Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


[Moblog] Boomsday XXI

The biggest Labor Day weekend fireworks display in the nation takes place over the Tennessee River, launched from downtown Knoxville's Henley Street Bridge. Definitely one of the most impressive fireworks displays I've ever seen -- 4th of July, New Years or otherwise.


GOP v. The Establishment

Earlier this morning Sen. McCain announced that Gov. Sarah Palin [R-AK] would be his running mate for the November general election. At least it's not four Senators on the big tickets!

Honestly, Gov. Palin brings a lot to the GOP ticket. Check her bio: she petitioned against city council pay raises, cut her own salary after being elected as mayor of Wasilla, called Commissioners on the carpet for unethical dealings, unseated a sitting governor IN THE PARTY PRIMARY, and has an unwavering commitment to ethics. Her first two acts as Governor were to put the private jet (bought by her predecessor) up for sale on eBay, and to fire the Executive Chef (convinced that she and her husband could cook for their family themselves).

The fact that she's a hockey mom, former beauty queen, mother of five (with an infant child with Down syndrome) and competitive basketball player only adds to her appeal. And the fact that she testified before Congress in a ColumbiaGear windbreaker.

Frankly, I think she's a brilliant choice by Sen. McCain. Compared to McCain-Palin, Obama-Biden looks so "Establishment".

Side Note: Today is Sen. McCain's 72nd birthday, as well as Todd and Sarah Palin's 20th wedding anniversary.



Sensor Fusion in Baton Rouge

The Melton Valley-SensorNet project has come to Baton Rouge, Louisiana - home to the greatest concentration of chemical refineries, barge traffic and storage facilities in the United States. We showcased our project in conjunction with the Baton Rouge Area Mutual Aid System (BRAMAS) conference to the HazMat chief from Baton Rouge Fire Department, as well as representatives from Army Research Office's Chemical Sciences Division, regional FBI and other first-responder representatives.

Oak Ridge National Lab has developed an ingenious sensor mash-up that integrates real-time sensor data with response plans/policies, meteorological data, and predictive models in order to inform First Responders and other decision makers. The sensor package shown above is a chemical sensor developed by SeaCoast Science, Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif.

In this video, Magnus Oding of Scan Pacific Northwest, LLC of Mukilteo, Wash. launches the sensor via a pneumatic line thrower along the levee in downtown Baton Rouge. These sensors, when integrated with the communications architecture developed by Oak Ridge National Lab (that correlates space-time information with real-time sensor readings and predictive dispersion models), will provide enhanced situational awareness to any decision maker who has to make high-consequence, time-sensitive decisions to protect people and property.

Web 2.0 capabilities merged with sensing capabilities and predictive models create a next-generation "toolbox" for emergency management and disaster response.

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[Moblog] Virginia 'Q

After visiting the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren, we stopped
for lunch at an old Fredericksburg classic: Allman's. Richard's
assessment? "Very good - and I'm not a bar-b-cue fan!"


New Oak Ridge High School

Five years of community planning and fundraising, eighteen months of construction, over $60 million dollars and the newly renovated Oak Ridge High School is open for business.

I have never seen a community come together in such a moving and powerful fashion as Oak Ridge. With the leadership of UT-Battelle (manager of Oak Ridge National Lab) and their $2 million donation, the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation (of which I am honored
to be a part) and the community (through donations, sales tax increases & QZAB bonds), this school of 1,400 is now home to:

  • A science curriculum second to none
  • Five Career Academies integrating communications, math & science
  • A Center for the Arts
  • Technology labs for every department
  • State-of-the-art instructional facilities and libraries

In a very moving dedication ceremony, Principal Chuck Carringer "presented" the school to a panel of students drawn from across all Oak Ridge schools -- one student from each grade, pre-K through 12th grade:

This is a great day for Oak Ridge, and for excellence in science education among any school - public or private. And it is our biggest regret in our upcoming move to Colorado: that my kids will not get to be students in this extraordinary place.

(Donor Wall with Astrolabe)

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[Moblog] National Forensic Academy

The Univ. of Tennessee's "Law Enforcement Innovation Center" is expanding it's National Forensic Academy. With a large part of its funding coming from private donors (like best selling novelist Patricia Cornwell), NFA offers world-class instruction in forensics, photography, and laboratory analysis (e.g., bone trauma analysis, latent fingerprint processing, bloodstain pattern analysis).


