Author Archive

Think Good Thoughts

February 3, 2019

Have You Figured It Out Yet?

In my last blog posted at the end of 2018 I suggested that you might want to figure out your purpose in life, “What is the Meaning of Life”. Given that it’s already February, maybe it will give you a leg up if I reveal my “purpose”. If you need an inspiration for your own, go back and read my previous blog. In that post I also included a link to David Allan’s article in Reader’s Digest, some good ideas there.

Plant a Garden of Positive Thoughts

That’s it, that’s my purpose. Okay, I’m a goody two shoes (I should Google the origin of that label), but here are two reasons why I chose that as my purpose. First, it was something I read, another is that I’m looking forward to spring (do not like winter), and another reason (I guess that makes three) is that my significant other is a master gardener. I get involved in plenty of planting projects. If you think about it, the act of planting in itself is a positive thing, a cause of growth, either a vegetable from a seed or (metaphorically) growth that occurs when someone you helped reaps the benefits – kind of a “you too” benefit instead of a “me too” benefit.

Here’s a quick Bible quote: “No foul language should come from your mouth but only what is good for building up someone in need”. (Ephesians 4:29, paraphrased)

Huey Lewis and the News: The Power of Love

 

My Mission Statement

Several years ago I lost my job as a contract technical writer for the U.S. Forest Service. I’d been there over three years, but the federal government was cutting back on agency budgets. I think Obama was president. I don’t blame him, things happen.

Anyway, I went back into the job market. At some point I decided, given the lack of technical writer jobs being offered to me, I should try a career change. I went back to school and earned a certificate in non-profit development at a university in Portland. In one of the courses I learned the importance of a mission statement for any organization that was serious about achieving its goals. The following is my mission statement:

“My mission as a blogger is to educate and enlighten as many people as possible with a positive spin on the factual information that I provide for my readers.”

I know, given all the negative information that’s available in our world – fake news, incomplete news, inaccurate news, and politically biased news – it’s a challenge to ferret out the “real stuff” that is happening all around us.

Think Good Thoughts

I remember (from my hippie days in Houston) meeting a “gypsy” who lived in a very cool, highly-tricked out 1950s vintage Chevy pickup truck. I wish I had a picture of it. The body was bright red with a cab-over balcony big enough for one, an amazing living space with “rooms” partitioned with artsy curtains, including a small kitchen. He parked the truck in a vacant lot. If you walked up the steps at the rear of the truck, you could see a sign over the doorway that read “Think Good Thoughts”. Obviously that message stuck with me all these 40 plus years.

What’s Next?

I’ve been thinking about immigration issues a lot in the last year, and I want to present some things for you to think about. I’ll do that next time, now I must get my beauty rest so I can watch the “stupor bowl” tomorrow – actually I’m only interested in the beer commercials for a few laughs.

However, to whet your interest in my upcoming immigration topic, here’s a link to a piece written by Brett P. Reistad, National Commander of the American Legion.

 

 

 

Is it 2019 Yet?

December 31, 2018

Is Portland, Oregon weirder than Austin, Texas?

I watched a program on public TV the other day about Vortex I, a documentary about a 1970 event, really interesting and historic as it relates to the state of Oregon. I may have to do a follow-up blog about the Portland vs Austin question.

Thanks to Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society for the Vortex I web write-up.

It Is Still 2018?

Yes, as I put pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) drafting this post, probably my last post for the year, there is only a full day left in 2018 before the big ball drops in Times Square. No, I won’t be there, but I have a runner friend who lives in Oregon but really likes New York.

The first and only time I was in New York occurred when I was a teenager. I was with my oldest sister and her husband, and it was Christmas time. We did a lot of “tourist stuff”, went to Rockefeller Center with the big tree and the ice skaters. We also went to a supper club in mid-town Manhattan where Joan Rivers was performing. She was pregnant, and I thought her jokes were pregnant. Anyway, for a boy who had grown up in small-town Texas, New York was an amazing experience – from a town of less than 8,000 to New York City, walking down 5th Avenue where people were packed in practically elbow to elbow. The subway and Greenwich Village were fun too.

Was 2018 a Good Year for You?

