Monday, December 28, 2009

Books I Have Read - on-line

Moby Dick
Heart of Darkness
Plutarch Lives

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The "true" message of Christmas

I will humbly propose the "true" message of Christmas. But I do this humbly since there are always differences of opinion. Years ago when I attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, I was a liaison to the students from various coutries. As part of the course for them, they were taken on some trips to survey America. One student commented, "I have been to Columbus, Georgia, that was not the true America. I have seen Atlanta, Georgia, that was not the true America. I have seen Washington, DC, that was not the true America. But now I have seen the true America, I have seen Disney World!!"

There is a Christian message and tradition such as in Germany well articulated briefly in the Short Story by Adalbert Schnitzler, Berg Krystal. There are also numerous neo-myths of Christmas featuring Santa Claus such as Miracle on 34th Street. The non-Christian traditions of the Winter Solstice are captured in echoes of Holiday Songs such as Deck the Halls, O Christmas Tree, etc.

Rather than dispute or debate what the true message of Christmas is, I would like to offer my message of Christmas. I was impressed with a message in the movie, Fred Claus. In the movie, Santa Clause strictly adheres to the doctrine of checking the list twice to find out who is naughty and nice. The naughty don’t receive anything. Fred, Santa’s brother, has a different idea. He believes that if a child who doesn’t deserve a present can receive one, it can turn them around, it can change their life.

It definitely is very humbling to receive a gift we don’t deserve. Occasionally I will punish my children with grace. I will describe their deserved punishment and then I will commute it. I can’t expect them to know about mercy unless they experience it. Other times when my daughter complains that her brother is getting away with things, I point out to her some things that I did not punish her for.

So, that is my message of Christmas. Treat people better than they deserve. I sure liked it when I was treated better than I deserved so I am now just returning the favor.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas 2003

I will remember Christmas 2003. I was stationed in Baghdad. I lived on the Tigris river with a bunch of lieutenant colonels in a house. My friend, Joe, made the house festive with Christmas cards strewn around the living room. I admired his dedication. He had 300+. I have never been good writing letters or cards. Joe spearheaded a nice event at our house arranging to get some Iraqi food and inviting some of the civilian staff who worked at the palace. One guest was the acting U. S. ambassador to Baghdad. We were having a nice meal and enjoying some Christmas fare on TV when some Iraqis pooped our party. They began lobbing mortars into our compound. We were in a house so we had some protection but the acting ambassadors body guards being the professionals they were, they were concerned for his safety. Joe got some of the soldiers who lived with us to move a machine gun to our roof in an overlooking position to any approaches from the river or road. The body guards thought it best to move the acting ambassador away and soon all the other guests departed. So I will always remember our celebration of the Prince of Peace which was interupted by the sounds of war. Those were real mortars bringing their destruction. Unfortunately, I have also experienced other times of war, but the weapons were not tangible but just as real. It is so sad to interupt any celebration of the Prince of Peace with harsh words or anger. Sometimes in my innocence I almost think that anger is more destructive than bullets. This year I pray that we will remember all those who have the shadow of guns in their midst and strive to bring peace on earth wherever we are.

Christmas 2009

I am happy this year. I started Christmas early. In a few sad years, Christmas flew by and in the US, the day after Christmas is a hallow feeling. Christmas was at one time and still is in some places a twelve day celebration. We sing the great song, the Twelve Days of Christmas to remember that. Many churches have preserved the twelve days and celebrate the 12th day, the day of Epiphany (Greek for Appearance), the day that the wise men came to visit the Christ Child. The US does echo the 4 Weeks of Advent (Latin for the Arrival) which the Church has preserved. But I as many was raised apart from the traditions of the church so my experience was the secular version of Christmas in my younger days. We acquired certain rituals which I remember and then molded into my own experience when I was introduced to the traditions of the Church when I was 16.
My childhood ritual was to go to downtown Seattle where one used to shop in the 50s and 60s. Later there were outlet malls, Galleria malls, etc. But in those days downtown was downtown!! We always would go to Fredericks. They would have a display which featured trains that would move when one put their hand on the black outline of a hand on the glass. Inside, there were wonderful Christmas displays. We would always purchase Frango mints, great chocolate mints.
The decorations at my grandparent’s house were more ornate than what I had at my home with my mother. Interestingly at the time I thought nothing of the fact that we had a star on top of the tree. Later, I would have a wife from a European background that had always had angels. (Of course I deferred to the angel!). There was a tiny fireplace, 1 foot square, that was never used for fire but every Christmas, my grandmother would make a manger scene. The baby Jesus on a cradle with hay, surrounded by Mary and Joseph, the Wise men and the Shepherds with an Angel hovering overhead and a light that had the 5 points of a star around it.
The tree was always overflowing with presents.
In those days before video, we relied on the routines of the TV stations. Every year on Christmas Eve they would play a Miracle on 34th Street. This is the old black and white version set in the 1947. I have watched the modern versions but they can’t compare in my mind to this original version especially with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus.
Of course I would watch some version of Scrooge (a story I had first been introduced when my grandmother would read stories to me including the Night Before Christmas poem),
I would watch either some old theatrical version of Scrooge or Mr. Magoo’s version.
After that the solemn Mass from Rome. And then I would go to bed. In later years I could hear my grandparents and mother climbing up in the attic to retrieve the special hidden presents. It really wasn’t much of a surprise because I was spoiled because I got about everything I wanted. Things like an egg beater helicopter, mentor, the robot game, baseball bats, footballs, etc.
After I started going to church in High School, I had another layer of ritual to add. I add a renewed enthusiasm for Christmas Carols. My grandparents had a grand piano and I would relearn the Christmas Carols and play them on the piano.
For Christmas we would have the traditional turkey but because turkey wasn’t my favorite, a ham was also cooked. I did love the turkey sandwiches which would last about a week.
In college, I renewed my study of German which I had started in Junior High School. How wonderful to go to a German Church and hear the Christmas Carols in 4 part harmony. There were many German Christmas Carols that I had never heard before such as Susser the Gocken nie klingen. O altissima. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen. These German carols added a level of solemnity and beauty to Christmas that I will always treasure.
Also the German Shortstory by Adalbert Schnitzler has one of the best short descriptions of the Christmas in Germany that I have ever read.
The description can be read here (in English, but of course the original German is great too!)
In the Army at Ft Hood Texas in the early 80s, there was a German Christmas service. Also there, I met a pilot who was married to a Dutch girl. She translated the Dutch dialogue and song in the Miracle on 34th Street. I still sing the song
Sinterklaas kapoentje
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje
Gooi wat mijn laarsje
Dank je Sinterklaasje

St. Nicholas, I beg of you
Drop into my little shoe
Put into my stocking
Thank you, Saint Nicholas
So What rituals are being passed on now to my youngest children? One year I did not see them at all.
This year we are starting right after Thanksgiving. We listen to a radio station that plays nothing but Christmas music. FM 101.9 Baltimore. We bought the tree, adorning it with lights, ornaments, and candy canes. I buy presents to put under the tree. We sing Christmas carols to the accompaniment of the electronic key board. A few weeks ago we saw the new Scrooge Movie. I was totally amazed the other day when my 8 year old daughter knew every word of "Last Christmas." So Christmas goes on!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving in Baghdad, 2003.

Thanksgiving in Baghdad, 2003. I remember it well. I am thankful to be home in the good ole USA for Thanksgiving 2009. However, in Baghdad, my situation was pretty plush. There I was in Saddam's old billion dollar palace with tables nicely decorated and food aplenty. It was definitely not a soldier's meal, "roughing" out in the field somewhere. It really was wonderful.

