Comic Books to Codebooks

Did you ever notice that when
you are looking all over the place
for something, you find something
else you weren’t looking for?

I found a brand new deck of cards
in the bathroom closet. What for?
Spider solitaire on my phone is one
thing, but playing cards?

As I made a poor attempt to shuffle,
I realized that I’m just as bad at cards
now as I was in the nineteen seventies.
My brain doesn’t think cards. Period.

War and Go Fish came to mind. If you
had kids in the previous century you
know what I’m talking about here.
Does anyone play cards anymore?

My parent’s generation played cards
or mahjong every week it seems.
Things change. But do we change?
I’ve never been a card player.

A few games of Gin Rummy a few
times a decade was my limit.
No interest in casinos or gambling.
Life is gamble enough for me.

I remembered an earlier, different
time. Whenever we deployed on
an exercise, Sergeant K would
pull out his favorite board game

in the dead of night somewhere
in the woods in Germany to pass
the time in our operations van
waiting for inspectors to show.

I guess I could have said that
without using “in” a million times;
but, I’m not going to change it.
Some things you don’t change.

Can you imagine? Sitting there
responsible for tactical nuclear
release and playing “Risk: The
Game of Global Domination.”

1970s. No smartphones, no PCs.
Books, games, and cards were
about it when you were deployed.
Looking back, I’m not convinced

that technology has done anything
to improve who we are and how
we act human to human. It seems
to me that life then and now could

go from comic books to codebooks
in a heartbeat. Maybe not so bad.
Certainly not as bad as watching
“Dallas” reruns in German.



Odds and Ends No. 43 (Part 2)

I’ve had the same server for over six years
except for today. I couldn’t help notice
that Fong sneezed a lot. (Not good for me

and my not so immune system.) I noticed
that I was the third customer of the day.
Not surprised. I walked in soon after they

opened. It was getting busier as I left.
Sherlock Holmes will have to wait for me.
As I turned off my Kindle, I figured I gave

Amazon, the CIA, the FSB, and God knows
who else my lunch location. Happy Valley
to the 17; 17 to the 101. Doing about 75

in the left lane. Lots of traffic. I was passed
by cars all the way to my exit. A big tractor
trailer with big balloon tires pulling a flat

bed swerved into my lane. No signal.
Texting no doubt. Auto-reflex—I swerved
into the HOA lane. Then safely moved

right and went on to my exit. I was too
early for my appointment. Starbucks. Tall
hazelnut latte hot. College kids all around

me on Macs. How can they afford them?
Students always get great discounts on
laptops and software. These companies

want them on board as soon as possible. The
laptop in front of me has an Arizona State
sticker on the cover. From my left, “Excuse

me. Will you watch my stuff?” “Sure. No
problem.” She returned to her Mac and
school books. EMDR up next for me. O did

I need that coffee! My phone started to
play “I Love to Love.” I answered it. Dumb
recorded marketing call. I hung up on the

word “resort.” Two sips left. Then I drove
a few blocks down to my appointment. I
did EMDR today. Working through over a

half century of abuse is, well, hard work.
See, I told you I shouldn’t have told you
ahead. I went to the store on the way

home; not what I planned. I’m in too
much pain to walk Thunderbird today.
They had two out of the four items I

needed. If it isn’t a hot seller, they don’t
stock it anymore. No O-rings. Only two
kinds of plumber’s grease. Not what I

was looking for. Then, on to take in
some dry cleaning. I live in T-shirts
here in Arizona and wear a few shirts

here and there. Suits and ties are
dinosaurs in my wardrobe. They’re just
hanging around. My health can only

improve. Another Memorial Day has
past; I’ve got to stop looking back.
Watching “Patton” didn’t help much.

I miss being in the Army. Very true. And
replacing it has become my lifelong
personal quest. For tonight, a mystery-

slash-comedy, so she can nap before
bed. Well, this post got too long. I think
I’ll split it in two, so you don’t doze off.

Odds and Ends No. 39

I was hoping for a haiku today, but my life and
the chaos whirling around me is bigger than a
haiku. The forecast for today was strong winds

and clouds of electronic chaos dissipating in
the late afternoon. She wanted Office back.
After getting her set up, I realized I wanted to

stay in my peaceful Linux world. I didn’t need
any more electronic chaos on the pile. Oddly,
my hand cramped while writing in my journal.

(Was that a sign?)

I tightened the screws on my bullet journal;
but when I looked at it, it didn’t look the same.
It may well have belonged to the Mad Hatter.