Rather than a ribbon "cutting", Cong. Zach Wamp and other distinguished guests conducted a ribbon "blasting":

Following the blasts, we got to tour the excellent training facilities:


[Moblog] Graphite Reactor

The Schug family, friends from Virginia, are visiting east Tennessee. Today we are doing the grand tour of all three Manhattan Project sites in Oak Ridge (Y-12, X-10 & K-25). Here's Lynn with daughter Jamie by the fuel loading face of the Graphite Reactor - the world's first nuclear reactor (c. 1943).


Reorienting "Effects" Focus

General Jim Mattis, USMC, Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, is continuing to demonstrate his leadership at the command who once claimed its Area of Responsibility was "the future". His latest salvo is at one of the "sacred cows" of the defense transformation movement: Effects Based Operations.

"EBO" in the modern sense was derived from the work done by CHECKMATE on the Air Staff (the targeteers who selected critical "nodes" for precision strikes nearly 20 years ago) and by then-Lt Col Dave Deptula, USAF (principal attack planner for the Operation DESERT STORM coalition air campaign in 1991). The evolution of various technologies (GPS, precision-guided munitions, integrated command architectures, over-the-horizon communications) ushered in many new warfighting concepts like EBO.

Despite much fanfare from USJFCOM J9 over the past decade, where EBO became the cornerstone of the "Rapid Decision Operations" overarching concept (and a constant source of chagrin for LtGen(ret) Paul Van Riper), earlier today General Mattis closed the door on EBO in favor of "time honored principles and terminology that our forces have tested in the crucible of battle and are well grounded in the theory and nature of war." His official guidance can be downloaded here.

This is an appropriate (albeit belated) adjustment by CDR USJFCOM to distinguish between "potentially good ideas" and "doctrine". Not just for EBO (an idea that suffered from vagueness and service parochialism since its inception) but also for "Operational Net Assessment" (ONA) and "System of Systems Analysis" (SoSA).

EBO never got over the "persistence" question (e.g., how long would "effects" endure), just as ONA never solved the "adaptability" question (i.e., how would enemy adaptations be accounted for in the model). Gen Mattis's assertion of JPs 3-0 and 5-0 is the proper thing for a Combatant Commander to do -- doctrine, not concept, drives operations. And just as doctrine itself is a reflection of shared values that have stood the test of time and culture, he correctly identifies USJFCOM's role in "help[ing] joint doctrine evolve as our views on effects and related concepts evolve."

However, one concern I do have is that this correction may stymie some of the forward-thinking elements of USJFCOM. J9 has suffered pretty severe budget cuts since my departure two years ago; this could indicate even more to come -- and a command orientation away from "Futures" to "Training" (J7) and "Systems Integration" (J8).

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Man-Cub has been busy mixing and matching his various Lego® “Bionicles”, integrating them to create this four-armed, three-headed creation.  It seems we have an aspiring mechanical engineer in the house….



Annasophia-to-be 2

The little peanut M&M just passed her 33rd week in utero, weighing in at an estimated 5 pounds 2 ounces according to our ultrasound technician. Here's a brief snippet from this afternoon's ultrasound, where you can see her profile on the center-right side of the monitor (and her arm coming up at the end of the clip):



BBQ & History

Vernon Long, Property Assessor for Anderson County in East Tennessee, is also owner of "Vernon's Burnins Slow Cooked Barbecue" in Clinton. Never mind that claptrap from mtanji or selil; the best BBQ in the entire eastern U.S. is from Vernon's! Perfectly slow-roasted pork, with just a hint of Carolina-style (vinegar based) sauce, on a soft fresh bun -- Mmm!!

As a token of gratitude to the citizens of Anderson County, Mr. Vernon is giving his famous pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches free (along with sweet tea, lemonade, and a bag of harvest cheddar SunChips). Next Saturday (August 16th) he'll be at the Marina on Melton Lake Drive in east Oak Ridge from 5-8pm EDT.

While Man-Cub played at the park, an elderly gentleman sat down at my table. His ballcap showed a bronze star, a purple heart and a silver star, in addition to a miniature Combat Infantryman Badge. Turns out he had two bronze stars and two silver stars (the third-highest award for valor) from his tours with the 32nd Infantry Division in New Guinea, the Philippines and the Battle of Luzon. We talked about the campaign, the weapons and General MacArthur for the next half-hour -- then he showed me the "One Japanese Peso" bill he keeps folded up in his wallet (the fiat currency issued in the Philippines by the occupying Japanese government):


Running for the Fallen

This morning I had the honor of joining the Run for the Fallen team as they ran from Oak Ridge, Tennessee to Clinton and beyond. Run for the Fallen departed Fort Irwin, California on Flag Day (June 14th) and is running one mile for each of the 4,080 U.S. service members who have given their last full measure of devotion in nurturing the fledgling democracy in Iraq. They will arrive at Arlington National Cemetary on August 24th.

