Saturday, December 29, 2012

Overwritten, or What I did on my Christmas Vacation

We have been very busy this holiday season, which I suppose accounts for the dearth of posts on here, but I did get the opportunity to see a couple of "holiday" movies at the theater.

The two that I was able to take in this week were Jack Reacher and The Hobbit (part 1 of 3, because Peter Jackson figured out that my family will pay ten bucks a head times three for three years in a row, instead of just one time, if he drags the story out for three long years).

I know that many have said that the Hobbit story is too long, drawn out and overwritten. I don't care. I have loved this story since my mother read it to us at the table when I was very small and since I first saw the cartoon version from the 70's. I think it is quite possible that I am the only person that likes the cartoon version from the 70's. So I recommend seeing it. It is fun, moving and visually stunning.

If you really want to see an example of overwritten, check out the Jack Reacher character in Jack Reacher.

Yes, Tom Cruise looks good at the age of 73, and it was a very entertaining movie.
But, it is hard to buy a guy that is a retired Army Major living in buses, only owning one set of clothes and bragging (on and on and on) about how free he is because he doesn't work in a cubicle or have things like a home, friends, family, etc. to time him down.

His primary past time seems to be beating the crap out of guys on buses picking on their girlfriends and washing his one set of clothes that he bought at a Goodwill store in a motel sink. He did get a very nice leather jacket from a rack of very nice leather jackets at the Goodwill store. I think that is probably the best Goodwill store ever.

Still, in spite of feeling very much like you were stuck in a novel that showcased the author's view of the ultimate anti-hobo, it is still a fun movie. Full of intrigue, action, foul deeds, Tom Cruise beating people up and shooting them dead, lawyers, cops, car chases, snipers, pretty girls and Robert Duvall. It is hard to go wrong with Robert Duvall.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sometimes it's the little things

Our new Congolese friends happened to see Emily's camo hat that she wears for the Civil Air Patrol, similar to the one pictured in this post.

They were surprised that we had a hat like this around. They told us that in Burundi, where they have been living for the past ten years, that if you wore a hat like this, you would be arrested.

I suppose that is because of all the problems that militias have caused and all the wars and deaths that East Africa has seen in the recent past.

We told them that here in America you were free to wear whatever you wanted. We did try to explain to them how ridiculous and suspicious they would look if they were in a full camo suit at the supermaket, but that they could wear it if they wanted. We have no laws dictating what we wear.

Sometimes it is the little things that make you glad you are in America!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I used to have.....

On Veteran's Day, I took a look at my shadow box from the military and took the picture posted on this page.

I compared all the ribbons, medals, janglies and stuff that I earned to the ribbons I currently wear on my uniform and I began to think about all the things I used to have and used to do.

I used to have 7 little ribbons, not I only have 3. And one of them you automatically wear, so I have only earned two of them.

At work, I used to have several employees that I was in charge of hiring and firing, sizeable budgets, marketing, etc. and I led weekly services with close to two hundred people. Now, I am in charge of myself, and that is about it.

We used to live in our favorite part of California and always had good friends that we had made hanging around our house or inviting us to theirs. Now we live in Tucson, and we have far few friends here.

So, I decided that it is not always the best thing to look at the successes of the past. It will either make you try to do things the exact same way you did then, or will make you wonder why you don't have those things anymore. The time and circumstances you are in now are different than the time and circumstances you had then. And so are the rewards, challenges and benefits.

For instance, I have found more time for my family in the past few years, and I have been able to work on being physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy. Among other good things in my life now, these are definitely worth something.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcoming the Stranger

Jesus said that when we welcome the stranger we are welcoming him (Matthew 25).

I have heard that Tucson will become the new home for about 700 refugees this year.

When I moved back to this city, I didn't know too many people. But, I had lived here before, Diane grew up here,I can read and speak the language and I was familiar with the stores, restaurants, customs and holidays.

The refugees that come here have an incredibly different experience.

I recently re-met Cherie(we first met her at Church in 1991 or 1992), the director of the Tucson Refugee Ministry. I learned from her that I could befriend an partner a refugee family. So, I contacted some friends and some of them graciously agreed to spend some time being a friend for a family that might be lost in our strange new world.

We meet our assigned family on Saturday for the very first time. I think we are all a little nervous and a little curious about what we will do with this family and how we will communicate with them. Our family is from the Congo and primarily speaks Swahili.

But, I think we will probably get as much out of getting to know them as they will from us.

If you are here in Tucson, be sure to check out the Tucson Refugee Ministry to find out a little more and see how you might be involved. Or you can join up with us.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

For Greater Glory


For Greater Glory

Yesterday, Diane and I took some time out to watch this movie, featuring Andy Garcia, Peter O'Toole and Eva Longoria, among others.

Ok, we found the movie a little long and somehow off pace. But, I am not much of a film critic, so I mostly sat back and was entertained.

