|While the newsreels play out a perfect scenario of success, we sit back on our couches and pat each other on the backs for what “we” just did in Pakistan. We all have the images in our heads (myself included) that Navy SEALs are invincible; highly trained and disciplined young men and women that somehow through deification become invincible the second they pass BUD/S INDOC. Not to mention things like that if you fail the OC (obstacle course) twice you are out. Contrary to the “GI Jane” opinion, you don’t necessarily have to ring “the bell” yourself.|
|In truth it takes a SEAL 30 months of training before they are ready for deployment. The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task called on including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically but that doesn’t make them invincible.|
|These young warriors aren’t anything like our wonderful Hollywood caricatures. A model SEAL is 5’10” and 175 pounds, about the only similarity to the Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, and Keifer Southerland avatars we watch boldly walking down mud streets or wading in rice patties, guns blazing, as the venerable enemy drops silently in droves at either side. Obviously these made up lipstick wearing Adonis’s wouldn’t last 5 seconds in an actual fire-fight, but that’s not the point.|
|As we sip our white wine with our fat asses on that couch, congratulating ourselves for a job well done (and for those of you who have been and done, this obviously does not apply to you) let us take pause to reflect upon just how “easy” it was to kill bin Laden. We get a picture of the Spec-Ops guys gearing up for the pre-op briefing, huddled around Dennis Haysbert and the rest of The Unit, casually leaving their all very attractive wives for another mysterious little “outing.” Every now and then one of them might be injured, but there is very seldom any wholesale gore, and it is very easy for them to “leave no man behind.” We also have a tendency to look at the statistics of that particular (bin Laden) mission and have it validate our Jack Bauer image of what Spec-Ops duty is like: build a practice scenario, shoot at some dummies, get briefed, get on a plane, get on a Blackhawk, insertion, recon, flash-bang, fire a few quick shots, egress, extraction, and appearance with the President.|
|I t would be fine if life were so simple.|
|We can all mouth the words “war is hell.” Very few of us can appreciate how true that is. Sure we’ve all seen Ben Hur , Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan but the familiarity of the stars, the surreal nature of the sets and the dislocation of the context makes it beyond our sensibilities to comprehend or relate to. It becomes as abstract as a computer game where the figures just disappear when you kill them or the car always returns to the track no matter how many times you crash. A more true representation of “war” can be found in BBC History of World War II if you have the time, and the stomach to sit through it. It would change your life.*|
|We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to regret. Joseph Schumpeter (economist) was correct in his publication of 1942 (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy) in asserting that the success of capitalism will lead to a form of corporatism and a fostering of values hostile to capitalism, especially among intellectuals. The intellectual and social climate needed to allow entrepreneurship to thrive will not exist in advanced capitalism; it will be replaced by socialism in some form. (Does this sound like anything we have been hearing lately in political debate?)|
|The end result of this is that we Americans have spent beyond our means, that stockholder equity has dictated that we ship our jobs offshore, that our past industrial success has left us with an abnormal dependency on foreign oil, and that the greed, arrogance and ignorance of our people has left our country gasping and vulnerable. Can we get it back? Hell yes, but not without hard work and sacrifice. Corporate bail-outs and pork-barrel legislation should be punishable by death.|
|So we got ourselves in a bit of a jam. There are people out there that hate us: Shiites, Sunnis, Cripps, Bloods, you name it. In some part we have to be aware of the disparity that our opulence has caused, and the result of our largely Christian Evangelistic society and the push-back it can instigate. We have been fortunate and not always particularly diplomatic about it. We have all experienced the “Ugly American” at some point in our foreign travels, and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel extensively and hear what some extremely intelligent people actually think about us and our politics. Since that experience it has been a comfort to watch BBC News more often than FOX, if you know what I mean.|
|The “war” on terrorism didn’t start on September 11, 2001. It did not end on May 2, 2011. How ironic it would have been if they could have negotiated the operation one day earlier. “Bin Laden comes to infamy on 9/11 and is executed on May Day,”|
|* If you want just one example of what kind of hell a SEAL operation can actually endure I encourage you to read the story at the following link. It is not my liberty or bandwidth to articulate how many stories there are like this, or how many young heroes have given their lives in the service of their country, and the pursuit of this threat. Suffice it to say that the administrations statement of “no casualties” on this operation makes me sick. This was part of a huge global operation that eventually culminated in a victory. No victory for American service men and women comes cheap, nor should their sacrifices be overlooked. Hooyah!|
