Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Living with violence...

Since no one else seems capable of uttering the obviously most effective method of removing the spectre of violence from society, I'll say it...Those with demonstrable tendencies toward violence, and histories of incapability of living peacefully must somehow be separated from the law-abiding, productive peaceful citizens who remain...The group to be removed would of necessity include all mentally unbalanced persons of all ages, and even those who have been physically violent, or threatened violence within their own schools, workplaces and families...

Since the world economy cannot support the building of enough prison space to house, feed, clothe, guard and sustain the health of this many people, they must be removed from society by ending their lives...Then those that cause those deaths would have to be added to the list of those with violent histories, necessitating their removal from society...Eventually this would leave one non-violent person left breathing who, if honest, would have to admit his own aggressive tendencies simply by passively allowing the destruction of the world's population, and being honest would have to commit suicide...

The above ridiculous and obviously unworkable solution would certainly remove the menace of violence, but nobody would be left to enjoy the peace...And until we all realize we are flawed human beings living together with other flawed human beings, then other impossible solutions such as mechanical safety devices, outright bans of instruments which have the possibility of being used for violence and increased expenditures for prisons and mental wards on an already overburdened taxpayer will be presented, discussed, studied, argued and rejected as ineffective...
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Finding an affordable, acceptable method of ending violence permanently is a fool's errand...Learning to live with the consequences of an evolving world is the only alternative...

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Truckman has become truckless...

The drama seems to have played itself out, and now the story can be told...And it is a sad one...On January 11 this year, and for reasons still not 100% clear, Truckman lost control of his truck while driving home from running errands...I suspect, although an official medical determination was not recorded, that my blood glucose level took a sudden drop causing me to lose consciousness and leave the roadway...I regained consciousness at some point later, still in my truck, as EMT's worked to revive me...I was not told, but I am reasonably sure the police on scene had already determined that alcohol was not a factor, a correct conclusion since the last drink I consumed was in 1977...

EMT's quickly found my blood glucose level to be 55, and administered liquid glucose orally...My senses began to return then, and I could see my truck had stopped against a concrete bridge abutment...No one, including myself, was injured, and no other vehicles, property or people were involved...Since it occurred on the freeway feeder road, I'm sure my speed was at or under the posted limit of 45MPH considering that I habitually prefer staying within the speed limits anywhere...I figure if I needed to be in a bigger hurry, I should have left the house sooner...

An ambulance ride to the ER was mandatory, and all tests performed there indicated no injuries...The only physical pain since then was in my chest due to the sudden stop against the seat belt...No airbags deployed...As a result, no citation was issued by law enforcement, and after arriving at home, I reported the incident to my insurance carrier, Traveler's...Thereafter the real pain began...The non-consent tow to a local storage yard was performed by a neanderthal who the next day demonstrated his lack of grasp on tow and store laws...He thought he was going to keep the truck until I personally paid him his ransom in cash, but he was forced to release the truck to the tow company of my choice by someone with more active brain cells than he possessed (which didn't involve much effort)...

The Traveler's company's hiring standards for adjusters and appraisers is at best questionable to the layman, but I suppose if alienating and frustrating their clients works for them  they're welcome to it...The language barrier is a difficult one to cross, especially when dealing with one whose accent in her second language, English, is further distorted by the affliction known as tinnitus, which visits some of us after many years of exposure to noise at high decibel levels...This is compounded by a perceived attitude of indifference and arrogance transmitted by the person who was ostensibly hired to put the client at ease, and assure him his claim will be settled in a fair and timely manner...The adjuster tipped her hand, revealing her disdain for customer satisfaction when she denied my coverage for medical treatment under the "personal injury" clause of my insurance policy, saying this was her "area of expertise" in insurance, and that I should accept her decision as absolute...

Until that point I did not even realize I had medical coverage on my auto policy, having told the people in attendance at the hospital that Medicare was my only insurance carrier...This oversight on my part will rear its head later...I then suggested it might be wise to transfer my claim to someone with a better understanding of my policy (and hopefully a more advanced command of the English language)...

