Code Girls: A Book Review

In my misspent youth, I was a Cryptologic Technician in the United States Navy. We often laughed about running afoul of the “Little old-ladies in tennis shoes” at NSA. I suspect that some of those feared women were the heroes of this book by Liza Mundy, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.

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The book is excellent. The stories of these women is told in a way that gives you not just a flavor of the times, but of the intense nature of their quest to break codes. The stress is palpable, and having done some of this kind of work, I fully get the torture they were feeling when things were not going well, codes remained unbroken, or personal tragedies were revealed to them in the course of their activities, and they couldn’t talk about it to anyone.

Heroes. Each of the people involved in that code-breaking effort was a hero. The turmoil that work causes in the life of the operator is unbelievable.

I don’t review books like most people. But what I will say is that this book is a joy to read, excellent choice of subject matter, and an inside look into the war’s greatest secret.

Now, why should you read it? There is a story here that will put an end to the revisionist history you have been subjected for the past 40 years. There are truths in the world, and one of them is that our enemies, and a few of our friends, during the war were evil. These women read the mail of the devil. They understood what could, and would, happen if they failed to do their jobs well. It is also a story of life in the shadows, as they were sworn to secrecy. It’s a tough thing to deal with that kind of stress, and it’s almost unbearable for some of us. Indeed, it’s a miracle that more of those code-breakers didn’t crack up.

One other reason I loved the book is Liza Mundy’s turn of phrase. She had me chuckling and smiling in appreciation of her wordsmith skills. Very gifted writer.

Finally, I’d like to honor a code girl that I know: My wife, and fellow Navy CTI2, Kip. I am so proud of you, and so glad that I met you. Better still that I conned you into marrying me.

Code Girls – read it.

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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I Want My Winter. Now, Please.

In the run-up to Christmas every year, I pray for a bit of snow to set the scene. Few things in life are more miserable than schlepping around the Twin Cities in a Santa suit dodging torrential rains. Especially true at 40 degrees, knowing that a 10 degree temperature drop will immobilize the universe for two days. Snow, on the other hand, in small doses, is pretty. It helps business. It gets people in the mood for spending money on extravagant things like.. ME! And, if it’s in moderation, it means you can drive without a problem.

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It is now after Christmas. I need snow. About 20 inches would do nicely – we’re about that much short right now. I can handle it any day of the week. You see, I have just hit the “purchase” button on a brand-new pair of Fimbulvetr Tankr snowshoes. Now I need snow.

What, you might ask, does a guy with three pairs of snowshoes need another set for in this universe? The answer is simple: because I worked my backside off this past year, and this is my Christmas present to me. *(Besides, two of those pairs are military surplus and more of a lark than anything else, and the other pair is on life-support after 10 seasons.)*

Why the most expensive snowshoes on the market? The same reason I own some really expensive weapons: they’re worth it.

Every review is stellar. I’ve handled the other models in their line and been very impressed with the weight, the bindings (Moron Proof – which I need) are nifty, and the magic number 352. Yes, these bad-boys are designed to handle 352 pounds. I’ve never seen another shoe that could take that weight. I am no longer at that weight, but you add a pack full of water, food, a tent… well, you add a pack full of energy drinks and beef jerky- yeah, that sounds better – and a fair amount of winter gear, and you could hit that mark. More importantly, since I’m well under the weight, it means that I will float on the snow, not plunge to the bottom with every step.

These things had better be as cool as I anticipate, or I might start crying. I have been ogling them for a year, so this is not an impulse purchase. The price never goes down. Kind of like waiting for a model-year clearance on a Bugatti – won’t happen. I waited this long only because I wanted to spend some time finishing off the old pair and seeing if this amazing replacement got sold a bit cheaper at the end of last season. Well, the old pair survived with a minor bit of crampon sharpening, but they’re almost done if the bindings are any indication. The Tankr ain’t going on sale.

If you see a very happy looking Yetti marching around on puke-green snowshoes, it’s probably me. I promise some video once they arrive.

Two days business delivery free. Checked the box.

Now, we wait.
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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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New Audio Book Available: Barracuda Final Bearing (The Michael Pacino Series Book 4)

Somethings are worth waiting for in this life. I think this one qualifies: Barracuda Final Bearing (The Michael Pacino Series Book 4)

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Barracuda Final Bearing is the third book I’ve done for the illustrious (he makes me call him that) Michael DiMercurio. He suffered from some sort of oxygen deprivation in his youth and mistakenly thinks I do an adequate job on his audio books. Actually, I think this one’s excellent, and I’m honored that he has chosen me to be his voice.

I’d encourage you to check out the book on Amazon, Itunes, and Audible. But (shameless plug) the book is even better if you listen to the previous two titles, both at the right. Listen to all three in order. That’s not an order. It is, however, a strong suggestion.

Now, back to my slumber. Thank you.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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Happy New Year

Yeah. That’s about it this week. After a very busy 2017 Santa season, and a lot of other writing projects stacking up on me, I’m taking this week to catch up on some work and try to catch up on sleep.

I’ll be back next week with something really pithy.

Happy New Year to all of you.

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Vampire. Vampire. Vampire. General Quarters. General Quarters. General Quarters.

The Master Chief had taken a console in Combat just to kill the boredom. Nothing deader than Christmas Eve in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Besides, the petty officer who had been sitting the position was nodding off. A coffee run to the Goat Locker for some java and cookies would wake the kid up. In the background of his awareness, he heard the phone ringing at the Tactical Action Officer’s spot in the rear of the room. Moments later, his intercom clicked and Lieutenant Worth’s voice came over the network on his private channel.

