Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UFOs and the Supernatural

Today, I went to press with my newest book, UFOs and the Supernatural. In spite of the title, I am not of the opinion that every Unidentified flying object is related to the supernatural, but certainly there is evidence that not every unidentified flying object is  a potential craft from another planet. Are some of the mysterious lights in the sky really connections to the supernatural? 
It is amazing to note that there have been reports that point to a link between unidentified flying objects and such things as Sasquatch, Shadow People and ghosts. In this new book, I go to great lengths to explore these connections. Why have there been a number of reports of Sasquatch being found at landings by UFOs? Why have hauntings been reported by people who just recently were witnesses to landings of what appear to be space craft from another world?
There have also been many tales of ancient gods arriving in what appear to be space craft, which would certainly classify as supernatural or paranormal. Every ancient religious tenet has stories that could well be alien visitation. These tales are explored as well. UFOs and the Supernatural has something for everyone whether you believe in UFOs are not. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Cultural Event

Among the many smells in the air were grilled chicken and a number of others that I could not identify. However, the mixture was certain to draw anyone in the area who liked good food.
This was the Festival of St. George, an annual, in its 46th year, even that took place this past weekend at the St. George Antiochian Church Orthodox Church on Festival. The core of the congregation are families from Syria, Lebanon and other part of the middle east. While these families have ssimilated into our culture, they have not forgotten their own and they make sure that their children have an appreciation for the way of life in the old country.
There was no question that the members enjoyed each other's company and they welcomed guests with open arms. I have never seen such dancing and socializing since the last major fiesta I attended in Panama over thirty years ago. I want to go on record as saying that the congregation of St. George knows how to conduct a fundraiser and throw a superb party. At most events that I attend I stay only a short period of time, I left this one at the last minute for another appointment.
The entertainment was sponsored by Westwind Pediatric, Doctors Hassan and Maha Salloum, and Las Palmas Medical Center. Dr. Salloum was the master of ceremonies and while he may be a fine doctor, he is unparalleled in his ability to thrown a complete blowout of a party. The main entertainment was furnished by a singer by the name of Farah and even though he sang in Arabic, he was an outstanding entertainer. Add to his unbelievable performance were dances performed by very lovely young ladies in the tradtional style.
If you did not attend the Festival of St. George, you truely missed a spectacular event. It should definitely be on your list for next year.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors

I have a lot of listeners to my radio show at http://www.kenhudnall.com and the questions I receive from listeners certainly cover the gamut of topics. The format of the show is primarily the paranormal, bit we do get into other areas such as politics. One of my guests has been Jesse Ventura who certainly raises a storm of controversy every time he comes on the show. However, this time, the question was from way out in left field. The question was what did I think about the President's statement regarding same sex marriage?
Well first of all, personally, I don't care if you want to marry a turnip, as long as you don't expect me to do the same. However, there are many in this country who firmly believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. Interestingly enough, a review of history will show that, while gays have always been with us, there is a push for mainstream recognition going on at this point in history. I wish them well, though I tend to be on the conservative side in my beliefs.
However, in all of the hoopla going on about President Obama and his evolving beliefs, one thing seems to be missed by most commentators. If you look at the big picture, he has done something to grab the media's attention every time the Republicans have taken an action or accomplished some milestone that would be headline worth. In other words, I believe that his "evolving" position is just more of the smoke and mirrors for which he is very famous. At this point in his administration, many of his policies have failed and he is facing a very serious opposition in Mitt Romney. As a result he would do anything he possibly can to keep the cameras focused on himself.
You also have to take into consideration that his "evolving" position has cost him support of many of the Black religious leaders who are not in favor of gay marriages. So why risk losing that critical support so close to the election? One reason is that he is counting on the Hollywood crowd to be a cash cow and many of them are firm supporters of gay and lesbians having the right to marry. It cannot be a coincidence that he made his announcement just two days before the fundraiser at George Clooney's house.
This election is going to be a pivotal one. Will we elect someone simply because of their color, which is one of the drawing cards that the President is starting to use more and more, or will be elect someone based on the issues and the appearance that the person elected can solve the issues. President Obama's 2008 campaign of "Hope and Change" has turned into "hope you have at least some change left in your pocket". Of course his excuse is it's all George W. Bush's fault. I am not saying that Romney can do any better. I am saying that all of these issues being raised at this point are just smoke and mirrors and we need to see the truth. Let's hope the this election brings a change for the better. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Same old Same old