I was somewhat displeased everyone in our unit could not join in. Some of them had been ordered to go the Baghdad International Airport, BIAP, to have their meal. I remember feeling sorry for those soldiers who had to go to the airport. I thought it was unfair. They couldn't share the meal with their friends in the unit.

What a pleasant surprise when they returned - many of them with photos of them being hugged by the president. Indeed, George W. Bush had "snuck in" and had made an appearance at the airport. I remember one fellow who didn’t think we should continue in Iraq had said, “some things are above politics.” He thought it was great for the soldiers and of course so did I.,2933,104246,00.html

So reflecting. Some may have a better Thanksgiving this year, 2009, than I and I will not be unhappy. I will be so overjoyed at those having a wonderful time with their families and friends. But no matter how good, it will be hard to beat Thanksgiving with the President.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day Tribute

I wished I had posted this website on Veteran's Day. God bless this fallen hero.

Tom’s sister Sarah once sent him a survey asking, “If you could go through your life again from the beginning, what would you change?" His response: "I could write a book on this, but I'll keep it short by saying I'd study more and screw around less, I'd drive safer, and I would say hi to the million or so people that I passed by every day without talking to."

To quote Tom’s last online journal entry, dated July 10th, 2006: “Until we meet again, ‘Be well, do good things, and keep in touch.’ -Garrison Keillor”

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Kids love to dress up for Halloween. My kids can hardly wait to see the other costumes and get some treats.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Coach Football

I read this entry by Gregg Williams on Steve McNair

"We turned the reins over to Steve in that last game, we let him start that last game. It was fourth and two and a half yards just across midfield early in the fourth quarter of that ballgame. And I'm on defense coaching the defense and I go over there and it's a timeout and I'm leaning over the shoulder of Jeff Fisher listening to what play we're going to run, so I know [if] we have a chance. And Steve starts arguing about running a quarterback sneak. They have Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, these great big fat... guys and we know they're going to put about 1,000 pounds... right over Steve to make sure he can't sneak. And Steve is adamant. It is fourth and two and half, there's no way we should run a quarterback sneak. Jeff looks at me and I look at Jeff and I look at Steve and I say, 'Go with what he wants to do over what we want to do.'"And he says, 'Go with it.' And there's no way we should get a first down. And Steve McNair plows his way for three and a half yards and he comes up from under the pile and he had about a 12-inch section of sod that he had dug in with his helmet when he finally went down that was hanging from his helmet. And I looked at Jeff and I said, 'We got us a quarterback.' I remember that play. I still get goose bumps when I think of that play."

Blog Index

Thom Hall, RIP
All I Know about safety
Backgammon and safety
The Highs and Lows
Cherish Life
Interview with Solzhenitisyn
You can go to a home again
From Studying History to Making History
The "Siege of Baghdad"
Adversity Builds Character
Personality Models for the Army

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thom Hall Rest in Peace

Today I was very sorry to hear my physics teacher from High School passed away.

We had so much fun with him. We used to call him coach. One day a substitute came to class and we asked, "where's coach?"
Answer: What does he coach?
I still remember snorkeling at Golden Gardens with him. Obviously it was freezing (Puget Sound is not quite as warm as Venice Beach) but we warmed up with some fish and chips. Thom Hall was a very thoughtful teacher and friend who taught physics and life.He started my interest in physics and my father later supplemented it. May he Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Highs and the Lows

This summer as I strove to reach some high ground in my environs in the DC area, I had a discussion with my son about the humiliation of his resident state, Florida. The highest point in Florida is 345 feet above sea level based on my source I told my son that I had been there and of course did not suffer nose bleed. I did try to comfort my son by pointing out that Florida might come in last in elevation, but it competes for first place on beaches. Florida beaches are amazing. My first introduction to Florida Beaches was Panama City, FL. There I was 4 hours away in Columbus, GA and my mind wandered there as the sergeants at Ft Benning, GA used to talk about their trips there. I remember taking my wife and daughter there and having a great time. There was an amusement park, Petticoat Junction (now defunct) that was fun. Of course, the beach was a great place to catch waves and I would jog along the beach while the family would catch rays. We would enjoy a good restaurant and it was enjoyable to listen to some good Country music(it wasn't my first choice growing up in Seattle) and the Casey Kasem counting down the top hits. The week did not seem like such a grind.

Back to the heights after that digression--In Seattle I looked most of the time up to Mt Rainier a 14,000 foot mountain (unless the fog obscured it which unfortunately it did many a day) I could see the Cascades rising to 10,000 feet to the east and the Olympics to the west also rising to 8,000 feet. Well naturally I got used to the mountains and I yearn for them.
There I was jogging in New Jersey in the late 70s on Arney's Mountain Road. I looked around, no longer on the mountain road and I was perplexed how I missed the mountain. I discovered that I had indeed reached the summit of Arney's mountain at about 285 feet. (Later on our all night road marches wherein we would lead the new troops in Basic Training we would summit Taylor's Mountain at 300 feet)
Anyway with this background, I needed to go at least to Shenandoah National Park this summer to get some elevation. I noted that the highest point on the road (which I passed over) and the highest point in the park (which I climbed in the past) are only about 4000 feet.
I have been to better high points than that, such as the highest point in West Virginia and Tennessee which is humorous since walking up a trail on Mt Charleston, NV takes you higher than these high points (10 grand feet). I ascended these high points with my last wife and unfortunately things went downhill after that.
Ironically, one discussion of mountains was with my daughter on the way the sea level this summer at Ocean City. My daughter is very fond of Miley Cyrus song about mountains and I tried to explain that climbing a mountain has a double meaning--to overcome obstacles.
Thankfully my daughter has not made the life journey that I have had that has taken me figuratively to the heights of Mount Everest (hard to breathe with no oxygen or excitement)actually flying a helicopter or plane looking down below and the lows of the Dead Sea--my dad and I did travel along the lowest point in the US-Death Valley (see the Last Ride)
So I have settled back home to near sea level so I will strive to elevate myself in the near future!!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Catholic: Pax Vobiscum
Muslim: Salam Alleichum
Buddhist and Hindu: Namaste
Jewish: Shalom Alleichum

Bahai, how are you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Last Ride

In January 2000, I took the last ride with my dad.
Here is a link to a map.
We left Las Vegas fueling up at a service station and my dad began driving us in his big Lincoln Continental. We drove until we got to Scotty's Castle.

We walked around the Castle having a good time to talk and interact with some of the actors who portray some of the characters who used to frequent Scotty's Castle.

This wasn't like a lot of last ride's with one's dad because I never met my dad till I was 25 years old, so I owed nothing to his influence or development up to that time except DNA.

We had stayed in touch after the first meeting and for a time, I lived at his house.

Maybe he sensed that there was something final about this ride. As we cruised through the majesty and breadth of the Death Valley, he gave his approval to the course of my life.

My father had chosen the way of science. He chose to get a PHD in Physics at Stanford. Myself, I had given myself to the humanities, history, language, military, music (singing, guitar, piano, harmonika), athletics (running, basketball, biking, weightlifting, etc)

So there we were having taken divergent paths but now together after all these years. I think he appreciated that without having mastered scientific theory, that I had enough understanding along with my other studies to have a good understanding of our life and the universe. Whenever I would refer to the Greek Classics and our Classical heritage, he would always talk about his Greek Tailor who he said had told him, "Euripides, Eumenides."

I didn't know that this would be the last time I would see him, nor did I know that the last time I would speak to him would be when soldiers under my command in Baghdad would take care of their leader and hand me a Satellite phone so I could call home.