For me, now winding down 2018. I can say that it has been a good year, possibly a great year, but I’m ready to move on to new challenges. When you get “older and wiser”, you tend to get philosophical (and more forgetful) about life. Hopefully, no matter what your age, if you look back and reflect on 2018, you will smile and say that it has been a hoot or an adventure or whatever, and you will look forward to 2019. There are two quotes, a Nelson Demille quote at the top of that page and a Hunter S. Thompson quote at the bottom in my Favorite Quotes post. In my opinion, those two quotes say it all.

What is the Meaning of Life?

If you are at all interested in the meaning of life or the purpose of life I’m suggesting that you read another Reader’s Digest article, to start you off on the right foot for 2019.

The excellent article, Maintain Your Purpose in Life, was written by David G. Allan.

If you’re old enough, you may remember that screensaver from many years ago, a weird red and green cartoon character, mouth open and tongue hanging out (captioned the “meaning of life”) that flitted around the computer screen daring you to click it with your mouse, and of course it always evaded you. Regardless of the implication suggested by the screensaver creator that it isn’t possible to figure it out, read Allan’s article and give it some thought, about your own purpose in life. For him it’s a yearly exercise, and he says that his answer changes over time. Don’t overthink it – the year he got engaged, Allan’s answer to the question was “Love”.

He also points out that this isn’t a theoretical exercise, you should turn your answer into action. If your answer is “love”, then you should love more.

Bottom line, there is no right answer, only what’s right for you at any given time. He talks about how studies have shown that people who have a specific purpose in life and can articulate it, live longer. He suggests that if you take the time to think about it and answer the question, it will in effect add meaning to your life.

Allan quotes some of the answers from famous people.

  • “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” (Leo Tolstoy)
  • “There is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” (Anais Nin)

What’s Ahead – Foreshadowing my Blog for 2019

Stuff about good people and what they do. If you read my November blog, I included a link to Reader’s Digest stories. Every November Reader’s Digest publishes their America’s Nicest Places issue. A  couple of other interesting links for you:

Imprimis articles (of course)

Vietnam, my experiences and my observations about the war.

More about “Is Portland, Oregon weirder than Austin, Texas?”

Mindfulness, a continuation of my blog topic. A subject that keeps popping up in the media.

The Big Leap, a book by Gay Hendricks – I included the link in a November post, just boring “self-improvement” stuff. Kind of like meditation, it may require some effort on your part to realize the positive results.

Music and Pictures

Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Winter)
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Spring)
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Summer)
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Autumn)

Some Parting Shots

I’ve mentioned my Daily Word readings – just a couple of recent ones to pass along that I thought were noteworthy.

December 29, 2018, “Love: It is my nature to extend love.”

“I recognize that forgiveness is easier than condemnation because forgiveness reflects the truth of who I am. God is perfect love and therefore so am I.”

A companion Bible verse, Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

December 30, 2018: “Power: I am a spiritual being, bestowed with great power.”

“I align my thoughts with my highest good, envisioning health, abundance, love, and success.”

If you have been reading The Big Leap, the last sentence should remind you of Hendrick’s “universal success mantra” that he discusses in the book.

That’s it for 2018, see you next year.

 

 

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November 2018 Reflections

December 1, 2018

Quotations and Books

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”  Marcus Aurelius
Books:  The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks (not an easy read but a good “self-improvement” book if you’re willing to make the effort, link to audible.com).

I really like Marcus Aurelius quotes, so here’s another one that Hendricks includes in his book toward the end of it. Keep in mind that Marcus Aurelius was a soldier who lived in first century Rome.

“I am part of the whole, all of which is governed by nature. I am intimately related to all of the parts which are of the same kind as myself. If I remember these two things, I cannot be discontented with anything that arises out of the whole because I am connected to the whole.” Marcus Aurelius
“There are times in our lives when we realize that our past is precisely what it is, we cannot change it, but we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that we can change the future.” Eleanor Brown (from a Criminal Minds episode)

With the Eleanor Brown quote in mind, let’s dive in to the rest of this November blog.

