Archive for October, 2009

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“The Righteous Stuff” – Chapter 11

October 20, 2009

The Righteous Stuff

by Jeffrey D. Waggoner

based on characters and situations in the

“Domination of the Draka” novels written by S.M. Stirling

CHAPTER  11

BELL AIRCRAFT OFFICES

USAF AIRCRAFT TEST FACILITY

ROGERS DRY LAKE

CORUM, CALIFORNIA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

MAY, 1951

Former Lieutenant General Walter Dornberger was, most days, an unpleasant man. He was not accustomed to having to demonstrate patience, and did so badly. He was even more unpleasant than usual on this day, fresh from a meeting with the Washington brass. The prison camps in England were almost better than this! Since he was put in charge of the Project two years before, his life had been nothing but red tape and committees. The Luftwaffe would never have allowed this! And with so much at stake, and the Snakes at the door! He shuffled papers at his desk, not really thinking about the upcoming meeting all, but reminiscing about the “good old days” at Peenemunde – certainly not something he could talk to anyone here about!

Except Ehricke. Krafft Ehricke, Dornberger’s former colleague from the Nazi rocket project days, walked into the office. He had a certain spring in his step that looked out of place, somehow. He casually dropped into the office chair–far more casually than he would have done a few years ago in Germany. But Germany herself was no more, just another few Domination provinces with new masters.

“Herr Dornberger? Are you ready to begin the meeting?”

“Uhh…yes, certainly, Ehricke. And for God’s sake don’t let them hear you call anyone ‘Herr,’ if you know what’s good for you! These bastards would love to lock us all away, or send us to the Snakes, if they could!”

The younger man smiled thinly. “I doubt they would send either of us anywhere, Mister Dornberger. They need us too much, I think. Still, you are correct. Tempting fate–or tempting the United States Air Force–is a game for the foolish. And we, you and I, are not foolish, are we?”

“Humpf. I suppose not. I have to tell you, though, that this Project is getting more foolish all the time! Airplanes flying into space! We could be there by now, in orbit with multistep rockets. That bastard von Braun is probably ready to launch one into orbit from Africa this very instant! Is there any reason you can see why we must continue on this insane path?”

“I doubt von Braun is that much ahead, Mister Dornberger. In fact, the latest intelligence reports, the ones I make sure we receive, indicated that the Draka were still using the last of their supply of Peenemunde engines. That certainly doesn’t indicate much in the way of progress, not with low–efficiency engines like those.” He paused, looking thoughtful. “Besides…I rather like this approach. It is too much of the “crash program,” as the Americans call it, but it is also a kind of incremental approach to long-term space travel. We could be working on one-use rockets, to be sure, but I believe that is still a dead end in the long run. The components are just too expensive and difficult to fabricate to be thrown away. In fact…” Ehricke looked out the window, past the joshua pines and scrub of the high desert, then turned to face his mentor. “I can foresee that such a plan could ultimately escalate the costs of space access beyond the reach even of this government. They might get as far as the Moon that way, but they could not sustain the costs. Not with what the newspapers are already calling the ‘Protracted Struggle’ with the Draka. Oh…I am sorry. I do not mean to state the obvious to you.”

Dornberger grunted again. “No, you are most likely correct, as usual, Ehricke. Still, I do not see how we can satisfy the kind of performance requirements the scramjet designs require. Materials simply do not exist that can withstand the heat and maintain structural integrity. And weight…it is always weight, is it not?”

Ehricke smiled thinly again. “That is correct, sir…as far as it goes. I believe our visitor will help us in that regard. May we call him in?”

“Yes, yes, by all means, bring him in!” Dornberger responded gruffly. He picked up the telephone and pressed a button. “Elsie, please send the OSS man in. Tank you!”

The thin, balding man from the OSS walked through the door carrying a slim executive briefcase. Neither of the Germans missed the fact that it was handcuffed to his left wrist, like in a bad postwar adventure film. He shook hands with both men, indicating with a nod of the head an apparently previous meeting with Ehricke, Dornberger noticed. He spoke quickly. “Gentlemen, my name is Sheridan Cavitt. I am a former US Army Counterintelligence officer. I have an offer for you. Please sit down. What I have to say will only take a few minutes, then I will answer any questions I am cleared by the OSS to answer.”

