Blast from the Past–Desert Rats

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That’s my dad and his friend Mac out somewhere in the Southern California desert, mostly likely looking for gold.  Growing up we were often taken along on these expeditions.  I’ve always loved the openness and solitude that comes with being out in the middle of nowhere.  It’s hard to top the Mojave for that experience.

I really dig the Coleman stove, but it’s placement at the campsite seems a little haphazard.

Blast from the Past–The Road Not Taken

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KaraLynne Pope (the redhead in the back).  An Arizona girlfriend.  Actually more than that. She was a crossroads.

It occurs to me that occasionally in life we make a seemingly insignificant decision that ultimately changes everything.  These changes I suppose can be good or bad or maybe both.  But mainly they represent a change in direction.   A new road to a different destiny if you will.  I’ve not lived a planned or well-ordered life by any means, but even by those standards meeting KaraLynne and everything that has subsequently flowed from that event has taken me places beyond my wildest imaginings.

By my reckoning it would have been August of 1981.  I drove up to Flagstaff, Arizona to participate in a softball tournament.  I was camping out with my teammates at a campground adjacent to the ballpark.  It was a Friday night.  Around about 8 p.m. we did a headcount and determined we were one player short of a team.  So, it was decided to head into Flagstaff proper, find a bar, and try to a recruit a player for our Saturday game.  I initially declined to participate in the quest, saying I would stay and tend to our camp.  But as the car was pulling away I impulsively changed my mind and shouted “wait a minute, I’m coming with you!”  Nothing has been the same since.

We pulled into a country-western honkytonk called the Pioneer Club.  There was a live band and it was crowded.  Although I had decided to come to the bar, I was not going to participate in the recruiting effort.  So, I ordered up a beer and looked for a place to sit, finally spying an open spot on a bench along the wall.  After plopping down a woman I hadn’t even noticed said “I’m sorry, that seat is taken”.  I grinned and said, “ok, I’ll just sit here till they get back”.  And that’s how I met KaraLynne.

It turns out the seat was not taken (or whomever never came back for it) and we sat and chatted for an hour or so.  I recall her being irreverent, witty, and funny as hell.  Eventually my teammates completed the recruitment mission and it was time to go.  I invited KaraLynne out to see us play the next day, and she was non-committal in her response.  So, when she showed up at the ballpark with her friend Edie, I was really jazzed.

They stayed and watched us play until we were eliminated from the competition late in the afternoon.  I offered to take her and Edie to dinner as a reward for being such good fans and they accepted.  Over the course of dinner I learned that KaraLynne was a recent graduate of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and that Edie had been one of her professors. KaraLynne was entering the graduate program at Idaho State University in Pocatello in a couple of weeks.  She lived in Phoenix and was in Flagstaff visiting her friends before departing for Idaho.

After dinner Edie said her goodbyes, but KaraLynne agreed to stay awhile longer.  We drove out to Mormon Lake, looked up at the stars, and talked until sunrise.  And then we fell in love.

So, the next two years were a whirlwind.  I’d do the all night drive up to Pocatello to spend the weekend once a month or so.  We had spring break, summer vacation, and Christmas recess.  Lots of letters (this was before email if you can imagine that) and huge phone bills.  I became good friends with Edie and another NAU professor, Judy, and we spent a lot of time together skiing and just hanging out.  So, it was a pretty exciting life in many respects.

Also a hard life.  Hard, because I had custody of Renee and Kevin and single parenthood is every bit as tough as they say it is.  Hard because the woman I loved was most of the time far away from me.  Hard because KaraLynne’s teenage brother died tragically following minor surgery.  Hard because I sent the kids to stay with my parents on the farm in Oklahoma.  And hard because in the end KaraLynne broke my heart.

I’ll get over it eventually, it’s only been 30 years.  Of course, I’m being facetious.  Mostly.

But here’s the thing, loving and losing happens all the time. In the grand scheme of things what matters is what you learn. And what is important is what you do with those lessons.  And that is really my point in telling this story.

