Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Medals Don't Always Match Effort

My oldest daughter Lauren just won the NCAA Championship Medal above.  She earned it as the playoff goalie for the Juniata College Women's Field Hockey Team.  Lauren never played field hockey as a sport until the end of the 2010 season when she was drafted by the team to be the goalie if their championship game came down to penalty shots.  Lauren is tall, quick and has been good against penalty kicks in soccer  during all the years she has played goalkeeper.  Lauren practiced with the field hockey team for three weeks before the playoffs, but never played in a game.  Juniata was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round and there were no penalty shots.  But Lauren was on the team and got an NCAA medal.

She played four years for the Juniata Women's Soccer Team, sharing the goal for three years with "KP."  During her three years Lauren had an open compound fracture of her right index finger--she gets the screws out in a few weeks--a couple of concussions, knee injuries and many minor injuries.  But she got the medal for field hockey.

During my first service in the Army, I was a tank commander with Bravo Company 1-70th Armor.  During my first three years with Bravo, I trained for months in the desert of southern Colorado, followed by months of winter training in Germany.  I shared all this misery with a hundred great guys, most of whom never got a medal.

The last year I was in Germany, I worked on the base newspaper.  I went to the field for days, not weeks.  I ate hot food.  I had a Jeep or a car.  I got my first Army Commendation Medal for getting 70th Armor and 4th Brigade int he newspaper.  

Life is like that.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

REAL Army Weekend

No, I did not shoot guns or fly in a Blackhawk.  REAL Army is waiting for something that never happens.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day in the classroom phase of Combat Life Saver (CLS) training.  I arrived at 0945 and stayed until 230pm.  The class started at 9 and ended at 345.  I was there waiting for the deputy division commander to show up and check out the class.  He never showed.

But I did see him.  While we were on lunch break, I asked the new 28th Aviation Brigade NCO of the year and the battalion and brigade sergeant majors to meet me at 1pm so I could take their picture together.  I took one in the office then walked outside with them.  The general was just arriving.  He knew both of the CSMs.  They introduced Sgt. Matt Kauffman, the NCO of the year (from Echo Company).  Then I got a picture with the four of them.  The general gave Kauffman a division coin and I got a great picture fot he newsletter.

Then I went back to the classroom and waited another 90 minutes for the general to show up there.

It was not a total loss.  I did two very boring on-line courses while I sat in the back of the class and got a few good pictures of the hands-on part of the training.

The next day I waited part of the afternoon for the division commander to come to the CLS training and part of the morning for the battalion commander.  Neither showed up.   Too bad.  The Sunday training was very realistic.  I'll post those photos soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On TV in Philadelphia

Last Thursday I got up at 330am to be on local NBC TV.  Turned out well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sam Weaver the Parisian

For the week I was in Paris, I rented a Cannondale road bike from Sam Weaver of Rando Cycles (5 rue Fernand Foureau, near the Metro stop Porte de Vincennes at the eastern edge of Paris). The Rando Boutique, next door, tel. 01 40 01 03 08, has an excellent selection of saddle bags and German bicycle accessories. 


Sam is an affable Californian who married a lovely French biochemist.  They live just a mile south of Paris in the village of Malakoff.  When he told me about living in Paris I started wondering if my wife could teach math in Paris.  It would be a great place for Nigel and Jacari to live.  France doesn't have the horrible history of slavery and segregation that America does.  The right wing in Paris hates everybody fairly equally.  But my wife is fluent in Spanish, so it is more likely she could get a job in Spain.  


Because I had a decent road bike, it was the off season and the weather was cold--the high temp every day was either just above or just below freezing--I could ride with the peletons in Bois de Boulogne. Every day from 10am until dark, a two-mile road around a horsing racing track in the southwest corner of the city is closed to traffic and open to bicycles.  In the dozen times I have been to France, there is always somebody riding this road, rain or shine, heat or cold.  


I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And Another Frenchman Who Really Loves George Bush


In a post last week I wrote about Stefan who said he loved George Bush.  The next night, on Wednesday, I sat next to a Frenchman who genuinely liked George Bush.  I had dinner with the executives of the Maison de la Chime, a professional organization of chemists.  The man in question was in his mid-70s.  He had served five years in the French Army including fighting in Algeria in 1961. 

He is a French Conservative who believes in strong central government and strong national defense.  He said invading Afghanistan was definitely the right thing to do and was very proud that French soldiers served there.  He admitted the reason for invading Iraq was wrong—there were no WMDs and he believes the US knew it at the time—but he said the excuse led to the right action, which was to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  He admires George Bush for staying on course despite all criticism.  He was the only one at the table who admired the former president.

One of the best things about international travel is seeing the USA from a distance.  The US showed up in every newspaper.  Sarah Palin was on the cover of one.  But at this distance, commentators don’t exist.  Limbaugh, Beck, Savage and the other croaking toads that are so loud in America don’t exist here.  They do not lead.  They talk.  They never take responsibility.  Outside America, people analyze our actions, they don't listen to words on the radio.