Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “WWII”

Memorial Day — You’re doing it wrong!

On this Memorial Day, we sit out on our decks and party.  Three days we’ve got off from work with burgers on the barbie.  But if you take a moment to reflect, away from your party scene, the radio will remind you what this day truly means.

It’s time to save, I said SAVE, on a waterbed!  It’s time to buy a great mattress at an even greater price!  I’ve got two words for you — It’s “Tire Sale!”  We’ve got rock-bottom prices and the time is running out!

You’ve got one full year, that’s right — one full year!  No interest!  No payments!  This could be the Memorial Day Weekend you enjoy for years!

Oh, yeah, and something about guys who died for our country…..  (“Memorial Day” parody by Heywood Banks)

Sadly, that song which was written as a joke to show just how out-of-touch we are with what Memorial Day really means is truer than you think.

I’ve seen and heard lots of people talking about their holiday weekend.  The “fact” that it’s the first weekend of summer.  About how much they’ve enjoyed their mini-family vacations and days spent on the lake or fishing or perfecting their barbeque techniques.  I’ve also seen a lot of people posting photos/cartoons and statements thanking veterans for their service.

Memorial Day is not the day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  EVERY DAY should be a day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  But for those who can’t be bothered to do that every day you see someone in uniform or someone wearing a hat or jacket showing they were one who promised to put their life on the line for our country, then at least say “thank you” on Veterans’ Day (11 November).

Memorial Day is when we should stop what we’re doing and remember that it’s the day set aside to say “thank you” to those veterans we CAN’T thank in person anymore.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields, wherever they were.  And we remember those veterans who have passed-on and the service they so proudly gave to our country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started by Major General John A. Logan from Southern Illinois and the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic.  The GAR was an organization of Union veterans.  Three years after the Civil War, in 1868, he said that on May 30th all the graves of our war dead should be decorated with flowers (which would be in bloom across the country at that time).  In his orders, he stated:

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

This was done because in many areas immediately following the Civil War, only those of either Union or Confederate forces were being remembered and the graves of the “enemy” were falling into neglect.  One of the first records of equal decorations came in 1866 when women visiting the sites of the Confederate dead from the Battle of Shiloh near Columbus, Mississippi, noticed the graves of Union casualties being ignored and desecrated because they were they “enemy.”  Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the ladies placed flowers there as well.

Many Union or Confederate Decoration Day ceremonies are still held every year.  Memorial Day, however, was made a Federal holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 and the last Monday in May was selected as the date in order to be fairly consistent with the orders given by Maj. Gen. Logan as well as coinciding with the local/regional celebrations that had been occurring since.

Every grave in every national cemetery will have an American flag placed upon it today.  Some are placed by soldiers, some by civic groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts.  Many family members will also decorate the graves of their loved ones in national, state, and private cemeteries.  Speeches will be made and politicians will “pay tribute” across the country today.  But it shouldn’t be just them making an effort.  And it shouldn’t be just the veterans who were able to come home to their country and families and who live with the memories of how their comrades gave the ultimate sacrifice.  It should be all of us — every single person who enjoys the freedom for which those brave men and women laid-down their lives.

It’s not about the sales; it’s not about the picnics; it’s not about a day off with or without pay.  It’s about gratitude; it’s about honor; it’s about those we can never say “thank you” personally to again.

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Spring Gun Show: Day Two

Today was also a nice day at the annual Spring Gun Show.  Not too many people asking stupid questions, like “Is that for sale?” when the item is clearly marked with what it is and how much we’re asking for it.  Not too many people wanting to stand around and touch everything we have on the table but not actually interested in buying anything.  We did have a few people try to haggle on prices with us, and we actually encourage that (unless the price tag says “FIRM” which means we’re probably selling it for someone else).  But trying to haggle with us for a lower price, us coming to an agreement on a lower price for the item, and then the customer walking away because they don’t have the money to buy it is just silly.  I lost count how many times that happened today.

But, we returned home with fewer items than we took which is always a success.  We did purchase some .45 ACP pistol parts and a reproduction MP-40 “non-gun” (doesn’t work, never did, never will) that we’d planned to add to our collections and/or resell and ALL of them sold within a half an hour of our purchases.  We were lucky to get an M1 Garand bayonet in excellent condition at a very reasonable price.  We plan to resell it but we bought it so close to the end of the day today that there wasn’t time to resell it there.  That’s okay; that’s why we have the website.

My oral surgeon advised me the other day to be careful with what I ate and drank and to not be surprised if by the end of the second or third day my face began to swell and ache worse than it did when I went to his office.  That would have been any amount because nothing hurt when I went to see him and now I’m in excruciating pain!  I almost wanted to skip posting tonight because earlier I could barely lift my arms or my head long enough to type anything.  But, I sat and watched the Oscars and figured if I’m still up this late I can at least post something.  So, here it is.

I’m looking forward to the next gun show we’ll be able to attend.  Not sure when that will be at the moment but it will be fun as will the search for new items to offer at the next show!

Spring Gun Show: Day One

I’m surprised.  I’m very surprised.  I’m actually on the verge of being stunned.  Today, I didn’t have to yell at anyone in disgust during the gun show.  And that’s a first for me in a long time!

I don’t consider myself a rude person.  I try to be friendly and cordial with everyone I meet, especially if they’re a customer, until they give me a reason not to be.  Then, depending on the amount of stupidity or rudeness received, all bets are off.  My business is there to make money, not to please the entire world.  I’ve spent years of my life studying and researching information so that I am as close to being an expert as I can be with regards to the items I sell.  And since 99% of all of the items are either from the Vietnam War era or earlier (I deal in military surplus, in case you forgot or are new to my writings), a lot of my information has to come from hands-on experience with the items, talking to veterans who owned or were issued the items, and doing a LOT of reading so that I’ll know the little details.  Not every helmet is the same.  Not every weapon is the same.  And just because you watched Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan doesn’t make you an expert on WWII militaria!  You might own the entire DVD set of every Tour of Duty season or you have every M*A*S*H and After M*A*S*H episode memorized, but that doesn’t make you an expert on the Vietnam or Korean Wars!

