Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Daytona Beach

Two nights on the beach and then indoor skydiving, ATVs, kayaking, cave tubing, zip lining and everything else we can pack into three weeks that entertain grandchild #5...Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel...

We will finish up on July 8 and then yet another Cancer surgery....if at first, you don't succeed...Also, an operation for a  hernia repair the following week and then off with Mrs. Phred on another long road trip...getting old is not for sissies...

We stopped at the National Seashore above Cape Kennedy....the worlds most beautiful deserted beach that few people know about...

We get out to study s turtle and the car fills with salt water mosquitos....blood thirsty...we slap them everywhere and ruin the headliner...

This was our first time there since we saw it in our flower-covered VW Van 45 years ago... It's the same as it was then and will be the same as long as the US endures....30 miles of the pristine beach....turtle nests every ten feet...the last 25 miles are on foot road...just beach...seldom visited...what Pone De Leon must have seen....

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Surrender of Lt. Hiro Onodo

The Philippine Sea, 1966

We departed from Guam mid-morning July 30, 1966 heading 1800 miles west to Clark Air Force base in the Philippines. We fly at 8,000 feet at 200 nautical miles an hour (a nautical mile is about 1.15 real miles). It's another nice summer day. I update my fuel consumption chart. I get a sun line every 45 minutes. As the day passes the sun line changes from a speed line to a course line.

There are dark clouds ahead. I turn the weather radar up to it's maximum range of 100 miles. I see a solid black wall 75 miles ahead. The pilot asks if we have enough gas to go back. I tell him no. He wants to know if we can divert North to Taiwan. I tell him there is no way we have enough gas.We are at 8,000 feet. Nobody predicted a typhoon. We press ahead. Night is falling.

As we enter the wall we hit a severe up draft. The altimeter looks like a clock gone crazy. We are climbing thousands of feet a minute. We pass 16,000 feet and put on our oxygen masks. It's really turbulent. The pilot noses us over into a dive. The airspeed goes from 200 to 450 and hangs there. We're diving and still going up. Blood boils above 30,000 feet without a pressure suit.. We hit 22,000 feet, still diving, still going up.It's pitch black except for red instrument lights. The pilots talk to each other..."holy shit these controls are stiff" one says.

Then comes the first down draft. The combined effects of the down draft and dive are spectacular. The pilots stop worrying about boiling blood and start to worry about hitting the ocean. They put the plane into a climb. The flight engineer kicks in the superchargers. We go to MAX power. The engines start to overheat and are approaching red lines for heat and RPM. The airspeed drops to 130 and the stall warning klaxon sounds continuously. Still we plummet. We pass 3,000 feet.

This aircraft is old. The wings fall off sometimes with just moderate turbulence. The aeroplane is climbing and falling and bouncing and shuddering on the thin edge of stalling. The stall warning horn keeps playing it's tune. The pilots talk again on the intercom. One says "don't lose it". The other grunts. Oh. Here's another up draft in the nick of time. The cycle repeats. Again. and Again.

Eventually we make it to Clark AFB. We go to the Officers club and listen to the 1940's style Filipino big band. I decorate the latrine walls with my war protest rubber stamp. General Douglas MacArthur was here and may have used this very urinal just before he allowed his air force to be wiped out on the runway on December 8th.

We go home to rest in our crew trailer. I look at the sky for vampire bats. The trailer entrance smells intensely of very rancid sweat. Cousin Rex is at Clark AFB this day for medical treatment. He has just been wounded for the third time (shot though the lung with an AK-47). I didn't get to see him.

Who would have guessed at the time that another, more dedicated, Lieutenant (Hiro Onoda) was still sneaking though the mountains of Lubang, blowing up rice crops and staging shootouts on potential invasion beaches. Here's my research on that matter:

March, 1974 - 2nd Lieutenant Hiroo Ononda moves cautiously toward a meeting with his former commanding officer, Major Taniguchi, at Wakamaya Point. Ononda suspects an American trick and dons a camouflage of sticks and dried leaves before dashing across a cleared area. His shirt has loops of fishing line sewn on the inside and he reverses it to insert the sticks and branches. Ononda plans to approach the meeting area at twilight when it is still possible to distinguish human features but still dark enough for a possible escape if the meeting is another enemy trap.

For the last 29 years, Ononda has been waging a lonely guerrilla campaign against the American army, local police forces, Japanese authorities and the Philippine army. He has burned rice stores, shot cattle, chased villagers off potential invasion beaches, killed as many as fifty of the locals and moved in a mountainous circuit every two or three days to elude capture. His diet has consisted of green bananas, coconuts and food that he has 'liberated'. Over the years his men have all deserted or been killed in skirmishes with local police, leaving him to accomplish his mission alone.