Even though the movie might have been a little off a pace, the story itself is fascinating.

It is based on the true story of the Cristero War in Mexico.

After the revolution in Mexico, the The 1917 Constitution "outlawed teaching by the Church, gave control over Church matters to the state, put all Church property at the disposal of the state, outlawed religious orders, outlawed foreign born priests, gave states the power to limit or eliminate priests in their territory, deprived priests of the right to vote or hold office, prohibited Catholic organizations which advocated public policy, prohibited religious publications from commenting on public policy, prohibited clergy from religious celebrations and from wearing clerical garb outside of a church and deprived citizens of the right to a trial for violations of these provisions."

However, these were not strictly enforced until the Calles Presidency. Calles was opposed to the Church and believed it was in the way of social progress. Marxist voices in Mexico were also opposed to the Catholic Church and the belief that they held back the country and should not be allowed a voice of influence.

As a result of the enforcing of these laws, Catholics began to protest, which led to violent reprisals by the government, which led to armed uprisings by Catholics.

The movie chronicles these uprisings and the hiring of General Enrique Gorostieta Velarde (Andy Garcia's character) to lead the war, as well as the activity of Jose Sanchez Del Rio, who was later beatified (made a saint) by the Catholic Church.

The War ended when the Church made a deal with the Mexican Government, brokered by our government, which is also shown in the movie. Some sources say that around 90,000 people died in the war, with a further 5,000 executed in violation of the agreement afterwards by the Mexican Government.

This is a historic event that I was entirely unaware of until I saw this movie. I know that their are still many countries where the faithful are still killed and silenced for their faith, but it is disturbing that such outright persecution took place so close to us so recently.

Controversy Abounds!

Just for your fun, here are a few more I have been taking in over the last several weeks:


33 Questions About American History You are Not Supposed to Ask

Rwanda, Inc. : how a devastated nation became an economic model for the developing world 

The victims' revolution : the rise of identity studies and the closing of the liberal mind / Bruce Bawer.

The Liberator

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's almost time for the Holiday!

Hanukkah comes early this year. December 8th -16th.

Here is the Hanukkah Blessings song from Barenaked Ladies Holiday Album, "Barenaked for the Holidays"

Oh yeah, Christmas is coming too. Here is another of their tunes from the same album. It's my favorite album of the season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 While on vacation, I started to get a little irritated with, what I consider, high gas prices.

I know the politically correct thing is to get angry at the oil companies for making money off of me while I go the places I have to go and they make obscene profits while I do it. I will try.

I did look into it, and found that the oil companies generally make between 6 cents and 8 cents per gallon. Probably not the most lucrative business, gallon per gallon. But they are still making money off of me.

Then I discovered that government makes an average of 48 cents per gallon from the gas I purchase. A little more or less, depending on the Federal, State and local taxes on gas. I wonder if I should be angry with them too?

Of course, they do great things with my money. The feds are currently handing out grants for rail transport type projects. Without the gas tax money they get, they would not be able to show a regular income and they would not be able to borrow money from China so we could do these projects.

We have one of these projects in Tucson. They call it the modern streetcar (pictured below), all paid for with Federal funds, so those of us locally don't have to pay a dime. Yet.

It will go from the University, where there is nowhere to park, to the downtown area, where there is also nowhere to park. The primary purpose seems to be moving college students downtown, so they can go drink at the bars there instead of just at the closer 4th Avenue bars.

Oh, and the local price tag, even though the project is completely paid for by magical federal funds; about 4 to 6 million per year for operating costs that will not be covered by fares and whatnot.

So, I suppose I shouldn't complain about high gas prices. Instead, I should just be angry with the oil companies and look forward to the day when I can pay even more for trains that drive me to local bars, so I can anesthetize my anger.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lesson from the Long Run

I am really not sure what the takeaway is for this. You will have to come up with your own. All I know is what happened.

I was running a little further than I usually (ever) do, which was an 8 miler. At first I thought I would do my usual 3 mile loop twice and then add a two mile loop. Or maybe I would do 3, then 2, then 3.

Then I realized that I would be back a bit later than I wanted and thought I might give up after the first 5 miles. Knowing myself, I figured I would give up at 5 or 6 if I did the loops, so I decided just to run 4 out and then have to run 4 more miles to get back home.

Sure enough, at about 5 miles in, my fun meter was pegged and I was ore than ready to move on to another project. But, I had to get home. So, I kept going.

As I said, I am not sure of the lesson I learned, but sometimes I have to psych myself out to go as far as I wanna go.

Speaking of Long Run, here is a cool and inspirational running book about New York City Firefighter Matt Long that was cripplingly injured when a bus ran him over while he was riding his bike and how he rebuilt his body and his life:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Each day when I wake up, before I put on my...

Part 1.
Last week, in my capacity as a chaplain for our department, I was asked to give the invocation at the local City Council meeting.I guess they consider me a person of prayer, so I am somehow qualified to say them for public functions.

