Friday, November 17, 2017

How Much Should You Pay for a Small Chicken.

I was at dinner last night when I had a chance to chat with a friend.  I would say “old” friend, but at this point in our lives we tend to get a little sensitive about that term.  He is an avid outdoorsman who hunts, fishes, hikes through nature, and used to ride his unicycle around the base we worked at.  This is his story, if I err or embellish in its retelling the fault rests solely with me.
I had asked him how his hunting has been going and he related an episode during a recent Elk hunt.  It was bow season, and they were astride horses when a Grouse flushed and flew into a nearby tree.  He told his mates he could take that Grouse with his bow and arrow.  They, of course, doubted his ability so the challenge was laid. 
As he notched his arrow and as he began to draw the bow he slipped just a bit and the arrow flew into the brush near the ground.  He mentioned these were $20-dollar arrows with broad-head tips.
He notched a second arrow, took aim, and let fly.  It sailed true, but clipped a branch and struck the limb the Grouse was sitting on.  The bird took off but came to rest just a few feet away, apparently satisfied that William Tell was done.  We are now at the $40-dollar investment level.
But he was not done… Taking the third arrow, he took careful aim, considered John Wayne’s advice to Marian McCargo, who played Ann Langdon, in the 1969 movie Undefeated, “windage and elevation Mrs. Langdon, windage and elevation” and let loose a third shot.  This one sailed past the Grouse as well, but the bird fell to the ground.  He told his comrades he had shot the head clean off the bird, they laughed, until he dismounted and retrieved the bird, sans its head.
So, this is how a Grouse dinner comes to sixty (plus) dollars on an Elk Hunt.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Reminds Me of a Story

The story in the Sun takes me back to a time in the mid-1980’s, when I worked with a small group of officers and NCOs who coordinated with other organizations on high-priority national missions.  One of the men in the office served as a real mentor for most of us.  He was a Chief Master Sargent, but everyone called him “Duke.”  He has passed away now, but there is a briefing room named to honor him in the Headquarters of Air Force Special Operations Command.
Duke used to tell the story of when he was a younger enlisted man assigned to a unit that was developing a personnel recovery system known as “The Surface to Air Recovery System (or STARS) for short, although most of us referred to by its inventor’s name when we talked about it.  For most of us, it was just the “Fulton Recovery System.”  You can see an early prototype of the device in the fourth James Bond movie “Thunderball,” and the actual system as installed on a specialized C-130 in the John Wayne movie “The Green Berets”
The system was designed to pick up one or two people or about 500 pounds of equipment.
During its development, there came a time they wanted to put some live weight on the end of the line but were not yet ready to risk human life.  To test the weight bearing capability they chose a 500-pound sow as the test subject.  The plan called for the pig to be tranquilized so it would be docile when it arrived at the aircraft.  Duke said the testing was done out of Pope AFB, NC which was surrounded by the many drop zones and gun ranges of Fort Bragg (home of the 82nd Airborne Division).
Duke had us in stitches as he talked about that test.  When the pig arrived at the aircraft they could tell it was no longer fully tranquilized and was one mad-pig.  As they got it onboard the aircraft and tried to guide it into its cage the pig broke loose and went squealing and shitting all over the cargo compartment until it, unfortunately, ran off the ramp and for a short while became a flying pig.
Details of the accident remain sketchy, but I can only assume it led to the expression “I’ll believe that when pigs fly.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Character Counts, But Only for Some