The worst thing to do is to come up to my table (which I have spent a fair amount of money to rent so that I can sell my items) after I’ve traveled a long distance to be at the show (sometimes I’m lucky and the shows are actually at a center across the street from my house!) and made sure that I’ve brought a wide variety of items (because one of the biggest complaints at shows is that “there’s nothing worth buying”) and trying to inform me that the polyester-blend jacket you’re holding was passed-down three generations from your relative that served in the American Revolution and because you’ve seen the latest documentary on History Channel that has one “just like it” that I must purchase it from you for an ungodly amount of money.  Or, you bring an item to me and tell me how you watched a television show where someone had one exactly like it except for the color, size, and rust on it and that you demand that I pay the appraised amount from the show.  I’ll make this simple — do either of those things, and the answer is going to be, “Not gonna happen in this lifetime, buddy!”

Another one of the top items to not do is to bring your item to my table, stand in front of me and give me a very, very long, very, very detailed “history” of the item and how you came to own it and then ask me what it’s worth.  It’s even worse when you start your diatribe with, “Do you know what this is?” not in a manner of “Can you help me?” but with the attitude of “I’m going to teach you something.”  What’s most irritating is when I’ve answered your question that I do or don’t know what the item is and ask if you want to sell the item to me and you respond with a resounding “Of course not!” or “Depends on what you tell me it’s worth!  Why should I give you an appraisal for free?  You don’t get other items appraised for free.  Why should I utilize the many years research and knowledge that I have to tell you something that (1) you think you already knew or (2) had no clue about and not get anything out of it?  I don’t work for Antiques Roadshow so my appraisals aren’t free!

Also, when I give a “value” on an item, it’s going to be one of three things — (1) the current market value of the item based on others I’ve seen sell at retail or auction, (2) an estimated insurance value if it’s something that I’ve already been informed is going to stay within the family (and my appraisal fee is paid), or (3) what I think it’s worth to me or what I’m willing to pay because I am going to resell it and need to be able to make a profit.  I’m not buying your memories or appraising your family’s history — I’m in this game to make money and just because you saw someone else told that their item is worth $30,000 doesn’t mean that your’s is as well!  Not every World War II uniform was worn by Eisenhower or Patton and not every German pistol was carried by Goering or Hitler.  And trust me on this, there are a LOT of faked items out there!  Collectors and reenactors have demanded reproduction items and manufacturers have been more than happy to provide them, especially if they’re Nazi items!  They first started reproducing the uniforms but used actual WWII-era materials and thread which made detecting a fake almost impossible.  Then they reproduced weapons with old parts found in defunct factories.  The parts are “original” but the build of the weapon didn’t happen until the 1980s — so saying it’s “real” is kind of hard to do.  Now, there are companies that not only fake the medals (and not just the high honor ones but even the ones that EVERYONE got) but they even fake the presentation boxes the things came in from the 1940s!!  It’s getting so you can’t trust anything as “authentic” anymore!

Oh, and when I said “real” above, that word drives me insane.  People come up to me when I’m wearing my WWII-era authentic uniform and ask, “Is that real?”  I tell them, “Why, yes, it is — in the sense that it takes up time and space.”  That usually baffles them for a few moments until they decide to ask, “Is it really your uniform?”  I reply, “Yes, it is mine because I bought and paid for it myself and am the only person who wears it.”  Again, I’ll get some blank stares because they’re not sure of what to say.  What they should have asked is, “Is that an authentic WWII uniform?” or “Is that uniform original to the WWII-era?” or “Was that uniform made during WWII and possibly used by a soldier then?”  Then I could answer them whether or not my uniform is “authentic,” “genuine” or “vintage.”  “Real” is a word that has way too many meanings.  And asking if it is “mine” implies that I am the person who wore the uniform during World War II and earned the medals pinned to the dress jacket and actually obtained the rank worn from the United States Government.  I may be starting to look older, but I’m not THAT old yet!!

So today wasn’t filled with as many questions or issues like those.  It was nice to have intelligent and humorous conversations with prospective customers.  And when some would ask me for my “expert” opinion or for clarification with regards to an item or type of items I’ve spent a lot of time researching, I was happy to oblige.  True, there were a number of people who tapped on the helmets to make sure they were really made out of metal and others who tried to “inform” us that we couldn’t own or sell our wares because “it’s illegal to own government property” even though the items are edging 70 years old and no one in the government has been searching for them (especially since they discontinued them and threw away what was left-over ages ago).

Hopefully tomorrow will go well.  And if not, at least I’m still on my painkillers from yesterday and they help mellow me out for short periods of time.

Discovery’s “Combat Cash” goes MIA tonight.

It’s Wednesday and I settled in for an interesting evening.  Two weeks ago this blog lit up after I said that Discovery’s Combat Cash was awful.  That’s not exactly what I said, but you can go back and read the original post for yourself.

I looked up when it would be on again and found that today was the next air date.  TV Guide said that I’d have to be ready to watch at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.  Here are the descriptions of the episodes:

7 p.m. – Real GI Joe; 1795 Springfield Musket:  A 1795 Springfield musket is test fired; a rare GI Joe is sold; the guys meet a helicopter crew from the Vietnam War. New (CC)

7:30 p.m. – Hellcat Ammo; Flamethrowers:  Flamethrowers from WWII and the Vietnam War are used for a photo shoot; the guys search for ammo for a Hellcat tank. New (CC)

I started flipping channels to find something to watch until 7 p.m. and switched to Discovery a few minutes early so I could get settled-in with a snack.  The show advertised above as the 7 p.m. episode was ending!  What’s up with that??