Apparently it takes a while to locate someone with those qualifications within the Travelers hierarchy, but eventually a lady was found who did assure me that my required medical care would be paid up to the limit shown in my policy...Seeing that the wind would be blowing from numerous directions from this company, I asked that her determination be confirmed via email for the record...She complied, and this method proved useful in the subsequent dealings with others who involved themselves in my claim...As I write this, all ensuing medical bills were paid, although some bottlenecks occurred at the provider, and the medical adjuster at Traveler's cooperated fully...

My truck had hence been towed to my chosen repair facility, Kustom Werx Auto Body & Paint, where it had been repaired and completely restored the previous year (another Traveler's experience)...The initial adjuster had insisted that the truck had been totaled, and must be towed to Copart (a wrecking yard in Houston where vehicles go to die)...She had made this determination without having seen the truck, or even pictures of it, apparently believing herself omniscient...The adjuster I was handed off to in this shell game also claimed the truck was a total loss (again without seeing either the truck or pictures of it, relying solely on the verbal account of the knuckle-dragging tow truck driver who obviously by now wished to retain my truck for himself), insisting that it had rolled over before coming to a stop...By this time I had examined it myself at Kustom Werx, verifying that no rollover had occurred, and already getting my own estimate from Kustom Werx owner, Cory Scott, indicating the truck was indeed reparable...

The sticking point in the negotiations rested on Traveler's new insistence that the truck was a total loss due to a bent frame horn where the front bumper was attached...Their contention that the entire frame had to be replaced was argued against by my own trusted frame and body repairman, a man of impeccable credentials and experience, who stated the damage to the frame was easily reparable without replacement...Indeed, I could have accepted an amount from the insurance company which would have covered all repairs, but I would have had to accept a new "salvage" title for the truck, rendering it not only uninsurable, but practically unsalable to any future buyers...It is now obvious that they merely wanted a 15 year old truck, which they considered over-valued, off the roads regardless of the fact that it was a better quality truck than anything that could be purchased new...

By now I had been handed off once more to the first of a series of "appraisers," who again verified the incompetence of those within the Traveler's organization...This is apparently a well rehearsed act for Traveler's (and in all probability, all other insurers) in their attempts to wear down the insured, hoping to discourage him from seeking a fair and honest settlement by passing him along a chain of successively thick-headed and obstinate "appraisers"...The last of these was, to his credit, comfortable with the English language, although verifiably unable to decipher a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) correctly...He insisted my truck was a lower-priced SLT model instead of the top-of-the-line Laramie model I knew to be, since I had bought it new and still had all original paperwork from the sale...After obtaining for myself a complete breakdown of all the VIN details from an authorized dealer, and presenting them to the technology-challenged adjuster, he was forced to accept my truck's higher valuation...

But the real stone wall was thrown up in the adjuster's insistence that the additional coverage for $7,500.00 to cover replacement of the custom equipment for which I had been paying for many years, did not apply to my truck because I was not repairing it, instead accepting an amount to replace the entire truck...My argument that to restore a replacement truck to mine's original glory would involve replacing the lost equipment also fell on deaf ears...My alternative at this point was to find justice in a court of law, a process which might consume more time than I have allotted to me in this life, and at the expense of competent legal assistance, or to cut my losses and accept the offer of the bare truck's retail value (an amount which was finally acceptable with their acknowledgement of the VIN deciphering)...

I reluctantly opted for the check as I'd like to see some value from the transaction, and I draw some satisfaction in the knowledge that Traveler's was forced to cough up an additional $2,100.00 in storage fees for the time they wasted in their mule-headed interpretation  of my policy...I also gained some value in now knowing the worthlessness of add-on "coverage" which will be eventually denied by an unscrupulous business entity...

Further insult was added to the injuries when the Texas Department of Public Safety notified me of their demand to see proof that my diabetes was not a further menace to the motoring public...I had already been in contact with my endocrinologist who adjusted my medications, and verified the effectiveness of the change with a follow-up visit...The result of dealing with yet another layer of bureaucracy is yet to be determined...In addition, the kind folks at Medicare involved themselves, demanding repayment of the EMT and hospital bills which they had already paid...I turned this over to the only courteous and knowledgeable person I had encountered at Traveler's who assured me she would pay the bills...She later confirmed that her company had indeed settled all medical accounts...