We are now firmly entrenched in the age of sexual outrage, with story after story, and condemnation after condemnation coming from the very same people who for years not only turned a blind eye to the allegations of abuse and assault coming from victims of politicians of their party, but actively engaged in the vilification of those victims.
With the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton in 1998 we clearly saw the battle ground laid out with one side arguing that character mattered and the other side saying it didn’t.
Now here we are, almost twenty years later and that same battle rages on, only the names and party affiliations have changed.  Lost in today’s world -- is the acceptance of Clinton’s abuses by the party at large when the allegations first began appearing during his 1991 primary run.  This despite the battle over alleged abuse these same politicians and activists had fought over the Clarence Thomas appointment to the Supreme Court.
Clearly, when the issue was with their “guy” the victims didn’t matter at all.  
Unfortunately for all concerned, the arguments made in Clinton’s defense have been accepted by society; all the pontificating and sanctimonious ravings of the political and media elite about the sins of this or that celebrity, politician, or celebrity-politician are viewed through the jaded eyes of people who’ve seen this all before, and realize it is only about power.  Getting power, or keeping power.  There is no morality behind the claims of the moral high ground and faux-moral outrage.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Judgment in a Judgmental World.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ( Matthew 7, verses 1-2 (New International Version))
I suspect society has, and will always be judgmental.  Probably going back to the earliest family group where the woman said, “you’re not wearing that to the Mammoth hunt, are you?”  If it weren’t so - we wouldn’t have so many instances of mob mentality in our history.
For example, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who sought to trap him on the law with the stoning of a woman for adultery.  “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’”  (John 8, verse 7  NIV)
Then, of course, we have the French during their first revolution.  Where the mobs took over and the Guillotine became the social event of the day as the nobility was carted in for their amusement.
The question is – What happens to individual judgment when the vocal judgment of an angry society takes over?  
In this day of instant mass communication, it is so easy to play to the emotions of the mob, eliciting outrage or anger from those who have neither the inclination, nor the time to consider consequences, and who believe they will remain anonymous behind the mob as they cast their stones or yell for the beheading of the rich, famous or infamous.
From time to time I see questions from some of those same people who are mystified by the loss of “common sense.”  I guess it would judgmental of me to suggest it is one of the first victims of today’s mob mentality.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

As the Tide Rolls In

This weekend has been an interesting one for the State of Alabama.  It began early with the Washington Post “exposé” of Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became the US Attorney General.  Then on Veterans Day, the two football powers in the state both won.  The first, Auburn University, handed the University of Georgia “Bulldogs” a shellacking that will probably eliminate them from consideration for the College Football Playoffs.
Later, Alabama managed to close strong in their game at Mississippi State University and avoid the stress of overtime. 
Along the way, Notre Dame suffered a beating at the hands of Miami University that has sealed their fate, while Clemson handled Florida State University.
Unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of weeks it looks like Clemson and Alabama will be back in the final four, the only question is who will be the other two teams?  I can already hear the cries for expanding the playoffs to eight teams versus the four they settled on three years ago.
With its win over Georgia, Auburn is making the upcoming Iron Bowl game more interesting than early season predictions suggested it would be, but I am not sure they have the depth to hang with Alabama for all four quarters.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ode to the Veteran

Youth, impetuous and fearless, standing on their own
Eyes, cast to a strange world, seeking independence for the first time
Minds, filled with more questions than answers, unsure of what lies ahead
Hearts, beating to be set free, wanting to make a difference in the world

These men and women come from many walks of life
Choosing different paths to a common goal
Bound by a belief in this nation
Driven by a need to be greater than the one

They come with different dreams
Putting service before themselves
Willing to guard the rights of all
Unwilling to let this country fail

Quietly they serve, and quietly they return
Too often with scars
Both hidden and not
They try to put their lives back together

They form the backbone of this country
The strength of character we are
The moral courage we show
The compassion to which we aspire

It is a veteran of war who knows its horror
It is a veteran of peace who knows our honor
It is a veteran of service who knows our sacrifice
It is a veteran who demands justice for the oppressed

As Teddy Roosevelt once said
“The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena”
Our veterans today stand on the shoulders of those before
Our veterans of tomorrow will do the same.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Destruction of Olympus

     Watching the fall of the famous names of the entertainment and political industries strikes me as similar to watching the destruction of Mount Olympus.  It is as if the Greeks had discovered an unexpected flaw in their gods, and in that instant, they became irrelevant to those who just the day before had built such impressive monuments to them. 
     It began slowly with the vilification of the aging demi-gods.  Once they had been condemned, it moved on to the disgracing of the Titans.  Finally, once the Titans were gone the mob moved to the gods and the leveling of Olympus itself.
     As this pantheon of gods is cast aside who will replace them?  In this age of instant fame and condemnation, the people need their gods to worship and destroy.
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