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Forever After: The Hagan Family Journals
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  1. #41

    Day Eighty four - Saturday, June 16th, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day Eighty four
    Saturday, June 16th, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    Made it to Big Pine Key by noon Thursday without much incident. This string of islands is beginning to look much like they did before the Overseas Railroad and later the U.S. 1 highway were built to connect them to the mainland - largely empty. When the nukes went off and central electrical power was lost the aquaduct stretching from Dade county to Key West ran dry and there isn't enough naturally occurring freshwater down here to sustain the population that existed here pre-war. Slowly at first and then somewhat faster later on folks began moving out heading to the mainland where water could be found. The hardier types stayed on until the Cubans invaded and then many of them were forced to flee as well. Excluding military personnel there's probably not a thousand people left from Key Largo to Key West when there used to be thousands in Key West alone. Even in the two days we've been here several have passed through the checkpoints heading north.

    When we reached Big Pine I detailed the 1st company C.O. to recon the islands reachable by road in the local area to find a usable structure for an HQ and I continued southwards with 2nd company down to Key West. It's been over ten years since I was last here and even in August the whole area was terribly crowded with cars and people everywhere. Now the place is desolate. I'm not really sure why the governor is spending the resources he is on manning the Keys, there's not a lot left that's worth much beyond the buildings. What the original inhabitants didn't take with them when they fled, the Cubans stole and took back home. Perhaps he's feeling sensitive about the perception of abandoning territory. Whatever the reason, we're here and are getting down to business.

    There's still a couple of hundred hardy souls living in the group of keys collectively known as Key West and they are more or less successfully coping. Their homes have rain cisterns, they're gardening, fish extensively and they have redomesticated some of the island's chicken flock. Just before the war the poultry that ran wild here had grown in numbers large enough to constitute a nuisance (even made the news) which I attributed to the general nuttiness that South Florida had sunk to these last several decades. I didn't spend much time personally covering the key, but more or less cruised through to get an overall impression. Besides the commercial tourist crap that had all but covered the place there used to be quite a lot of historical interest sites and several museums. The buildings are all still there but most of what was in them is gone, particularly the Hemingway house where even the fixtures are missing. I decided not to waste more time playing tourist and got back up the road. Stopped by Boca Chica to inspect the naval air station and decided it would do for the lower keys headquarters. We'll have to clean up and do some minor repairs but the structures are basically sound and we can get aircraft or watercraft in without problems. Having seen both places now I decided to headquarters at Boca Chica rather than Big Pine. The few miles difference in location should not make that much of a difference and the radio towers at the air station would be useful for our purposes. The station is also more defensible against attack and has hardened structures in case we have to hunker down in a hurricane.

    I met with 1st and 2nd company commanders and we altered our plans accordingly. We're putting a platoon on the north side of the Seven Mile Bridge to cover Marathon, Duck and Long keys and the remaining three platoons will cover Big Pine, Boca Chica and Key West. Corporal Carter thinks he can modify the remaining antennas and cabling on the radio towers at Boca so that we can use them with our gear and with their height we should have no problems talking all the way to the Colonel in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale as well as 3rd company on Key Largo and the two squads over to Flamingo. Using a different frequency and antenna type we shouldn't have any problem hitting Tallahassee either. With everyone assigned we began assessing the remaining communications assets in the islands and canvassing the population to see who might be useful. The idea is to use as many folks as we can convince to participate to serve as coast watchers like was done in the Pacific during the Second World War. Any boats or aircraft that are spotted will be radioed in here to Boca Chica and plotted as to course, type and description of craft and destination, if known. Any that look to land will be met by the local reaction force. If they're legitimate we'll leave them be, if they're not we'll take them into custody for trial - if they survive the contact.

    Before I even made it back from Key West 3rd company made their first hostile contact at Islamorada and shot up a boat with six Hispanic males, presumably Cubans all of whom were armed with military weaponry. When hailed over a megaphone before landing they fired on the hailer so the machine gunner opened up on them. I find this encouraging. With any luck we'll whack a couple dozen or so of these pirates and word will get around that the business just ain't what it used to be and they'll stay home so that we can get home before August rolls around and the hurricane season really heats up.

    Friday was spent surveying and speaking with the locals. Mostly they're original Conchs (folks born in the Keys) who've been here for about ever and a sprinkling of die-hards from elsewhere. Maybe a third or so have military experience but we seem to be finding enough to start training the reaction teams and spotters. There's enough unused radio towers and other structures of sufficient height that we can set up observation posts to cover all of the keys connected by road and most of those that are on the outer edges that aren't with the exception of the furthest out. Only a few of the keys without road connections have any significant structures on them so they're not areas I'm much concerned with. The spotters and radio people are being brought here to the naval air station for training and familiarization while the reaction teams are being taught more or less on the spot by the personnel stationed there. Given that the raiders have mostly been coming in the early morning hours when they can approach under cover of darkness I don't know how much good the spotters will be but we're going to try it.

    I also had all the usable boats that could be located inventoried and noted as to location and who owned them. There weren't many, the Cubans had stolen most of what was here but I'm not comfortable having to depend solely on the long thin ribbon of the U.S. 1 highway bridge stretching from the mainland to the end of the line at Key West. We may need them for recon as well. As soon as we can locate what there is available we'll work out deals with the owners for the use of their craft.

    As part of his tinkering Carter ran two long dipole antennas to hook up to the Sony. One is oriented north-south and the second is east-west and I can select which antenna I want by throwing a switch. Both are about sixty feet off the ground and they make an incredible difference in reception. Sat in on the unit poker game for a while then decided to go feed my Sony addiction. Shortwave radio listening isn't interactive like the Internet used to be but it's still fascinating.

    The staph epidemic in Central Russia is slowly making its way south and east. Ukraine has many cases reported now as does Uzbekistan and news ones are reported in Belarus and Moldova. Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary are reported to be sealing their borders with shoot to kill orders for anyone trying to cross. Possibly that will work but with current conditions as they are over there now I don't have much faith it will. The newly reconstituted Voice of America gave a CDC report that there may be an animal vector to spreading the disease and if that's true then chances are that no border sealing is going to work. New cases are also reported in Turkmenistan but communications from there are very bad so it's difficult to know what the situation is. Iran is reported to be moving all population at least ten kilometers away from the border and have also instituted shoot-to-kill orders for anyone attempting to cross. Death toll so far has been in the tens of thousands and may be in the hundreds of thousands given that communications with many areas is difficult or impossible.

    The Grand National Council is still talking and issuing statements that don't amount to much. There does seem to be a consensus forming slowly about revamping the Federal government but very little in the way of details has been forthcoming. No new military actions in the NorthWestern Confederacy have occurred but I don't think it will be much longer before something breaks. Both the Canadian and U.S. governments are going to have to do something about the situation in British Columbia and Alaska if they want to maintain control over much of the rest of what they have.

    The Mexican Army has taken power in Mexico City now with a General Antonio Pedro Gonzalez as top man. No reports as to the whereabouts of the former civilian government. He states that as soon as the situation in the capital has been brought under control the Mexican Army is going to move south to crush the rebellion in Chiapas. I suppose he may feel that the Indians in the southern end of the nation will be easier to cope with than the U.S. Army in the northern end. The border situation he did not mention at all. We now seem to have control of every city and town on the Mexican side of the border for some fifty miles and are consolidating the entirety of the Baja peninsula. Still having a problem with bandits and raiders crossing the border into the States.

    A Ham out of Hawaii reports that a Japanese radio station has reported continued fighting along the Russian/Chinese border with the use of at least one tactical nuclear weapon. Getting news out of eastern Asia about what's going on between Russia and China has been very difficult. With the staph epidemic spreading across Central Russia and now into European Russia I imagine that Russia is going to have difficulty sustaining fighting in the east. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    The tropical storm that ran into Haiti and the Dominican Republic largely tore itself apart on the mountains but has continued on in a generally western course and is now over Cuba. Windspeed is negligible but Cuban stations report intense rainfall and mudslides. I wish them the joy of it.

