Friday, August 24, 2007

"From Iraq... To Palm Coast"

Nothing can prepare you... Nothing... Not screaming drill sergeants: "You better pay attention, boy, because what I'm telling you may save your young a__ in a firefight in Baghdad." Or "live fire" exercises. Or actual combat videos. Or squad tactics drills at the Urban Warfare Training Center... Nothing.
When you grow up in America, even if it's in a tough inner city, you're just not prepared for Baghdad... or the A Shau Valley, or Khe Sanh, or the Chosin Reservoir, or Omaha Beach. They just can't teach this stuff at Fort Jackson or Parris Island or Lackland or Great Lakes. The sane mind cannot "prepare" for the insanity of war. The best you can hope for is that you are trained well enough to adapt to your new reality quickly.
It's almost the same when you're lucky enough to come home. For the past year or so, you've learned to survive. "Hyper-vigilance" is no longer a term in a training manual... it's become your way of life. At first, when you saw the carnage - on both body and soul - you couldn't believe your eyes. "No," you thought to yourself, "This can't be real... Surely this is a bad dream and I'll wake up soon..." But it wasn't a dream. And not that you wanted to, but you soon became hardened to this demonic dance. Not by choice, but by necessity. And now it's time to go home?
Please... Put away your political bias here. Love or Hate President Bush... Hawk or Dove... Republican or Democrat... Makes no difference. When the troops return to Palm Coast, wrap them up with love and thanks. Let them know how proud of them you are. Although you can't see it, I was wounded in 1969 in the San Francisco airport. I was in uniform and on my way home to Upstate New York, after a year and a half with the 196th Infantry in Viet Nam. A young girl spit on me... and I still have the scar. Let's show this generation of America's defenders something better.
This video will give you some ideas...
Also (edit date 8/28/07) this video was sent to me by "RoyalLD," who has a great Blog of his own. Check out "As I See It," at Here is what he sent me:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Feel The Burn?"

Inspiration comes from places where we least expect it...
Last night I got hooked on a TV program called "The Biggest Loser." It's one of those "reality" shows (I don't know how "real" they can be, with cameras in their faces all the time)... and teams compete to lose the most weight. It was fascinating. After months of rigorous training and diet/lifestyle changes, these folks looked great. All of them were obese at the beginning and the transformations were stunning. The ones who lost the greatest % of their weight were awarded cash prizes of $25,000 - $50,000 - $100,000 - and $250,000. The top winner was a guy who started at 407 morbid pounds and ended up at a chiseled 193, nearly a year later. He lost 214 pounds... and gained $250K, not to mention the admiring look of approval from his wife and kids. Not a bad trip to the gym, right?
Now, I've always valued "being in shape," although it's "way harder" to do at 62, than it was at 22. In high school I played sports continuously... basketball, wrestling, cross-country. Then twenty years in the Army really puts a stamp on you. Always had to be ready to pass an "APFT Test" ("APFT" means Army Physical Fitness Test) twice a year. The military, for obvious reasons, is big on this. The Army focuses on push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run. Our brothers and sisters in the Marines are certified pull-up freaks. For their test, they add sit-ups (they call them crunches) and a three mile run. The Army and Marines are always poking at each other, regarding bragging rights in the fitness world. I always get a laugh at military fitness competitions, when some Navy or Air Force trooper (usually an Admin Specialist, like Radar O'Reily on M*A*S*H) crushes the contest, to the dismay of the Infantry GI's and Gyrenes. Oh, those tender egos...

So what about you? Stop looking around... I mean you. Are you where you'd like to be? I did a personal "be honest" this week... and I'm surely not where I'd like to be. I joined the great new gym in Flagler Beach this year. "Fitness One" is a full service gym (OK, I'll go ahead and say it... "Just like up North") on Old Kings Road, just South of Rt. 100. Check out this link for information: Now, I go to the gym on a fairly regular basis. The problem, however, is twofold: One- My routine at the gym has become stale. I'm hearing that old saying in my head, "If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten." Message? It's time to shake things up with new and exciting routines. Want to see something "new and exciting"... actually closer to "insane?" Check out this link. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and watch the video: Not for the faint of heart. Two- When you eat wrong too often, it's hard to stay lean... even when you are working out regularly. Message? It's time to pay more attention to "chicken, salmon, apples and broccoli," than to "sausages, burgers, cookies and ice cream."