Truckman's quest for another truck to replace his fallen steed has begun, but will be time-consuming as my standards are high, but my expectations low...A pictorial supplement to this article will be offered in Truckman's photo blog as soon as time can be found to process the pictures...


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Monday, April 9, 2018

Military History Online...

This longstanding website dedicated to the preservation and discussion of historical military events throughout mankind's history has asked Truckman to submit an article for publication...Concerning the recent book, "APc-48 - Combined Edition," the essay is presented here...As other articles by other writers are presented, this article will take its place among the many other fine writings found here, but for the time being it headlines the list...

The same site hosts a discussion forum where Truckman's comments join the other students of military lore...Much can be learned here for those interested...Truckman participates even though he knows the hidden dangers of forum addiction found in his previous activities...Once an active member on 34 separate discussion forums, I now understand better the nature of addictive behavior, and limit myself to "discussion in moderation"...

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Working...

Going back over the jobs I've held, I think I did best when I was responsible for my own level of success...My high school job as a Fuller Brush Man meant I was on commission, and I worked hard at it because the more happy customers I created, the more I made, and the repeat sales made it easier as time went on...

After high school, I entered the USAF, but I treated it more as an opportunity for tourism and self enjoyment than as a serious career opportunity...I felt a sense of accomplishment by doing a competent, although uninspired job on the flightline as a weapons specialist, but I could have done better...

Working in a factory after discharge was good because the supervisors I worked for let me work at my own pace which was good for production since I hate wasting time...I had plenty of opportunities for overtime since I learned the jobs of others who preferred to go home after eight hours...The union people didn't like me much because slower production was better for job security...

The longest lasting career I had was as an auto mechanic...I enjoyed the challenge, and being on straight commission meant the more I accomplished (and got right the first time), the more money I made...I worked for one flatrate shop briefly, but I didn't like seeing customers cheated and found better employment elsewhere...I also had my side business at home where I repaired cars on my own...

My most satisfying employment was operating my own business, not only as a mechanic, but in gun sales...As increasingly poor eyesight and arthritis double-teamed against me as a mechanic, I got my own FFL, and started a home-based business in firearms, buying, selling and trading at home and gun shows...Eventually as the inventory outgrew my house, and my health limited my income at fixing cars, I built my own gun store and indoor range...

After selling it and retiring, I began my least paying, but perhaps most satisfying job of writing...It'll never pay the rent, but at least my Mom finally got to say there was an author in the family...In analysis I would say my best jobs were those in which I could please other people, and still make a living...


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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Reading, writing, research and the lack thereof...

Sharp-eyed followers of this blog (both of you) may have noticed a severe dropoff in articles for this blog...Since most of Truckman's activities are necessarily screened behind a cloak of anonymity to ward off the constant crowd of paparazzi, it might be surmised by the public that I am busy writing the new book spoken of here earlier, or that I am on another photographic assignment, or that I'm simply immersed in intensive research and compiling notes for later study...But since you the reader come here for the truth, I will reveal that none of the above scenarios are occurring at this time...

A family event of a dire, although not entirely unexpected nature is in progress, and at this time demands as much of my attention as I have at my command...In addition, a sudden and otherwise unexpected calamity landed on my shoulders, but was dealt with, although not entirely to my satisfaction...Both of these events will be written of here in future articles, but the effect on the amount and quality of time I am able to put forth in research and writing has been severely curtailed due to the constraints of time...I cannot expand on these thoughts any more at this time, but I can share some of the few tidbits found in my few leisure moments...

Even though my research into booklength treatises has been put on temporary hold, I still devote spare moments to reading topics of interest...Some of these have been posted on the USS APc-1 WWII Facebook group (a group which requires a no-cost membership to view)...The latest in the series of books I have set aside for casual reading and further research is Adm. Samuel E. Morison's fifteen volume "History of US Naval Operations in WWII," first published in 1947...My copy of this collection is the updated 1984 edition...

