Sunday, August 31, 2008


The economy has been rough on my consulting business - the Olympics has been rougher still, and while work does continue to roll slowly in (as recently as last week), I thought I'd look around at other options and opportunities.

I found several responses remarkable. While not specifically stated, the portion of my resume (deliberately understated) that dealt with military service was viewed with a negative eye. One large corporate recruiter all but told me that it smacked of a potential for violence. I (quoting Forrest Gump loosely) said that violence is as violence does. They didn't want that potential in an employee. I did not suggest that they seek employees in 
the ranks of eunuchs but I'm convinced they'd be happier with that class of man. Truth be told,  I wouldn't be happy working with or for people like that.

All in all, I found it sobering.

And Kiplings words rolled in. I won't quote TOMMY in its entirety here, but it bears reading.

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes...

Piero's Italian Restaurant, the evening after Oscar B. Goodman is elected to his first term of office as the mayor of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada. 

There are no short pours in tumblers and the food flows from the kitchen as if it was intended for the table of a Turkish Bey. The gathering includes Goodman's inner circle and all of his living clients. It's no secret that Goodman represented reputed members of Italian Organized Crime. The toasts begin. "F-the FBI"! "F-the IRS!" and then one old pezzonovante lifts his glass, a splash of hundred year-old Scotch sloshing down his shirt sleeve and shouts, "F-the CIA".

Goodman pales briefly and says, "no, no, we cant toast like that." He stands, looks at the corner at two men who have been silent and who have not taken part in any of the toasting or back slapping. He says, "to the CIA!" Confused but following his lead the labor leaders, pension fun managers and goombas toast and drink.

The two men, one wearing a silk Breoni suit and the other wearing a more subdued Armani, smile, and walk out of the restaurant where the valet has their car waiting. They drive to the Mandalay Bay hotel and take the elevator to the Foundation Room where they have a private conversation. Eventually, business concluded, they are approached by a Black Rap Star, dripping in gold chains, accompanied by several attractive models and half a dozen bodyguards. The Rap Star admires one of the men's hat, a Borsalino, hand-stitched Italian job. The story continues, but it's not for this blog.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I love freshly made, hot, home made cookies -- I just do.

I don't know which I like more, peanut butter or oatmeal raisin. I like them both. Making a decision between the two is not dissimilar to sitting at a museum where the two famous Gainsborough masterpieces "Pinky" and "Blue Boy" hang together and deciding to which you will fix your gaze.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A few truths

1. Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Never roll in the mud with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

2. Goodness alone is never enough. Hard cold wisdom is required as well for goodness to  accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom invariably accomplishes evil.

3. Taxes are seldom levied for the benefit of the taxed. 

4. Organized religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help.

5. There are two secrets for a man to keep his marriage alive and healthy: (a) When you're wrong, admit it. (b) When you're right, shut up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

the only easy day was yesterday

Just before Memorial Day this year, some of the neighborhood boys came by the house. They wanted to look at the framed photos on my office wall and hoped for a war story, a homily on military service. Some of the same boys came by again yesterday. Because I wrote the story in a journal I keep, on 5-24-08, I thought I'd trot it out for the blog.

I keep telling them, "It's not the way you think it will be." 

It's impossible to communicate the nature of physical exhaustion to those who haven't experienced it. Training attempts to prepare you for it, but it doesn't come close. I was with two friends who are dead today. We were sitting in the mud, eating small baby water snakes, squirming through the ooze by the hundreds and washing them down with polluted water from our canteens. We had not eaten or slept for four days. We were in a state of starvation-enhanced exhaustion that caused us to have vivid dreams that we experienced while wide awake. The snakes broke the hunger until the stomach acid finished them off.

So I told the boys that when you hear the pitiful screams of the wounded and dying, smell the butcher-house odors of feces and blood, roasted flesh, rotting and decay, the detritus of the battlefield, and feel the last shiver of life ebb as a friend dies in your arms and you look into his eyes and see the pupils dilate in death, you'll wish that you were never there.

The boys didn't hear a word I said. They urged me to tell them a war story. I told them that I just did.

Yesterday they came by to look at the wall, they asked some questions, and re-energized, they left. They thanked me when they left, but I don't think that I did them any favors.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Working for a living...

I have four daughters.

I know where my money goes.

I know where my heart lies.

And for their sakes primarily, I sacrificed and worked for a living doing interesting things, but not wild things. We all have to balance the desire for what we want with what is best for the greater good. Was it worth it? Yeah. I think so.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I like the desert

Emilie - Fossil hunting
Some people see the vastness emptiness of the desert as threatening, but I find it an intoxicating place. It's far more interesting to me than any city on Earth (with the possible exception of Hong Kong) and provides endless opportunities to explore.

Whether it's the Latham Shale, hunting for trilobite fossils from the Cambrian Period, 500,000 years ago or discovering an indian well, surrounded by rock writing and hieroglyphic explanations of what those ancients saw and experienced, the desert keeps its secrets for those intrepid enough to seek them out.

Even though my daughter, Emilie (right) is a city girl at heart, she likes finding fossils every bit as much as anyone else would. It's much like opening a Christmas present when you chip a piece of shale and find the skeletal remains of a fish or creature who lived on the planet half a billion years ago. The scope of the reality of time, the light and space of the desert, and the fact you are there puts a whole new spin on life and on living.

Journeys are best when shared.

It's one thing to scale a mountain, ford a swiftly moving river or cross a barren desert. The memories are lasting and will be treasured. However those journeys which are shared are often the best.

My daughter, Emilie, now 17 years old, has been my trail companion for many of the overland journeys I've undertaken over the past couple of years. Her discoveries along the trail have allowed me to see things through the eyes of a younger person with all of the wonder and joy of exploration and revelation that I found many years ago on my own. When you experience things through the eyes of another person, it's like seeing them for the first time.

Alta Lakes

In the high country, west of Teluride, Colorado, at the foot of the 13,000 ft. Palmyra Peaks and Silver Mountain, the Alta mine complex provided millions of dollars in precious metal at the turn of the (previous) century.  The mining business is all but passed, however the lakes stand at over 11,000 ft. 

My Toyota (left) and a buddy's to the right felt right at home in the mountain fastness. There are hungry trout in all three Alta Lakes. The best lake of the three (also the highest) requires a hike. But it's worth the journey.

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