Lazy, snowy weekends are nice

Got up Thursday morning and had to plow about a foot of snow before I left for the gym and work. Otherwise,  Mychael would not be able to safely leave the property when it was time to run around with the kids on her mommy errands.

The thing is, even on the nights it doesn’t snow, there is enough on the ground the the wind blows all night causing it drift over whatever road I made the day before and that drifted snow is more difficult to drive on than freshly fallen powder. Another thing I wasn’t tracking I needed to know about. And not being ready for it made me late for work twice last week.

The rest of the weekend was filled with fixing downed fences (goats are relentless in their pursuit of escape), off loading feed, and all the usual stuff. It never ends on a farm/ranch.

I did to take the oldest girl and pull her behind me in the 4 wheeler.

For the readers and followers of the old American Dad blog, I have finally started a serious new workout schedule, which includes going to the gym before work and doing both my run AND my lifting in the same workout. Then I go sit in the locker room and while I am cooing down I get to listen to guys who are only maybe a decade older than me talking about colostomy bags and erection issues. This makes me grumpy.

Oh the fun we have to look forward to as all our parts stop working!

On a related note, Mychael started a new routine (not really changing the activity side, but the diet side) and she is down a size. For any women readers interested, just comment below and she’ll get back to you. Its kind of her own creation based on a bunch of stuff she has come in contact with. She asked me to take her shopping and buy her a new pair of jeans to celebrate the weight loss.

And finally, I did get to relax for a minute with one of the other girls in my life.

I’ll start a log and some posts about how the new workout is going soon.

 

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There are no heroes.

Now that I am a veteran, it occurs to me (to my great satisfaction) that I no longer have to care about things like Department of Defense guidelines and the “acceptable use policies” that govern the online behavior of those who remain on active duty.

During my time serving, most of my readers know I skirted that line quite often but now I can just write whatever I think about much of the colossal stupidity that passes for “honor” and “service.” In that regard, I’d like to talk about how lame it was, and still is, to be called “hero” when folks learn of my time in the army.

But first, two stories. In my first year as an enlisted soldier – still in my initial entry phase at Fort Sam Houston, my company was marched down to one of the on-post theaters to fill up the seats. This is common practice when a speaker is coming and they need to fill the room with the smiling faces of soldiers for the cameras. The guy that was speaking was a chief warrant officer who had been shot to pieces on some battlefield in Vietnam and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Our drill sergeant, right before the speaker arrived revealed to us whey we were being forced to give up a Saturday afternoon.

Some guy is coming to speak to you this afternoon. He was a medic in Vietnam and got shot up pretty bad and pulled his buddies to safety. I guess that makes him a hero or something. I don’t really get it, but whatever.

At another spot in my training, just a few months prior I was near the end of basic. We had finished our field training exercise and as we rounded the corner at the end of the ruck march back to civilization, we were funneled into a large bonfire area with a stage in front. There was rock music playing loudly and the officers of the battalion were all at the front cheering us on, congratulating us, giving speeches. The drill sergeants surrounded the event, with looks of disgust. You could see this was not their idea. They could not wait until the officers released us back to them. And they did, I thought they were going to kill us the way they went off.

Both instances gave me the impression that there is nothing heroic about simply accomplishing what you signed up to do. And that there is an expectation that even if you get all your limbs blown off dragging your buddies to safety, all you did was what was expected. Doing whatever it takes to accomplish the mission is not heroic. 

As I left active duty, one of my parting shots that I tried to share with the newer, younger officers and soldiers I encountered was basically a version of this speech:

We (the military) currently enjoy an enormous amount of positive regard from the general American public. They call us heroes everywhere we go. We are untouchable in the eyes of many–a group that has reached sacred cow status. But we can lose that high regard, and the American public will turn on us in an instant. I have already started to see it. Every time some veteran claiming special status because of his “PTSD” I can sense the cringe. I can see the looks on their faces. Oh great, another one of these supposedly traumatized soldiers gets special treatment.

Most of the time, they would look at me with the sideways, confused dog look. As if no one could possibly ever get tired of soldiers and their bullshit. I guess time will tell.

I’m no combat veteran. Sure, it says I am on my DD214. I get to call myself that. But please. I have been outside the wire a total of three times, and the scariest thing that ever happened to me was listening to small arms fire plinking the side of our Chinook. No real danger. In fact, we thought it was funny and we took selfies.

