Tuesday, November 28, 2017

There's a Word For That

“There's never enough of the stuff you can't get enough of.” Patrick H. T. Doyle.



Things. Stuff.




We are reorganizing, yet again. "Front spare bedroom" into study. More appropriate - Man Cave. Sleeper sofa, drop-leaf desk, book shelf. Vacation photos (I especially love the one of a young couple floating along on the underground river in Xcaret, Mexico). A comfortable place to read, to write... To contemplate our next adventure.

To accomplish the task required removal of a queen bed. Standard type, mattress and box springs, very nice metal scroll headboard. For its age, it's in great shape

We purchased it in the early 2000s. All of the kids were "out of the house," adults. Only one, our youngest, might use it more than occasionally during breaks from college. As it turned out, she quickly embraced independence and set her own course. The bed went virtually unused, save for the occasional visit from out of town relatives.

We moved it to our present house, mostly because...we did. December 2010 was tumultuous, frantic and fraught with emotion. We set up shop in a manner requiring the fewest decisions. And, left it that way.

Making room for the new furniture, I disassembled the frame and walked the pieces out to my truck, to donate. There are years of use left. And, in the darkening solitude unkempt emotion washed over me with the chill evening wind.

I wandered back into the house struggling with what I was feeling. It was metal. It was fabric. I asked friends for the word I was missing, one to describe why this inanimate object evoked such a strong reaction. I received a number of great responses, spot on point. Animistic. Sentient. Anthropomorphism. All excellent suggestions from great writers.

Touchstone. 

I looked up touchstone. It's a standard, or a test. Not exactly what I was looking for, until I read the third definition, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

"A black siliceous stone related to flint and formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal."

Everything pure and wonderful about this piece of metal I was shouldering had rubbed off on me as I loaded it up. There were the guests who had slept on it, and the wonderful times we'd had with them. There was the night our master bed collapsed, and we took refuge. And there were the wonderful mornings...

Many years ago, I'd woken up my daughters for school. Their mother and I were separating, and would soon divorce. One of them - I honestly don't remember who, was describing a distance. She spread out her arms as wide as they would go and exclaimed "It was at least two kids wide!" It was the most profound example of what I would soon be missing, the random and irreplaceable moments encountered as a new day unfolded.

They all grew up. First our son, who was 16 when I married his mom. Then the girls in succession. The house was quiet, breakfasts far less raucous. No requests for eggs or toast. A full coffee pot not drained like it once was.

But, sometimes, our home was a base. They would bring their new lives with them from Baltimore, or Ft. Myers or Maine, and sleep in the bed in the spare room. In the mornings, tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, they would emerge and say good morning. A new day was dawning, and one of our children was ready for us to make them breakfast.

A touchstone. Everything that was good and pure about those moments had rubbed off on the inexpensive frame and headboard that would soon find a new home. And now, one more time, it was rubbing off on me.






Monday, November 20, 2017

Well...Bye

Were it not for the creepy cultishness of the bloody, senseless murders and the notoriety of some of his victims, the piece of self-ambulatory trash whose pointless existence ended yesterday in a California prison would have been just another nobody creep. Nearly fifty years after the crime spree that left nine totally innocent people dead, it is easy to mourn the victims whose lives were snatched from them to make some obscure, daft point.

Who am I talking about?

If his name is mentioned once more in public, that would be a damn shame.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Special Breed

"We talked about some old times, and we drank ourselves some beers. Still crazy after all these years." Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul Simon (1975).

Mourning the passing of Tim Meyer, bon vivant.

Bill Clement, hockey great, tells the story of riding in a car with the owner of the Washington Capitals, a team to which he'd been traded. Clement was an all star with Philadelphia's Flyers - now, he was part of an effort to get the Caps to the next level. "We need to find some guys who love to win," the owner commented.

"Everybody loves to win," Clement observed. "We need to find guys who hate to lose."

TC Meyer hated to lose.


There is no louder sound on a hockey rink than that made by the puck hitting the netting behind your team’s goalie. For the goaltender, it is deafening. I never met anyone who hated that sound more than TC.

