Coke, and palate-scorching Szechwan food.

Real programmers don't write application programs. They program right down to the base-metal. Application programming is for dullards who can't do systems programming.

Real programmers don't write specs. Users should be grateful for whatever they get; they are lucky to get programs at all.

Real programmers don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be even harder to understand and modify.

Real programmers don't document. Documentation is for simpletons who can't read listing or the object code from the dump.

Real programmers don't draw flowcharts. Flowcharts are, after all, the illiterate's form of documentation. Cavemen drew flowcharts; look how much good it did them.

Real programmers don't read manuals. Reliance on a reference is the hallmark of the novice and the coward.

Real programmers don't write in RPG. RPG is for the gum-chewing dimwits who maintain ancient payroll programs.

Real programmers don't write in COBOL. COBOL is for COmmon Business Oriented Laymen who can run neither a business nor a real program.

Real programmers don't write in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is for wimp engineers who wear white socks. They get excited over the finite state analysis and nuclear reactor simulation.

Real programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for insecure anal retentives who can't choose between COBOL and FORTRAN.

Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers program in BASIC after reaching puberty.

Real programmers don't write in APL unless the whole program can be written on one line.

Real programmers don't write in LISP. Only sissy programs contain more parentheses than actual code.

Real programmers don't write in PASCAL, ADA, BLISS, or any of those other sissy computer science languages. Strong typing is a crutch for people with weak memories.

Real programmers' programs never work right the first time. But if you throw them on the machine they can be patched into working order in a few 30 hour debugging sessions.

Real programmers don't work 9 to 5. If any real programmers are around at 9 A.M., it is because they were up all night. 

Real programmers don't play tennis or any other sport which requires a change of clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, and real programmers wear climbing boots to work in case a mountain should spring up in the middle of the machine room.

Real programmers disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive neurotics who were prematurely toilet trained. They wear neckties and carefully line up sharp pencils on an otherwise clear desk.

Real programmers don't like the team programming concept. Unless, of course, they are the chief programmer.

Real programmers never write memos on paper. They send memos via mail.

Real programmers have no use for managers. Managers are a necessary evil. They exist only to deal with personnel bozos, bean counters, senior planners and other mental midgets.

Real programmers scorn floating point arithmetic. The decimal point was invented for pansy bedwetters who are unable to think big.

Real programmers don't believe in schedules. Planners make schedules. Managers firm up schedules. Frightened coders strive to meet schedules. Real programmers ignore schedules.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine sells it, they eat it. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche. 

I added the emphasis but thanks to for the "real deal" quote.  Loved it.


Monday, June 5, 2017

73 Years Ago Today - D-Day -1 !!


[Note:  I write this same article every year with only slight revisions and changes.  But it is always important.)  73 years ago today, at around 0000Z tonight  (UK Time, or GMT) or about 1800 EDT - not adjusting for Summer Time - here in Texas, the greatest armada that the world has ever seen is just steaming out of all of the ports in England, both on the eastern and western side, northern and southern sides.  The ones on the western side started early, probably about an hour ago.  The ones on the eastern side are just casting off their ropes.  The invasion fleet was drawn from eight different navies composed of 6,939 vessels (far greater than the Spanish Armada) that included:
  • 1,213 warships
  • 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 
  • 736 ancillary craft and 
  • 864 merchant vessels.[17]

On board the ships are about 130,000 men with rifles, pistols, sub-machine guns, machine guns, tanks, jeeps, bazookas, Bangalore Torpedoes, ammo and nobody has a bullet-proof vest.  Most have on a Mae West, a life jacket of sorts that will not, contrary to what they have been told, keep them afloat with all of the stuff that they are carrying.  But, they trust in the CO and faithfully put on their Mae West hoping that they don't have to use it.  If anyone has to jump into water over their heads, they will sink straight to the bottom and stay there.  By the end of 11 June 1944, (D + 5), 326,547 troops, the Allies had brought over 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies.  By 30 June 1944, (D+24) over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had been ferried over from England.  By July 4th (the anniversary of American Independence) well over one million men had been landed at Normandy. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the English Channel, most of the German officers and generals are taking a bit of time off.  Genral Irwin Rommel, the man in charge of the Normandy defense, has gone home to see his wife and Der Fuehrer Adolph Hitler.  You see, most of the German weather boats have been sunk or captured but, for some reason, they are absolutely sure that in this foul weather that nobody can mount an invasion.