It made me think about what it meant to be a person of prayer. Is a life of prayer largely ceremonial, meant to be a performance for public and familial events? Or is it an act of desperation when things go wrong, as in "O God, don't let that truck hit me!" Or when they could go wrong, as in "O God, help me pass this dumb test, or I will never get a decent job anywhere ever!"

Or maybe it is meant to be a chance to communicate with God himself. For those that don't believe in him, this certainly seems delusional. But, what a difference it could make in our lives if we actually could communicate with the God of the universe.

Part 2.
When I was in school, one of our classes(on prayer) assigned us to spend an hour in prayer every day during the week. One day, prior to heading out to my hour long interlude, I got in a good argument with the wife. And by good, I mean that she wasn't listening to me, so I had to elevate my tone of voice and repeat the same things over and over.

Finally, in a fit of exasperation, she finally just yelled at me, "You better go pray!"

It seemed obvious that my prayer world at that moment wasn't having too much of an effect on my likability. Or maybe she thought that if anyone could get through my thick skull, it would be the almighty himself.

So, what does being a person of prayer mean?

I have met people that pray (I know they do because I have heard them) that are as mean as a stepped on snake.

Still, I like to think that being a person of prayer can a will make a difference in our lives, our outlook and our attitude. And maybe even in the way we relate to other people.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day and thanks to all those who have served!

Here is a special tribute to those in our family that have served. they include:

Our Son Tom, pictured here. U.S. Army. Veteran of some FOBs and outposts in Afghanistan.
My Brother Michael, USAF
Uncle Bob, U.S. Navy Pilot. WWII
Uncle Cliff. U.S. Navy, World War II. He worked in an Engine room that, just after he rotated out, was destroyed by a kamikaze pilot, killing all hands.
Uncle Wes, U.S. Navy, WWII
Uncle Ken, U.S.M.C.
My other Uncle Bob, U.S. Army
Nephews Troy and Trevor, U.S.M.C.
Nephew Kent, U.S. Army

Thank you for your service on behalf of our country!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


The latest three I have been reading deal with some commonly held beliefs about a few different topics. From the motivations of the massacre at Columbine, to the events of the inquisition and the idea of the "dark ages", to what it takes to bridge the gap between your dream job and your day job, these books all smack some of the myths, misconceptions and ideas we have formed, for whatever reason, right in the chops.

The Triumph of Christianity

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Manliness, The art of

I like to send out note cards from time to time to keep in touch with friends, to tell people thanks in a personal way for the good deeds they have done on my behalf. But, I have discovered that many of the note cards available are not at all very manly.

In my search for more manly cards, I came across the site The Art of Manliness.

I did find that, through this site, I could buy some very manly cards. But more than that, I found that it is a wealth of manly information. For instance, in the Manly Skills section, you can learn how to remove a fishhook from your finger, how to fold a flag, how to read a topographical map, among many other things.

Other sections include advice on Dress and Grooming, Health and Sports, Money and Career. And the list continues.

So, for a fun and useful diversion, head on over to The Art of Manliness, and maybe you will become a better man for it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

An imprecise science or two

I can't say that I agree with all of the author's conclusion, but I did find one quite compelling. In the book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools, Steve Brill argues that many of the things we believe will fix schools really don't always help as he looks at the education reform measures of the last few years. One of his ideas is that the amount of resources the school has does not correlate with the results.

I thought of this as I looked over my property tax bill today.

I know most of you don't look at yours, or maybe you rent, so you pay it indirectly and never see the bill. So, I will let you in on a little bit of mine.
Of the nearly $2,200 we have to pay this year, about $920.00 goes to the City School District. That is pushing close to one half of all the property taxes.
For comparison purposes, another 1/4 of the County property taxes go to the county and the rest is divided between the City, Pima College, the Library, School Equal (whatever that is) and other areas like that.
Oh, and $7.14 goes to the Fire District.

Currently in our state, we are being asked to vote for another one percent of all our sales taxes to go to "education" (Proposition 204), which seems to have become a code word for "you had better vote for this or you must hate children and want our society to descend into absolute chaos".

Last year, it also meant that you wanted to burn down the schools because the firemen would all be fired if you didn't vote to spend more of your money on one tax or the other. I see that the firemen were able to get $7.00 out of that deal.

While it would be nice if schools everywhere could have all the money in the world, I really don't think throwing more of our money at them whenever they want is really going to make them better.

Am I wrong?

In the meantime, for those of you that are a little shaky on your macroeconomics, or if you went to a public university and were overexposed to Keynesian economics without learning the countering viewpoint, you can check out the video below. It is a music video that compares Keynes and Hayek's economic views, the economists that have the most influence on how we deal with our economy today. You get the basics in just a few fun filled minutes. You are welcome.