So, I went to Discovery’s website and pulled-up the schedule for tonight.  Here’s what they advertised (times are Eastern Standard Time):

7 p.m. –  Hellcat Ammo/Flamethrowers TV-PG; Bob and Owen roll up their sleeves to search for WWII-era ammunition for a Hellcat tank. The owner offers them the bonus of getting to fire off some live rounds. Then the guys light up a special photo shoot with WWII and Vietnam War-era flamethrowers.

7:30 p.m. – Real GI Joe/1795 Springfield Musket TV-PG; Vintage Productions owner Bob and partner Owen connect passionate collectors with rare military items. They sell a very rare GI Joe and test fire a 1795 Springfield musket. But it’s their job for a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter crew that really strikes home.

I did get to see the guys test fire the Springfield musket and the video of the new owner placing it in his customized display which, when the musket is inserted, looks like a “life-sized” Combat Infantry Badge.  That’s actually pretty awesome.  A neat idea for displaying a nice firearm.

But that’s all I got to see!  TV Guide and the satellite guide say one thing; Discovery says something else.  TV Guide and the satellite say the episodes will rerun at midnight Central Standard Time.  Discovery says they’ll rerun at 1:30 a.m., 2 a.m., and 2:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, January 26th.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I do enjoy sleeping.  It’s one of my favorite activities.  And I function a LOT better when I have an average amount of it each day.  I’m not staying up until “0-Christ-Hundred” to watch a show that may or may not be worth watching.

So what’s up, Discovery??  I’ve already been getting emails and questions from friends/family if maybe the episodes weren’t aired when they were advertised because they didn’t want me to see it again.  While that’s flattering, I don’t believe my blog post would cause a full-scale schedule makeover.  But I still don’t understand why Discovery would change its schedule when it’s already been printed and programmed for one time and decide to air the episodes when people are not usually watching Discovery.  Do they want it to fail now?  Are they hoping only the diehard militaria fans will stay-up to watch it?  Do they hope that those who are usually up at those times will “appreciate” the show more than those who made sure their schedules were open to watch at the advertised times?

Shame on you, Discovery.  Shame, shame, shame.  I was actually looking forward to watching the episodes — and not just to be snarky about them.  I wanted to see if there was any improvement from the first two episodes and be able to comment positively on that.  I have no idea why anyone would want WWII-era ammunition for a Hellcat, so not having seen the episode I can only imagine that it’s an idiotic reason since ammunition does become unstable over time, but I don’t know and I’m not going to speculate.

I’ll wait and see if new episodes are forthcoming, but I’m beginning to seriously doubt it.  Especially since there’s an article on Discovery’s website saying “Combat Cash Finale” and dated today (January 25, 2012).

Oh well….at least I’ve got time to watch something else, and it sure as heck isn’t going to be Sons of Guns that they’ve decided to show in the scheduled time slot for Combat Cash.  If you thought I didn’t like Combat Cash, you don’t want to go into the deep waters of Sons of Guns.  Trust me.

70 years ago today, true evil was planned with drinks and laughter

Friday, Friday, Friday.  End of the “work week” for many.  Beginning of the weekend for others.  Me?  It’s just another cold, dreary day and I’m trying to think of something profound about which to blog.

Oh, as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve changed the look of the Blog.  I got tired of the “pink” theme.  When I started this thing I needed a layout that was simple and would help me ensure that every date had a prominent marker so I would know that I had remembered to keep up with my challenge.  However, I am not a “pink” person.  I hate pink.  Unless it’s a retina-burning flourescent pink, I don’t want it.  I can’t stand having to pass the Barbie aisles in stores because of all of the pink.  Even my dogs, both of whom are female, are like me — tomboyish and no “froo-froo bows or ribbons” in our hair, especially if they’re pink.

Since Friday itself doesn’t have much importance to me today (at least, not yet), I decided to try to find something interesting about today’s date — January 20th.  Usually people remember that it’s Inauguration Day after we elect (or re-elect) our President every four years.  It’s also a date that has had a lot of controversy — specifically in 1981 when just minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as our 40th president the hostages in Iran were suddenly freed.  Debate still continues over who paid whom and how badly President Jimmy Carter had to be portrayed so that Reagan would win and the back-table dealings would get our people out of Iran.  It was all so scripted and choreographed that many realized that something was rotten, and it wasn’t in Denmark.

But if you want true evil at its utmost that occurred on January 20th, look back to 1942.  On that day, 15 officials sat around a large table while drinking wine, smoking cigars, and enjoying the finest food.  They were there to decide the fate of over six million lives and did so with such politeness and efficiency that was meticulously recorded, as only the Nazis could.

January 20, 1942 was the date of the Wannsee Conference.

Hitler’s armies were freezing on the Eastern Front.  He wanted his goal of a “true Aryan supremacy” to come to fruition, regardless of the cost.  American troops had begun to join the fight in the West with the Allies and Germany had too many “undesirables” in their way.  That’s always a problem when you invade a country — you have to do something with the population that was already there.  They have needs and those needs must be met.  But when your plan begins to suffer because of all the people standing in your way and you’re as bat-crap crazy as Hitler was over world domination, you get someone else to take care of it.

Herman Goering, under Hitler’s instructions, sent SS General Reinhard Heydrich to a manor house in a small suburb outside of Berlin to meet with SS Major Adolf Eichmann and other officials from Nazi ministries and organizations.  By the end of the day, they had decided the “final solution” and went off to continue their lives and careers.  The sole instruction given to them at that time was that a copy of the transcripts of the meeting (Nazis loved to keep notes about everything) would be distributed to each member present and that they were to be kept in the highest confidence.  Fortunately for the Allies and the rest of the world, their obsessive-compulsive need to have everything documented along with the arrogance of one of the members present resulted in a single copy surviving.  This copy of the minutes of the meeting and what was said and done in that room was used as key evidence during the Nazi war crimes trials.