Ononda approaches the meeting spot and recognises the major and the student, Suzuki. The major goes into his tent and reappears in a Japanese Imperial Army uniform. Ononda stands at rigid attention while ex-major Taniguchi formally reads the ancient surrender orders. Suddenly the long bitter war between Japan and America is over. 'These are just words', the major says, 'Your real orders will come later.' Through his tears and black anger, Ononda realises that the major cannot speak freely in front of Suzuki.

'We really lost the war? How could they have been so sloppy?', Ononda asks the major.

Before the War

Ononda was born in 1922. He was small but studied the martial art of Kendo after school. He stubbornly challenged the larger, more capable students even though they beat him senseless time and again. In 1939 he went to Hankow, in occupied China, to join his older brother in a family business. He spent much of his time at dance halls doing the tango, drove a 1936 Studebaker, and collected blues records.

The Draft and Guerrilla Training

In May 1942, Ononda was drafted. He was assigned to Guerrilla Warfare school. He was given orders to never allow himself to be killed and even to consider allowing himself to be taken prisoner if this might enable him to impart confusing information to the enemy.

His mother gave him the family dagger to use to kill himself as a last resort, rather than shaming the family by being taken prisoner. He accepted the gift but knew that he would not commit suicide even if it meant being taken prisoner.

Assignment to Lubang

By November 1944, the Americans had landed on Leyte in the Philippines. Ononda made the long trip by air and boat from Japan to the Island of Lubang. The island measures six miles by eighteen miles. From Manila it can be reached by boat, crossing the Manila bay, passing Corregidor, and travelling south-west approximately 100 miles. On 28 February, 1945, a force of fifty American soldiers landed on the island and many of the Japanese in the small garrison were killed. Hiroo receives orders from his Division Commander:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we'll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that's the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.- 'No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War', Hiroo Ononda, Kodansha International, Ltd, 1974, page 44

Ononda decides to withdraw into the hills and prepare for a long-term resistance. In October, Lubang natives show him the 15 August surrender orders signed by General Yamashita. These are purported to have been issued in accordance with a 'Direct Imperial Order'. Ononda has never heard of such an order and concludes that the leaflet is phony.

Retreat to the Hills

Ononda and three enlisted men gather weapons, ammunition and food and retreat to the mountains. His companions are Akatsu, Shimada and Kozuka. They move every two or three days in a circuit designed to keep them close to food supplies, cause disruption to the enemy and avoid capture. They make the circuit through the mountains about every two months for the next 29 years. Eventually they perfect many innovations such as making sandals from old tyres and sewing fishing line loop into their clothing to hold camouflage branches. They build huts, learn to dry beef on overnight fires and invent techniques that allow them to sleep on steep mountain slopes. The ants, mouldy rice and lack of food are constant irritants. Fortunately, they all have good teeth.

1949: The Desertion of PFC Akatsu

Fed up with constant hunger, Akatsu left the group and surrendered in 1949. He returned accompanied by a large search party and loud-speakers. The remaining three men found these appeals unbelievable and annoying. They appeared to be clumsy translations into Japanese from another language. The men found a Japanese newspaper about themselves left behind and concluded that it was 'poisoned candy', another slick psychological warfare attempt by the Americans.

1953: Corporal Shimada is Killed

The three survivors unwisely pick a firefight with 35 well-armed villagers near a potential invasion beach. Shimada is killed, leaving Ononda and Kozuka to soldier on alone for the next nineteen years.

Kozuka and Ononda steal transistor radios and sometimes can hear distant Japanese language programmes. This convinces them even more firmly that the war is not over, since the war could obviously not end as long as a single Japanese citizen remains alive.

1972: PFC Kozuka's Death Leaves Ononda Alone

On 19 October, 1972, Ononda and Kozuka burn rice piles after the harvest to deny food to the enemy. They linger too long and burn one rice pile too many. A volley of carbine shots ring out and Kozuka is dead eight seconds later, shot through the heart.

Ononda escapes, swearing revenge, and returns to this spot months later to find a tombstone erected with Kozuka's name, a Japanese epitaph and fresh flowers near the stone. A large Japanese search party has encamped nearby. His brother and sister have been flown in to speak to him from helicopter loudspeakers. Ononda has learned from newspapers that the Americans have failed in Vietnam and he hopes that the search party has secretly gathered intelligence useful to the Emperor. He is sure that the voices of his siblings are real and is convinced that Japanese Intelligence has organised the search to win over the islanders and gather information prior to an invasion.

He reads newspapers left behind about Kozuka's death, realises that these have failed to mention the 'thousand stitch' waistband (note 1) Kozuka wore on his waist and concludes that the articles have obviously been 'doctored' by the Americans who fail to recognise the significance of the belt.

Later he finds a Haiku (note 2) left behind by his ageing father:
Not even an echo
Responds to my call in the
Summery mountains.

