Friday, July 31, 2009

The problem of the active mind

God created sleep because he knew humans needed 8-10 hours a night.

Remeber, this was first created when there was no electricity. It got dark, and only candles and bonfires lit the night. So, folks hit the hay shortly after sundown and got up with daybreak.

If only we were so fortunate.

We have power at demand. Which feeds our televisions and our computers. Among other things that fool us into thinking that the day never ends.

When you have alot on your mind, unfortunately, in 2009 there are way too many options to keep it going. Like this friggin' blog.

I'm not sure when I last had a good night's sleep.

At the very least, it was two years ago before Pete left for Iraq.

I've had many friends ask me how you deal with a child in a war zone.

My answer was and is that you worry every second of every day.

I'm thankful that of the over 1 million members of the military that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan that ONLY about 5,000 of us have received the knock on the door. The death rate is dramtically lower than in any previous war.

But once you have been touched by that reality, your mind goes into different places.

Why?

Should I have talked him out of it?

Who killed him? And, why?

Can I get on a plane tomorrow and go kill those that killed him?

And is that a good idea?

Or am I supposed to let the military just figure it out?

Or, am I supposed to resign to the fact that it is war?

Or, should I rise up in righteous indignation at the stupidity of all of this and do something about it. What, I don't know.

I think that last point is what keeps me up.

If this was WWI or WWII, I would like to think that parents of lost soldiers could have some peace knowing that their sons and daughters died in a clear battle between good and evil. A war between the mission of the United States and the sons of Germany, Russia, Korea, Japan, Italy, etc. that fought the wars of misguided dictators.

I fear that I am part of those never-heard from parents of the Vietnam War. They lost sons and daughters and to this day don't understand why.

General Ray Odierno declared yesterday that it is time to get the hell out of Iraq.

He is a giant of a man physically and mentally.

Our army in Iraq has been required to pull back into the American bases. We are out of the cities and countryside where we protected the Iraqis from themselves and the assholes that want to control that country. Like, Iran, AQI, etc.

General Odierno is right.

If the will of our country is to have our military stationed in bases in a foreign country that is under siege, but we have agreed to no longer be engaged to protect them, get out.

We are wasting lives and money.

The work that has been done to build relationships with the many factions of Iraqi society have now been lost due to a politcal deadline agreed upon by the Bush administration.

If President Obama cared about the country of Iraq, he would listen to the Iraqi people and our folks on the ground. We had just finally started to make sense of the craziness and to weave a peace that might stand against outside agitants.

President Obama has missed an opportunity to be a world leader. Iraq is about to turn into a bloody swamp.

But, the polls would be against him if he changed course based on common sense and the intelligence of our military and the Iraqi people.

I have been to Iraq. I heard Iraquis say to me, "Please, tell your leaders not to pull out. It will be a bloodbath here."

I heard our best and brightest leaders and the infantry who know the locals say the same thing. "Don't pull us out now. It will turn into a bloodbath."

The United States sent our full military into Iraq. We took out Saddam Hussein, one of the nastiest humans ever to live.

The vacuum of his departure left the country open for retribution between factions that he had kept in fear of his regime. It has left open the border with Iran. And Syria. And many others to send in non-resident agitators and terrorists.

Iraq is beginning to feel the effects of the U.S. taking the cap off the pressure cooker. Saddam was a bad man. But he kept those that wanted Iraq at bay.

When the U.S. took Saddam out, we owed it to the Iraqi people to stay until there was a stable government and a secure environment.

Now, it appears inevitable, that the U.S. will pull out and leave it to the Iraquis to deal with it.

Guess what. They can't handle it.

So, in a few years, my guess is we will be back in Iraq to help them. Because an Iranian occupation of Iraq will not be good for anybody.

It will destabilize the region. It could lead to a toppling of the Sauds. It could lead to an attack on Israel.

President Obama, you don't personally have a dog in this fight. It is easy to understand why a pullout seems like the thing to do.

I know you hate them both, but ask VP Biden and Sarah Palin how it feels to have a child in Iraq. And ask their children, the ones in Iraq, what they would do. Joe and Sarah don't know crap. Ask the folks on the ground.

Before you make that final call, why don't you sit down with the men and women who have served in Iraq.

Why don't you sit down with the men and women who have been injured in Iraq.

Why don't you sit down with the families of those that have lost sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, fathers, cousins, and close friends in Iraq.

Talk to the local people in Iraq. Not al Maliki. He does not represent the reality of the people. He is the product of a disjointed election.

Ask the men and women of Iraq who have lost sons and daughters who fought against the foreign agitators and lost. I have brothers in kind in Iraq who have lost sons to bastards. Ask them. If you pull out without getting their input, what have their sons died for?

Don't make the decision on polls.

Make the decision on what is best for the United States.

A destabilized or foreign occupied Iraq is not in our best interest.

You now own Afghanistan. It is unfortunate, because President Bush should have. But he chose Iraq.

You have sent in more troops. More money.

Why should the Afghans trust you to bring a stable peace in their country when you are showing them their future via Iraq?

Why should the Taliban and AQI fear you when you allow them free reign in Iraq?

President Obama, we need to finish a war well.

We haven't since WWII.

America needs to send a message to the bad guys. Iran, AQI, North Korea, Syria, Somalia. And maybe, Russia.

Don't tread on us or human rights or decency.

If you do, on behalf of decent people everywhere, the United States will kick your ass up one side and down the other.

That is how we will re-galvanize support for our country.

That is how we will re-galvanize an international alliance for human decency.

It is time for real toughness.

You were elected by a wide majority.

But if an election were held today, you probably wouldn't win.

Get after it, Big O.

You have the big stick. Use it.

If not, we will be leaning on it as we huddle into the masses of the world's crippled.

Bryce Saldi

If you want to keep in touch with the Saldi's and Bryce, here is the link:

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brycesaldi

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The boob tube

It started with Phyllis George in 1975 followed by Jayne Kennedy in 1978.

Erin Andrews is just the newest version.

Here's a question for you.

If you don't want to be viewed as a sex object, why did you take a job in the first place that used you as a sex object?

Don't you think all these college educated women knew what they were getting into when they entered the world of broadcasting sports targeted primarily to men?

Did we need them to help us analyze third down tendencies?

No. It was the world's oldest profession. They knew it. Their employers knew it. We know it.

Aren't there any ugly women out there that would like to broadcast sports?

Women who really know the game but wear a size 24 mumu?

Why is it the networks can only find lovely young women that don't need a cross-your-heart bra to have "points all her own sittin' way up firm and high"?

And come to think of it, where are the homely female meteorologists? How amazing that there are so many lovely size 4 Barbie dolls that just love to talk about high pressure domes and relative humidity.

There has to be a Susan Boyle lookalike that knows alot about weather. She is probably on radio.

Not complaining. Just stop the hypocrisy.

Ms. Andrews, the keyhole video is a crime. Whoever did it should be punished. You did not deserve that. But the 911 call?

Oh, please.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To my sweet boy




Petey, two years ago today was the last time we saw each other alive.

Little did I know that four months later I would see you in a steel casket.

I sat on the porch tonight in the adirondack chairs that you and I always sat in for our long talks.

It was there that I learned about radical Islam. It was there that I learned about the twisted logic of the Iraq war. It was there that I learned so much from you. It was there that you told me that you wanted to go serve on the front line because you believed it was nobody else's job but yours.

Son, I miss you so much.

How I long to hug your thick neck. How I long to kiss your sweet face.

How I long to hear your loud sneezes. How I long to hear your laugh.