Fight of the Century: Keynes and Hayek Round Two

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And Again

No, it is not just to trumpet that I know how to read. The point of this post, and similar ones, is to encourage you to grab a book and to give you a few ideas. With that in mind, here are a few I have been taking in:


Into the Fire
Killing Lincoln
The Good Son
The Barefoot Bandit

Friday, October 12, 2012

The 900

When I was younger, much younger, I was into the whole skating thing. That would be skakeboarding, for those that were wondering, not ice, roller or getting by at work without doing much of anything.

I had a Powell-Peralta Caballero street deck with Independent Trucks, Bones wheels and swiss bearings. We used to skate around town, on a big ol' ramp someone made in their back yard, at the huge drainage pipe at the lake and pretty much anywhere we could find concrete. I was sad to discover when I moved back to Tucson that the pool we had rode in here in an abandoned hotel downtown was now filled in.

The picture up top here is the Mini-logo deck I have now, with Indy trucks, bones wheels and mini logo bearings.

A huge moment in skateboarding came when Tony Hawk landed a 900. This is a 900 degree spin on a ramp that he had been working on for about 5 years and landed at the X Games in 1999. Several other dudes were working on this trick, but no-one had been able to land it yet. After he did it, others jumped in and were able to land it too.

In March of this year, 12 year old Tom Schaar was able to land the first 1080. That's 360 degrees times three spinning up in the air on a skateboard and landing it while still rolling.

Sometimes, we need someone else to show us that the impossible really can be possible. Then we can go on to meet the "impossible" standard and even exceed it.

Here is a pearl of wisdom from Tony Hawk about how he learned to land the 900 from a recent Catalyst conference:

Tony said he didn't learn to land it until he was able to shift his balance while he was spinning.
 I have found that I often need to change my balance in life, but I don't always get a time out to do it. Maybe I should learn to change that balance (focus, effort, etc.) while I am still spinning, moving and functioning.

Here is a picture of the deck I had. Not the exact one, but they are doing a reissue of it. Tempting.....

And here is a video of Tony hitting that historic 900.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Living like a hobo

I am happy to say that we have a nice home here. It has running water, electricity, air conditioning and heating, beds, soap, the whole nine yards.

After recently returning from an outing to New Mexico where I had to share a kind of rustic room with 7 other guys, I was ready to enjoy our home.

But, this weekend, I was scheduled to go camping with Ethan and his Cub Scout pack at the scout campground on Mt. Lemon. I wasn't too excited, but I knew Ethan was looking forward to it, so off we went.

It is not at all very clean at this camp and the bathroom facilities are outhouse style facilities that I am pretty sure never get cleaned, beyond getting pumped out from time to time.  We also had to cook over the open fire, which was actually pretty tasty. especially when compared to the heaps of rubbery spaghetti and macaroni and cheese that was served for our one group meal.

Our tiny tent seems to barely have room for the two of us to stretch out in as we are trying to sleep. And since it is a lightweight summer duty tent designed for backpacking in warm climes, it doesn't have much insulation.

October on the mountain is not too warm, so I began working on adding a little extra insulation to the thing. I put a couple of extra towels we had over the open air netting. Then a put a rain poncho over that, before covering it with the rain fly that came along with the tent.

As I was doing this, I was thinking how I was living just like a hobo.

It was right about then that Ethan said, "This is so much fun!"

I suppose camping can be worthwhile.

Monday, October 8, 2012


If you know anything about the history of ancient Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament or the writings of a 1st century historian named Josephus, you know that a good deal of it goes kind of like this:

Israel decides to stop doing what God says, start living like everyone around them and worship weird gods - things go south for Israel -someone pops up to lead Israel back to the straight and narrow (usually a Judge or a King or a Prophet) - Israel prospers

Until.......Israel decides to stop doing what God says - rinse - repeat.

Usually the characters that stepped up to the plate are venerated for what they have done. Josiah, Judas Maccabees and Deborah are names that are not forgotten among the faithful to this day.

But I recently came across a passage in the book of 2nd Kings. Israel was going through the same sort of thing, led by an evil king and repeatedly beaten in battle by another nation.

Then it says simply, "So the LORD provided SOMEONE to rescue the Israelites..."

No name. No title. No record of the things they did.

Just someone.

I think that sometimes we are asked to be, simply, someone. To do the right thing, to influence others, maybe even to make a world changing, people rescuing impact without anyone ever knowing who that someone was.

And sometimes it can be hard not getting the credit, the title, the recognition.

Sometimes it is hard to just be someone.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lessons Learned

Their are some who say that one of the basic life skills we need to succeed is the ability to sell. Whether it is a convincing others to listen to our ideas or trying to earn a living, convincing and persuading others (of course in a non manipulative and honest way) is important in much of what we do.

With this in mind, Ethan, our youngest, is working on a campaign to sell popcorn for his scout troop. I think he has learned some valuable things in this endeavor.

