Archives for April 2009

Pwning the Happy

Not sure how new that creative version of “owning” is or when it became main stream to convey the utter domination of one thing over another, but it seemed to correctly convey the mindset I need to get into to move through Marci’s course. For the optimist that I am, I am sure having a hard time wrapping my mind around this Happy For No Reason business.

I haven’t spent time on it for a few weeks. My excuse is that I haven’t had the time. While things have been amazingly busy – it is still just an excuse. I am becoming completely aware of the fact that I don’t have time not to.

It is time to lay the foundation to pwning the happy. That foundation, according to Marci, is embodied in a simple equation

E(motion) + R(eaction) = O(utcome)

I don’t mind telling you that I spend a whole lot of time using this alternate and far less effective formula

E + O = R

And this sure fire motivation zapping formula

O + R = E

The workbook asks to recall a situation where you implemented a less that effective attitude. It then asks to describe the level of contraction that accompanied it. The unasked question is how does it feel when things are going well and you feel expanded.

I am spending some time considering these ideas of expansion and contraction. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

PFC James Champion

Thirty eight years ago a young Army Ranger Private First Class was reported missing in action while on a long range Reconnaissance mission in the A Shau Valley, Republic of South Vietnam.  This is his story:

On 8 February 1971, South Vietnamese President Thieu announced Lam Son 719, a large-scale offensive against enemy communications and supply lines in that part of Laos adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The mission was to interdict the flow of supplies from North Vietnam. The South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) would provide and command ground forces, while US forces would provide airlift and supporting fire. Phase I, renamed Operation Dewey Canyon II, involved an armored attack by the US from Vandegrift Base Camp toward Khe Sanh, while the ARVN moved into position for the attack across the Laotian border. Phase II began with an ARVN helicopter assault and armored brigade thrust along Route 9 into Laos. ARVN ground troops were transported by American helicopters, as the US Air Force provided cover strikes around the landing zones.

After Lam Son, the ARVN all but abandoned western I Corps and the demilitarized zone (DMZ), thereby yielding immense areas to the communists. Ominously, in April Special Operations teams discovered a new road coming out of Laos just north of the A Shau Valley, pointed dangerously toward the populated coastal plain north of Hue. They uncovered the NVA making massive improvements to an existing road pointed directly at the DaNang area. Heavy NVA forces made penetrations all but impossible, and it was as if a curtain were being lowered to conceal their activities.

On 23 April 1971, then PFC James A. Champion and PFC Isaako F. Malo were riflemen assigned to a six-man radio relay team on a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) being inserted into the infamous A Shau Valley to report on NVA activity. After receiving intense enemy ground fire at their primary landing zone (LZ) on the west side of the valley, the team was inserted into their alternate LZ near the village of A Luoi on the east side of it.

The LZ was located in the west side of the mountain range that overlooked the east side of the valley. It was also situated between two peaks in what is commonly referred to as a “saddle” approximately 1 mile southeast of the NVA’s new road and 2 miles northwest of a river that flowed along the east side of the jungle covered A Shau Valley. This new road ran east-west where it entered South Vietnam north of the A Shau Valley, then ran from the northwest to the southeast along the east side of the valley where it ran next a river that flowed through it. Roughly two-thirds of the way through the valley, the road turned sharply to the northeast where it headed directly toward Hue. The LZ was also located approximately 6 miles northwest of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 22 miles southwest of Hue, 44 miles southeast of Khe Sanh and 58 miles west-northwest of DaNang, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

The NVA’s new road was a major addition to the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

After disembarking from the helicopters at 1500 hours, the radio relay team leader, Marvin Duren, took the point position. Shortly after the team began to move away from the LZ, he was severely wounded by enemy automatic weapons fire, grenade and rifle fire. The team’s alternate team leader, John Sly, took command of the patrol. He was hit by enemy fire and killed in a heroic attempt made by the team medic and himself to drag Marvin Duren out of the line of fire.

CWO Fred Behrens, an experienced Medevac helicopter pilot, volunteered to fly the emergency extraction mission to rescue the wounded soldiers, as well as the rest of the team. CWO Behrens volunteered for this mission because he felt his chance of success to extract the team from this hot LZ were better than other less experienced pilots. During his second attempt to extract John Sly his helicopter was shot down. The 4-man aircrew found themselves on the ground with the LRRP team fighting for their lives. Shortly thereafter in the continuing attempts to rescue the embattled Americans, a second helicopter was shot down by the vicious enemy ground fire. The Aero Rifle Platoon, which was being brought in as reinforcements, was forced to withdraw under intense ground fire and regroup. Over the next three days the intense battle around the downed aircraft continued.