Pete, we humans on this earth are missing something because you aren't here.

There is a hole here that can't be filled.

But, we are comforted by the knowledge of your life and our faith in where you are.

You lived a complete life. You got a job that you loved. You met men that became brothers for life.

You loved Missy and she loved you back.

You were the best brother anybody could ask for.

You were the best friend anybody could hope for.

You loved your Lord openly, faithfully, honestly.

You were and are an honor to your family, your friends, your schools, your Army, your country.

The world is better for you being here, Pete.

That's all any of us can hope for.

You continue to touch lives everyday.

Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for loving me.

I thank God for our time together.

And I am anxiously waiting to hug you again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

iBOT Wars



Imagine you are a fit, healthy 20 year old who has made the decision to serve your country.

The U.S. government directs the military to enter into conflict in a dangerous place like Iraq or Afghanistan.

You go willingly as any soldier does and do your job.

One day, while on patrol, your MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicle is hit by a powerful Iranian made bomb.

The next thing you know, you wake up at Landstuhl hospital at Ramstein AFB in Germany.

You are missing your legs. You may be missing an arm or two as well.

You are then flown to Walter Reed Medical Center to continue your medical care and begin your physical rehabilitation.

This happens all to frequently.

There are thousands of our wounded heroes in this situation. And unfortunately, more coming due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dean Kamen is an engineering genius. He developed the Segway. And, he developed the iBOT.

The objective of the iBOT is to give people with severe disabilities their life back. It gives them a dramatic improvement in mobility. It allows them to work, shop, and just live as close to normal as possible.

Please watch this video to see it in action.


video

I've had the privilege of meeting a number of wounded soldiers who have iBOTS. They love them. They don't feel disabled anymore. They can play with their kids. Get around their house. Go shopping on their own.

One of the favorite features of the iBOT is it allows the user to raise himself or herself to eye level. In a wheelchair, you are always looking up and being looked down upon by whoever you are interacting with. Not with the iBOT.

Dean Kamen licensed the iBOT technology to a division of Johnson & Johnson who was manufacturing and selling this amazing device.

But not anymore.

Why?

It isn't Johnson & Johnson's fault. The problem is there is no market. Because there are no funds to pay for iBOTs.

To date, the U.S. government will not buy iBOTs for our wounded soldiers.

Medicare classifies the iBOT as a wheelchair, and therefore too expensive for reimbursement.

Private insurance won't pay for it either.

An iBOT costs $26,000.

Johnson & Johnson would gladly go back into production if there are funds to pay for them.

Dean Kamen has lobbied Washington and Congress for years for funding.

He was told earlier this year that times were tough in Washington and there just wasn't any money for the program.

Dean came unglued. At a time when the U.S. government is bailing out banks, car companies, folks who can't pay their mortgage, "stimulating" the economy, and creating a trillion dollar deficit with wild unaccountable spending, there is no money for an iBOT.

Folks, we can do something about this.

Not only for the wounded soldiers, but for any disabled folks whose lives could be so drastically improved.

Here is the plan.

1. Contact your Representative and Senator and tell them we want iBOTs for our wounded soldiers, Medicare patients who need them, and for private insurance to be required to cover them under the new and improved health care program coming soon.

2. The Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund is working on a plan right now to create a major fundraising program with all monies raised to go to the purchase of iBOTs for wounded soldiers. We want to get Johnson & Johnson back into production. Soon, we will have the details and they will be published here first. It will be broad based and easy to participate in. It will do good for our wounded, our soldiers around the world, and for us civilians as a way to show support.

Let's foment change.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

911

A calm, peaceful Saturday morning.

Breakfast at the cafe with my daughter and oldest grandson. Saw lots of old friends. Caught up on news around town. Got the latest update on the price of hay and cattle.

No real agenda for the day. A day to rest and relax.

So I stopped by Hardtail's house to catch up on gossip and see what he was up to.

As we were solving the problems of the world, my cellphone rings. It's my daughter.

"Dad, if you see police at the house, don't worry."

Exactly the words every father longs to hear.

"Oliver managed somehow to dial 911."

My oldest grandson may have just set the new record for youngest prank call to the police. He is 20 months old.

Don't know how he did it, but he did it.

My daughter got them on the phone and explained. The officer explained that they are required to come to the location of any 911 call with a hangup.

It is good to live in a small town. The police arrived, they knew the family, and it was all settled with a giggle.

Can't wait to read the crime log in this week's local paper.

The family is debating if this tops the previous best 911 experience.

We were vacationing in Colorado 18 years ago.

We were in the old Denver airport for a flight back to Dallas.

The plane had a mechanical problem, so we had an hour plus wait at the gate.

There were a number of young kids on the flight, including my youngest son. He's now 23. He was then 5.

The bunch of kids started playing together much to the delight of the exhausted parents. They played tag. They ran around the long concourse. Anything to wear them out so they would sleep on the flight.

A few rowdy ones began playing on the pay phones, but we quickly shooed them back to safer activity.

The gate agent began a long and confusing message. I walked up to the counter for clarification.

About then, a horde of police surrounded the gate area. This was way prior to 9/11, so that much security got everyone's attention.

Having clarified the boarding procedure, I rounded up the clan to get on the plane.

Then a police sergeant announced loudly, "Someone just called 911 from this pay phone next to this gate. We have to identify who and why."

The boarding had already begun and not everyone heard the policeman.

My first thought was, "Who pulled that stunt?"

I had my five year old by the hand.

Then I looked down at him and he was looking up at me.

Guilty, guilty, guilty. Not a word was spoken, but his eyes told all.

I shoved him forward into the herd of passengers.

"Just get on and run as far back as you can as fast as you can and find a seat. I'll catch up with you."

And he did.

And he didn't get busted.

And the police didn't pull everyone off the plane as they would today.

And we were only an hour and a half late getting home.

To the Denver Airport Police, here's one cold case you can close.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Something's not right with your shorts

If you aren't in the apparel business, it is one of those categories you sort of take for granted.

Meaning, you don't really think about how the stuff you wear is made. Or who makes it. Or where it's made. Or who decides how it fits. And so on.

Funny things happen in the making of apparel. There is no machine that can put a shirt, a pant, a dress, or a jacket together. It takes lots of humans working together to make it happen. And where there are humans, especially humans on different sides of the world working on the same product, things can happen.

One of the worst phone calls I ever received was from a very large customer. A retailer you know well. The company I was working for had sold them a very large order of shorts several years ago.

The shorts were manufactured in China. The manufacturing process goes something like this.

You pick out fabric, buttons, zippers, thread, a pattern and you have it all shipped to a factory in China (or some other faraway outpost) and have them do the cutting and sewing.

The factory sends a first production sample for approval before they make the entire order. You review the sample, point out any necessary changes, communicate those to the factory, and tell the factory to proceed.

When the production sample for the shorts in this story came in for approval, we were very pleased. Fabric was correct, fit was good, sewing was excellent. A green light to go ahead.

The Chinese manufacturers are very literal folks. They do exactly what you ask them to do. Nothing more, nothing less.

One thing we didn't notice on the production sample was that the back pockets were sewn shut. Even though there was a pocket bag sewn in as well, for some reason, the factory sewed the pockets shut. For all the experts looking at it on our side, it never occurred to any of us that the factory somehow thought that was the correct way to make the short.

But they did, cause we didn't tell them any different. We assumed, and that's a bad thing.

So, we shipped 500,000 shorts with back pockets sewn shut to one of our largest customers.

"Alan, there's something not right with your shorts", began the phone call.

