Saturday, February 13, 2016

Honoring Korean War Veterans in Ethiopia

Was honored yesterday to be contacted by the Military Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and asked to send her a copy of my book Fire & Ice: The Korean War, 1950-53, for inclusion in a permanent historical exhibit being installed in a ceremony there next month. Suffice it to say that I immediately signed a copy of the book, dedicated it to the Ethiopian soldiers who fought and died in Korea, and got it into the mail.

“Ethiopia agreed to send an infantry battalion to Korea, which included volunteers from Emperor Haille Selassie’s Imperial Security Guard, a unit of elite six-foot-tall soldiers,” I write in my book. “Dubbed the Kagnew, or Conquerors Battalion, the unit was relieved by fresh battalions twice during the Korean War. (Kagnew, according to some sources, was an imperial warhorse and the namesake of the unit.)”

“Ethiopia's 1st Kagnew Battalion, a 931-man unit, arrived in Korea in May 1951 and was attached to the 32nd Regiment of the U.S. 75th Infantry Division in June 1951. In April 1952, the 1st Kagnew Battalion was replaced by the 2nd Kagnew Battalion. In April 1953, it was relieved in its turn by the 3rd Kagnew Battalion, which remained in Korea until April 1954.”

“Ethiopian soldiers fought in many battles during the war and were highly regarded for their skill in hand-to-hand and bayonet fighting, patrolling, and night fighting. Altogether, 3,158 Ethiopians served in the Kagnew battalions. Of those, 121 were killed, 536 were wounded, and none were taken prisoner.”

“A number of Ethiopian nurses also worked with the Red Cross in Japan.” 

Ethiopian soldiers, like those of other U.N. contingents, were among the best their country could provide. Here, an Ethiopian gunnery crew prepares to fire a 75mm recoilless rifle. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

An Exercise in Resolve, Month 12

Spent first week of December in Ethiopia and, while I was not on a regular exercise schedule, did naturally get some substantial exercise in on a number of days. It bears mentioning that I draw a distinction between being "in garrison" and "in the field" and make no effort to work out or stay on any sort of schedule while I am operating in the former environment. I rather operate under the assumption that the field can present its own challenges and that it is prudent for me to keep my resources in reserve while out and about. As usual, entries in quotes are adapted from my Twitter posts. 

December 1-7: Spent the first week of the month visiting my brother in Ethiopia and then travelling back to the U.S.! As noted, did not try to maintain a regular exercise routine but walked most days and ended up hauling a substantial load on at least one of them. 
December 8-9: Spent two days visiting my daughters in Northern Virginia on my way back to Texas from Africa. Did not get in much exercise at all and, being exhausted from my trip and on a different time schedule, actually slept about half the time I was there. 
December 10 (Thursday): No walk; first day back home after my trip and spent the day getting caught up on things, recovering, and getting ready for our d-Infinity Live! show on "Hacking, Cracking, & Data Jacking."
December 11 (Friday): Two-mile walk with a medium load. 
December 12 (Saturday): Got in a 0.6-mile walk with at least a light load. 
December 13 (Sunday): Two-mile walk with a medium load. 
December 14 (Monday): "Two-mile walk with a medium load; getting back to an exercise routine now that I am back from Ethiopia. Warm and sunny here in Texas Hill Country!" 
December 15 (Tuesday): "Two-mile mid-afternoon walk with a medium load; a bit stiff and achy but pushed through. Low 70s here in Texas Hill Country  great for December! 
December 16 (Wednesday): "Got in a two-mile walk; knees and shoulder a bit achy so took just a light load and skipped the backpack. Sunny and cool here in Texas Hill Country! 
December 17 (Thursday): Quick, 0.6-mile walk up to the mailboxes; always hustling the day I have d-Infinity Live! show and rarely have time for more than that. 
December 18 (Friday): Probably walked between 0.6 and two miles with a light load. 
December 19 (Saturday): Probably walked between 0.6 and two miles with a light load. 
December 20 (Sunday): Probably walked between 0.6 and two miles with a light load. 
December 21 (Monday): "Got in a one-hour twilight hike with a light load on the bluffs west of the Devil's Hollow here in Texas Hill Country!" (An image from this walk appears below.)
December 22 (Tuesday): Probably walked two miles with a light load. 
December 23 (Wednesday): "Two-mile walk with a light load; knee a bit achy so did not carry more or go too fast. Cloudy but warm, bright, and 80 degrees here in Texas Hill Country!" 
December 24 (Thursday): Walked just 0.6 miles, up to the mailbox to see what may have come in last-minute before Christmas! 
December 25 (Friday): No walk, due to holiday activities and laziness. 
December 26 (Saturday): 
December 27 (Sunday): 
December 28 (Monday): 
December 29 (Tuesday): 
December 30 (Wednesday): 
December 31 (Thursday): 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Recent Events (December 2015)

Following are events I have recently participated in, and which I am listing here with links back to archived editions of radio shows and webcasts, blog posts about them, etc. Times are Central Standard Time, in keeping with where I live near San Antonio, Texas. 