Dornberger looked quizzically at Ehricke, then scowled. “I don’t see why you should know something I don’t, but since you two seem to share a secret, let’s hear it all.”

The man sat back with his briefcase on his knees. “In August of 1947 I was sent to New Mexico, to a desert location not far from where the White Sands missile testing field is today. As you might imagine, the Army took a dim view of anything that might be construed as a breach of security, probably more so then than even now. The Nazis–sorry gentlemen–were not likely to infiltrate directly. Neither were the Japanese. The Draka…that’s where the problem always lies for us. A properly trained Draka agent is, by definition, impossible to detect, once he is here, so I was given the job of investigating possible avenues of Draka agent insertion.

“The place in the desert where I was sent was too far from anywhere for an over-the-border insertion. The ‘official story’ I was given was that a Draka spy plane crashed in a canyon in the desert. When I arrived, about sixteen hours after the crash, I found something completely different.”

“Aliens.” Dornberger said it with no expression at all, looking straight ahead, his eyes not focused on anything visible.

“Yes, Mr. Dornberger. Aliens. You do not seem surprised.”

“I am not.” He glanced at Ehricke, who nodded slightly. “ I have heard stories, here. And the Reich was aware of alien landings for many years. We had no proof, of course, only the words of  ‘reliable’ individuals. Some of those men, if not all, died under SS interrogation. The SS never wanted to believe there was anyone they couldn’t control, you know.” He waved his hands dismissively. “Unfortunately, Hitler, while he was alive, put those reports in with his crazy superstitions, making it impossible for anyone else to verify what was true after his death.”

The OSS man placed the briefcase on Dornberger’s desk, unlocked the handcuff and then carefully unlocked the case. He drew out two glossy photos and handed one to each man. “This aerial view of the crash site was taken about six hours after the crash. We were notified about ninety minutes after we believe the crash occurred, and we had Army representatives at the site within sixty minutes. We did not expect to find evidence of alien activity, but the cover of a crashed Draka spy plane proved very effective. We had the area sealed off within another hour.”

Ehricke squinted at the photo, turned it ninety degrees. “It seems that the vehicle, if that is what it is, was found to be at least somewhat intact.”

“True. It was only about twenty feet long, and nearly featureless on the outside. It landed at a shallow angle, and left a groove in the earth over three hundred feet long. We believe it was still partially under control when it crashed, or we would have been digging up pieces with a stick and a spoon.”

Cavitt handed each man another photo. “This closeup shows you the vehicle in place, before it was moved to a secure hangar at White Sands. You can see evidence of the explosion in the aft portion of the vehicle, a blast which apparently woke the ranchers for a radius of at least twenty miles. We still do not know what caused that explosion.”

“And the occupants…there were occupants?”

Cavitt brought out a third photo. “Yes. Three of them. All dead of course, with evidence, so far as our coroner could tell, of severe body trauma. We believe the blast altered the vector of the vehicle so radically as to overstress the inertia damping mechanism.”

Ehricke sat up straight, eyebrows raised. “Inertia damping? Have you discovered how this was done?”

“No, Mr. Ehricke. Settle down. We haven’t been able to find out much about the propulsion system, inertia damping, or what we believe to be an artificial gravity device. All what our scientists call ‘solid-state,’ with no moving parts, or any parts, for that matter, that we can identify as electronic components. However…”

Finally, Cavitt brought out a thin piece of silvery material about six inches square. “This is a piece of the vehicle’s hull. We believe it to be primarily a ceramic material, with fibers that seem to be composed of pure carbon running through it. The silver coating is still beyond us—we do not yet know how it was deposited on the surface. We would like your people to analyze it, as well.”

“How did you remove it from the vehicle?” Dornberger turned the scrap over and over, tilting it in the light, as if he could analyze it with his eyes.

“It was found along the crash track. It seems to be the same material as the intact part of the hull.”

“What about the aliens?” asked Ehricke.