"Is my panty line showing?", I replied just before I fell into the abyss of reality.

"No, dumass. You just shipped me 500,000 shorts with back pockets sewn shut."

"Impossible."

"I have 20 samples here in my office."

"Let me check on this and I will get right back to you. This just can't be true."

But, it was.

By the time we took the return, paid for the freight, sold the shorts off for pennies, it would have made us qualified for TARP money had such a thing existed then.

They aren't funny when they happen. But in retrospect, they are classic. And they happen everyday.

A buddy told me a story about selling 50,000 women's blazers to a retailer. They arrived with the sleeves sewn on backward. Meaning the right sleeve had been sewn into the left sleeve hole, and vice versa. So the sleeves pointed behind you.

A really handy item for the double-jointed.

He can laugh now, but he had tears in his eyes when he got THAT phone call.

So the next time you go to buy a new clothing item (which looking at sales figures sounds like it might not be anytime soon), don't take it for granted.

If it fits, if the zipper goes in the right direction, if the sleeves are the same length, it is a minor miracle.

Somewhere in this world, a man is wearing a beautiful silk tie handmade in Italy with upside down palm trees all over it. And he paid a buck for it.

I know. I made those, too.

We pondered shipping them to Australia to see if crossing the equator might make the palm trees right side up. But the freight was too much.

So we sold them for pennies to jobbers all over the world.

And right now, that lucky man is getting compliments on his unusual, beautiful tie.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The world doesn't taste as good anymore

At the corner of Main and Exposition in Dallas sits a blue and white house.

For 40 years, it was Vern's. One of the greatest soul food kitchens in America.

Named for it's owner, maitre d', chef, and greeter. Suvern Simmons.

The first time I went with some friends, I had the normal first timer's reaction.

"This is a bad neighborhood. Why are we pulling up to this crack house?"

That's what it looked like. Huge potholes in the dirt and gravel yard where you parked next to a police car, a hoop-d, and maybe the mayor.

Inside the first time, your anxiety doesn't go away quickly. Small dining area, picnic tables, you just sit where you can find a spot. No reserved seating at Vern's. You feel all the eyes on you cause they can spot a first-timer, and you just don't know what to do.

You might be seated with a judge, a junkyard owner, or a pastor. And chances were good 90% of the patrons would be black.

And as a first-timer, I had the same normal reaction once I sat down and started to eat.

"Why didn't you bring me here earlier? How have I missed this place? Can we come back tomorrow? Oh, I don't care, I'm coming back anyway."

I became a Vern's regular. And almost always took a virgin with me. Co-workers, old friends, business associates from out of town, they all had the same first time experience. And all became regulars on their own.

It is amazing that in the stretch of a few minutes you could go from being scared to death to feeling the warmth that only Vern's peach cobbler could make you feel. And you would meet so many nice, new friends in the process.

A bad economy and a landlord that raised the rent put an end to Vern's.

Mrs. Simmons' message to her customers was, "Just tell them I loved them and I stayed as long as I could."

Mrs. Simmons, we loved you, too. And I just wished I had started earlier and stayed longer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the blink of an eye

I have never been more intimidated by people than the first time I met Brenda and Jay Saldi.

Jay had just retired from the NFL. A tight end with an attitude. A Superbowl ring. A glower that came from somewhere deep inside.

Brenda was simply movie star gorgeous.

And they both have the most amazing eyes. A light blue iris the color of which I've never seen before or since. Black hole pupils that peer into you.

My family and the Saldi's came to be friends. Their three boys grew up with my four oldest kids.

All three boys had the same amazing eyes. Especially the youngest, Bryce.

The first time I met Bryce, he was in diapers, chasing his older brothers around the house with a stick.

All three boys followed in their dad's football footsteps. High school studs, college scholarships.

Bryce just finished spring drills a few weeks ago at UNLV, and was recognized for his outstanding play.

He and his roommate took a few days off and went to Lake Arrowhead, California for some relaxation.

On July 3, Jay got a call in Dallas at midnight. It was Bryce's roommate. Bryce had fallen off a skateboard and had hit the back of his head on concrete.

He was unconscious. Over the phone, Jay heard the helicopter in the background picking up Bryce.

Bryce has been unconscious since. Six feet four inches, 240 pounds of muscle, he lies in ICU at Loma Linda University Medical Center about an hour east of Los Angeles.

I first heard about it today. I called ICU, and managed to reach Jay.

I made the drive over this evening.

The Saldi's are now living in Loma Linda to be close to Bryce. Their world is upside down.

The Saldi's went thru a tough divorce in 2000. There are two sides to the story. And it now doesn't matter.

All that matters is getting Bryce healthy and back home. The non-nuclear family is now all living together in a rented house 1400 miles from home.

Being all too familiar with how one phone call can change everything, my heart broke talking to Jay.

Over the years, I came to find out I wasn't the only person he intimidated. When he played for the Cowboys, his nickname was "Dr. Rude".

I've seen him weep twice.

Once at a men's retreat when he recounted how Tom Landry led him to salvation thru Christ our Savior.

And tonight.

Jay has fought alot of battles over the years. He said nothing compared to this.

Lord, watch over this family and Bryce.

How we long to see those bright eyes again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kid shopping

There were signs of trouble early on.

At three, we asked what she wanted to be for Halloween.

"King", she said.

"Oh, you mean queen, honey."

"No, I mean king."

Shortly afterward, I was reading her Where the Wild Things Are for the ten thousandth time.

"You skipped a page, daddy."

"Honey, I have been reading this book to my kids for 25 years. I know this book by heart. I DID not miss a page."

She reaches over and turns the page back. I had indeed skipped a page.

"Now tell me I'm right", says she who will be King.

At seven, going on seventeen, she is all girl.

Which means shopping is the national pastime for her.

Having fathered both genders, I have become convinced there is a shopping gene in females that males just don't have.

Taking boys shopping is just asking for trouble. It is another opportunity for mayhem. I've seen 'em run down the grocery store aisles with both arms stretched wide to see how much they can pull off the shelves. Boys like to destroy things. So if that's what you want to see happen, take them to a place where there are new things and they will soon reduce it all to rubble.

Girls, a whole different matter.

Like today. She who will be King announced this morning that we were going shopping today. And she had coupons, no less.

First, the pet store.

One she had already cased out with her mom. She knew exactly what she was about to do to me.

Just before the pet store, we pass Bartel's Harley Davidson, one of the best dealerships in the country.

"Sweet ride", she says as we pass a chromed out custom bike out front. This gives me hope.

We get to the pet store, and it is a cool place. She takes time to show me all around, but finally gets to the point.

She wants a rabbit. Big time.

And who doesn't. Soft, cuddly, adorable. She'll get one eventually. But she wanted this little dude TODAY.

She got him out of the hutch and was cuddling him. Then before I knew what was happening she had put him in my hands. A pro she is.

"Not going to happen today, honey."

"But you could get some help and build a cage for him and we could take him home now", she responded in that perfect logic that traps an unsuspecting man.

"Well, let's check with Mom first. There will always be bunnies available."

"Yeah, I know. They breed like crazy", says she who will be King. (Did she just have the birds and bees talk with me?)

So we escape with no bunny, and I am heading to Harley land.

We walk into the showroom and the blood leaves my brain as I lust after the chrome, the Screaming Eagle packages, the twisted pipes, the custom leather seats. For a moment, I forgot she was there.

I turned and there she was standing, arms crossed.

"Do you see my foot?", she asks. It is tapping rapidly. She ain't interested in what Harley's got.

