Mr. Sensitive

March 8, 2014

Operation Tiger Beat – Diplomatic Preliminaries

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:30
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The time is nearly upon us.  I have promised Jenny for years that she will be able to move into a finished basement on her thirteenth birthday, and I now have just over four months to keep my promise.  The circumstances under which I made the promise and my reasons for doing so escape me at the moment, but no matter—I gave my word and that’s what matters.  There are spiders involved, and so this will be a military operation—Operation Tiger Beat, because


Katie has graciously agreed to act as my chief-of-staff—even as she is ordinarily above my station—and she has committed to have operational options prepared for our joint review no later than March 31.  I’m not yet in a position to set detailed objectives or to assign theater and unit commands, but I can certainly begin to address the diplomatic and security concerns that will arise.

I’m speaking, of course, of the fragile peace between the Pfaff Empire and the Yard Dominion of the Spiders.

This will seem to the Dominion like an unbearable provocation.  The German remilitarization of the Rheinland in 1935 will inevitably be invoked, and the obvious dissimilarities will beignored.  The most significant difference is the fact that we are under no treaty obligations whatsoever as it regards the disposition of the basement and are fully sovereign there to no less an extent than in the office where I write this.  Permanent occupation and development of the basement will, nonetheless, be alarming in the extreme to the Yard Dominion.  All it would take is a silver-tongued(?) politician or two stirring up the old enmities to take us to the brink of war.  I continue to believe that full-scale war is unlikely.  Nevertheless, I don’t expect cooperation, and the forced eviction of all squatters and transients—eight-legged and otherwise—will be a messy affair, no two ways about it.

I believe that the Dominion’s level of military readiness is roughly comparable to mine—which is to say, awful.  I had a terrible summer and fall—domestic turmoil and nothing to do with spiders (so far as I know)—and the same period was a muggy, buggy bonanza for the Dominion.  To make matters worse, I failed to clear and clean the basement ahead of winter, as I normally do.  The same problems I already alluded to were to blame for that failure, but of course it would do no one any good for me to say anything more specific about the nature of those problems than I have.  The point is that had I targeted a late fall launch for Operation Tiger Beat, the spiders would have had an unmistakable advantage.  And yet, I can only assume they have had a terrible winter, the deepest and most unrelenting that I can remember.  They will have incurred terrific casualties, and for all any of us know there may be more winter weather yet to come.  The bottom line is that while neither they nor I will be rebuilding our forces from scratch, we’ve each suffered setbacks such that undue adventurism is hardly to be expected.

There is one undeniably compelling reason for the Dominion to exercise restraint: once Operation Tiger Beat is over, I will withdraw combat forces and they’ll have Jenny again manning the marches of the Empire.  Why does that matter?  Because Jenny already spends hours every week in the basement, listening to music and singing and skipping around like a crazy person—and there have been no incidents.  Jenny isn’t alarmed by the fact that spiders are probably watching her from every dark corner down there.  Jenny isn’t terrified that several divisions of spiders will descend from the underside of the deck and breach the poorly-sealed basement door, less than five feet away from their deck stronghold.  If I had to sleep in the basement, I would have to burn down the deck.

May 23, 2011

Risk Is Off

Filed under: Girls — lbej @ 14:09
Tags: , ,

Beginning of Day 2:

