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On Codex 1 – USAX1 – 2008

2008 Cricket Diane C “Sparky” Phillips
Cricket House Studios, USA1

Once upon a time, there were some quiet friends who needed to communicate with one another along some very private avenues without convergence or interruption. They took among them a list of songs that they all knew and could easily recall from memory in both melody and lyrics. With these songs lists, they could openly and freely communicate without the discernment of outsiders even in the intimate company of others.

These were complex and dangerous times when the friends decided amongst themselves and with their “commanders” to do this. It was quite a game to analyze the song content by registration keys for a message or messages to be read. The messages didn’t exist in the songs. The songs were used like passages in a book to encode and decode pertinent data, if found, the information would be meaningless to those who had received no access to the keys. At best, they would simply be guessing at the meaning.

Then, something happened to the key sets in use up until that time. With a change of administrative personnel critical to the unit’s survival, a choice was made quite incidental to any of the operating policies of those involved. This administrative person made an administrative change altering the original coding key sets that were based upon specific song titles within those sets.

This clerk did not change the order of the songs within the key. He did change and quasi-permanently altered the actual song titles to be used within the key. This administrative choice was made from the original song titles in the code keys to more up-to-date songs that he could readily fit into the codex (songs lists key sets.)

He then instructed the new song sets to be used on all incoming messages. These were song titles recognized by him and therefore, he believed they would be easier for everyone to use. He only told a few other administrative people in passing about these altered “code key” and “playbook” entries so that it appears to have been fairly insignificant and of little consequence to him, until now.

In this story, there has been no happy ending although it is being sorted out now and the field personnel, the quiet friends and the command group generals have the harms done on their own conscience to bear. Realizing the error and now with the corrected songs on the code keys, old messages are being released to the proper and appropriate channels of the group and to those interested parties currently worthy of note. The messages and data contained therein are a reminder of important lessons learned at prices and costs too high to dismiss. Of lives lost, damages done, days and wars and untold violence, in every way direct and infinite, a product and parcel of one person’s ego unhindered by the common sense of thinking skills applied to real-life, real world decisions.

I can say that in this once upon a time land, today does reside with real events, real people, real places and very tangible, real lives lost “because” . . . just, because of insignificance and no consequence. To see, to hear, to speak, to know, to be a thinking, sorting, and reasoning being carries with the knowledge and freedom a totality incongruous to the actions of this administrative clerk in my story.

Not even a shoelace is insignificant if it is the cause of a lost foot in a bicycle race or the loss of a leg on a motorcycle. The decision of what amounts to much or not cannot be left to those who do not know nor to those who cannot possibly understand what difference it makes in real lives, real situations, real events and in the scope of complex and timely operations, / projects, and real life risks.

Written by Cricket Diane C “Sparky” Phillips, 05-22-08

Stories of War –

Cricket Diane C “Sparky” Phillips
Cricket House Studios, 2008

Kim, (my sister)
& me ( & sometimes, the kid from around the corner that helped us build a fort)

played war when I was in first grade (6 years old) at Smyrna, Georgia house on Mohawk Place.
(The time period when this experience took place was 1964 – 1965 and maybe 1966 also, US)

We came up with the codes using songs so that we could do recon without the other team knowing what we were saying – especially when one of us had found a huge stockpile of pinecones or dried dirt-clods to use.

Our teams were a changing square-off between us – of 3 against 3, so each engagement had to be a new command decision meeting of codes, strategies and sharing new and previous resourced information (especially that gained from working on the other team last time.)

This was like, which side of the house worked best for cover and escape, new songs to use for today’s code, what passwords and secret password checks would allow us to know each other coming around the corner of the house. (And, whether we had shifted alliances, been captured & forced to play for the other team, or told to quit throwing dirt clods at each other by any of our parents.) It was fun.

I learned rather quickly that my neighborhood friends and my sister who was slightly younger than me, couldn’t use the fun number games and codes I liked to play with (as a hobby) whenever I could. The best we could do was to work with some songs that we all knew and could agree upon.