Run for the Fallen has no political affiliation (in fact, they openly refuse it). Rather, they run "... to raise awareness about the lives of those who fought, to activate their memories and keep their spirits alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and the families of those killed (Wounded Warrior Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund, HUGSS (Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors), and the 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund), and to aid the healing process for those Americans whose lives have been affected by the war."

This morning, at 7:00am, Carl Sexton (President of the Roadkill Running Club in Oak Ridge) and I met the team in the parking lot of our local Doubletree Hotel. Several other Oak Ridge notables also came to show their support, including Matt Kaye (Oak Ridge native and President & CEO of EOD Technology Inc.) shown here talking with Run for the Fallen founder Jon Bellona:

It was a beautiful day in East Tennessee for a run, with temperatures in the low-80s F. and a slight breeze from the north. Carl and I ran with Eric Janes from Breckinridge, Colorado, from the east end of Oak Ridge into the nearby town of Clinton (county seat of Anderson County and the original namesake of the "Secret City's" efforts in support of the Manhattan Project).

During our run, from Mile 3,268 to Mile 3,272, we honored the following:

Specialist Ryan S. Dallam, U.S. Army:

PFC Daniel A. Fuentes, U.S. Army:

CPT Anthony J. Palermo, Jr., U.S. Army:

And PFC Damian Lopez Rodriguez, U.S. Army:

All of these soldiers (CPT Palermo, SPC Dallam and PFC Rodriguez assigned to 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division; PFC Fuentes of 1st Bn, 28th Regiment, 4th IBCT, 1st Infantry Division) died on April 6th, 2007 in Baghdad when improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonated near their vehicles during combat operations.

Rest in peace, men.


Corrupting the Next Generation

After our Dollywood adventure, the obligatory stop at Starbucks (for my trimethylxanthine fix on the hour drive home) led to requests from the boys "for coffee". Ever the push-over, I was all too happy to oblige - with "solo" shots of decaf espresso. These boys have a bright future indeed!

[Moblog] Dollywood

While CINCOZ chills at home, I have taken the kids (and their friends) to Dollywood for the day. Our first ride of the day is the Mystery Mine, a steel tube roller coaster with flips, spins, banks and drops. Should be fun....


[Moblog] iPhone Test


Coast Guard Birthday

The U.S. Coast Guard is our nation's oldest continuously-serving maritime agency. What began under Alexander Hamilton's Dept. of the Treasury in 1790 (as the Revenue Cutter Service) has become the standard bearer for preparedness and service to our citizens.

From the Coast Guard website:
1790-Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's proposal to build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue (Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine this service would officially be named the Revenue Cutter Service (12 Stat. L., 639) in 1863. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department. This date marks the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard.
Happy Birthday, Coasties!

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R.I.P., Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Nobel-prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose gripping portrayals of the brutal Soviet penal system erased leftist sympathies for Communism in Europe and America during the 1970s, died earlier today at the age of 89.

His most gripping work, The Gulag Archipelago trilogy, provided so much first-person testimonials that refutation by the KGB was impossible. A far more accessible book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (less than 3% the volume of The Gulag Archipelago), is equally as compelling -- and showcases the profound strength of character that Solzhenitsyn possessed to endure the hardships of a system designed to crush the spirit.

Solzhenitsyn's criticism of the GULags also honed his observations of the West, which he viewed as decadent and weak. His wry wit, "gallows humor" and brilliant investigative journalism helped end one of the most oppressive systems our world has ever seen.

До свидания, friend.

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Colorado Dreamin'

It's official: we're moving on.

In approximately one month, I will report for duty at Schriever Air Force Base (near Colorado Springs) to join the Missile Defense Agency's Modeling & Simulation Directorate.

We are grateful for the opportunity to spend these past two years in the "Secret City" of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and have formed many lifelong friendships. My roots to Oak Ridge stretch back to my college days, as a physics major at Berkeley (where the "CalUTrons" invented by Prof. Lawrence were brought to Oak Ridge to help end a terrible war), so this is a bittersweet transition.

But the opportunities presented by MDA are compelling. Technology is becoming increasingly accessible to those who wish us harm, and the only difference between an IED and a cruise missile is thrust & guidance. I'm privileged by the opportunity to join a dynamic team working to counter these threats to our nation and our allies.

'Blogging will continue in some fashion (hey, if my pals in the IC can do it... :-) so stay tuned....