But the Allies have better reporting.  They have a forecast that there will be a small break in the weather on the 6th of June.  So, betting on a spotty-at-best forecast, General Dwight David Eisenhower orders the invasion.  Having all of the troops already on the ships and planes, having followup troops already staging and on the way, it would have been impossible to call it off.  Looking back, early May would have been the absolute best time to have invaded.  The Allies were just fortunate that they got a small, one-day break in the weather.  And, above all, it was the best kept secret of WW II.  Nobody in England had a clue WHEN the invasion would happen, but it will happen in a few hours.

I think about this every year.  You see, my Dad (MSgt Carl P. Owen of the First Special Service Forces - precursors to the Green Berets) and my Uncle Bill (TSgt William L. Leach) were both in WW II.  At this point in time, Dad was battling his way up through Italy having started at the Anzio beachhead.  My Uncle Bill was in the 82nd Airborne and he had already geared up and was in the plane by this time.  Nervous as Hell and, like all of the other men (despite what Holly would have you believe) NONE of them would admit to being scared.  That kind of namby-pamby BS happens only in the "modern" army or in Hollywood.  Back then, you did not show fear.  Fear is contagious and NOBODY showed that he was scared as hell.  And all of them, except for the "crazies", were scared.  Personally, I think that Uncle Bill was one of the "crazies."  I know that Dad was.  :-)

In about six hours, midnight my time, the Allies will open up with 15" and 16" battle ship guns.  The shell was almost as big as a Volkswagen bug.   When it went over the boats going ashore, the men in the boats said that the small landing craft would literally lift up out of the water because of the tremendous vacuum created by a shell that big going going that fast just overhead.  (OK, maybe so, maybe not - but it really was a huge shell!)  But the German bunkers were built really, really stout.  Very few were destroyed by the shelling.  However, when that 14", 15" or 16" shell hit those bunkers it deafened those inside.  No sound deafening had been provided.

The American forces landed at Omaha and Utah beaches - the most heavily defended coast line.  The foul weather had prevented the Allies from pounding those defenses as much as was needed and most were still intact.  And the Allies paid dearly for it.  Rommel had done an excellent job of ensuring that not a single foot of the beach could not be raked with 9mm and 10mm machine gun fire as well as 20mm and 40mm rapid-fire cannons.  The British and Canadians landed at Sword, Gold and Juno beaches.  These were not quite as heavily defended.  Most of the gun emplacements did not even have the guns mounted yet.  However, they paid later when they ran into the interior German armies.

Intermixed with these assaults (usually with the English landing parties) are the Canadians, Australians, Free French, Belgian, Czechoslovakians, Netherlands, Danish, Greek, New Zelanders, Norwegian and Polish.  No mention of the Swedes, Spanish, Turkish, Mexican nor any other South American nation has ever been made.  Probably there were some, but not enough to have been mentioned.

To quote from Wikipedia:

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.[183] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day,[29] with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June.[184] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.[185] The Germans lost 1,000 men.[186] The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved.[32] The five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep.[187] Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July.[188] The Germans had ordered French civilians, other than those deemed essential to the war effort, to leave potential combat zones in Normandy.[189] Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000 people.[190]

Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere.[191] The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obligated to defend a huge stretch of coastline.[192] The Allies achieved and maintained air superiority, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere with bomber attacks.[193] Transportation infrastructure in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies.[194] Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact,[149] but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches.[195] Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command was also a factor in the Allied success.[196]

There are several really good links that tell about this day.  Some are

Two GREAT movies about D-Day are

And then there is D-Day, the movie

Check out some of the other references at

But, remember of these men who went ashore close to 10,000 men died on that day and close to 1 million Allied military men died by the end of the June - died so that we could live in peace.  If you see a soldier, marine, coast guard sailor, navy sailor or airman, THANK THEM for being there then and here today.  Buy their breakfast, lunch or supper if you see them in a restaurant. 