I inserted some video for this entry showing one way in which our troops attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Afghanis.  The humming noise heard on the video is the engine of the Stryker just outside the building. In the video you can see the squad leader talking to the village elder about the needs of the village. You can also see the interpreter and a security team with the squad leader. As I said the training is very realistic and it was a fascinating process to watch how it is done today and compare this procedure to how we did it back in the old days. The picture below shows American troops caring for an injured Afghani.
On other news, another semester has ended with the usual race to get every assignment in before the end. It was interesting to watch some of my fellow students try and negotiate themselves out of a corner in regard to missed assignments. The problem they have run in to with this approach is that most of the professors have heard it all before. This is my fifth university degree that I am working on; thinking back, I wonder if I was that ill prepared the first time around. I simply don't remember, it was too long ago.
I will say that this program has taken me places that I never dreamed I would be going. Just recently, as I discussed in the last installment, I spent time with a Stryker unit, going through some of their training prior to their deployment at the end of this year. Without this involvement though the class there is no way I would have spent a day out in the "boonies" with a military unit. Though equipment changes, and training gets more sophisticated, the attitudes and actions of the average soldier does not.
The next semester will see me interning for Borderzine Magazine, leaning the operation from the ground up. Not only will this be a platform for me to dig deeper into areas of interest, but it also gives me an outlet for many of my stories other than through this blog. As you can see, I am also moving more into videos, and some of them will be placed inside these blog entries in the future. This is forcing me to learn more and more about both editing as well as how the blog software works.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

It was Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now who said "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." For me it is the sound of powerful diesel engines idling, hinting just a promise of the power at your command and diesel fumes filing the air that takes me back to an earlier time when it was my company waiting to move out to the field.
I had been a career Infantry Officer until my injury. I took the uniform off long ago, but the feel and the thrill of moving a company of men and vehicles to engage an enemy is a feeling that is never forgotten. So when this assignment came along, I did not have to think long before agreeing to work as an embedded reporter in a military exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.
I was assigned to Bravo Company, 341. The Company Commander was Captain Aaron Daniele. He commanded a company of IAV Strykers, the new mobile personnel carriers. I had commanded a company of mechanized infantry some 30 years ago when our main transport was the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. The M113 was a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that has formed the backbone of the United States Army's mechanized infantry units from the time of its first fielding in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. The ride was rough, the interior was dark, cramped the seats had little, if any padding, and with the hatches closed it was hotter than Hades inside, so I was curious to see how the Stryker stacked up. Let me tell you it was no contest.
The IAV Stryker is an eight-wheeled, 4-wheel-drive (8x4), armored fighting vehicle derived from the Canadian LAV III. The ride is as smooth as any car I have ever been inside of and the air conditioning was better than my car. The seats were luxurious compared to the old M113. However, where the Stryker beat the old M113 hands down was in the armament.
With the M113, the primary armament was one .50 caliber machine gun mounted on top in front of the vehicle commander's cupola. A lot of fire power to be sure, but to use the gun required the gunner to be exposed to enemy fire. The Stryker's weapons system was like something out of Star Wars. With the exception of some specialized variants, the primary armament of the Stryker is a Protector M151 Remote Weapon Station with .50-cal M2 machine gun, 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, or Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher as needed.  The gunner sits at a computer console and aims and fires the weapon system remotely.
The extensive computer support helps soldiers fight the enemy while reducing friendly fire incidents. Through a computerized monitor, each vehicle can track friendly vehicles in the field as well as detected enemies. The driver and the vehicle commander have periscopes that allow them to see outside the vehicle without exposing themselves to outside dangers. The vehicle commander also has access to a day-night thermal imagine camera which allows the vehicle commander to see what the driver sees. The vehicle commander has almost a 360-degree field of vision; the driver, a little more than 90 degrees.
Another impressive aspect to the mission was the type of training that was being conducted. It was as realistic as humanly possible. I had trained in mocked up Vietnamese Villages 30 years ago, but the Afghan village we arrived at could have been in Afghanistan. Even some of those who were acting as villagers were Afghani, the language spoken was an Afghani dialect. The troops were forced to use interpreters just as they would in country. If you did not know you were in Texas, you could easily be convinced you were in Afghanistan.
I have to say that the operation was impressive, at least to this reporter. I kept up a running mental commentary comparing this training to what I had received and given so many years ago. The Army has come a long way. However, one important factor has not changed and will never change as long as there is an army in combat. When all is said and done, no matter how sophisticated the weapons systems, how sensitive the satellite imagery or how advanced the ride, it all comes down to that 11B Infantry soldier who has to leave the safety of his vehicle and meet the enemy Mano a Mano (sorry ladies). It is the soldier that is the backbone of our military, not weapons systems or vehicles, no matter how impressive.
Lastly, I want to recognize a true gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, the Battalion Commander of 341. He made all of us there for this training feel welcome and made sure that we wanted for nothing. He was a commander who was sure enough of himself to be himself and not a tin soldier. To him I offer a salute, something I have not done in thirty years.