Sunday, April 13, 2014

What a photograph can reveal

Last Monday afternoon, something evil this way came into my intestines.

I assumed it was a 24 hour virus.  

By Thursday, all my Wikipedia research indicated the rumbling down below could no longer be assumed to be the Norovirus.

Twenty years ago, I was fortunate to become the patient of a physician that I liked then and trust and respect even more after all these years.  Dr. Paul Sokal.  

Thankfully, the good doctor was in Thursday afternoon.

After a few minutes of questions and examination, Dr. Sokal determined I had a bacterial infection, i.e. food poisoning.  (I swear to never eat at a NASCAR event again.)  A few days of antibiotics, and I would be good to go.

Once the exam was over, Dr. Sokal said that he wanted to show me a photograph he had taken.

I knew that years back he had given up on golf and taken up photography.  It made going to the doctor's office fun to see his new work on the wall on each visit.  Beautiful images from exotic locations, junkyards, the Calatrava bridge. New work from a recent trip to Lake Tahoe graced this exam room.

 "I think this may be the best photograph I've shot yet.  But given the nature of the image, and how you feel today, I hesitate to show it to you.  Probably better on your next visit."

"No, no.  Please show it to me.  I'm ok."

 So, he opened his computer, and this is the photograph.

"Alan, my dad was an Army veteran.  He is buried in Arlington National.  I'll never forget his ceremony.  The folding of the flag was an image I'll never forget.  You could have bounced quarters off the flag when the honor guard pulled it taut before they began to fold it.  

Thinking of him, I went to Dallas National to look around.  That's when I saw this image and captured it.  

And now, I wanted to ask your help.  I know you have suffered in this same way.  I'm determined to find the family of CPL Peter Courcy, but I don't have any idea where to begin.  If it I'm not asking too much, I was wondering if you could give this some thought and advise me where I might begin my search to find them."

I got goosebumps.  

"I know CPL Courcy's family.  I can put you in touch with them today.  Look, here's his mom's Facebook page.  We're friends.  She has a very similar photo on there.  What a wonderful day this is, Paul.  You didn't upset me at all.  Today is my Pete's birthday, and you just gave me a wonderful gift."

Then he got goosebumps.  

Now, I know why I got the yuk.

Now, I know more about Paul Sokal.

Now, I can see his father's ceremony.

Now, Paul Sokal knows the family of Peter Courcy.

Now, I see again the importance of the monuments we build to fallen heroes.

Now, I see more clearly the arc of miracles.  

Amazing what one photograph can reveal.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How cold is it?

I have a new job.

Director of Marketing of the Walls Brands Group now owned by Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co.

We make insulated workwear and hunting clothing.  The stuff you wear when it's cold and you work outdoors or go hunting and fishing in the cold.

I've been to Madison, Wisconsin twice in the past month.  Once, it was -11, and on the second trip it was -22.

It hurt to breathe.

We visited stores of a customer of ours, Blain's Farm and Fleet. 

On the most recent visit, we toured several stores and noticed that ice fishing huts were seriously marked down.

Having grown up in the South, ice fishing is one of those things I've been amazed by and always wanted to try.  We're used to cane poles and mosquitoes and bream.  Drilling a hole in the ice seems so otherworldy.  And a really cold winter, I assumed, would be the pinnacle for the sport.

So I asked the store manager why the ice fishing huts were marked down.

I assumed, wrongly, that it was late in the season.

"Oh, it's been an awful ice fishing season.  It's been too cold to ice fish", was the response of the manager.

That's how cold it's been.

It's friggin cold across North America.

No snow in Atlanta or ice in Dallas can explain the cold that Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada, etc. has experienced this year.

I'm sure Al Gore and company have an explanation.  But I believe their PowerPoint is wrong.

The good folks in the Northern climes of the U.S. have experienced a record cold.  As have the folks in almost every state.

And, it's not over yet.

Indications are that winter will continue to be on us in a serious way for at least another two months.

Somethings happening here.  And, what is is, ain't exactly clear.

But it ain't global warming.

And for those of us in Southern climes, we need to learn from our Northern neighbors.  Life goes on unabated for them.  They are prepared.  The airports are open and on time.  The highways are cleared and safe.  City sidewalks are clear.

The Ice Age might well be upon us.

Buckle up.