Silly Haaji. Don’t you know you can’t shoot down a Chinook with an AK47?

So maybe some of my consternation is my own guilt over having never actually faced the enemy on the field of battle, engaged him while he engaged me, and came back alive. Maybe I wish I could tell people my story before they say “thank you for your service.” I usually just grunt and awkwardly turn away.

But from my perspective, no duty bound personnel, should ever be called a hero in the course of doing exactly what they are called (and paid) to do. I reserve the term for the guy–not in uniform–who runs into a burning building and starts pulling people out who he has no fiduciary responsibility to care about at all. No oath bounds him to run into that building. He takes a huge personal risk to save people he does not know. 

What about Dave Sanders, who died protecting students at Columbine? Similarly, Liviu Librescu at the Virginia Tech massacre. These folks were thrust into a situation, and when the time came to make a decision, they suspended all thoughts of danger to themselves, with no statutory obligation to do so.

Or people like Chiune Sugihara, or Paul Rusesabagina–people who were in exactly the right place, in the right position to do the maximum good for a large amount of people–again at great personal risk to themselves with only morals to guide them. I could only dream of having the heroic ethos of people like them. 

My friend and former colleague Zeno Franco and his associates have been trying to wrestle with the definition of heroism for quite a while. He was thinking about it a lot, way back when we were in graduate school together. I think their efforts are interesting, but the quest for the heart of the matter will, I am afraid, elude them forever.

The duty bound personnel may sign up for firefighting, police work or soldiering because of an inordinate amount of altruism, belief in something greater or an extra helping of courage. Or they just have a really high appetite for risk. Either way, if they turn their back at the moment of truth, they will be branded a coward, as it should be.

All the others I listed, had they saved themselves, no one would have noticed or judged. They did something that no rational person would do, to save strangers.

And those of us who “served” know it. So the next time you see a soldier at an airport, think twice about the hero crap. You will probably avoid an awkward situation and most likely they just want to be left alone.

Am I proud to have “served?” Sure. But only because I managed to provide for a family without breaking any laws. But the plumber and the guy who dug my well do that too.

The necessity of one on one time

I had to take Mychael for part II of a dental procedure today. Not exactly the way she wanted to spend a Sunday afternoon. But we took the opportunity to have some individual time with David, our soon-to-be six-year-old.

Before we left for our day, David “caught” us making up after a minor disagreement and snapped the photo saying “that’s how rabbits apologize.” It was pretty cute. Apparently he learned that from a cartoon version of “Peter Rabbit.”

Rabbit Apology

Off we went into downtown Helena, which is essentially a living modern Norman Rockwell painting. We had ice cream.

Big Dipper ice cream in Helena

I got a pic of them holding hands

And looking around I noticed how idyllic this place is. Here’s the street the dentist is located on.

It’s about 50 meters from the front door of my office:

Anyway, David got some time with mom and dad, while the others stayed home with “Gam.” And he definitely enjoyed it.

Ive noticed that all my kids respond differently to these little outings but they all need it. Do you do this with yours?

Winter finally arrives at Ljubomir

Since the first snow that hit us in October, we have been waiting for the big one. It has snowed numerous times here, but its always a one to two inch dusting that is gone the next day. Finally, we got some real snow a couple days ago and although we did not have a white Christmas, its still everything we imagined it would be.

Here’s a look at what Christmas and the week after looked like around here. We had the traditional family around the tree opening presents in the morning. In this particular case it was nice because the twenty two year old one was home so we had all of them under the same roof.

I snapped one on Christmas Eve that had everyone in it:

The “littles” decorated sugar cookies to leave out for Santa:

The brakes on Mychaels car started rubbing steel on steel so I got to do that on Christmas morning.

We picked up some hay bales in the snow.

I went with Mychael to pick up some stuff we wanted once the after Christmas sales started. If your wife does her hair and make up just to hang out and run errands with you, keep her.

Went ice fishing with friends in 2 degree weather.

And here’s a tech tip on what I am having to do with my diesel every night, or risk it not starting in the morning. (It generally gets down into the negatives at night now).

Make SURE the block heater is plugged in AS WELL AS have the trickle charger going on one of the two batteries. Alternate batteries every night.

Finally, here are three videos I took. The last one was supposed to be an inspirational running one and it just ended up sounding lame.

Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas as much as we did. Have a great New Year.