It does comfort me to know that I had my father's approval. Our parents play an important place in our lives. I hope my children know that they have my approval. I love them as they are and they will have my support in what ever they do.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jim Owens, Rest In Peace

Jim Owens, former coach of the University of Washington Huskies has passed away. He is a Hall of Fame coach and deservedly. I met him when I was a child. I remember how in awe of him I was. He was on the practice field next to Husky Stadium and my grandfather brought me to him for an introduction. I had just timed myself in the 100 on the field and I blurted out, "I can run the 100 in 18 seconds." He was kind and said, "that's great." I have a life long memory of that moment. I assume that he gave many others some life long good memories. The world has lost something very important. Someone who could brighten the life of a child.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You can go to a home again

They say you can’t go home again, but you can go back to a home. When you move around a lot, you end up having many homes.
I find it fascinating to talk to a cousin in France who is in the same house that my great-great- grandfather lived in after his birth in 1807 until his death many years later with his descendents maintaining residence in the home.
But me and others, we haven’t experienced that. Sometimes, when you go back to a former house, the owner will see you looking around and take pity on you and let you look around the house.
(I think of the movie, Crimes and Misdemeanors wherein a main character is invited into his former home and old characters have old discussions and then invite him to participate. I mention the movie since it is an amazing blend of deep philosophical contemplation juxtapositioned with wackiness.)
I looked around my ex-wife’s former home. She remembered the rooms bigger since her perspective was the memory of a 5 year old. I showed the nice fellow who let me walk around inside my grandparent’s house the cause of some dents in his wall (the results of the wooden shaft of rubber tipped arrows hitting the wall and denting the soft part of the wood). Recently, as I looked at the house that I lived in for three years (and left 25 years ago) after parking in front of it and standing there taking pictures of it, I saw the garage door open and out came the present owner. I disarmed him by introducing myself and we discussed all the owners from first construction to the present. I noted his 30 foot tree that wasn’t there when I left, the fence, the hedges and the bars on the windows and doors. (cost me $2500 he said!) We shook hands and I told him I appreciated the conversation and tried to find one of my favorite restaurants but it was gone so I tried another place. It must have been good since I ate too much!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma Training is meant to enhance efficiency. Based on my observations and discussions, we are living in a world where the profit motive is pushing for inefficiencies.

Let me discuss the business model of a certain airport shuttle.
1. The shuttle has a bunch of vans.
2. People call in and make a reservation for a shuttle van pick-up.
3. It is not profitable to just pick up one person (more later).
4. They hope that during the week that there will be at least two or three people from an area so the pick-up will be profitable.
5. They make the reservation about 3 hours early. They don't tell you why. The reason is so that they can cancel if need be. If they cancel, to assuage the customer, they will pay the differential between cab fare and the shuttle fare, let's say up to $10.
6. Here is how this business model worked for me.

1. I had a pick-up scheduled for 130 pm. That was earlier than I would have wanted because I wanted to be there at 4Pm for a 5pm flight, but I accepted it.
2. At 145, I called up and asked where the van was, they said it was on the way, expect within 30 minutes.
3. At 215 I called up and was told it was on the way and would be there in 10 minutes.
4. At 230, I was told it was around the corner.
5. At 245, I was told a mistake had been made, the van had been cancelled for the day since there were not enough people. They asked if I wanted them to call a cab. I said yes. (Driving was not a good option since this was to be a two week trip (9 times 15 = $135 vs $35 for cab fare). The smartest thing I did on this whole thing was make my own reservation.
6. At 400pm, the cab that I made a reservation for came (the other cab never came, I checked!) It was exciting now since if there was a rush hour traffic snarl, no way would I make it. It worked out that traffic was perfect. I was let out at the airport curb, checked my bags there at the corner and fought my way through security to get on the flight with 7 minutes to spare.

Summary- Their business model makes money, but where the rubber meets the road, it really causes problems. Someone asks, "well, why don't you just get a cab? I did reserve a cab for 4am so I could get to the airport at 5am. At 415am the cab company called and said it was cancelled. Ever try to get a cab within 30 minutes at 415 am. Luckily, I got a ride. My business model should have been t0 reserve 2 or 3 cabs and apologize to the ones that show up after I leave!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A lesson in Life from Chess

Many moon ago, when I was a junior in High School, I was playing chess for Queen Anne High School at the state tournament ( We came in second). In our first game, I faced off against my opponent from a High School in Eastern Washington. One of the things we used to do in our practice chess sessions was mess with people psychologically. It could be that we would stare at the second button down from the neck. I decided to wear an old flannel shirt and go unshaven. I had an old leather worn Bible that I brought along. I asked permission from the tournament director to put it on the table next the chess board and it was granted. Very confidently I started the game and at one point I discovered in horror that I had one of chess pieces exposed to attack and I couldn't do anything about on my turn. I was in danger of losing the game which could lead to the team losing this match. Even worse, it would take two turns to solve the problem. So I had to bluff and make a confident move and hope that my opponent would overlook my mstake through 2 turns. This was a time for poker face. I never let on my distress, I just stared at the board like we usually did. (Our team 'was in the tournament the next year and my opponent who had graduated came up to me, "Hey, I looked at our game (we always recorded our moves) and I should have beat you, but it was that Bible, I couldn't think!!

Well, I have been and continue to be in many seemingly inextricable situations. But I have found that lesson of patience to be useful. Obviously, you lose sometimes when your opponent sees your mistake, but it is always worthwhile to be patient, because there is always a chance that it can work out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Solzhenitsyn

Here is a great interview with Solzhenitsyn

I love this quote:

"Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive."

"Religion always remains higher than everyday life. In order to make the elevation towards religion easier for people, religion must be able to alter its forms in relation to the consciousness of modern man. "

"Pearce: You are often accused of "doom and gloom". How would you respond?
Solzhenitsyn: This is a consequence of the fact that people don't read, they just glance through. Let me give you an example: The Gulag Archipelago. There are horrific stories in that book but throughout, through it all, there is a spirit of catharsis. In Russia In the Abyss, I have not painted the dark reality in rose-tinted shades but I do include a clear way, a search for something brighter, some way out — most importantly in the spiritual sense because I cannot suggest political ways out, that is the task of politicians, so it is simply that those who accuse me of this do not know how to read. "

Of course, one cannot declare that only my faith is correct and all other faiths are not. Of course God is endlessly multi-dimensional so every religion that exists on earth represents some face, some side of God. One must not have any negative attitude to any religion but nonetheless the depth of understanding God and the depth of applying God's commandments is different in different religions. In this sense we have to admit that Protestantism has brought everything down only to faith.
Calvinism says that nothing depends on man, that faith is already predetermined. Also in its sharp protest against Catholicism, Protestantism rushed to discard together with ritual all the mysterious, the mythical and mystical aspects of the Faith. In that sense it has impoverished religion. "

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lawyer Joke

My cousin Lyn liked this lawyer did I.
One afternoon a wealthy lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate. He asked one man ‘Why are you eating grass?‘We don’t have any money for food,’ the poor man replied. ‘We have to eat grass.‘Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you’, the lawyer said.‘But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree. ‘Bring them along,’ the lawyer replied.Turning to the other poor man he stated, ‘You come with us also.The second man, in a pitiful voice then said, ‘But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!‘Bring them all, as well,’ the lawyer answered.
They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.. Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, ‘Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.
The lawyer replied, ‘Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place; the grass is almost 1 meter high!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Running Links







Great Links to Running Champions
US College
High School
Washington State Archives Cross Country
State Archives:

Hall of fame US
High School

Steve Prefontaine
Bill Dellinger
Doris Brown
Bill Bowerman
Gerry Lindgren
Don Kardong


When I think of fishin', I think of my grand-father, Joseph Chariton Platt. He loved fishin'. Anyone who gets up at 4 in the morning to do anything has to love it!!!

