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Jan 3, 1941
The first thing Sunday morning after breakfast I heard a plane diving, I thought little of it at the time because the sky is always full of Army planes. We are stationed here next to Hickam field and are used to hearing and seeing practice dog fights over head. I thought it was a practice attack and paid little attention, until some one said “look there is a hell of a lot of strange looking planes up there.”
They were diving from a very high altitude and what I thought was one or two planes turned out to be many times more than that. We still thought they were ours and stopped to watch what they were up to.
Just then, I saw bombs leave the belly of the leading planes. I ran for the barracks of our men and yelled “air raid” as loud as I could just as all hell broke loose. The men didn’t believe me at first, but just about then a bomb whistled to earth nearby and the concussion of the ensuing explosion was terrific; that was all that was needed.
Most of our men were lying in their bunks only halfed dressed, they didn’t bother to dress, they grabbed what was handy and scooted.
I saw the first bomb hit… It was too close for comfort. It hit directly in the center of the soldiers dining hall on Hickam Field. The men were at breakfast so you can imagine what happened.
One moment it was a beautiful building the next second it was a mass of flaming wreckage. It was such a total surprise. I was too surprised to be scared at first.
We all knew there was work to do so we started and, believe me you, I have never seen men go to work so hard and fast and with such cool deliberation. Machine guns were mounted and manned in a very few seconds. The sky was soon full of hot lead from the Anti Aircraft batteries.
I started towards the barracks and hangers, just then I saw a Jap plane come screaming down in flames – it crashed nearby. Those damned Japs would dive and drop their bombs then turn and machine gun us. We seemed to get more angry every minute. I think the anger counteracted our fear.
We started loading men into ambulances and trucks. And, Bud, what I saw makes me hope that if I am ever hit by a 50 caliber machine gun slug that it gets me in the head or heart. They simply tear you to pieces. One man was lying on the ground with the lower half of his right leg just a mass of shredded bones and meat.
We rendered first aid just as fast as we could to all those who we could do anything for. God it was awful.
The Japs kept coming – it seemed like they came over in waves about every 20 minutes or half hour. Their first attack had been a costly one in planes. But by the time of the second and third raids, some of our planes were in the air and boy did our boys make it hot for those Jap “sons of bs,–” They were shooting them down like flys.
We saw one of our boys tangle in a terrific dog fight which would end with the Jap plane plummeting to the ground in flames. It wasn’t long before our boys had all of those who weren’t shot down on the run.
One of the most spectacular things I have ever seen, and something which I will never forget, was the first destroyer which left the harbor to pursue the enemy.
Ships leaving the harbor pass within 200 yards of us here. As this destroyer left the harbor every gun was manned and the air above her and all around her was filled with the flames from her guns.
She was going full speed which is plenty of knots. For a moment or two I thought her wake would cause damage to our boats at the dock, but a large dredge lying just off the dock broke up the swells and little or no damage resulted.
A moment or two later we got our torpedo or Mosquito fleet under way and they headed to sea at full speed. As each ship of our fleet passed us headed to sea to find the enemy, our men would let go with a loud cheer.
Believe me, you folks on the mainland can well be proud of the men in the armed forces out here. Every man pitched in with everything he had. Great numbers of them gave their lives. I lost several very good friends as many others did but there wasn’t a man who stopped or hesitated.
We were caught napping but there is no crying over spilt milk. We all know we have a job to do and that is to pay back double, no treble for every bit of damage they did in their yellow sneak raid. And believe me you can’t force a man to quit his job, every man is determined to stick until the Yellow Sons of the Sinking Sun are smashed.
We don’t expect to do it in any fortnight, we know now the Japs are powerful, but if it takes a lifetime we shant quit until the job is done.
The morale of the men here has never been higher, although we have to live under restrctions. I haven’t heard of a man complain. There is no crying about the raid. In fact there are many stories about the humorous things that hapened during the raid which has given us many a laugh.
