Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Memories Humbling

This is from Greg Dewar of the Oregon Daily Emerald:

Memorial Day weekend is never a good weekend. An old Army buddy said that to me years ago. It resulted in an hour of quiet contemplation between us. It needed no introduction and it needed no explanation.

For most, it’s a day that involves barbecuing, family, friends and a much-needed reprieve from work and school. I cannot be cross with people for enjoying the day like any day off. I know that they can enjoy this day, and that’s all any of us should want.

For some of us, however, Memorial Day weekend is a dour and heart-wrenching affair.

Most never think of the actual point of Memorial Day. It was created after the Civil War to honor the Union’s war dead and is celebrated near Unification Day. It was expanded after WWI to honor all war dead.

To honor those brave souls who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedom, that small echelon of society who placed their friends, family and the American Dream (hollowed and forboding as it is currently) above life and limb, is the least we can do. It is the most noble and charitable of acts.

These are the truly human among us. These are the ones we must never forget.

When we as a nation are in a prolonged foreign war, Memorial Day is the most
important day of the year.

As I am a veteran, Memorial Day brings up a bag of mixed feelings: pride, survivor’s guilt and a great deal of remorse.

I feel pride to know that I briefly served among the ranks of these heroes. Survivor’s guilt because our roles were not reversed; that instead of my friends — the best friends I ever had and people I consider family — dying in that godforsaken desert, it should have been me. Why wasn’t I more like them? Why them, specifically? What forces sent them and kept me? I was just as willing.

I feel remorse because they are gone forever and the world will never know their greatness. The world will never know what they had to offer. The world will never know them like I did.

The world I live in is a sleeping hell, awoken but once a year to the tune of the bittersweet symphony of what I have lost and what we have gained. It is not a weekend during which I can touch alcohol, but my cigarette intake will jump from one to two or three packs a day.

These heroes’ names aren’t on any wall. I can’t even go and read them. I can’t afford to make a pilgrimage to their graves. So every Memorial Day weekend that I can, I visit the names of the heroes who came before them. Heroes who gave their lives just as willingly and without regret. I hope that it is enough to honor them in the way that they deserve.

Come Memorial Day morning, I visit the war memorials in Springfield and Albany — they are both dedicated to the Vietnam War. I read the plaques and every name on the walls aloud, then salute the flag. I drive up to Wilsonville and read every name on the Korean War, the forgotten war, Memorial’s wall, and then salute the flag.

Patriotism and respect for the war dead is ingrained within me. I come from a long line of military men who have served during almost every major conflict the U.S. has fought. My great grandfather was an Army sniper in WWI. My grandfather served on a naval destroyer that ferried supplies through U-boat territory to England in WWII. Then he re-enlisted and served in Korea. My father and both uncles served in the Army during Vietnam. The generational gap meant that a Dewar was not present during the first Gulf War, but I served during the War in Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War as a member of the U.S. Air Force, for far too short a time. That is my only regret in this life.

At these memorials, only one thought is on my mind: Any one of us could have had their names on those walls.

Take the time this Memorial Day weekend to thank a veteran or visit a memorial. Look into their eyes or up at that flag waving in the spring breeze and say, “Thank you.” If you don’t, spend this Memorial Day freely and at your own discretion, and think of those who preserved what we, as a nation, have. That’s all it takes. That’s all that really matters.

As I finish this off with a tear in the corner of my eye, I would like to leave you with a single quote from Rev. Aaron Kilbourn: “The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old People And Their Parking

Nice to know Florida doesn't own the market for old people and old people parking. At the Mall last week spotted this car halfway in the drive lane. Geez.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Live Feed From BP Camera

This is the on site camera monitoring the gushing pipe in the gulf. Let's hope BP has a reason to turn it off soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quiz On Returning To BFE


1. Find a renter or buyer for my rental house. (True)

2. Win the Illinois lottery. (True)

3. I enjoy cold wet rainy weather. (False)

4. I want to find out why Christopher and my wife sent me information on buying Canadian viagra. (False)

5. I want to ride the cycle with my buddies. (True)

6. Got to have me a Jerry's pizza. (True)

7. Want to help bro Mark wet/dry vac his basement. (True)

8. I wanted my family to miss me. (True)

9. I miss mowing a yard. (False)

10. I missed turning on the heater part of my thermostat. (False)

11. I missed dodging Mercer County potholes. (False)

12. I got tired of lounging at the beach. A flooded dirty field sure beats the sand and surf. (False)

13. Fine dining got boring in St. Pete. Now all I want is frozen Wal-Mart burgers. (False)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Night Lights

