maybe I shouldn’t

 

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;  – Proverbs 1:32

Another blogger I follow published a story of a workman in a farming community who ignorantly, but purposely, set a blaze to burn cut brush in very dry conditions.  It was a day with a light breeze.  And it was next to fields that provide this blogger’s animals’ feed.   Another quick-reacting farmer cut a fire-break that minimized the destruction that would have been – to the surrounding fields and forest.

My wife recounted by phone to me mid-day a terrifying encounter on a highway with a fool speeding behind her by inches, screaming, throwing the “finger” around, and swerving around and slamming on brakes.  Worse still, he was taking pictures of her with a cell phone.  A maniac on a mission to kill himself or others.  She was shaken but unscathed.  And her passenger, returning from a cardiac treatment, safe as well.  And the often-maligned law enforcement officers were not present to intercept “road rage”.

A train operator in a large metropolitan center on the U.S. East Coast was distractedly using a cellphone while a train was traveling through an area too rapidly to navigate a turn.  Of course it crashed.  Because the automated speed-control feature of the track had not been installed at that time.  In the IOT (Internet of Things),  we are not yet at the future our futurist movies depict.  But then fallible humans design them.

A Navy ship with a highly-advanced navigation console, but relatively unfamiliar operators and overly confident command authority, collided with a commercial ship. It resulted in death, destruction, and ruined lives and careers.  This week, a social media post by a popular American television star, blatantly and undeniably abhorrent, resulted in firing and the show’s cancellation.  A  fool’s big mouth resulted in lost jobs for all those behind the scenes.

Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil. – Plato

People are often responsible – or irresponsible – for many problems that beset us.  Many times, of course, the things that plague mankind including influenza or wildfires, earthquakes or volcanoes are beyond human control.   But then, building a community on an active earthquake fault or on an island (Hawaii) created by an active volcano is by human design.

These behaviors and consequences are reasons to find comfort and instruction in the Proverbs of the Bible, wisdom of the ancient Greek philosophers, or other contemplative authors.   Human behavior has been the same for thousands of years. Only the technology has changed.

Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971  via http://www.quotegarden.com

Quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com except where noted

one man’s junk

“…is another man’s treasures” – see etymology

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Looking over all the random stuff I have collected in my travels years ago in the Navy, I am recalling how much I learned about marketing since those days. For the longest time, I was quite the buyer. Fresh out of bootcamp, I was “accosted” by a photography film and developing service. I think they were out of business before the contract expired.

“you are going to see the world, kid. You need something to take pictures and to develop them. Sign right here…”

It took a while to learn to bargain proficiently – which is how most of the world operates between vendors and customers. I love hunting for bargains today. I am always asking for any discounts, and chatting with anyone and everyone. But many, even today, will not admit they may subscribe to the old saying, “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

Thinking back to my childhood, two of my favorite characters from television or movies who were amazing at marketing (trading goods), was Pat Buttram’s Mr. Haney in the 1960s television comedy, Green Acres, and Don Rickles character, Crapgame, from the movie, Kelly’s Heroes.

Whether knowing the “talk” of a salesman with just about anything you wanted – or didn’t want, and helping me to avoid “being sold” to a guy who could trade up to get what he needed, I know that my experiences in the Navy were invaluable in my later years. If it was a more-comfortable chair for my boss in the Pentagon, I could get one through “appropriation”. Or if some repair work was needed sooner than the bureaucracy allowed, I could barter favors for moving the work order to the top of the “day’s worklist” stack.

But in the early years, particularly when traveling around the world, I was a tenderfoot with a pocketful of cash, so there were life lessons to learn in salesmanship and becoming a prudent shopper. How many of us, Sailor, Soldier, Airman, Marine, or merchantman have walked past a street hawker without looking or at least listening, to the pitch for gold, jewelry, or girlfriend – swag?

“My friend, my friend, I give you good deal!”

There was always a little marketing going on, from trading shipboard things like embroidered military unit patches, engraved Zippo lighters, military ballcaps. Before widely marketed, Levi’s jeans, Nike shoes, and other “Americana” might make good currency. Sometimes, barter involved Marlboro cigarettes, American whiskey, or music CDs. Yes, kids, there was a whole economy going on, before Paypal. Before Amazon. Before the Internet. A long time ago.