In reading the first volume ("Battle of the Atlantic"), I ran across a connection to the Small Coastal Transports which I discussed in great length in the "APc-48" series of books...In the prewar climate of pacifism and appeasement, no country which had to answer to its voters was prepared completely for the outbreak of war...Dictatorships, such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, could build huge stockpiles of warmaking materials, while at the same time deceiving other governments by declaring peaceful intentions...The US and Great Britain had to contend with internal pressures to avoid war while still maintaining the semblance of a defensive posture...This caught the British by surprise first as they were totally unprepared for the U-Boat attacks on their commercial shipping beginning immediately following the German attack across Polish borders...

Keeping the U-Boat menace as far as possible from British shipping lanes and coastal waters was thrust upon the Royal Navy which was better prepared for blue water war in deeper seas than it was with defense against attacks closer to home...The RN's inventory of shallow draft warships was itself shamefully shallow, forcing it to press into service commercial fishing and cargo vessels, arming them in whatever means lay at hand...Equally defenseless were the deepwater cargo ships sailing under the British flag, as they were initially unarmed and vulnerable to attack because of the British adherence to the Washington Naval Limitations Treaty of 1921, which forbade arming of merchantmen...

Not only were armed coastal-capable ships thinly spread for the RN, but even scarcer were suitable armament for conversion of merchant ships, and the absence of trained crews to man the new positions only exacerbated the problem...A dearth of RN aircraft carriers meant that an air arm consisting of 220 light bombers separated into 19 hastily formed squadrons from Bomber Command were the only defense from the air along the shorelines...These bomber crews were forced to develop their own anti-submarine warfare techniques, and thanks to a detachment of American aircrews as observers, US planners were able to gain a wealth of knowledge in the hitherto uncharted science of defense against, as well as attack of submarine fleets...

Writing of these early days of WWII on 1/5/1944 for the February 1944 issue of the "Royal United Service Institution Journal," Admiral Sir William James said:
"I was on the board of the Admiralty before the war and it was always a question of trying to do the best we could with what money was available, and the plan arrived at with regard to Coastal Craft was that we should go for prototypes. There were three reasons for that. One was that the type was in the process of development: it was no good giving an order for say a hundred of a certain type when next year something very far in advance might be produced. Another was the manning problem: you cannot in peacetime keep a large number of Coastal Craft in commission; they wear out very quickly and we could not really find the personnel for them. The third reason was that we felt they were of the one type of craft that could be built quickly, and that what money we had ought to be put into ships that took a long time to build - destroyers and cruisers."
Faulty strategic thinking notwithstanding, the Admiralty's pursing agents scoured the world for bargains in warmaking materials of any kind, especially those which could be had for trade or promise of payment later...The informative Shipscribe website tells of the interest by the British Admiralty in the newly created APc hull designation, resulting in their order of 50 of the increasingly versatile design...One of the suggested uses of the design by the office of the CNO, before the first one was ever launched, was that of "Raider Transport, AP"...Seeing the easy adaptability of the Small Coastal Transport design to the needs of British coastal defense, and later invasion uses, the order for 50 was quickly placed and accepted...

65 hull numbers were eventually assigned for British use before their construction...The aforementioned Shipscribe site lists the deployment and/or fate of each of these hull numbers...


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Friday, March 2, 2018

Just a quick toot of my own horn...

"APc-48 Combined Edition" has been added to the list of Recommended Reading at the NavSource site, the well-regarded information source for all things Navy related...Many thanks to site manager Gary Priolo and the entire NavSource team for the magnificent job they do in preserving history...For those who do not know, NavSource is not supported by government funds, and its team members are always responsive to additional information provided by the public regarding their historical accuracy...I consistently find the most up to date data in their pages...