Kim and I sang in the car with Mom on long trips, so we knew a lot of songs and all the words for them along with the melodies. Our friends had a little more trouble with that, but we all knew some of the same ones from Church, Sunday School and nursery rhyme songs. We used Hickory-Dickory Dock a lot until I was sick of that song from using it so much and sighed everytime it was offered as the best choice after awhile.

It got to where we could just about guess the three songs (sometimes, 2) the other team was using. I always seemed to get charged with doing that (figuring out what songs the other team was using), regardless of who got command on our team for that particular engagement. Some of our “engagements” lasted for days till one team or the other won the flag, or completed the operations we agreed on for winning.

Some of the operations were created by us at the moment (for winning / goals to achieve) with fairly elaborate stories. The boys always seemed to want “the prize” to be some uniquely awesome weapon, weapons system, treasure or high-tech secret. The girls mostly voted on military advantage – take the hill kind of stuff; find the secret, the treasure, the secret plans; find and capture all the members of the other team; rescue the victims of some evil, obscene plot; or restore something to its rightful owner.

It’s a wonder we didn’t get hurt because we sure didn’t play nice. We kept the rules of no hits with (a. pinecones, b. dried dirt clods, c. any other projectiles we created or used) above the shoulders / no targeting faces, necks, heads or hands. Beyond that, it was open season. We didn’t use sticks except as launch mechanisms & as the supports stuck in the ground for launch mechanisms.

But, what we launched – could and would definitely sting if we got hit, so we learned defensive and protective strategies real quick. It wasn’t like in cartoons where hiding behind a tree would get it, unless we didn’t stay there for long. Partly because the “enemy” kept moving, was always in motion and if you could see two, there was somewhere a third one coming up behind you to nail you with a dirt clod.

We didn’t have trees we could climb much in our yard so that didn’t provide a tactical advantage, but we had a cut-away hill beside the driveway on one side of the yard and a big wooded backyard. There were two massive oak trees in the front yard and a drainage ditch with a very slight hill between our yard and the neighbor’s on the opposite side of the house.

This little ditch was a simple foot wide trough with about an 18 inch height of graded incline into our front yard. On its backside, it was open to Lisa’s yard beside their house and ran the full length between the two properties from the street, along the side of the house and into the back yard. It provided the best vantage point and movement along the length of it and quick escape to the protection of the side of our house and the backyard for egress or retreat, if necessary.

We did a lot of regrouping, recon and sharing of “enemy” troop movements using every creative application of resources, knowledge and talents we could muster. I used all my favorite chess strategies in it although mostly to support our team, confound the “enemy” team and to plan and execute wins.

Each time we played “war” like this, we voted / decided on leadership roles and who served as commander / general / team leader and worked out who served as team “assistant, adjutant general, colonel or captain” for recon / tactical and the same titles for weapons management / coordination. It meant that everyone got to give orders to the others on some things and were basically responsible for those things / areas of need (primarily plus help with everything else – every team member was responsible for attacking the “enemy”).

I hated getting the job of finding and stockpiling our weapons of dirt clods and pinecones, although it did allow me to do more of the “spy” stuff in this job. Its amazing what can be heard while collecting weapons among the trees in the backyard while the other team thinks they have some privacy for their planning sessions. Weapons management meant I had to scream across the yard for my colleagues to throw over that pile of pinecones they were standing right next to and time it after they had finished throwing the one in their hand at some “enemy” team member. (And, then duck the incoming weapons stockpile being thrown to me across the yard.) I didn’t end up with that job too often but I did create a couple good little launchers out of some sticks and pea green pine straw laced with ribbon and two rubber bands from my hair on more than an occasion or two.

The songs key list for coding messages and information (codex) came out of this and from the multitude of ciphering / codes and numbers games books I worked with from around the age of – I don’t know but I was already familiar with them at the age of 4 as a fun way to pass the time while waiting, riding or while supposed to be “napping” in the afternoon.

(The time period when this experience took place was 1964 – 1965 and maybe 1966 also, US)

Written by Cricket Diane C “Sparky” Phillips, 2008
05-22-08 [cd]9

Cricket House Studios, 2008, USAX1

“Creating the Tangible from the Impossible Every Day.”