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Free Cokie part 7 - Special Report

We interrupt our current broadcast to bring you a special report. Cokie Bear, who has been held captive since February, has been rescued by the Furry Troops. We take you now to a press conference at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, already in progress.

[Press room, Ramstein Air Base, Germany]

Donald Rumsfeld

[Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld] ... shall make a brief statement, followed by an unclassified briefing by the field officers in charge of Operation Ursal Fury.

Operation Ursal Fury was authorized by the President in February when Ms. Bear was abducted. From the start it was strictly designed as a rescue operation, with the full support and advice of our allies and with Iraqi forces. U.S. and Iraqi intelligence assets obtained crucial information within the past few weeks, enough to activate Ursal Fury. Part of my visit to Baghdad was to oversee Ursal Fury; however tactical control of the operation was strictly with the Furry Troops.

We are all very pleased with the rescue of Ms. Bear and the safety of our troops. It is an indication of the growing strength and abilities of the Iraqi military, without whose help the operation could not have succeeded. I'll turn over the rest of this briefing to Snip the Cat.

Snip the Cat

[Snip] Thank you Mr. Secretary.

Most of the intelligence relating to the rescue of Cokie must remain classified; however I can say that the breakthrough came when Baathist terrorists were promising to open a polar bear exhibit in the Baghdad Zoo - this led to pinpointing the location where she was being held.

The bunker in which she was being held was bombarded by massive, but non-lethal, caches of hard nuts. We minimized drawing from existing Allied caches of hard nuts by relying on caches donated by a group from Barrington, NJ, known as "the Wild Bunch." Furry Troop armor next plowed through the bunker fences, and Furry Troop Psy-Ops deployed disguised polar bears as a feint.

In the confusion I was able to infiltrate the bunker and locate Cokie. The exfiltration was trouble-free, and we were all able to evacuate the operation zone safely. Felled trees and other obstructions kept the op-for at bay while we made it to the evac zone.

After reaching Baghdad Air Base, we flew here to Ramstein to tend to Cokie's medical needs. Although she suffered from slight malnutrition and dehydration, Cokie is otherwise doing very well medically and will soon be returning to the U.S.

I can take your questions now.

[CNN reporter] We have heard unconfirmed reports that Cokie Bear in fact was the cause of a power outage during the rescue operation, and in fact she was instrumental in her own rescue. Can you confirm?

[Snip] Details of the operation must remain classified, but yes, I can confirm Cokie was indeed instrumental in her own rescue. I don't think I am revealing anything crucial when I tell you what I saw when I first found her in the bunker: I was expecting to find a bound and blindfolded hostage, as we've seen too many times in the past; what I did find was Cokie standing on top of and growling at two guards. She saw me and said, "So, why didn't Boris show up?" I told her my skills with stealth and night vision made me the choice for infiltrating the bunker, and suggested since she didn't need to be rescued, I'd just as soon abort the mission. Cokie replied, "Well don't do that, I've been waiting long enough for you guys to show up, make yourself useful and take me to him!" (Laughter) Next question?

[Reuters reporter] We are aware of the relationship between Boris Bear and Cokie Bear, and we are all relieved the rescue operation succeeded, but in retrospect was it wise to have the commander of the operation emotionally tied to the hostage?

[Snip] I think nobody else was better qualified - it was Boris who convinced the President to authorize Operation Ursal Fury, it was Boris who rallied the Furry Troops, the Barrington Wild Bunch, and Allied and Iraqi forces to the operation. And I am proud to have served under him.

[Reuters reporter] So where is Boris now?

[Snip] It should be noted that Boris is a reserve officer and not on active duty; to answer your question he's at the base hospital at Cokie's side.

[Geraldo Rivera] Have next of kin been notified?

[Snip] We've kept her family briefed, mostly through her father Konan and her brother Kola. The President has personally informed the family of the operation's success, and I believe her brother is on the way to Germany.

[Geraldo Rivera] Is the President hoping for a bounce in the polls from the rescue operation?