Quote from the site:


"APC-48" is the story the US Navy Coastal Transports. Very little has been written about these small wooden ships and their brave crews and their contribution to the Pacific war effort. APc's were invaluable in the efforts to dislodge the Japanese from the many small islands in the South Pacific. APc's transported troops and their equipment, delivered need supplies to small isolated outposts and were vital in the amphibious operations to recapture many of the islands. APc's, because of their shallow draft, led many larger landing craft into beachheads. Lightly armed with only four single 20mm guns and occasionally with an additional two .50cal machine guns they faced the enemy knowing that a single mortar or artillery shell could sink them. "APc-48" is really two books in one. Book One describes the contribution of one middle America family to the war effort at home and overseas. It also provides an overall description of World War II both at home and abroad and how family members fit into the picture. Book Two follows the operations and travels of APc-48 and family member 19 year old draftee William Vernon Johnson MM2/c USNR who served in the ship during World War II.
ISBN 978-1-387-32291-6. The book can be purchased on the Internet from LULU Press



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Friday, December 8, 2017

Hostile Fire Across the Water - The Last US Naval Engagement of WWII...

The following is an excerpt from a new book begun by Truckman...


As odd as it may seem for an old Air Force veteran to take an interest in the actions of the US Navy, especially in a war which was concluded twenty years before his own service began, this author has gained a new perspective on what it took to still the quaking seas in a world consumed by destruction and death...Researching for the small bits of information available concerning the Navy's Small Coastal Transports (APc's) of WWII, and the service of those officers and men who crewed them, led to many accounts of unconventional warfare heretofore unknown by this author...Several of these stories were included in the previous "APc-48"series in the hope of enlightening others of the unheralded actions and sacrifices undertaken by those who dedicated themselves to the restoration of peace and freedom...

One of these stories came to light in my research reading of David Bruhn's book, "MacArthur and Halsey's 'Pacific IslandHoppers': The Forgotten Fleet of World War II," of an almost unheard of, and certainly unheralded event occurring five days after Emperor Hirohito's radio announcement of acceptance of peace terms by the Empire of Japan, which concluded with the signing of the peace agreement on the deck of the USS Missouri (BB-63)...Like this author, David Bruhn looks for the fascinating, unusual stories and facts to fill the cracks between recitations of facts and figures, in an attempt to hold a reader's interest and urge forward a grip on new knowledge...Mighty ships of steel armor and huge guns, plus the floating cities launching angry, buzzing aircraft against an unwanted enemy are hardly the only elements necessary in the restoration of peace...And yet these enormous creations of war seem to gather the largest attention from the public as their sheer size seems to command the watery battlefields...Deservedly so the officers and crewmen of these seaborne monsters also seem to garner the lion's share of the printed media and film and video projects, even though they themselves will be the first to point out that their achievements would have been impossible without the support of the endless chains of support vessels and smaller warships, and the even more important tasks taken on by those who manned them, risking even more with little, and in many cases, no armor nor armament against the same deadly enemy faced by the giant armored warships...

This author's late uncle, F1/C William Vernon Johnson, was one of those enlisted crewmen who survived the Pacific War, and returned to a peaceful life...His story was told in the "APc-48" series of books, chronicling the service of those who served aboard the tiny wooden ships bringing the life-sustaining supplies to other participants in defense of his nation...In Cmdr. Bruhn's book, he told briefly of the several battles and rescues in the Pacific which took place among the centuries-old designs of the wooden ships and their crews risking their all against modern heavily gunned warplanes, and the fast, steel warships to which the only defense possible relied more on the cunning, ingenuity and courage of the crews against the advantages of speed, bulk and overwhelming weapons employed by their enemy...In this author's research, one event which stood out that was described in Cmdr. Bruhn's, book was the battle which took place between two ancient wooden junks, one manned by Japanese Imperial Army (JIA) personnel, and the other by a mixed crew of US Army, US Navy and US Marine Corps officers and men, occurring on 8/20/1945, five days after Hirohito's capitulation to the Allies as the Japanese head of state...

This author's own military experience having centered on jet powered fighters and bombers of the Cold War and Vietnam War eras, and being still unaccustomed to the many events which remain even today overshadowed in the mass media accounts by the enormous, far-flung battles of land, sea and air fought by brave, determined men on both sides, the telling of this comparatively small, nearly unheard of occurrence of combat fired my imagination as I made notes to follow up for a new research project...Beginning with the hope of at least enough information to warrant a blog article, enough facts and new leads began to emerge in which thoughts of a new book arose...From there, this accounting takes shape...

For those interested, David Bruhn's own website contains much information concerning the smaller warships of WWII, as well as his own books on the subject...It is well worth the visit...

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