    Scattered and isolated cases of dysentery, typhoid and cholera are being reported across the Southern and Central U.S. now in the areas of surviving high population density. Local authorities are working to educate the citizenry about expedient sanitation to bring it under control. Everyone is having a common problem in coping because of the lack of medicine to treat the diseases. Mostly the best that can be done is to teach people about making electrolyte solutions to keep the patient properly hydrated until the disease has run its course and how not to reinfect themselves by using proper waste and water treatment methods. Antibiotics are hard to come by but (so far) sodium and potassium salts are not.

    War having ridden across the face of the planet already it's now the turn of the remaining Horsemen, Pestilence and Famine, to work their will with Death being the constant companion of all three.

  2. #42

    Day Eighty seven - Tuesday, June 19th, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day Eighty seven
    Tuesday, June 19th, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    We're going to have company in our tropical paradise here in the Florida Keys. Now that we've secured the Boca Chica Naval Air Station the Coast Guard has requested to share basing facilities with us for a cutter at the docks on the other side of the highway from the landing strips. The Navy is going to fly patrol aircraft from here as well. Apparently both the C.G. and the Navy have been basing out of the Carolinas to cover the lower southeastern coastal areas and this will substantially lessen their cruising times and fuel expenditures. This is fine by me, the more support the better. We can all lend support to each other as need be and if worst comes to worst maybe we can evac out of here by water or air if we lose the bridges. Got a message relayed via the Colonel to me direct from the State Guard HQ in Tallahassee that they had approved the use of the facilities by the C.G. and Navy but that until relieved by order of the State H.Q. I was to maintain overall command of the area. Don't know precisely what prompted that. This is a U.S. Naval Air Station after all so it would seem to me they have the right to reclaim and use their own facilities. Perhaps they were afraid I'd hand command of the State Guard forces over to the Navy? Maybe they're actually sending the message to the Federal forces about who controls the area? We're all supposed to be working towards the same goal here but I'll be sure not to let anyone usurp my command if it makes Tallahassee happy. I have a feeling this has something to do with the contention between the Federal government and the regional states. What is going on in the Grand National Council?

    In four days we've ambushed four boats loads of raiders attempting landings here in the Keys, six have been wiped out from Homestead to West Palm Beach and four on the west coast up to Bradenton. The state has set up a radio station up in Central Florida to broadcast to the Caribbean with news (including the dead pirates) and other programs to discourage any further landings. So far it doesn't seem to have had much effect but it may take a while for word to really get out. As soon as things have settled enough they'll move the station further south but just now South Florida is not safe.

    Recruiting and training of spotters and reaction teams here in the Keys continues apace. In another week or so we'll have sufficient spotters to pretty well cover all of the island chain 24/7. At first we weren't receiving much of an enthusiastic response but after we bushwhacked the first two boatloads of raiders and word got around things improved. We're also working out a network with the local fishermen who put out everyday (sail and oar powered craft) that will extend our coverage area. They commonly move around the uninhabited keys all the way out to the Marquessas and we're even planning an expedition to the Dry Tortugas. There's not much out there but the old fort and some tourist facilities but it belongs to us so I feel obligated to at least look at it. Besides, I've been here all my life and have never seen it.

    Part of what the Coast Guard is bringing in our supply shipment are CB radios, deep cycle batteries and reworked cell phones. There's no phone system any more but the cell towers are still standing and many of them came through the EMP unscathed since they had to be heavily protected against lightning strikes. On the open water it's possible to be fifteen to twenty miles out to sea and still hit a tower so Carter and his technicians are modifying the equipment to allow the phones to talk to us here by relaying from the cell towers. I told Carter that I'd put a word in for him to get a commission and he could end up being one of the head communications honchos in the Guard. His response was, "Hell NO!!! It would be an admin position and all I'd do would be sit on my butt all day pushing paper! I want to do some real radio work, not supervise everyone else doing it." Guess he has a point but I’m putting him in for a promotion anyways, he's beginning to supervise too many people merely to be a corporal.

    The Colonel is reporting considerable problems in the Homestead to West Palm beach areas. The difficulties lie not with any raiders or pirates but open banditry from the local citizenry! The situation in the high population areas on both the east and west coasts of South Florida is still pretty desperate. What little aid and assistance the Federal and foreign governments can give has only barely begun to penetrate and the damage and losses of the Cuban invasion have really exacerbated every problem there. Our observation posts have had to be fortified to fend off attacks by desperate local citizens with at least twelve such having been killed to date in attacks on military personnel or installations. The defense reaction teams report considerable difficulty reaching the pirate's landing areas from having to be so careful not to run into ambushes set by our own citizens. 1st and 3rd Battalions have suffered three killed, twice that wounded, and one missing.

    The Coast Guard is supposed to show up today to begin their base here and they'll be bringing our supplies, more radio equipment, and mail with them because it has proven to be too hazardous to make the trip overland. This sounds uncomfortably like we're cut off so I'm hoping the situation will straighten itself out before we're ready to leave. 1st Regiment is being reinforced with an extra battalion just raised and sent south and they'll be put into the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. The Governor made some foolish remark about confiscating firearms from local residents in an attempt to quell the violence problem but it was quickly retracted. They're presenting us a problem here in South Florida to be sure but I think the rest of the state would rebel if they actually tried. I know that I certainly wouldn't obey such an order and I'm sure Randy wouldn't either.

    News from the outside remains mixed. Japan reports that food aid is beginning to arrive from Australia and Thailand so hopes their death rate will plateau soon. Food riots in the northeastern and central states have stopped but the situation on the west coast is still unstable due to the border and NorthWestern Confederacy problems. More food shipments are reaching the southeastern states and the midwest so malnutrition related deaths are expected to decrease.

    The world wide disease problem continues to worsen. The staph epidemic is continuing to spread across European Russia to the north and east and has reached the Iranian border to the south. Confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in Ulan Bator, the capital city of Mongolia, and the remote Xinjiang Province in western China. The Chinese have accused the Russians of deliberately introducing the contagion there in an effort to spread it into China. Before the war Xinjiang was where China’s nuclear and missile programs were located so it was a very sensitive area. Between the Russians and the Indians I’d be surprised if any of those installations still exist but it’s still going to cause a lot of consternation to the Chinese leadership. They threatened “devastating retaliation” if the Russians deliberately introduce the pathogen into China. Between the U.S. and China I can’t believe there can be any targets left in the Russian Federation worthy of expending a nuke on so after talking it over with some of the crew listening in with me we figure they have to mean bacteriological weapons.

    Half the global population is likely to die in the next two years as a result of the war and now this. The stuff of nightmares.

  3. #43

    Day Ninety one - Saturday, June 23rd, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day Ninety one
    Saturday, June 23rd, 2001 - 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    We haven’t quite settled down into quiet boredom but it hasn’t been like it was during the invasion. We’ve had six more encounters, including one in Flamingo, since my last entry and came out on top in all of them. Only three of them were picked up by the coast watchers before they landed but even the ones who escaped detection and slipped in under cover of darkness were quickly overcome. It’s plain that our pirates of the Caribbean were not expecting any organized resistance. Our casualties for the last ten ambushes have amounted to two dead (a trooper in First Company and one local reaction force member) and four wounded (one of ours, three locals). We’ve recovered some weaponry and the three boats that managed to land undetected, the remaining boats sank or burned. We’ve captured, tried and hanged sixteen pirates. In two instances the raiders were not Cuban but Dominican or Haitian which did not change anything in the end. The days of a nuclear stricken Florida being the helpless victim have come to an end.

    All of the populated keys with significant structures on them are now under constant watch with their own reaction forces. In another week, maybe two, we’ll have the remainder covered. First and Third Battalions up on the mainland have bushwhacked nineteen pirate raids with minimal losses but are having considerable problems with the natives. 1st regiment has moved more troops into the southeast coast and their new battalion is expected to arrive within the week so it’s expected that some of the pressure will ease then. The west coast units have taken out fourteen pirate craft but had two get in and out again before they were aware of them. They’re having trouble with the local inhabitants as well.

