Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reflections and Crystal Clarity

A bit of Memorial Day-related information of which I was unaware until I looked yesterday morning at Monday's entry on the day-by-day calendar that Suzanne gave me for Christmas, which I would have been aware of on Memorial Day proper had I taken ten seconds out of the five hours I spent at work on Monday morning bringing the calendar current.  According to my calendar, each of the 4,048 gold stars on the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. represents 100 military deaths during the war.  

Acquiring that piece of information prompted me to do a quick on-line search of America's WW II casualties, for no reason other than it seemed utterly incomprehensible to me that over 400,000 American soldiers, sailors, and flyers were killed.  I wish my reluctance to believe such an enormous figure had been borne out by the facts.  It was not.  The National World War II Museum's web site lists the total number of American military deaths in World War II as 416,800.  A staggering figure.  Yet one that pales in comparison to those of Germany, Japan, or the Soviet Union.   According to that web site, World War II killed a total of 15,000,000 soldiers, sailors and flyers, injured another 25,000,000 and killed another 45,000,000 civilians.  Eighty-five million people killed or wounded in less than a decade's time...and all at the hands of another human being.  

Amazing what those of us of the human persuasion are capable of when we apply ourselves, is is not? It is - at the very least - terrifying.    

-AK 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Whistling Through The Graveyard...

Today shall either be the end of the 2014-15 season for the New York Rangers or it shall not.  A win tonight in Tampa and the Blueshirts will have tiptoed through the mine field long enough to live to see a Game Seven at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.  A loss and by Friday morning they will be working on their golf games. 

I do not pretend to be smart enough to know whether tonight shall be the fourth consecutive elimination game in which they stave off elimination or whether this shall be end of what has been (to this point) a most enjoyable season.  As my older brother Kelly is wont to point out, "They play.  I watch."  Watch I shall.  Here is to hoping that there is a Game Seven to watch on Friday night.

And here is to hoping that they take Mariano Duncan's mantra to heart...


-AK

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hey Look Kids! It's Deja Vu!

Today is Memorial Day.  It is a day of solemnity.  It is a day of celebration.  Frankly, it is a day that is worthy of something better than my best effort. 

For that reason, this space today has been turned over to Rob, as it has been each of the past several years.  A piece he wrote when he was twenty years old, which at this juncture is almost a decade ago, captures the spirit of this day as well as anything I have ever read.  It does so far better than anything I have ever written.  

Enjoy.  And remember...



Just A Thought
 
I started thinking in this time of war what this day means. It is for those who didn't come back. They didn't come back to their mothers, their wives or their kids. They stormed beaches, fought and died in foreign countries. All that returned was a box and a folded flag.

I recently attended a Springsteen concert in North Carolina. I traveled by plane through this American land because I could, because I am free - and because of the generosity of some good friends. As Springsteen played a song called 
"Last to Die" I got emotional. The song asks, "Who'll be the last to die...." presumably in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It does not matter what you think of the American involvement in these wars. What does matter is that we remember these brave American servicemen and servicewomen.

Meanwhile I am enjoying a Springsteen concert, enjoying a beer and enjoying starting a career with the best government in the world; enjoying freedom. How can I do this? These are my brothers, my peers, guys my age fighting and dying. They volunteered so I didn't have to. They're not coming back to their favorite band, their favorite beer, their families or the state they grew up in.

Their children will not know their fathers. They will know only their sacrifice and some stories their mothers will tell. They sacrificed for someone they will never meet - you and me.

Remember them today.

-RJM

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Somewhere Howard Beale Smiles...

If you have ever dealt with the assholes who operate Silver Airways.  If you have ever had someone from Continental/United help themselves to your luggage and, thereafter, have had to endure being mind-phucked by some customer service representative who has been trained in the art of telling customers - in about fifty different ways - just how much she would like to help you but she really can't.  

If anything like that has happened to you, then maybe -  just maybe - you can relate to Naked Guy. Apparently, upon learning that his flight to Jamaica had been oversold, which presumably meant that the seat he thought had his name on it in fact had been promised to another he decided to express his outrage in such a manner that his point of view would be unmistakable.  

It is not everyday that one bears witness to another unsheathing his inner Howard Beale - as well as his outer everything else, which this gentleman apparently did for approximately forty-five minutes until the police arrived.    