Other Thoughts – Boomer or Not, Imprimis

It’s fun to reflect to get a different perspective. Obviously, since I’m older, I suppose I’m a “baby boomer”, but I’m right on the cusp. Tom Brokaw called another pre-WWII group “the greatest generation” (he wrote a book by that title). For “millennials”, it would be a shorter time period to reflect on their lives. They also would not be able to remember a time when you didn’t have to lock things – house, car, bike, etc. I was talking to someone at the gym about that, growing up in a time when that was true, at least in a small town like the one where I grew up. You walk out the front door leaving it unlocked and spend the whole day out, no worries. Not drawing conclusions on society in general, but obviously things are different in the 21st century.

As you already know if you read my blog, I’m an Imprimis fan. You might want to check out their publications online or better yet, get on their mailing list for a free printed copy of each publication. For example, here’s a different take on how things used to be, the piece that Amy Wax did for the Imprimis January 2018 publication, “Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real of Problems”. Pay special attention to the first 10 or 12 paragraphs, where she contrasts contemporary American society with our society between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s. You can draw your own conclusions, but I strongly recommend reading the last three paragraphs, especially the one that starts with “Disliking, avoiding, and shunning people who don’t share our politics is not good for our country.”

Back to November 2018 – A Few Snippets

You’ll notice the details that I’m able to remember from the entire month of November – admittedly, I do a daily journal, so it’s not all from memory.

On November 1, I tested some Nike shoes (testing gives me Nike Employee Store privileges, which saves me money on running shoes). November 1 is also my beautiful daughter’s birthday. In my family it’s a tradition to take the birthday honoree out to eat at a restaurant of their choosing. We celebrated her birthday on November 3 at the Old Spaghetti Factory, a great place for adults and kids, with good food and reasonable prices.

The rest of that first week of November, was our normal routine – for my wife, volunteer work at a local senior center, Bible study, pitching in with the grandkids, and cooking for our Monday night family dinner at our house. For me, it was gym workouts, running, and my running club had a banquet to reward volunteers who participated in 2018 events. Actually, on November 6 we went to SoCal to visit relatives. You may have seen my “On the Road, SoCal, November 2018” entry. Just a brief diversion from my November snippets to share my reactions to the SoCal trip.

What Did I Learn in SoCal?

Did I learn anything, or was it just another vacation trip, five days in the sun (no complaints), hanging out with friends and relatives, and total relaxation in a very nice setting. About learning, the question is rhetorical, we always learn things. On this trip I learned on a higher level:

  • People are tough and resilient. While we were there, the mass shooting at Thousand Oaks happened, and the Woolsey fire in SoCal and the fire in northern California, all happened in that week.
  • Most people (not all) are friendly and approachable, willing to share things about themselves. There were many people in the hotel who had evacuated their homes.
  • Most people will help others who are in a bind, sometimes going out of their way to help. There were hundreds of fire-fighting professionals from Oregon and Washington who volunteered two weeks of their time to help fight the fires and to help people in need. Another example, an Oregon man loaded up his business truck with food and supplies and drove to California.
  • More examples of people helping people, check out these Readers Digest stories – I was especially impressed with “Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas”.
  • Relationships with people close to you are worth preserving but may require extra effort.

Back to November 2018 – A Few Snippets (continued)

On November 10, we returned to Portland, unpacked and did our laundry. It was good to be back.

On November 11, Veterans Day, I went to a local event honoring Vietnam veterans. It was a large turnout with people from other wars too. There were speeches and socializing, vets meeting other vets, and we received pins honoring our service. Just remember, not everyone who served had a choice, but that doesn’t matter, they served.

Interesting side-note – my Daily Word affirmation for that Sunday was “I am free through the freedom of Spirit.” The Bible verse, 2 Corinthians 3:17, for that day was: “. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

On November 15, one of our grandsons did a sleepover. We walked the dogs and hung out.

On November 17, I continued my annual battle of the leaves (we have lots of trees) for disposal. My daughter hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner at her house, which gave us all a chance to overeat. The food was delicious.

On November 20, we made a decision on which Medicare supplement insurance to go with, after weeks of researching and thinking about. More leaf accumulation, up to about 50 bags now. Met with my running club in the evening to run on the track at a local school, windy and cold but dry.

Thanksgiving Day, November 22, I ran a 5K race and won my age group, which felt really good. I ran my fastest 5K time of the year. We had already celebrated our Thanksgiving dinner.