Meeting Suzuki

Wakamaya Point is the confluence of two rivers. Moving silently, Ononda confronts a camper, a young man who holds his ground, trembles and salutes properly. The student introduces himself as Norio Suzuki in proper Japanese and claims to be a tourist, which confuses Ononda.

Suzuki is taking a break from school to look for pandas, the Abominable Snowman and Lieutenant Ononda. Suzuki has just hit the jackpot and they talk for several hours. Ononda disbelieves 99% of what Suzuki has to say about the war being over, but because of his slight doubt he permits Suzuki to take a joint picture with his camera and finally agrees to a meeting with his former commanding officer.

Ononda becomes suspicious of Suzuki when the student picks leaves to brew a beverage. He wonders how Suzuki could have learned this in four days when he has not learned it in thirty years. He waits for the student to finish his cup before he dares take a sip.

According to the newspapers Ononda has read, Major Taniguchi is now a book dealer, living in Japan. The fact that the major had not sent him new orders seems clear proof that the major is still engaged in secret warfare under the pretence of being an ordinary citizen.

Suzuki sets the timer and snaps the picture that will convince Major Taniguchi to return and read the surrender orders to Ononda.

At the agreed meeting time, months later, Ononda glimpses the major at twilight and waits for him to enter and re-emerge from the tent in full Imperial uniform. The Lieutenant comes to rigid attention and listens to the words. If his 'real' orders do come later they are not revealed in his published book.

A Hero's Welcome

On the trip home with Major Taniguchi, Ononda is astounded to see Philippine troops lined up on both sides of the road saluting him. They treat him more like a conquering general than a despicable prisoner of war. His arrival in Japan is even more amazing. He awakens dormant feelings of jubilant national pride. His book is quickly written and becomes a best-seller. He becomes financially well-off and moves to Brazil to become a cattle-rancher.

Ononda meets and marries a Japanese woman in Brazil and then returns to Japan to operate a children's survival camp, an occupation for which he is obviously well-qualified. He died in 2014 at the age of 91.

Are There More?

In 2005, there were reports that two octogenarian Japanese soldiers were ready to came out of the jungle to lay down their arms after 60 years in hiding near General Santos City in the Philippines.

The stragglers were reported to be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 83, of the Imperial Army's 30th Division. They were reported to have spent the last six decades living in remote hills of the Philippine island of Mindanao. In spite of a brief media frenzy which benefited the Mindanao economy, the story fizzled out three days later. There is an on line registry of Japanese stragglers.
1 A piece of cotton cloth on which a departing soldier's family and friends each sewed a single stitch. This is often worn on the waist for good luck.
2 A Haiku is a type of 17-syllable poem. The English translation has an extra syllable.

Friday, 31 May 2019

The Highway Men

Sarasota... Tampa... Miami... Madrid... Lisbon

Hey..there was a picture or three of the grandchildren visiting on that camera sim card.

We've been up for 40 straight hours now. The Miami flight left late so we missed our Madrid connection and sat around the airport for seven additional hours.

According to NPR:

If you traveled by way of Florida's Route 1 in the 1960s, you might have encountered a young, African-American artist, selling a lushly painted oil landscape from his car. They weren't allowed in galleries during Jim Crow segregation -- but motels, office buildings and tourists would buy their vivid works.

Together, they formed a loosely associated band around Fort Pierce, Fla., that came to be known as The Highwaymen. At $20 a painting, they made their way out of agricultural jobs like citrus-picking and defined the cultural look of an era.

The Miami airport has a brilliant display of dozens of these paintings in the International Terminal.

Lisbon is very nice. We have big plans to eat at a Fado and ride the double decker tour buses and see the old neighborhoods and castles.

We're right by the train station, so we'll do a daytrip to Sintra.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Silence of the Phred

Phred has been inactive on the blog for some months. I'll explain later. Things have been happening, just not quickly.....For example, my oldest grandson graduated from law school. The other one below (oldest granddaughter) is making straight "A"s in college now. This is a 2012 photo from someplace we took them that had a pile of old stones. Once we saw the stones when it was raining and empty. This was the Summer Solstice and the place was mobbed with weird English people in white robes.

Also, one of my other granddaughters (#3) got married and moved to Honolulu-. Here she appears to be contemplating a Tara Misu on a trip to  Barcelona with us in 2016. I'm happy for her. It's a paradise. I landed there 30 or 40 times in the sixties delivering war materials. They had a topless ice cream parlor, but I didn't get to go. The sixties were a time of change and innovation.  I remember climbing out of Pearl Harbor into beautiful cumulonimbus clouds...In fact, Honolulu was voted the #1 place to staycation, but the cost of living is higher than California's.

We moved back into our Sarasota condo and out of the aging RV.....the hoodie belongs to grandchild # 4...He's 16 now. I think he enjoyed the soccer game we attended together in Barcelona. After the game, we walked about 3 miles back to our hotel...