I recently found and then misplaced a picture of me and my shipmates sitting in a beachfront cabana somewhere in South America, decked out in Panama hats. Must have been Ecuador. We had encountered a pretty streetwise kid- a New York City kid visiting his uncle there – who was helping Sailors with the local menu and beer prices. I think he made a kickback but we weren’t complaining. Does any American twenty-something really understand the foreign currency conversion to the dollar? After blowing through your money on the first visit, wisdom then seems to show.

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Bulgarian currency circa 1995

And then there are unique buying opportunities. Ecuadorian vendors in Manta presented me with “genuine” Inca figurines. They were clearly cheap copies but the women selling them from a blanket made me feel I had to buy something. At a beach cabana a kid sold me (yes, I bought one) a fishnet hammock.

In Toulon, France, others offered ladies handbags far more reasonable than the Cannes Louis Vuitton storefront (of course cheaper meant a knockoff). I told my shipmate he could have saved $400 and his spouse wouldn’t have known the difference. Yet he bought the real thing. There were replica French (a nicer word than counterfeit) perfumes in Egypt. One sailor was buying these and fancy stopper bottles from other vendors, to resell at home.

Elsewhere there were Turkish carpets, former-Soviet Army medallions and belt buckles, and amber jewelry (in Bulgaria). Leather goods and inlaid gold and metal items in Spain. Jewelry using ancient Greek and Roman coins in Greece. Tailored suits in Sicily. How many visiting sailors bought panini sandwiches from buxom women in waterfront kiosks in Toulon, France? (These women were Italians!). Anyone visiting Toulon at the time knew “smash” sandwiches.

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With the Internet, I imagine these same vendors now have Point-Of-Sale shops, Apple Pay, PayPal and international shipping. Perhaps I too, shall open a little shop. “I give you good deal!”

one veteran’s delayed benefit

Serving honorably in the U.S. military, a veteran who was deported to Mexico, Hector Barajas, gets well-deserved news: U.S. citizenship. ( https://www.nbcsandiego.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Deported-Army-Vet-Granted-U_S_-Citizenship_San-Diego-478353393.html )   And he did not just while away his time in Mexico,  but served fellow deported U.S. military veterans – opening a Tijuana VA Clinic.   With all the nonsense about non-citizens demanding rights and privileges of citizens, as well as their supportive legislators and lobbyists who brazenly chastise this country and citizens, it seems that justice is finally at hand for someone who put skin in the game.  Barajas -Verela had been brought to the US when he was seven.   In 1995, he enlisted in the Army and served in the 82nd Airborne.  He had an incident with a firearm in 2002, resulting a year in prison and was deported.   After Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the United States has seen more veterans with substance abuse, civil and criminal issues.   A deportation should not have been punishment for an honorably discharged veteran.   After California Governor Brown, pardoned him last year,  it enabled Barajas to obtain citizenship.

150 year history: citizenship for service

In 1862,  a law granted expedited naturalization to foreigners serving in the U.S. military.  If you were willing to die for America, you should be able to become a citizen was the rationale.  Unfortunately, between 1875 and 1917,  racism clothed in a quota system hindered the Asian-born from the same privileges.  But the Spanish-American War brought change to that thinking.  For most of the 20th Century, ending in 1992 with the end of an American military presence in the Philippines,  Filipinos could enlist in the military.  They would gain skills, have a successful career and earn a retirement.  It was a path to citizenship due to a government immigration policy that serving during a conflict could enable naturalization.    In 1990,  an Executive Order by President H.W. Bush declared that any military member, Active Duty, Guardsman or Reservist could apply for citizenship without a residency requirement.  And since July 3,  2002, President George Bush signed an Executive Order that all non-citizens serving since September 11, 2001 could immediately apply for citizenship.  Its provisions included veterans of past wars and conflicts. But apparently, in 2009,  the U.S. again amended the policy of enlistment and subsequent naturalization to only those who were in legal possession of a Green Card at the time of enlistment.

It is a fairly complex issue when a state government refuses to follow Constitutionally-granted federal laws on immigration.  Worse, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation continued support or calls for repeal,  persons affected are not just students at prestigious universities using scholarships, taxpayer support, and university grants,  but also  honorably-serving military member (s).   Many of these foreign-born enlistees have skills, particularly in certain language dialects, and received entry by virtue of the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program.