Me – 18 territories, control of Africa, South America, Australia

Reagan – 14 territories, control of Asia

Jenny – 10 territories, strongest position in Europe

  • We open with my turn.  I drive up through Alaska and into Kamchatka, breaking Reagan’s hold on Asia.  “What happened to Rasia?” she laments.  Daddy happened is what.
  • Jenny attacks in North America, despite having no strategic reason to do so.  She is stretched thinly there by the end of her turn.
  • Reagan attacks in Kamchatka and is repelled.
  • On my turn, I roll up Jenny’s overextended armies in North America, reducing her to a lone holding in Eastern U.S.  I attack her there three times at the cost of six armies.  I wonder aloud if this is my Stalingrad.  It isn’t.
  • Jenny continues to ignore the obvious strategic imperative to consolidate Europe and tries to revenge herself against me in North America.  She fails.
  • Reagan slogs away in Kamchatka.
  • I complete the destruction of Jenny in North America and become master of the Western and Southern Hemispheres.  My empire is like a giant Pac-man preparing to chop down on Europe and Asia.  Let’s say Ms. Pac-man, because she’s more bad-ass.
  • Too late, Jenny discovers prudence and does not hurl her newly recruited armies against unassailable positions.  She has only six territories remaining.
  • Before Reagan’s turn, I gamely suggest Jenny agree to indissoluble political union with her sister, creating a Eurasian Empire to rival my own Ms. Pac-Land.  Much like the Reynaud government in 1940, she refuses.  Reagan invades Africa from the Middle East.  She is repulsed, but my losses are considerable.  Reagan is proving that she is a capable general.
  • On my turn, I gobble up Scandinavia and then send wave after wave of human fodder into Ural, to no avail.  It’s the gold armies that fail me.  My black armies are consistently better performers; it’s like the black troops are my German regulars and the golds are the Italians.  “I’m never sending any gold guys into Earl again!” I shout.  “What about black guys?” Reagan asks.  “Oh, Earl’s going to be full of black guys; just you wait.”  A turn later, Earl goes black.
  • Jenny takes a shot at North Africa for no reason whatsoever.  She loses four armies and now we are all tired.  We extend the game to a third day.

Beginning of Day 3:

Me – 28 territories, control of Africa, South America, Australia, North America

Reagan – 10 territories, all in Asia

Jenny – 4 territories, all in Europe

  • Jenny declares that she goes first on the third day, which I point out is a load of crap since she went last on Day Two.  She presses this indefensible position with the same misdirected courage she has shown throughout our game.  She grumpily hands the dice to Reagan.
  • Reagan attacks Earl once again.  Amazingly, she clears out 10 armies over the course of six rolls.  Jenny, impressed but also bored, turns over her European holdings and command of her remaining forces to Reagan.  She goes upstairs to re-watch Smallville.
  • Reagan’s new empire now stretches across most of Asia and a large portion of Europe.  She holds 15 territories, up from 10 at the beginning of the day.  But all she cares about is that she gets Jenny’s armies, and so she gets to play with four colors instead of two.
  • I load up on goldies in Australia and land troops in Siam.  I clear it and wipe out Reagan’s armies in China as well.  I take Iceland and fortify.
  • Reagan annihilates an eight-army garrison in China.  She is better than I am, especially when she’s fighting goldies, but the numbers are beginning to tell.  I’m adding more than 20 armies every turn and they’re all massing in southern Asia and along the perimeter of Europe.  Reagan has also declared that she’s no longer going to fortify at the end of her turn because “fortifying’s stupid.”
  • Now I am focused on my ancestral homeland, Europe.  My attempts to break German resistance with repeated assaults across the Rhine from France end in failure.  Reagan is able to replenish the armies she loses, but only just.  Eventually, I make like Gustavus Adolphus and invade Germany from the north.  It takes three more turns, but Europe falls.
  • Reagan continues to fight bravely, sometimes attacking one against twenty.  I am pressing her from the west and from the south.  I retake China and Reagan is unable to recapture any further losses.  She refuses to yield, but soon I have driven her back to her last redoubt on the islands of Japan.  She holds out there for two turns, and then it is over.

What does it all mean?  I draw two conclusions about the girls: first, they are both devotees of l’offensive à outrance, and Maréchal Foch would have been as proud as I am; and second, while they cannot be united by need or opportunity, they will come together if one or the other of them is bored enough.

August 14, 2010

New Slogan For The History Channel

Filed under: Girls — lbej @ 09:56
Tags: , ,

Jenny (explaining why it’s good for us to watch The Civil War):  Some things can be boring but they can be very important things.  Like things in history.

This is after she spent ten minutes showing me all the cool hats she bought on Club Penguin.  The importance of penguins in hats, of course, is self-evident.

July 29, 2010

Jenny Made It

Filed under: Comic Books,Girls — lbej @ 16:42
Tags: , ,

Jenny did this sketch for me on one of those do-it-yourself comic covers (Witchblade #32 as it so happens).  I think she was six, so it’s time for her sister to deliver.