Next stop, Toys r Us. "I got a coupon, Daddy. It's going to save you so much money. Isn't that great?"

"We were here Saturday. We are spending less than ten bucks today. Pick one thing."

"But Daddy, the coupon is good for 10% off only if you spend $50 or more."

I managed to stabilize myself and hold ground. "Less than ten bucks. One thing."

Have any idea how long it can take a 7 year old girl to decide on one thing in the Barbie section?

I finally have to give her the two minute warning. "Two minutes, and we're outta here. PICK something."

"Daddy, which one of the Barbies do you like best?"

Fifteen minutes later after learning for the first time that they aren't all named Barbie, I suggest Teresa, and she who will be King agrees.

Last stop of the day was at Target to pick up a few things for me. She wasn't at all into this program because she knew this was going to be b-o-r-i-n-g. So she watched Wizards of Waverly Place on YouTube on my iPhone. Pretty much the same thing I did when my mom dragged me to Woolworth's fifty years ago.

We stop by the pharmacy to pick up the last thing. A mother of two boys is just ahead of me. One about 6, one about 4. And she has one in the oven. The four year old is having a grand time ramming her shopping basket into the back of her legs.

The mom looks at she who will be King, then her two hoodlums, then gives me a knowing look. She balls her fist like Jackie Gleason used to do when he would bellow, "You're going to the moon, Alice!"

She got control of them both and made them stand at attention by her side at the pharmacy counter. As we left with our package, I noticed the four year old pull a giant booger out of his nose. And yep. Ate it.

Thought the mom was going to faint.

I walked to the car with she who will be King and thanked God for parenthood. It never gets old.

If you want to help a soldier in need, here's your opportunity






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A soldier and a hero in need of your help.

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Patrick Sowers Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 10:06 AM

To all members, sponsors and supporters of U.S. soldiers; we have a soldier in need.





Operation Once in a lifetime,

I am hoping you can make another wish come true. My husband, an active duty U.S. Army Soldier, and I are seeking assistance paying our mortgage. I had to leave my job to care for my husband who was injured in April 07, I still have not been able to return to work as I care for him. He has started his MEB process, I don't know when I can return back to work, the past 2 years have financially hurt us and we our 1 month past on mortgage and are struggling each month. My husband's rank is E7, Army, stationed at Fort Carson, CO. My husband was deployed to Iraq Sep06 and injured on April15,07. He was hit with a mortar round while going out on patrol; he suffered a shattered femur, hip, pelvis, back, TBI and PTSD. He was medivac to BAMC, spent 6 months inpatient then transferred back to Colorado as a at home patient, a certified nurse was assigned to my husband to do wound care on his open leg wound after having 15 surgeries at BAMC, he had a femur rod and 3 pins/screws put in his femur and hip. I also did IV antibiotics for an additional 4 months at home.

He was in a wheel chair for 16 months, he had 3 infections in his leg; his leg infections went dormant after the 10 months because of the IV's however his leg became infected again as a result of our current military installation not following his medical plan from BAMC, he had Emergency surgery to remove all the leg hardware and a clean out, went back on IV antibiotics and bed ridden for 5 months, I again did wound care, IV's and he was in a wheelchair. All of his medical care has been transferred to the University of Colorado in Denver which is 200 miles round trip for us, the Army did not play for travel for all his medical appointments which were 3x a week for the first year.

He now is walking with assistive devise and the infection is now in his bones, he has Osteomylitis of the femur, hip, pelvis. His care plan is that he will have his leg amputated in the years to come as he will never get rid of the Chronis bone infection. He also is in current medical treatment with Nuero and mental health for TBI and PTSD. His memory is not well, he forgets a lot. We are very blessed that he does not have the anger, rage and bad effects of TBI and PTSD at this time. I lost my 9 year government job after exhausted my 16 months on medical leave as I needed to be home to help care for him and continue to care for him and his disabilities. He is pending a MEB after serving 17 years in the military and it is a scary process as finances are concerned.

This additional information maybe more than you need but my husbands father went through a kidney transplant early June at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN. His father is still in the hospital after major complications. He first developed Pancreatitis, then infection in abdomen, he had 2 heart attacks and then put on a ventilate and ICU, he has formed Sepsis now (infection in blood stream), his immune system in very low, has had another heart attack and remains on a ventilator in ICU. We had to get my husband there a few weeks ago to see him as his mother called crying and said he needed to come, so the expense of airfare, lodging and meals was a huge expense for 2 weeks for that. My husband's parents reside in Edgemont, SD, but they are in Rochester, MN for this original transplant and long care. My husband will have to return to Rochester mid Aug, using his leave to stay with his father, as his mother has to return home to go back to work as she is a school teacher.

We feel committed to help care for his parents and do what we can, as when my husband was injured his mother came for 2 weeks when he was in BAMC hospitalized and had made many trips to us in CO to help out with kids during my husband's additional surgeries he required.

So I just wanted to fill you in more as to why this assistance would help us so much, also with my husband doing a MEB, we know that is scary in itself.

Thanks, Tina Henderson

Thank you, Tina



If you would like to help this soldier please follow the link below and donate today. Remember all donations are tax deductible, thank you for supporting your troops.

http://operationonceinalifetime.com/wp-content/themes/opsol/Give.php

Donate my mail:

Operation Once in a Lifetime

PO Box 797052
Dallas, TX 75379




Patrick Sowers (SGT)
Founder, Father, Soldier
254-289-3057
PO Box 797052
Dallas, TX 75379
www.operationonceinalifetime.com
"We make Soldiers Dreams come True"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Women's shoes

My orthopedic doctor loves women's fashion.

They all end up at his office.

He calls flip-flops "the design of Satan".

No support for the arch or anything else. It keeps him in business.

High heels? He understands the attraction, but he sees the aftermath. Women wanting their toes or feet shortened so they can wear these "see me, catch me's".

He makes a good living from that.

He recommeds we all walk around in New Balance shoes.

They are designed for the human foot. They actually provide support for pronation or supination.

This may be the one part of life that men have an advantage in.

You are what you are in your Jordans. Or your Adidas Superstars. Or your original Chuck Taylor Superstars.

Men's feet don't suffer like women's feet for the cause of fashion. Or, rather said, the attraction of the opposite sex.

The same woman in flats versus the same woman in Jimmy Choo's can be the difference between a 3 and a 9.

If only us men would figure that out. Like my doctor friend.

He pleads with you beautiful ladies to keep buying stilleto's.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One giant leap

Were you in front of the television 40 years ago?

For the first time in my life, my parents woke me up to watch television in the middle of the night.

U.S. astronauts were landing on the moon.

We saw the Eagle landing. We saw Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins fulfill John F. Kennedy's challenge from May 25, 1961, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Has our contry ever been so galvanized? So amazed at our capability to accomplish the seemingly impossible?

It was a magic night. It was black and white television glory.

We need another leader like JFK to challenge our nation to be better. Bigger. Beyond the norm.

To strive for something that amazes us and the world. Bigger than any conflict on earth. Something that transcends. That inspires.

Let's cure cancer. Let's cure the common cold. Let's put an astronaut on Mars, and bring them back.

We need a higher vision than the all too common issues.

If there was ever a President with the groundswell to do it, it is President Obama.

Make us a bold challenge, and let's see what we can do in a decade.

We can change the world. We can foment change.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Booger Bastion



The only thing better than watching rasslin' is rasslin' your kids.

Having been blessed to grow up Southren (and that is how we like to say it in the DEEP South), Georgia Championship Wrestling was a Saturday night staple. It was a morality show. The same kind of symbolism as Moby Dick. And the rasslers were about the same size.