My first memory of him is as a small figure in seemingly oversized equipment, skating slow turns around the ice. Tryouts for Pittsford-Mendon High’s varsity team in Western New York.

I’d tended goal for Pittsford High when there was one building, one high school. Population growth soon required two schools – my alma mater became Pittsford-Sutherland. My brother was trying to earn a place on “Mendon’s” inaugural team (he did, and would play three years as a mainstay defenseman). I was taking time off from college working as a security guard at Xerox, preparing for a summer cycling adventure. Time on my hands, so I drove my brother to the rink and settled in with a book. The head coach, who would become a life-long friend, approached me one afternoon and asked if I’d like to “help out.”

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, not just with Coach M, but with TC. Tim was a rare individual. I think he was more demanding of me (a volunteer coach, as it were) than I of him. If the drills we did uncovered a weakness, we worked to overcome it. If it didn't, if it appeared he'd mastered it, it was my fault - I hadn't designed a drill that was useful. When the puck entered the net, even in practice, we tried to figure out why. He drove himself to be better at the end of practice than the beginning. He was never discouraged, he was determined. Every time the puck entered the net, that was going to be the last time. Ever.

He wasn’t a one man show, of course. The Vikings of the 1975-77 era, when I was part of the team, were a group of high quality, high spirited, hugely talented individuals. They fed off one another in a way great groups of people do. They had an exceptional leader as their coach, one of the best X and O guys I ever saw.

The day of reckoning came, as they always do. The championship game against, of course, Pittsford-Sutherland. Our team was shorthanded – three of the four regular defensemen, guys who had given everything to get the team to that day, were kept off the ice due to the German Measles. That’s right.

Others have told the story better – suffice to say, TC’s performance in net was epic. A win in overtime, the MVP trophy to the little goalie with the big heart.

It would be my last game as goalie coach. Life took me to Colorado, and I lost track of Tim. Brother Mike, who played out his senior year at Mendon, attended The University of Colorado at Boulder, and lived there for several years after graduating. Our own lives, our own destinies, the years passing.

And then, glorious, maddening Facebook intervened. A friend request from TC, now living in California. Prosperous, with a great family and a bright future. We traded stories, and he reminded me how much he loved my mom, who ran the elementary school cafeteria up the street and would pile his plate high with extra food all through grade school. Ever the charmer. TC had grown into a strapping six footer, but had never lost the smile with a bit of the devil in it.

Over the following years we shared moments, recipes and playful kidding. I would post my latest rib dinner, him his famous meatballs. Always beautifully plated, always tempting. It wasn’t one up, it was one for a brother.

I was in New York for a visit the last time I saw him. He had come back to Pittsford for something. We really hadn’t seen much of each other since the day at the rink, and to be honest I’d probably not seen him in 35 years. But, as I entered the pub our eyes locked and, true to the man he was, he bounded across the room to give me a huge bear hug. He and I, Coach M (now a retired school superintendent) talked about some old times, and drank ourselves some beers.

This isn’t fair.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Sun Also Rises

I can't wait for tomorrow, because I get better looking every day. Football great Joe Namath.



The internet. Facebook (oh, glorious Facebook). All of the freakin' TVs in front of the spin bikes at the gym... Political doom and gloom, something about the Democrats sweeping, a sort of virtual Sherman's march to the sea. Panic on the right, gloating on the left. Et cetera.

Huh.

My PhD wife was as beautiful this morning as always, dressed to start yet another day in academia.

The dogs' eyes were just as hopeful, just as expectant, as I dished out their breakfast. When I sat on the sofa to write, Jed snuggled up beside me, as usual.

The first day of vacation felt like it always does - free at last! I checked - the tickets are still first class, the weather at our destination warm, the margs awaiting our arrival.

