Inking up the blogosphere. And no, I don't glow in the dark. But thanks for asking.

June 13, 2011

My New Hero

I read a news article today that made me proud to live in Oregon.  Proud to share the same geography as the extraordinary man named Robert Maxwell.  Mr. Maxwell is 90 years old, a WWII veteran, Oregon’s only living Medal of Honor recipient, and now the holder of a high school diploma – 73 years after the fact.

Here is the article from KTVZ news (bold emphasis in 8th paragraph mine):
BEND, Ore. -- He's the most highly decorated veteran in Oregon, but on Saturday, 90-year-old Bob Maxwell got an honor he's waited more than 70 years for.  On Saturday afternoon, Oregon's only living Medal of Honor recipient graduated with Bend Senior High School's Class of 2011.

At 15, he wasn't tromping down school hallways. In fact, he wasn't in school at all. After seventh grade, Maxwell was taken out of school to work on his family's farm in Kansas, during the Great Depression.  "It was just accepted in those days," Maxwell said Friday. "When a boy was old enough to do a man's work, that's what he did."

But don't call him a dropout. 

Maxwell's education didn't stop when he left school. He got his GED, even taught at Bend High back in the '50s.
One lesson the Medal of Honor recipient continues to teach every day -- modesty. He was awarded the medal of honor after he threw himself on a live grenade in France, saving the rest of his platoon from certain death.

"For him to consider walking with Bend High School as a great honor -- wow, we're the one honored," said BHS Principal H.D. Wedell. "Yet, because of his humility, he feels honored."

Honored, but not quite sure he deserved to toss his cap with the rest of the 2011 graduates.

"In some ways, I feel like it's a diploma that I haven't earned," Maxwell said. "But then I look back over the 73 years behind me, and I guess I have accumulated enough knowledge and skills to say that I've earned it."

A man with heroic accomplishments, yet still so humble. It's Maxwell's selflessness that allows his soon-to-be fellow graduates to chase the American dream.  "They can do that, because of the things that Bob has done," said Wedell. "He's laid his life down, so that our kids can be part of that."

But will there be room in Oregon's most decorated war veteran's home for his most recent award?  "I'm hoping to find a space on the wall to hang it up," said Maxwell. "It's a great honor."

 This is the most humbling thing I've heard in a really long time.  "...a diploma I haven't earned," -- Mr Maxwell:  I know kids who think they should automatically get an iPhone and unlimited text, talk, and web.  I know people who think they deserve 794 all-digital, HD channels as a matter of American Manifest Destiny.  For a man who knowingly, willingly, and unhesitatingly threw himself on a grenade; know this: YOU HAVE EARNED IT. You have earned this symbol of accomplishment and the right to be honored by us all because it has been paid for in blood, both yours and countless others.

Mr. Robert Maxwell of Bend, Oregon I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


***To read the Medal of Honor citation, head on over to This Ain't Hell.  Goosebumps.

March 11, 2011

Hot Rock, Boil Water, Make Steam

In response to a request from Kanani during a Facebook discussion about the nuclear reactor in Japan that was damaged in the 03/11/11 earthquake, I'm including some information here about what is likely happening at that facility, based on my time operating nuclear reactor plants for the Navy.

This is just a basic overview of the situation in Japan, but please feel free to ask me any questions you have and I can include them and the answers here below the main post.


What's going on is known as a LOCA--loss of cooling accident. Though the reactor is safely shut down it continues to produce decay heat from residual fission reactions that can take days to weeks to dissipate depending on how long they were at full power prior to shutdown. The plant would have an emergency cooling backup system that should take over, but if both systems were physically damaged from the quake then not enough coolant is being circulated to keep the core cool.

The coolant in many reactors is extremely pure water that has a high concentration of deuterium--a heavy hydrogen isotope. The good thing about heavy water is that as it gets hotter, the molecules spread out and fewer neutrons are reflected back into the core to cause new fission reactions thereby moderating the reaction (slowing it down).

One of the byproducts of heavy water is that neutrons hit an H2O molecule or a deuterium molecule and knock free hydrogens which will make hydrogen gas (H2). This gas collects at high points and must be vented periodically to keep the levels below the explosive threshold. Its likely when they talked about mild radioactive release they were referring to the gases that are building up and also some coolant in steam form. Radioactive gases are like Radon--they have short half-lives and dissipate quickly by the wind and dilution. They would pose no health hazard and wouldn't cause any "fallout" or stick around forever. Common radioactive gases formed in reactor coolant are Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Krypton, Xenon, and Oxygen. These elements in their normal form are stable. However they can become radioactive after being bombarded by high-energy particles from the core which in essence "supercharge" them.