Years later, a character emerged on WWF. His character was "officially" Bastion Booger. I only saw him once. I thought his name was Booger Bastion.

Booger's program was to be as disgusting as possible. He was nasty. Fat. The classic bad guy. Sweaty. Snotty. Boogery.

He had two signature moves. The body slam with his superb gut leading the way. And if he really disliked his oppenent, he might give him a facewash with his flatulent backside.

Booger was on the circuit for 1993-1994. My older kids were 6, 9, 10 and 12. Key rasslin' with dad ages. Rasslin' with pops was a big deal. It gave us time for lots of tickling, hugging, playing, and eventually of course, them winning. Dad never wins in rasslin'.

My signature move became the Booger bodyslam. It quickly became the kids' as well. I have been jumped on so many times from so many angles it is a quandry as to why my
innards are still intact.

So here we are in 2009. Spent the day with Georgia, including some time in in the hotel room. Where the bed becomes a trampoline, a gym mat, and a rasslin' ring.

I got bodyslammed for a couple of hours today. My innards are sore, but my heart is full. Two hours of laughing, hugging, kissing, tickling, pillow fighting and her happier than a bag full of monkeys.

And she is king of the hill. I never had a chance.

Booger, for five kids and one dad, you have become a fixture in our lives.

They all have an 8 x 10 of you. And I'm working on the gut.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This makes me feel better about being Southern, worse about being American

CNN-Katrina Browne, a descendant of wealthy Northerners, said she always thought slavery was confined to the South, until she began digging through her own family's history. She learned that her family, the DeWolfs, sailed ships from Bristol, Rhode Island, to West Africa, trading rum for African men, women and children in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

The DeWolf family brought more than 10,000 slaves from Africa, she said, and eventually became one of the wealthiest families in the nation as a result of its slave-trading business. Browne detailed her family's experience in a documentary last year called "Traces of the Trade: A story from the Deep North," as part of PBS's "Point of View" series.

"I'm a firm believer in the U.S. government apologizing because of all the ways in which the government supported and condoned and made slavery possible," said Browne.

"What most Americans don't know is the extensive complicity of the North in slavery. The victors write the history books, so the North wrote the history on slavery and very conveniently painted it solely as a Southern sin, whereas in fact the Northern colonies and states owned slaves for over 200 years and were the main slave traders."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What one man can do

If you read this blog regularly, you have heard of Patrick Sowers.

Patrick is Army. A soldier. Now out, working in corporate America, but still serving.

His organization is http://operationonceinalifetime.com/

Here is a testimony to what one man can do to make a difference in this world.



To all,

My name is MSG Miguel Carrion and I served as a Rear Sergeant Major for STB, 4ID during their last deployment. I will like everyone to know that Mr. Patrick Sowers, through Operation Once in a Lifetime took care of 4th ID Soldiers returning from deployment to empty rooms and naked beds. The first call request came directly from me after exhausting all contacts on Fort Hood while trying to obtain linen and bedding for our Soldiers. Thanks to Operation in a Lifetime our Soldiers received over 3K pieces of linen and toiletries through donations organized by Mr. Sowers and his organization.

Mr. Sowers is the kind of hero that works behind the scenes on behalf of deployed Soldiers and their families. I can testify to this first hand. I will respectfully ask every able group and/or individual to continue supporting Operation Once in a Lifetime; they are a remarkable organization in support of us which fight for our freedom and way of life.
V/R
MSG Miguel Carrion

"It ain't bragging if you can do it" - Henry Aaron

In the football crazed state of Texas, my hometown's high school is at the top of the dogpile.

No other high school has won three 7-on-7 state championships.

No other high school has won 8 football state UIL championships.

Tradition never graduates.

Go Bobcats. We believe.




Fact One

Celina wins third 7-on-7 football title
7/10/2009, 12:44 p.m. PDT
The Associated Press
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Fact Two
Celina finishes it, wins 8th state title
Posted: 10:57 PM Dec 22, 2007
Last Updated: 11:02 PM Dec 22, 2007

IRVING, TX -- They are the best in Texas.

The Celina Bobcats catpured their 8th state championship when they beat China Spring 21-14 at Texas Stadium Saturday night.

Celina's 8 championships are the most in the state. Southlake Carroll, Plano and Brownwood all have 7.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What a difference one year makes

July 15, 2008, SSG Jeremy Vrooman was with 1st Platoon Palehorse Troop 4th Squadron Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

When the surge went into Iraq, 2SCR was at the tip of the spear.

Pete was clever enough to not let us know that. They first cleared the worst of Baghdad, and then went on to Diyala.

Jeremy was in rear detachment. He was called into Iraq in early 2008.

Husband of Latrecia, father of two, he loved his job.

When the platoon went into Diyala one year ago, Jeremy was the first off the Stryker that morning. He was the first into that warehouse.

It was rigged with what is known as a "house borne bomb". He knocked the door down and walked into hell. Just behind him was John Humphrey.

Jeremy lost his life. John lost most of one arm. Jeremy is dead. John has been at Walter Reed for most of the past year, and is still in the Army serving us today.

I will never forget the phone call from Chaplain Bryan Smith. He was so disheartened that Palehorse had lost a second soldier.

Jeremy's wife, Latrecia, was from San Antonio. Jeremy's funeral was in San Antonio, and he is buried at San Antonio National Cemetery.

I was only 4 hours away. I had seen this movie. Thankfully, when Pete came home, I had lots of friends and family around.

Jeremy was from South Dakota.

I got to the funeral home where his visitation was held. There weren't alot of folks there. But, I got to meet Latrecia. She had been at Pete's memorial in Vilseck, Germany.

I got to meet the kids.

I got to meet Jeremy's mom.

I got to meet Jeremy's dad and his step-mom. The step-mom that loved him like her own.

At the visitation, I got to meet General Gilman. He was in charge of the Center for the Intrepid. The rehabilitation facility for wounded soldiers in San Antonio.

At Jeremy's funeral, I got to meet Colonel H.R. McMaster.

Colonel McMaster took Jeremy under his wing when Jeremy was first enlisted. He made him his driver. He made Jeremy understand.

Colonel McMaster was the first to figure out Iraq. His story can be Googled. He went into Tal Afar in northern Iraq. He made his men make allies with the locals. He got the locals to tell him where the bad guys were.

General David Petreaus learned from Colonel McMaster and that was his strategy for calming Iraq. The same strategy is being used today in Afghanistan.

Jeremy, thank you for being willing to give all for me and our country. No one asked you to. You just signed up as a man and did your job. We will never forget.

Thru Jeremy, I have been blessed to meet his parents. We are close friends. We were together last November for the homecoming of the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

We are forever bonded.

Thru death, there is life.

Mine is so much better because of Jeremy Vrooman.

Lunch never tasted so good

I wrote about Barvo around Memorial Day.

Barvo is the sculptor that made the bronze of Pete that stands in the public cemetery in Melissa, Texas.

Barvo and I have become very close friends. First, because he got close to Pete. But Barvo and I enjoy lots of the same things. Politics. Stopping the spread of radical Islam. Church. And good Mexican food.

Barvo was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last August. He went into the hospital three days after we unveiled Pete. Barvo spent nine long months in various hospital beds. I would visit him often, and we always ended with the same promise. "As soon as you get out, we were going to have a good Mexican lunch."

Today was the day. He is back working partial days at his studio in south Dallas.

Nearby is La Calle Doce, a family owned Mexican restaurant that specializes in seafood.