“Odd–very odd. The creatures had no digestive system, no reproductive system, and a very simple pulmonary system. One of our scientists, who is well–known for his wild speculations, believes they were ‘engineered’ as pilots of this reconnaissance craft. He thinks they were alive only by a very liberal interpretation of what life is. This scientist–a Dr. Asimov–has coined the term ‘biological robots.’ He thinks the actual aliens perhaps were in an orbiting craft, controlling this vehicle, or at least sending instructions. We still have no idea if there was a radio, or any other form of information transmission. For all we know, they communicated by telepathy.”

Dornberger snorted derisively. “Now you sound like the Fürher, you know. Always with the crazy talk about telepathy. And this alien business is not much easier to believe. It is much like Hitler’s Ice Moon theory. Why are you bringing this to us? Are we not security risks of the highest order? We are not even employees of your government.”

Cavitt smiled thinly. “Your government, now, as well, sir. I suggest that you should remember that if you wish to remain in this pleasant office, doing this work. A few words and you could be one of many places less desirable. This is not a threat, just a reminder.”

Ehricke was turning the scrap of metal over and over in his hands. “Mr. Cavitt, the question remains: what do you expect from us? We have expert metallurgists, it is true, but I cannot imagine telling them this material is from outer space! What kind of…cover story… should we be using? I assure you the truth is not the best response!”

“For once, the Draka are a help to us. God knows there are enough times I curse them, but we can use them to our advantage this time. We can even continue to use the “cover story” we used on the crash. This is a piece of a destroyed Draka spy aircraft, or missile, or something that was shot down. I am sure you gentlemen can provide a suitable background. Please document it and make sure I am made aware of it. I will leave you all the instructions you need to be able to contact me without raising undue suspicion.” He leaned back in his chair. “I know how you are hampered by the lack of suitable airframe materials for your high-performance aircraft. We do know that this material–whatever it is–should be lighter, tougher and more resistant to atmospheric heating than any metal currently in use in aircraft construction.”

Dornberger still looked doubtful. “Again, I must ask: why did you come to us? We are not the only engineers working on such projects for the Government. I would expect Donovan especially would consider us a security risk. We are not the most “American” people you could contact, you know.”

“First, I know that your company is considering a merger with North American Aviation. This would give your company the largest aircraft research and development staff in the world. Second, your superiors in the company understand our motives, and we understand theirs. Third…you are the best, the best designers in America, and perhaps in the world. I certainly hope you are better than von Braun!”

“We are better than that traitorous bastard, by far!” Ehricke was almost out of his chair. “We are not only smarter, but much more dedicated to the Cause! Have no fear, sir, we will be able to discover–“

“Calm down, Ehricke, calm down! I must apologize for my colleague, Mr. Cavitt. He gets a little upset when young Wernher’s name is mentioned. I think he had a bit of hero worship, back in Germany. He followed von Braun around quite a lot, you know. It slowed his promotions, as well. All that was probably dashed to bits when we had to run for our lives so that von Braun’s Aryan supermen could not kill us.” Dornberger remembered the flames, the explosions, the destruction of the underground factories and the launching fields on the North Sea, how he and less than fifty others escaped with the Draka Security Directorate at their heels. I will exact my revenge someday, von Braun. Do not forget it.

“I’m sorry, gentlemen. No offense meant, I assure you. Anyway, here is all the data we have on the material.” He drew a thin folder from the briefcase. “In the file you will also find the information you will need to contact me. Please do so only when necessary. I have no information you have do not possess, at this time. Should I acquire more, I will certainly make it available to you.” Cavitt rose, shook hands with both men, and quickly slipped out the door without even a good­bye.

The two Germans took their seats and both gazed at the small scrap of material, both lost in thought. Ehricke spoke first.

“Walter, I had no idea there were other alien landings, or any, for that matter. It is most disconcerting.” He paused, seeming to have difficulty finding the words. “While I always hoped there would be other races, life out in the universe…I never really thought we would have any proof of their existence. I suppose I thought we would have to go to find them.”

Dornberger chuckled, his mood lightening for the first time in many days. “You are young, and idealistic. In Germany your head was filled with the glory of the Reich! Who could challenge us, on Earth or in Heaven!” His face fell suddenly. “Of course, the Draka could challenge us, and did, and now Germany is no more! We were fools, Ehricke, in so very many ways! We were our own worst enemy, but now, by the grace of whatever gods there may be, we–you and I, and the others–have a second chance! I feel so much better than I have for days, perhaps weeks!”