If you’ve never seen the movie Conspiracy published by HBO Films and starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth (among many other recognizable stars), then you should.  To watch a reconstruction of the events based upon the surviving copy of the transcripts and what each person had to say, their reasonings behind it, and even the casualness with which the participants spoke and joked about “evacuating” undesirable persons is truly shocking.  All of the ideas tossed around the table and debate between who should be the first to receive these “benefits” to their organization and seeing some having a moment of conscious realization about what they were actually discussing is very educational and disturbing.  Even more disturbing is at the end of the movie when they show what happened to all of the participants.  If I remember correctly, the last one to die did so in 1987 — having never been convicted in this plot.  As a matter of fact, you’ll be stunned how many were never associated with the plans written that day and what they went on to do with their lives.

I have a penchant for movies that are historically accurate yet morbid and I can’t quite explain why.  Conspiracy is in my DVD collection along with Downfall — the movie from which the Hitler rant that’s become an Internet meme showing him upset over everything from why the Star Wars prequels were so awful to when Twitter crashed and even to Hitler finding out he’s become an Internet meme and the decision by the corporation that owns the original film to remove all of the parodies from the Internet.  I still want to find a DVD copy (with English subtitles) of The Chekist.  I rented that movie once and watched it one evening with Husband.  Let’s just say it’s not a movie to which you can eat popcorn.  Or much of anything else.  Watching the Soviet purges over and over will definitely keep this from ever being a suitable “date” movie.

Heck, I’ve decided that if I’m ever truly suicidal that all I’ll need to do is watch The Chekist, Conspiracy, and Downfall in one sitting and I’ll be begging to slit my own wrists.

So, there’s your history lesson for the day.  There might be a pop-quiz in the middle or at the end of the blog, so be sure to keep your notes.  And definitely don’t ever let anyone forget what plans happened on this date 70 years ago.

It’s the years….and the miles.

They say “You’re only as old as you feel.”  Well, “they” must be taking something and I want to know where to get some ’cause today I feel like I’m “hit-by-a-bus” years old.

I had a feeling this day would come.  Actually, I knew it would — I just never thought it would be this soon.  I’m only 40 for cripes sake!  There are guys out there older than me who are humping gear through the woods and enjoying every second of it.  Then again, if you’re not used to doing it every day, it can be a LOT harder than people think.

Just because you’ve beaten Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, or Brothers in Arms doesn’t make you a reenactor.

Yesterday was the annual “Battle of the Bulge” reenactment at Camp Clark outside of Nevada, Missouri.  There were reenactors from all around the midwest and some from even further away there for a day of fun and excitement.  Husband and I (along with Celeste since she goes everywhere with me) drove in the wee hours of the morning with our weapons packed, our uniforms on, and lots of militaria to sell after the battles.  We saw people we’d not seen in a year (since the last battle there), some we’d not seen in many years, and made a lot of new friends as well.  We met people doing impressions of GIs, Heer, Waffen-SS, Foreign-SS troops, Spanish Blue Division, Italian, British, and Soviet forces.  There were a lot of semi-automatic weapons there but we were lucky to have a few fully-automatic rifles and some that had been converted to fire propane so they’d sound as an automatic weapon should.  Even the Soviets brought a “flamethrower” which squirted water out the end — making it easy to show what had been ignited and who would be affected by it.

Everyone gathered for the safety and authenticity inspection.  We have to have them because you can never be too careful where firearms are concerned.  They checked to make sure all of the pyrotechnics (dummy grenades, etc.) were safe and approved and also examined everyone’s weapons and blanks to ensure that nothing prohibited makes it onto the field.  I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me if we use blanks when we do our battles.  I tell them that we use blanks because it’s easier to keep having battles and recruiting new members, even if blank rounds are “inauthentic.”  Sadly, the sarcasm often passes by them.

After the inspection, the OICs (Officers in Charge) were told to form-up their units and prepare to move to the first scenario’s launch point.  Husband and I portray 35th Infantry Division, HQ MP Platoon members.  We started years ago (Husband in the early 1980s; me in the early 1990s) as infantry and then changed to military police.  We often will add in military intelligence to our repertoire if the battle coordinators need more varied units to help flesh-out the scenarios they’ve written.  I, being a second lieutenant, automatically became the leader for the third squad of the second company.  We fell into ranks and started to march to the launch point.

There was a bit of snow on the ground but we marched along on the asphalt road at a fairly good pace.  The Soviets enjoyed riding their bikes past us and ringing their bells in fun.  We waved and teased them about how they would have to make motorcycle noises in order to intimidate the Germans.  We watched many of the Germans being transported by truck to their areas and began to wish we’d had that luxury.  We continued to march and march and march.  The first company consisted mostly of younger (18-to-mid-20-year old) reenactors who are military cadets and do this on a daily basis.  Some of the older guys attached to their company said “Heck with that!” and sauntered along at a pace more suited for them.

Our company passed the remnants of the first company and continued to march.  Soon, we began to slow down.  A very short time later, my squad was going even slower than the rest of the company.  Sadly, my stride isn’t as long as my male counterparts’ and I was basically running compared to their walking.  I kept wondering, “When are we going to get there?”  Usually, we move-out into the woods and the battle will start fairly quickly.  Not this day.  We were informed by our OIC that we had AT LEAST another half-mile to march before we’d reach our staging area.

Maybe in tennis shoes or sneakers I can wander a half-mile down a paved road.  When the paved road turns to rough gravel with snow, it gets harder.  But I didn’t have my comfy shoes.  Regardless, I wasn’t going to stop and let the guys down.  If they could do it, I could too.  Oh, and did I mention that the bitter air aggravated my asthma?