    The Coast Guard didn’t make it in until early Wednesday due to several high seas encounters with enemy craft which they either sank or took into custody. They brought our supplies which we really needed and our mail in which I was delighted to find several letters. The Coasties are rehabilitating several buildings near to the docks on the other side of the highway and will be basing their cutter there with occasional port calls from others. We’ve established some common communications frequencies and have set them up with their own radio towers. The Navy didn’t show until Friday afternoon. They’ll be flying a small cargo plane that will ferry supplies down (theirs and ours) from up north and will be basing a P3 Orion sub hunter here that will assist in pirate surveillance in addition to its main mission. It seems the Navy thinks there are still missile subs lurking though there hasn’t been any attacks since the start of the invasion. They claim to have sunk one late last month so perhaps they're right.

    Went out yesterday with one of the fishing boats that we recruited into our coast watching program and helped crew. The Jessica Gail does hook and line work and the captain was good at finding the fish so he and I spent a lot of time working the rods. Also gave me a chance to work with the radios out of the boat staying in contact with the base. Probably take several years but with the population plummeting I expect the fish populations ought to rise again if we haven’t put too much fallout into the water.

    Two letters from Ann came in and one from Will & Amanda and they made my day. It seems the University has been tasked to assist in some of the medical research for combating the disease epidemics now raging across the Southern and Central United States as well as assisting in getting pharmaceutical startups running where ever possible. The engineering colleges are working on getting local alternative energy programs running utilizing available materials and working on locally produced liquid and gaseous fuels. They're also helping the Maddox people make their operation more efficient. The upshot of all this is that even with much of their computer and electronic hardware destroyed they're slowly coming back to life. In order for them to do this they need a functioning library for research purposes and given the size of a major university's library it has to have an efficient organizational system if anyone is to find anything. The computerized cataloging system the university used is going to be offline for a long time so they're having to fall back to building an old fashioned card catalog system which requires trained catalogers so the university has been trying to find its library staff and entice them into coming back to work. Much of the library staff has proven to be dead, unable to locate, or uninterested in returning to their pre-war jobs but some have. Ann was a rising star in her department before the war so she is now the head of her unit. The real value of her taking the position is that the family will be able to get free medical care at the university hospital if we need it. With Carol being gone this is a major consideration, particularly considering that Ann and Lisa are pregnant. An added bonus is that she'll be able to research the science and engineering libraries for us to find things that we might be able to gain some benefit from. With the extended family living as close together now as we do I'm thinking we might be able to work up our own biofuel system (probably methane) from our wastes and be able to use the residue for fertilizer. Maybe she'll be able to talk one of the engineering folks into coming out and designing a system for us.

    The downside of the deal is that for practical reasons she'll have to live on campus Monday-Friday. It's near to twenty miles from the house to campus which makes for a very long bike ride and after Carol's murder no one wants to contemplate it anyway. The university is beginning to produce limited quantities of biodiesel so Friday afternoons they'll be running a bus in a long loop out of Gainesville through the outlying areas to drop off personnel and on Monday mornings will swing back through to pick them up. Sounds rather expensive to me but a fair number of the university's necessary staff members never did live in town so if they want them they'll have to go and collect them. This also leaves the Buffalo Pond community school short a teacher so an arrangement was made with the College of Education for a senior education major to swap with Ann. She'll stay at the house during the week, teach at the school and help with the family chores and go home on the weekends when Ann comes home. The student (she never did mention her name) was close to graduating before the war and her fields were math and English so the school ought to be fairly well balanced. If she works out likely we'd hire her on to stay permanently once the community gets more fully back onto its feet. I'm not real thrilled with the idea of a stranger living in the house which Ann must have anticipated because she made it clear that she had interviewed her personally before accepting the deal. Lisa will be in the house as well so I suppose it's a workable arrangement.

    Dad has turned our steam engine into a business now. With three alternators powered by the engine we now have more generative capacity than we can us so he's started selling battery charging services and it is turning into a small (but slowly growing) profitable business. A lot of folks use twelve volt batteries to run their radios and other vital electrical/electronic appliances but with gasoline and other fuels for running generators just about completely gone very few are able to rejuice their electrical storage. He recharges the batteries in the community defense radio net for free once a week but if they need more than that they have to pay for it. Don't reckon we'll ever get rich from it but everything helps. Uncle John is discovering an interest in metal working and is working with Stu and my blacksmithing equipment building tools and other useful equipment. He has to make his own charcoal but he's doing it. There's a world of scrap metal out there to salvage and turn into something useful.

    Katie is still two months shy of her twos but is into everything and is becoming a handful to keep an eye on but she's learning to cope with the realities of farm life (as we all are, I suppose). She's using more complex sentences and is steadily picking up her numbers and alphabet. Ann thinks she'll be starting to learn to read in another three or four months and she may be right. Will & Amanda are both doing very well in school, especially Amanda who is showing real talent for math. Will has taken a serious interest in agriculture and has taken over the tobacco project and working with Mr. Satterwhite in cultivating it and is rapidly learning the beekeeper's arts as well. He reminds me a lot of myself at that age. I'm going to remind Ann to make sure she stays on top of his math work. No point in letting him make the same educational mistakes I made too.

    There’s been some interesting news coming across the air waves these last few days. Expansion of the keratophagic staph epidemic has been halted, at least temporarily, in its westward spread into Europe. The nations bordering Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova have pulled their populations back from the borders and have heavily mined crossable areas. Absolutely no one is allowed to cross the border and any that attempt it are shot on sight and their body’s burned where they fell. Seems pretty drastic but so far they haven’t managed to develop a vaccine and antibiotic treatment has only proven to be partially effective and that only at the earliest onset of symptoms. Iran is reporting similar success. Radio Novy Moscow is reporting the Chinese are pulling back their troops and have thoroughly isolated those units who were in direct contact with infected Russian troops. We can’t pick up direct Chinese broadcasts here in South Florida but relayed reports from other Pacific nations indicate that the Chinese are denying halting their invasion but that “certain units are regrouping for fresh offensives.” The CDC is reporting that earlier thoughts there may have been an animal vector have proven to be false but that the disease is highly communicable by contact with infected persons, contaminated articles and by aerosolized particles (breathe) within short distances. The Russians still claim that it is not an escaped biowarfare bug but the CDC says that if it’s not then it’s the most virulent natural strain of <I>Staphylococcus aureaus</I> they’ve ever encountered. Where ever it came from and how ever it got loose so far it’s still mostly the Russian Federation and some of the former Soviet republics and satellite nations that are bearing the brunt of it. The U.S. government has instituted a temporary ban on any return traffic to the States from Europe except for very carefully handled planes. Even they aren’t allowed to offload passengers or crew but are met on the runway well away from any buildings to have their necessary cargo offloaded. The cargo is then subjected to rigorous decontamination procedures and the area the plane sat on and the path the cargo was taken along to its decontamination area is then sterilized with LPG flame brushes. From what they’re saying the only thing that is allowed to come back is samples of the disease to be used in CDC labs here to work up a vaccine or treatment. Everything else is sent electronically.

    The staph epidemic is not the only pathogen killing a wide swath across the Eurasian landmass - pneumonic plague has broken out in refugee camps in India outside of Calcutta and Bombay. Several broadcasters are claiming it’s another biowarfare bug, likely from China, but the CDC says probably not and I think they may be right. Plague has been endemic in India, China and other areas of Southern Asia for centuries and now that much of the Indian national infrastructure has been destroyed with tens of thousands of people crammed into camps with bad sanitation, little food and even less medical aid it was only a matter of time. Plague in its pneumonic form is virulently contagious through aerosolized particles exhaled by the infected and has a very high death rate. What nuclear weapons and starvation hasn’t done to India plague likely will. I’m more than half expecting the Indians to deliberately attempt to introduce the pathogen into China if it doesn't show up there on its own. So far there have been no reports of Chinese use of biological warfare (presuming India’s plague is natural). Viewing it dispassionately, if China can prevent the spread of both the staph and plague epidemics into China then all she really has to do is wait. Time and the ravages of disease may do for her what nuclear weapons and armies could not.