On November 24, we got invited over to my brother-in-law’s house for another Thanksgiving dinner, very well prepared and delicious. I overate again.

On November 25, I hauled 54 bags of leaves over to a disposal site, multiple trips in my truck. Done for this year thank goodness.

The rest of the month, we played Top Golf a few times, and did the rest of our normal routine.

“Oscar Wilde: ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’ Sarah Bernhardt: ‘I don’t care if you burn.'” Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt quotes – You can pick one that YOU like.

Pictures and Music

 

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Randy Newman: Sigmund Freud’s Impersonation of Albert Einstein in America

On the Road: SoCal, November 2018

November 10, 2018

Que Pasa?

See my blogger notes at the bottom of this post.

We’ve been having so much fun down south that I’m having to play catch-up on my travel blog. Normally I’d be reporting every day, but anyway that’s enough excuses. As I type this, on day 4 of our trip, I notice a whole squadron of hummingbirds flying around and descending on the feeders on my sister-in-law’s back deck in Valencia (aka Santa Clarita). If you read my blog, you know I love birds, so it’s a real treat to be able to sit here and work on my blog, watching the birds, Rufous Hummingbirds I think, some with beautiful, bright colors and others more muted colors, I’m able to hear their wings flutter as they approach the feeders. Truly one of God’s wonderful creatures. So to recap the last few days, here we go.

Mystery Music:

Day 2: Tucker and Carly

I skipped Day 1, because it was mostly a travel day, flying in to Burbank, checking in to our hotel, and going over to have lunch with our sister-in-law. On Day 2, a Wednesday, I had a light breakfast and did a run, while my wife hung out at the hotel. Southern California has very nicely accommodated those of us who like to get out and do physical stuff by building trail systems in many locations. The trail I was on was the San Francisquito Trail that winds its way around the roads and communities in the Santa Clarita area. Running on a trail is obviously much better than running on the street. I’ll include some pictures to give you an idea, or you may have seen a previous blog from when I ran the same trail. I have new pictures.

I met Tucker and Carly on this trip near the end of my run as they walked with their owner Dave. They’re Shih Tzu’s. Really cool little dogs. Dave told me that Carly was blind but still had that wonderful doggie sense of smell. I bid them a good day and continued running. I thoroughly enjoyed my run on Wednesday.

That night we went out with our friends to a favorite hangout that we like when we come to visit, a place in Valencia called JJ’s. Music, food, and conversation kept us occupied for the evening.

Day 3: Relaxing and Stuff

OK, we’re on vacation, not supposed to do much except relax and have fun, right? Well, we did lots of relaxing, in our very nice hotel that has a pool and other amenities and a full breakfast (omelets made to order, etc.), no complaints about any of that. So we logged our fair share of time around the pool, including swimming and hot tub time.

The “stuff” was yours truly researching and looking at medical insurance options since we are in the enrollment period and have to decide what we’re doing about that for 2019. The many, many choices make that process a bit intimidating, trying to choose the best plan. That evening we had a visit by my wife’s brother, who lives in Venice Beach. We had dinner at the hotel and talked a while. It’s always a lot of fun to spend time with people you don’t see very often.

Day 4: Winding Down and Watching the News

As it happened, we were in California when the catastrophic fires occurred, not terribly far from where we were. Also, the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks happened while we were there. Quite a disaster for so many people living here, to have their homes destroyed. I don’t mean to downplay any of what was going on, being here in the midst of the massive fires, loss of property and life, and the mass shooting too, it was a bit surreal literally being so close to all of it. Knock on wood and pray for us getting out of town safely.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the pictures.

Blogger notes:  I substituted my dogs Wiggles and Zoey for Tucker and Carly that I met on my first run (didn’t have a picture of them). The music was a random choice, selected quickly before I checked out of our hotel, not sure where it came from, but it sounded cool.

