Thanksgiving Day 2013


English: Saying grace before carving the turke...

I wanted to take some time to wish all my friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving.  I am Thankful for so many things this year.  I am thankful to have good health, a great job with great people, a roof over mine and the kitties heads, food on my table and most of all the many friends that I have made from around the world.  I am also very thankful for the honor of serving my country and to be able to continue to serve my community.

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New(er) Car Time


1375293_772107363774_1294164881_n 1380771_772107338824_1387191646_nAs much as I wish I did not have to buy anther car it finally was time.  My 2002 Chevrolet Impala finally let me know that it was time to go.  I had it fixed but there were still some serious electrical issues remaining that I did feel I wanted to sink an unknown amount of money into.  I shopped around, already knowing I was going to look for a newer used car.  I test drove several vehicles ranging from small economy cars, SUV’s, a Mustang (I just did not feel cool enough to own a Mustang) and finally decided on a very well maintained and clean 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis GS.  I just felt very comfortable in it and it felt very much like me.  I’m sure spending many years in a Chevrolet Crown Victoria patrol car had a lot to do with it.  I guess I have officially entered the ‘old guy” car stage but I like it and it really drives well.  I did not but this car out of a ‘mid-life crisis’.  Whoever that one owner from Dayton, Ohio was took very good care of it and maintained the vehicle maintenance records very well.

Fall Season


Bell Tower, Furman University, Greenville, Sou...

Bell Tower, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, USA. View of tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nothing exciting here, just beautiful Fall weather settling in here in the Upstate of South Carolina.  Yesterday was when I really felt it was here.  I worked the Furman University Football Game in the afternoon.  The weather was cloudy with a little rain but then it cleared up to a wonderful cool. crisp night just in time for the Men’s Soccer game.  A full bright moon rose up during the game and the cool turned to cold during the game.  This is the time of year I like best.  The crispness in the air and the changes in natures backdrop.  On the campus of Furman University is one of the best places to experience this with its 750 acres of tree covered landscape, beautiful lake and mountain views.  I worked 13 hours yesterday but came home feeling relaxed and refreshed and ready for another day at work today.  Even though Fall is looked as the end of things I find it to be the souls renewal.  If you have not had a chance to get out a just look you should do it soon before the Fall season is gone.  Oh,and yes Furman won both of the games which just made it an even more perfect day at work!

 

Let’s Make A Deal


United States Capitol

It appears that there has been a deal reached to re-open the partial shutdown of the U.S. Government and to raise the debt limit, temporarily.

The Senate deal under discussion would reopen the government, funding it until Jan. 15. It would also raise the debt limit until Feb. 7 to avert a possible default on U.S. debt obligations for the first time.

I have been watching CNN and they are now showing all of these happy politicians patting each other on the back and publicly thank each other for ‘a job well done’ and this infuriates me to no end.  First, this ‘deal’ is only temporary so I am sure we will be right back here at the start of 2014.  Second, this is not a job well done by any of the politicians in Washington.  A job well done would consist of a long-term deal, a real budget and not ‘kicking the can’ down the road.  For the record, I am a Liberal Democrat.  That being said I am not happy with either side.  I am also tired of the blame game on one side or the other.  This problem has been building for decades and has been caused by all politicians in Washington, the Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Tea Party.  The President is ultimately responsible by virtue of his elected position but every elected representative in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are also responsible for letting this keep getting out of hand and waiting until the last-minute to place a bandage on the problem.  The American people also have to accept some of the responsibility for the problem as well.  We voted these people into their respective positions yet when things go array everyone says wait until the elections.

We hold elections every two and four years for our government and I am always hoping to see this ‘great change’ after we have challenges like we have been going through but it never really happens.  We have let the process get out of hand and out of reach for most people.  There are many people who would probably be better suited to represent Americans in Washington but unless you are very wealthy of have very wealthy ‘friends’ the common person has no chance at winning an election.  We have allowed politicians to become ‘professionals’ in office.  I believe there should be strict term limits on all politicians.  They should not be there to become a fixture in Washington.  The ability to become a representative of the people should not be determined by the size of your wallet or your friends, it should be determined on the willingness and ability to serve the people who you represent.

Let’s stop the blame game and do our part as Americans.  Vote your heart and not your wallet, vote for what you believe in and not for what people tell you to believe in.  Until we, as Americans, can work together to elect a government of the people things will continue as they have.

 

Volunteering


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After all these years I have become more active in volunteering with two very different groups.  The first group is call Team Rubicon.   The Mission of Team Rubicon, from their website, is:

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.

 

Team Rubicon Saves Lives.

Since its creation in January 2010, TR has impacted thousands of lives – in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, and here at home, in Vermont, Maryland, Missouri, and Alabama.  TR reaches victims outside the scope of where traditional aid organizations venture; victims on the fringe.

Team Rubicon Engages Veterans.

Hundreds of US military veterans, many returning home after fighting ten years of war, find a renewed sense of purpose for their skills and experiences through TR.

Team Rubicon Sets Itself Apart In the Nonprofit World.

Is it a disaster relief organization? A veteran-focused enterprise?  The truth is it’s both. TR pioneered a new paradigm in disaster response while redefining the meaning of veteran reintegration into society.

Team Rubicon Pioneered the Concept of Veteran-Focused Disaster Response.