So, here's the deal. If you're reading this, I'm asking you to accept a challenge. (If you are currently in superb shape and ready for your next marathon, then stop reading.) However, if you are like many of us, you could use a little boost. The challenge is simple: Lose 10% of your current weight by November 1st. That's about ten weeks from now. Include some exercise in your daily routine... and make better food choices. Sounds easy, right? Guys, if you're at 265 - get to 238. If you're at a pudgy 180 - get to 162. Ladies, if you're at 145 and a size 12, get to a leaner 130 and a size 8. The amazing thing that will happen is that you will gain some lean muscle... while you lose weight and fat. Your clothes will fit better. Sweet. Today, I'm at 207 lbs. By November 1st, I'm going to be at 185 lbs. Most of the nice pants in my closet are 34's and I can't get into them without looking like I'm trying way too hard. Truth be told, the newer 36's are starting to protest. Anyway, I'll re-visit this in November right here in the blog. I'll let you know how I did. Care to join me???

*** (My insurance company just called to say I need a disclaimer... something about seeing a doctor before starting a rigorous fitness program... Good luck:-)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Ripple Effect"

"There is a Ripple Effect in all we do.
What you do touches me... and what I do touches you."
Last week, I suggested taking an early morning adventure over to the beach to experience one of God's simple gifts... a Sunrise. (See 8/1/07, "If You Think You Can... You're Probably Right") By the number of "Hey, thank you for that" responses, I'm guessing people liked the idea. What the heck, a sunrise is free... and it beats the current crop of summer movies, hands down (how many "Part 2" and "Part 3" and "Return of the..." can we stand?). I'm hoping it gets some steam - sort of like a local "Pay it Forward."

When I do these posts, I often wonder what people think. Sometimes I come off as very "Hawkish" (See Posts from 7/17/07, 7/4/07, 5/26/07, 5/25/07)... like an uber-patriot. Other times, however, I'm very "Dovish." That reminds me of a pub on Capital Hill in Washington, DC, called the "Hawk 'n' Dove." It's still there, but a very watered down version of the place that opened in 1967, in the political and social heat of the Viet Nam War. When I came back from Viet Nam in 1969, I was stationed in the DC area. Going in that pub back then was quite a scene... many arguments fueled by alcohol... between that era's hawks and doves.

Well, today we'll be with the doves. Take a look at the three pictures at the top... all of "ripples." The first is a generic ripple. The second, a ripple contained within a small bucket. The third portrays how the world might be affected by a big enough ripple. You get the picture. There truly is a ripple effect in all we do. What you do touches me... and what I do, touches you. Check this short video link:

Seems like Johnny the Bagger has something for us all...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"If You Think You Can - You're Probably Right"

Ever go over to the beach early in the morning and watch the sunrise? On purpose... to really soak it in? You know... get up while it's still dark - put some fresh coffee in a thermos - grab a bagel and a couple of chairs and head out in the pre-dawn quiet? If you haven't ever done it (or it's been way too long since the last time)... do it this week. Take someone with you, whom you really care about... sweetheart, friend, child. I mean no disrespect to the humanists among us, and I surely don't mean to preach, yet I just don't know how this can be done without experiencing the essence of... and the awesome comfort of... the power of God. And please don't tell me it's because of my innate weakness and inability to harness my human potential, etc. Blaise Pascal, the famous French mathematician and philosopher was to have said, "Inside every man is a God-shaped vacuum, waiting to be filled." Although, he did not say that exactly in his philosophical writings in Pensees, it is a great paraphrase of, "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This in vain he tries to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." Good stuff, indeed. Anyway, back to the sunrise... Go do it - and rather than "clearing your mind" and "relieving stress" and "communing with nature," etc... Go with an agenda. A simple one, but an agenda, nonetheless. Go with the knowledge and conviction that our attitude (about most anything) is most always a function of our choice. While the breeze is blowing and the surf is rolling in... and the sea birds are scavenging breakfast... and the salt air fills your lungs... and the sun finally breaks the horizon... think about the "One Thing" (kinda' like Jack Palance in City Slickers) that has been taxing you the most lately. It could be relational, financial, spiritual, professional... you know what it is better than I. Whatever it is, ask yourself how changing your attitude could improve the situation. Then, after the sun has risen, the coffee and bagel are gone, and the car is packed - "Flip the Switch" - Change and embrace the new attitude. Take it home with you. Click this link here and watch a short video: Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or you can't, you're probably right." Smart guy. This is simple and powerful. Try it.

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