I don't have Joe's zeal for fishin' despite all the times I went with him, but I do have nice memories. My favorite events were to go to Sekui, Washington and hop on the charter boat to catch salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The day of the charter always entailed an early rising at 4 am. I would be half awake as I downed my eggs and bacon before boarding the boat in the dark. I remember thinking at 6am that the it seemed like the day was half over, I was sleepy, and there was a lot of fishin to do.

(This got me ready for being the pay officer at Ft Dix, NJ. this event started at 3:30 because the powers that be did not want us to be late. The consequences of being late were seen when one fellow officer was an hour late. In addition to the normal line of 30 that had to be serviced in an hour was added 60 additional soldiers!)

(The other long day experience was in Ranger School where we would start our day at around 8 with a briefing by our new team, we would do a mission which entailed miles of hiking, finish the mission, hike miles to a spot to gather and plan and then head out at 10pm so we could complete a mission at 2am!!)

Anyway, I have a pleasant memory in that I caught a 30 pound salmon when I was about 10 years old. It made my arm ache but I wasn't going to let the fish win.

The other experiences which I still cherish are hikes into the woods to find a stream and extract some fish from it.

I may not go into the woods to fish today, but I still really enjoy going into the woods on a hike. There is nothing more peaceful than listening to the babbling brook!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sometimes Justice Gets "Carried Away"

Seneca: "Piso's justice"
In De Ira (On Anger), Book I, Chapter XVIII, Seneca tells of Gnaeus Piso, a Roman governor and lawmaker, when he was angry, ordering the execution of a soldier who had returned from leave of absence without his comrade, on the ground that if the man did not produce his companion, he had killed him. As the condemned man was presenting his neck to the executioner's sword, there suddenly appeared the very comrade who was supposed to have been murdered. The centurion in charge of the execution halted the proceedings and led the condemned man back to Piso, expecting a reprieve. But Piso mounted the tribunal in a rage, and ordered three soldiers to be led to execution. He ordered the death of the man who was to have been executed, because the sentence had already been passed; he also ordered the death of the centurion who was charged with the original execution, for failing to perform his duty; finally, he ordered the death of the man who had been supposed to have been murdered, because he had been the cause of death of two innocent men.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Contextual Evaluation

All actions and deeds must always be examined in context.
Sleep at the end of a day at 11PM tucked into bed is appropriate. Sleep during a lecture by the boss is not.

Chess Stories

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Blue Moon Tavern

Growing up, I used to pass the Blue Moon Tavern in Seattle, Washington quite often especially since my babysitter was half a block down the street and one of my ways home caused me to go right past it.

It appears there were thoughts to remove it.

Being the child that I was, I never had gone inside until I made a trip to Seattle from Las Vegas to do military duty at Fort Lewis in the 90s. I decided, I want to check it out especially since one of my favorite songs featured an imaginary conversation with a fellow in this very tavern.

I checked it out and it did have character, lots of graffiti, interesting people with whom I had interesting conversations

Here are the lyrics to the whole song


In fact this song was the basis of for a lesson on the Risk Managment process which I presented to my Army safety class. (I sang the relevant lyrics along with my annotations!!)

1. Identify Hazards, (Shanghied in Vegas by a painted woman, hog-tied by a red-head in Ohio, derailed by a dancer down in Dallas, etc)

2. Assess the risk of the hazards - "women gonna be the death a me"

3. Then make the risk managment decision - "but what a way to go"

The Value of Trained Health Care Professionals

This is one of the most incredible stories I have ever heard. A friend of mine attended a seminar to improve his ability to intervene in the event of personnel discussing suicide.

Little did he know that one of the attendees had a plan to commit suicide at that very seminar. This fellow's thinking was that he would demonstrate how trained personnel can miss one who contemplates suicide.

Thankfully, there was one highly trained psychiatrist in the group. As he had listened to this individual over the course of a few days, he recognized that his affect (emotions) was not matching the narratives that he was making. So the psychiatrist sought out the seminar leader and a few others and said that he wanted to make an intervention. The others were flabbergasted but agreed.

So they intervened and the individual confessed what his plans were. There was some sharing and some hugs and then this individual was hospitalized so that he could get intensive professional help.

The story says a lot.
**One, there are some incredibly skilled psychiatrists. But, not everyone is as skillful since no one else recognized it.
**The main learning point is if you identify a potential suicide, get them to professional help.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How I learned guitar

When I was in in 7th Grade, my grandfather bought me a guitar. It was an inexpensive guitar but it was great to learn on. I got some chord charts
and started to learn music theory.

One amazing thing is that so many songs can be sung and accompanied on a guitar with just three chords. The chord chart also show some other chords that can be thrown in.

Of course, there are songs that deviate from the standard three chords, but they are easy after the basic structure is learned.

Every generation needs a very simple song to start playing. My generation had Louie, Louie.

Maybe I can get some suggestions as to what is an easy popular song to start with so one feels good about what they are doing.

After learning, I used to seek out some friends and we would play some songs imagining we were in a rock and roll band. Secret Agent Man was a good one to start with.

Later when I was a Junior in High School, I used to lead the songs any church group that I went to. This was the real acid test since you have to perform. I got feedback that I was pretty good.
(Sometimes I would also lead songs with the piano, it was harder)

Then, the ultimate. I was in a Rock and Roll band when I was in college. We called ourselves, "John 3:16" I was the lead guitarist. I also sang some lead and back-up vocals. I also played bass on a few tunes when our bassplayer played his flute.

We had a few concerts in churches and in a coffee house called, "The Catacombs"
We even had some original tunes like, "Man can't live on bread alone"

Later, I did some solo concerts. Sometimes I would ad lib on stage making things up as I went along. That was fun. My solo concert was actually me leading some songs and then performing some of my original material.

There I was in the Army with the Chaplain. We were out in the woods, in the cold and I was playing the guitar with the troops.

I even was guest guitarist and speaker at a prayer breakfast at Ft Dix, NJ.

Now days, I sing Karaoke in public and my geetar playing is at home, but it wasn't too long ago that I was in Baghdad, Iraq, up on stage with the band singing and playing guitar, bass and piano. Then, I was in Nurnberg, Germany at an Irish Pub and the guitarist let me come up on stage and jam and sing away. Even more recently, I took a chair in the book store and sang a few.

I recommend guitar playing to anyone, but at least consider the autoharp . My elementary school teacher used one to help us elementary kids sing our kids songs like "Roll on Columbia"

Now days, you can buy a key board that will play a chord continuously at the touch of a key.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Let Words Go Unsaid, John Smathers

Our Life Experiences really shape us. I have been evaluated psychologically so I guess all things being equal, I would be expected to behave in a certain way.--But for Life Experiences.

I had this experience. I served with John Smathers in Iraq.

I knew him before, he was a lawyer and we had a lot of enjoyable repartee. When he went to Iraq he was valued by the command justifiably for his expertise, his steady hand in tense times, and good humor always.

One day, after we had returned from Iraq, I happened to see John in a line with his unit, the 352 CA Cmd on Feb 3, 2006. I was there finishing up my last military duty before my retirement on March 1, 2006 so this was the last chance where I would run into someone. I had had some experiences in life that made me recognize that I should say how I felt to John. I let him know that I had appreciated being with him in Iraq (Being a man, I couldn't gush and say I loved him but the handshake and exchange of pleasantries accomplishes that among men who have served in harm's way and knew what it was like to look out and care for each other)

The next night, John died running with his dogs, one of which he loved enough to rescue from Iraq. What a relief it is to not agonize over whether I said what I wanted to say. I had told John I appreciated him and those words then resonated with his body, soul and spirit for all eternity and they echo as I repeat them now.

I have seen people roll their eyes sometimes when I let them know I appreciate them (Ok, why are you doing this, what do you want?) But be forewarned. I will keep doing it!!

Tribute to Erban

In December 2007, Erban Flinchum died. He was a English school teacher. I met him and had interesting discussions and then corresponded through email.