The workout felt great.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it's a great day to be alive. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Walking the Walk

"Ever served in a forward area?" Marine Colonel Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson).
"No, sir." JAG officer Lt.(jg) Daniel Kaffee.
A Few Good Men, (1992)

The verdict is in. The deserter "sergeant" gets credit, in essence, for time served (albeit primarily as a guest of the Taliban). He gets demoted from a position he didn't earn, and receives a dishonorable discharge. This for abandoning his squad in a combat zone. He did this, he says, to draw attention to things happening in his unit with which he disagreed. Compelled to search for him, six soldiers lost their lives, three horribly wounded, in the vain attempt to locate him.

The judge, during sentencing arguments, gave credit to the defense position that Candidate Trump's stump speeches critical of the Obama Administration's ransoming of this fellow made a fair trial difficult. Asked recently for a comment, President Trump merely said "You know how I feel." The judge gave this his own nefarious spin, rejecting prosecution rebuttal to the contrary. As of now, there is no evidence the President had dinner in Hawaii with him just before he passed sentence. Oh, wait...

The judge's remarks, that he entered this nothing sentence to uphold the legitimacy of military justice, could only come from a lawyer. Not a very imaginative one at that. "President Trump said..." has become the favorite go-to excuse for all kinds of judicial mischief. Here, there was no evidence offered - none - that the President tried to influence, inappropriately or otherwise, the proceedings. His position as Commander in Chief gives him a unique position regarding the disciplinary philosophy followed in the military. While the military is regulated by acts of Congress, some modification takes place by executive order. Nowhere but in the courts of fanciful pleadings (either military or civilian) are the comments of a candidate for president admissible evidence to offer either in mitigation or aggravation.

God rest the souls of the men who died trying to rescue him, and the men maimed in the attempt. May their sacrifice be the sole source of honor in this dishonorable incident.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reading A Love Letter

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.
— quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004

I found this quote while searching for something about how choice paralysis works. The above is contained in the book The Paradox of Choice which seems to suggest that shoppers would suffer less stress with fewer items on the shelf. Maybe I'll pick it up, if only to explain my own situation.

Writers often have trouble turning it off. By it, I mean the part of their brain compelled to turn words into phrases, phrases into stories and stories into published work. To wit:

This morning I awoke awash in a jumble of prose about a first baseman, a childish gesture and utterance, and how "Social Media" is in such a state of perpetual dudgeon that it's a hard wade through the noise, to decide whether to personally have an opinion. But, how does one make light of the medium without accidentally inferring that this is just "boys will be boys?" It was offensive, and unnecessary.

The demise of AirBerlin, an airline serving primarily European destinations, deserved a look. They ceased operations at a time when many airlines in the US have recorded comfortable profits. The temptation to once again paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow (Wings, a fuselage and engines - that's what a plane needs) and prattle about how travel, and freedom, go hand in hand was present. My wife and I will soon walk hand-in-hand onto an airplane, slip the surly bonds and arrive in beloved Mexico, to recharge. It wasn't in my heart, so my fingers didn't do any walking (if you are too young to understand the reference, lucky you).

I downloaded an audio book by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia today - a collection of speeches, written works and other items, released in audio form after his untimely death (Appealing to a Higher Court). A forward, written and read by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was part of the sample I...sampled. 

It turns out to be less of a forward and more of a love letter. They were friends, close friends. Often, the phrase "unlikely friends" is used, but listening to the soft, twinkling voice describe their relationship discards that as superficial. They often differed about the law, the constitution and how both have benefited, and hamstrung, America in its quest to fully recognize that everyone is created equal. She speaks about his sense of humor, and how hard it often was to keep from laughing out loud at his in-court pronouncements, or at the notes he often passed to her. She ends with something that should enjoy a much wider audience - that she and her dear friend were people of good will who did not need to be disagreeable merely because they disagreed.

I listen to her words and cannot help the emotions I feel. Sometimes, a writer has to stop and read. It is a joy. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Call

"The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It's not always clear why. But I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you." Mr.Ollivander (John Hurt), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).

I'm that guy.

For almost four years my daughter and I frequented the Rio Grande restaurant on Blake Street for our weekly lunch. We'd tried other places, other genres. We eventually came back to The Rio.