Finally, we made it to the staging area.  Our OIC began to deploy the unit along the area where we were supposed to defend.  My squad was the flank….the end….the last stand against where the Germans and their allies would be attacking.  We were going to be the WWII version of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg.  Standing on a ridge, waiting for the enemy, but with more ammunition and better firepower.  I turned to issue deployment orders to my squad.

The next thing I remember is hearing a lot of loud bangs and then being dragged into a ditch.  In a brief second, Husband had done a test-fire of his submachine gun to ensure he had the right blank adapter installed so the weapon would cycle correctly.  However, he failed to follow a standard safety procedure of announcing “Fire in the hole!” before starting so that people in the vicinity would be prepared for sudden close firing.  Because I had not heard the announcement, I hadn’t prepared Celeste and didn’t have a tight grip on her lead which was slung over my shoulder and across my chest.  When the noise spooked her, she immediately began to pull me towards the closest ditch for safety.  Her lead cinched-up and tightened around my neck and left shoulder and, Celeste being an 85-pound dog, I was quickly knocked off my feet.

Years ago I broke my right knee while I was in college.  I won’t go into the details here, but I landed squarely on that knee on the large chunks of gravel used to pave the road for military vehicles, not foot traffic.  She continued to pull until I was off the road and I felt like an idiot because I thought for sure the rest of the guys would have thought I was just a klutz (which is true at times).  I calmed her down, readjusted her collars and lead, and proceeded to yell loudly at Husband for not following protocol.  Then, I tried to get up.

I got about halfway up on my feet before my knee began to scream and basically decided it was going to defect from the rest of my body.  I wasn’t going anywhere fast.  Celeste helped me brace myself and I finally was up and moving.  It wasn’t pretty, but I was moving under my own power.

Since Husband is a sergeant in my unit, I told him to go give my deployment orders to the rest of the squad.  They’d already left to deploy near the area I wanted them, but it’s a hobby and I wasn’t going to nitpick over where they were standing since it would be quite a while before the advancing troops would be near us.  Then the OIC said that because Husband and I were MPs, we were to walk BACK towards the bridge we’d crossed a while ago and ensure that no one came around the flank to take the bridge.

So, we wandered our way back to the bridge and began to look at the terrain.  A very large, very deep, and very icy creek ran under the bridge and no reenactor in their right mind would try to cross it.  However, since we know a few that aren’t in their right minds (including us, we began to think), we waited at the bridge.  A little while later a large group of Boy Scouts approached and, being in-character, I stopped them to ask what they were doing in our area.  I directed them to stay on the road until they reached the next intersection where the OIC could give them their directions of where they could observe the battle.  I wish they’d have told me before the battle that we were going to have visitors — I’ve had experiences at other reenactment where “touristas” just show-up to watch uninvited and usually end up putting themselves in danger.  Yes, we use blanks but people CAN be injured or killed by them.

We waited and waited and could hear the battle beginning in the distance.  We didn’t have radio or messenger contact with the rest of the unit.  Hours passed, and no one came near us.  Soon, we realized that the rest of the unit had moved even farther away and we’d been forgotten.  I watched my knee swell even more and finally sat on the side of the road and decided I wasn’t going to march anywhere else.  Fortunately, the WWII ambulance that was to ferry people back-and-forth to the aid station arrived.  Husband and I decided to call it a day and went back to the main building.

It would have been nice to be in the thick of the battle.  With an M1 Carbine and a submachine gun, we could have helped lay a nice covering fire as our units advanced.  I’d already decided that when they got to the “town battle” (a small area with shipping containers that had holes cut for doors and windows for military training) that I wasn’t going to put Celeste through the serious noise that would be caused there.  I had earplugs; she did not, and until they invent some for dogs we’ll just stay out of that area.  It wasn’t until after the entire scenario was over that we found out the bridge where we were sitting was a major objective.  Regardless, I wasn’t going to sit for almost 7 hours to wait for them to get to me.

When we arrived at the main building, we started unpacking the items we brought to sell.  We made a fairly decent profit and even found a few items from other vendors that we wanted for ourselves.  I hobbled into one of the latrines and changed out of my uniform.  I got to see lots of new shades of black-and-blue as well as the cuts I didn’t know I had on my knee.  The blood had been absorbed by my long underwear, which is why I didn’t see it through the wool pants I’d been wearing.  I sat down and iced my knee for a while and chatted with other reenactors as they dropped-out early as well.

As we sat there waiting for the scenarios to end, Husband and I talked about possibly changing our unit’s designation.  Maybe we’ll portray a quartermaster unit since we do better at selling stuff to the reenactors than in keeping up with them.  We’re not doing medical corps — there are many VERY good medical reenacting units.  Our fear is that we’d just get stuck with the biggest, laziest reenactors wanting us to hump their butts back to the HQ on a stretcher and that ain’t happenin’!  Maybe we’ll consider doing ordinance since they wouldn’t have to march into the field.  Artillery and recon were discussed but they require vehicles and we’ve owned a MB Willys Jeep before and don’t need another money pit.  The 35th Division even had a CIC (Counter-intelligence Corps) detachment.  We’re not sure what in the world they would have done, but they would have been “in the rear with the gear.”

Yes, we’re getting too old to play this game.  WWII reenacting is fast becoming a young-man/woman’s hobby.  Our days of marching through the woods, mud, sand, hills, valleys, and anything else they threw in front of us are slowly ebbing away.  We’ll keep at it as long as we can, but a smart person knows when defeat is creeping upon them.

Then again, we can always form the 35th Infantry Division Band.

Today’s post delayed by injury

Howdy y’all!  Well, I would be posting my usual stuff tonight, but today I was at the Battle of the Bulge WWII reenactment at Camp Clark, Missouri.  A little snow on the ground to give us the feeling of “being there” and a bunch of great guys/gals with which to enjoy the day.

Sadly, Celeste wasn’t happy when Husband fired his SMG without warning and she pulled me into a ditch.  My knee (which I previously had broken in college in another blog-worthy post) took the brunt of the fall and I’m now icing it down.  It excuses me from being able to post (according to my own rules).  So, be sure to check-back tomorrow for the full tale and my odd insights!