I saw a man go into the bombardment squadron barracks. He had just disappeared from sight when somewhere in the building a bomb exploded and he was blown out through a screened window he was standing near. He just sat there and rubbed his head then looked up and said “God, what lousy hospitality.”
On one of the battleships, the Anti Aircraft batteries were rendered useless. The captain ordered the men to run to the spud lockers and get sacks of spuds. He then joined the men in throwing spuds at the enemy planes as they swooped low to machine gun the decks. They threw spuds until the ship started to capsize and the order to abandon ship was given.
I wonder why there is humor in every tragedy.
The lesson we learned here is one you folks there can well profit from. You may think it foolish to have to stand lookouts on the beach, etc. but it’s not. We thought no-one would dare attack such a well fortified place such as this, so we got sort of lax in our look-outs and patrols. Ammunition wasn’t ready etc.
It won’t happen again, which we proved that Sunday night when enemy bombers tried to sneak back for another raid. They didn’t get to drop a single bomb before our guns got their range and finished them off..
We have had several alarms since then; either the enemy never got this far or it was sounded for some other reason. We all know that they will probably be back, but boy are we ready for them, and believe me you, they shall never surprise us again.
I guess I was lucky to get through it with my life. It isn’t the enemy bullet with my number on it that worries me, it’s the one that’s sent “to whom it may conern.” Never fear, though. I’ll be back there before you know it – beating your pants off of you in pinochle.
At the time of this letter, Kenneth Bracken was a 28 year old sailor, posted to the Small Craft Disbursing Office at Bishops Point, Oahu, Hawaii. November 24, 1943, he was on board the USS Liscome Bay when it was torpedoed and sunk following the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.
Out of 912 crew members, my Dad was one of 272 survivors.
The above is excerpted out of a letter he wrote to good friends a month after the attack on Pearl.
One year ago I was a week and a half unemployed. I’d started school full time at the local career-tech (new century speak for vo-tech), which was my way of treading water until I figured out how to handle this unplanned for life detour. Even with the loss of the job I was fairly fortunate, though. No debt and a modest reserve fund provided a strong safety net. The unemployment compensation also helped to keep my head above water – in spite of the fact that no less than a quarter of it went to my COBRA payments so I could hang on to my health insurance. I was forced to scrutinize my spending and devise a realistic budget, and a budget with very little wiggle room.
It’s been a number of years since I’ve had to be uber budget conscious. The last few years especially nice with a bit of extra income filtering in allowing me such niceties as travel and relatively unfettered shopping (mostly gadget related). I was now going to have to dust off some of my grad-school/starving artist survival skills and knuckle down to a tight, tight budget. The travel and shopping were reluctant but easy cuts, that left a couple of not-so-easy cuts to examine.
Now, I am basically a lazy person; that is to say I tend to look for the shortest possible route between two points. Or even better, find a way not to have take the route in the first place. This has resulted in certain luxuries I’ve indulged in, such as having a housekeeper in every other week to clean, a yard guy during the spring and summer and eating out or take-out on a regular basis.
Of course, such luxuries cost some coinage and my new cinched-in budget meant I needed to cut back. But, I wasn’t about to sacrifice the housekeeper and with winter on the way, I wouldn’t need to worry about the yard until the spring. That left my dining habits – convenience was going to have to make way for practicality and budget cuts.
Translated – I was going to have to start cooking for myself. And this was a Big Deal.
I didn’t grow up in a house centered on the kitchen. My mother was great with a few dishes (brisket being no. 1), but on a daily basis our meals tended to be boiled and bland. Canned vegetables were a god-send to her (hence a lifetime disdain for green things) and when TV dinners were invented I think she must have done a private little happy dance. My grandmother wasn’t a cook either – her maid Pearl was and we were not allowed in her kitchen. No ma’am, nuh-uh. It’s no accident, then, that when I left the nest, my culinary skills were sorely lacking.
I had a few of my Mom’s better recipes, but too many failures and my lazy tendencies pushed me farther and farther from the kitchen just as the rise of fast-food and the restaurant boom was getting started, not to mention the burgeoning industry and magic of prepared, frozen and processed foods. It was a hungry lazy person’s era of nirvana.