Maybe he was just trying out a new technique for expediting the process of getting through the TSA Security Checkpoint?  Crazy you say.  I say:  Show of hands of everyone who would prefer to have ol' Petey Pecker standing in front of you as opposed to behind you.  

Exactly...  

-AK 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

And Away We Go...

The Missus and I shall spend this weekend - at least until the office beckons on Monday - enjoying our first "Holiday Weekend" as homeowners at the beach.  By this time tonight, I dread that my driveway and front lawn will be strewn with discarded plastic cups and paper plates, courtesy of the just-arrived, well-lubricated crowd of young people who pop up (some might say like dandelions) at the Shore to coincide with Memorial Day's arrival.  I care not.  Actually, while I care I do not care enough to allow their presence to harsh my mellow.  Their presence has no impact upon our proximity to the magic elixir that is the ocean.  

Nor shall it have - this morning at least - any impact upon my proximity to the start line of the Spring Lake Five Mile Run.  I do not know who is more excited about this year's edition.  Me, because rather than driving into Spring Lake and finding a place to park, I shall simply run the mile and a quarter or so between my house and the starting line.  Margaret, because now that we are down here and so close to it, she does not have to come with me.  My wife is a hell of a good sport but she enjoys standing around at the finish line of races as much as I enjoy shopping for shower curtains or comforters.  

Enjoy your first unofficial Saturday of summer.  I know that Margaret and I certainly hope to do so.  

-AK 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Time to Be Getting Gone

As a significant number of Americans prepare to herald (albeit unofficially) the arrival of the Summer of 2015 by loading themselves and, perhaps, a loved one (or loved ones) into a vehicle and heading off down the road a piece, this simple man has a simple request:  Do your level best to arrive safely and to spend your holiday safely.  If jails, hospitals, and morgues were places to be seen while on vacation, significantly more of them would be highlighted on Google Maps and in the Rand-McNally Atlas than are presently.

As a rapidly-aging man who to date, in close to a half-century's tenancy on this planet, has seen the New York Rangers win just one Stanley Cup, this simple fan has a simple request for AV and his Blueshirts:  Win tonight's Game Four against the Lightning.   I do not play golf.  Therefore, I cannot fathom a reason why anyone would be eager to get out on the golf course.  Rinks are much cooler.  I meant that in a figurative sense but I note that it works quite nicely in the literal sense as well.  

I reckon that means that my work here is done.  For today, at least.  Time to be getting gone.

After all, summer's here...



-AK   

   

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Wizard's New Apprentice

You can't live a perfect day
Without doing something for someone
Who will never be able to repay You.
- John Wooden

Two weeks from this very day shall mark the fifth anniversary of the death of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.  Coach Wooden died approximately four months before what would have been his 100th birthday. 

Having retired from the coaching profession upon the completion of the 1975 season, thirty-five years or so before he died, it is a certainty that he never coached Josiah Duncan.  Inasmuch as Josiah is, himself, just five years old, it is likely that Coach Wooden and Josiah Duncan never met.  Given that Coach Wooden died at or near the mid-point of 2010, there is roughly a 50% chance that Josiah had not yet made his entrance upon the Earth's stage at the time that Coach Wooden made his exit.  

For two people born roughly one hundred years apart, in different parts of the United States (Coach Wooden was a Hoosier and Josiah is an Alabaman), it is remarkable just how much the new emulates the old.  

It is a story too worth telling correctly to be entrusted into my workmanlike hands, so it shall not be. Rather, I shall invite you to do that which I did yesterday after having been made aware of this story by my brother Bill:  Read it and view it for yourself.    

Coach Wooden's wallet included a copy of the Seven Point Creed that his father bestowed upon him as an eighth-grade graduation gift:  

(1) Be true to yourself;
(2) Make each day your masterpiece;
(3) Help others;
(4) Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible;
(5) Make friendship a fine art;
(6) Build a shelter against a rainy day;
(7) Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day. 

Whether five-year-old Josiah carries a wallet, I know not.  I know however that when he starts carrying one, the first thing that shall be inside of that wallet shall be a copy of Coach Wooden's long-ago graduation gift.  Actually, judging from the manner in which this youngster carries himself, it is already in there. 

Along with a lot of other really, really good stuff. 

-AK