We always ordered the same thing - crab and shrimp enchiladas, a house margarita. The staff knew us, to the point where we were no longer given menus. The margs, and lunch, materialized with nothing but a knowing smile. We once remarked to our server that the day's fare seemed different, the enchiladas more crisp.

"You have discerning palates," he said, chuckling. "They shuffled the line cooks today."

Her life took her first to Detroit, then Baltimore. Still, the downtown Rio remained - a place to meet Wil, Matt, and Michelle, and Michele, Alicia, Jeromy, Jen and Jacob. A place to meet her, and her children, for lunch.

To go for my birthday dinners. The train downtown, a stroll along the Mall and... Crab and shrimp enchiladas.

And the obligatory stop at The Tattered Cover.

We visited The TC last Sunday. My book is no longer on the shelf, having been supplanted by titles that moved more rapidly, Still, it is the holy place. We browsed, we took in the ambiance, and a book beckoned.

What are your five most favorite books? I'll wait...

Is there any commonality? All fiction? Classics? Romance? Favorite author? Me? (Sorry).

On my list is Tracy Kidder's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine (Little, Brown and Company, 1981). It chronicles a group of turbo-geek computer engineers working for a small company in Massachusetts. Kidder's gift isn't merely story telling, it is the way he crafts descriptions of the people involved in the task.

Tom West leads the group - we meet him in the elegant way that a craftsman parcels out sights and sounds. The scene is told from the third person limited point of view - the narrator knows what's going on with some, but not all of the characters. West is a passenger on a sailboat, an enigma told in past tense by those who had observed him. No one saw him sleep, and when the boat encountered heavy weather he was a dynamo of activity and positive energy. He told the others he worked "in computers." Pressed, he reminded them he was on vacation. At the height of the storm he was calm, confident and during a lull went for a long swim. "If this is his idea of a vacation," one person remarked to Kidder,"what must it be like where he works?"

So, when I saw another Kidder book at the Tattered Cover, I picked it up. It was a sequel to his best work, of sorts, but not really. Not everything Kidder has written since Soul has caught more than my momentary attention. But, this book immediately went under my arm. I had to have it. The book. The thing.

It is a book about, among other things, how computer algorithms at the travel site KAYAK help people choose flights, hotels and vacations. About how men and women grew rich feeding the wanderlust of others. Of people like my wife and I.

Oh, hell yeah. But, he had me at hello and I didn't even know it.

 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Other People's Money

"Seventeen lawyers on retainer, and you've managed to work it out so that, in a free market, in a so-called free country, I can't buy some some shit-ass stock every other asshole can buy. Congratulations, you're destroying the capitalist system! While everybody else in the world is embracing it, my boys and girls are fucking it up. You know what happens when capitalism gets fucked up? The communists come back! They come out of the bushes, don't kid yourselves, they're waiting in there. But maybe that's not so bad, 'cause you know what happens when the commies take over? The first thing they do is shoot all the lawyers!" Lawrence Garfield (Danny DeVito), Other People's Money, (1991).

Facebook. God love it.

Most mornings, I do a very Anne Greer (my late mom) thing. While my wife gets an extra forty-five or so minutes of sleep I make coffee, grab breakfast and hang over the sink. My mom would watch Fox News. I check Facebook. Mostly, it has become a clearinghouse for news...sort of Twitter, only full sentences. If something went on overnight, chances are the geeky ding-dong dillionaire's creation will have it.

But...

This morning I saw a post by a news network that got me thinking. It featured someone labeled a "Patriotic Millionaire." Okay. I'll bite.

He was going on, prepared statement in hand (I wonder how that happened), saying that giving his children tax free money after he passes was not in the little darling's best interest. They should learn to stand on their own two feet, be self-sufficient and make their own fortune. Etc. Apparently, he is unamused by tax proposals that would limit, or eliminate, the so-called death tax.

More coffee. I need... More. Coffee.

Isn't it his money?