It’s an expensive (and unhealthy) nirvana, though. Now with my shrinking budget, here was my opportunity to change some bad, bad habits and learn another skill in tandem with my daily lessons in accounting. By day – honing my expertise on budgets and such, by evening putting a budget into practice and learning to cook.
Adding motivation for these efforts was a network of foodie friends who love to discuss, blog and tweet about food (as well as eat), complete with illustrations and video. And, ironically, I happen to be a Food Network junkie. It was time to start the clock and put Rachel Ray to the test…
I began by collecting Food Network recipes – I’d record my favorite shows, play back and pause while logging the recipes in a notebook1, craft my shopping lists and hit the grocery store. I also added numerous food blogs to my Google Reader, starring and sharing recipe after recipe. And of course, there’s an app for just about every culinary need occupying space on my iPhone. In short, and really it’s no surprise, I became obsessed. In a good way.
A year later I have to say I’m doing pretty good – I cut my food spending by twenty percent. My lazy side does nags at me – but I’m able to quiet it with some marathon cooking and freeze sessions which allows me to, for instance this week: pull some homemade tomato sauce and some meatballs from the freezer, some fresh basil from the garden and in no time have a home-cooked meal, nothing out of pre-processed and preservative laden jar and far better than a Sonic burger or a packaged meal.2
My iPhone is filled with food porn – shots of my efforts which have joined the meal tweets on Twitter. Once re-employed after my first paycheck, I indulged in the purchase of a Shun Santoku 10″ chef’s knife3 and I joined an online cooking school to learn more of the basics in the kitchen. I’ve learned how to enjoy cooking – even my failures. I’ve discovered an elegant poetry in the process, the prep, the building of a dish, the chemistry, rhythm, flavor profiles, serendipity of an idea that just happens to work (ever try throwing in a couple of spoonfuls of orange marmalade in that chicken dish?).
Fast and pre-processed food no longer has the allure it once did. I’d say I’m a fan of the slow-food movement – it’s far more satisfying without a doubt.
I may begin sharing some of those efforts here. I’m inspired by my no. one favorite food blogger Dutch Girl Cooking, who combines two loves – cooking and photography, producing posts with photos that make me hungry even on a full stomach.
So, with that said – got a recipe to share?
1 Yeah, I know there’s a website with the recipes – but this was more immediate and I was getting the low-down on technique as well.
2 Not that I don’t indulge or have fast-food relapses. A drive-in burger is a convenient treat, for sure… and I know where the best ones are in my town.
3 Just as any carpenter will tell you – you have the right tool, you can build anything. The same is true for kitchen tools.
I am sitting here with weary tears streaming down my face. Why?
Beacause 13 hours of painstaking work building a wordpress theme for this stupid egotistical, self-centered craptastic shithole of a blog just disappeared in a single mouse click.
At this time ten years ago I was in my second month of living in my new house. The seven months of its construction had been filled with anxious anticipation, frustration, glee – a virtual roller-coaster of emotions culminating with me crouched on the fresh linoleum of my shiny new bathroom leaning over the rim of the ”virgin” toilet puking my guts out from sheer exhaustion.1
Getiing this site up and running to my satisfaction in this wordpress thing is providing a bit of deja-vue. It’s proving to be quite a bit more difficult than anticipated. Really – why does this have to be such a bear? I just hope it doesn’t end with a repeat on the bathroom floor…
1 A scene that was reinacted nearly 10 years to the day later – only it was bad egg salad and not exhaustion. I suppose if I puke only once every ten years I can’t really complain, can I?
Wellll… this is turning out to be more of a project than I anticipated. Seriously – if anyone can guide me to the idiot’s guide for creating custom WordPress themes – I’d greatly appreciate it.
In the meantime, I’m gonna have some ice-cream.