At the same time the battle was raging on the ground, a search and rescue (SAR) operation was in full swing to recover both downed aircrews and the radio relay LRRP team. The SAR effort employed both a wide range of ground and air assets.

On 24 April, the Americans on the ground were widely dispersed around their defensive position on the LZ and were engaged in vicious combat with NVA forces. US airstrikes were called in nearly upon themselves in order to force enemy troops away from the American’s perimeter. During one of these airstrikes, PFC Malo was wounded by shrapnel from a close-in air strike made by a US Cobra gunship. At approximately 1600 hours on 24 April, Issako Malo disappeared. When the others realized he was gone, they searched the immediate area as best they could while notifying SAR personnel of the situation.

.At approximately 1500 hours on 25 April, PFC James Champion was armed with an M-16 rifle and in good shape when he left the team’s defensive perimeter next to one of the downed helicopters to look for water.  After being rescued, Fred Behrens reported he heard shots coming from the direction PFC Champion headed, but could not provide any additional information as to PFC Champion’s fate.

A reaction force from Company L, 75 Infantry was finally inserted into the area and successfully drove the NVA elements away from the embattled American position. The survivors and the dead were evacuated. No one ever told the survivors the size of the enemy force they came up against; however, it was a large enough force to warrant an Arclight strike by B-52 bombers.

From the time both Rangers failed to return to the landing zone through 30 April, an intense and protracted series of ground and aerial searches were made for them. On 25-28 April, a psychological warfare operations aircraft was used to make broadcasts calling for the two soldiers to return to the landing zone for pickup. Unfortunately, neither one came to the LZ. At the time the formal search was terminated, James Champion and Issako Malo were listed Missing in Action.

Later information was received by US intelligence confirming that Issako Malo had been captured and his status was changed from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War. After his release from captivity on 27 March 1973 during Operation Homecoming, PFC Malo stated to his debriefers that he became separated from the other Americans and managed to evade capture until the morning of 25 April. After capture, the NVA moved him north and he was eventually imprisoned in North Vietnam. Further, he reported that at no time during his imprisonment did he see or have any contact with PFC Champion.

If James Champion died during this loss incident, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. Likewise, there is no doubt the enemy could return his remains any time they had the desire to do so. However, if he survived, there is no question he would have been captured by the same NVA troops who captured Issako Malo, and his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served. 
If you ever have a chance to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall or if the Moving Wall comes to your town, you will find SSG Champions name on Panel 03W Line 008.  Think of him and remember him and all the other young men and women who went off to serve their country and never returned.

1SG David Bowman, US Army, retired.

April Fools Day

Because I am such a fan of well thought out pranks, I offer this compilation of past April Fools gags, pranks, and scams from Wiredcom  and Business Pundit.  

First up to bat?
1976 At precisely 9:47 am on April 1, Pluto will pass behind Jupiter, causing a brief reduction in Earth’s gravitational pull. Astronomer Patrick Moore urges his BBC Radio audience to jump into the air at that exact moment to experience a floating sensation. At 9:48, dozens of light-headed listeners begin calling the station to report their success.

1984 Never mind the Cold War; the Soviets want to initiate unfettered discussions with Americans via Usenet newsgroups. This according to a message from what appears to be a Kremlin server (kremvax.UUCP). Thus the Internet hoax is born. When Moscow’s first real Usenet site appears years later, it’s named kremvax.

1994 A proposed law will ban online sex chat and inebriated Web surfing. “Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is,” editorializes PC Computing. The bill’s supposed sponsor, Senator Ted Kennedy, is not in on the joke. After an onslaught of complaints from drunken perverts, he issues a formal denial.

1995 The hotheaded naked ice borer, a sort of mole with a searing, bony forehead, lurks under Antarctica, melting the ice beneath the butts of hapless penguins and eating them as they sink. When Discover magazine publishes its retraction, penguins everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief.

1997 Between March 31 and April 2, the World Wide Web will be closed for cleaning. Five Japanese-built, multilingual Internet-crawling robots will remove “electronic flotsam and jetsam.” But don’t believe everything you read in an email.