I took an estates class in law school at Syracuse. The professor went on at great length, spanning several weeks' time, talking about how to encumber money in trusts, bequeath stuff to foundations and non-profits and otherwise decide who gets what when the Great Beyond beckons. Case law was replete with heirs (it was normally an ex, but never mind) suing the estate, having been disinherited for reasons both clear and obscure. The result was always the same. Tough.

Because it was the decedent's money! 

If the patriotic millionaire wants the government to have his loot instead of his kids - give it to the government. Give it to charity, to a non-profit. To me!

He wasn't talking about his own money. He's not stupid. He's talking about other people's money.

He's talking about my money.

Dude, stuff a sock.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Bills That Count

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; Theodore Roosevelt.

Mourning the passing of Lakewood Police Agent Ellis King.

I ran into my friend Ellis not long ago as he booked an arrestee's belongings into our Property Unit. He was fit, looked great. His usual smile and hearty laugh were intact. There were a few of the new guys about, but he wanted to remember...

"Those were great days," he said, booming voice commanding the room. "You and me and Mike Flowers working all of North Sector. Great times."

Ellis had been hired in 1980, me a year later. We hit it off, became friends. We worked the rough part of town, he and I and Mike. Call to call, having each other's backs, balancing a steady, sometimes bone-crushing workload. At the end of the day, laughing. With Ellis, there was always laughing.

Our careers ebbed and flowed. I ran into him at a low ebb, complaining that the organization was beating me down. How did he manage to keep a positive attitude after all of the years?

"The City has paid every bill I ever had."

Heroes are often measured by the enormity of their achievements. Ellis was a hero measured by the steadiness of his contribution. Always there at your "Six," never ever letting his friends down. Ellis and Mike and me.

I will miss you more than you will ever know.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Target Rich

“This won't stop her from getting elected," Shane said. "Stupider people get elected all the time. It's America. We love the sleazy. And the crazy."
"I would like to think better of us," Claire said, "but yeah. You're right.”
Rachel Caine, Bitter Blood  (2013)

Everyone, on both sides of the political wars, would like their heroes to be virtuous, their villains to be pure evil. So, when some disgusting fat-body Hollywood creep who happens to give gobs of money to progressive causes turns out to be a letch... Oh, my. Ain't we got fun.

First, let's get off of our high horses. The women who did what they had to do in a corrupt industry are not collateral damage in our culture wars. Many are true victims, people looking for honest work.

Most important, it isn't like we just discovered this about "Tinseltown." Google casting couch. The first example on Wiki is from 1915.

You want to make changes in the way women are treated? Stop going to the movies until real reforms are discussed and implemented. This self-ambulatory pile of pig shit ain't the only predator in town. Movie makers certify that no animal was harmed in the making of a movie...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Act of Defiance

Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) "They're in the trees up ahead."
Sundance (Robert Redford) "You take the trees, I'll take the bushes."
Percy Garris (Strother Martin) "Will you two beginners cut...it...out."

Butch and Sundance try their hand as payroll guards. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, (1969).

In the immediate - and I do mean immediate - aftermath of the horrendous Las Vegas mass murder, there are a couple of points to make.

1. The average person has an amazing amount of courage that they access in critical times. Thousands of men and women did unfathomably heroic things while under fire. Many did things that cannot be adequately described as brave.

2. Professional first responders in Las Vegas went about their jobs in a manner that should make all first responders, and all Americans, stand up and cheer. I'm in awe.

3. Do not underestimate the power of prayer.

Okay. Here are a couple of things the Keyboard Rangers dabbling in bizarre conspiracy theories and hokie amateur analysis need to remember:

1. Las Vegas Metro, the FBI, the ATF, a variety of JTTF entities and a host of other agencies will be processing the crime scene for weeks. Witness interviews, review of CCTV from Mandalay Bay and other forensic evidence may take months.

2. It will be months before all of the collected data is collated, reviewed, catalogued and analyzed. The more really tasty "Off shore money transfer" evidence that is revealed, the longer it will take.

3. It may be years before the full report on the Route 91 shooting is ready for the public.

So... Ignore the Internet sleuths. They will only raise your anxiety level. Hug your kids, call your mom. Buy your sig-oh something special. Take the dogs for a walk...buy a dog. Listen to country music and never feel ashamed about who you are.