That’s the gold standard, Reagan.  Go get it.

Permanent Rank

Filed under: Girls,Imperial Army — lbej @ 10:45
Tags: , ,

It has often been the case in the military history of the U.S. that an officer would hold a rank within the regular/peacetime/standing army different from his rank within a force created to wage a war then ongoing.  For example, a West Point cadet and prospective career officer would be given a commission in the Regular Army upon his graduation and could advance irrespective of whether or not the United States was at war.  In that sense, hierarchy within the Regular Army functioned like that within any other profession, with promotion based primarily on length of service and secondarily on performance.  When the United States went to war, however, the government would create an Army for the purpose of waging the war.  Thus we have the Continental Army during the American Revolution, the volunteer forces during the Civil War, the National Army during WWI, and the Army of the United States during WWII.  An officer serving in, say, World War II, would have a rank within the Army of the United States separate from and in addition to his rank within the Regular Army, with the former based on his current role and the latter based, as previously mentioned, on past service.  Like brevet/battlefield promotions, promotions within the Army of the U.S. were temporary because the Army of the U.S. itself was temporary.  Once the war was over, the Army of the U.S. was dissolved and its officers reverted to their Regular Army ranks, or were decommissioned altogether if they were not Regular Army officers.  My grandfather (Mom’s father) was just such an officer during WWII, albeit in the Navy rather than the Army.  He was given a commission and eventually commanded a ship despite having been been a civilian prior to 1941, and when the war was over, he returned to civilian life.

The point of all this is to explain how and why Jenny and Reagan are promoted repeatedly and, it would seem, redundantly.  When I, in my role as généralissime of Imperial forces, undertake a new operation, I typically create an army specifically for that purpose.  Thus the Army of the Upstairs, the Army of the Party, the Army of Thirty-Nine Boxes, and so forth.  These armies are separate from the Regular Army of the Empire, and officers in the temporary armies can be drawn from the Regular Army, or not.  So I might create a temporary army in which Regular Army personnel (Jenny and Reagan) are commanded by, say, an uncle or aunt by virtue of the latter’s rank within the temporary army and irrespective of the fact that he or she is not commissioned in the Regular Army at all.

As of this writing, the officer corps for the Regular Army of the Empire includes the following:

  • Jenny, holding the Regular Army rank of Colonel (NATO code O-6).  She has held a temporary rank of général de brigade (brigadier general), which is one step above her permanent rank.
  • Reagan, holding the Regular Army rank of Major (NATO code O-4).  She recently earned a brevet promotion to colonel, but after I dissolved the Army of Thirty-Nine Boxes she reverted to her permanent rank.

My own rank is whatever I decide it is. The title maréchal général, conferred upon me by the Empress, is an honor and an office rather than a rank.  I am subordinate to no one, which is all that really matters.  I would summarize it like this: while you’re here, whatever yours is, mine’s one more than that.

July 15, 2010

Saved From The Party

Filed under: Girls,House,Operation Mortal Coil — lbej @ 16:27

By way of extraordinary personal embassy the Empress has moved Jenny’s party to a nearby pottery-making place, thus avoiding a landing of eight- and nine-year-olds on Imperial soil that would have been a tactical disaster on par with Gallipoli.  I can thus reasonably table a major incursion into the yard until the winter when it will be gloriously lifeless and frozen.  Yesterday I recaptured the Apple Floor Room and the patio, and today I struck in the master bedroom, dining room, upstairs hallway and both upstairs bathrooms, albeit to assess resistance with a view toward future operations and not with the expectation of a decisive result.  I did finally dispose of all but of a few of what once were dozens of unwieldy framed art barfs my mother insisted on dragging with her from place to place without regard to her diminishing wallage.  She often favored the frame over the framed, and thus I have gone the other way.  I intend to finish it, all of it, this month.  I’ve got plenty of past and I’d like to accumulate a little future.