 

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More Dog Days of Summer

August 24, 2018

Mindfulness Revisited

I recommend taking a peek at my previous blogs on this subject before moving on:

Merriam-Webster Says

Synonyms of mindfulness (according to Merriam-Webster):
  • Attention, awareness, cognizance, consciousness, ear, eye, heed, knowledge, note, notice, observance, observation
Words Related to mindfulness (according to Merriam-Webster):
  • Hyperawareness, hyperconsciousness
  • Advisement, care, concern, consideration, regard, watch
  • Apprehension, discernment, grasp, mind, perception, recognition, thought, understanding
Near Antonyms of mindfulness (according to Merriam-Webster):
  • Disregard, neglect, obliviousness, unawareness
Blogger’s Disclaimer:  Rather than provide a primer on mindfulness in this post, given that I don’t consider myself an expert, my thought was to share some road signs on figuring out for ourselves how to manage our lives in a more sensible, peaceful manner. The following Daily Word content consists of an article and four affirmations that you might find useful in achieving “inner peace”.
Pink Floyd: Breathe (in the Air)

 

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Affirmations from Daily Word

My regular readers know that Daily Word is part of my routine to kick-start my day. I’m including some samples and links to the Unity web site, which is well-organized, should you want to subscribe and/or look for specific information on line.

Opportunities for Mindful Meditation by Katie Hawthorne (Daily Word, August 2018)

  • “As I focus on the present moment, my day flows and things seem to happen in timely ways. I find myself saying Yes! to each one”. (Daily Word, 8/23/18, “Present Moment”)
  • “I know the importance of a balanced life, and I am mindful to set aside time for rest and rejuvenation”. (Daily Word, 7/12/18, “Refresh”)
  • “I am made of light. I AM the light. My mind and emotions reflect the balance and purpose of this universe”. (Daily Word, 7/21/18, “Harmony”)
  • I express the peace and love of my Christ spirit. I make a conscious choice to be calm and centered. I begin by asking myself, What is preventing me from experiencing peace right now? (Daily Word, 4/21/18, “Inner Peace”)

The Dog Days of Summer

August 17, 2018

Running and Close Encounters with Dogs

Running obviously is a physical activity, but along with the endorphin effect it often provides serendipitous experiences. I’ve mentioned my dog encounters before.

On one very warm and sunny day in Portland, running along the Willamette River, my friend and I needed a pit stop so we stopped at a park that had restrooms. I should mention that we often stop during a run to commune with our four-legged friends, the friendly ones at least. It was at the park we met Possum, whose owner was giving him a drink. He was a cool dog with an unusual coat. The owner told us he was a Catahoula. Doing some research later, I discovered that he was a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, which apparently became the state dog of Louisiana in 1979. The owner said that he was a Katrina orphan that they rescued and brought to Portland when they moved here. I thought it was an interesting story.

One More Dog Story

On another run, by myself this time, I met Bruno the Pit Bull. I always ask if a dog is friendly and if it’s OK to approach the animal. Two ladies were walking Bruno, and they said it was OK. Big, but only six-months old he was a beautiful animal. We were talking about the undeserved reputations that Pit Bulls have, as being vicious. Bruno was very friendly. Not everyone agrees on the breed’s inherent personality, but here’s a bit of information. Personally, I’ve met a lot of very friendly pit bulls and some not so friendly other dog breeds.

Vietnam: Going Back Again

June 26, 2018

Blogger’s Block (Back to Vietnam)

Just as a segue, a few words about my creative process. Aside from my lame excuses, my procrastinating, or whatever else might be preventing me from sitting down and working on my blog, I’ll just call it “blogger’s block”, similar to writer’s block. You’ve seen it in the movies, the famous writer (not that I’m famous) sitting at his writing desk, coffee and cigarettes on the desk (not that I smoke or recommend smoking, although I do drink coffee). His waste basket, full to the brim with crumpled sheets of paper, is nearby. He stares at the sheet of paper in his typewriter, a chapter name at the top of the page, and a line or two of text, or possibly just an incomplete sentence. OK, “typewriter”, that’s an older movie, maybe he’s sitting at his laptop keyboard staring at the screen. At any rate he’s not happy.

My writing lapses aren’t usually that dramatic, but I do have them. Thank you, Tom (my gym friend) for kick-starting me by praising my work. Be patient, I’ll take us back to Vietnam in a few minutes, honest – this one is dedicated to you.

Options, Options, and More Options

How about this, I’ll include you in my thinking/decision process, kind of as my virtual writing assistant, helping me decide the content for the next installment of my Vietnam blog. OK, OK, agreed, kind of a not-so-subtle way to get people to comment on my blog.