|Please note that they had it right, even then. This Op was in Asadabad, where we finally caught him. They opened the door. They did NOT die in vain.|
|This Op stared out with a crew of 4 SEALs. Take a look at how “Jack Bauer” this turned out:|
|11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Task Force 160 aircrew died in the battle.|
|Marcus Luttrell, Matt Axelson, and Danny Dietz each received the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration for valor in the military.|
|For his actions, Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.|
|The men who gave their lives on the helicopter are:|
|Staff Sgt. Shamus Goare, 29, Danville, Ohio.|
|Chief Warrant Officer Corey Goodnature, 35, Clarks Grove, Minn.|
|Sgt. Kip Jacoby, 21, Pompano Beach, Fla.|
|Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles, 33, Shelbyville, Ind.|
|Major Stephen Reich, 34, Washington Depot, Conn.|
|Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell, 31, Stafford, Va.|
|Chief Warrant Officer Chris Scherkenbach, 40, Jacksonville, Fla..|
|Master Sgt, James Ponder III, 36, Franklin, Tenn.|
|Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan, 36, New Orleans, La.|
|Lt. Cmdr. Erik Ristensen, 33, San Diego, Calif.|
|Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Lucas, 33, Corbett, Ore.|
|Lt. Michael McGreevy, Jr., 30, Portville, N.Y..|
|Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery Taylor, 30, Midway, W. Va.|
|Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Healy, 36, Exeter, N.H.|
|Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, Deerfield Beach, Fla.|
|Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Patton, 22, Boulder City, Nev.|
Category Archives: Camping
Joni Mitchell was right; you don’t know what you have till it’s gone. The past couple of weeks it has rained pretty much nonstop. I feel like we’re back in my wife’s hometown of Hazel Dell, a suburb of Portland. Never knew how people could live there, too freeking rainy. The big difference between here (San Francisco area) and there is that we get breaks between showers. They can go for literally weeks without seeing the sun.
Today we had a break for a couple of hours and I took a walk. There were kids out playing on their skateboards, women washing dogs, others taking walks or riding bikes. It was like the old Chicago song: Saturday, in the park… It felt just like the 4th of July. All that was missing were the Mexican vendors with their push-carts full of ice cream. It was T-shirt weather for that hour, even though the temperature read 49’. In the sun it felt like we were back in Cabo San Lucas. Funny, when we were down there I didn’t even go for a walk last time. It seems as though we appreciate things when they are scarce, as the sun was today.
There is much to the texture thing. Humans often don’t appreciate things without it. Three years ago who would have thought that we would be ecstatic that the market was back up over 12,000? When the Silicon Valley was in its “heyday”, a thousand dollar lunch bill just went into the Advertising and Entertainment budget. Now Mary and I get excited by a free vendor dinner at the Fairmont. There used to be secretaries and admins to do things like typing and filing. The internet was a tool and emails were a means of communication, not a burdensome task to filter through in the morning.
Belt tightening can be a good thing. People learn to do their own typing, publishing, and organizing. It is a better head space for most of us to be responsible for all of our own actions instead of blustering through the day only to dump the follow-up on someone else’s desk.
Cigarettes used to be 50 cents, gas 29 cents a gallon and what did we do as a country? More people died from tobacco than anything else, and the average car was a V-8 that got 8 miles to the gallon. There was no concern for health, carbon footprint, global warming, or anything other than how much steak and potatoes we could fit into our bloated bodies. Our businesses were every bit as bad.
The new era has brought about many changes: My car is a Prius that gets 50 miles to the gallon, my office is a converted bedroom in my house, that (the house) is a tremendously downsized version of the one where my kids were raised (but it’s paid for), my business is on the internet helping other folks sell what they do, and my sirloin habit has been cut down from three days a week to once a month.
I actually appreciate it all now. The walk in the sun, the occasional steak, that I can now type 50 words a minute, all came from necessity. The contrast in life is what makes us appreciate what we have.
I have always been a California boy. I was born here, went to school here, worked here, and will most likely die here unless I am traveling at the time.
For some reason the women I have attracted have never been from California. My first two wives were from Michigan and my current (and last) was raised in Oregon/Washington. My sensibilities tend to gravitate towards football games, hot buttered rum drinks, and over-eating when the rains come. This is obviously not too healthy, but the “rainy days” are few and far enough between that the lifestyle never gets too sedentary. Of course ski trips and other “outward bound” trips break up the winter. My skiing career started when I was 5, walking up the hills and skiing down. The thing I never really embraced was the all day, grey day in March when there is no Football, Baseball is just in training, and BasetBall and Hockey are not my favorites.