    The Army is reporting that they have successfully resolved the border crossing problem in the southwest but at least one Ham in the Texas border area says they’re lying and that Mexcian bandits and occasional military units are continuing to cross the border. He also reports that he’s been unable to contact two other Hams who he’d been regularly corresponding with since the war started and that he thinks they may have been silenced. At this distance there’s no way to tell if there’s anything to what he’s saying or not.

    The government, in the form of the U.S. Army, has really started something in the northeast. They’re finally starting to get a grip on the rioting and lawlessness that have plagued the surviving urban areas and seems to be having some success in maintaining order. This is all well and good but someone has made the decision that in order to keep things peaceful all residents in the areas that have had the most lawlessness must surrender all firearms so that no one can snipe at the troops in the way that they’ve been doing these last three months. The state governments of several of the northeastern states, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, have endorsed this order and troops have started moving house to house in some neighborhoods to seize weapons. Well, that really tore it and things are getting tense. The state governments of New Hampshire and even the socialist government of Vermont told the Federal government to go to Hell. Maine, Rhode Island, and Delaware are waffling at present. The governments of the southeastern states have loudly denounced such actions and indicated that any attempt to carry out such here would be met with resistance. Having just beaten off an invasion largely on the basis of what weaponry was locally available we're not about to put ourselves into a position of vulnerability ever again. The remaining central Atlantic states have taken no position, yet, as they seem to be trying for some form of consensus before taking a stand. Reports from the Grand National Council indicate this move has led to considerable contention within the Council.

    The Florida state government is mulling over the idea of a new tax system based only partially on money but so far little in the way of solid information has come out. With the U.S. Federal Reserve Notes steadily losing value the state has to have some way to collect taxes to keep the government functioning but how best to go about doing this is something that very little agreement has been reached on.

    Who knows, maybe we'll issue our own money?

  4. #44

    Day Ninety Eight - Saturday, June 30th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day Ninety Eight
    Saturday, June 30th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    I'm behind in this journal so I need to play catch up. Been pretty quiet here in the Keys, we've had only six encounters in the entire island chain. Four of them were picked up by the coast watchers and were met on landing. One turned out to be a genuine trading endeavor so we allowed them to tie up at the main docks in Key West and they did, in fact, trade pork, chickens, plaintains, beans and other foodstuffs. Some of the things they took in trade were a sight to see but I suppose in a nation as poor as the Dominican Republic porcelain flush toilets would be desirable items of trade. I'm hoping that we'll see more of this. We allowed them to see some of the security operations so they'll take stories back about the risks of piracy in U.S. waters. The remaining three were pirates and were eliminated. Six killed, nine tried and hanged. The last two managed to make landfall before they were discovered. Seven were killed, eight tried and hanged. No deaths on our side and just two wounded. Our reaction forces have a much better idea of what they're about now. Sooner or later word is going to get around and this nonsense will stop.

    Just at the moment it's raining to put out the fires of Hell. A tropical storm system blew up in the western Gulf and is tracking across the lower Keys right now. We weren't entirely taken by surprise, a tanker bound for Venezuela crossed it about eight hundred miles south of what's left of New Orleans and gave wind speed and their best estimate at its direction. The Navy subhunter also spotted it and from the two reports we figured it was heading in our general direction. The Coasties across the highway tell me it came ashore here at a solid 80 miles an hour wind speed which makes it a Category One hurricane. Their best guess is the eye will pass to the south of us some ten to fifteen miles. NOAA hasn't managed to reconstitute itself well enough to manage such things yet but the earlier storm that tore itself apart on the mountains of the Dominican Republic was strong enough to merit naming it so that one was Allison. The storm raking us now would be Hurricane Barry. We didn't have the 2001 list of names but the Coasties did and for the next several years to follow too. With any luck there will be no storm surges. Hopefully it'll sink a few pirates.

    Except for the occasional alert from our coast watchers we're settling into a routine. Tallahassee has given no indication of how long we're going to be here so we're slowly creating as many of the comforts of home for ourselves as we can. The Navy brought in a second reverse osmosis desalinization unit to supplement the one trailer mounted unit we brought so at least there's enough fresh water now for us all to have a real wash every other day with fresh water - bathing in the ocean leaves a great deal to be desired. We're trading with the locals for part of our foodstuffs and even bought up some of the meat the Dominican's brought in (they brought live animals and slaughtered them here). The main pastimes so far are fishing, poker playing, listening to the short and medium wave radio bands and education. We don't have regular college classes or anything but between us, the Coasties and the Navy we have a number of technically trained people here at one time or another. Some of them have agreed to teach courses in their specialties and I have decided that if the student can demonstrate competence at the end of the classes to record the fact in their records. Right now there's a lot of interest in radio operations, meteorology (especially NOW), engine mechanics, plane maintenance and seamanship. I’m sitting in as I'm able on the radio and weather classes.

    The Navy is talking about basing another P3 Orion here to improve coverage of the Gulf and the Southern Atlantic which is fine with us. The State Guard is considering basing at least one of the four Apaches we own here for piracy interdiction if we don't start seeing a drop in raids soon. The Navy helps out when they can but air recon for pirates is not their primary mission. With two P3's flying we might get a better grip on the weather too.

    There's been problems in paying state workers (to include us here in the Guard) and state contractors with U.S. Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) due to the spiraling inflation it is suffering so the talk about the State issuing its own scrip is getting more serious by the day. During the invasion we could keep the troops from deserting for lack of pay by supplementing their devalued salaries with the portable loot we took off the enemy dead but that's no longer an option. New Washington (formerly Grand Junction in Colorado) has several times now publicly discouraged states or anyone else from issuing their own currency but if they don't get the inflation problem under control soon the states are going to have to. The real problem with doing this is what units of value will the state use to back the new currency? Fiat currency is dead, at least for the time being (and maybe forever) so if they can't back it with something of worth then the new money won't be worth the paper it's printed on. Paper, at least, is an article of definite value now and can be used to trade for other commodities.

    The northeast gun confiscation has turned into a major fracas. So far there have been two shooting incidents (witnesses described them as outright firefights), one in western Massachusetts and the other in Upstate New York between troops searching for guns and groups of citizens determined to resist. I don't know whether the Feds suddenly decided they'd made a mistake or if some lower level bureaucrat overstepped his authority but after the second shoot out, and the attendant uproar, President Bush fired the general in charge of the northeastern states military district and several found themselves demoted or reassigned. I'm afraid it was too little too late though because it has seriously re-energized the secession discussion here in Florida that had more or less quieted down when the Governor left for the Grand National Council. The Speaker of the House in the State legislature is talking again about calling a special session. Maine came off the fence on the pro-private firearms ownership side after the first firefight and it sounds as though Rhode Island may as well. Delaware is still uncommitted. Pennsylvania also came down on the pro-firearms side. There hasn't been much comment on the matter from the upper mid-west states but then they took such a heavy dose of fallout from the multiple dozens of ground burst detonations in the nuke attacks the survivors are really too self-absorbed to care about much of anything. The southwestern states are still coping with the border problem and have said that they'd go over to Mexico before they'd allow the Federal government to confiscate their weapons. California seems to be having a verbal (so far) civil war in miniature within its borders over precisely what she wants to do regarding the border situation, the talk of secession or anything else. The stresses of being so large and diverse a state seem to be finally catching up with her and I think it likely she's going to break up into two, maybe three states. A fair part of the northern end wants to go with the NorthWestern Confederacy, the southernmost end is fighting (*mostly* verbally) it out amongst themselves as to whether they want to remain a part of the Union or join the Aztlan revolutionaries. The Army is moving more units into Southern California, probably to discourage such openly seditious talk. Central California and the northern coastal areas still want to remain in the Union. Of course with so much of the state having suffered nuclear devastation the political scene has warped quite a lot since the pre-war era. President Bush would probably like to hang who ever it was that came up with the gun confiscation idea just now.

    The NorthWestern Confederacy situation is moving again. First, the Federal government attempted to have the delegations from Alaska and Idaho unseated claiming that since their state governments voted to go over to the Confederacy they were in rebellion and should not have a voice. This was supported by the neighboring states whose state governments didn't vote to secede but who have a portion of their territories in rebellion and the usual suspect states in the northeast. The NWC countered that those states who had fifty percent or more of their state areas committed to the NWC should have their own state delegations representing their interests rather than the sitting state governments that don't. The Feds might have gotten away with it had they done this previous to their gun confiscation maneuver but now many of the southeastern states said that if they ejected Alaska and Idaho they'd withdraw from the Council. The ejection maneuver failed and the NWC also failed in its bid to dual state delegations representing the disputed areas.

