Auftragstaktik – Mission Tactics

I love layman level discussion of military strategy and tactics. This is a fascinating example.

But as a layman I have no idea whether he is talking cobblers :)

I have done, and still do a bit of wargaming in my time. More recently I have moved to the big live action stuff. Last summer I had to direct a challenging combined assault of 60 vs 40 using untried, undisciplined amateurs. But I can see where Moltke was coming from with Auftragstaktik. It’s far easier, and you are more likely to have success, with well trained people who will act on their own initiative to deliver the results you want, than to sit down and try and micro manage them with a complex and cumbersome set of orders.

Survivalism – ready for what?

Maybe it was hearing about Zombie walk yesterday in Dublin, or maybe it was worrying about the consequences of the US’ upcoming self inflicted economic meltdown, but I found myself reading about Survivalism on Wikipedia. This is the whole idea of being prepared for the worst if/when civilization takes a tumble. As a movement I guess the extreme is a paranoid stockpiling several years of food in his bunkers beside the gun collections as he waits for the end of civilization from one of various means (Y2K, nuclear war, peak oil, economic collapse, zombies, etc).

There is a more rational side to survivalism though. In a lot of places around the world people are advised to have temporary stockpiles for the worst. The standard seems to be to have a Bug Out Bag (BOB) good for you and your family for 72 hours. You would fill it with food, basic medicine, and nick-nacks like radio, flash light, batteries and so on.

Personally I have 2 questions about a BOB. What would I need one for, and then what should go in it? Living in Ireland we are pretty spoiled when it comes to the risks of the natural world. We don’t have to worry about earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, governmental instability or invasion. Our storms rarely cause much significant disruption and people tend to get good notice to be prepared. Can you remember the last time you had difficulty getting bread or milk after an Atlantic blow? It’s probably only snow that we need to worry about. It’s rare enough an event that if we get a big dump the country can go to pieces. And remembering the big snow of 1982 I can see how having 3 days of food stockpiled would remove one thing to worry about.

The next thing then is what to hold. I’d start by putting all my camping gear into one or two boxes, for quick transport to the car if I did need to do a runner. Then there is the question of food. You can get lists and so on talking about the general items – radios, batteries, food, drink etc. But the practicalities of it intrigue me. Take water – 3 litres per person per day for drinking, and 2 for washing. Family of 4 for 3 days – 60 litres. But can you really leave it there for 6 months without it spoiling? Then there is food. What would you pick that will feed you for 3 days, is not too bulky, is relatively easy to prepare, and will keep for about 12 months? The militaries of the world have done plenty of work there, and you can get MREs with enough food for one for a day or so for about €10, cheaper if you buy by the box. Except while I am not fussy I don’t think the ladies of my house would be too keen on eating that sort of food for 3 days. I can see my BOB containing pasta, cereals, tins, and dried fruit. Better make sure there is a good can opener, and plenty of loo roll in there too then so.

Super powers – what are they good for?

Bit of a geek question, but what super power would you like – strength, flying, invisibility, stretching, telekinesis? The one I would always fancy is one you never see on these sort of lists – be able to understand and speak any language. As someone once said not being able to understand a language makes you functionally illiterate.

When it comes to super powers though, I have often wondered how useful they would be in real life? Despite what comic books might say, super powers would only be of use against super villians. Run of the mill criminals get nabbed by police work – gathering evidence, and building a case to present in court. Not by being clobbered by some guy who can run at 1000 kph and wears his Lycra underpants over his trousers.

Now if you did have a super power (unnatural strength, invisibility, or whatever) you would be best off concealing it unless you wanted to end up detained somewhere at a government’s pleasure while they carry out live autopsies to see if you are a threat to society, and/or what makes you tick. So assuming you have a super power, and you need to keep it a secret, and you are not in the criminal hunting business, is there a legal way to make these sort of laws-of-physics-defying abilities pay for you?

Personally I am sort of struggling here. Other than the languages one, how exactly can you make a legitimate living out of these things?


Sometimes I do jobs that mean I need to have protection…

Photo by Clent Bryan Saron.

That’s me, second from the left. In case you were wondering.

Getting back on track

It will hardly have escaped your attention if you are an occasional visitor here that the number of posts has dropped pretty dramatically. There are a few reasons. Work is one, the wonderful time sucking daughter is another, and I’ll be honest and say Twitter isn’t helping either.

I do want to change things though. I enjoy writing here. So I really should make the time for it. And to be frank there are a load of ideas or nonsense I have which Twitter’s 140 character limit make impossible to share.