Because by making friends with university professors, I came to understand that my lack of education did not equate to a lack of intelligence.  I gained the confidence that I could hold my own with anyone intellectually and so I went back to school.  It took me ten years, but I earned by Bachelor’s degree in 1991.

In my sorrow, I sold everything I owned and moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Initially, I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life in leaving Arizona.  But in time, my work as the union shop steward caught the attention of the HR Director. Which put me in the position to earn my first promotion and begin my career in management.

The kids got to experience the joys of a rural farm life surrounded by people who loved them, like my mom and grandma Pernie.

I learned to country dance and had a great time being single and experiencing the true charm of Southern women (a story in itself).

So, do I ever wonder what would have happened if I had stayed behind at the campground?  No, not really. At the time I wasn’t even aware that I was making a life-altering choice. Still, the words of Robert Frost resonate:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

Blast from the Past–Living in Paradise

Alright then, time for a new feature here at LTG.  It just so happens that I had some old prints digitalized this week.  (kinda ironic how I bought that film way back when, paid to have it developed, and now I’ve paid again to make them into a usable format.).  So, what I’m going to do is pick one everyday and post it.  I may or may not add some commentary, we’ll see how it works out.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Ok, this one is circa 1978 or so.  That’s me and Bridget, the mother of my children (Renee and Kevin) living the good life after moving to Prescott, Arizona.   I have lots of fond memories from those days.  Carrying mail by day and softball by night.  Clean mountain air in the mile high city, and four seasons just like Korea (albeit milder).

Although Bridget and I ultimately went our seperate ways, the kids were always a common bond.  I think it makes for nice symetry that she is now living in South Carolina and enjoying the things she missed through our grandchildren.  Although I regret that I’m missing them now…

Looking back I realize I didn’t have a clue.  Looking to the future, I realize I still don’t have a clue.  But you gotta love it all, don’t you?

Yoja of the week

This week our beautiful Korean woman is someone I think you’ll recognize.  She’s been appearing in quite a few advertisements, and I expect will be seeing her in many more….

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Yep, it’s Korea’s “Golden” girl Kim Yu-Na.

And in addition to product endorsements, I understand she’s a pretty good skater.

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She really is quite impressive on the ice.

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And these days, everyone in Korea is talking about her.  My Korean staff schedules their lunch for when she is competing in the Olympics.
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So I really don’t think there is a more deserving Yoja this week than sweet Ms. Kim.

Hiatis

Well, I’m taking a self-imposed break from darting.  I ain’t sure what the hell is going on, so I need to take some time and get my head right.  At this point I’ve lost all confidence in my game and I’m not doing myself or my teammates any favors.

 

When it rains on the planes in Spain

Actually, no Spanish airport is included on this list of the world’s 18 strangest airports.  There is Gibraltar, but to Spain’s chagrin, that’s UK territory.   The only airport on the list I’ve actually visited is Denver.

Not on the list is Washington’s Reagan National Airport which is the hairiest place I’ve landed–lots of twists and turns on the way in and a relatively short runway.  But there is a little park on the bike path where you can experience watching a landing almost like this.   But for a freakout scary landing it would be hard to top this.  Unless you were landing here.

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Yikes!

Jesus Christ

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Althouse links to this story about the above drawing depicting Jesus smoking and drinking beer that appeared in a handwriting textbook in India.

Although I agree the picture has no place in a schoolchild’s textbook, I don’t find it otherwise offensive.  Truth be told, joining the Savior for a smoke and brew should I pass through the Pearly Gates (unlikely as that may be) sounds like my idea of heaven.

If the depiction offends you as a Christian may I suggest turning the other cheek.  Lord knows (heh) I ain’t above posting unflattering images of Muhammad.

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Have a beer with JC or a blast with the pedophile.  You choose.

UPDATE:  This just in–Elton John says Jesus was gay.  Yeah, right.  And Mary was a virgin…

The results are in…

…and it looks like I may live.

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It’s all right here in this handy bound report.  Some of which is even in English!