    While the Grand National Council was chatting it up the British Columbia situation broke wide open. The Canadian army supported by an armored regiment of the U.S. Army came out of the Canadian province of Alberta somewhere near to a place called Jasper, rolled down the TransCanadian National Highway and crossed the Fraser river at some place called Prince George before the Confederacy was able to mount significant resistance. The advance has been slowed now but it's still moving forward. About the time that they were fully committed to that the Canadian army came down out of the Crowsnest Pass driving for what's left of Vancouver. They've made it to some road junction called Creston Trail so far. The Confederacy reports Alaskan units responding to assist the B.C. rebels with the northern thrust and units coming out of Washington State to respond to the southern offensive. No widescale fighting in the United States itself has been reported but there are U.S. elements on both side of the Canadian conflict now. If Canada had not plundered her military so badly these last ten years or so she'd probably have resolved this long before now.

    The Mexican government is claiming to have the Chiapas region pacified now but is not talking about having killed or captured any rebel leaders so I'm not sure what's really going on there. She's also finally begun to publicly complain about her territory that the U.S. Army is in control of and has asked the U.S. to withdraw from it immediately. So far there has been no response from President Bush. There are several hams in the southwestern states with a hundred miles or so of the border that claim the border isn't nearly secure yet despite what the military claims. One also claims that his house was shot up by a helicopter at night (he couldn't see it) and thinks it was the Army's way of trying to silence him. The Army does appear to be sensitive about independent comment on its not always successful operations so he could be right.

    The overseas situation continues to deteriorate. Pneumonic plague continues to spread across central India and has crossed over into Bangladesh. China has failed to stop the eastward march of the keratophagic staph epidemic into Xinjiang province so she is now isolating towns and villages, to include the provincial capital, from any communication with the rest of that nation. Japan is no longer allowing any physical communication between China and herself out of fear of contracting the disease. There's an unconfirmed rumor that it has spread now into Afghanistan. Maybe the Taliban will be able to pray it away. A confirmed case of the disease has also been found in Vilnus, the capital of Lithuania, resulting in her neighbors sealing their borders against her. So far western Europe has been able to stave off the epidemic but who knows for how long?

    Just heard a Hell of a thump against the outside wall of my office so I suspect something got loose in the storm and blew off so I'd better go and investigate. If you had told me last summer that I’d spend this summer on Boca Chica riding out a hurricane I’d have thought you mad.

  5. #45

    Day One Hundred Two - July 4th, 2001, 11:00 p.m.

    <strong>Day One Hundred Two
    July 4th, 2001, 11:00 p.m.</strong>

    The Fourth of July is drawing to a close now but the troops are still partying like mad. I'll have to go out and inspect the guard posts to be sure they're alert - and sober - before I hit the sack. Been a pretty good day all in all.

    Hurricane Barry pounded us pretty hard until about noon or so last Saturday and then finally crossed into the Atlantic and was gone. Radio Ops tracked the storm using whatever radioed reports they could come across and indicated the storm took a northeastward turn, probably when it hit the Gulf Stream. He must have stalled as these storms sometimes do because he didn't make landfall in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina until early yesterday morning. The Navy next door tells me they're trying to get something worked out with the Air Force about getting a C-130 hurricane hunter back online. With no satellites to track them anymore radio reports from folks experiencing the storms is all we have now to warn us of approaching danger. Sure would be nice if we could get one of those birds back into the air so we don't get blindsided.

    Early afternoon Saturday I had everyone out inspecting for damage. I was walking the beaches around the perimeter of Boca Chica inspecting sea walls and other structures subject to wave pounding. I've always liked walking the beaches after a storm because they throw all kinds of things up on the sand or uncover them from where they've been buried. There was quite a lot of the usual flotsam and jetsam of no particular interest (lot of trash to be cleaned up) but while I was crossing a short sandy area between two sea walls I caught a glint of something and picked it up. I'll be damned if it wasn't a gold Spanish doubloon! The outside was mostly black as these things get from sitting in seawater for a couple of hundred years but one side of it had been rubbed pretty vigorously across the abrasive sand and the gold color was shining through. The Spanish lost a lot of treasure galleons in the Gulf and Caribbean to hurricanes, pirates and privateers over the years and every once in while I'd read about someone finding something or other out of one of those old wrecks washed up on the beach but this was the first thing of real interest I'd ever found. I wasted about fifteen minutes combing the narrow beach and found nothing else of interest (damn lot of trash). Finally forced myself to stop and get back to work.

    Back in the office I was thinking about finding the coin and an idea came to me. At chow I showed the doubloon off and told everyone where I'd found it which naturally got them all excited so I allowed as to the fact that it was fine by me if anyone who was OFF DUTY wanted to comb the beaches BUT if they did I expected them to police up the trash while they were at it. By breakfast the next morning I think the entire population of Boca Chica and Key West had seen that coin and were out looking. Boca Chica being a military reservation I made it a rule that civilians could only search the beaches here if they were willing to abide by military rules, i.e. they had to police the trash as well. Took about three days and I had the cleanest beaches in the Florida Keys. Two more doubloons were found, a fair piece from where I found mine, and several lumps of what will likely be revealed as pieces of eight (Spanish silver coins similar to our silver dollars) once the corrosion is cleaned away. At least it's serving to keep the troops from getting bored. Suddenly a real interest in the history of the Keys and the Caribbean now too.

    Saturday evening and early Sunday morning we jumped three more boatloads of pirates over the length of the island chain. I suspect they thought we'd be in disarray from the storm. We did have some damage but not so much as to be unable to cope with them. Results were five killed in the firefights, ten captured, later tried and hanged. One boat was burnt, one taken intact but for a few bullet holes and the last was undamaged. Sunday night there were two more. We took one boat, four killed, three tried and hanged. The second boat managed to get away though we'd shot it up pretty good with an M-60. Actually, I think it's probably good that it got away because it'll bear graphic witness to the dangers of the pirate life. We've had no more landings since.

    This morning two more traders came in, direct to the main docks in Key West like we'd told the first one to do so I suspect word is maybe getting around. Both boats were from the Bahamas which is a much shorter trip than making the long haul from the Dominican Republic. They traded pigs, chickens, spiny lobsters, plantains and other local island fare and of particular interest a fair amount of island rum. I'd been thinking about what to do for the Fourth and their arrival was like an answer to my question. Used some of the battalion discretionary funds and bought up their pigs, a fair part of their produce and all of their rum. Set some of the good old boys among the troops to working on the pigs, the unit cooks to fixing everything else and invited the Coasties and the Navy to our Fourth of July party. Grain is so short in the States that no one would dare use any to brew beer or distill whisky but there's no lack of sugar cane in the islands to make rum out of so they all accepted the invite. The Navy used one of their plane gensets to fire a large commercial icemaker so we could have ice and the Coasties came across with fresh made bread and a sound system. At five p.m. they played Tchaikovsky's <I>1812 Overture</I> and at the appropriate moments fired blank rounds from the deck gun of their cutter. May not have been the Boston Pops but it sounded fine to us. Rum sours made with the native key limes did much to improve the quality of the music.

    The world news situation continues to deteriorate. Keratophagic staph has now appeared in Lativia and Estonia. The Finns sank a ship in the Gulf of Finland that they claimed had been trying to cross from Tallin, the capital of Estonia, to Finland in defiance of the travel ban. The epidemic is confirmed to have reached into Afghanistan. It also continues to advance into the Xinjiang province in China but the PRC government thinks they can stop it from crossing the desert. News coming out of central and eastern Russia is sporadic and it is believed that she is fragmenting. The stresses of the nuclear exchanges, multiple civil wars and the epidemic is tearing her apart. Radio Novy Moscow denies this but radio operators in the bordering nations say that it's true. I suspect the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

    The pneumonic plague epidemic is spreading southwards into India and has crossed Bangladesh into western Burma as more and more people flee the black death unwittingly spreading the disease farther and faster. The Australian government is broadcasting radio statements northwards in multiple languages that Indian refugees will NOT be allowed to land in Australia and the Indonesian government is doing the same, at least for those islands in her archipelago she still controls. Thailand is reported to be sealing her borders with Burma and drawing population back but she has such a long border with her neighbor and so much of it is in remote jungle it's hard to say whether she can successfully pull it off.