December 10 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 42: Hacking, Cracking, & Data Jacking" (webcast). 

December 13 (Sunday), 7-8 p.m.: Paranormal Filler: Michael Varhola on Filler (radio show), with host Wes Forsythe. 

December 17 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live!: d-Infinity Play Krampusnacht" (webcast). 



Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Ethiopia Reading List

For a number of reasons I read very little purely for pleasure and most of what I am looking at any given time is vocational in some way and ties in with whatever I happen to be working on at the time. That is not to say that I do not enjoy those things, and often have a lot of selectivity with them, just that they tend to be fairly narrowly focused while I am involved in a particular project. Books I read or referred to before, during, or after my two-week trip to Ethiopia included: 

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This historical novel looks at the history of Ethiopia in the 1950s through the 1970s through the experiences of a medical doctor in Addis Ababa and the staff of the hospital where he is born and eventually practices. My mother read this book in conjunction with her own trip to Ethiopia and gave me a copy of it as an early Christmas present so that I could avail myself of it as well. It is both a fascinating work of fiction and an insight into the troubled period of history that began with the demise of Emperor Haillie Selassie's regime and the rise of the repressive Soviet-backed Derg government. 

Ethiopia, the Bradt Travel Guide (Edition 6), by Phillip Briggs. Suffice it to say that this was a very useful general-purpose travel guide and that I got good use out of it. It did not have entries for a number of places that I stayed out, however, revealing a degree of apparent bias in what the author chose to cover or not. It also contained some commentary that I think was off the mark (e.g., that the food at the Blue Nile Resort in Bahir-Dar was not good, whereas I had an excellent meal there). 

A Guide to Lalibela

A Treasury of African Folklore, by Harold Courlander. 

A History of Ethiopia in Pictures. Several of the vendors in Axum were peddling this book and my guide recommended I pick up a copy. He negotiated a price for me of 300 birr ($15) and said it tends to cost about 450 birr; probably paid too much for it in any case but am glad to support the Ethiopian economy in my small way. It is, in any event, a fun and useful title with lots of great information and black-and-white illustrations and has become the current bathroom book in my home office. 

The Blue Nile, by Alan Moorehead. 

Culture Smart! Ethiopia, by Sarah Howard. My brother loaned me this book but pretty much de-recommended it in favor of the much more substantial Bradt travel guide mentioned above. It did, however, include some useful information on social mores that I did not stumble across in the other book. 



Monday, November 30, 2015

An Exercise in Resolve, Month 11

November started off rainy and markedly cooler than the previous month. I finally increased the weight of what I routinely carried, which represented a key step forward, going from a "light" load of up to 10 pounds to a "medium" load of 10-20 pounds. I also sporadically supplement my routine with a few pushups, situps, chinups, or bench presses, but the walk is definitely my main exercise and that is why carrying gear is key. And, now that I am carrying a day pack again, I am able to carry my walking stick on the walk up to the mailbox and often have a couple pounds of mail in the pack for the balance of the walk. Entries in quotes are taken from my Twitter posts. 

November 1 (Sunday): Walked 0.6 miles with a light, c. 9-pound load. 
November 2 (Monday): "Got in a two-mile walk with a light load. Perfect walking weather, sunny, bright, and cloudless but also cool here in Texas Hill Country!" 
November 3 (Tuesday): Walked c. 0.75 miles. Added a day pack and increased equipment load to c. 15 pounds and intended to walk two miles but tried to help someone catch their dogs and, in the process, dragged my trailing foot over a cactus and ended up with about 20 spines of various sizes in my foot, ankle and leg  including one so deep in my big toe that I had to take off my shoe and pull hard to get out. 
November 4 (Wednesday):  Walked 1.5 miles at twilight with a medium, 15+ pound load. 
November 5 (Thursday): "Got in a 1.5-mile twilight walk with a 15.3-pound load! Unseasonably warm today here in Texas Hill Country but cooled off a bit in the evening." 
November 6 (Friday): "Got in a two-mile late afternoon walk with 15+ pounds of gear! Has been raining and was damp and very cool here in Texas Hill Country." 
November 7 (Saturday): No walk; was part of an author panel at Bulverde/Spring Branch Library and got back too late.
November 8 (Sunday): No walk but mowed the lawn for a full hour. 
November 9 (Monday): "Got in a two-mile late afternoon walk with 20+ pounds of gear; was overdue increasing load and glad to have done it twice so far this month!" 
November 10 (Tuesday): Did a brief, 0.6-mile walk with 20+ pounds of gear. 
November 11-14: Getting ready for three weeks on the road and certainly walked to some extent during this period and know that I did some prolonged mowing sessions on probably a couple of the days. 
November 15: "Brief, 1.2-mile walk with 17-plus pounds of gear. Wore boots instead of sneakers to make sure they were in good shape for my upcoming Africa trip." 
November 16-22: Traveled to and spent six days in the Washington, D.C., area. Did not try to observe a regular exercise routine but got decent walks or workouts in a number of days; e.g., one day hauled 100 pounds of luggage crosstown on the Metro from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Alexandria, Virginia, and on Friday, November 21, walked a mile-and-a-half from my daughter's house to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station and then probably a similar distance around D.C. with my friend Paul Knorr. 
November 23-30: Spent last week of November in Ethiopia! Did not try to maintain a regular exercise routine but stayed active and got some substantial workouts in some days. Most significant was a 15-mile roundtrip hike involving a 1,000-foot ascent, from the city of Lalibela to a mountaintop monastery during Day 5 of my Ethiopian Adventure (shown below is a picture of me during this excursion). 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Recent Events (November 2015)