Preparing for battle tomorrow….

Today I’d planned to write something about it being the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but holy crap on a cracker!!  You guys are really into my post about Discovery Channel’s Combat Cash!  My hit-counts are going way up and I’ve had a few comments on the article, too.  I’m either the new speaker for the masses who agree with me that the show is not what it should/could be or I’m the new heretic that should be burned at the stake for daring to say that I didn’t like it and feel as if that’s an hour of my life I’ll never, ever get back.

Either way, it stands up under the Rules for this blog — I write only from the truth, even if it’s just the truth as I see it.  And everyone is free to agree or disagree or agree to disagree with me.  This is just a blog I started to help me process things going on in my head and I can’t help it if something sticks in my craw and the “shut-up filter” won’t activate while I’m typing.  So, thanks to those who’ve read and shared the post!  Thanks to those who’ve commented!  And thanks to those who want to continue this journey with me through the rest of the year.  Remember, insanity doesn’t run through my family — it saunters slowly and gets to know everyone before making itself at home!

So, kind of on the same topic of my Combat Cash rant, today Husband and I are preparing for the Battle of the Bulge reenactment tomorrow at Camp Clark outside Nevada, Missouri.  It’s not as large of an affair as the Conneaut, Ohio D-Day battle, but for those of us in the Midwest who want to have a fun weekend doing LARP (live-action role-playing) of Axis versus Allies it’s a great place to go.  Husband is currently packing the car with the militaria we plan to sell at the event from my website.  Just a note — if you are from California and are coming to the event, don’t tell anyone where you’re from because the word around the Midwest dealers is that now we can double or triple our prices because of that show and you’ll be more than willing to pay them.  I don’t plan on taking any modern-day militaria; just packing the WWII through Vietnam-era items that might be of interest to the reenactors.  Many of them will get tired or will have blown through their supply of blanks quickly and will want something to do, so we’re more than happy to sell them stuff at reasonable prices so they can brag to their friends/comrades/etc. what a deal they got or how they were lucky to find such an unusual item.

I’m in the process of making sure all of my uniform pieces are present and ready for inspection.  Yes, even though I’m a female and women didn’t have front-line positions in the military, I do WWII reenacting and have for many, many years.  And not just when I do Soviet where females were on the front-lines as snipers, tank crews, and many other positions.  I am the unit commander for the 35th Infantry Division, MP Platoon based out of Southern Missouri and Arkansas.  I do a male impression when there’s a tactical battle (no public audience) because I’m not content to sit on the sidelines and watch all the guys have fun running through the woods and “shooting” at each other.  I have to make sure my uniform is correct; my hair is cut short like the guys or pinned-up so that it meets the 10-foot “authenticity” rule; and I have to show and reshow people I’m just as qualified and in some cases more qualified to lead a unit into “battle.”  And as for the 10-foot “authenticity” rule, I pass it easily.  True, I’m heavier than most WWII recruits would have been and there’s always some smartass who makes a comment about the ampleness of my chestular region.  But, my uniform is usually more authentic (or at least reproduced more authentically) than many of the guys’ are.  Also, Husband and I have sent shockwaves through some of the German units who thought they witnessed two male reenactors kissing after a particularly tough scenario, only to find out that it was us greeting each other on the way back to the vehicles.  I’d say that counts as an “authenticity” pass.

This year, however, I probably won’t be on the “front lines” as much since Celeste, my service dog, will be coming with me.  Beaucerons were used in WWI and WWII by the Allies, so she’ll be the perfect “war dog” to take and intimidate the captured enemy soldiers into confessing their objectives (even though the most she’d do would be lick them if I let her).  She’s even getting excited about going somewhere because she sees me packing new leads and collars and a lot of extra food, water, treats, and her booties (to protect her pads) in her  personal bag.  Plus, she deserves “doggie time” and there will be ample time when the battle is raging somewhere else that she and I can toss a ball around and let herself enjoy playing in the sun.

Husband, however, has already jumped into “military mode.”  As a bit of history on him, he is a military veteran having served in both the Army and Air National Guard for over 28 years.  But when we get ready for WWII battles, you’d think he’d jumped-back in time and “Sergeant Husband” has stepped forward to organize a full mobilization.  He want to be sure to get to the “fuel depot” (to fill-up our 2001 Suzuki Esteem wagon since we no longer own a military vehicle).  He’s up at “Oh-Christ-Hundred Hours” making a list of everything that needs to be done and packed and the specific order in which it will be done so that he can stow the “manifest” to ensure everything makes it to the battle site and back home again.  Actually, I can’t complain — he saves me a LOT of time and worry about things because usually all I have to do the morning of the trip is wake up, take the dogs to go “walkies,” get dressed and enjoy the ride because everything’s packed and ready.  Even my ammunition clips are already loaded and waiting for me!

So, this is what I’ll be doing tomorrow.  I just wanted to be sure to clarify that in case I’m either too tired or too sore to type anything before tomorrow’s midnight deadline in keeping with the Rules of the blog.  But don’t worry — I’ll be sure to  have a great recap of what happens, especially for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about.  It’s not a cheap hobby; it’s not an easy hobby; but it’s my hobby and it’s a LOT of fun!!!

Discovery’s “Combat Cash” is crap!

Reality TV is stupid.  It’s beyond stupid.  And it’s certainly not any reality I’m familiar with — actual or imaginary.

People have become hooked on watching other people do incredibly stupid things to get on television with the hopes of winning money, getting married, or just for their 15 minutes of fame.  And what passes for “reality” television these days is horrible.

Last night, I suffered through Discovery Channel’s latest “reality” show, Combat Cash.  I figured that someone, like myself, who is into militaria and World War II reenacting would enjoy a show about others who have the same interests and perhaps I might learn a thing or two.  I learned something alright….I learned that these guys are idiots.