July 14, 2010

It Was Never Calais

Filed under: Basement War,Girls — lbej @ 16:45
Tags: , , ,

Oh no, spiders!  What happened?  It wasn’t Cartwheel, you miserable pieces of living gristle, it was Overlord!  Did you honestly think I would base my strategy around an envelopment executed by Jenny and Reagan?  Reagan was still standing by the pond when she quit–and it was never going to go any other way.  Now there’s Comet all in your air-holes and the basement is mine.


Filed under: Girls,House — lbej @ 12:24
Tags: ,

As we spiral towards humiliation and ruin this Saturday, the aspect of this situation which astounds me more than anything else is that Jenny herself remains utterly and unbelievably nonplussed.  She’s just not worried about what her friends might think if she has her birthday party in a swamp.  She’s always been this way: she will invite anyone anywhere at any time without any regard for the condition of the where in question.  Prior to its recent remodeling, Jenny’s room had been one of the most abominable places on earth.  If you saw it, you know.  And if you don’t know you’ll never know.   Not only did Jenny not care if her friends saw her old room, she was insistent that they should and excited when they did.  Katie and I are naturally slovenly to an extent that may be unprecedented in history for people possessing our level of education and financial wherewithal.  But we also get that this isn’t one of our better household qualities.  Not Jenny.  Jenny takes it to a new level by unabashedly scandalizing her friends, none of whom could have imagined what she has been able to fully realize.  It isn’t that she’s not embarrassed.  To describe it that way, to me at least, suggests an understanding that one is expected to be embarrassed by a situation and a defiant refusal to acknowledge that expectation.  That’s not Jenny.  She’s just blam! here I am and don’t you even pretend like it’s not awesome to be me.  I really hope she stays that way.  I also hope she keeps her room clean, but that’s more for me than for her.

July 13, 2010

Army Of The Party

Filed under: Basement War,Girls,House,Imperial Army — lbej @ 21:10
Tags: , , ,

Jenny’s birthday party will be held this coming Saturday and I am focusing my efforts on the attendant preparations over the next several days.  I have reorganized my forces into an Army of the Party; Jenny will command a division and Reagan will be a division.  The party will be centered on the Apple Floor Room in the basement as well as the backyard.  It will be readily apparent that the yard spiders and their ant and beetle allies could pose a problem.  We have been pelted by junebugs over the past few days, although the enemy seems to have neglected to equip them with any kind of navigation system.  To prepare for the party I am implementing a strategy reminiscent of Operation Cartwheel in WWII.  We will sever the enemy’s lines of communication, supply and reinforcement by clearing the yard of trash and other outposts (akin to islands in the Pacific) before wheeling back upon the patio and basement.  We will begin in the a.m. with the pond, pending suitable weather.  We will then move up along the lines of the fence, bypassing the fort/swingset.  I expect that redoubt to be heavily defended, and the dogs will also no doubt congregate there.  I shall also open up the pinball machine in the basement first thing tomorrow.  It has stopped responding to electric current altogether and I suspect a spider silk-insulated infestation that would provide an intolerable forward operating base for the enemy.  Consider it my Guadalcanal.

July 12, 2010

War On Why

Filed under: Girls,House — lbej @ 12:45

Today’s action is centered on Jenny’s room, specifically the repatriation of furniture and clothing.  I have undertaken to clean and repair Jenny’s furniture so far as I am able.  I filled the bathtub with water and cleaning solution and there is paint in reserve.  I know better than to waste the girls’ time and my own with questions about the purpose of one instance of defacement or another.  When they do know they don’t say.  Instead I independently analyze the architecture of the offense so that I might make the ground itself unsuitable for the construction of any similar edifice of arrgh.  The problem I run into is that if Jenny doesn’t know that she shouldn’t write on her dresser drawers with a ballpoint pen, it could drive me to a retracing of educational steps ending inevitably in a state of parental paralysis.  What else have I failed to teach her?  What about looking both ways before crossing?  What about tying shoelaces?  What about chewing?  It’s too much to consider in amongst all these drawers to be emptied of hamster poop.  The other possibility, of course, is that Jenny knows full well that she shouldn’t write on the furniture.  That would be better for her.  But for her parents?  Perhaps not.  There’s no knowing, at least not until one of us relents and buys her a phone.

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