 Among the lessons learned:

- Setting goals and not giving up until you reach them.
He is looking for $1,000 in sales and plans on pushing until he reaches the goal or runs out of time.

- Rewards for hard work and the power of incentives
One of the reasons he set this goal, which is much higher than the goal he set last year, was because of the rewards and incentives he gets for reaching this level.

- Basic communication skills
He has found that you have to talk to and relate with people in order to get them interested in your product (idea, adventure, etc.)

- Dealing with setbacks
We recently learned that some of the donations collected (not the ones that were sent to him personally, but the ones that were collected at the store sales events) were not counted towards his total sales. This set him back a little over $100 in his campaign. Consequently, he has learned that you can give up on our goal, or you can try and overcome the setback and still go for the win.

Even if he does fall a little short of his goal this year, I think he has still gained some value from the effort.

 But, if you do want to help him with these valuable lessons, you can still order online at this link:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Opening Lines

"To many of the friends I had back then, I am already a ghost. Just a specter that passes through their thoughts when they happen to remember the things we saw together. Someone they figure they will never see again, except for at some river up yonder in the great day of gathering, or something like that.

But I am still very much alive, and I still have a few things to do, so they might just see me again. Soon."

There. There are the opening lines to a new western novella. Now I just need some unpardonable past wrong, some lever action rifles, a few Indians (hostile and friendly), a beloved horse that will probably have to die, a couple of scruffy villains and a sidekick. 

Oh, I better throw in some dynamite. Or maybe nitroglycerin. That sounds even better. Then the story will be good to go.

Please leave your opinion on whether or not it will need a Gatling gun and/or the cavalry.

Who wants to reserve their advance copy now?

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I have heard it said that people who use humor are using it to mask pain in their lives. And, it is said, the funnier they are,  the more pain they are masking. Perhaps this is true in some cases, but here are some other reasons people use humor:

- To build rapport
Nothing seems to make you a friend quicker than finding something to laugh about together.

- To Deflect
Sometimes, when people pry, humor is used to deflect the one that is prying away from the answer they are looking for.

- To Get People's Attention
Whether you are talking at the local Rotary, or just want to be heard by a few buddies at the bar, making them laugh is a good way to get them listening.

I am sure other reasons are out there too, but I can't really think of them. And generally, when I am using humor, it is mainly to keep myself amused. And they do say I am a pretty funny guy, but I suppose looks aren't everything.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Zero Gravity

...and in other news, a French tourist fell 200 feet at the Grand Canyon the other day. He was, of course, off the trail when he fell.

I am convinced that people believe that the laws of gravity do not apply when they are on vacation.

Some time ago, we read the book Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon, which tells about the 683 recorded deaths at the canyon at the time of the printing. Some of the included deaths are a man pretending to fall and then actually falling to his death. People stepping back just a little further for that perfect picture and people stepping out (and over) in the middle of the night to relieve themselves.

All examples of people who forgot that gravity is a pretty hard and fast rule. More of a law than it is just guidelines.

So, next time you take a group of stupid teens to the cliffs or drive up to the falls with that wild and crazy uncle, be sure to remind them that gravity is still in effect, even for them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Different Filter

I recently realized that I am starting to see things through a different lens.

 For instance, this evening I went to see the new Spiderman movie, The Amazing SpiderMan, , and one particular scene stuck out to me.

In the scene, Spiderman had just apprehended a car thief when a motorcycle cop shows up and holds the vigilante in tights at gunpoint.

The wall-crawler is a little frustrated, saying "C'mon, I just did, like, 80% of your job for you!"

My immediate thought was that Spiderman did the best part of the job, apprehending a criminal in the act of criming. The rest of the job the cops have to deal with include writing multiple reports detailing every bit of the incident, briefing pretty much everyone above them in the chain of command on what happened, giving attorney interviews, testifying in court.

No Mr. Spiderman, you only did 20% of their job. And, it was the part they actually signed up to do, protecting people and their property from those that would do wrong. No wonder cops don't like vigilantes.

What also stuck out to me was how quickly I recognized Ponyboy in this movie.

Stay Gold Ponyboy. Stay gold.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Does anyone really try this?

A long, long time ago, after finishing up Basic Training and an even longer technical (job specific) school, the Air Force saw fit to send our group off to Ft. Dix New Jersey for some Ground Combat Skills training.

This training included all your standard infantry stuff: learning the difference between high crawling and low crawling, shooting at targets that looked like Russian troopers (Yes, it was that long ago. Ok, not quite that long ago, but those were the targets they had, left over from cold war preparations), setting up claymores, digging defensive fighting positions, etc., etc.

Part of the training included urban warfare stuff, and one particular day, we had a scenario involving taking over several buildings in a "town".

The idea was to take over the buildings and eliminate the dudes in them that were firing down on us, and they gave us a specific set of tactics to use for this scenario.