Let’s go back a bit for those who aren’t personally familiar with who I am and what I do.  When I’m not working disasters with a certain governmental agency, I run an online military surplus retail store (you can find the website in my profile information).  Husband and I have collected, bought, sold, and traded military items from almost every major conflict and most of the major players in them.  We specialize in items from World War I to the Vietnam Conflict (although, every veteran and civilian I’ve ever met that was in Vietnam at that time said it sounded more like a war than a “conflict”).  Our main speciality is World War II GI (American) Military Police and the 35th Infantry Division.  We even attend World War II reenactments where, yes, we as fully-grown adults dress-up in uniforms (mostly reproductions since originals are hard to come by these days) and play “good-guy/bad-guy” with others dressed as Germans.  We attend as either US 35th Division MPs if it’s a Western Front event and as USSR NKVD if it’s an Eastern Front event.  Many of our friends portray British, Italian, German, GI, partisan, and Soviet and we have a good time running in the woods shooting blanks at each other just like kids used to do when playing “Cowboys and Indians” with their old cap guns and toy bow-and-arrow sets.  It’s pretty much the same, actually….except that the “guns” are actual military surplus and cost a LOT more than your average plastic six-shooter but the amount of squabbling over who did and didn’t get “killed” is still pretty much the same.

So, it’s pretty safe to say that we know what our items are and what they aren’t.  We’ve had to become adept at detecting the faked items from the real thing — and these days it’s getting harder and harder to do.  There are companies that not only make almost perfect copies of WWII German medals/awards, they even have reproduced the boxes in which they were originally presented!!  That’s one reason I won’t buy German militaria unless I can absolutely, without-a-doubt prove that it’s original.  Too many fakes out there for my wallet.  Sure, it’s great to buy reproduction items when you’re on a budget and need something for a collection to hold a place until you can get an authentic item or if you plan to run around in the woods and don’t want to take your incredibly expensive originals out to play.  But if you’re buying and selling items to make a profit and you don’t have a clue as to what is and isn’t real and how the fakes are fooling many, then you’re in big trouble.

I grudgingly sat down with Husband to watch the premiere episode of Combat Cash last night and laughed about how we’d been contacted months ago by “producers” saying that they worked with Discovery, TLC, and other big cable networks who wanted to do a reality show about military surplus collectors/dealers and if we would be interested.  First of all, this “request” came by email from someone I had no idea and couldn’t find information about who they were.  Secondly, why would I want to show where I purchase my inventory or how I get awesome deals on it??  It’s like announcing to the world, “Here’s how it’s done, so be sure to get there before I do because I don’t have the desire to actually make money anymore.  Oh, and while you’re at it, here’s where we live/work so you can see our collection and steal it from us.  M’kay?”

The first episode was awful.  Pure and simple — just awful.  As a matter of fact, I started live-posting on Facebook about it when I wasn’t either laughing myself silly or having a fit over something stupid said or done on the show.  I posted on my profile and our business’ page.  Here’s a sample:

“Watching the premiere episode of Discovery Channel’s ‘Combat Cash.’  OMG!!  These guys are idiots!  They say they know everyone in military collecting — well, we’ve never heard of them!  Getting ready to watch the episode that includes WWII reenactors.  This should be a fiasco!”

“Watching Discovery Channel’s new show ‘Combat Cash.”  The premiere episode was incredibly stupid.  Watching the second episode which is supposed to feature WWII reenactors.  They just said that ‘not many people have this kind of firepower (i.e. M1 Garands, MP40s, MG34s, etc.).’  No….not in southern California where they are they don’t!  They’re using the firearms to record sound effects for a WWII videogame that has dinosaurs as Hitler’s mechanized weapons.  We’ll maybe they at least won’t have someone yelling ‘Take your hit!’ like Medal of Honor: Underground had.  That is, if they don’t kill themselves — range safety seems nonexistent!”

“Okay….just to let everyone know, we saw the ‘Combat Cash’ guys sell an “original” M1 steel pot painted with medic insignia for $1250.  No, there’s not a decimal point missing out of that — they sold it for twelve hundred fifty dollars!!  Now everyone will believe ANY painted “WWII” helmet is worth at least that.  And they didn’t even prove that it was “original” (stamps, seams, etc.) that people who actually know their stuff would be sure to look for.  I feel sorry for the guys who bought it ’cause now their names are all over national TV!”

You get the idea.  And the show also featured them going to the annual Conneaut, Ohio D-Day reenactment.  Now, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend that even but I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome.  The last D-Day invasion I participated in was the 50th anniversary reenactment at Ft. Story, Virginia.  That was AWESOME!  But, I digress….

These yahoos they call “hosts” of the show started walking through the vendor area and were talking about how “Midwestern prices” are insanely low and how they could go in, buy a lot of stuff, and sell it for twice or three times what they paid to customers in California.  Oh, goody!!  They’re not only incompetent at identifying items or putting reasonable values on them, but now they’re insulting us who live/work in the Midwest by basically typecasting us as ignorant rednecks and hillbillies who are too stupid to know what things are “really” worth.

In the show, they make a point of saying that they’re very busy finding new items for their store and that the store is open by appointment only.  Who can make a living operating that way?  And they charged the videogame dudes $5000 to record sounds of weapons when they could have easily flown themselves to Knob Creek,  Kentucky for one of their Machine Gun Shoots and gotten all the effects they needed for a lot less than that!  The final straw for me was watching these goobers argue over whether or not to purchase a BSA paratrooper bicycle and watching the seller get really irritated at their squabbling.  It was finally decided that if one of the guys jumped out of a plane that they would buy it.  Huh???  It wasn’t even the seller offering to take the guy skydiving!!  Why would you settle a purchase argument by spending more money???