The mother of my children, although we split up 7 years ago she is still a dear friend, was one of the Michi’ganders. She was born in Kalamazoo, which is a name I have always loved just for the sound of it. “Tippy-canoe-and-Kalamazoo-Too.”
We had kidz. We had great kidz; they were into everything. They attended Adalante Spanish immersion school, the both got their kiddy black belts in Okinawa Karate, they played some music, held interests in teaching and journalism, partied like their parents, loved and helped people like their pastors, and were generally just great kidz.
This happens to be a very rainy day. It somehow reminded me of some of the most wonderful things that my Michigan wife and I did with our Kidz.
There was an area down from where we lived in the hills, down by Middlefield “Little Mexico” where the fields were not as well grated, and there were big depressions in the turf, where huge lakes (at least 8”deep) would accumulate during a good rainfall. Kip (Mom) would dress the girls all up in their finest Muck-luk attire (boots, hoods, slickers, goggles, astro-hand-warmers, etc…) and we would head for the puddles. It didn’t matter if it was raining 1” an hour at the time. It also didn’t really matter how cold it was outside, but being California, it was usually still mid ‘60’s when we were out.
The real game plan was to totally drench everybody around you. It didn’t matter that it was cold and wet, the action of the competition and play was such that nobody was ever cold. There would be the unsuspecting girl (or Black Lab) standing way too close to a 6” puddle, and it was irresistible to jump in with both feet and splash the heck our of everything.. As the exhaustion became an aphrodisiac and the endorphins mixed with the lack of sensitivity to the cold, we became a bit bolder. What were at first “foot- stomps” denigrated into full body slams into the cold rainwater. When the splashes were insufficient, there was indeed (hate to say it as a dad) dunking involved. There were side splashes, back splashes, back lashes and amazing crashes. There were times we brought our bikes, walked with spikes, floated tikes, it was all good.
The inevitable end to the day was to throw all the clothes (down to the undies) into a huge garbage bag, pile into the Astro Van (the best family vehicle we were ever exposed to until my wife decided we needed a leather lined Tahoe that got half the mileage and cost twice as much) and as hypothermia was beginning to take control, rolled back into the driveway of our Upland home.
Decontamination was efficient, concise, and incredibly poorly received. Upon return home after this afternoon of excess mud and clayurnal bliss, the clean-up process at home was not popular. There was the garden hose for the bulk of the mud, then the total strip search on the porch for the remainder of the mud. Tubs were simultaneously run, and by the time the girls had recovered from the shock of the hoses and subsequent stripping, and were ready for the hot tub. Not like we had a “HotTub” but the tub in their bathroom was by then, pretty inviting,
An hour later, dressed in their “onesies” or whatever attire was appropriate for their age, we were all snuggled in front of the fireplace. We were always resplendent with the memories of the day, the wonderful feeling of having an athletic “outdoor” day, enjoying the contrasts in temperature, the sheer excitement of the splashing and wallowing, and sharing the “Aprè” experience with our family.
Every time I see a puddle on the side of the road, I have to drive through it or stomp on it.
I love you, my girls! Kayla, Kelsey, and Kippy
You might, by now, have the impression that I will do virtually anything to get out of work. You might think that I fabricate excuses to avoid long walks, heavy lifting, any event precipitating a line, shopping, listening to really long explanations of mundane things, etc. (You get the idea.)
You might get the idea that I have little tolerance for fools (in my eyes of course) , controlling people (other than myself), religions of any kind, lack of patience in others, and that I go overboard expressing my love for my children and my wife.
You might think that I have little patience for the likes of Rush Limbow, Bill O’Reily, and Howard Stern. That I find their bombastic oratory inane and pedestrian. Might even think that I enjoyed seeing our Black Irish president O’Bama verbally castrate O’Reily on national TV.
You might think that I feel that everybody deserves to love who the freek ever they want to. I don’t necessarily need to hear about how, where, and how often, but I also don’t feel the need to share that part of MY personal life either.
You might feel that I have an opinion that the Internet is both the best and worst thing to ever happen to mankind.
You might think that I cried when I thought the reactor in Japan had melted down.
You have me ALL WRONG!
I don’t go overboard expressing my love for my children and my wife. They deserve every bit of it.