The cover element had a few M-60 machine guns, and they were supposed to blast away at the houses while the assault element hooked around and came up close. As the assault element, my team then got out our grappling hooks, yes, we were equipped with grappling hooks, threw them up to the second floor window and shimmied most of the way up. When we were most of the way up, we uncorked a grenade, threw it in the window and, after the thing went off, heaved ourselves into the room and lit up whomever was still moving inside.

Of course we didn't use real grenades for this portion of the training. We did get to throw some live fragmentation grenades earlier. When we did this, we walked into a pit holding two heavy grenades and an incredibly frightened looking Army man with the widest looking eyes I have ever seen was saying things like, "Don't be scared, Airman!" and "Throw it as far as you possibly can!" Um, ok. But, the grenades for the assault scenario just kind of popped when they went off. Enough to burn your leg, as I later discovered, but not enough to blow them off or cause any real damage.

As fun as it was to throw grappling hooks and scale up the side of the building, I am not sure how practical it was for an attack like this. I am not really that interested in clambering up the side of a building on a rope while completely exposed to the bad guys shooting down at you and your own guys trying not to hit you from a couple hundred yards away while they let loose with their machine guns. Then, while dangling from the side of the building, under the same fire, to secure my rifle somewhere and manipulate the grenade into the room with the bad guys. And then, hope that the machine gunners, who have displayed incredible accuracy if they have not yet taken me out, stop firing so I can go inside and do my thing.

We did get plenty of additional training on ground combat, urban assaults, clearing rooms and the like while I was in the military, but our time with the Army was the only time any thought they should hand out grappling hooks. I wonder if anyone, since the Rangers assault on Pointe. Du Hoc on D-Day, have really done anything like this?

But, just because I like you, I have decided to regale you with a couple more stories of the fun we had training with the Army. Check back soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In Session

In my efforts to maintain the illusion that I am a gentleman and a scholar, here are the books I have been reading this month:

   A Warriors Heart: 
If you have caught the movie "The Fighter", with Marky Mark and Christian Bale, you will be familiar with Micky Ward and his boxing career. This is a gritty (meaning it has bad words in it), look at his life and career.

The Finishing School

Dick Couch wrote the book The Warrior Elite to document a Seal Class going through BUDS. This work documents the extensive training that follows BUDS before a SEAL can join the teams.


A detailed telling of the intelligence and operational efforts to locate and eliminate Bin Laden, beginning during the Clinton administration.

The follow up to Marcus Lutrell's book Lone Survivor. In this, he goes in to more depth about the the men who worked to rescue him (a number of whom died in the attempt) after his ordeal in Lone Survivor. He also details his return to combat and pays tribute to those who fought with him.

The Blood of Heroes
I have read pretty much everything I have been able to get my hands on about the Alamo, so it is no surprise that this book doesn't have too much that I haven't seen about the infamous battle itself. But, what it does have that is new is a good deal of interesting details about the people involved and events that led up to the battle, and the aftermath and it's effect on history.

And this one is next on the shelf. I'll have to let you know:


Saturday, August 18, 2012


It has been quiet on this page. But, I have an excuse. We just returned from a trip to San Diego and prior to that, we have been busy. Or rather, my wife Diane has been busy. I had a class for a couple of weeks, then I was sick.

But, here is some of what she did for the girls room:

-Moved everything out, with the girls help (I I think this may have been all they helped with).

- Added grounding wires to the electrical outlets, which included chopping holes in the walls to string the wiring.

- Re-finishing the walls.

- Caulking and filling in all the cracks, holes, openings, etc. in the walls. It is an old house and that room seemed to have plenty of them.

-Putting in flooring.


- Adding some decorative slat thingys to the ceiling.

-Putting in baseboard

- She is currently working on building some loft beds so the girls can sleep elevated and have desks underneath. They will also have more room to pile up useless junk.

So, we have been neglecting other areas of the house. Brush and bulky day is coming, so I need to go chop away at the jungle that the rains have given us. Maybe I should go do that.....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

As 1

I came across some info about the new "As 1" non-profit organization. Their idea is to renew the Church's interest as patrons of the arts.

 More specifically, here is what they say about that:

"For centuries, Christians were vibrant Patrons of the Arts.  The Church wanted the best artists of the day to tell their stories.  In return, these artists were rewarded with generous commissions. This partnership created some of the greatest art in human history – painting, sculpture, music and architecture – that elevated culture, inspired generations and defined Christianity in a positive light.
But along the way, we walked away from our hard-earned place as a Patron of the Arts. We abandoned our involvement in the creative process. Artists somehow became an enemy, and in turn, they began to portray our faith in a negative light. As a natural result, culture moved on without us.
As1 seeks to restore the church to its historically traditional role as a Patron of the Arts" 
 In any case, it is intriguing, if you are of the faith. If not, I am sure it will make you angry. 