I’ve made it the new house. Now it’s time for some redecoration. I hope to spruce up the place with much of it’s old flavor with the addition of some WordPress pizzazz. If anyone has some quick tips on converting a custom blogger template over to a WordPress theme, chime in. In the meantime, I’ll be burning some rubber over at Google for some advice.
Just in case there’s either of my readers strolls by in the near fulture and wonders where the blog is – I’m in the process of changing hosts (so I can scrap blogger and move to WordPress) – so Yesablog may be in limbo for a few days.
We’ll be back – and maybe even posting a bit more often!
It’s a funny thing about relationships. For some, they fall into a relationship as easily and gently as snowflake falls from the sky. For others – falling into a relationship is like falling down a rocky slope – thrilling, scary and leaving them black and blue at the bottom.
That rocky slope aptly describes my relationships. With computers, that is.
From the day I abandoned my first computer – a Mac – for the increasingly ubiquitous PC, I’ve nursed the wounds and bruises those relationships evinced. What would start as a seemingly happy union would end in a bitterly contested and painful divorce. And with no alimony, either – insult to injury.
This weekend I liberated myself from the pain and emotional toll those PC bastards exacted from me. I finally found the strength and the courage to stand up for myself and cry to the winds, “No more!”
I bought a MacBook Pro. I asked forgiveness and found it’d already been granted. Mac took me back, no questions asked. I guess that’s what happens when you find your soul mate.
I’m all about geeky stuff. I’m like a mosquito to bare skin when it comes to new internet thingamabobs and tools – I just can’t get enough. So, when I read this post from internet neighbor Otis, it was incumbent upon me to check out Live Writer as well.
After a few moments of frustration with install (lovely, lovely Microsoft – still hasn’t got the user-friendly part down), I was underway with this post.
This blog uses the Blogger API to publish to my domain. I’m pleased to report that the first test – the blog set-up – was a breeze. Score one!
Currently, I am using the Web Layout to compose the post. It presents a box formatted as my blog is formatted – CSS styles included. That is a very sexy feature. One press of the F12 key, and I have an instant preview of the post as it would appear published. F11 gets me back to writing in a snap. Score two!
I’m thoroughly anal about code, so I am thrilled to see that the auto-italics button codes the proper <em></em> tags instead of the deprecated <i></i> and the bold tags win with the <strong></strong> instead of boo-bad <b></b>. Score three!
Next is the image test – the photo at
left right is from my recent trip to Philadelphia. I converted it to B&W, resized, selected the “Photopaper” border, added the “watermark” and used drag & drop to position it. Very, very cool. A big score four!
I rarely use tables, so I’ll skip that feature. On to the Insert Map. I was impressed with the bird’s eye view of Mt. Willis, so much so, I was inspired to go hunting for my current and previous abodes via the map feature which use Virtual Earth:
A snap to do the insert and a big plus is the caption function, but I encountered a problem with the format. I wanted that to be centered on the page. The code is there, but it’s not centering in the preview. This could be a browser glitch if Live Writer is using IE for the views. Will have to wait to view in Firefox. Score five with reservations. [UPDATE] The centering affects the caption, not the map.
I’ll skip the video embed. I’ll accept it on faith that it’s a breeze. Auto-score six!
Okay – so far I’m very impressed with the software. Now let’s see if this baby publishes!
Score zero on the publish. It uploaded to Blogger, but did not publish to the domain.
Will have to troubleshoot to find out why and get back to you later.
[UPDATE] I’m still not sure what went wrong with publishing. I’ve also tried my best to get the maps centered in the post and have been unsuccessful. My attempts at altering the the HTML were obliterated, stripped from the code.
The long way to solve the problem would be to download the map images and hard code them into the post. I’m just OCD enough to do that, but I don’t have the time right now.
Bottom line is, I like the software. A big drawback, though, is that it’s not web-based which would allow access from anywhere. As it is, it’s a download to your local machine, which makes it portable only if you have a laptop and travel with it everywhere. That said, I will no doubt use if only for it’s way-cool image inserter thingamajig.