See you in December:


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day - 2017


I don't think that I have written anything about memorial day in a long time, if ever.  Mostly because everyone in my family came home safely (un-injured) from both WW II (my dad and my Uncle) and Viet Nam (myself and my brother).  My dad was a MSgt/1stSgt in the First Special Service Forces and my uncle made all five jumps with the 82 Airborne in WW II and also fought at the Battle of the Bulge, aka, the Battling Bastards of Bastogne. 

My brother went another route; he served undercover in Thailand; being only 5'8" and with my mom's dark complexion, black eyes and black hair he fit right in with the locals and was able to observe the movements of the North Vietnamese and report back daily via diddy-bop.  He had four marines back behind him for protection but, as he said later, they were usually bored and stoned and not really much help if the VC had ever found him. He was pretty much alone out there.  Me?  Well, I was the one left behind doing Heavy Ground Radar Maintenance - meaning that the closest thing that I came to combat was the rifle range.  I did have a .44 magnum Ruger pistol that I carried off-duty just to be cool but it didn't impress anyone.  (AN/GPS-20 and AN/GPS-90 if anyone is interested...)

Anyway, today and tomorrow should be about all of those who did NOT come home.  The thousands and thousands who gave their all so that we could be safe back here in (fairly isolated) USA.  Oh, we'll shoot off fireworks to simulate what war is all about, but anyone who has ever been subjected to artillery bombardment will tell you, it just is not the same when those shells start landing all around you.  They're really pretty up in the air, but when they start landing on the ground around you, it is the closest thing to living in hell that you will ever come.  There is no place to hide and the next shell could land right on top of you.  My dad and uncle had that kind of experience.  My brother just had to live with trying not to have the VC find him while he was living in the jungle.

If you ever get a chance to see the History Channel series on the Devil's Brigade, it is fairly accurate from what my dad told me late in life.  My dad said that the Hollywood version of "The Devil's Brigade" with William Holden was OK but it was still Hollywood and could not show the real blood and gut action of real war.  Besides, Col. Fredrick never came in at night and soaked his feet.  The realism did not come until "Saving Private Ryan" and "We Were Soldiers" later.  He died just before those came out but he might have approved of them. 

Anyway, enjoy the fireworks tonight and tomorrow.  Just remember why you are free to watch them.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Military Gas and Hitler


Sean Spicer was "kinda sorta" right about Adolph Hitler the other day.  "Der Fuhrer" did not use "military" gas on his own people, just gas chambers on Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, mentally retarded, slavic and other folks that he felt were not part of the "master race."  But, most especially, the Jews.

You see, Hitler himself had fought in WW I and had, himself, be a victim of a gas attack and had spent almost a year recovering in the hospital.  He hated the concept of using gas as military weapon and knew that if he used it then the Allies would use it.

In WW I the Germans had perfected the use of gas in two forms:  chlorine gas that burned the skin and burned out the eyes.  It will make you cry to see of the film from WW I where the victims are being led to chow or to the latrine single file, eyes bandaged, with their hand on the shoulder of the man in front of them.

The other was far more lethal:  Mustard gas.  It not only burned the skin and eyes, it burned out the lungs and would lay on the ground for about a foot (unless a strong wind came along to blow it away which wasn't likely in most forests) clinging to the grass and bushes.  If a soldier came walking along he would stir it up again and the next soldier behind him got another good dose of it.  Terrible stuff.

Anyway, Hitler did not use it for military use; only on civilians that he did not think would fit into the Third Reich.  So, give Spicer a break.  He was almost correct.  He just left out the word "military."

BTW, you do know who manufactured the gas [Zyklon B (hydrogen cyanide)] that they used in the gas chambers don't you?  Yepper; good old Bayer AG.  Same folks who make our asprin today.  They also invented such things as phenobarbital and heroin.   Wikipedia has a good article on them at 

I guess that I think that sometimes we are a bit too quick to forget what happened in WW I and WW II.   The USA did some really, really bad things back home in WW I.  Maybe I will write about those one day just wake everyone up.  :-)  Or you can go watch Part III of "The American Experience - The Great War" on PBS.