Donald Rumsfeld

[DoD Sec'y Rumsfeld] What kind of dumb-ass question is that?? The Furry Troops risked their lives to rescue an American. It was a success. No casualties. That's the news story here. That's what the President was hoping for. Thank you all for coming.

Free Cokie part 6 - Deployment


Just a quick note to say that I will be shipping out to support the Furry Troops - can't say where or when, just think of us over the holidays, and watch the news...

Support the furry troops

To be continued...

Candlelight Halloween Party 2005

Candlelight Dance Club had its Halloween party on Friday, 28 October 2005. Terri had so much work during the week, plus was preparing for all the visitors for her mom's birthday today that she couldn't make it to the party. At least I'll get to see her tomorrow - we're going to the wedding of Sara Casilli and Chris Heavens.

Michele, however, did make it to the party. She had undergone surgery just a few days after the September showcase (two disks fused in her neck) and had been in a neck brace for 4 weeks. But she was able to take the brace off just two weeks ago and was able to take 2 private lessons with John. Michele's the one dressed as a hippie chick. She was toying with the idea of coming dressed in a nurse costume, the hippie chick was the fallback costume. I've been sending her "subliminal suggestions" through Email this past week favoring the nurse costume, to no avail. (But not the modern nurse "uniform" of polyester pants and loud shirt, yuck, I want the old-fashioned white uniform, white tights, and in this case, 3-inch ballroom heels. Mmmmmmm. But I digress.)

Maureen and Fran have been taking ballet lessons together. When they had said they were coming to the party in the same costume, I guessed they would come as ballerinas - I was right!

Steve's the one in the orange prison jumpsuit. He came as Rabbi Neulander, the one who killed his wife so he could be with a radio personality. The name sounded familiar, but Steve had to remind me of that famous case. He took third place in the costume contest!

Stacey became Marilyn Monroe for the contest - that's her singing "Happy Birthday Mister President". She told me later that she forgot to do her wiggle - hey, there's always next year.

I took these pictures with my digital camera (Fujifilm FinePix S7000). The lighting was so dim that the electronic viewfinder was almost useless. Still managed to get some OK shots. Shutter speed was 1/13 sec.; aperture was as wide as possible, around f3.1, and equivalent "film speed" was set to ISO 400. I used the flash. Some of the photos were processed through the One-Step Photo Fix function of Paint Shop Pro 8.

I came as an army grunt: camo pants, green T-shirt. I had to salute Jeff! [grin]

Click on a thumbnail to see the image larger; click your browser's BACK button to come back here.

Visit to Louisville, KY

I visited Louisville, KY on 10 August 2005. Left home on 9 August at 0340, but 30 minutes later on I-295 South I realized I had forgotten my digital camera - had to turn around and head back home, and left home again at 0434. After all, without the digital camera I wouldn't have been able to take all these following pictures!

The Trip to Louisville

Reached the KY border at roughly 1300. I actually stayed at a Hampton Inn in New Albany, IN, just 4 miles from Louisville; arrived just after 1700.

Main Street, Louisville, KY

Because I didn't know what Louisville morning rush hour was like, I got up early on Wednesday, 10 August and parked in the visitor parking lot behind the Frazier Historical Arms Museum at 0700. (Just $2 all day, what a deal!) Had to wait until 0900 for the museum to open, so to kill some time I walked a couple of blocks up and down Main Street.

Main Street has other museums and interesting shops and offices. The sidewalks include statues and works of art.

The Kentucky Center is home to many of the performing arts of Louisville and Kentucky, such as the ballet, orchestra and other performers. The "Heads" in front of the Kentucky Center are sponsored by "Heads Up Kentucky".

Frazier Historical Arms Museum

The Frazier Historical Arms Museum opened at 0900.

The collection on the third floor is on loan from the Royal Armouries of the UK. It consists of armor and weapons from medieval times to the early 20th century.