The shrimp tacos were awesome. But more awesome was seeing his sweet face and those dancing blue eyes.

Barvo told me today "they lost him" twice. Meaning they had to use the paddles to get his heart started on two different occasions.

He weighed 150 lean, mean pounds on 9/11/08. He got down to 114 in the hospital. He is now back to 125. If he keeps eating flautas and guacamole like he did today, he will be back to fighting weight soon.

Barvo ended lunch with as nice a thing as anyone can say to another.

"The only thing wrong with our friendship is I didn't know you sooner."

Love you, Barvo. Keep eating.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An unhappy day for the United States

Our deficit crossed the $1 trillion dollar mark today.

$1,000,000,000,000.00

Our brains have a hard time understanding numbers that big.

"My favorite way to think of it is in terms of seconds," says David Schwartz, a children's book author whose How Much Is a Million? tries to wrap young minds around the concept. "One million seconds comes out to be about 11½ days. A billion seconds is 32 years. And a trillion seconds is 32,000 years. I like to say that I have a pretty good idea what I'll be doing a million seconds from now, no idea what I'll be doing a billion seconds from now, and an excellent idea of what I'll be doing a trillion seconds from now."

At current projections, the deficit will cross the $2 trillion mark before the end of this year 2009. Think about that. It took us 233 years as a nation to reach a $1 trillion deficit. And we will double it this year.

So, let's say you go to borrow money from someone. Such as when the United States goes to China and other nations that still have actual positive net worth and tries to sell them our Treasury bills. Those bills are only as good as our ability to pay them back.

What happens when nobody on earth will loan Uncle Sam money?

They day could come. Soon. And who could blame the lenders?

And this is before we have "additional stimulus packages", "additional business bailouts", "new universal health care". Where is that money going to come from?

We got real problems. We have spent and borrowed our way to hell.

And if you didn't read yet, the Euphrates River in Iraq is drying up. An event prophesied in the Book of Revelation as a sign of end times.

Wouldn't that be sweet.

"You can have my iPhone, I'm going to heaven!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

The light bulb conspiracies

There are two light bulb conspiracies taking advantage of us unsuspecting, gullible consumers.

First, the CFL. Not the Canadian Football League. The compact fluorescent lamp.



This amazing new light bulb has been pushed on us by every left wing, tree hugging, nutjob enviornmentalist group on earth. If all of us switched to these cfl's, we would save enough energy to power Al Gore's next PowerPoint presentation. And, his energy inefficient house.

Ahh, but reality has set in.

As a light bulb, the cfl sucks. It gives off poor light, can't be dimmed, and is more dangerous to have in your house than a nest of black mambas.

Read this entry from London's Daily Mail:

Energy-saving light bulbs are so dangerous that everyone must leave the room for at least 15 minutes if one falls to the floor and breaks, a Government department warned yesterday.

The startling alert came as health experts also warned that toxic mercury inside the bulbs can aggravate a range of problems including migraines and dizziness.

And a leading dermatologist said tens of thousands of people with skin complaints will find it hard to tolerate being near the bulbs as they cause conditions such as eczema to flare up.

The Department for Environment warned shards of glass from broken bulbs should not be vacuumed up but instead swept away by someone wearing rubber gloves to protect them from the bulb's mercury content.


And now, it has been figured out that manufacturing cfl's is the only thing more dangerous than sitting next to one.

Read this from that right wing media hotbed ecoworldly.com:

Chinese workers making energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs for Western consumers have been sickened by the hundreds due to mercury poisoning.
While poor factory conditions in China shoulder most of the blame, the news does raise serious questions about just how “green” the mercury-rich fluorescent lightbulbs actually are.


Second, the 120v bulb.

I go into my neighborhood Lowe's to buy some replacement bulbs for an outside fixture. For whatever reason, the bulbs last a week or two and then burnout.

To my good fortune, a very friendly fellow in a bright red vest asked if he could help me. "Yes, can you tell me why these bulbs only last a week or two?", I jokingly responded.

"Well, as a matter of fact, I can. I have been an electrician for twenty years. Working here because of the soft economy. But I know from light bulbs.

Your problem is you are buying 120 volt bulbs."

"What else is there?"

"130 volt bulbs. You see, the voltage at your house spikes up and down from 118 to 128 volts. If it gets much over 120, your bulb is going to burn out because it is only a 120 volt bulb. But a 130 volt bulb won't because the voltage never gets that high. It only reaches 128 at your house. So buy 130 volt bulbs like contractors do. They aren't packaged as cute or put on a shelf as easy to find, but you can find them if you will look. And you will see these bulbs last a lot longer. I probably shouldn't be telling you this because they want your bulbs to burn out, but as an electrician, I'm just telling you what I do."

And then again, we could just live by the sun and the moon as our ancestors did and call it a day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bureaucrats and their bureaucrap

The U.S. military is fighting two wars at once.

North Korea is testing missiles.

Iran is working on nukes.

And yet, some genius beureaucrats at the Pentagon have had time to come up with this brilliant idea.

"A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle." -CNN

There you go. How about getting better, lighter armored vehicles into battle zones. Four Marines were killed today in Afghanistan by roadside bombs that blew up their vehicles.

Wow, sure hope they weren't smoking. That could have been hazardous to their health.

How many of the nimcompoops that spent time and taxpayer money on this have ever been to war? Do you knuckleheads not understand stress? That 15 months away from home in war leaves you in need of something to calm your nerves? That many in the military smoked before they joined? And now you are going to tell someone who is willing to take a bullet for you they can't have a smoke while waiting out some sniper that has been killing their buddies?

Is this group going to tell President Obama that he can't smoke? Cause he admits that he still burns one to relieve stress. And he is the Commander in Chief.

Pogo got it right in 1970. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Secretary Gates, please send the folks responsible for this study to Helmand Province for 15 months of follow-up study on this. No alcohol. No fancy D.C. restaurants. Just fighting to stay alive and MREs. Let's see how many of them come back without having fired up a cig or a stogie.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sorry, Michael, butt you set yourself up for this

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shut the door Thursday to a resolution honoring Michael Jackson because debate on the symbolic measure could raise “contrary views” about the pop star’s life.

From Jimmy D. Flynn:

"The speaker also denied a U.S. Postal Stamp in Michael Jackson's honor. She did not think it appropriate that anyone should lick him from behind."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lessons from I-10

Just made the drive back to Celina, Texas from Manhattan Beach, California.

Lots of life lessons to be learned.

1. Get the hell out of California. Gas is up to one dollar more expensive there. $3.55 in Manhattan Beach. $2.55 in Kent, Texas.

2. Once you are 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the landscape is the same from there to Ft. Worth. And so are the people.

3. You can tell the parts of the country we stole from Mexico (all the exit signs have Spanish names). You can tell the parts of the country we stole from the Native Americans (all the exit signs have Indian names). You can tell when you reach land untouched my Mexicans or Indians and only by Americans. You have exit signs like, "Stink Creek".

4. Why the hell are so many people stacked up on top of one another along the coasts? There is alot of land with nothing on it for 1300 miles between Los Angeles and Ft. Worth.

5. If you have ever driven I-10 between Texas and California, you have seen the billboards for "The Thing". Well, I have now seen it. It is the scariest, weirdest experience in my life. Put it on your bucket list.

6. If the U.S. government really cares about the health of this country, make it a law that there be a salad bar at least every 250 miles on every interstate highway.
God help the truckers and the people that make a living driving those roads everyday.
The Sonic #12 chicken wrap is as heart healthy as it gets out there.