He turned to the window. “Look out there! Thousands of technicians, engineers, pilots, and the inevitable bureaucrats, and all engaged in a search for the same thing! Not just to fly higher and faster, but to do so for the glory of this country, this idea of a country founded by free men, dedicated to freedom! By 1943 I thought I would never live to see a day such as this. I knew the Draka would overwhelm us then, and I was sure I would end my life with a tattoo on my neck! Instead, we are building craft that will take us to the stars!”

He turned back to face his subordinate. “But we will not even reach Arizona, if we do not get started right away! Go, Ehricke, and see the metallurgical staff!”

“Yes, sir! Immediately, Herr General!” Ehricke scurried out.

Dornberger turned to the window again, not seeing the silver delta shapes on the flight line beyond. “He never offered to show the craft to us,” he said softly to himself. “He does not trust us, no matter what he says. No one will, ever again.”

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Rush, George Soros, and the Grand Plan

October 15, 2009

So Rush Limbaugh has been forced out of a group of investors who wanted to buy the St. Louis Rams NFL team. At about the same time as that information came to light, it was also discovered that George Soros was apparently another of the investors.

Obviously Rush would not have gotten involved with George Soros directly. He wants to be a part of the NFL because (a) he loves the game and the NFL, and (b) he has the cash to do what he wants. He says he did not know who all the other investors were. He worked with Dave Checketts of Madison Square Garden, who was heading one of six groups that were bidding for a 60% stake in the team that was being sold by Goldman Sachs Group on behalf of the family of the former owner.

Soros seems an odd choice. Sure, he has money, but he doesn’t seem the sports-fanatic type. Or is this part of the Soros Grand Plan.

Yeah, it sounds like another crazy rant about conspiracies.  Still, I think he wants to punish what America is about – freedom-loving people, a capitalist economy – by using those same people against themselves. I don’t understand why. His youth and the early history of his companies is a strange story in itself. It is apparent that he seems to love control for its own sake. He may be the closest thing to a James Bond-style villain in the world today, working in the shadows, financing his minions, working to destroy us.

Did he put Sharpton and Jackson up to it? Probably not. These two men are stupid enough to shoot their mouths off without his urging, but they are the kind of useful idiots he has to love. I would not be surprised if he supports the groups that support them, directly or indirectly.

Soros has been clever, though. It is difficult to pin him down as being directly in control of anything. He doesn’t have to be if his wishes are carried out, however. He scares me more than anyone in Congress, Obama, or any leader across the world.

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“Righteous Stuff” update and Nuclear Pulse Rockets

October 13, 2009
Nuclear pulse rocket (I don't have a source for this image)

Nuclear pulse rocket (I don't have a source for this image)

Last weekend I had some free time at Midway on Friday night because my flight was delayed, and some time on Saturday morning before I had to go judge the contest. I have just short of 89,000 words now and a pilot is in the air on a suborbital test right now. You’ve seen 10 chapters out of 39 so far. I expect another 5 or 6 chapters to be written yet to wrap this this up.

This book is conceived as part one of a trilogy that covers the years 1947 to 2000: mainly 1950s in this book, 1960-1980s in the second, and 1980-2000 in the last one. There’s a lot of space development going on in the Domination history during the 1960s and 1970s – space stations, conquest of the Moon and Mars, the beginnings of the asteroid civilization the Alliance creates, the annexation of India by the Domination that includes some high-ground stuff, and my favorite – the first use of Orion-class nuclear pulse rockets.

Yep, the real Orions – the one called  “old bang-bang” by Niven and Pournelle. Make a huge metal plate, put your stuff on top, and throw atomic bombs under it, one at a time. That sucker will move, as Jerry says. (They use it as the Michael in “Footfall.”)

Aldo Spadoni created some great renderings of the Michael that can be found on Scott Lowther’s site,  here:

Michael1a

There are two great sources on the development of the Orion in the 1960s in our timeline. The first is available in several issues of Scott Lowther’s Aerospace Projects Review journal.  (See Volume 1, numbers 4, 5 and 6.) The second is a book by Freeman Dyson’s son, George Dyson, “Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship.” Scott has also created the pattern for a resin model kit of the Orion that will soon be sold by Fantastic Plastic.