    Here in the Americas the Army reports a clash with the Mexican army somewhere south of Juarez which resulted in the withdrawal of the Mexican forces. The combined Canadian/U.S. thrusts across British Columbia continues to advance. The northern thrust has made it to the town of Houston on the TransCanada Highway while the southern thrust has made it to some place called Osoyoos (sp?). The provincial legislature of the Yukon Territory is meeting now to decide on whether to throw in with the Confederacy or stay with the Canadian Federation. The Canadian government has sent a delegation to reason with them. With much of the Canadian army committed in British Columbia the Quebecois are again applying pressure to secede Quebec from the Canadian Federation. There is a report that some U.S. troops captured in the southern thrust were courts martialed on charges of treason and shot. There must be something to this because the Canadian government was quick to say they did NOT authorize any such actions and were washing their hands of them. The U.S. government has not yet made comment but it certainly has emotions running high. Nothing of import has come out of the Grand National Council since my last entry.

    Venezuela is applying pressure to the U.S. government to withdraw our troops out of Mexico. Until we can get more of our own refineries back online they supply a substantial part of the refined petroleum fuels to the national recovery efforts so they have some leverage. Argentina and Brazil have not taken positions on that issue yet so are continuing to send food aid.

    Tallahassee reports that the waterborne disease problems in central and north Florida along with the panhandle have peaked out and now show signs of leveling as the education campaigns begin to pay off. They're hoping they'll begin to fall soon. South Florida is another situation altogether and communicable diseases are still running rampant and probably will for a while yet until we can really get in there and get things straightened out. That end of the state would have been difficult even if the Cubans hadn't invaded.

    Nationally the Gulf coast states and the southeastern Atlantic coast states up to North Carolina think they'll soon level off in new waterborne disease cases but the central states and on into the midwest the new cases are still rising. As the weather continues to heat up this will slowly spread all the way into Canada until enough people can be educated about expedient waste disposal and proper methods of water sanitization. The surviving urban/suburban areas are rapidly proving unlivable wherever central utilities have gone offline (which is most areas). The Federal and State governments are making the municipal water and sewage systems a crash priority to get them functioning again and back online.

    Still the same doom and gloom in the news but the day was still pretty good for all that. We needed a good holiday.

  6. #46

    Day One Hundred Nine - July 11th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day One Hundred Nine
    July 11th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    The message seems to have finally gotten around the Caribbean that the party is over in Florida. We've had no more pirate raids since my last entry though there were two more in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area last weekend, one of which got itself blown out of the water by an Apache and the second of which was shot up by a reaction team but managed to get away. They think that one may have originated from here in Florida somewhere as there are very few blonde Cubans. The west coast had one raid, unsuccessful. None in the last four days.

    Just came back from a general staff meeting in Tallahassee of all regimental and battalion commanders concerning the disposition of the State Guard forces and to get us all on the same page regarding the political situation. HQ knows that many of the Guard officers have shortwave receivers or access to them so I reckon they wanted to make sure we got the official word straight from the horse's mouth. First time I've seen Randy in over a month. He's lost better than a hundred pounds since the war started and it looks good off of him. They kept us on tight schedules hopping from meeting to meeting so I didn't get much chance to talk to him.

    The Grand National Council is still grinding away but the Federal government (including Senator Graham and two of our surviving Federal House reps) is being very obstinate in accepting any real changes to the way things have been done these last seventy years or so . The Governor is against the motion but the Speaker of the State House and the President of the State Senate have decided to call a special session to debate the merits of secession. This is being done in conjunction with the state legislatures of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and both of the Carolinas. The other states of the Old Confederacy are supposedly considering the merits of doing the same except for Virginia which has declined to consider such a move, naturally. The legislators (those that have survived or been subsequently appointed to fill vacancies) will be meeting starting this coming Friday (July 13th) and who knows how long the debate is going to rage. This is an incredible mistake so I'm hoping the Feds will back off and come to the realization that the political will in this nation has changed. Like it or not they are not going to be able to continue on as they did before the war.

    Well, if we secede, we secede. It'll put me in a ticklish situation vis a vis the Navy and Coast Guard but I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. If it looks like the Feds are going to try to use force to keep us in the Union I'll have to pull the battalion out in a hurry because there's no way we can hold on to these islands without significant naval forces of our own. The damned Cubans are probably laughing their asses off.

    The Grand National Council and secession discussions were only part of the reason they called us to the capitol. The other major reason was show us the new Florida Palm Dollar which the state will begin to issue at the end of the month. It's much like the U.S. Dollar but the back has the Florida State Seal with the ship and palm and the words "Florida Palm Dollar" and the denomination. The front will have engravings of state governors with old "Walkin'" Lawton Chiles on the one dollar bill, Governor Bob Graham on the five, Claude Kirk on the ten, and so on. Of course, with Senator (formerly Governor) Bob Graham siding with the Federal Government in the Grand National Council they may change their minds about that five spot.

    The Palm Dollar will be the legal tender of the State of Florida but the State will also continue to accept U.S. currency - at a discount of course. Government salaries and contractors will be paid in the new currency. The value of the dollar is going to be pegged to an index of the value of various commodities that the state, counties and surviving cities are accepting in lieu of cash. This will give each dollar some real value and if an individual chooses to do so he can go to the authorized agents of the State in each county and trade the Palm Dollars for their value in one of the listed commodities. They haven't stated yet what the value of a Palm Dollar will be yet but it seems that it's going to be fairly high, at least in the beginning. The currency commodities (so far) are copper, aluminum, steel, cast iron (this will most likely be salvaged materials), liquid or gaseous fuels, charcoal, corn, soybeans, peanuts, and graded lumber. The list will be subject to change as to what materials will be accepted or paid out. Labor is one of the acceptable items that may be used to pay taxes in lieu of cash but it won't be used in the currency index.

    Creating this State currency is also bringing up another problem in that Florida is one of the states (pre-war) that did not have a state income tax but relied primarily on a sales tax for its revenue. With so much of what business there remains now being conducted as barter transactions trying to collect a sales tax is going to be practically impossible. Several legislators have already submitted bills to institute a state income tax and the debate is running hot and heavy.

    The whole thing sounds like it's going to be horrendously complicated, particularly given the dearth of computers and electronic record keeping but it will give us a currency that can be used as money and it will be worth something which is more than can be said for the U.S. Dollar. The Federal Reserve, of course, is screaming about it and the President is naturally going to storm all over the idea but the idea passed by a large enough margin that the legislature can override the Governor's veto if he tries to deep six the idea. We're the first state to actually try to get this off the ground so the other southeastern states are watching us closely to see if we can make it fly and some of the western states have expressed interest as well. Reckon if I want to travel to another state I'll have to exchange currency like tourists do when they go overseas. The whole idea still seems strange to me but something's got to be done and the state can't pay us in scrap metal and corn.

    There's a concurrent bill running through the legislature that will see to it that anyone who is caught and convicted of counterfeiting the new currency or knowingly trafficking in counterfeit currency will have their necks stretched. We've always had a problem with funny money here, mostly a result of the South American trade. Gold and silver are still going to have value and will be exchanged but because the State has no bouillon reserves and the Revenue Department figures few people will pay their taxes with precious metal it won't have any bearing on the valuation of the currency. Maybe if they collect enough of it, gold or silver will be accepted as one of the currency commodities in the future.

