Saturday, September 30, 2006

Trip Notes

I really enjoy driving. I don't care so much for travel per se, but I do enjoy driving. I am mindful of the waste... especially the fuel consumption... but the roads sing to me. This year I used as my pretext the need to drop some things off at Carmen's, and then to eyeball the area around Waynesville, NC... and, of course, I had to meet my grandson in person.

Some observations...

From my apartment to Carmen's was 1573 miles (mostly) on Interstate 40. From little HC's home to my apartment was 1402 miles on Interstates 20 and 10. The northern leg has never failed to invigorate me while the southern leg has never failed to enervate.I have two theories about this. The southern leg has always been the return leg so far, so I'm going to plan on going out that way next time to see if it's only that I've been tired of being out. If that doesn't work for me, then it might just be that the southwestern deserts don't sing to me.

I need to reflect on what the trip meant for Max. I have a sense that Max didn't enjoy the experience as much as I did. For myself, it was great to have him with me; but he seemed to me to be disoriented, not taking food on the road and not taking enough water, and being required to sleep in his crate in motel rooms. I wonder, if I could have put the question to him, if he would have chosen to come with me or to stay at Alex' house instead.

There were no particular breathtaking moments such as last year when Carmen and I saw the full moon perfectly cradled into a cup in the mountain tops, but there was beauty... and freshness. I "missed" the fall color: many of the trees had a discernible blush of color at the very tips of their leaves, but the big change was probably at least a week away. Still, green is a color not seen enough in SoCal. Perhaps the day will come when I'll crest a hill and look down without appreciation for the lush hills rolling toward the mountains before me, but I'm not looking forward to that.

Road rage seems to me to be mostly reflexive. Four hundred miles into a road trip expected to be at least twelve times that, and when I encounter two big-rig trucks going up a hill side by side at 65 mph I feel anger... because I had to disengage the cruise control? I'm in such a hurry to get to Gallup? Living in SoCal, I have practiced putting traffic issues into a context I can deal with... I try to keep good thoughts for the person or persons at the front for whom something bad has happened and appreciate that I'm fortunate enough to be at the back with no harm done to me. Truckers are at some risk to get their loads to their destinations on time, and I'm just out for a drive.

I have a sense that I have more to do. Going up through the National Park from Gatlinburg (hairpins, drizzle, fog), I lost traction on the rear end... I'm not sure why... and fishtailed, but I didn't go over the side, and the guy coming down missed me by a comfortable margin. I'm not a religious person, but I am mindful that I have been the beneficiary of what might be referred to as near-misses in my life. I feel a need to respect that.

The people I met in Waynesville... pretty much everywhere, but I was checking out Waynesville... were just great. I'll speak more to my experiences of the people later.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Moral Ambiguity and Changing Seasons

This morning as I was reflecting on the President's apparent abandonment of the Golden Rule... I'm not aware of an exception clause that allows for the torture of non-citizens with dark skin tones... I surfed over this piece from Kurt Vonnegut which seems to have a little something for several of my hot buttons. I hope you have a moment to read and reflect on it... and vote in November.
I'm off for two weeks. I promised Max I'd show him autumn in the Smoky Mountains, and I need to introduce myself to my grandson.
I will have my laptop so I may comment if I find somewhere to plug it in, but I haven't been very good about posting on here even without an excuse.
"May no fears affect you.
May no illnesses afflict you.
May no dangers come your way.
May you enjoy good health and long life."

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Reflection on the 5th Anniversary

I was at the 24HourFitness. I was on my way to work on reducing my considerable paunch after running on the treadmill when I passed by a TV showing one of the WTC towers burning. I remember thinking, "How do you accidentally hit the World Trade Center on such a clear morning?" In moments, a plane appeared in the screen... a multi-engine plane... which made a slight correction and flew into the second tower. I said to the attendant, "We're under attack.
"Thirteen months later I lurched past the Pentagon during the Marine Corps Marathon, and I noted the mobile anti-aircraft positions and the repairs on the building. To be honest, I was a lot more conscious of the recent capture of the DC sniper(s) than I was of the possibility of another attack by al Qaeda.
FDR, in his first inaugural address, said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." My theory has always been that terrorists don't expect to "win" in the sense that they'll be eating in the White House anytime soon, but they hope to disrupt the status quo... our way of life... make us think twice... make us look over our shoulders.
We've surrendered a lot of what it meant to be American over the past five years on the possibility that a handful of international terrorists might strike at us again. How'd they do? How're we doing?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Word About HM2 Christopher G. Walsh

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher G. Walsh, 30, of St. Louis, Mo. died Sept. 4 while his unit was conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Doc Walsh was serving as a corpsman with Multi National Corps Iraq. He was assigned to the Navy Reserve 3rd Battalion, 24th Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Bridgetown, Mo.
Here is a piece the St. Louis NBC affiliate did on him and his background.

Semper Fi