7. If you want a lesson in international issues, drive I-10 thru New Mexico and Texas. It literally borders Mexico. Everyone on the road gets stopped once or twice at roadchecks to make check your vehicle isn't full of illegal aliens.

And you can observe the U.S. Border Patrol at work. One of the most thankless, harsh and dangerous jobs going. There is a border fence to the south of hundreds of miles of I-10. There is a path just this side of the fence. I saw the Border Patrol dragging three tractor tires behind a truck to smooth the path so that they can detect footprints or other traffic. Do you feel safer now?

8. A greasy steak and a salad bar with the perfect fake bacon bits in Deming, New Mexico is as good as gold at 9:30 at night after 10 hours of driving.

9. Sweetwater, Texas is the wind energy capital of the world. It says so on their signs. Along with the fact that Sweetwater hosts the world's largest rattlesnake roundup each year in March. And all you have to do is look out at those Transformer looking windmills to understand. They are HUGE. And in the last two days, none of them were turning.

For all you environmentalists, do you know how friggin ugly it is to see beautiful desert landscape covered with these oversized tinker toys? It is ugly. It is eye pollution. It bothers the people that live there. And it doesn't produce enough energy to power an iPhone. And those stupid things will be there for hundreds of years. Guarantee you that the plan to put them up includes no money to take them down if it doesn't work.

But since the windmills are planted in flyover areas, it won't bother you at all.

10. My last conversation in Manhattan Beach was with a young man who moved to the U.S. three years ago from Indonesia. He hates LA. Because it is fake. He wants to move to the east coast.

Here is his analogy. "In New York, if someone tells you some bullshit, you say fuck you. And they say fuck you, back. In Los Angeles if someone tells you some bullshit, you say 'really'? And the teller says, 'Trust me'.

11. Open a door for someone in California, and they look at you like you are trying to steal their wallet. Especially women.

Open a door for someone along the I-10 corridor east of California, and they say thank you. Or gracias.

12. Home never looked, smelled, or tasted so good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What an Experience





It is July 8, 1967.

Your teenage kids have driven you crazy until you bought tickets and agreed to go with them to the hottest concert in America. The Monkees.

42 years ago today, the opening act for The Monkees began their first U.S. Tour.




The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Imagine the shock of the audience.

Here is this psychedelic black guitar player making sounds never heard before or since. He is dressed by his British managers in Carnaby Street and tie-dyed funk.

Only a bassist and drummer accompany him.

And then he starts playing. "Hey Joe". "Purple Haze".

Don't know if he played his guitar with his teeth or set the guitar on fire, but even if he didn't that night, he shocked and amazed those lucky patrons at the Jacksonville Coliseum.

His music is as hot and fresh today as in 1967.

But come to think of it, it's been a while since I heard "Last Train to Clarksville."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Commander in Chief, what is the mission?

As awful and painful as the Iraq experience has been, imagine you are a highly trained warrior sent to Afghanistan.

Who the hell am I fighting?

Who the hell is ok to shoot?

Who the hell is shooting back at me?

"I'm not a policeman, I'm a trained warrior. Kill the enemy, protect my fellow men. Get everyone home safe."

President Obama, you have sent men into no-man's land.

President George W. Bush owns Iraq.

You now own Afghanisatan.

I lost a son in an unexplainable war in Iraq.

I pray for the men and women being deployed into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

If there is no clear mission, we will have heavy losses and no victory.

That is not how our military is to be used, sir. The price is too high.

Either identify the mission, or get the hell out.


Nawa, Afghanistan — One week after several battalions of Marines swept through the Helmand River valley, military commanders appear increasingly concerned about a lack of Afghan forces in the field.

“What I need is more Afghans,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Province. He accompanied the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, during a visit with troops at Patrol Base Jaker here on Monday.

General Nicholson and others say that the long-term success of the operation hinges on the performance of the Afghan security forces, which will have to take over eventually from the American troops.

General Nicholson said the American force of almost 4,000 had been joined by about 400 effective Afghan soldiers.

“The net increase in Afghan security forces is zero” since the brigade arrived a few months ago, he said. The lack of Afghan forces “is absolutely our Achilles’ heel,” added Capt. Brian Huysman, commander of Company C of the First Battalion, Fifth Marines in Nawa.

Captain Huysman said the Afghan forces were critically important in establishing trust and communication with citizens. “We can’t read these people; we’re different,” he said. “They’re not going to tell us the truth. We’ll never get to build and transition” — the last phase of the operation — “unless we have the Afghans.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wow, it works



You have read on this blog twice before about Brendan Marrocco, a soldier hit by an EFMP in Iraq while we were there in April.

Brendan is a quadriplegic, and is now at Walter Reed recuperating.

This past weekend, he was invited to the ATT National and was greeted by Tiger Woods.

And this morning, I get the email string as follows.



Alan

As did many, over the weekend I became aware of Brendan Marrocco’s situation. I would like to make a financial contribution on his behalf and perhaps stay involved with his development in other ways as well. For now, can you please provide a payee and address where a check might be forwarded? Thank you

Pete McGuigan



peter,

here is the information you requested. thanks for helping.

out of curiousity, how did you hear about brendan and how did you find me?

ab




Alan

Thank you for forwarding the info requested. I became aware of Brendan’s situation when watching Brendan on TV this past weekend as he was attending the Tiger Woods’ golf tournament down in Bethesda. Apparently, Tiger hosts the tournament and the tourney gate proceeds go to assist military families and wounded vets. Then, as I read the NY Times this morning, I saw Brendan’s picture in the sports section, so I googled his name and “Burks Law” came up. Regards

Pete

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A new revolution

Islamic hardliners are right wing nut jobs. There way is the only way. Cause they said so.

Thus came about the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

Today, a new Iranian Revolution is underway.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians are protesting what they believe was a rigged presidential election Many have given up their freedom and their lives in the protest that is being put down by the hardline government.

Tonight, it is reported that a group of leading clerics in Iran have defied the Ayatollah on his certifying the election as fair and final.

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final.

As we Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence, let us support those in Iran that want their votes and ideas to be heard. America was a revolutionary idea in 1776. A more free and just Iran is just as revolutionary in 2009.

Let freedom ring.

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright Alright

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds
that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright Alright

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know know it's gonna be alright
Alright Alright

The Purple People

Our country has been reduced to red people and blue people.

Red represents Republican. Blue represnets Democrat.

I think most of us aren't Red or Blue. We're Purple.

I have spent time with elected officials in Washington from both parties.

Their take is that no one can get awareness from the media, which leads to electibility, unless they are far right or far left.

The sad news is that the folks in the middle are viewed as boring by the media.

And, I believe, most of us are in the middle.

If there was ever a time for a Third Pary, I think it is now.

Our government is so polarized by the hard left and right.

I believe that President Obama is Purple. He has learned in his short time in office that Guantanomo was not such a bad idea. He is learning that pulling troops out of Iraq is leading to bloodshed (President Bush signed the agreement to pull our troops out. President Obama is simply following the rules that were set before him.)
He understands clearly that Afghanistan is where the terrorist base is.

If President George Bush 43 had focused on Afghanistan rather than Iraq, we might think of him as the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

Someday, we may understand why Iraq. But that is another story.

If we look at election results, the coasts are blue and the center of the country is red. The coasts have more people per capita. Thus, their voting sways the whole thing.

So, those of us who don't live on the coast have one of two choices.

One, have lots more babies.

Two, start a party that represents us.

In the past, there were Dixiecrats. Democrats with conservative views.

We have gay Republicans who are conservative financially, think Al Gore is a nutjob,
and want to drill for oil now.