The washer/dryer in the RV died. The replacement cost was an amazing $1,600 if I did all the work myself. My friend and I disconnected the 150-pound broken washer and hauled it off to the dump. The RV also has a parasitic current drain that is killing all three batteries. I'm running it down fuse-by-fuse with my multi-meter. If I can get the bugs out and fix a cracked windshield by August we might take another Fall road trip to Canada and the Southwest...

I had another operation with my pesky cancer. The Doc took a six-inch diameter divot from the side of my head this time in early November. Then he replaced it with a mesh made of bovine collagen and shark cartilage.  My job was to vascularize the mesh with blood vessels and grow new skin. I had to cut a lot of my hair that wasn't already surgically removed because it kept getting stuck in the wound.  Anyway, I kept a low profile and mostly just dieted, read, healed, watched TV  and listened to music....nothing to blog about here....the wound site is about 90% healed. I think of growing skin is like baking a takes more than should be 100% by October...

...and...just dropped to less than 169 pounds...that's down from 240...I weigh my food, avoid alcohol completely, estimate my calories and put it all in a spreadsheet....I'm gravitating toward a preference for foods with more fiber: Chili, cole-slaw, pears, beans....and fish...Mrs. Phred says I can buy a Harley now...When you walk a mile it's about 100 calories burned. For my age (75) weight (169) and height (6 feet even), they think I need 1610 calories a day to maintain my weight if I sleep all day. You can add 100 calories for every mile you walk  (I try for five), but to lose a pound a week you need to eat 500 calories a day less than the maintenance number. 3500 calories = one pound of fat. Right now I love playing with ice cream consumption ....tickling the dragon...oops gained five pounds...recalculate!

We're also planning a June/July trip with grandchild #5, who is an interesting and determined young man,  now aged 13...only two more to go with what has become something of a travel tradition...The picture above is very old but he is still an intense, active and interesting young man...Can't wait...

So about 2021, if the creek don't rise, I look forward to a possible exotic travel date with enchanting grandchildren  #6 and #7.above...

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The Return of Mrs. Phred

Mrs. Phred has returned from her expedition to the remote islands off the coast of Ecuador and mountaintops of Peru. She mailed some pictures back to me.

Mrs. Phred and her friend Felicia are in the foreground above a scene of Machu Picchu
15th-century Inca citadel, located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, on a mountain ridge 7,970 ft above sea level. It is located in the Cusco RegionUrubamba ProvinceMachupicchu District in Peruabove the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows, which cuts through the Cordillera and originates a canyon with tropical mountain climate.-WIKI

Some sort of lizard or dragon?'s a Galapagos land eats cactus pads...

The mountaintop at Macchu Picchu gets about 65 inches of rain. It was a good place to grow things. I read that mists float up from the river past near-vertical cliffs on three sides.
Machu Picchu is situated above a bow of the Urubamba River, which surrounds the site on three sides, where cliffs drop vertically for 1,480 ft to the river at their base. The area is subject to morning mists rising from the river. The location of the city was a military secret, and its deep precipices and steep mountains provided natural defenses.-Wiki

A group of seals is called: "bob, colony, crash, harem, herd, pod, rookery, spring, and team".

That is some impressive agricultural terracing.
Heavy rainfall required terraces and stone chips to drain rainwater and prevent mudslides, landslides, erosion, and flooding. Terraces were layered with stone chips, sand, dirt and topsoil, to absorb water and prevent it from running down the mountain. Similar layering protected the large city center from flooding. Multiple canals and reserves provide water throughout the city that could be supplied to the terraces for irrigation and to prevent erosion and flooding.-Wiki

An island in the Galapagos. Lot's of cactus pads for the land (non-marine) branch of the iguana family. There is a 3rd species of pink iguana on Isabella but you can't visit them.

She was on a boat about this size for a week. There were three similar boats anchored. This might be hers. Or not.

The blue-footed booby below has a relationship with the strange vampire finch. The vampire finch pecks the booby's neck to drink its blood. Boobys spend a lot of time in courtship with foot display. Those with the bluest feet are considered younger, healthier and more desirable as mates. Not sure if masked boobys or red-footed boobys can inter-breed with these...for sure they don't want to...

 Mrs. Phred taking a break

The islands were named after these giant tortoises. You put one upside down in the ship's hold and you have no-maintenance fresh meat for months. Galapagos is an archaic Spanish word meaning tortoise.

n his April 26, 1535 letter to Charles VI of Spain, Berlanga reported his detour to islands which he did not name, and informed His Majesty of what he saw there:
“… muchos lobos marinos, tortugas, higuanas, galápagos, … .” “… many sea lions, turtles, iguanas, tortoises, … .”