President Obama’s Administration is praised for DACA, under him began restricting the enlistment of those subject to the legislation.  By introducing more-stringent vetting, the Executive Branch wanted to identify potential security risks, those with a history of criminal behavior,  and those with ongoing foreign allegiances.   The issue now is under review by President Trump,  but ending the DACA program and potentially deporting the now-adult children will harm those who want to – or are now serving in the military.  Politics may again ‘trump’ the President.   While President Trump may truly want to treat “Dreamers” with respect and fairness, there are Congressmen who may force the issue. =

It is perhaps up to those of us who have served honorably in uniform, to let our elected officials -most of whom have not served in uniform – know that grandstanding about  DACA, is not just about rebellious state officials, lobbyists with agendas, and one group of students using resources that are denied to legally-entitled students;  this also affects our brothers and sisters in uniform.  With all the televised nonsense about foreign flag-waving, non-citizen students, laborers, and tenured professors demanding rights and privileges,  I will gladly support a foreign-born sailor, soldier, airman or marine who want to serve the nation he resides in, becoming a citizen before any of them.

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CPO Sharkey

 

In 1977, I got off the bus from the airport at 0430 at Recruit Training Command, Naval Training Center, San Diego.  And my life has never been the same since.

Regardless of service, I believe all military members recall their bootcamp NCO. I certainly remember my Company Commander vividly.   Robert W Walsh,  ABE1, from north Florida.  Don Rickles might have modeled CPO Sharkey after him.  It is funny now to think how I was “Polack” to the CC,  and every other time some training command or support CPO would call out, ” Ssss—–” I knew they were refering to me.    ” it’s SA-RET-Skiii, sir!”

In bootcamp we were taught to call everyone “Sir” and if it moved, salute it.    But after we graduated and became, Seaman Apprentice, or Fireman or Airman, you would rather be stuck dumb and blind than call a Chief, “sir”.    There was always a colorful epithet attached to his retort (his, this was 1977)

“MY PARENTS were married, @#$@!”

“I WORK for a living,  @#$@! !”

“DO YOU SEE BARS on my collar?  @#$@!!”

And heaven help me,  with my nearsightedness,  if I saw two khaki-clad men approaching,  I was supposed to discern which, if either, had the insignia of a commissioned officer – on their cap or collar.   And that had to occur by a certain range as I was expected to salute.

I only screwed up in my first few weeks. With a Master Chief and a Lieutenant Commander.   The Master Chief’s response was far more “interesting”.  But with the officer, it was because I had NOT saluted.   He got over it.

The stride and bearing of a Chief, then as now, easily identifies my Mess Brothers and Sisters from an Officer at any distance.  And CPO Sharkey?  From this first episode, it brings back the memories of my formative days in the Navy.  He finds it ridiculous that sailors get bunks, mattresses and curtains.  And there is a part in this show when Sharkey is in disbelief that women might soon serve on ships.  In reality, about that time women had just entered the Naval Academy.   Then, in the 1980s, auxiliary support ships, tenders and others were integrated (genders).  And warships?   when female crew were first assigned to the USS PETERSON in the early 1990s,  I talked with a few of the Snipes about the prospect.  Once I proposed the idea in relation to more generously balancing each rating’s sea -shore rotation assignments,  my shipmates became all for the idea!

As for bunks and curtains?  I sure sounded like Sharkey when I heard about the redesigned berthing compartments, larger mattresses, lighting and space on our newest ships.   Has the Navy gone soft?!

Too funny.

to boldly go

Space: the Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations.To boldly go where no man has gone before!  – Star Trek

Watching the first episode of season One of a Sci-Fi drama last night, The Expanse, on my smart TV (via the internet),  I  was enjoying how this first episode piqued my interest.   Stories of  an unconventional cop,  political intrigue –  the 23rd Century is apparently just as full of plots, terrorists, and manipulation as the 21st is;  interplanetary social unrest, and human drama in space.  These are all elements of shows I’ve watched for decades.  It must continue to be well-acted and well-written as I find it is beginning its third season.

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image courtesy SyFy Channel

Perhaps it is the era I grew up in.   Star Trek (the original series),  NASA moon landings, Space Shuttles and the Voyager satellites that left earth in the 1970s are now (2018)  in interstellar space.  The future held great promise, but the vast expanse of space seems beyond the reach of humanity.  The solar system  and non-warp technology is much more credible.  What was the stuff of science fiction- tiny personal communication devices,  automated  purchases,  computer surveillance systems,  self-driving vehicles and electromechanical replacement body parts are reality or in development.   With Elon Musk’s plan, people living on other planets in our system are a soon-to-be reality,  or not too fantastic for the near future.   The future predicted by television shows and movies in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, was often visited by alien races that wanted to eat us (Alien franchise) or obliterate us ( Independence Day).