Not me. My brain couldn’t follow it. I gave in
to my electronic side and revisited Nozbe. I’m
there today. I wrote about my dilemma in my

journal. It looked more like something Poe
would write. I needed the chaos to come out
of my pen onto the paper. That is when I

thought about Nozbe again. Expensive? Yes.
I needed to come out of the storm into the
calm and float in electronic peace again.

(I need to type! Be right back. I want to see
what it feels like to type in my journal instead
of writing by hand. I love my pens but my

brain is moving faster than my pen can move.
I need to type.) Why is typing for me so
therapeutic? I feel better already. It felt good

to blister the keys and ramble on. Much like
I’m doing here. They texted her when they
landed. This time they landed in Mesa

instead of Phoenix. Add to that a stop for
an In-N-Out burger; they won’t get here for
another hour or so. Not quite dinner time

our time; after dinner time their time. They
left around three; got here around four, so
with the time change, they are starving.

Too many components. Too many places
to track data in the bullet journal for me.
Yes, I can make it the way I want, but

the computer geek in me doesn’t think
that way. I need to give it a rest for a few
days while my brain clears and this cold

goes away for good. Tonight is the last
night of my ten-day antibiotic run. My
throat is still sore; I hope I’ll wake up

Saturday with nothing. I still have to
use an inhaler for a few months. I hope
my body gets the message: No more

illness. My feet haven’t swelled for a
few weeks. A little pain, but no swelling.
Walking Thunderbird is in my future!

(Yes, another sign!)

I think I’m pulling out of being brain
weary. I feel like I’ve been in a fog far
too long. Could it be my breakfast?

Friday is Wally day. I made Gevalia.
That coffee is so good. Oddly, I have
had Cheerios (1 cup) for breakfast

every day for about two weeks. With
canned peaches. I love canned peaches.
A leftover memory from my Army

C-ration days. I put the 2% milk in
at the last moment before I sit down.
Soggy cereal is not an option.

Dinner is still up in the air. We’ll wait
until the kids get here then go from
there. There are good things ahead.

I’m already looking forward to coffee
tomorrow morning. I’m more relaxed.
Writing does that. I’m thankful for

what life brings today. And tomorrow.
And for the little things like openSUSE
Tumbleweed and Nozbe. All is well.

Odds and Ends No. 15

How could I forget? I was sitting at our auto
repair shop waiting for them to finish an oil
change on her old Mazda Millenia.

I was sipping my second cup of coffee for
the day. They have a Keurig maker. All of
these gizmos should come with an air spray

in coffee-flavor so you can make-believe the
smell of fresh brewed coffee is filling the room.
Okay in a pinch. As I sipped, I looked up and

noticed a large oval company Plexiglas sign
in black and white centered on the front of
their service desk. It said, “since 1987.” You’d

swear it should read “since 1957.” The highly
polished black and white linoleum tile floor. Car
and family pictures on walls. Service awards

on another wall. She just came out; needs an air
filter. Not surprised with desert dust and all. “All”
here means I’m about a thousand miles or so

over. Was every 3,000 miles; then they went to
every 5,000; now back to three, so, I’m late. But
the Mazda is still running. (Thank you, Lord.)

Here is the crux of the matter. I usually remember
that I retired from the Army on 01 FEB 87. But
this year, the day just floated by me devoid of

Army thoughts or memories. In spite of my foot
pain and upcoming brain MRI, as I sat there
waiting for the car, I became more sergeant-like

by the minute. My posture in the chair stiffened;
I became more vigilant for no reason looking for
probable enemy avenues of approach. “Sir, your

car is ready; I can take your money now.” That
broke the spell! Not riding on or in M113 APCs
anymore or teaching “cav” tactics with an M551

Sheridan either. No more singing cadence on
a long road march in BCT. “Sir, your chariot is
out front.” (Thank you, Lord. Good memories.)

It may not be Ft. Dix and it may not be Ft. Knox,
but I do get to drive the Mazda home for another
day of life. (Wow, retired thirty years!)

Author’s note: See previous retirement blog and
photos of me back then, click this link:

Odds and Ends No. 11

Where did Monday go? My last journal entry
was mid-day on Sunday. I copied and pasted
the heading and automatically changed it to

the next day, Monday. But it isn’t Monday;
it is Tuesday. What is up with this? It is
coming to me now. How different it was way

back when I started to journal in the
mid-1970s! The Army sent me from Ft. Knox
on a special temporary duty assignment to

Honeywell in Minnesota. After training, our
team field tested the system on a Reforger
deployment to Germany. Every time the

DTOC jumped, we jumped to small hotels
nearby. Everything we did at the DTOC was
documented by a Honeywell team. During

my free time, I loved to take long runs in
each town we visited. I started a running
journal and fell in love with Germany in

the process. No doubt you are wondering
where this is going. Neu-Ulm was beautiful.
Then, my diary content was happy and

upbeat. Then it changed. My stormy
marriage of one year or so got stormier.
My journal wasn’t happy anymore. Me either.

