The last time I went to the dentist, I sat down in the waiting room, opened the newspaper, and started reading.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed another patient glance at me, then do a double-take.
“OMG!” she said. “I haven’t seen anyone actually reading a newspaper in years.”
I LOLed and went back to my reading.
The newspaper she was referring to was the kind printed on paper.
The kind that’s delivered to your front porch and you read with your morning coffee.
The kind that you hold in both hands and leaves traces of ink of your fingertips.
If you’re thinking, “Geez, what a dinosaur!” I just smile.
Unlike the dinosaurs, there are still some of us around, and we actually do read paper newspapers.
With no apologies.
Every Sunday I read a page of brief stories called The (almost) Back Page, assembled by the Associated Press, or AP. Talk about dinosaurs – this newsgathering agency was founded in 1846.
The AP stories fill about two-thirds of the page, and the rest is two columns devoted to News of the Weird.
And these stories are weird – like a recent one about a guy in Florida who got annoyed at his mother when she accidentally bumped into him while she was cooking his dinner. He started pelting her with the sausages, then put his hands on her neck. He later said he just wanted his mom to apologize for bumping him, but police arrested him and charged him with misdemeanor domestic battery.
On the rest of the page, the AP story headlines range from Man Rescues Five-Week-Old Kitten Glued To Busy Road (yikes!) to Authorities Capture Suspected Serial Diaper Dumper (huh?) to Military Officials Say Humvee Dropped From Plane By Mistake In Rural Area.
Since I love seeing our tax dollars at work, I decided to check further into that last story.
It turns out that this was a routine training exercise performed in late October. The military takes a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, an HMMWV nicknamed “Humvee,” straps it onto a platform, attaches parachutes, loads it onto a plane, and then flies to a ground target.
To goal is to land the Humvee on the target, platform-side-down, detach the parachutes, disconnect the platform, and drive the vehicle off to its mission.
The military in this case were Army testers from the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate at Fort Bragg, NC. The plane, an Air Force C-17, was stationed at Joint Air Force Base Charleston. The reason for dropping this vehicle from an airplane was to “test new equipment and procedures to support the aerial delivery and transportation of military equipment.”
Something went awry, however, and the vehicle landed seven miles from its target.
Now, I’ve heard of target practice, though not with Humvees, but maybe…
I can imagine the dialogue:
|“Dude, you wanna go do some target practice?”
“Yeah, man. My Humvee or yours?
A spokesman later said the aircraft was flying at 1500 feet when the Humvee was launched out of the plane about a minute too early.
I’m imaging the soldiers on board:
|“This hitting the target thing with a Humvee has gotten really boring. Why don’t we aim for that spot over there instead?”
“Right on! Ready? One, two…push!”
Three tons of vehicle, palette and parachutes crashed in a wooded area between two homes.
And I’m imaging the homeowners:
|“Honey, what was that noise?
“It’s the military doing that Humvee target practice thing, but they won’t be driving that sucker anywhere soon!”
“Everything went as planned except for the early release,” allowed the spokesman.
And the landing, I’ll add. The platform and damaged Humvee were loaded onto a flatbed truck and taken away.
Apparently the “new equipment” being tested was a new “heavy drop platform.” If this was a new Humvee – modified or “up-armored” as they call it – and new parachutes, and knowing that the military isn’t big on bargains, I figure the cost for this target practice (including airplane, fuel, personnel, etc.) was around $1 million.
Oh, well. A Humvee here, a platform there…
At this point if you’re thinking, “Paper, schmaper. You had to go online to get all that information,” you’d be right.
So I’m not a complete dinosaur.
But as long as paper, schmaper newspapers are around…
I’ll keep sipping my coffee and turning those pages.
Ink stains and all.