We have Black America that is horrified by the far left liberals. Black America is based in the Protestant Church. "Praise be to Glory, great things He has done."

Using California as an example, you only have to move 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean moving East to find Purple Country. From the northern most tip to the Southern most tip of California, 100 miles from the coast brings you into ranchland. Farmland. The difference in San Francisco and Folsom are massive. The difference in Los Angeles and Bakersfield is wider than the San Andreas Fault.

The same can be said of New York City. In itself, it is a Democratic stonghold. Recent developments in the state legislature suggest that Democrats and Republicans in New York state are in an uproar with far left and far right policies. Move west 100 miles, and the state turns red.

We aren't that simple minded. We aren't that polarized. We can't let the far left and the far right run us or ruin us.

Let's start a new Purple Party. Based in Belle Fourche South Dakota. Since Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union, that's the geographic center.

What we need is an electrifying Purple person to rise up and represent us.

I think we may have already found him.

Barack Hussein Obama.

He is black and white. He is Muslim and Christian. He is Hawaiian and a Chicagoan.

I honestly believe that in his second term, he will be Purple. Rahm Emmanuel will be gone. Hillary Clinton will be gone.

President Obama opens an opportunity for an honest conversation amongst Americans.

He has been vilified by gay activists because he hasn't supported a federal gay marriage ammendment.

He has been vilified by right wing extremists because he supports a rational guns right act. (I really don't understand why the right to own an assault rifle or a multi-load shotgun is essential to American life. We have the right to bear arms. The guys that wrote that were thinking muskets, not .50 Caliber Machine Guns. They didn't write that we have the right to bear RPGs, IEDs, MFRPs, land mines, cluster bombs, etc.)

Let's get after it, us boring Purple folks. President Obama is proving to be more in tune with America than the last several Presidents.

Power to the Purple.

We should move the Capitol to Belle Fourche. It would decidely reduce the number of lobbyists. And Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and Newt Gingrich would find it suddenly unintersting.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A dad's best day

Breakfast with your 7 year old daughter. She likes her decaf latte. I've been taking her to breakfast since she was old enough to sit up straight. Some things never change.

She watches "Tales of Despereaux" while you do your business on the phone.

You offer to take her to Houston's for lunch. And she prefers a McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich.

She gives me the tour of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific since she was there with her class a few weeks ago. The puffins are her favorite. We pet stingrays. We marvel at the coral reefs.

What she has really focused on is the gift shop. She now has the stuffed baby seal. Named Cotton. (She has yet to meet Queen Cotton. That will happen someday. And the life trip will be complete.)

We drive by the Queen Mary. She is amazed, as am I, by the size and grandeur of it.

"Do you want to go walk thru it?", I ask.

"No, Daddy. I think I would like to take a nap with Cottty (the new name for the stuffed seal).

Thirty minutes later, we are back in Manhattan Beach. We manage to hold hands while she naps the entire way.

As soon as I stop the car, she says as follows.

"Do we have enough time to go see Ice Age 3?"

"Sure."

And, we make it for the 4:25 showing in 3D.

I love the Ice Age movies. All about family. And this one, in 3D, is so much fun and just amazing. We laughed at each other with our 3D glasses on. We laughed at Sid. We laughed at Scrat. She grabbed my hand when the "scary" parts came. We ate for the cycle again with a blue frosty, popcorn, and Sour Bites.

I took her back to her Mom's apartment. She told me, "I love you bigger than the universe times 1,000 plus the moon and infinity."

I know it is cliche, but it doesn't get any better than this.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

God, what a baseball day




God does love those that love baseball.

I have lots of proof.

His bestseller starts with, "In the big inning . . ."

Then, there was today. Which actually started Monday.

Watching the Dodgers and Rockies on Monday evening. The announcer goes thru the upcoming schedule and says there is a matinee game on Wednesday. Noon.

I heard God's voice. (Actually, it was Morgan Freeman's voice from those Visa commercials saying, "When's the last time you took your daughter to the aquarium on a Tuesday?" Mr. Freeman has played God alot, so you can see how this all came together.) I had Peanut all day to myself on Wednesday, and we were going to Dodger Stadium.

So, today was the day.

Baseball nuts want to visit all the great ballparks. Dodger Stadium was still on my list.

It is amazing. Just north of downtown LA. Drive over a ridge, into Chavez Ravine, and there is the most perfect setting for baseball.

In the parking lot no less, I asked Peanut what this place reminded her of. "Disneyland", she said. And she was right. You are in Dodgertown the moment you enter the parking gate.

We walk to the ticket window and get two seats in the Top Deck. Eighteen bucks. Less than two tickets to a movie. We were entering one of the shrines.

Entering the gate, they give her a Dodgers hat. Cap Day it was. A good sign.

We got there around 11 so I could teach her how this works. The pre-game activity. The warm-ups. The scoreboard. The food.

Before we hit our seats, I had downed my first Dodger Dog. Hmmmm.

We are sitting in the very top, or last row, of the stadium enjoying the view while she eats her first and I eat my second Dodger Dog.

A young man walks up and says, "Sir, would you be interested in some field level seats?"

"What's the deal?", I ask.

"Oh, no deal sir. My name is Alex. I work for the McCourt's. I am a PR guy for the Dodgers. When there are unsold field level seats, the McCourt's insist we go find fans that would enjoy them."

"You're kidding?"

"No, sir. If you will just follow me. And if it is ok, I will give you a tour of the stadium on the way."

I'm in heaven. Peanut hasn't a clue. One day she will.

Down the secret elevators and stairwells. Past the pressbox where Vin Scully does the best baseball broadcast on earth. Past the Tommy Lasorda workout center. (Not that Tommy ever used it. But a state of the art facility for the players.) To the security room. They have cameras observing everything in the stadium and for a mile radius around it. The White House should be so secure.

Then he shows us the old golf cart that used to ferry in relief pitchers back in the 70's. They retired it in the early 80's. Peanut and I got to sit in it. Oh, the greats that have sat their butts in that seat.

Then Alex excused himself for a minute and asked us to wait. He returned with a batting practice jersey for Peanut. I'm bleeding Dodger blue now.

Down to the bullpen to watch warmups.

Then, he walks us to our seats. Twenty rows up a few feet past first base.

"Are we gonna get a foul ball here?", she asks.

"A good chance", I answer.

We settle in. Make nice with our new neigbors. And continue to eat for the cycle. More dogs. Cotton candy. Garlic fries. Hmmmm.

In the fifth inning, by God, here comes a foul ball right at us. It lands five feet beyond my reach, then richochets under a seat and off my big toe, and a guy two rows down grabs it. Should have worked on the foot glove.

But in addition to everything else, we got a chance to scramble for a foul ball. How does she do that?

And a cracking good game we got to see. Two no-nonsense pitchers. Scoreless until the bottom of the 8th. Rafael Furcal (who was brought to greatness by the Braves) knocks in the only run of the game. Total game time, 2 hours 28 minutes. (They read the blog!)

On the way out, Peanut needs one more souvenir. She points out that the hat and jersey were given to her. I haven't bought anything yet. So, we find the cutest Teddy Bear covered in team and baseball logos. His new name is Dodger.

On the drive home, she falls asleep in the backseat hugging with Dodger in a bear hug.

And I hear God's voice again.

"God, is there baseball in heaven?", I ask.

"I got good news and bad news for you", He answers.

"Let me have it."

"Yes, there is baseball in heaven."

"And the bad news?"

"You're playing shortstop on Friday."