Following are events I have recently participated in, and which I am listing here with links back to archived editions of radio shows and webcasts, blog posts about them, etc. 

November 5 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 39: Under the Sea" (webcast). 

November 7 (Saturday), 3 - 4:30 p.m.: "Local Authors Panel as Part of NaNoWriMo," Bulverde/Spring Branch Library, Bulverde, Texas. 

November 12 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 40: We, Robots" (webcast). 

November 19 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 41" (webcast). 



Saturday, October 31, 2015

An Exercise in Resolve, Month 10

October started off with perfect walking weather, bright and sunny but also cool and breezy much of the time! We hit every extreme after that, from a triple-digit heat index early in the month to driving rainstorms toward the end. Entries on the daily list below in quotes are taken from my pertinent personal Twitter posts and several of the italicized entries mid-month are for days when I know I walked but did not annotate the distance (and in retrospect it all runs together). 

October 1 (Thursday): Walked 0.6 miles with a light load. 
October 2 (Friday): Walked 1.2 miles with a light load
October 3 (Saturday): Walked two miles with a light load
October 4 (Sunday): No walk but mowed a section of the lawn. 
October 5 (Monday): Walked 0.6 miles. 
October 6 (Tuesday): "Walked 2.5 miles with a light load. Bright and sunny but not too hot here in Texas Hill Country and very pleasant for some outdoor exercise!" Also mowed the lawn for about 20 minutes and swept the upper patio and so ended up being pretty beat! 
October 7 (Wednesday):  No walk; was on the road to Wimberley to do a presentation at the library on my new San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country
October 8 (Thursday): Walked just 0.6 miles with a light load; got immersed in Skirmisher personnel issues and did not make it out until just before dinner. 
October 9 (Friday): Walked about 1.5 miles around downtown San Antonio, to and from our hotel to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, then dinner, and then drinks. 
October 10 (Saturday): Did not walk too much but loaded things into and then out of the convention center and made three trips between it and the parking lot.  
October 11 (Sunday): Walked 1.2 miles with a light load. 
October 12 (Monday): "2.2-mile mid-afternoon walk with a light load. Wondered why I was dragging until I learned we had a 100 degree heat index here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 13 (Tuesday): No walk; was on the road and then passed out until after dark when I got back. 
October 14 (Wednesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 15 (Thursday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 16 (Friday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 17 (Saturday): "Managed to get in a two-mile twilight walk with a light load. Has finally cooled down a bit here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 18 (Sunday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 19 (Monday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 20 (Tuesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 21 (Wednesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 22 (Thursday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 23 (Friday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 24 (Saturday): Had to skip a planned hike to the Devil's Hollow with visiting Brendan Cass due to heavy rain, but managed to get in a c. 1.5 night hike together to the local haunted 19th century Bremer Cemetery during a lull in the weather. (A time lapse image by Brendan of me standing by an ominous tree in the graveyard appears below.)
October 25 (Sunday): Got in a quick 1.2-mile twilight walk with a light load. Cold and damp after yesterday's storm and feeling like fall here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 26 (Monday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 27 (Tuesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 28 (Wednesday): No walk, on account of spending first half of the day cleaning the house, picking up Diane at the airport in the afternoon, and stopping for dinner on the way home and not getting back until after dark. 
October 29 (Thursday): No walk, on account of being on the road, getting Hepatitis B and rabies vaccinations, and needing to get ready for my weekly "d-Infinity Live!" show. 
October 30 (Friday): Walked just 0.6 miles, to and from the mailbox, and did not go further on account of rain. 
October 31 (Saturday): Walked two miles with a light load. Wanted to end the month on a strong note!