The bad thing is that a LOCA is a catch-22. As the coolant heats the pressure goes up. You have to vent to keep pressure down but that causes more coolant loss which leads to more heatup, more pressure, more nauseam! The solution is to add more coolant and obviously fix the problem. The end result without intervention is that spots of the core get too hot without proper cooling and the fuel plates/rods rupture allowing radioactive fuel particles into the water. THAT would be bad!

Basically, it's the China Japan. 


Q: What is radiation?
A:  Radiation is when energy is emitted from something in particles or waves.  When you stand in front of your oven and you feel warmth, that is radiation in the form of heat energy.  Nuclear radiation is a collection of  neutrons (Hydrogen nucleii), gamma rays (photons), beta particles (free electrons), and alpha particles (Helium nucleii).  When something is "radioactive" it means that it is in a higher energy state than normal or has a larger number of neutrons than it has normally and is emitting one or more of those four things.  Those particles/rays have energy of their own and interact with other things by either physically bumping them, transferring the energy, or by ionizing--causing other particles to have a positive or negative charge they don't normally have.

January 19, 2011

10 Battle Tactics I Learned From My Cat


2. If no defilade is available, liberally use speed and unpredictable movement.

3. The intentional showing of a soft belly can be an effective lure.

4. Surprise ambushes can be effective, but always have a rapid exit available in case it doesn’t go as planned.

5. Having night vision is an asset, especially when your target doesn’t.

6. Lull the enemy into a false sense of security by appearing to be lazy and immobile.

7. It is important to occasionally show those in charge of you the results of your skills. They will likely not want to see or handle the gory guts, but can’t help but be impressed with your ability.

8. Always keep multiple weapons at your immediate disposal.

9. If the enemy is creeping up on you, never wait for him to arrive. Advance on him when he is committed to a movement and least expects it.

10. Never show the enemy your ass.

December 9, 2010

I'm On A Break!

Squid's been dark and quiet lately. Taking a bit of a rest, hibernation, sabbatical, after-dinner nap, brain breather, what have you.

I think it's coming to an end soon though. Starting to feel the light coming through and waking the cells up. Things are starting to stretch and stir.

Stay tuned.

May 26, 2010

Apropos Of Nothing...

...except to make me laugh uncontrollably.

Proving yet again that you can't fix stupid, not even with duct tape: favorite Facebook FAILS!

funny facebook fails
Funny Facebook Fails
Funny Facebook Fails
Funny Facebook Fails
Funny Facebook Fails
Funny Facebook Fails
Funny Facebook Fails
funny facebook fails

May 24, 2010

Three Cheers For Kanani Fong!

The Kitchen Dispatch has always been a ray of light when the day seems dark and gloomy.  Always-creative Kanani has created a contest to win a copy of Sebastian Junger's book "WAR".  Go check it out!  Even if you're not a blogger, her site is worth a read.

Not Gone, Just Elsewhere

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you who stop by know that I haven't been posting here recently because I've been rather busy.  I've had the honor of being able to contribute over at David Bellavia's blog.  I'm writing as SquidThinker if you want to check it out.  It's a great site with a lot of smart, sassy, well-informed writers (myself excluded, LOL).

March 25, 2010

Paying Tribute

So you think you're having a bad day?  Here's something that will help put things back in perspective.  There is a great website called Veteran Tributes that honors the bravery and sacrifices of our servicemen and women.  On this site you can view their military history, awards, medals, and citations.

Two specifically that you should read are the Congressional Medal of Honor citations for LT (SEAL) Michael Murphy and QM2 (SEAL) Michael Monsoor.  I challenge you to read about their gallantry and selfless actions--if at the end of it you don't feel pride and sadness at their loss and what they have given for their teammates and country, have a harder heart than mine.

Trust me: any frustration with morning traffic or a bad day at the office will evaporate after reading a while on this site.  I am humbled, and am forever grateful for the dedication and devotion of those who serve so that we can live our lives knowing we are safer and more secure.

To all who have served, thank you.

March 18, 2010

TBI Awareness

I recieved a very nice email the other day and learned that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.  I have agreed to repost the following article relating to TBI and our military because I think this is something we need to be aware of and concerned about.  There are lots of facilities like Care Meridian that are caring for patients with brain injuries, and the number of patients with military-related TBI is increasing.