“Master Blaster, the spooks are all wound up about the Russians and NORKS for some reason. According the the Sith Lords in the tank, the entire Russian Network in this region just lit up with a massive comms burst, and all of the air defense sites are up and radiating. Not normal for 0340 in the morning any day, much less Christmas. Top it with the North Koreans flushing all their alert aircraft and something has to be getting them all riled up. You have any indications on the screen.”

Delroy English scanned the data in front of him and then turned off the filters. He’d learned over the past 25 years that sometimes the computer took out the good stuff because it was outside of any algorithm expectations. The screen blanked for a full two seconds then settled down to a cacophony of data.

One thing after another was eliminated as he sifted the data in his mind. Until track 3298D was up for observation. It took Delroy just one second to smack the alarm on the console with the palm of his enormous hand and key the microphone: “Vampire. Vampire. Vampire. I have an inbound orbital object at Mach 18, projected impact point is own ship.”

Lieutenant Worth keyed his headset and hit the general alarm at the same time: “General Quarters. General Quarters. General Quarters. Turn the Aegis to auto, ABM configuration. I say again, Robo mode ABM for Aegis. Do it now.”

Turning to the messenger of the watch, he dispatched the young woman to wake the Captain and tell him they were under missile attack.

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Systems synced, weapons powered up, and with the Aegis in auto, launch was anticipated any moment. Just as the Captain hammered through the hatch into combat, the secure radio net lit up. “U.S.S. Shiloh U.S.S. Shiloh, this is November Papa One Sierra Charlie. I authenticate Echo Lima Foxtrot. Say again, authenticate Echo Lima Foxtrot. Secure your weapons. I say again, Weapons Tight. Clear your helo pad for VIP Pax arrival. Have an Electronics Technician standing by on the pad. This is November Papa One Sierra Charlie out.”

Captain Frank Gustke stared at the red radio speaker as though it held secrets only dreamt of in the past. Lieutenant Worth was flicking through the communications book, checking the codes.

“All right, Mister Worth, who the heck is November Papa One Sierra Charlie? And is that code crap? I’ve got to launch now to keep us alive.”

“Yes, Sir. It authenticates. Only thing it says is “Special National Command Authority Entity, Top Clearance.” I’d say we have to obey it.”

“This is the Captain, I have control of the weapons systems. Put Aegis back in manual mode, secure general quarters. Clear the Helo Deck and have the head ET lay aft to the helo deck. Somebody grab my parka, I’m going back there myself.”
The 1MC rang out, “Now hear this: secure from general quarters. Secure from general quarters. Now set flight quarters. Now set flight quarters.”

Captain Gustke went to the flight control station and looked at the radar. Nothing. Just a small blip identified with the same track number that had set the whole ordeal into motion. But this was coming in at Mach 2, not an orbital velocity. And it painted very small, no where near the size of an Osprey or helicopter. None of this made sense unless someone was spoofing all the radars in the western Pacific.

With strobes flashing around it’s perimeter, the only other light on the vehicle was a brilliant red glow as it came in vertically to the pad. Frank Gustke couldn’t believe his eyes, and he wiped his face with his right hand, and then took another look. “I’ve gotta lay off the Ambien.”

In a much louder voice, he grabbed the microphone for the 1MC. “This is the Captain. Anyone who takes a single picture of this is going to be doing screen door repair on submarines for the next five years. Secure all electronics and recording devices NOW.”

There in front of him was a massive sleigh, nine tiny-reindeer, and Santa Claus himself. Frank jumped down the ladder as the craft set down, and a team of crew members swarmed the craft and dogged it to the deck. Santa grabbed a crewmember, pointed to a plate on the side of the sleigh, and then hustled inside the skin of the ship.

“Captain Gustke, a pleasure to meet you. Now, where the heck is the men’s head?”

A bewildered Captain Gustke pointed down the passage, “Third door on the left.”

Santa hustled down the passageway and vanished into the men’s room. Three minutes later he emerged with a big grin on his face.

“Danged relief tube froze up. Stupid elves never check that battery. Your crew should be able to fix it. While we’re waiting, how about a cup of coffee?”

“My cabin.”

Up two decks, and near the bridge, Captain Gustke turned into the mess before entering his room, asking the sailor in charge of making sure they got coffee and cookies.

“Yes, Sir. Already on the table.”

Santa peeked through the door. “I think we need more.”

Captain Gustke just nodded wearily. “Make it so. Santa, have a seat.”

Santa added some sugar and creme to his coffee cup and tested it. Sipping daintily, he nodded his approval and then munched a dozen cookies in under four seconds.

“Darned fine, Captain. You have good bakers. You don’t have to worry about the recording thing, I don’t show up on recordings. Unfortunately, you’ll also all forget about this when I leave. Part of the field effect the sleigh has. I only stopped because the night is long, and the coffee is strong. Know what I mean?”

“You mean to tell me you just stopped for a head call? You couldn’t land anywhere else and just… you know… why not?”

“Damned EPA. I have to tank it all airborne and treat the waste within regulations. If I just dumped it overboard, it would freeze to the side of the sleigh. Never… uh… well, into the wind. Never.”

“Santa, this is just too improbable. Am I dreaming?”

“Nope. But some clown of an author sure is unless I miss my guess. Merry Christmas, Captain. Your crew will find presents hidden around the ship when I leave. Please don’t let the MAA force blow them in place.”

“Good night, Santa. Thanks for the visit. Merry Christmas to you as well.”

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Merry Christmas to you all. My your relief tubes forever be warm at altitude.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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