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image courtesy Wikipedia

The Day the Earth Stood Still in the 1950s, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET were the rare exception.  In the 1960s, 2001: A  Space Odyssey was another where people were the beneficiaries of an alien encounter,  but the technology predicted forty years ago for the year 2000 in the story and movie is not far-fetched for 2018. In the 1970s,  Silent Running, remains one of my favorites, if it was very heavy with environmentalist commentary ( the last plants on Earth were propelled into space on greenhouse spaceships tended by men who really didn’t want to be there.) The Terminator was a future of artificial intelligence that wanted and kept trying over several sequels and a TV series, to wipe out humans. And many Sci-Fi movies over the years were set in a post-nuclear war ravaged Earth.  Totalitarian societies controlled the future.  Or the Earth was polluted,  or frozen, or flooded,  or a barren desert.  While a worldwide epidemic that renders apes (or more likely, cockroaches) inheriting the earth, is also sci-fi,  I prefer thinking more down-to-earth.

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Image courtesy nasa.gov

 

 

culturally irrelevant?

it’s the kiss of death for a celebrity that is long past her or his prime: being ignored, or worse,  being mocked.

Madonna,   now 59-year old,  is that embarrassing icon of 80s music that lost her relevance twenty years ago, but refused to go quietly into producing other artists or cultivating wine on a French estate, etc.   She tried to drum up support for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid.  She was quoted saying some incredibly stupid, sexually explicit things.  She has been mocked for at least three years by radio stations in the U.K.  and their music awards.   Do the Millennials even know who she was?  And apparently this week she put herself out on Twitter in a bid that she may regret more than being forgotten, being mercilessly mocked.  

Nicholas Cage.   I generally watched his movies for the co-stars’ performances.  Even the cars were more watchable.

Mel Gibson.  Memorable movies. Memorable characters.  And then …. in person, a drunk,  a bigot,  given to tirades, abuse …..

Lindsay Lohan.  Mostly a celebrity for being such a human trainwreck.

For musicians ever since the music video fame is measured in months it seems.  A casual search on the internet revealed a whole lot of “irrelevant” performers who apparently rose and then flamed out in the last five or ten years.  Rita Ora is one according to one critic.  I never heard of any of them.

And of course, my “fan fave”,  William Hung, the rejected American Idol of 2004 who became an internet sensation for his lack of singing talent.  But he’s a successful motivational speaker now

does a yellow submarine count as sea-time?

I think Walt Disney had something to do with my life choices.  My earliest Disneyland visit was more than 50 years ago.  My latest was yesterday, and nearly 18 years since I last visited.   Long ago,  I enjoying the rafting rides, the submarine adventure,  exploring the future and the past.  As I grew older,  I studied more about the science behind the animated figures and attractions.  I found myself yesterday in awe, and then wondering about the maintenance and the mechanics of these animated attractions. DSC_0190

As a kid, I was fascinated by the steamboat in Frontierland; perhaps that is why in school when we read Mark Twain, I had something to relate it to.  (There were no paddle wheel steamers I saw where I grew up).  Frontierland and steamboats still hold some interest, but there is so much more enjoyment when you go with someone with little kids.

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don’t think these young’uns are Groot fans?

Before Star Wars, kids my age grew up with NASA , and sci-fi television like Lost In Space, the cartoon Jetsons, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  In the 1960s and early 1970s, there was a very cool view of approaching new Millennium. Once we all got here,  it had been somewhat close but also  “quaint” sci-fi.  Now Tomorrowland has a very 3D action/  Star Wars feel.  dsc_0218.jpg

Of course, every Sailor has a little pirate in them so Pirates of The Caribbean was a must-do.  Now though it has a very  Cap’n Jack Sparrow/ POTC  movie tie-in.  But it was the original inspiration for multi-billion dollar franchise for Disney, so I guess it had to be somewhat updated.   DSC_0214But perhaps, I need to do a little plundering before I go off adventuring again.    We bought the year Pass for both parks when I last visited.   I think my stash of gold, rubies, and the lot was traded away for 12 monthly payments.

Now that is piracy, but if Capt’n Jack Sparrow trades you a year’s worth of Yellow Submarines, Mater Tow-rides (California Adventure), and a pirate adventure it is fine.  And while walking seven or eight miles just inside the parks, as well as places for grog, chow, fireworks, and music spectacles, I have entertainment AND exercise.   Maybe if the sea dog’s wife continues to prod me,  I  can resist the impulse to buy a little Mickey swag.  Resist at least until grandchildren accompany us.

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