Stirling went far beyond the original plans General Atomics made, using deuterium pellets  fused with lasers in later models, and even more exotic versions of the same concept.  We could have been launching hundreds of tons of equipment, men, and machines to the moon, Mars, and the outer planets in the 1960s and 1970s with a single vehicle if we had gone the nuclear pulse propulsion route. There is that little concern about radiation from the launches, but some of Scott’s research shows plans to loft a smaller version on a  Saturn V, keeping any radioactives in space, not on earth.

Anyway, book II wil have a lot to do with the expansion of the Alliance and the Draka into space. And nuclear pulse rockets!

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Why the Nobel Peace Prizes are whacked…

October 13, 2009

Jerry Pournelle lays out why the Nobel Peace Prize goes to leftwing losers, and why the other prizes go to people who are deserving by actually having done something positive. Go read it. Basically, when Norway and Sweden divided, Sweden got the other prizes and uses an actual board of scientists to make the selections, and Norway got the Peace Prize and uses a bunch of nutjob leftists.  It’s kind of like other divorces – some kid always comes out messed up.

Bush 43 never got one, after liberating what, 50 million people in Iraq? And Reagan only ENDED THE FRAKKIN’ COLD WAR!!!

It’s one of those awards you don’t hope you win, nowadays.

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Highest number of hits ever yesterday!

October 13, 2009

Just after mentioning “Mule Deer” on the top of the page, I got more hits yesterday than I ever have before.

What is it about mule deer? Really, mule deer?

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“The Righteous Stuff” – Chapter 10

October 11, 2009

The Righteous Stuff

by Jeffrey D. Waggoner

based on characters and situations in the

“Domination of the Draka” novels written by S.M. Stirling

CHAPTER 10

MUNICIPAL AIRPORT

DELERY’S LANDING

CATAWBA COUNTY, OHIO

APRIL, 1945

“Esther! Esther! Quick! Come up here, before the passengers come out!” Allan Northfield was in the pilot’s seat of the Stout trimotor, calling out the window on the side away from the flightline. A minute later, Esther Landry, a tall, dark-haired girl, came running up the aisle of the plane and dropped into the copilot’s seat. She gave Al a quick kiss on the cheek before fastening her seat belt and harness.

“Are you sure it’s all right for me to fly up here with you? What did Myron say?” Ester looked a little nervous about the whole idea, especially flying with a young pilot, one she knew she could distract from most things.

“He said…well, I sorta didn’t ask him. He’s been busy, and kinda grumpy, so I figured, I’d ask forgiveness afterwards. Anyway, it’s only a ten-minute flight. What could go wrong? I’ve been flying this plane for two years now, the last year completely on my own. I know it better than Myron does.”

“Still…” She still looked nervous. “Here come the passengers.” Esther scrunched down in her seat so no one would see her–maybe.

Al got through the entire spiel, as Myron put it, without laughing. Esther stayed put, and tried to stay quiet, but she had to stuff her fist in her mouth to keep from laughing herself. She knew someone would hear her. Since the war started the rules that governed flying had been changed, since domestic air travel had to continue and yet so many pilots were in the Pacific. Al routinely flew without a copilot, and nobody thought anything of it. These are probably regulars, and they know him, Esther thought. Nobody will notice me, as long as I can keep quiet!

The roll-out and takeoff was routine. Esther watched as Al handled the big trimotor with ease, and she marveled at his concentration. Only once, after they were airborne and at cruising altitude, did he even glance in her direction. He smiled quickly, then went back to scanning instrument dials and the sky ahead.

There was little air traffic at any time in the islands, and especially little during the war.  No other aircraft were in sight. It was a beautiful spring day, Esther thought, even if the engines do make a horrible roar. Even that doesn’t spoil it. She looked over at Al once again. I think I’m in love with him, but is he in love with me, or with the airplane? Would he ever be devoted to me?