Erban was interested in physics. My father had a PHD from Stanford so he was very knowledgible. My father tutored me so I have a least an appreciation for physics. My father had been intrigued by and listened to Michio Kaku (my dad playfully called him cucoo) and I sent a link to an interview

Erban was very appreciative of the link to the Thunderbolts of the Gods

This is what Erban said about it, "There was a link to a plasma electromatic universe. The site is fabulous. I’ve just spend almost five hours exploring and listening to some videos. The most exciting video “Thunderbolt of the Gods” is hypnotizing. I’m happy to find thinkers who think like me! Thanks for the find. This is a must see video about our universe, an alternative theory to almost all the physical laws. As well it blends in ancient mythology with the science. It is free, although one can also purchase the DVD. I recommend just watch it and bookmark it."

Erban also liked this link

These are some more of my thoughts on Erban---
I was honored to know him, meet him and get to know him better. I noticed that his emails had stopped. Like so many, he can not be replaced. My father said it is like there is a star that turns off in the sky. We who remain must shine brighter but if the moon were to disappear (I once saw a Nightline program wherein a professor was advocating we blow up the moon-wacko), a star could not replace it. But perhaps collectively we can all shine a little brighter.

Recently, I encountered a woman who had skidded and crashed her car. I called 911, and checked on her. She was frightened and disoriented. I tried to encourage her and I held her hand to comfort her. I hope that I honor Erban with my actions because he was a compassionate and decent human being who cared deeply about others well being. I am grieving and if anyone else has some thoughts about Erban, they would be comforting

Monday, March 16, 2009

Creating Value

My recommendation for fixing the economy--create value.

This blog was formed to create value in at least a small way. It can't compete with a company like Boeing (I knew it well in my childhood in Seattle) which gathers a lot of people and raw materials and makes airplanes with millions of dollars of value.

But each entry has a potential to at least entertain, to refresh, and renew someone so that they can go back to a job or task that creates value.

Each entry can cause someone to reasses how they do business with the potential that costs can be cut thereby creating more value.

Or changing value systems so that some things that don't seem so valuable, are valued. (I find value in spending time with my children- hopefully creating memories that they will value)
(A fictional look at the value of memories was Total Recall

I am making notes so I can make a recommendation for you on whether to buy or sell stock!!

Backgammon and Safety

As I got older, I began to like backgammon more than chess because it more approximated life. In backgammon, you make decisions, and then roll the dice. The better the decision, the more likely the roll of the dice will bring a good result. It is possible to make good decisions every time but to lose because of the roll of the dice. I had a friend who was infuriating to play against. I would be a position wherein unless this friend rolled double 6's, I would win. More than once, the friend was able to come up with the double 6's.

If you read and study this link, you will know more about analyzing safety than most.

What I gain from this on the topic of safety is this.

1.Everyone makes predictions of the outcomes of behaviors when discussing safety. For instance, driving a car. One wears a seat belt or not, has bald tires or tires with tread, drives the speed limit or not (reducing speed in inclement weather or not), etc
a. So in the case here one has a course of action which results in 17 good possibilities versus 19 bad possibilities
b. In the other case, one has a course of action which results in 15 good possibilities versus 21 bad possibilities
c. In the other case, one has a course of action which results in 19 good possibilities versus 17 bad possibilities

2. How does this have a safety implication? Well it happens that safety is typically evaluated by results - in other words accidents. So if choices a,b result in good results on the next roll and choice c results in a bad result, the layman or uninformed would determine that choice a and b were the best course of action But they were not.

"Safety should be judged by the moves we make which give the best chance to avoid accidents and or to minimize injury and property damage."
Kirk Fechter

3. Check out this website for another application:

Try This, make a choice, track the results
NY Times version
This mathematician has further study

Saturday, March 14, 2009


In High School, my team came in 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the state of Washington respectively my 3 years. I played on the 2nd and 4th place teams as the second board out of 5 member team. I never lost a game at the tournament. Chess was an additional hobby to cross cournty and track training. In my senior year, after playing all day on Saturday (and being worn out-competive chess takes energy) I did my 90 minute running work out finishing at 10 pm. My team mates woke me up when they came by my house in the morning, but I was able to play,

I had an interest in chess from a very young age. Every Sunday, I would look up the chess column in the newspaper and I would replay the games on my chess set. Later I got a book that taught chess. The most powerful book I got was Modern Chess Openings. I remember reading a sample first 10 moves in the book which a recreated in a High School chess match to win the game in 10 moves.

I originally had an interest in chess because it appears to be a game which does not rely on luck such as backgammon where the outcome is highly influenced by the roll of the dice.

Chess is a great game to teach various types of strategy.

There are three stages of the game, the opening, middle game and the end game. Knowing this, I emphasized the study of the opening since loss in the opening would preclude entrance until the other two parts of the game!