    Spent about a full day after the political/economic meetings at the State Guard HQ with meetings about one damn thing after another. Seems like no matter how bad things are there's always a bureaucracy waiting to manage it. Mostly it was concerned with logistics and record keeping which we already had a handle on but there was one interesting meeting having to do with communications. The Chief Communications officer for the Guard gave us each a small, bound booklet full of page after page of five letter blocks of what he assured us was the most randomly generated letters they could possibly create using radioactive decay to somehow generate the characters. It's to be used ONLY for the most sensitive communications and I have keep the book on my person at all times unless my comm officer is using it to decrypt a message or to encrypt one which must be done in my presence ONLY. When this book is used up I'm to personally burn it and crush the ashes and a new one will be delivered in person by someone in a position of trust. The entire thing sounds like a flaming pain in the ass but Colonel Harrell assures us it's the only way we have to send secure communications that the National Security Agency can't decrypt. With the money those boys had before the war I wouldn't be surprised if all of their computers and electronics were TEMPEST certified and they're still up and running like there had never been any EMP. The entire secession matter suddenly came home to me just then. I'm mentioning the code book here only because it's riding in the same pocket as this journal so if anyone gets my journal they've got the code book anyways.

    Once the meetings were through I had about a half-day to kill in Tallahassee and since we were on the FSU campus I strolled around the middle of Tallahassee for a while. Except for there being no electric lights (because the capitol is there the electricity is on but very, very pricey so few people use it without good reason), only the rare moving motor vehicle and fewer people than I was used to seeing it really didn't look all that much different. The city didn't really lose all that much population until the Panama City/Tyndall A.F.B. nuke showered the area with a light fallout which spooked folks pretty good so they left for the countryside. Still, I made a point of carrying the Thompson on my shoulder and my .45 on my hip. Somewhat to my surprise I found a barbecue joint open not far from campus so went in for lunch. The owner raises his own pigs and the potatoes are locally grown so he's got supplies. The potatoes are fried in lard now instead of cooking oil but they tasted just fine, maybe even better. Looked like quite a few state government types eat in there (there being a real dearth of commercial food joints at the moment) and they looked a little askance at me with my submachine gun and sidearm but I was in uniform so no one said anything. I noticed a half dozen others in there openly wearing pistols including one I recognized as a state senator who had what looked like a large single action Colt. I'd hoped to have a set with Randy before I went back but he ended up having to leave for Blanding right away to change something about the disposition of the Guard's artillery units.

    The Navy's supply plane blew in not long after and I was on my way back south. I suppose if this secession thing goes much further we'll have to come up with our own planes to make the supply runs. The deepwater boys say they've sunk another submarine, this one off the Alabama coast near to Mobile (what's left of it). The Russians claim to have recalled all of their subs but the Navy thinks they've lost contact with some of their sub fleet. However it came to be there they said they gave it an opportunity to surface and surrender but it tried to evade so they put a torpedo into and it went to the bottom in deep water. No wreckage or debris was recovered so we've been kidding them about torpedoing a whale. One of the P3's based here is the plane that discovered it.

    The American shortwave bands have been very active these last few days with the secession discussions raging across the southeast and the mess in the northwest. The combined Canadian/U.S. task force that made the northern thrust has reached the sea at Prince Rupert at the end of the TransCanadian highway but there's no word as to whether it's going to turn north into Alaska or south to further cut off the British Columbian rebels. The southern thrust has stalled at Osoyoos (sp?). This has effectively cut Alaska and the northern half of British Columbia off from the rest of the NorthWestern Confederacy. So far the Federal government seems reluctant to make open military moves against the NWC in the U.S. itself, perhaps so as not to inflame the political situation here more than it already is. The legislative body in the Yukon Territory has decided to declare itself neutral, favoring neither the NWC or the Canadian Federation and to deny either side passage across their territory. This has really angered the Canadian government but at the moment there seems to be little they can do about it.

    The Army in the southwest reports that the Mexican army is moving units north, apparently as a build up to confronting the American forces on their soil. President Bush hasn't made a public policy statement yet about what we're going to do if the Mexican army moves to push us off their turf but so far it looks like we're going to fight. I suppose he must be feeling vulnerable down there because we've had yet another contention with the Feds during the week when the President tried to nationalize the State Guard here in Florida and the other states that have created similar such forces on the basis that by incorporating the state National Guard units into it the State had in effect made the State Guard into National Guard units which he was legally authorized to command. The Governor made no reply to this demand for the longest time and then finally said, "no way." The President being his brother I think he found himself in a bit of a dilemma but with the current sentiment in the State Legislature he could read the handwriting on the wall and did not even attempt to push it. The Feds are asking for an expedited ruling from the Supreme Court to force the issue. What's going to happen if the Supremes rule against us I cannot say. It may well be the last straw.

    The overseas news is mixed. The keratophagic staph has made no further westward progress into Europe but it has passed into what remains of Pakistan and I expect it will meet the pneumonic plague heading northwest coming out of India. Thailand reports that the plague has not yet reached its border with Burma with dry conditions making its spread more difficult. The staph epidemic is now threatening China from another point since it has now reached the Mongolian/Chinese border approximately 600 kilometers to the northwest of the ruins of Beijing. Thus far there have been no reports the epidemic has crossed the Takla Makan desert out of Xin Jiang province deeper into China. There was a brief report on the Voice of America that the CDC had made a breakthrough in its investigation of the staph pathogen but whether it was in relation to developing a vaccine or a treatment wasn't mentioned.

    Here comes Carter with a comm sheet in his hand so I'd better wrap this up.

  7. #47

    Day One Hundred Sixteen - Wednesday, July 18th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.

    <strong>Day One Hundred Sixteen
    Wednesday, July 18th, 2001, 7:00 a.m.</strong>

    The situation here in the Keys has settled down nicely. We've had just one attempted pirate raid into Marathon and it was not only unsuccessful, it was taken intact. We kept the boat and the weapons and hung the crew. Perhaps it's a sad statement that hanging these pirates no longer distresses me but it doesn't and that's just the way it is. They came here offering violence and death to loot and plunder from my fellow citizens and violence and death is what they have found. The east coast has had no further raids and the west coast has had only two, both unsuccessful. There's a medium tropical storm (Chantal) wandering around the lower Gulf that we're waiting on to make up its mind where it's going but that is the only potential local excitement (that I know of, anyways).

    With the potential for military excitement waning we're now working on keeping the troops more or less in a proper state of readiness and out of trouble while letting them find someway to keep themselves occupied. A man can only clean his rifle, police his bunk, and neaten up his living areas so many times and I have no more interest in finding useless makework for them to do than they have in doing it. The problem was partially alleviated by the discovery last week of the Florida Keys Community College and its library. Much of the college had been looted but the library was surprisingly intact. There was some vandalism damage, all of the texts in Spanish were missing and a fair number of books in English as well but the bulk of the library's collection was still there. I had the building secured and the books inventoried and lists of titles worked up. Once a week the battalion companies, platoons or squads depending on how they're split up among the islands can submit lists of books they want and the supply truck delivers them and picks up the old books to take back to the library. A surprising amount of interest has been aroused. There being no tropical lovelies to chase the other past times are fishing, diving (no gear), poker playing, classes and general gold bricking. Could be worse I suppose. I've made it clear that in return for not finding crap to keep them busy all day that I expect them to be fit for duty at their scheduled times and anyone who is found incapable of doing their job will be made to regret it. There's plenty of seaweed washed up on the beach after every high tide for the stupid and the foolish to rake up in the hot sun as they're learning their lessons and a pissed off sergeant riding their asses to make sure they're having a miserable time of it.