Traumatic Brain Injuries in the Military

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is becoming a common wound of modern warfare. It has even been coined the “signature wound” of the War on Terror. While TBI is becoming more prevalent in wartime activity, many service men and women continue to go undiagnosed. Institutions, like the US Department of Veterans Affairs, are working to make quick and accurate diagnoses in order to prescribe appropriate and effective treatment.

TBI is caused by forced trauma to the head, either by being shaken or hit. The severity of a TBI varies from case to case, but symptoms range from mild concussions to a debilitating state. The majority of TBI’s acquired by military personnel are classified as mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI). Initial symptoms of MTBI consist of loss of consciousness, disorientation, loss of memory, headache, and temporary loss of hearing and vision. They are often partnered with anxiety, irritability, difficulties processing information, limited concentration amongst other problems experienced down the road. While MTBI is most common amongst the men and women of the armed forces, more severe cases of TBI are happening much more frequently and often require the victim to attended specialty rehabilitative nursing centers, like CareMeridian.

The most common cause of a TBI in the military is due to blasts. There are three degrees of blast injuries where a TBI is common; Primary (due to blast itself), Secondary (due to objects being propelled by a blast) and Tertiary (due to a collision with a third party object). According to the Veterans Health Initiative, active male members of the military from the ages 18-24 are hospitalized with a TBI at a rate of 231 per 100,000 and females 150 per 100,000. Based on military force projections this would mean that 4,141 military personnel are hospitalized on average each year with a TBI, and these numbers often rise during wartimes.

The best prevention for veterans to avert the long-term effects of a brain injury is to recognize the symptoms of a TBI. Once the symptoms are identified an individual should take basic precautionary measures in order to begin the healing and recovery process until a more specific diagnosis can be made.

Service men and women give so much to protect this country and they deserve to come home to a happy and healthy life. Creating awareness about TBI will help ensure their long term health. By helping our veterans, their friends and their families recognize the early warning signs of a TBI, treatment can be sought as early as possible.

March 11, 2010

Lone Survivor Foundation

Here is some additional information about Marcus Luttrell's wounded warrior ranch.  As I mentioned in this previous post, Mr. Luttrell is developing the Lone Survivor Foundation to fund a variety of projects to support wounded warriors and their families, and in the future it will also encompass a ranch retreat:

Lone Survivor Foundation's Mission: Honor and Remember American Patriots by providing unique educational, rehabilitation and wellness opportunities. In memory and honor of the Lost Heroes of Operation Redwing and all Fallen Warriors, Wounded Warriors, and their Families.

Vision: Provide financial support for unique recovery and rehab opportunities, wellness events, and resource other unmet needs for wounded warriors, their families, and surviving families.

What this Foundation will specifically do:

Lone Survivor Ranch - Marcus has a vision of an all encompassing, phased in facility that will not only support hunting, fishing and many outdoor activities, but other rehab/wellness as well. The primary intent is to create a safe haven for warriors and their families to heal. He plans to identify a BEAUTIFUL piece of property in TX and build a multi-phased ranch/rehab complex. The ranch will have an on-site gym complete with coaches, trainers, etc. He intends to build it with significant expansion capability, and ultimately support warriors, their families and kids. He'd like to have a counseling aspect interwoven into all activities which could include team building, obstacle courses, horseback riding, bowling, rock climbing, art therapy, journaling, fishing, yoga, spa services, etc.

Long term he sees the need for a physician, nurse, and social worker/therapist on staff. He'd like the physician to be trained in pain mgmt, because that is an issue that affects almost all of our wounded warriors. He also plans to have benefits counselor come there during everyone's stay to conduct a government benefits brief and help get whatever is lacking.

Unique Rehab Opportunities for Wounded Warriors: Fund people to go to Athlete’s Performance or other appropriate rehab facilities that don’t have a government source of funding due to the unique nature of how they do business.

Other things falling into this category is funding invitro-fertilization for those who have lost their ability to naturally reproduce due to combat wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy for wounded warriors with TBI, providing adaptive athletic equipment such as recumbent bikes, etc.

Until the ranch is fully operational, Lone Survivor Foundation will fund wounded warrior and family attendance at other sporting and hunting events.

The Foundation is set to officially launch on 28 June 2005 - the 5 year anniversary of Operation Red Wing. There will be a kick off event in Houston on June 26th - more information will follow once it's available.

Please visit for more information.

The website is in its very EARLY stages of development, and the Foundation is currently solely reliant on volunteers, so please be patient while we develop the content.

Lone Survivor Foundation is pending 501(c)(3) approval, and expects to obtain it within the next few months.

For those of you on Facebook, there is an official authorized fan page for Marcus Luttrell where you can keep up to date.