ADDITIONS- This fellow thinks like me- 1.d4 e6 Black is Good! Milos Jovicic


My Toys and Activites Growing Up

I had a piano and was given piano lessons starting in first grade. I would spend hours at the piano. The other major item in my house was a TV which I watched for hours. I had books that I would read and my grandI had obtained a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I also read the newspaper.
My typical day was to wake up and watch educational TV, then go to school early so I could play football, basketball. Then go through the day and participate in sports during recess (Recess is a child’s favorite subject.)
In my younger days, I had a baby sitter.I was fortunate that there were children next door and across the street which I played with.
My game playing was not done at home, since there weren’t any toys at my mom’s house but I had friends. At Dave’s house we would have races of golf balls. We would line them up and run them down the hill and keep track of which one came in first. Titleist balls consistently won. Ring toss was also a good game. Another game I played with Dave and my friend Mike was we would wrinkle a sheet or blanket and then distribute marbles. One would push the marble toward another marble having to negotiate the undulations of the blanket. Typically, if a marble missed, it was easily hit by the next shot of the opponent. Dave and I spent a lot of time playing football. We were known to team up to move the ball down the street in decreasing amounts of time to “beat the clock.” My friend David whose family was from China, had a lot of games. He taught me how to play Go, Checkers, and Risk. We didn’t play much Chess because I could beat him in Chess and he did not like to lose. When my mother came home, I would have dinner. My mother would cook steaks that my grandfather would drop off before or during the week. Many times I would make my own dinners. My specialties were heating up frozen poor boy sandwiches in the oven (no microwave), mixing chili with Chinese Egg noodles (our Elementary School had taken a field trip to Seattle’s China town and I had acquired a taste for them.)
I would also forage for food, going the fridge to sample slices of beef, cottage cheese or slices of cheese. I used to also eat a lot of ice cream. (In High School, I would have a half gallon a day for desert after dinner.) And then I would read, watch TV or agonize over homework. (I used to agonize a lot since it was all up to me and there was no supervision or checking of my homework. I was motivated since I would get $5 if I got good grades.
Since I didn’t have “toys” I had some hobbies. I used to collect coins. I would go to the local coin shop and look at coins and I started to check my coins. Tony, the owner of a grocery store across the street (he was Italian) would give me a sack of coins to go through so that I go through them to try to find valuable coins. (somehow I have managed to hang onto some of these) I also collected stamps and still have a few of them. I also collected comic books but I gave them away before really knowing how valuable and worthwhile a hobby I had. I also collected base ball, football cards, etc. I also added mid elementary school a violin. I was in the orchestra. At one period of time, my grandfather was taking me to baseball games, there was boxing award banquet and I had a concert all on the same night. I was wondering how I would make a decision, but I didn’t’ have to worry, the music teacher said that I would go to the concert or I would flunk.
I received an allowance of $.25 a week. This allowed me to save up and buy a $1 model every four weeks. I put together a lot of airplanes, ships, and tanks. I remember the Arizona battleship since it was so historic.
Later, about 6th grade, I got a weight set even including a bench which I used to stay in shape. Regularly, my mother would take us to the “avenue”. This was University Way in the University (University of Washington, my alma mater) District. We would go to Lung Ting, a Chinese restaurant where the greeter would always say, “how are you young man?” and we would go to Pizza Haven,
They had great pizza but they were bought out by Pietro’s till they went bankrupt.I think that my grandfather would have passed muster for toys. When I would visit my grandparents most every weekend, vacations, and summer vacations, I went to a house that had many toys. In my room, there was a nightstand that had drawers filled with books that had stories about Babar the elephant, Christmas stories like the night before Christmas. There were shelves with many books some of which I came in possession of after my grandparents passed away. There were plastic bowling pins which I spent hours knocking over with a softball. I had a train set that even would blow smoke. (I liked the red caboose) I had my own TV which I watched for hours and hours. At my grandparent’s house we could receive Canadian stations. It was educational and I acquired a love for the game of hockey. I Seattle we used to play floor hockey. It is hockey without skates, we run around in athletic shoes. I had a mechanical helicopter, it was a facsimile of the CH-47 Chinook which is known as the egg beater because it has two rotor blades. I had a basketball and there was a hoop outside in the car port. It was low (but late in life it was fun to stuff the basketball) but my cousin and other friends and I had some good games. I also had football, so I could practice throwing and kicking. My grandfather had about an acre in the back yard. So there was room for throwing, kicking, and tree climbing and running. The football came in handy because when I was 10, my grandfather took me to the competition of the Ford, Pass, Punt, and Kick Contest which I won and won a jacket. One of my best moments was I had a car that one could move by pedaling. I had outgrown the pedaling, but my cousin and I took turns riding it high speed down a backyard path until it disintegrated by the vibrations. When I would climb trees, I would get some cherries. We also like to pick raspberries and salmon berries. My grandfather put some sawdust down and a couple pools and put a cross bar up and I would practice high jumping (came in handy, in 7th grade, I had the highest jump, 4 foot, 6 inches) At my grandparent’s house, there was a grand piano. The key action was a bit slow, but it had fine tone. I used to play for hours and my grandmother loved to sit and listen to me play. It was a bonding experience for the two of us. I also had a set up in my mother’s apartment in my room. I ran a rubber band chain between two points and I would high jump over it onto my bed. Every Saturday, My grandfather would take me to the Washington Athletic Club. This was a great place. There was gym class where we would do various activities such as dodge ball, gymnastics, etc. I learned how to swim there. I was captain of a bowling team. I won many boxing matches and even got an award for a draw since it was considered the best fight. During football season, my grandfather and I left from the club to football game, the University of Washington. These were great days. On Sundays, from a young age, my grandfather would take me bowling on Sundays. I usually would bowl eight games. Of course, my grandfather bought me my own bowling ball and shoes. Occasionally, we would also go ice skating. I had a sled, so when it snowed I could go sledding. I first started making forts by covering chairs with blankets. Another activity was to dig holes that I would cover with shingles thereby creating a fort. I also had a bike. I used to ride circles in the driveway until I was old enough to ride on the street. I have a cousin who is only 3 months older than I and I was taken to his house. My cousin had a lot of friends who liked to play football, so we had a lot of. My cousin had a tree house we also used to hang out in. The park was close by and we used to go the playground there. We also used to get in some pretty good baseball games. I used to beat my cousin good games. We played and also touch when we were small and young enough to survive the contact in virtually any game we would play. It could be checkers, football, baseball whatever, but there was one game that he could beat me virtually every time. The Hockey game
My cousin had even had more toys than I had. Unfortunately, his father had a best friend who had two children who were very destructive and they would break many of his toys. (I confess that I broke a few of the toys, I was pretty rough.)His initial instrument was the accordion but later he had a drum set and we used to play music together, me on the guitar and he on the drums. Summers were pleasant because my grandmother would take me to the zoo where she would let me run around and see the animals. My grandparents took me to the park and playgrounds often and I would “free play” by running around. My grandparents did buy me games such as checkers and chess. I grandmother would play checkers with me, but she wasn’t much completion. I had an interest in chess from a very young age. Every Sunday, I would look up the chess column in the newspaper and I would replay the games on my chess set. Later I got a book that taught chess. The most powerful book I got was Modern Chess Openings. I remember reading a sample first 10 moves in the book which a recreated in a High School chess match to win the game in 10 moves. Starting in elementary school, the ground became a major “toy”. I challenged myself to run non-stop from my friend’s house a mile away. In eighth grade, I was on the track team. I remember coming in last in a half mile race. I was so angry that I began a life-long fitness program. That Saturday, I ran 6 miles (there were a couple stops of course the first time.) I had a lot of success in High School, I lettered all three years in Cross Country and Track. I won many races and became the Seattle Southern Division Champion in Cross Country and twice the 2 mile champion. I came in 6th in Metropolitan Championships for Cross Country and came in 6th and 2nd respectively in the 2 mile. I was the Washington state champion in the Track and field federation High School 2 mile. I also competed in the State Cross Country meet. I was voted the most inspirational runner for the Cross Country team and the Track team.
Another big toy I had was a car starting my junior year of high school. This was the biggest toy I played with until I flew helicopters in the Army – my first flight was July 27, 1980.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A B C's of Legal Ethics

Lawyers like to talk about ethics. The non-lawyer can have a difficult task trying to quantify where an attorney fits in on the ethical scale. Here is my rating system to try to help you along."
I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Grade A - An A can not be achieved in the present legal system because of its flaws- that is why I have the Solzhenitsyn quote. Ironically, primitive people had the right idea when they would arbitrate disputes with extended family and attempted to work out liveable solutions. For an A - truth and mercy have to be combined to make justice. Participants have to spill their guts and all facts must be laid bare. Americans should be arbitrated family disputes such as custody and visitation since the parties must live with the results for decades.

Grade B - This is given to those attorneys who follow the ABA Rules of Professional Responsibility. Inherent in ethical practice is the right of privilege-an attorney does not have to reveal the truth which was revealed by a client. Many injustices result thereby.

Grade C- This is known as the sharp practice. The attorney is really a jerk, follows the rules but is morally bankrupt. For instance, serving papers on someone at Friday close of business for a Friday hearing at 10 AM the next week. The party will be unable to try to get an attorney until Monday and must consult by Thursday or be unprepared.

Grade D - This is the unactionable zone for unethical behavior. A lawyer violates the Rules of Professional Responsibility. The standard to punish a lawyer is Clear, Congent, and Compelling (CCC) evidence. This is almost to the extent of "beyond reasonable doubt". A hard standard to prove.

Grade E - This is the actionable zone for unethical behavior. The conduct is so bad and blatent fulfilling the CCC standard that one is disbarred and disgraced. For instance, Mike Nifong, had made statements recorded by video and sound that the bar alleged were unethical...Hard to beat video evidence, in fact, Mr. Nifong stipulated to the facts of the videos before his hearing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2400 years ago there was an intelligent representation of the strategic issues.Today, we get 30 minutes worth of sound bites

If you take the issue out of moral grounds, humane treatment of prisoners is a combat multiplier.

"This is at once best for the future, and most terrible to your enemies at the present moment; inasmuch as good policy against an adversary is superior to the blind attacks of brute force.’"

In the First Gulf War, I saw video and heard stories of mass surrenders.One helicopter moved about 150 people to captivity.The very worst outcome is to have people fight to the death.