In the fantasy novel I'm writing, the main character will be surprised that his riding companion uses a "combat" saddle for what should be a simple ride - the idea being that a combat saddle would be uncomfortable and wouldn't be used if not needed. Here's an example of a saddle that doesn't look comfortable.

The hexagonal tube is an example of the very earliest "gun" used in medieval Europe. It's more like a tiny cannon than anything I'd call a gun. The last image is of a gauntlet.

Examples of jousting armor. The armor is asymetrical: eye and breathing holes are only on the right side; there's a second layer of armor on the left side.

Armor and arms that made it to the New World. The ornate cage around the sword's pommel is meant to protect the wielder's hand.

The older matchlock had a lit fuse; pulling the trigger brought the fuse to the gunpowder to ignite the gunpowder and shoot the gun. The newer flintlock held a piece of flint; pulling the trigger released the hammer causing the flint to spark to ignite the gunpowder.

The museum has a performance every half hour or so of an actor bring life to a certain period of history. These two demonstrated Elizabeathan swordsmanship, as would have been understood by the original audiences of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's time. For each set they explained each blow and parry, discussing the different schools of swordsmanship at the time, from a scene in Romeo and Juliet - then replayed the scene at full speed!

As pistols became more reliable and widespread, swords became less important as weapons. Swords became lighter and more ornate, but still dangerous.

An older flintlock pistol, and the more reliable percussion cap pistol. Not only were percussion caps more reliable, but flintlocks could be converted to use caps relatively easily. Once the pistol is discharged, it could still be used as a club. Note the brass reinforcement on the pistol's butt.

More firearms using percussion caps.

The Webley revolver used cartridge rounds, i.e. bullet, powder, case and primer - same as today's firearms.

I could have easily spent an entire day in the British collection on the third floor, but I wanted to visit the Lousville Slugger Museum across the street that day, so I went to the second floor with the American collection: from the 17th to turn of the 20th Century. After viewing a 15-minute film on the history of arms manufacturing in the United States, I pretty much blew through the American collection. Since I've read about many of the historical firearms in American Rifleman and other gun magazines, I was already familiar with much of what was displayed.

After snacking in the museum's eating area I left around 1400 to my next stop.

Louisville Slugger Museum

The Louisville Slugger Museum was just across the street. The huge "bat" leaning on the building is a very visible landmark!

There's a tour of the factory floor every half hour. Unfortunately they do not allow any photography on the factory floor. We got to see bats manufactured, from automated (and in the case of professional players' bats, computer controlled) lathes to staining and finishing. At the end of the factory tour each person gets an 18-inch souvenier wooden bat. The rest of the museum is on the first floor only.

Seats from the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field.

A room-sized display of what the original factory equipment for making bats looked like. Wooden blanks were put on belt-driven lathes; patterns preferred by individual players were in record books.

Examples of bats from individual players from the 2004 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.

The first Louisville Slugger.

There's a wall of all the professional baseball players who have custom bats, including international players. There's space on the wall for more.

End of the Day

On the way back to the hotel, there was a pickup truck in a parking lot blowing bubbles. Visit for artist Sonny Fenwick's works.

The Trip Home

Around 1530, 11 August 2005 on I-68E in WV it started raining, badly enough that I was considering getting off the road, finding a hotel and waiting out the storm overnight. The rain let up in only a couple of minutes. But approaching Exit 7 (Morgantown, WV) the traffic had slowed, then stopped. I slowed and stopped OK - but looking in my rearview mirror, the Jeep behind me looked like it couldn't stop! I got rear-ended; however when I drove onto the shoulder nothing seemed amiss with my car, and I got back into the main lanes. I passed multiple cars stopped on the shoulders and even in the divider ditches - seems the rain had caused multiple accidents and pile-ups in both directions.

I pulled off on Exit 7. The rain had stopped by this time (1545). The person who hit me had followed. The damage to my car consisted of a 4-inch gash on the right side of my rear bumper, with consequent damage to the absorber underneath. We exchanged information, and eventually I was on my way again. Made it home around 2100.

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