1998 In accordance with a biblical passage describing the circumference-to-diameter ratio of a bowl in the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7:23), the Alabama legislature has voted to round the value of pi to 3.0. Well, that was the claim made by the New Mexicans for Science and Reason in their newsletter … or rather, circular.

1998 Disney has bought MIT for $6.9 billion. The School of Engineering will be renamed the School of Imagineering and the campus will move to Orlando, according to hackers who altered the MIT homepage. Hey, anything’s better than trying to work in an Athena cluster.

1999 To fund the US government’s $4 billion next-gen Internet project, millions of Internet nodes are available for an initial price of $100 each at The Business Wire press release induces nearly 2,000 would-be investors to try to buy in. Another name for this April foolery was “the tech boom.”

2003 Bill Gates is dead, shot by a lone gunman at a charity event in Los Angeles. After three South Korean networks broadcast the story on local TV, ensuing panic triggers a 1.5 percent drop in the Seoul stock exchange — a value loss of $3 billion. Just another Windows-related crash. 

And this collection from Business Pundit showing even business can have a sense of humor:

1.  In 2002, Tesco ran a fake newspaper ad announcing the ‘whistling carrot,’ a carrot genetically modified to contain airholes on each side that caused the carrot to whistle when it finished cooking.

 2.  Lebanon Circle Magik Co., a studio specializing  in sculptures and curios, posted a picture of what appeared  to be a mummified fairy on its homepage in 2007. The site  explained that the fairy had been found by pedestrian in  rural Derbyshire, leading to an explosion of online  speculation about whether the fairy was real. Even after  owner Dan Baines revealed the hoax, people continued to  believe the fairy mummy was real.




3.  In 1982, the Daily Mail—a frequent April Fool’s prankster—reported that 10,000 locally manufactured bras were interfering with radio and TV broadcasts through an extremely conductive copper underwire. The metal in the underwire was normally used in fire alarms; body heat and nylon made it produce signal-disrupting static electricity.

QuoteThe chief engineer of British Telecom, upon reading the article, immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.

4.  Sports Illustrated took advantage of April Fool’s Day in 1985 by publishing an article about Sidd Finch, a new Mets’ recruit with a 168-mph pitch. Finch had purportedly learned the “art of the pitch” from a Tibetan master named Lama Milaraspa. Mets fans went wild–until they learned it was a hoax.

5.  A mysterious flying saucer landed in a field near London on March 31, 1989. The police arrived to inspect the scene and were shocked to see a human-like figure in a silver suit step out. The “alien” was actually Virgin’s Richard Branson, who had built a hot air balloon to resemble a UFO. He had intended to land in Hyde Park on April Fool’s Day, but the wind forced him to abandon the mission a day before April Fool’s.

6.  In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it was renaming the Liberty Bell to the Taco Liberty Bell. The phone lines at Philadelphia’s National Historic Park were clogged with citizen complaints at the unacceptable move.  Taco Bell enjoyed the joke for a few hours, after which it revealed the claim as a fake.
7.  In 1962, Sweden’s only  TV channel broadcast in the news that viewers could get their black-and-white TV sets to display in full color by pulling a nylon stocking over the front of their TVs. Thousands of people tried it—until the gag was revealed as an April Fool’s hoax. Color TV finally came to Sweden 8 years later.

8.  Dick Smith Foods a brand name in Australia. In 1978, owner and millionaire Dick Smith contracted a barge to tow an iceberg from Antarctica into the Sydney Harbor. Smith said he would cut ice cubes from the iceberg and sell them for 10 cents a piece. The public eagerly followed the iceberg’s progress until rain washed off the shaving cream and firefighting foam that made up the exterior of the iceberg, which was really a combination of plastic and firefighting foam.

9.  Burger King ran a full-page ad in USA Today in 1998 unveiling the Left-Handed Whopper, a burger whose condiments were turned 180 degrees to benefit left-handed consumers. Burger King claimed that on the day of the joke, thousands of customers flocked to the chain to request the special Whoppers.

10.  The BBC has a reputation for April Fool’s stunts, but last year’s (2008) was one of the best. The British news station announced that an Antarctica-based film crew had filmed Adelie penguins taking flight. The video clip became an Internet sensation (watch it to see why).

I hope your April Fools day went well and there were some light hearted moments …. and some well thought out pranks.