Saturday, September 22, 2007

So you think you can dance

The pressures of operating in a deployed status are unfathomable to the citizen who has never served. The stressors lead to lifelong friendships and fellowship. Today over a lunch of leftover homemade spaghetti and meatballs the discussion turned to the greatest dancers ever. If you are as stiff as Britney at the video awards, watch this and start stretching.

So you think you can dance? Be prepared to be amazed. This is better each time I see it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Celebrate Ramadan with style

One month only. Lunar month that is. Order here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th, 2007

I have the good fortune to lead over 15,000 active duty Sailors and Marines who serve their Navy, Marine Corps and their Nation with honor. They do this voluntarily and a majority have taken their oath following September 11th 2001.

"I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith allegiance to the same. I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and all officers appointed over me in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I take this obligation freely and without mental reservation or purpose of evasion and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God."

I thank each of you for taking the oath. I thank our families and friends for without your support we could not do this mission.

God bless America. We will never forget.

For another thought on 9/11 please read the comment to this earlier blog entry.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I like this photo

I like this shot so much I decided to "blog" it. To me it represents the success of Courtney by graduating from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. The success of my family, which is 30 days away from reaching 30 years of being The Hall's. Finally I just like how cute my daughter and wife are.

I'm a lucky guy period dot

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Moose walks into a bar.......

The bartenders says, "Hey Bullwinkle, why the long face?" (laughter)

It's an oldie but a goody. I shared it with Tommy Franks and he used it often with embellishment, and as a four star general - it always got laughs.

Here the Moose has told the joke to Courtney bringing forth her laughter. The location is the famous restaurant, bar and brew house in Pensacola, McGuire's Irish Pub. McGuire's was originally established in a strip mall in 1977 when Darlene and I were first married and I was going through flight school. My classmate and friend Emory Chenoweth supplied the owners with Irish music and today 30 years later a drink remains named after Emery. Court wanted to visit this landmark on our drive to Virginia. Wish granted and we enjoyed a filling lunch before we hit the road.

In the Notre Dame room Court laughs at the Moose's jokes and the young waiter singing "kiss the mouse, kiss the mouse."

In the main bar with the Main Moose and dollar bills everywhere stapled to the overhead.

Back on the road, Courtney displays her road warrior skills learned as a Navy kid traveling cross country to Texas with her Mom. (I looked up "cute" in the dictionary and this picture was there)

Good thing the Garmin never sleeps. "Wake me if you have any questions."

One of the many state signs we met welcoming us to their highways.

A midnight American Heart Association breakfast at the Waffle House. After a meal and a pow wow Courtney said let's press on. We hit Norfolk by 0700 and only Roxy was awake to greet us.

A super trip with my new college graduate. She is a true road warrior and terrific driver like Mom. I'll go anywhere with her, a GPS and a loaded iPod. Drive on Courtney!

NOTE: I apologize for the gratuitous dropping of Tommy Franks name in an entry about my family. I was told I would never make it in the Navy by being a name dropper. Henry Kissinger told me that in 1988 when we were meeting with Colin Powell and Condoliza Rice on the Soviet's Mini Mobile Missiles.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Boss speaks out - good regional insight

Cool It Call Over 'Sabre-Rattling'
(GULF DAILY NEWS 07 SEP 07) Mark Summers

IRAN must stop its "disruptive" rhetoric and behaviour to cool tensions
in the region, a top US military official warned in Bahrain yesterday.

The US takes Iranian threats seriously and is ready to deal with them,
said US Navy Fifth Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff.

The Iranian regime is bringing pressure upon itself with its own
actions, he said, after addressing a meeting of the American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) Bahrain, at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence
and Spa.

"Is Iran a threat? I think what concerns me with Iran is their rhetoric
and the fact that they say things that I don't think need saying," said
Vice-Adm Cosgriff.

"If you recall, not too many weeks ago they made a comment about Bahrain
- essentially that this was a province of Iran."

"First of all it's not true. It was intended to intimidate and coerce
and that is disruptive. What we believe in is security and stability and
disruptive behaviour is always a concern."

"I would hope that the government of Iran would stop that sort of
language because it is intended to incite, to coerce and to intimidate
and I don't think that has a useful role in the region."

He was referring to a widely-reported editorial written by Hossein
Sharjatmadari, editor of a hard-line Iranian newspaper and close aide to
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which claimed Bahrain as
Iranian territory.

The Iranian government immediately distanced itself from the remarks,
saying they did not represent the government view.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff urged Iran to moderate its actions, to avoid the risk
of military conflict.

"Hopefully there will be no reason for the international community to
confront Iran," he said.

"You would hope that they would listen to the international community
and the various mechanisms that have been put in place to try to resolve
the issue that Iran brought on itself."

"The issue is peace versus military application of nuclear power and
Iran following the rules that they have agreed to, that they are now
apparently not doing.

"So we would encourage them to work with the UN, work with the Group of
Six, or with other people who are trying to mediate and solve it

In June, Iranian parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel warned that
Iran would strike US military bases in neighbouring Gulf states if they
were used as staging posts to attack the Islamic republic over its
nuclear programme.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff said he did not take such words lightly.