If you are tired of the same old forensic TV show, or bored with the same formulaic laugh-track sitcom, then watch Friday Night Lights this Friday and get hooked on quality TV. Did you just read that correctly? Quality and TV in the same sentence? Yes, this series is starting its 4th season and it has been clinging on the cliff of cancellation since year one. That proves its quality. Lets face it, if its in the top 10 in ratings its dumbed-down TV. Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, CSI and NCIS dominate the ratings. Pablum for the masses. Watch a show that doesn't always end easy, or safe. Damn good adult drama that you'll want to get the previous episodes on Netflix. Or you can sit safely in that easy chair and watch lousy people dance, mediocre people sing or solve-a-murder-in-an-hour.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brendan and his friend Rachel invited us to the Tradwinds Hotel to see the sunset. It was a windy evening

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Inane Inanity - Rant Edition

1. Spotted this on Craigslist last week. Dis is an example of why you should stay in skool with riting like dat. Hit him up if you want to buy it:

1966 chrysler imperial - $3500 (springfield/ohio)

Date: 2010-04-09, 6:38PM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]


this is a 1966 chrysler imperial rare car to find like dis one there really werent dat many made back then only like 500 i herd but this is clean on the inside and out for its yr not much really wrong wit it jus needs a little tender love and car i jus need the money right now for a smaller vehicle but this ca runs and drives great i love it drives like cadilac they say lol but hit me up at 937-926-xxxx or at home 937-284-xxxx

2. Noticed the more aggressive commercials on TV? Burger King plastic head guy is actually breaking and entering, the Geico lizard steals a dollar from his boss, and a guy with a totata, or whatever it is, menacingly challenged about his sandwich. I can't say it enough: do not watch them, they suck your IQ. Grab a newspaper, DS or do push ups during commercials. That is time you cannot get back.

3. Go to the Tyrone Square Mall fairly often to see Kenzie at her New York & Company store. Contrary to Galesburg's Sandburg Mall, it is full of people. A common sight is young men holding their penises or a portion of pants close to their penises. From behind the pants are below their ass cheeks. Now imagine
buying pants 3 sizes too big and walk around all day keeping them up without a belt. Honestly I understand the Goth look, the piercings, raspberry colored hair and the tattoos around your neck, but this penis clutch, I just don't get.

4. I feel for the people using those battery-operated carts because of their varied medical problems. I do not feel for the people using them because they are fat. Get out of the electric recliner and walk.

5. Added to the list of addictions is tanning booths. Oh come on. Don't rank that as an addiction like drug or alcohol use, somehow that doesn't seem right.

6. Speaking of addictions, here is a young Tiger posing at the local Hooter's when he was just a kid and, apparently before his sex addiction.

Gosh, it almost looks like young Tiger here is thinking, "Oh, my what a fun time I'm going to have!"

7. What's up with people who start a sentence by saying "I mean". "I mean" is a claritive phrase to correct what you have already stated. How can you correct something not yet said? "I mean", "like", "you know", are the new "uhmmm" or "well" which seem to have been the sentence starter in the past. I have found myself doing it and I'm doing my damndest to stop. I will pause and formulate what I want to say and say it, without all those junk words. You all have permission to slap me when I fail. Slap gently.

8. How about people who are so cool, they keep their sunglasses on the back of their heads while they eat.

9. Something I see in every baseball game: a player hits a homer, or strikes out the side to win the game or even an RBI, and they raise their eyes to the sky and make a beseeching gesture with their arms to God/Jesus/passing cloud. I applaud these players and their close relationship with their Maker, but this is a game they are playing, not attending church.

10. I'm beginning to think I may be a little introverted.

11. Had a problem with possible ID theft (why anyone would choose me boggles the imagination) with a credit card and in my two calls talked to people obviously not from the U.S. I found myself saying yes, yes, yes, to things I didn't understand. Hard telling where my fraud claim will end up now. I'm told you can request someone who speaks English, but I didn't.

12. What about those poor Highland Park, Illinois basketball girls' team that can't go to Arizona to play because of "safety" reasons involving the new immigration laws there. Geez, these girls live in Chicago, can they be be less safe in Phoenix?

13. I almost always rip the packaging in cereal boxes so I have cereal going all over the place when I tip it over the bowl. It's aggravating. We can send men to the moon 40 years ago but we cant come up with sealable inner wraps for breakfast cereal.

14. People in positions of authority hate to have to change their positions.

15. What's all this about fruits and vegetables being the basics for good health? Pizza Hut, red meat, ice cream and chocolate are my favorites and never spent a day in a hospital.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unbelievable Voice

This is 12 year old Greyson Chance. Pretty impressive voice. He is a 13 year old 6th grader, and has just signed a record deal based on this rendition of Lady Gaga's
"Paparazzi". He has been playing the piano for three years but never had singing lessons.