And give a big shout out for this guy. I'd love to buy him a beer, but that line is probably long and distinguished.  


Monday, October 2, 2017

Exceptional Valor a Common Virtue

Please welcome my friend Jared to Bikecopblog. We worked together when he was an exceptional Victim Advocate for our department. Both of his parents are police employees. Several years ago he began his own police career. I was going to write this blog, but read his words this morning and felt they were far better than any I could manage. Used with permission.

Title a variation of the statement "Uncommon valor was a common virtue," Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, Iwo Jima, 1945. 



I have been watching coverage of last night’s massacre, in which multiple media outlets that routinely condemn police officers as a whole have deemed the actions of Las Vegas law enforcement as “exceptional.”

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Last night, Las Vegas police officers prepared for another “day at the office.” Then a man started shooting into a crowd. Their impulses to help others and stop the shooter overrode their impulses to protect themselves. As everyone else fled, they advanced—toward an unknown amount of shooters in unknown positions, to defend the lives and safety of people they had never even met. Most confronted automatic rifles with semi-automatic handguns. Most approached rifle rounds wearing ballistic vests that are unable to stop those rounds. The threat was more than thirty floors up, and they approached from the street. When they located the shooter in his room, the first officers in knew there was a very good chance it was the last room they’d enter alive. And they entered anyway.
This is not exceptional. This is the norm. This is what cops do because it is who we are. The exceptional ones are the ones who will dominate the news and the discourse long after the heroism of these officers fades from our collective memory.
Last night was tragic. But it would have been much more tragic if the men and women in police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances hadn’t done what the vast majority in their professions do all the time: run toward threats, stop them, and address the aftermath with selflessness and professionalism. And tonight they will get ready for “another day at the office” knowing full well it could be a repeat of the last...and that it could be their last as well.
I am devastated by the senseless loss of life last night, but I am proud of the men and women who proved yesterday, as they do every day, that such heroism and courage are decidedly unexceptional among our ranks. They do not require the recognition, but they certainly deserve it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Malark

"Sometimes in the night, when the quiet wasn't feared as much, I'd think of home." Donald G. Malarkey at Bastogne, January 1945. Easy Company Soldier, Sgt. Don Malarkey with Bob Welch (2008).

Mourning the passing of Don Malarkey, soldier.

Consequential lives. That's what the soldiers of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne lived. What they did mattered.

He tried to enlist in the Marine Corps in the days following Pearl Harbor. He was rejected because of his teeth. Go figure. His next attempt was with the Army Air Corps - bad math. Drafted, he volunteered for the parachute infantry, having read that they were the best.

On June 5th, 1944 he climbed aboard a C-47 transport, carrying equipment that weighed almost as much as he did. The many perils of that night eluded him, and he joined on the ground a small band of night fighters. Toward morning they accompanied Lt. Richard Winters on an assault to neutralize artillery pieces raining death on the beaches at Normandy.

They numbered twelve. The Germans - five times more. In a brilliant piece of fire and maneuver still studied at The United States Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Winters led his team on a successful attack that silenced those guns. Malarkey won the Bronze Star for Valor. He was twenty-three years old.

Don Malarkey saw more action, and was on the line for more days, than any of the original troopers of Easy. He was still at the tip of the Allied spear when the 101st captured Berchtesgaden, Hitler's "Eagles Nest." They went to Austria to garrison, having been told that they were bound for the Pacific. Fortunately, the war ended prior to his redeployment.

I saw Don Malarkey at a presentation in 2011. He was touring the country, in the company of a friend, speaking about leadership. He talked of the other men, about their bravery, their sacrifice. He didn't say anything about himself.

I watched the Band of Brothers series, especially the interviews with the veterans. They all reminded me of my father. He had served in the Pacific, and fought in several of the most savage battles warfare has ever seen. He always said the same thing - "I was a part of something bigger than me. Those other kids, the ones who died or were badly shot up... Those were the heroes."