"I do take it seriously, I get paid to take things like that at face
value," he said. "It's like you are walking down the street of a big
city in someplace and somebody jumps out and says I am going to take
your wallet."

"We want to project the fact that we are a ready navy force and that we
posture ourselves in a way that would make sure that if somebody started
something, then we are going to be able to manage ourselves

"We are here for what I have said. We are here for - which is regional
security, regional stability - we believe that contributes to the
prosperity of Bahrain and other countries and it is important to global
economic stability because of the statistics of oil and gas exploration
upon which regional prosperity is based.

On piracy in the Gulf, Vice-Adm Cosgriff slammed the "thuggery" of those
who steal the possessions of others at sea.

"The common language of the pirates to date has been Farsi," he said,

In his speech to the AmCham gathering, Vice-Adm Cosgriff outlined the
nature of the responsibilities he faced as Fifth fleet commander.

"I am in charge of all 25,000 sailors afloat and ashore across this
region - and the region goes from Egypt to Pakistan and from Kazakhstan
to Kenya," he said.

"On the coalition side, the principle focus is maritime security. This
is where we want to build partnerships with the navies and the
coastguards in the region to help them with their capacity building, but
also more importantly the protection of their infrastructure."

"All of these forces out here, it is important to keep in mind, are
doing what they do against the backdrop of the ongoing struggle of
violent extremism."

He stressed that he has responsibility for a peaceful and orderly
maritime environment, given that 40 per cent of the world's oil passes
through the Strait of Hormuz.

Vice-Adm Cosgtriff praised Bahrain for its co-operation with the Fifth

"We are fortunate to have in Bahrain, such a strong partner - obviously
housing the headquarters was no small contribution, also they were the
first Gulf country to actually join the maritime coalition and send
ships to sea," he said.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff cited respect, commitment, persistence and strength as
the beliefs of his fleet.

"We believe in certain things. First and foremost we believe in the idea
of respect, based on the rule of law and international norms, but it is
also based on a respect for the religious and cultural heritage of this

"We believe in commitment. Maritime security is based on the belief that
the region and its people obviously are important in their own right,
but also mindful of the region's role in the larger global economy and

"We believe in persistence, the US Navy has been present in the region
for more than 60 years and we have every expectation to be here for
decades to come."

"The coalition that we established seven years ago is getting stronger
and we are going to keep making it better and better."

"Lastly, we believe in strength, certainly we want to remain ready
across the full range of our military capabilities. We also remain ready
because of that capability and can respond across a range of more
peaceful and contributory missions, such as disaster relief."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff also revealed US authorities were studying the
idea of permitting sailors' families to again reside in Bahrain for the
first time since the US ordered them to leave the kingdom, in 2004.

"First and foremost, it is important for the sailors. Second, it is
important for my headquarters - with the continuity you get from longer
tours of duty and third, it is important for our long-term relationship
with Bahrain."

"I am optimistic that while I am in command, we will begin to see change
in the policy."

"I am quite optimistic that we will continue to build on the visits and
eventually get approval to start bringing families back - they are not
going to show up over night, but that's okay. Once we get the
green-light, we will start bringing them here."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff said he was "optimistic" about allied operations
in Iraq.

"My hope is that some of the trends we are seeing will continue in terms
of the overall level of violence," he said.

The city of Baghdad still has areas that are troublesome, but by and
large the trends are going in the right direction."

"I think we are going to have a lot of news here in the next couple of
weeks with the General Petraeus report and how that is greeted in the
US. I think there is reason to be optimistic."

Newly-appointed US Ambassador to Bahrain Joseph Ereli was amongst those
attending the gathering.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Does Bourbon Street ever close?

The answer is a definite NO. At least not before one runs out of "gas."

Following Courtney's graduation, she and I had a little road trip to Norfolk Virginia. First stop on our trip was New Orleans. It is two years this week since Katrina hit. While we saw much of the damage, the heartbeat of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is rocking. We stayed at a neat boutique hotel that was just a hop, skip and a jump to Bourbon Street. So after a late night check in at our hotel, we hopped over the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk, skipped around some strange looking characters and jumped to the beat of Bourbon Street. Three and a half hours later we hit the hay with a small buzz and a smile from all the music and dancing. New Orleans will come back because her heart is beating strong.

Old time jazz men playing their hearts out to a hopping and appreciative house crowd.

Court with the band leader after buying his CD. These guys are great.

When in Rome drink what the Romans drink - in New Orleans it's the most powerful drink known to man - the trademarked Hand grenade. Two please.

Court armed to the teeth with huricanes and hand grenades.

Mmmmm, slurp - a little fruity - but not as powerful as Mojo - but I do feel like dancing!

A little history lesson as we head back to the hotel.

You never who you'll run into when your traveling with the globe trotting Courtney. Famous jazz men and rock singers. Tonight we ran into a buddy of Court's from Texas. Small world.

Let's sleep in and then it's off to kiss the moose in Pensacola Florida.

PS One Hand Grenade is enough to lube the old joints and get an old man moving to the beat.