I hope this show either (1) goes off the air soon so that reputable militaria collectors/vendors like myself and many other companies we affiliate with will be able to continue selling items before the general public starts ranting “But on Combat Cash they offered a guy more!” or (2) that they find someone who actually knows what he/she is doing to educate these people that the whole militaria collecting world doesn’t revolve around what’s done in southern California.

But, I did notice one of the guys lost a rear sight on the M1 Carbine he borrowed for the D-Day battle.  I’ve got an original WWII one for sale!!  Maybe I’ll inflate my price on it, just so they’ll feel more comfortable!!

Am I in or am I giving therapy?

I had to ask the question in today’s title.  I mean, I’m paying for a service but there are days I feel I should be getting a paycheck.  Let me explain….

It’s “therapy day” again!  Today is when I go spend an hour with my psychologist, talk about a lot of different subjects (ADD runs the conversation), occasionally answer some questions and/or educate her on something she didn’t know about, and then drive home wondering what I was supposed to get out of all of that.  Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy my visits there because it’s one way I gauge how I’m doing with my anxiety/agoraphobia/panic/depression.  If I’m really talkative (i.e. I do ALL the talking), then I’m either having a manic day or perhaps I’m feeling more comfortable because Celeste, my service dog, is asleep in the floor and there’s no threat over which I should be panicked.  If I’m not so talkative, then I’m back in the depressive mode or I don’t want to be out in public or there just aren’t enough shiny things in the room to set-off the ADD while Celeste is asleep in the floor, again showing me there’s no threat over which I should be panicked.

But if someone were to watch me in my sessions or ask me what was the major point I took away from a session, 9 times out of 10 I’d have to say, “I have no idea!”

Maybe I am getting more than I think I am.  But when I look back at some sessions, I really wonder who’s counseling whom.  When does the “student” become the “teacher?”  And, at what point do the voices in my head need another good poke with a Q-Tip to get them to shut-up so I can be helped instead of “helping” by rambling on and on for an hour?

Take today for an example (it’s the best one I have because I can remember it more clearly than past events since it just happened).  I was asked a very simple question, “Is there anything coming up where you might be called-out to work?”  By “called-out to work” she means deployed away from home working a national disaster event with a governmental agency that has a simple acronym that has been twisted and turned into good and bad definitions since August 2005.  They call; I pack my stuff; I say my “goodbyes” to friends and family; and then I drive or fly to my destination to begin working for a term of not less than 90 days and all the way up to 50 weeks if it’s really bad.

At the moment, there aren’t any events occurring or projected that would require me to be deployed, so I told her I’m still “out-of-work” for the moment.  Then the “shut-up” filter turned off and I started rambling about how I have an appointment on the 18th with an ophthalmologist, how our auditions for the local community theatre’s play had to be rescheduled (and why) for the 23rd, and that this Saturday I’m going to a World War II reenactment of the Battle of the Bulge and that I’d ordered a new collar and lead for Celeste so she’ll look more “authentic” in the field.  The conversation wound its way through how Celeste has been around loud noises and shouldn’t be afraid during the “battle” and that her breed was used by the Allies so she’ll be perfect, especially since I’m doing an MP impression.  It then veered off onto why I’m seeing an ophthalmologist again for the umpteenth time even though I’ve had nearly every test available and no one in over 20 years has been able to tell me what the heck is wrong with my vision.  Finally we skidded into theatre technology and how I would love to produce a play but don’t have the money and currently am wondering how in the world we’ll even get the one we’re holding auditions for off the ground.  Then I explained how sets are built and the willing suspension of disbelief that allows the audience to believe you’ve actually built a Victorian house onstage when all you have is some styrofoam, lumber, starched muslin, and a lot of paint.  That point somehow inexplicably led into me talking about how the Globe Theatre was constructed and plays were staged there and how I’d seen the current reconstruction of the Globe in London during the mid-1990s and that it’s hard for men in corsets to project their voices without microphones.  She stated that there are probably a lot of “drag queens” who’d look good onstage but I corrected her that most of the actors aren’t supposed to look as if they’ve been “tarted-up” to be female, they’re just portraying a female character by wearing the wigs and dresses because men played all the parts way back then.

Next thing I know, it’s been an hour and I’ve talked almost incessantly and noticed that she’s jotted down a few notes but I have no idea what they are.  And, so, I have another appointment scheduled but it will have to be rescheduled due to the ophthalmologist appointment and someone should be calling me to set that up, thank you very much, and wandering through the waiting room as everyone there tries to guess what breed Celeste is and telling their children to not pet her.  By the way, most people guess German Shepherd Dog/Doberman-mix and I let them know that they’re close because those breeds came from the Beauceron and then I have to try to keep myself from going into my memorized “lecture” about the lineage of the breed.  “Just get out the door” my voices start telling me.  “Just get out the door and go home.  You have dinner to cook and videogames we’d like to play.”

All the way home (which is only about a 10-minute drive), my brain is thinking, “What are we gonna blog about today?”  Nothing has happened; at least, nothing worth writing about.

This is with what I deal.  Trying to be a “normal” person when you’re bat-crap crazy and trying to self-therapy yourself through writing and making sure to use proper English spelling and grammar (see the previous sentence for an example) because you can’t stand seeing everyone’s “text-speak” and poor writing on Facebook and other places.  Is it interesting?  I don’t know.  Is it worth doing?  For the moment, yes.  It’s an outlet where I can put on paper (virtual paper, that is) what’s running through my head.  It’s kind of like letting a toddler or small terrier run around in the backyard.  You let it go and go in the hopes it will tire itself out soon so that you can put it down for a nap and get on with the “adult” part of your life that you still haven’t figured out yet.

Now, I have to make sure that dinner is still cooking in the slow-cooker and that I can squeeze-in a bit of videogame time.  If I don’t, I’ll never hear the end of it until I finally pass-out from exhaustion tonight.

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