"but we are not in a court of justice, but in a political assembly; and the question is not justice, but how to make the Mitylenians useful to Athens. ......We must not, therefore, commit ourselves to a false policy through a belief in the efficacy of the punishment of death, or exclude rebels from the hope of repentance and an early atonement of their error. [2] Consider a moment! At present, if a city that has already revolted perceive that it cannot succeed, it will come to terms while it is still able to refund expenses, and pay tribute afterwards. In the other case, what city think you would not prepare better than is now done, and hold out to the last against its besiegers, if it is all one whether it surrender late or soon?"
In 400 BC Thycidides wrote about this discussion in His Pellopenesian War available on the internet

I have attached excerpts of the lengthy discussion which startles me on how relevant it is. I attach these few quotes for those unaccustomed to anything longer than a sound bite.

"I have often before now been convinced that a democracy is incapable of empire" "and never reflect that the mistakes into which you may be led by listening to their appeals, or by giving way to your own compassion" "forgetting that your empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators, whose obedience is insured not by your suicidal concessions, but by the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty." "The most alarming feature in the case is the constant change of measures with which we appear to be threatened, and our seeming ignorance of the fact that bad laws which are never changed are better for a city than good ones that have no authority; that unlearned loyalty is more serviceable than quick-witted insubordination; and that ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows. [4] The latter are always wanting to appear wiser than the laws, and to overrule every proposition brought forward, thinking that they cannot show their wit in more important matters, and by such behavior too often ruin their country; while those who mistrust their own cleverness are content to be less learned than the laws, and less able to pick holes in the speech of a good speaker; and being fair judges rather than rival athletes, generally conduct affairs successfully. [5] These we ought to imitate, instead of being led on by cleverness and intellectual rivalry to advise your people against our real opinions. ", this is not revolt--revolt implies oppression; it is deliberate and wanton aggression; an attempt to ruin us by siding with our bitterest enemies; a worse offence than a war undertaken on their own account in the acquisition of power. [3] The fate of those of their neighbors who had already rebelled and had been subdued, was no lesson to them; their own prosperity could not dissuade them from affronting danger; but blindly confident in the future, and full of hopes beyond their power though not beyond their ambition, they declared war and made their decision to prefer might to right, their attack being determined not by provocation but by the moment which seemed propitious.
"! if you subject to the same punishment the ally who is forced to rebel by the enemy, and him who does so by his own free choice, which of them, think you, is there that will not rebel upon the slightest pretext; when the reward of success is freedom, and the penalty of failure nothing so very terrible? " "Compassion is due to those who can reciprocate the feeling, not to those who will never pity us in return, but are our natural and necessary foes: " "For if they were right in rebelling, you must be wrong in ruling"

"As for the argument that speech ought not to be the exponent of action, the man who uses it must be either senseless or interested: senseless if he believes it possible to treat of the uncertain future through any other medium; interested if wishing to carry a disgraceful measure and doubting his ability to speak well in a bad cause, he thinks to frighten opponents and hearers by well-aimed calumny" "The good citizen ought to triumph not by frightening his opponents but by beating them fairly in argument; and a wise city without over-distinguishing its best advisers, will nevertheless not deprive them of their due, and far from punishing an unlucky counsellor will not even regard him as disgraced. [6] In this way successful orators would be least tempted to sacrifice their convictions for popularity, in the hope of still higher honors, and unsuccessful speakers to resort to the same popular arts in order to win over the multitude. " "the moment that a man is suspected of giving advice, however good, from corrupt motives, we feel such a grudge against him for the gain which after all we are not certain he will receive, that we deprive the city of its certain benefit. [2] Plain good advice has thus come to be no less suspected than bad; and the advocate of the most monstrous measures is not more obliged to use deceit to gain the people, than the best counsellor is to lie in order to be believed. [3] The city and the city only, owing to these refinements, can never be served openly and without disguise; he who does serve it openly being always suspected of serving himself in some secret way in return." "However, I have not come forward either to oppose or to accuse in the matter of Mitylene; indeed, the question before us as sensible men is not their guilt, but our interests. [2] Though I prove them ever so guilty, I shall not, therefore, advise their death, unless it be expedient; nor though they should have claims to indulgence, shall I recommend it, unless it be clearly for the good of the country. " "but we are not in a court of justice, but in a political assembly; and the question is not justice, but how to make the Mitylenians useful to Athens. " ". Now of course communities have enacted the penalty of death for many offences far lighter than this: still hope leads men to venture; and no one ever yet put himself in peril without the inward conviction that he would succeed in his design. [2] Again, was there ever city rebelling that did not believe that it possessed either in itself or in its alliances resources adequate to the enterprise" ". We must not, therefore, commit ourselves to a false policy through a belief in the efficacy of the punishment of death, or exclude rebels from the hope of repentance and an early atonement of their error. [2] Consider a moment! At present, if a city that has already revolted perceive that it cannot succeed, it will come to terms while it is still able to refund expenses, and pay tribute afterwards. In the other case, what city think you would not prepare better than is now done, and hold out to the last against its besiegers, if it is all one whether it surrender late or soon?" "And how can it be otherwise than hurtful to us to be put to the expense of a siege, because surrender is out of the question; and if we take the city, to receive a ruined town from which we can no longer draw the revenue which forms our real strength against the enemy? [4] " "although the right course with freemen is not to chastise them rigorously when they do rise, but rigorously to watch them before they rise, and to prevent their ever entertaining the idea, and, the insurrection suppressed, to make as few responsible for it as possible. " "Only consider what a blunder you would commit in doing as Cleon recommends. [2] As things are at present, in all the cities the people is your friend, and either does not revolt with the oligarchy, or, if forced to do so, becomes at once the enemy of the insurgents; so that in the war with the hostile city you have the masses on your side. [3] But if you butcher the people of Mitylene, who had nothing to do with the revolt, and who, as soon as they got arms, of their own motion surrendered the town, first you will commit the crime of killing your benefactors; and next you will play directly into the hands of the higher classes, who when they induce their cities to rise, will immediately have the people on their side, through your having announced in advance the same punishment for those who are guilty and for those who are not. [4] On the contrary, even if they were guilty, you ought to seem not to notice it, in order to avoid alienating the only class still friendly to us. [5] In short, I consider it far more useful for the preservation of our empire voluntarily to put up with injustice, than to put to death, however justly, those whom it is our interest to keep alive. As for Cleon's idea that in punishment the claims of justice and expediency can both be satisfied, facts do not confirm the possibility of such a combination. "

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Flying in the Morning

One of my fondest memories was at Ft Hood, TX. We flew our helicopter to pick up passengers to "go out to the field." In other words, we go to the built up area of Ft Hood and then fly them out to the training area which is basically open fields with the occasional tree populated notably by cows and chiggers. The sun was coming up and on the radio was "I was Country, When Country Wasn't Cool." Great Song. I love George Jones chiming in. I had the opportunity to see George and Reba Rambo in Ozark, Alabama. That is a nice memory. A peaceful flight in a helicopter in the morning listening to country music.

In a Daze

When I was in flight school, there was a period of training wherein we learned to fly at night.

The first shock to the body was starting the workday at 10Pm and then ending it at 4 am. A lot of the time it was very peaceful and at night you can tune into a navigational aid the Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and pick up radio stations. As you might know, even though we were flying in Alabam we could tune into 870 WLS Chicago and I remember hearing John Lennon sing, Woman. The whole period was really in a daze and then I would drive home in a daze. During this period, "Just to satisfy your fourteen carat mind" was a hit and I can remember driving my 1975 Chevy Vega home listening to that song. When you are half in a daze it permeates the consciousness deeper. Funny how the value system in the song is that one man's wife could not be satisfied with whatever material positions were offered. I enjoy some valuable things but what I treasure most is the love I share with my children, simple things like making music and singing, exercising, looking down from the mountain top to the valley below, sitting on the beach in the darkness and listening to the waves crash as they hit the beach.

