Monday, May 26, 2008

Remembering

[In 2004, I was editor of my local union's newsletter. In the May issue that year I wrote the following editorial, and wanted to share it with all of you on this Memorial Day holiday.]

I love war movies. Most guys do. I mean, how can you resist? There are the Good Guys, led by Our Hero. Then there are the Bad Guys, who are working for the Forces of Evil and who always give Our Hero a reason to be, well, Heroic. Mix in a wide selection of guns, armored vehicles and all the different ways of blowing things up nice and loud, and it’s the next best thing to a Sunday afternoon in the fall watching the Eagles beat up on the Cowboys.

How can anyone with a decent amount of testosterone flowing through their body not get goosebumps when George C. Scott talks about winning a war by “making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country” in Patton? Or pump their fists trying to help Jim Brown drop the grenades down the air shafts and run back to the waiting halftrack in The Dirty Dozen, even though we know he will always wind up dead on the ground? Remember Bill Holden slapping the snot out of Nazi plant Peter Graves in Stalag 17? How about R. Lee Ermey’s unforgettable performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket?

War in the movies is like that. Good vs. Evil. Heroes vs. Villains. Allies vs. Axis. In real life, however, it’s not quite that clear-cut. Sure, there will always be the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, but talk to any person from any country in the world that has been involved in any kind of armed conflict and I’ll bet you your paycheck that you won’t find a single person that says that they were one of the Bad Guys.

But this editorial isn’t about the politics of war. It’s not about war movies, either. It’s about the real life people who have to deal with the real life consequences of war. The soldiers. The families. The innocent victims. As you look around the factory today, chances are that your eyes will pass over someone who has been personally touched by the effects of war, whether it be the current conflict in Iraq, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, or even World War II.

How many of you reading this have been under fire from enemy guns? Not many, I’d imagine. Have you ever seen a friend die from a land mine explosion? Me either. But how many of you know a family who has had one of their own die or been wounded in combat? How many of you can go to the Wall in Washington, D.C. and recognize a name? How many of you at this very second know someone or know of someone in Iraq? I see a lot more hands going up.

My point is that there are many people, people in our communities, sons and daughters of people that you know, who are willing to put their lives on the line to help ensure the safety of America and Americans. And unfortunately, many of them have made that ultimate sacrifice. And that is what Memorial Day is all about. Remembering that some families have empty places at the dinner table. Remembering that some children will only know their father as a picture on the mantle.

I know that this edition of the Chopper will have gone to press after Memorial Day 2004 has ended. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop remembering the fallen. The Heroes. And thanking them and the families they left behind. And remembering that the work we do here helps to protect our sons and daughters every time they get onto one of our helicopters.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Maintenance, Blogging & Me

As anyone who follows this blog knows, my posting frequency has ground almost to a halt these last few months. Between work and home, I seem to be a lot busier than I've been in a while, leaving me less time for blogging and other forms of geekery that I tend to enjoy.

The good news is that I haven't abandoned my pursuit of maintaining my weight loss. It's taken a small hit lately, but I can still say that I am below my goal weight. To me, that's a major milestone because it's been a just over a year since I first reached that goal.

I'm still struggling with some of my other goals, especially my fitness goals. But as it was with the weight loss, I will need to get my head in the right place before I will see any significant progress.

Right now I'm in the beginning stages of a walking challenge at work. They gave us pedometers and a six week time frame to log as many steps as we could. Unfortunately the challenge was not organized very well, so I'm using it as more of a personal motivator to get moving rather than as the competition against my coworkers that it was supposed to be.

Another reason I haven't been around as much is that I've been spending time catching up with a lot of my old high school buddies. 2008 marks 30 years since our graduation, and I've been helping plan the upcoming reunion. It should be a blast when we all finally get together later this year and I'm really looking forward to it.

The last thing I intend to do is abandon this blog, so I really do appreciate everyone who still checks in. I've been doing my best to keep up with your own blogs, although I've been commenting with about as much frequency as I've been posting here. No promises, but I do hope to get back to writing more soon.

Finally, I hope that everyone celebrating the long Memorial Day weekend has a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who is or has a mother. This video is for you.


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(Special Mother's Day thanks to Kathy for sharing this video with me!)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Out Of The Corner

When last we heard from our intrepid reporter, he let it be known that he needed to get off his posterior and get back on track. His devilishly clever plan was to force his own hand by using this blog to publicly commit to perform physical exertion in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses. In his own words, he painted himself into a corner.

Let us now join our reporter as he regales us with the tale of his attempt to leave the aforementioned corner without getting himself covered with paint...

Hello! Well, as our narrator was quick to remind us, my last post detailed my plan to get back on track by deciding to participate in a 5K race. I'd like to be able to say that I've spent the two weeks since that post hard at work training for the race, slowly building up endurance by training a bit more each day until by race time I was in peak condition and ready to impress everyone on the Atlantic City boardwalk with my performance.

Yeah, right.

In actuality, the last two weeks have been very similar to the last two months in respect to the demands on my time. I only managed to get out and walk once, for about 30 minutes total. Not very inspiring, and not at all the best way to train for a 5K, even if I planned on walking the whole way.

By the time woke up this morning, I decided that my game plan would be to put on a show and run at the start and finish lines, and walk the rest of the way. It seemed like a fairly reasonable plan to me, especially since I've never claimed to be a "runner."

After a 25 minute delay caused by two false starts, the race finally began. I started running, which in my case could more accurately be called shuffling, down the course. The pack surged ahead and started leaving the slower participants behind. I kept at my shuffling, and before I realized it, almost ten minutes had passed! By this time, I did have to take a breather, so I slowed myself down to a walk.

Before I knew it, however, I found myself running again. I hit the one mile mark at 12:40, about three or four minutes better than my walking pace. I kept going back and forth, walking and running, for the rest of the race and ran, not shuffled, across the finish line about 40 minutes after I started.

Once I caught my breath and grabbed some water and a banana, I wandered over to the leader board where I discovered that I finished in 404th place. I'm not sure how many participants finished the race, but I heard it was close to 450. In any event, I'm quite happy with my finish. I did more than I set out to do and didn't kill myself in the process. What more could an out of shape 48 year old guy ask for? Besides oxygen, I mean.

[Update: The official results have been posted and I finished 404th out of 422 runners (33rd of 34 in my division), with an official time of 40:42. ]

Will it be what I needed to get back on track? I honestly don't know, but it certainly didn't hurt. Well, except for those muscles that have been out of practice. And I'm not ruling out trying another 5K sometime. Maybe even sometime soon. We'll see.

For now, there are some other habits I want to jump start, including more frequent writing right here. Stick around, it should be fun!