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, in the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, TR’s military veterans realized a simple truth – natural disasters present many of the same problems that confront troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: unstable populations, limited resources, horrific sights, sounds and smells.  The skills cultivated on those same battlefields – emergency medicine, risk assessment and mitigation, teamwork and decisive leadership – are invaluable in disaster zones.

The second group I have started to volunteer with is called the Underground Railroad Rescued Kitty Network (URRKN).  The Underground Railroad Rescued Kitty Network (URRKN), started on October 31, 2011, is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that arranges safe transportation for rescued cats from foster/shelter to forever homes. We smile every mile!  Safety and security are always our first consideration.

Both groups have a wide range of volunteer opportunities so most anyone can find the time to help out.  I have found both groups to be very worthwhile in their missions and they both fit my background and personality very well.  In today’s society I truly believe that volunteering is something anyone can do and should do.  It is a way to give back to your community.

 

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Marine Embassy Guard Duty


 

6435From 1980 – 1982 I was selected and assigned to the Marine Security Guard Battalion for training to become a Marine Embassy Guard.  The duties of a Marine Embassy Guard are described as:

“The MSG will be assigned to duty to one of 140 plus MSG detachments around the world. The MSG will provide armed internal security to designated U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities to prevent the compromise of classified information and equipment vital to the national security of the Unites States.  As part of the MSG detachment, the detachment members secondary mission is to provide protection for U.S. citizens and U.S. government property located within designated U.S. diplomatic and consular premises during exigent circumstances, which require immediate aid or action.  The detachment member will be physically and mentally capable of enduring a direct counter-intelligence and combat environment, master interior guard procedures, be proficient with security, anti-terrorism, and counter espionage tactics.  The MSG member must also be knowledgeable in law enforcement techniques, small arms handling and employment, emergency first aid, force continuum, less than lethal application, and entry and access control procedures.”

When I completed training I was assigned to the U. S. Embassy, New Delhi, India (1980-1981).  I arrived in New Delhi at 0300, when almost all International Flights arrived due to the heat during daylight hours.  I was met at the airport by the NCOIC of the Marine Detachment, GySgt Busby.  The drive from the airport to the Embassy was an experience in itself, passing by elephants, camels, cows and other wild life just walking in and along the roadway.  I was glad to get some rack time after 16 traveling to get here from the United States, jet lag was just beginning to set in.  New Delhi was a great post and even though it was considered a ‘hardship post‘ because of the economic situation I found it to be a great place to work and live.  I had the chance to travel to Islamabad, Pakistan with a group from the American Embassy School.

My second post was at the U.S. Embassy, Moscow, U.S.S.R. (1981-1982) I was originally assigned to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but was asked to go to Moscow at the last-minute due to some staffing issues there.  I was more than glad to go to Moscow as it was a place that I always wanted to see.  It goes without saying that Moscow and New Delhi were like night and day in comparison.  I was going to another ‘hardship’ post due to economic and political reasons.  Although there were some restrictions as far as travel I was able to see a lot of Moscow and other areas of the U.S.S.R. Most of the other Marines assigned to Moscow seemed to stay in and around the Embassy and did not show a lot of interest in getting out and seeing the sites when possible.  Every chance I got I would get out and about and try my best to experience the people and the culture.  During my time there the New Embassy was being built, sort of, so there was a lot of support staff there at the time.

Embassy duty in the Marine Corps is one of the best duties there is.  It can enhance your chance for promotion and is considered a must have B billet duty for a career in the Marine Corps.  It is very important that any Marine considering MSG Duty, do your homework.  Read about the duty, understand what the duty is all about.  MSG Duty is not a ‘free vacation’, there are many rules, regulations and restrictions all based on what post you are assigned.  To may Marines apply for the duty and for some reason believe it will be a three-year liberty call in an exotic land with exotic people.  This duty can help your career but if you fail to follow the rules and restriction it can also ruin your career.

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Turning 55


The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

I have been doing a lot of thinking about what my life is like now that I have turned 55.  The one thing that stands out to me is that I have a hard time even believing I am 55 already.  It is one of those ages that I always thought about when I was younger.  I always figured I would be retired and relaxing.  Now that I am at that age I know that not to be the case.  I am working everyday and pretty much enjoying life.  The thought of retiring is not even really something I think about since I enjoy my job as a Police Officer and the fact that I still need to make money.  I have started to think back on my life and the things that I have accomplished over the years.  I have been blessed to have had such great experiences.  I know that I have had many great opportunities for travel and service to my country and community that most people never get.  My time serving in the United States Marine Corps and especially as a Marine Embassy Guard were some of the best times of my life.  I was able to travel the world, see many cultures and meet a lot of very interesting people.

I have now settled in to my life here in Greenville, South Carolina and have slowed down a bit.  I still do not feel old by any means but I have a more relaxed and laid back look on life in general.  I really think that life is getting better with each day although not without the ups and downs that go along with living.  I look forward to each day as a day of learning, teaching and enjoying what comes at me.  Some have said that 55 is the new 35, maybe they are right.  I tend to put life in the realm of daily experiences and not age as a number.  There are some things that I have to face that I did not as a younger person such as health issues but it just takes a little more effort to stay on the healthy side of life.  All in all life has been good to me and I have a lot of good things to look forward to.

 

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