So what to do? Well taking an idea from Matt Cutts I have been trying to achieve some personal task every month or so. Last month it was get to bed before midnight every night. It was a miserable failure. But sometimes I manage it. Killing two birds with the one stone, this month, I will endeavour to write an average of 250 words per day on this site. Don’t expect a post every day, but I will get something up every few days.

Not of course that there may be anyone left reading this site to pay attention. That being the case I suppose I should put up something provocative and see do I get a reaction :)

Sod, 207 words and I am struggling already. See, I blame Twitter…

I suppose I can add a few words on Rosemary. She is coming up on 14 months now. And she has been and is as wonderful a baby as you could wish for. As of last weekend she had given up crawling and now walks full time, or at least tries to. This is her enjoying a break at a cafe in a palace near our apartment here in Vienna.
Palace girl

Rosemary the palace girl. Canon EOS300D, SK.

I tell you this, it is far from Habsburg palaces her parents were raised!

The Birthday Girl

It was Rosemary’s birthday the other week. We had two parties, one in Austria, and another on the day in Cork with her Irish family.

The internet doesn’t need another post about the joys and delights of being a parent (never getting lie ins, running whenever you hear a loud noise, and all that), but I did was to post something. So here is a photo of the birthday girl.

Rosemary, no longer a zero, now a one.

Rosemary, no longer a zero, now a one. Canon EOS500D, SK or Laura.

She looks a bit more girly than usual in that shot.

Spring in Vienna

Spring is officially underway in Vienna. This means 20°C days, eating and drinking outside like civilized people (or barbarians depending on your level of technological advancement), and wearing less clothes. Though the last one is more on an Irish thing at the moment. I think the Austrians will only really start to ditch jackets and hats, and embrace short sleeve and showing off their legs when things go over 25°C.

Anyway today Laura and I took the opportunity to enjoy what would be an Irish summer’s day (22°C), on the 2nd of April. We needed some meat and some stuff for a picnic tomorrow so we went to the Naschmarkt. While there we took the opportunity to have a nice fish lunch and I had my first Aperol Spritzer of the season.

Aperol Spritzer in Vienna

Aperol Spritzer in Vienna’s Naschmarkt. Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro, SK.

It seems to be something of a signature Vienna summer drink. It was much later in the summer when I discovered them last year. They are a nice alternative to beer, and in a little while I will put a recipe for one up here.

Mojito recipe

As Teresa asked for it, this is the mojito recipe that Laura and I picked up when we were in Cuba a few years ago.

Ingredients and Tools:

  • A glass, (duh), but a make it a tall one.
  • Shot glass or measure. Ours is 65ml.
  • A cocktail puddler, though we just use the blunt end handle of a wooden meat tenderizer.
  • Some fresh mint leaves, make sure it is not peppermint.
  • Rum, has to be Havana Club, and make sure it is not the good stuff. Look for the cheaper 1 year old (though a lot of places only have the 3 year or older stuff).
  • Sugar.
  • Limes.
  • Ice.
  • Sparkling water. Has to be good and fizzy. Nothing ruins a mojito like flat tepid water.

Put a generous tablespoon of sugar in the glass. Add the juice of half a lime. Then throw in a shot glass full of the Havana club. Add a sprig of mint and a few more leaves. Crush the mix together with the puddler/handle. You are bruising the leaves to release the mint flavour.

Throw in a few ice cubes, and top up with the fizzy water. I you feel that way inclined you can decorate with a sprig of mint, but don’t add an umbrella.

You have to use Havana Club really as it is the rum made in Cuba. Yeah, I know has a totalitarian communist government, which despite the smiley propaganda about literacy and free health care, it is a run down, bankrupt failed state, where people lack even such basic freedoms as the freedom to access the Internet, meet in public to bitch about their government, or leave the country because they are sick and tired of Castro & Co. But the rum is good, and at least some small percentage of the money will find it’s way back to Cuba.

Mint plants seem to have subtly different flavours, so some experimentation will be needed to find the right one for your mojitos. Be warned though. Laura and I had 2 mint plants on our balcony we used. We would admit that we had a mojito problem one fine summer a few years ago, but we still could not consume the leaves off the plants fast enough. Mint is something of a pernicious, fast growing weed. Don’t be thinking you will drink the leaves faster than they can grow!

Tokyo street

A video I shot from a cafe window when I was there the year before last. It is 5 minutes of not much happening, just street life, so don’t expect robots, rampaging monsters, bizzarely costumed youths or anything like that. I just liked the idea of taking a snapshot of total normality. That may be more valuable to people in 100 years than the weird stuff.

Tokyo street from a cafe near the Asakusa shrine. Kodak Zi8, SK.

And no, no earthquakes either. I wasn’t aware of the big one in Japan this morning when I uploaded the video to youtube.

New Quote

“Everytime history repeats itself, the price goes up”


Next »