Coincidentally, I do a similar, if more mature version, in the shower. Some of you may know that I was destined for a singing career myself but decided to work with juvenile delinquents instead. Mrs. Free, my high school chorus teacher thought it best to change the world one kid at a time rather than pursue a life of fame and riches.

PS. This was a talent show. I feel sorry for the poor soul that had to follow this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Out With The Old, In With The New...With Sadness

OK guys, a Quiz. What is with you when you go to the bathroom, get a tooth pulled, do your taxes or go to the beach? It goes with you inside the dressing room at your favorite clothes store and when you run down 4 blocks to get McDonald's. What is with you at the doctor's office and the all-day motorcycle ride?

I can't speak for all guys but for me, my wallet is more of a constant companion than any family member or pet. I haven't had more than 3 or 4 my whole life. It becomes real tough to give up an old one. Like a favorite pair of jeans, a wallet is a part of me, conforms to me, gives me solace and makes me feel safe.
My first one marked me as a adult. It is sad to say goodbye to a an old constant companion but my old one was wearing out. The stitching was fraying, the photo pockets unhinged, and new plastic inserts about impossible to replace. The leather parts were still good and I think I'll keep it just in case my new one doesn't work out.
I will miss it. It helped keep me afloat at times financially (my secret compartment with a $20 tucked inside), it contained my family always. I may not have petted it or kissed it, but it was a vital and constant part of my day, and I will miss it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

People On the Beach

These guys were having a field day with the high surf.
Married couple walking identically with arms behind their backs. But why is she 30 paces behind?
This lady was of a "certain age". Concensus of the group was she was wearing a swimsuit perhaps a little bit skimpy.
Some people should NEVER EVER wear speedos.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tim & Carrie Visit St. Petersburg

From left to right: Carrie, Tim, nancy, Mackenzie, Drew and me.
Mackenzie about to eat a squid or octopus or some such thing.

Tim and Carrie from BFE arrived in the Tampa-St.Pete area for a cruise and took some time to meet us at 3 Birds. Tim and Carrie are my neighbors in North Henderson and proprieters of the North Henderson Civic Center and owners of Big Blue, a shiny (usually) Harley. Brendan was also here but we had him back in the kitchen supervising our food.
Tim and Carrie (see the big rock on her finger?) had a great time on their cruise and were able to escape some wet and cold Illinois weather for a week. Thanks for taking the time to join the family. (For NH residents: Tim behaves himself a bit more in the city.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When It Isn't Sunny In the Sunshine State

Rained pretty good yesterday (April 25th) and you can tell my buddy Spencer was wanting to get inside. This was followed by more thunderboomers later around midnight. I love "weather", especially down here where it tends to be an endless and boring warm and sunny every day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Most Beautiful Seat Belt Ad

Show your kids, spouses and friend this video. Beats all the realistic car crashes you could throw into this minute and some second spot.

After they roll their eyes, then show them this.

Friday, May 7, 2010

An Approaching Disaster

I remember the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Living in the Midwest at the time, it was a headline and an ecological tragedy that happened far away. We all saw the oil encased birds and black coastal rocks and we were, naturally, upset with Exxon and the drunk captain of the ship. All disasters are relative to your own backyard, I guess.
Now, our backyard is threatened. Many of the entries of this blog have revolved around the beach, the beach-goers and all the things that relate to the beach. We even had a close encounter with a gentle manatee last summer. The morning stingrays that come close to the water's edge for some reason, the sea shells, and the dolphins that we see out by the buoys. The tourist businesses, the fishing and commercial companies, the lives and jobs that depend on a healthy Gulf; the price to families, the environment and fishlife alike is beyond an arbitrary dollar estimate.
Yesterday, officials began the preparations to battle the gulf oil slick as far south as Sarasota, which is south of us. Other reports say we will be lucky and miss the conflagration but that the currents will wreck the Keys. Who knows, we'll see, but it saddens me to think that the white beaches and green seas may turn black.
I don't have any political rant: I don't know enough about off-shore rigs, but I do know we need oil to keep the nation moving. I'll leave that to the experts, politicians and activists. All I know is my back yard is about to be ruined, and for once, a tragedy is real.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is today. Besides the fact that I am heading to BFE, there are other reasons to celebrate. Because the origins of Cinco de Mayo are in Mexico, many Americans are fairly misinformed about what Cinco de Mayo actually is and why it is celebrated. Here, then, are 13 fun facts about Cinco de Mayo. File these away and see how many margaritas you can win in trivia contests this May 5th. This is from The Presurfer website.

1. Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. In America, we say “The 4th of July” when talking about our Independence Day. It would seems natural, then, that “The 5th of May” would be the Mexican equivalent. Not so. Actually, Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of an 1862 battle between an under-armed, under-manned Mexican army against a well-armed French Army led by Napoleon III. Clearly, the Mexican army won, hence the celebration every 5th of May.

2. So What Is Mexico’s Independence Day? Mexico celebrates its Independence Day – the day it declared its independence from Spanish Rule – on September 16th every year. Mexico declared its independence in 1810, more than 50 years prior to the battle that we commemorate with Cinco de Mayo.

3. The Battle of Puebla was short. When we think of war in a modern sense, we think of prolonged battles that last days, or even weeks, with ground forces trudging forward. The Battle of Puebla commemorated on Cinco de Mayo, however, featured about 12,000 soldiers combined (8,000 French and 4,000 Mexican). Yet, the entire battle lasted just about two hours and changed the course of history in North America.

4. So wait, what were the French doing in Mexico in 1862? Think of them as an armed collections agency. After declaring their independence in 1810, Mexico went through decades of infighting, as well as fighting with America. this cost a lot of money. In 1861, Mexican President, Benito Juarez, declared a 2-year moratorium on loan repayments to foreign nations, including Spain, England, and France in an attempt to avoid bankrupting the country. All three nations invaded Mexico to collect on debts. While Spain and England left, France tried to stay and take over the country. Obviously, it didn’t work out for the French as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and not Cinq mai.

5. Cinco de Mayo must be HUGE in Mexico! Not really. While the Batalla de Puebla helped to unify Mexico around one event, the major celebrations of Cinco de Mayo has largely been contained to the village of Puebla, about 100 miles east of Mexico City, where the original battle took place. In reality, Cinco de Mayo is much more popular in America, where citizens of Mexican descent (and those who just like a good margarita) hold festivals from sea to shining sea.

6.Just How Popular is Cinco de Mayo in America? In a word: VERY. Annual Cinco de Mayo festivals in Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and St. Paul, regularly draw hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration is the Festival de Fiesta Broadway held in Los Angeles, California. It routinely draws about 600,000 people to partake in song, spirit, and dance!

7. My grandparents say they don’t remember celebrating Cinco de Mayo when they were kids. What gives? Cinco de Mayo, as we know it today in America, didn’t begin until 1967. Some students from California State University noticed that there weren’t any Mexican holidays celebrated in America like there were for citizens of other descent, like St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, or Chinese New Year. So they chose Cinco de Mayo as the day to celebrate and gathered Chicano students in unity and celebration. It has gotten a little bigger since then.

8. So they don’t party so much in Mexico, huh? Whoa, hardly. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is just one of more than 365 festivals that are celebrated by Mexicans and people of Mexican descent. No wonder Mexico is such a popular spring break destination!

9. Do they celebrate Cinco de Mayo anywhere besides Mexico and America? While the celebrations aren’t as large or as well-publicized in other nations, some nations mark the day in their own special way. In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for example, a particular sky-diving club holds their annual Cinco de Mayo jump. Meanwhile the Mediterranean island nation of Malta simply encourages the enjoyment of Mexican beer on Cinco de Mayo.

10. Have margaritas always been the unofficial drink of Cinco de Mayo? Hardly. While Tequila holds a long and storied place in Mexican and Mexican-American celebratory traditions, the margarita didn’t even exist in 1862! While tequila, ice, lime, and sugar all existed in 1862, they weren’t brought together in the form of a margarita until about 1930. Maybe that’s another day that deserves celebration. Just sayin’.

11. Are there any traditional Cinco de Mayo songs? While there are no songs specifically for Cinco de Mayo, there are plenty of songs with Cinco de Mayo in the lyrics, including “Isis” by Bob Dylan and “Mexico” by Cake. In fact, the following bands/artists all have songs titled “Cinco de Mayo”: War, Liz Phair, Senses Fail, and Herb Alpert.

12. The banks are open in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo. Because Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday, and not technically a Federal holiday, the banks stay open. It’s sort of like Arbor Day, but with more tequila.

13. Why Cinco de Mayo still matters. As any celebratory holiday, it is important to honor those moments in a nation’s history when it overcomes tremendous odds. That alone would be reason to keep remembering Cinco de Mayo. The other noteworthy element of Cinco de Mayo is that it represents the last time a foreign army waged aggression in North America… 148 years ago.

There it is, 13 fun facts about Cinco de Mayo. Feel free to add more in the comments section. And, just a reminder: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo responsibly. If you have had too many margaritas or cervezas, please don’t drive. Call a cab or one of your amigos.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Windy For Birds, Too

This little guy was curious about us, but also seemed to have an issue with the windy conditions. Watch him wobble just a wee bit in the wind.