I have a 36-page double-spaced draft that I wrote nine years after my return from Vietnam. I used an IBM Selectric typewriter, and the draft is on the original paper. Many authors still use typewriters, and some like John Le Carre’ (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, etc.) write out their manuscripts in longhand. His wife types and edits his manuscripts, which I think is very cool. Anyway, my thought was to just go through my entire 12-month Vietnam tour and select highlights, like the one in my last post, “A Dark and Stormy Night” . As I have already done, I am using some of the text from my nearly 40-year-old draft, for example, the Preface that follows is from “Vietnam Ten Years Ago – A Sailor Remembers”.

“The following narrative is the product of my memories and feelings about a personal experience and the desire to share the experience with others – a retrospective look at something which happened ten years ago. Since that time, it has rattled around in my head, I have discussed it with others, and I have written about it.
The memories of my year spent in Vietnam have not been naggingly painful or filled with nightmarish, melodramatic flashbacks (as others have experienced). In fact, some of what happened was quite pleasant. There are other memories I would rather forget.
Occasionally, I use real names in the narrative, because I remember some of them. However, I have no intentions of misrepresenting actual events or offending any of the real people involved. (Bernie Blazek, October 1979)”

More Options

Keep reading, Tom, we’re getting there.

So, the previous option would be to take my original draft and present it as a blog. Probably not the best choice, presenting over 10,000 words in my blog. Choosing “highlights”, as I’ve been doing, I think is better.

I also thought about getting “political” by addressing the question, “Are wars bad?” I’ve seen the Ken Burns TV series about the Vietnam War, and I was there for a year, but I think that question is beyond the scope of this blog. I will mention just one thing, a snippet from the Michael Berry Radio broadcast from Houston, Texas. You can Google him if you like. On June 6 this year, he dedicated a good part of his show to D-Day veterans, many of whom died in Normandy, France.

Berry talked about an 18-year-old who was drafted. One of the things struck home, about the young man, whose whole life was ahead of him, a girl friend, a future family. He didn’t enlist, but when he was drafted, he went willingly. He never came back. Say what you want about Michael Berry’s political views, but I think he called this one correctly.

OK, one more snippet about a bumper sticker (I may be misquoting it, but you’ll get the idea) that I saw in my neighborhood. “Except for overcoming communism, fascism, Nazism, and slavery, wars have not accomplished a thing.”

I guess one more option would be a musical/pictorial blog, kind of like I’ve done with other topics. By the way, I have to guide you down the music trivia path, just for a moment. If you read the first Vietnam installment I did, I included a song titled In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. You should read this Tampa Tribune piece about the song . . . veeerrry interesting!

OK, Tom, I’m running out of gas on this installment and need to go have dinner. Please feel free to comment and/or make a suggestion (or anyone). ‘Backatcha’ with more later.

The music and pictures are either symbolic or just for entertainment.

Canned Heat: Can’t Find My Way Home
Huey Lewis and the News: The Power of Love
Canned Heat: Let’s Work Together
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: Helplessly Hoping
Supertramp: Take the Long Road Home

 

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Travel Blog: California, May 2018

May 16, 2018

We’re on the Road Again

It’s been a while since we traveled south to SoCal to visit our relatives and friends. We drove this time instead of flying, lots of miles, lots of things to see.

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The drive down was fine, lots of gas stops because we decided to drive the Tacoma instead of the Prius, but we just wanted to take the truck on a long trip to check it out. My wife did the night driving (I hate driving at night), so we were in Red Bluff before it was my turn to drive. Most of the really scenic parts of the drive (southern Oregon, Shasta Lake, etc.) were done, so it was time to set the cruise control and enjoy the ride. We like audio books and were listening to a Harlen Coben novel, No Second Chance. The miles rolled on, and before we knew it we were driving up the Grapevine in southern California. A sky full of dark clouds and some brief rain were a surprise coming in, but the following days were very nice, sunny, and not too warm.

We Arrived OK

We arrived too early to check in so we had lunch with our sister-in-law, Mex food of course, at a placed where we had eaten before called Cocina in Santa Clarita. One of our  brother-in-laws joined us and our nephew and his friend. I got to try a new local craft beer that was good, which was a bonus.