The day I dislocated my thumb

When I was in elementary school, we had 3 baskets lined up side by side. One day when I was playing, a ball from the adjacent court hit my left thumb in such a way that it was dislocated.
Not knowing, I thought it was broken. I was taken the principal's office, mom was called, and then taken to the doctor.- so I had my thumb sticking out for awhile. ( where I live now is a mile from an emergency room or urgent care) The doctor said that it would affect me the rest of my life in that it would not be flexible. Well, I worked on it everyday and I really haven't noticed any lack of range of motion or discomfort, so I recommend physical therapy to anyone injured.

Surprise on the Highway

One evening I was traveling from Fort Irwin, CA to Las Vegas, NV with my wife about midnight. We made a stop in Baker, CA home of the world's tallest thermometer. I took the time to refresh myself and for safety consumed a bit of caffeine and sugar. This is counterproductive when you want to sleep later, but in this case, it may have saved my life. As I cruised along after scaling the Clark Mountain Range in my semi-daze I noticed a slow moving car ahead. I noticed a rate of closure that indicated it was going very slow. All of the sudden, I realized that this was not a slow moving car. This was a van positioned sideways in the outside lane of the 2 and I had seen the side reflectors. I jerked the car left and it seemed like slow motion as I eased over past the stationary van. My wife woke up from the jerk and asked me in an irritated manner, had I checked to see if the other lane was clear. I had to tell her that if I had checked, we would have smashed into the van. She called 911 to notify the police, they weren't interested to talk to her because they had already received a call from another "near miss." (My son, Gabe pointed out it could better be described as a "near hit."

A note about coming into Primm, NV. If you ever studied political geograph, coming into Primm, NV from Baker, CA says it all. Here is the view of California, It is a bleak desert. And then here is what pops out of the desert just because across an imagenary line, gambling is legal.

Friday, January 30, 2009


This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

The reason that I put these two quotes together is to make a point that we can not expect justice when we don't have truth. It is particularly unreasonable to see this in a courtroom where a judge is at the mercy of a couple lawyers orchestrating events. Stripped of an ability to investigate, justice can not be found.

I agree with this advice

Matthew 5: 25"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.[d]

Sometimes I have punished my children with mercy. In other words I explain what they did wrong, make them take responsibility, but then do not inflict any punishment. I want to let them know how it feels to receive mercy so that perhaps they will be willing to offer mercy.

Here is an interesting story of one who did not have mercy after receiving mercy

Matthew 18:23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

We are in a grave world crisis now and much of it deals with how we will collectively deal with our debts, the one's we owe and those who owe us. Perhaps if as children we had thought about mercy and been offered more mercy, we could make better judgments. Obviously too much mercy makes us irresponsible, too little makes us bitter. Somehow we need to blend the two together to make a healthy beverage which we can drink every day so we can have a just world.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Historical Perspective

Judge Learned Hand observed: "I venture to believe that it is as important to a judge called upon to pass on a question of constitutional law, to have at least a bowing acquaintance with Acton and Maitland, with Thucydides, Gibbon and Carlyle, with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare and Milton, with Machiavelli, Montaigne and Rabelais, with Plato, Bacon, Hume and Kant, as with the books which have been specifically written on the topic."

For your convenience I have provided links to all of these.


I have studied formally in my educational endeavors - Thycidides, Homer, Plato (in the original Greek), Machiavelli (in the original Italian-nice poetry!), Kant (in the original German-very lugubrious prose), Shakespeare (I still remember our High School class chanting verse together in an attempt to memorize-"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."; and Milton-Would you really rather rule in Hell than serve in heaven?

The rest I admit I had to look up to "refresh" my memory!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All I Know About Safety

The story of Walter Marino and Christopher Marino is incredibly inspiring.

The story really encompasses so many safety lessons that I think it would be useful to review.

1. UNKNOWN HAZARDS TO AN INDIVIDUAL – The father took his child to a beach. He had been there many times. He might know of the hazard of rip currents but he did not know of the elevated hazard of rip currents around piers and jetties., “Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Rip currents often exist along the side of fixed objects in the water.”

"We were both just sucked out,” Marino told Matt Lauer. “The forces just took us out so
quickly, it totally took me by surprise” he said.

LESSON: Be a student, constantly try to learn new safety tips.

2. HOW YOU REACT TO YOUR ERRORS IS CRUCIAL – When the father and child were swept out to sea, they resisted the temptation to fight the current. This became increasingly difficult as they were swept farther and farther out to sea. But they were in the water respectively approximately 12 and 14 hours. If they had fought the currents, it is likely they would not have survived.

3. THE WILL TO LIVE – INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY AND ITS PSYCHOLOGY – My favorite individual story of survival is the fellow who crashed in the desert and fought his way through heat, thirst and cactus to return safely. When asked what kept him going he replied that he was separated from his wife and the thought of her inheriting everything before his divorce was final kept him going! (SEE NOTE) Here the two individuals gathered strength from each other. Walter Marino would touch his son and communicate to him. The son, who is autistic, shared with father his lack of fear. All the son knew was that he was on an adventure. The two in their own way supported each other.

4. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE – Really, it was implausible that the two would survive. What is amazing is that the boat that picked them up was late. The boat had not planned to be there at that time – it was sheer luck that the father was spotted. But that is how survival works. If we keep trying we get lucky.

5. SURVIVAL IS NOT AN INDIVIDUAL EFFORT, BUT A GROUP EFFORT. After Walter Marino was rescued the team went to work to find his son. The boat had a GPS which allowed them to pinpoint their location (High Tech equipment has a pay-off, always consider spending money on safety) The Coast Guard was ready. Armed with the information about Walter Marino’s location, they went to work. Sometimes we forget just how many people are saved by the professional and heroic efforts of emergency response. As a safety professional, I always want to ensure that emergency response is well-funded.

NOTE: As I mentioned in my blog entry,, I encountered many heroes during my military career. The teller of this tale was Colonel Nick Rowe, a leader, an inspiration, and tragically one who died too soon from an enemy combattant.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One day of Smelling the Roses

Today at work as I was collaborating with my friend, we took a moment to read a few jokes. It was great to get a laugh, so at least for a day I was following my resolution. I did remember a few weeks ago. My son when he wakes up, he goes down the stairs and he looks for me. When he sees me, he starts laughing and smiling and he runs over to me. We usually share a few moments of play. I tickle him and wrestle with him. He likes to climb under blankets and laugh and giggle. I remember just looking at him and really enjoying the moment of sharing that time. During the week when I am wrapped up with work and projects, it really is nice to look back and think about the moment we shared.
It is funny how little things are remembered. I remember at my High School we had a Japanese exchange student. I remembered her name since it sounded like, "you gotta meet he(r)" One day she had brought in some sea weed cookies and being the exotic eater (in Elementary School we occasionally had chocolate covered ants and candied cattepillars passed around) I tried it. In my year book, she commented that just as we had shared the cookie, we had shared a year in High School. So it has reinforced to me that little things can make a lasting impression.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stop to Smell the Roses

Well, to start off the new year (I could do a good blog entry on a discussion of the new year, but unless requested, will defer) with one of many resolutions. It occurred to me that when I was a bit low on cash, I lived on Lake Tahoe. As I would pass a scenic overlook, I would pull off the road just for a few minutes because I could look down and see something similar to this
Refreshed, I would continue my journey. I hope to find a place near where I work to do something similar, I will keep my eyes open. I do know some nice places in the valleys and ridge lines in Pennsylvania. There is one little restaurant at 2000 feet that is nice to be in better weather because you can eat steak sandwiches for about $5 and look down the 2000 feet unto the valley below.

This last summer I went to Shenandoah National Park. Here is a nice scene here:
So I would like to do a daily entry but will be satisfied with weekly entries.