    We're getting regular trade boats in from the Bahamas so we're able to keep the troops in fresh foods, at least enough to supplement what the Guard sends down so morale isn't too bad. We're getting regular mail deliveries too which helps. Ann, my dad and Will have all sent me letters and Jim is getting regular letters from Lisa. Ann & Lisa's pregnancies are progressing normally and they've both been checked out by the OB's at the hospital so hopefully we won't be having any untoward surprises. Dad says the corn, millet and sorghum are near to ripening and looking quite fine. Last time I was home we discussed proper seed selection for next year's crop so that particular project ought to be coming along. The tobacco is looking quite nice though they do have to get out and handpick the tobacco worms ever day which the hens really fuss over. Dad says they're trying to figure some way to build a tobacco barn in which to cure the leaves that will be ready to harvest in another few days (probably about the time this letter arrived). This first year there's not a lot of folks growing tobacco for lack of seed but that won't last. For this first crop we ought to get a really nice price even if we don't produce a really premium smoking product. By next year when more folks are growing it we ought to have a better idea of how to process and cure the leaves so perhaps will be able to turn out a higher quality product than the competition. Will is steadily writing down what Mr. Satterwhite is telling him about the art of making smoking tobacco and in return we're supplying him with what little food he needs beyond what he's been producing himself. I think mostly he does it just to feel useful again. I met him briefly on the last leave and he does look like Uncle Remus. Turns out he knew the family that lived in the house whose foundations we found on the Holman property but he wouldn't say what became of them other than it had happened in the late Thirties. From the way he cut his eyes at me when Will asked about them I suspect it had something to do with nightriders so I told Will later to let it go at that unless he brought it up again himself.

    Ann has another dozen eggs incubating in the oven to go with the eleven chicks we got from Mary and the ten that we hatched in the earlier incubation so we're fast breeding up quite a flock of poultry. Will has a stout hog pen for his shoat now and has made it large enough to hold four or five more without excessive crowding so as soon as it's old enough to breed he'll be taking her over to Mr. Satterwhite's boar for some swinish fornication. Dad says he called in and killed a coyote and one very large feral dog that he thinks must have had some mastiff in its makeup. Both have been skinned and their pelts are curing now. We've had surprisingly little problem with feral dogs. I expected to have a lot more problems than what we've had but now I think that most of them simply got eaten by hungry folks before they could turn into a serious predator problem. Fortunately we don't have to cope with wolves.

    The refencing on the Holman property has been completed and they're steadily weeding out the bushes and the worst of the weeds to put the fields back into condition for cutting hay. The Whitehalls haven't made use of their pastures on the other side of the belt of planted pines so the grass has grown up thick and green. Uncle John and dad finished shaping the scythe handles, sharpened and mounted the blades and set in to cutting hay off the pastures. If the Whitehall's complain we'll work a deal but with so much of their herds "requisitioned" they probably can't begin to use all of their pasture space now until they build their stock back up. Dad quickly found out that the proper scythe swinging motion for hay cutting wrecks his back and had to give it up. Uncle John, Richard, Will and Lisa have been doing the cutting. They've managed to cut two acres so far and are steadily filling our barn and later Richard's up with cured hay. They're going to talk to Stu and Jake about using some of their barn space if they need it.

    Ann made a deal with Mrs. Feller and bought a pregnant doe goat to milk once the kid is born and weaned. She paid five silver dollars which seems steep to me but at least we'll have milk for the children and maybe even cheese. Might even start our own flock of goats. Kind of surprises me that Mrs. Feller would sell a pregnant doe but Ann says she's feeling her age and is having a hard time keeping up with her flock. Suppose I shouldn't complain, I did give her 10 silver dollars and a $20 Double Eagle gold piece for household funds if she really needed them and told her to use her best judgment. At least it looks like we'll have hay to feed them. They're building a dog proof goat shed to lock her in at night and keeping her in the nearer pasture during the day to protect her from predators. Dad and Uncle John did actually try to train one of the cows to milk using an improvised crush to hold her but said that the next time I had any brilliant ideas like that they'd be happy to knock them out of my head! I'd have given a silver dollar just to have been there to see it! All in all the Hagan farm is sounding more prosperous all the time. Sure hope they don't take it into their heads to try ostrich farming or anything.

    They also report that there have been sporadic outbreaks of dysentery and even cholera in the county in Gainesville, Alachua and Micanopy but once they were identified the county was able to pinpoint the contamination sources and get them sanitized so there has been only a minimal spread. Libby got a touch of some sort of gastrointestinal bug herself but they stayed on top of it with homebrewed electrolyte solution and she threw it off after about three days. Ann's pretty good about staying on top of that kind of thing and we don't lack for books on how to cope so they should do OK.

    The world news situation has been mostly poor. The keratophagic staph epidemic has jumped the Iranian border which has badly spooked her neighbors. Some of the fundamentalist Shiite Islamic sects are calling it the Judgement of God. A confirmed case has also turned up in Warsaw, Poland. Both nations are now shunned and their borders sealed off by their neighbors. Reports on the progress of the staph epidemic in northern China have been very fractured but it does sound like it has crossed the Mongolian border and is sweeping across Manchuria.

    The pneumonic plague epidemic seems to have halted at the Thai border, at least so far. Several plague victims were intercepted off the Australian coast and forced to return. A report relayed by an Australian Ham from a Thai shortwave broadcast indicates the plague may have crossed into China north of Thailand in the direction of Kumming but no one has confirmed this. Communications with China are becoming increasingly sporadic. The multiple little civil wars in the Indonesian archipelago rage on with massacres claimed on a number of the islands. Several cases of the plague have been claimed in several parts of the island chain but communications are so sporadic that it's been difficult to confirm anything.

    Britain, France and Germany report returning limited electric power service to some unblasted urban areas, primarily from nuclear power plants. Lack of safe water and sewage disposal is still causing considerable difficulties as waterborne communicable diseases sweep the NATO nations. Starvation and malnutrition deaths are slowing as more food aid from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa penetrates to the starving areas. Even with the population crash resulting from nuclear devastation and the resultant loss of infrastructure the population density of Western Europe is still high enough that if the keratophagic staph should get loose there it will likely kill hundreds of thousands.

    The debates (and occasional fistfights) in the State Legislature rage on. They've been meeting since last Saturday and nothing yet has been resolved and I don't expect anything will for several more weeks yet. Trying to get the Legislature to simultaneously consider a Writ of Secession, a State Income Tax, and a plan to float a new currency sounds like a recipe for madness. The State Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Law Enforcement have had to call in personnel from around the state to keep the peace in the capitol. None of the other states have successfully passed a Writ of Secession either. I think a lot of folks are afraid of a for-real civil war breaking out if we secede. Heck, I'm afraid of it too.

    The NorthWestern Confederacy situation continues to develop. The northern Canadian/U.S. thrust across British Columbia against the Canadian NWC rebels has turned south in an attempt to reach Vancouver and cut off as many of the Canadian rebels as they can. The southern thrust has stalled and has not been able to move forward so there is a large window through which the rebels can retreat into Washington state at need. So far all of the serious fighting has been in Canada and both the U.S. government and NWC seems to want to keep it that way. I'm not really sure why, perhaps so as not to give the appearance of civil war in the U.S. itself?

    The Mexican army is continuing to send forces north and is even sounding out some of her southern neighbors about the possibility of contributing troops to repulse the American forces holding the northern fifty miles or so of Mexico and the Baja peninsula. There's a strong contingent in the Grand National Council that wants us to pull out of Mexico and not join battle with them and they are aided by pressure from Venezuela who is threatening to reduce her fuel shipments to the U.S. if we do not. The Army is strongly resisting this move. A slowly forming consensus is evolving among the Council about the political direction the United States should move in but it's all very tentative and shaky at the moment.

    Maybe, just maybe we might be seeing the beginning of the beginning of the new shape of the United States of America.

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,279
    Any more chapters of this fine story?
    Last edited by nancy98; 07-08-2005 at 06:41 PM.

  9. #49
    great story i am a gainesville boy
    myself

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    the boonies of Alaska
    Posts
    1,462
    Just reread this after many years. I'd love any links to Alan's stories, besides the two below. Any links? Thank you, and thank you to Alan.
    It's later than you think!
    (Fr. Seraphim Rose)

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    OUT SIDE OF THE FALSE REALITY
    Posts
    10,550
    Quote Originally Posted by seraphima View Post
    Just reread this after many years. I'd love any links to Alan's stories, besides the two below. Any links? Thank you, and thank you to Alan.
    There are some on the link I just started the other day.
    JUST A FEW OF MY SIMPLE THOUGHTS
    LAY LOW WAIT LIKE A WOLF IN THE WILD UNTIL THE TIME IS RIGHT
    Never Pick A Fight With An Old Man He Will Just Shoot You He Can't Afford To Get Hurt

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