Here is a little video if you wanna see more:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Common Sickness

Just last week, I heard of someone getting sick and I thought about what a fine specimen of health I must be, because I so rarely get ill.

It has been said that, "Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall." This seems to apply, since I started feeling the effects of some virus or the other on Saturday.

I figured I could burn it off, and went for a nice run in the afternoon. I definitely got warm enough, but I am not sure it helped. Neither did working an extra shift on Saturday night.

By Sunday afternoon, I was kind of a mess.

Since getting ill seems to be a common occurrence in most all of humanity, and since I have been mostly laying around wasting time, I will share some of the symptoms that I have had from this recent bout. They also seem to be symptoms that are common for me when I am sick. They may or may not be reflective of your own personal sick symptoms.

- I tend to get a bit delirious when I get a fever.
This time, having recently finished a book about Joe Gans, Boxing's first African American champion, I apparently had it on my mind. At the end of the book, it details how he dies from a prolonged fight with tuberculosis. While I was pretty sure I didn't have tuberculosis, I seriously entertained that Joe Gans had something to do with my being sick, and told my wife as much.

- I ridiculously lose weight.
While I am trying to maintain a healthy body and not be as overweight as I can tend to be, losing 5 pounds in 2 days is a little ridiculous. Especially when I am eating regularly and hydrating like crazy.

-I waste plenty of time.
Ergo, this blog and the time I spent watching 3 Bruce Willis movies. 
Ok, they were 12 Monkeys, The 5th Element and Tears of the Sun. The only good ones Netflix had streaming. They also have Die Hard 2, which is probably the worst of the Die Hard movies. Maybe I will be able to squeeze that one in sometime too.

- I don't exercise.
Some recommend you still exercise when you are sick. I already feel like dying, so it may not be a good idea. But, it makes me very sad. Not that I am super fit or anything, I just like to move around a little bit.
I plan on being much better tomorrow, so maybe I can do something.....
Of course, I also planned on being much better today.

I hope you don't get sick too. It does seem to be going around a bit.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I have previously shared how the first time we had scud missiles fired in our general direction during the time I visited the lovely theocracy of Saudi Arabia, we overreacted somewhat. But in case you missed it, and as a part of the point I wanted to make, I will reacquaint you with the story.

We kept the straps on our gas masks adjusted to fit our heads, so it would be easy to throw on. The only ones that were kept loose were the straps that adjusted around the chin. The drill was to put the mask over our face, quickly pull the straps over the head and pull the chin straps tight. Hopefully this would be done quick enough to keep out nerve gas or whatever chemical agents might waft out of the missiles that were lobbed out way.

The first time we had an alert, after the camp loudspeakers let off some siren like sound and someone shouted "Alarm Red, Alarm Red" through them, we quickly slapped our masks on and pulled the chin straps as tight as they would possibly go, jamming the back of our jaw in line with our spinal column.

After about 30 seconds, it start to feel a little sore. No-one wanted to loosen them, in case they might immediately turn six shades of grey and sputter their way to the great beyond.

After about a minute, it really hurt. Someone finally adjusted. Then everyone did, in spite of the popping of the patriots launching into the sky and exploding into the incoming scuds. We were able to dodge the shrapnel, which was probably nowhere near us that time, and evade the gas, which may or may not have been in the things, but also nowhere near us.

Contrast this with the last time we had a scud alert at this camp. We were, at the time, outdoors playing sand volleyball, using a net that we hand wove with parachute cord. When the alert sounded, we looked around and figured out that the missiles were not going to land on us, and so we resumed our game.

This was the time that an already damaged scud hit the nearby barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, an Army Reserve Unit that had been in country for less than a week, killing 28 soldiers on our base.

 During the first attack, everyone was sure something horrible was probably going to happen. During the last attack, we had grown so accustomed to the alerts that we perceived little to no danger to us at all. 
Apparently, our perception is not always accurate. This might even apply to places other than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Emily and I went to watch The Dark Knight Rises on Friday at the local theater. Without dwelling on the tragedy in Aurora and without (hopefully) throwing any spoiler's your way, here are a couple of observations:

First of all, I appreciated the treatment of police officers in this movie.

Too many times in the movies, the cops are treated in one of two ways. Either they are dumb props for car chases, shootouts, etc, or they are shown to be corrupt, overly brutal or in some other way "dirty".

In this movie, it is not only Batman shown rising from difficult circumstances, the cops are too. they are shown charging, heavily outgunned, into the face of occupiers, even when they are likely to be gunned down. I think it does a great job of exemplifying the attitude that is drilled into police officers, that they are still in the fight, unless they are dead, and they are not allowed to die.

I don't think this is a spoiler, but they even show how a cop, reluctant to face the enemy because he wants to be there for his family, overcomes his fears and does his job. Most cops know that on any given day, they could be faced with life threatening situations, and they still do their job. I know it sounds a bit self serving on my part, but I am privileged to affiliate with men and women of this caliber every day.