Off to the hotel, we got our stuff unloaded and up to our suite. We upgraded to a bigger two-room suite this trip, very nice, on an outside corner of the hotel. We highly recommend Embassy Suites, nice amenities, including a full breakfast every morning. We’ve stayed there so many times, kind of feels like a second home. Later that first day we went over to JJ’s in Santa Clarita, one of our favorite spots, for dinner and drinks and to say hi to some folks we hadn’t seen in over a year.

The Rest of the Story

I’ll give you a quick recap of the rest of our time in SoCal and let the pictures tell you more.

Enjoying the sunny weather, relaxing at the hotel, some time in the pool and the hot tub. Bernie did some gym time, nothing major mainly just stretching and some PT for my knee. Bernie also got in two very nice runs (and didn’t get lost) on the streets around the hotel and on the trails. They have a great trail system for getting out and enjoying the  outdoors. Some of the other places (besides JJ’s) where we ate were Chi Chis (Italian), Chilis, and Mimis, a great soup and sandwich restaurant. The beach pictures were taken in Santa Monica, where we had a mother’s day breakfast for our sister-in-law at Shutters, another very cool place to eat in SoCal. It was great fun to get together with our relatives and friends that we hadn’t seen in over a year.

We’re back on the road tomorrow to go home. More pictures to come.

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What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (continued)

May 10, 2018

First, the Backstory

Actually the backstory, which happened almost 50 years ago, continues in this post. I invite you to start the Vietnam blog from the beginning, or you can just pick it up from here. I think the following eight-minute video tells the story pretty well of my year in Vietnam.

Vietnam: 1969-1970

Just a Brief Aside

Is dwelling or living in the past a bad thing? Probably, but revisiting the past is not the same thing. Look at all the people doing their genealogies these days, using Ancestry.com and other sites. How about revisiting events like wars? If the act of revisiting connects people and draws them closer together, that’s a good thing, right? I’m pretty outgoing, perhaps because of my Texas upbringing, and I’m able to start a conversation with a total stranger. If that person is wearing a Vietnam Vet cap, it’s a sure thing that we will have a conversation.

Blogger’s Note:  I should mention that a friend of mine at the gym, who said he really liked my blog and my writing, encouraged me to continue my Vietnam story.

John Kerry Served Where?

If you read my recent travel blog, you know I was in Texas recently visiting relatives. On our way down to visit some high school friends in a little town in southeast Texas, my younger sister and I were talking about stuff. We got on the subject of the Vietnam war. I always wondered about John Kerry’s military service – was he really a Swift Boat commander in Vietnam? You may remember the brouhaha about that when Kerry was running for president (2004). Anyway, as she drove, I googled him and guess what, he did serve in that capacity. And, amazingly, he and I served about the same time, and I’m pretty sure my ship supported his Swift Boat unit, Coastal Division 11. As I was reading the Wikipedia text, I saw An Thoi mentioned. An Thoi was the village near where my ship was anchored at the beginning of my tour – there are several photos in the video. The Coastal Division 11 crews used the APL-21 as a temporary base to clean up after a two-week patrol. How cool is that, a future famous person may have been on my ship while I was in Vietnam.

See my links about John Kerry at the end of this blog.

A Dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night, the rain fell in sheets, making it hard to see even a few feet . . . the opening of a Gothic novel, no just my segue to one very exciting incident that happened over there.

Blogger’s Note:  The following text is verbatim from a very old version (1979) of this story, just now seeing the light of day.

“But we were getting underway with our renovated libidos, sated after our long liberty in Cat Lo and Vung Tau, so we were not overly concerned with the war. The APL’s agreement with the tug, understandably for its crew members safety but unfortunately not for ours, was that the tow line would be cut if we got hit going upriver. As a precaution, we would traverse the 20 miles on the Mekong River in relative darkness, late at night. Our destination, Dong Tam, was to be my last duty station in Vietnam – in the jargon, I was “short”, with about two months remaining in-country. Just my luck, things were beginning to heat up near the end of my tour.

I was one of the watch standers on duty that night. We were nearing Dong Tam when four rounds of artillery, B-40’s, B-50’s, or something bigger hit the water near our starboard side.

General quarters, general quarters – this is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill.”