The islands lay only a few miles off the shore, and the trip normally took only about ten to fifteen minutes. The running joke among the pilots was that the wheels wouldn’t stop spinning from takeoff before they touched down for the landing. Al had the plane lined up on the runway on South Bass, but the plane was still over water. The runway literally started at the water’s edge, with a sand-bluff drop to the lake of about ten feet. The plane was flying at less than eighty miles an hour, perilously close to its stalling speed. This was the only difficult part. The island was small, and the runway was short. The pilot had to have the plane ready to touch down within the first fifty feet of runway to avoid overrunning the gravel airstrip.

Suddenly the pitch of the right-side engine changed, going higher and higher. Al quickly glanced out the window, frowned, and pulled the throttle for that engine all the way back. It quickly died, and as it did, he gently increased power to the center and left-side engines.

“Al…” Esther’s voice trailed off, as she realized in mid-word that she should be quiet and let him fly the plane. They were getting close to the island now, and the plane actually seemed to be dropping below the level of the bluff. The wheels seemed to be skimming the waves, and Al glanced out the left window repeatedly as he nursed the throttles for the two remaining engines. As he increased power, the center engine suddenly changed pitch just as the right one had, and Al flipped the throttle all the way back, then quickly pushed the left engine throttle bar all the way forward.

Sweat was standing out on his brow as Al fought to keep the plane in the air. He knew the chance of a stall was imminent, and he was engaged in a delicate balance of attitude of the aircraft and power to the one remaining outboard engine.

“Come on, come on…” he muttered as he pulled back on the wheel a little more. The plane was too old for hydraulics, and the flaps and ailerons only functioned if physical effort was applied. “You can do it, old girl, come on…”

The plane shot over the edge of the bluff with about three feet to spare. Al pulled the throttle back, and the trimotor dropped quickly. The main gear hit the ground a little too hard, and the plane bounced twice before Al killed the third engine completely and began to apply the brakes.  The brakes worked fine, to his relief, and the plane came to a stop about fifty yards from the fence that divided the airstrip from the grape arbors that surrounded it.

Al stood up slowly, turning to the passengers. “Sorry, folks. You’ll have to walk back to the terminal. We had a bit of a mechanical problem, there.”

A mechanic came running out to the plane and undogged the door. As the passengers began to file out, one matronly woman turned back to Al and said in a loud voice, “Young man, I have never had such a poor experience flying in my life. You may tell your superiors that I will never take your airline in the future!” She turned and tried to stomp out of the plane, but the low headroom made it impossible. She settled for a half-crouch, but still managed to look haughty. She had apparently forgotten that there were no other airlines that flew to the islands.

Al sneaked a look at Esther, who realized it was now a good time to start breathing again. She smiled weakly, and said in a small voice, “Is this is way you always land this plane, or were you just trying to impress me?”

Al frowned. “I don’t know what it was. This has never happened before. Not just not to me, but to anyone. There are no noted loss-of-power accidents on any of the reports.”

Esther sensed his no-nonsense attitude. “How do you know that?”

Al shrugged. “Because I’ve read them all. All of them that have been written since the plane was put into production. I just don’t understand it.”

“What happens now?” Esther asked, more than a little amazed. All the reports – over twenty years’ worth. Just like that.

“Well, I need to talk to Bob and Jack, and go over the engines with them. I’m afraid we won’t be able to go into town yet.”

“Al, you’re not a mechanic, are you?” Esther was partly upset by the near disaster, but now that they were safe, partly by the fact that her day was about to be spoiled.

“Well, no, but you know what, Esther? I figure I better know everything about every plane I fly, you know why? Because it’s my skin, my passengers’ skins, and…” he gulped before he went on, “and, and, and people I care about.”

“Why Allen Northfield, that’s about the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” Esther said with an impish grin. Nope, the planes will always be first, but being second just might be all right with me, she thought.

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Friday was a busy day…

October 11, 2009

LCROSS-791205So let’s see: Last Friday, Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing, NASA whacked the Moon with a spacecraft to see if it sprays water, and I spent four hours at Chicago Midway Airport waiting for an airplane to take me someplace in an hour that I could have gotten to by driving in five hours. I did stay at a pretty decent Residence Inn and saw some pretty decent marching bands on Saturday. Today was my family belated birthday party (I hit the double nickel a week ago Friday) which was much fun and frivolity.

Tomorrow is the day to go to the Pumpkin Farm with the grandkids. It may not sound like much, but for us it’s as good as going to Disney World.