Don Malarkey wrote that this entered his mind, from Invictus, as he leapt into the night over France:

Out of the night that covers me
black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
for my unconquerable soul.

Thank you for your service, Sgt. Your soul, and the souls of millions like you, liberated a world.






Thursday, September 28, 2017

Stand for Something

I'm just going to leave this picture right here. You fill in the thousand words.

Rescue mission in Puerto Rico
Me, I start with - "We have our faults and our flaws as a nation. This man, this mission and the continuing service rendered by our military are not any of them."

Stay safe. Be well. Thank you.

The Party's Over

"I've had a bachelor party for thirty years. Why do I need one, now?" Hugh Hefner, about to be married in 1989.

Noting the passing of Hugh Hefner.

I'm an introvert. I may be one of the few men of my generation who never wanted to be Hugh Hefner. Way too much social interaction. It had to be exhausting.

Okay, there was one thing. The pajamas. Staying in pajamas all day long. In a huge mansion. Overlooking a beach. With a book. That would have been cool.

Rest in peace. You deserve it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Before A Live Studio Audience

You know that when the NFL players kneel in protest, they are protesting my 38 years of service, right? When you "Like" their Facebook posts where they talk about injustice, that they mean me. They don't know me and yet, they are ready to brand me a racist based on the color of my uniform.

Maybe you don't know me, either.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eject, Eject Eject!

Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson): [in Jessup's office] Hmmmm...transfer Santiago. Yes, I'm sure you're right. I'm sure that's the thing to do. Wait, I've got a better idea. Let's transfer the whole squad off the base. Let's... On second thought, Windward! Let's transfer the whole Windward Division off the base. John, go on out there and get those boys down off the fence, they're packing their bags. Tom!
Tom (Joshua Molina): Yes, sir?
Col. Jessup: Get me the President on the phone. We're surrendering our position in Cuba!


"That's the stupidest thing I've ever read." So wrote a person on Facebook.

Talk about a high hurdle to clear. Sign onto Facebook, read a couple of posts and one will see that the level of written discourse there has found an express elevator to the cellar. A deep, dank, dark cellar. So, tossing around the superlative "stupidest ever" carries significant peril.

The article in question suggests that the Florida Keys - the whole archipelago - be abandoned. The author, writing in Forbes magazine, apparently had an epiphany after watching TV coverage of Hurricane Irma. The Florida Keys, he observes sagely, is vulnerable to storms.

I know, right? I had to sit down, too.

This proposal is part of a larger plan to "retreat to the interior." The theory is that the damaging storms are all coastal in nature, hard to defend against and, anyway, with sea levels increasing we'll have ocean-front property in Denver before long. The property damage alone, with some recovery costs (and insurance premium offsets) born by government, argue for abandonment.

Well. Detroit has suffered more property damage as a result of failed governmental policies than the Keys has from Irma. Let's abandon Detroit. Wait a minute. New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina. Let's abandon New Orleans. Let's move everyone and everything from along the Gulf Coast. Pat, get me the President on the phone. We're headed back to Ireland.

The lives lost, the homes destroyed, the livelihoods swept away by Irma, all of that is tragic in epic proportions. Many of us contribute money to the clean-up effort not because we fancy the props we get. We see the pictures, understand that these people are hurting and wish there was something more we could do.

And then a fellow, looking at the wreckage of his beach bar, posts "We'll be open as soon as we can." A restauranteur pays out of his own pocket to feed his community. People share, they work long hours for no pay to help clean up the mess. And they go right back to living in a place they call home.

This is not to say that some people will leave and never come back. That is their choice and, frankly, if Mother Nature put an ass whipping on me every decade or so I'd be inclined to get out of the way, too. But, for those hearty souls who will defend their homes and way of life, my hat is off. Rebuild.

We'll be by to visit. I'm okay with a generator, a blender and a Painkiller. And my toes in the water, ass in the sand and my soul mate beside me. Maybe the dogs, too, bathed in the glowing hospitality of people who cling to the preposterous notion that where there is life, there is hope.