I was a runner all my years in the Army until
I came down with FMS in 1983. My lament
and negative outlook continued to fill my

journal. If there was a short entry or no entry
at all, it must have been a relatively good day.
The longer the entry, the more negative the day.

This all came to me as I opened my journal this
morning. My journal supported my negative
mindset. Things are bad and getting worse.

But wait! Monday was a good day. She and I
walked Thunderbird together for the first time in
months. I’m still in a lot of pain; my feet are killing

me. But I wanted to walk. My swollen feet fit in
my hiking boots for the first time in a while. We
were not going to miss this window of opportunity.

Wow, a good day. Part of renewing my mind is
turning things around. My thoughts on keeping a
journal need to turn around. Fact is, we had a

sweet day Monday. Breakfast together, lunch
together, walked together, talked together, Netflix
together, went to bed at the same time together.

It was a lovely day together. But my journal was
blank for Monday; a few feeble entries for today
mindful that I don’t want to be negative. I’m

looking out my home office window. The only
thing my future holds from where I sit is that I
get to go outside and bring in the trash cans.

I’ll take joy where I can get it. (I’m alive another
day.) A journal treatise on trash cans? Or blank?
Blank is where the writer didn’t write. Blank is

where thoughts didn’t make it to the page. For
me, blank is where hope and hopeless meet.

Have I said this before?

Have I said this before? “I’ve forgotten more than most people remember.” Therefore, it is time critical that I write a new book.

I decided to continue my writing dream with a book, an historical fiction. Today, I started a new book about my Vietnam War and US Army memories, experiences, etc.

Me in Vietnam

This photo is really me in Vietnam when I was assigned to the 1st RR Co (AVN) in Cam Ran Bay, 1967-68. The assignment was supposed to be temporary and lasted for many months! I was a crew member for Crazy Cat on P2V Neptune aircraft.

Writing this book will take a while. Much more time consuming than I thought. Forgot more than I thought! Trying to remember and sort through the memories.

25th Anniversary: US Army Retired 01 FEB 1987

I was walking up a steep incline on Thunderbird Mountain the other day. To help push myself along, I broke into silent cadence, “You’re standin’ tall, your lookin’ good, oughta be in Hollywood…”

I wasn’t singing loud enough for anyone to hear me. When I reached the top, it hit me. My retirement date is coming up! Well, 25 years ago today, I retired from the Army. I was inducted in Newark, NJ on 28 Sep 1965.

There are many things I have forgotten, but I do remember how to count cadence. I’m not surprised because being a Drill Sergeant at Ft. Dix NJ was one of my favorite assignments.

This photo was taken on 13 Mar 1975 when BG Forney congratulated me on being selected DRILL SGT OF THE CYCLE. The next photo was taken for the same event and printed in the local newspaper.

Ft Dix 1975

I should have been in Hollywood! Great photo if I say so myself!

About $300 a month (I think); what’s not to like — long hours, got to work outside a lot — hey, it was great.

I’ve taken a lot more time remembering than I have writing on this post.

It was a privilege to hold MOS 00F for those special 3 years or so.

You know, I’m still that guy in uniform deep down inside. I’ve changed; things have changed, but the Army was a special time in life and will always be part of me.

Although it is fun to look back at retirement and remember the people and places, the good times and the tough times, I never really will retire. Let me explain. Seasons in our life change; things come and go, but as a soldier and servant of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, I don’t believe the Apostle Paul ever wrote an epistle about retirement. Why?

We look forward, not back. We don’t retire from doing good. We don’t retire from serving people. We don’t retire from living as Jesus commanded – to love others. All humanity was created by God with dignity, even Army basic trainees.

John the Baptist talked to some soldiers in the book of Luke: Those serving as soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he replied to them, “Never demand or enforce by terrifying people or by accusing them wrongfully, and always be satisfied with your rations (supplies) and with your allowance (wages). (Luke 3:14 AMP)

My 4th Platoon, 26 Jan 1974

Did these youngsters in my platoon (26 Jan 1974) see me that way? Still good advice for today. In any case, I may be unemployed, but I’m not retired. I haven’t had a scotch on the rocks for ages. This occasion calls for it, don’t you think? Drill Sergeant, you are still standin’ tall and lookin’ good.