And, I noticed police officers stationed outside the theater. As much as I hear complaints about cops, everyone there seemed glad to have them nearby.

Breakfast in the Park

Breakfast in the Park
My Wednesday workout.

Since Wednesdays can be a little bit de-motivating, and since I have an extra long week that was starting to de-motivate me, I thought I would share today's workout with you. You can try it at home.

Warm Up
Tabata runs
Tabata Sit-ups
50 Hindu Squats
50 Over the top pushups (10 on the ground, 10 with feet elevated 18", 10 with feet elevated 36", 10 with feet elevated 18", 10 on the ground)
Tabata runs
1 mile run to cause myself extra pain. I think that is what is was for, cause that is what it did.

Don't worry, I took breaks. I am not in truly awesome physical condition. And I wish I had started before 0930.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer of Misery

My lovely lady has declared this to be the "Summer of Misery". No, we are not spending every weekend watching the movie or reading the Stephen King novel. And, in light of the challenges she is referring to, it might be more aptly named the summer of inconvenience, or the summer of a mindless mess in our living space.

What are these challenges? Well, they are primarily self-inflicted, done with a purpose and mostly faced by her, not I. She decided it was time to re-do the girls' room.

So, she grounded all the outlets, filled in all the holes she made in the wall to do this, spent hours caulking and putting up backer rod to fill in large gaps in between stuff (which could have been the reason for this a few years ago; it is an old house, after all), put down some primer, painted and is now working on painting the trim and other stuff. Next up is the faux flooring.

Since the girls have been displaced and we have been operating without a living room and a crowded dining area, she decided we may as well move on to our room next. That way, we can keep the living room and dining area full of stuff. And, we will have the added benefit of not having our room. Hence the name, "Summer of Misery".

So, for you locals that have not been invited to our house lately, this is why. You can still invite us to yours. We would certainly appreciate it. We might even need it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Remarkable Day

There always seems to be something going on on July 11th, the 192nd day of the year.

July 11th is the day I joined the Air force. It also marks the anniversary of the day I got out of the air Force, 20 years ago this year.

Early in the morning, following July 11th, four years ago, my father passed away while we were visiting. So I guess one could say that July 11th is the last day I got to spend with my Father. He was quite pleased to have all three of us brothers and our families together for dinner that very night.

This year the day passed considerably quieter. Up early for class and, after a brief time celebrating my separation from the Air Force, I went to bed, cause I was tired and had to get up early again the next day.

Here is a brief tribute to my Dad from someone who knew him. Some of the other links about him have disappeared.:

The Passing of a Warrior: Mike Allerton

 And here is a brief bio of Chuck Norris, who was in the same career field as I in the military:
 More than Military
Actor, Martial Arts Champion



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Keeping it personal (and private)

I was listening to the old story of Daniel and the Lion's Den this morning. It is on the greatest hits list of most Sunday School teachers and, if you don't know it, it is about how Daniel, a follower of God in the Old Testament, was thrown into a den of hungry lions because of his faith.

Something struck me about this story, that I will, of course, share with you now.

In this story, a law was passed so no-one could pray to anything or anyone; God, king, idol, tree, whatever, except for King Darius for 30 days. This really shouldn't have been a problem for Daniel. All he had to do was not pray in public for thirty days. He could still keep his faith and no-one would be the wiser. In fact, everyone would probably still know that he prayed to God, but they wouldn't have to be disgusted by his praying in public.

In fact, Daniel did always pray in his own space. he went up to his bedroom to pray. All he had to do was pray quietly in his heart. a personal pray because his personal faith was between him and God alone. But, he wasn't quiet.

 Maybe if he closed the shades. Then people wouldn't have to see him, at least. But no, there he was, above the busy street, pouring his heart out to God where everyone could see him. And it landed him in a mess.

Fortunately, for us, we don't have that problem. When the pressure is on us to make our faith personal and private, we do so and no one has to know that we seek God every day to help us and guide us. Our faith is not for public consumption, because most people wouldn't understand and many would be offended. it is ours, it is personal and it is strong.

Unfortunately, it is not the same faith that Daniel, or may others in the bible had. Nor is it the kind of public faith that scripture tells us to have. But it is ours, and others appreciate that we keep it to ourselves, so it must be ok.

Here at home, we still have the legal right to exercise our faith, in full view of others, even though many would like to change this, but we still find many reasons to make sure that others don't see us practicing it, proclaiming it or living it in front of them.

Here is a link to a video of a couple of lions fighting.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Freedom Files, pt. 2

As Independence Day approaches, here are some good words from a speech by Samuel Adams:

Let us contemplate our forefathers and our posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter.

Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made (which is the wish of the enemy) the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perserverance.

Let us remember that if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.

It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.

Samuel Adams - 1771


And in case that was a little too much for you, here is a Samuel Adams' Guide to Beer.