Back to the 21st century, I’ll summarize the rest of what happened.

I slammed a magazine into my M-16 and crouched behind a bulkhead, the adrenaline was flowing now. Some of the officers hit the deck, prompting one of our chief petty officers, who was standing on the forecastle of the ship in full view of anybody watching. He was a noted juicer (pretty juiced in that moment), waving his coffee cup (probably filled with bourbon) and gesturing and cursing loudly at the crew members flat on the deck. Thinking back, it was almost comical.

We stayed at General Quarters about four hours and nothing else happened. There was even some conjecture about the rounds having been fired by “friendlies”, mistaking us for the enemy.

That’s it for now, until someone inspires me again to continue these memories of that very interesting year in my life.

Wikipedia text about Kerry:
John Kerry military service controversy
Military career of John Kerry
Quotes:
“Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me.” Sarah Bernhardt
On “War”, take your pick.

Travel Blog: Texas, April 2018

April 18, 2018
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I’m Back!

Willy Nelson: On the Road Again

Going Back for a Visit – Day 1, April 18

Late start leaving the house (my fault), but got to the airport in time thanks to my wife’s skillful driving. Going back to visit relatives in Texas.

People along the Way

Met Micah, young man going back to Hawaii to resume college and visit his parents who live there. We had a long conversation as we waited to board our flights. We talked about occupations, photography, and family, that kind of stuff. He told me he was a business management major, but wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do. I told him what I did and that I changed majors three times before I settled on what I liked. I suggested that he allow himself the time to choose what he really liked doing. His flight was announced, and we said our goodbyes.

Stream of Consciousness (my impressions)

Walking into the warm airport terminal from the chilly Portland morning air . . . noisy, people struggling with their cumbersome bags (I need a wheeled bag), checking departure status, people corralling their kids . . . going through security, empty my pockets, take off my shoes, raise my arms in the scanner, put it all back together . . . had lots of time and was hungry, ordered a big breakfast, ate only part of it, nice smells of coffee and food . . . walking to the gate, observing people, people with their devices, talking, almost got my camera out but left it in the bag . . . thirsty, refilled my water bottle, almost time to board, noticed a young couple with two kids, one very young, thinking to myself that group will be in the row behind me with their screaming kid (didn’t happen).

More later.

Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Spring)

Going Back for a Visit – Day 2, April 19

Besides the wonderful sunshine, what else can I say about my Thursday in Texas? It was great! I did a long walk with my sister who lives in a small town near Austin. We walked along a creek near her house, exploring. After that, I did a nice run into town (also exploring) along the Brazos River, stopping along the way to talk to people, pet friendly dogs, and take pictures, which I included in my slide show. The town has many historic homes. To top off the day, my sister and her son and I had dinner and drinks in town at one of the popular eateries along the river and watched a beautiful sunset. It was a darn good day.

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Stevie  Wonder: You Are the Sunshine of My Life

Going Back for a Visit – Days 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, April 20-24

The musical introduction for this post was selected mainly because the sun has been amazing on this trip, warm and sunny all day, almost every day.

Friday we went into Austin to spend some with my oldest sister. She was in the process of unpacking and settling in to her new abode, an apartment complex in northwest Austin. It’s a great place with nice stonework and a nature preserve right there, with deer roaming in the woods. I included some pictures.

Saturday was another busy day, another sister and I traveling to our old hometown, Liberty. We had Mexican food with some of our friends that we hadn’t seen in quite a while. It’s fun to go back and see people you grew up with. We drove around the town to see what had changed in our old stompin’ grounds, quite a bit, but also some things that looked familiar like the house we lived in, back in that other century, still standing. Then back on the road to travel to my other sister and her husband’s home in the countryside not terribly far from Austin – they call it Sky Farm.

Sunday was our “sibling gathering” there at Sky Farm. Lots of things going, moving bee hives, relatives arriving with their kids and with food, taking the tour of the property that has a lake, but the most fun was sorting through and talking about our family pictures going back to our great grandparents.

Monday and Tuesday back in Austin to stay over at my sister’s new place. I got in a great run in the nature preserve and nearby neighborhoods.

Back to Portland tomorrow, it has been a great trip. Enjoy the slide show.

The Monkees: Last Train to Clarksville

 

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