Bottom line: I’m obese.  And I have “fat liver” disease.  And other than a “relaxation abnormality” with the heart and some “benign granuloma” in the lungs, I am as right as rain, thank you very much.  Well, except for borderline high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.  But really, given my lifestyle I count myself amongst the lucky…

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So, for the next 100 days my task is to lose 17kgs (or die trying).  And I’m taking three new (for me) meds.  Xenical, Lipilou and Cozaar.

Let’s rock and roll!

Historical perspective

It has oft been said that those who fail to remember history are destined to repeat it.  Or something like that.  So, I’ve been thinking of that bromide recently in the context of appeasement and the treatment of terrorism as a crime rather than an act of war.  Part of what triggered these thoughts was reading comments from Obama’s national security advisor John Brennan regarding the terrorist threat having nothing to do with Islam.  At best, this amounts to pandering, at worst it is willful ignorance.  Given that Brennan supports giving enemy combatants access to US criminal courts and Constitutional rights, I’m inclined to believe it is ignorance.

I challenge anyone to cite even one instance in the history of mankind where appeasement has paid any dividend or did more than prolong the inevitable conflict that must ultimately be resolved between two competing and irreconcilable ideologies.  And we all saw where the Clinton administration’s treatment of terrorism as a crime led us.  So, why are repeating these mistakes now?

I was reading about the first Barbary War and found this factoid fascinating:

In March 1785, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to negotiate with Tripoli’s envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). Upon inquiring “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury”, the ambassador replied:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

Sounds pretty damn familiar, doesn’t it?   The point is, our enemies don’t want to kill us because of any wrong we have done them.  It is not about Israel and the Palestinians.  This war has be going on since the 13th century, pretty much like a volcano–sometimes hot and active, sometimes more or less dormant.

Since we’ve been destined to live during an active period, we must once again be prepared to defend Western values like liberty and equality.  Is there anyone who sincerely believes those values are compatible with Islam?

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How can you run when you know?

Yoja of the week

I am pleased to  present to you this week’s Yoja, Ms. Chae Eun Jung:

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Ms. Chae is a model, singer and actress.  She is the star of “Sexy Mong Returns” (promo here) a Korean “Charlie’s Angels” as I understand it. I discovered her over at Koreaninsider.com which has several additional videos and her bio if you are wanting to learn (and see) more about her.

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Sexy Korean woman is the caption for this photo because that is the popular Google search term and I am a whore for traffic.  Sue me.

If you are health conscious (like me) and want to learn about good exercise technique, here’s a video of Ms. Chae showing how it’s done.

Bangapsuebneeda!

The Big Ride

So I mentioned in an earlier post that my kids had dubbed my 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix “the big ride”.

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Well, speaking of big rides, how about this?

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So, you didn’t think all that crap from China just appeared like magic on the shelves of your neighborhood Wal-Mart, did you?

The crew-size: 13 people on a ship longer than a US aircraft carrier (which
        Has a crew of 5,000).

        Notice that 207′ beam means it cannot fit through the Panama or Suez Canals .

                     It is strictly transpacific. Cruise speed: 31 knots.

        The goods arrive 4 days before the typical container ship (18-20 knots) on
        a China -to- California run. So this behemoth is hugely competitive when
                                     Carrying perishable goods.

                The ship was built in five sections. The sections floated together and
                Then  welded.

                The command bridge is higher than a 10-story building and has 11
                Cargo crane rigs that can operate simultaneously.

Of course, getting the goods across the wide Pacific is only half the battle.  To take things the rest of the way, you need this:

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That’s not just any train, that’s a 3.5 mile long “megatrain”.

Earlier this year, Union Pacific quietly ran a record-setting “monster” freight train over its Sunset Route, from Dallas to Long Beach, using the 3.5-mile-long behemoth during a one-time test of new distributed-power configurations that may help make long trains even longer. Distributed-power units (DPUs) are extra locomotives that are placed between or behind freight cars on very long trains to help them haul long, heavy loads without derailing.

Can you imagine being stuck at a crossing waiting for that puppy to pass?  Hell, you don’t have to imagine it, just check out his video–impressive!