Sunday, September 25, 2005

Typhoon golf ...and some idle musings.

Note to self: There is a reason you don't smoke. You really should try and remember it. Cigars +beer make your mouth feel like a truck ran through it in the morning...........

Should not have smoked the big Cubans last night. They were good cigars, but I only smoke cigars when I am really drunk. Like last night. Waking up at 6 am when the booze wears off with cigar mouth is not my idea of a way to start the day.

Today was a half and half kind of day. I had agreed to go into work to help the Chief of Staff get ready for his brief for the big bosses. Filled in all of the speakers notes and we walked through the stupid potential questions the big bosses may ask. Having once been in his position, I know the stress he is feeling and it actually made me glad to be where I am in my position in life. I no longer have to grit my teeth, smile, and keep silence while boneheaded flags, espouse positions you know in your heart are flawed and try to make sense of them. At least having the (ret) behind my former rank allows me the freedom to say, " that really is not smart.....". There was a time when I was on active duty I could say that, then along came Vern Clark as CNO and his culture of psycophancy and his elevation of a whole breed of like minded automatons. I'm glad I served when I did.

Today Typhoon 17 made its closet approach to Tokyo. In another sign that Kami-sama (God) is looking out for us the typhoon veered out to sea and really only affected the beach front in Chiba. True to form there were some boneheaded surfers out there trying to catch the "big one".

However it gave us an opportunity. It did not rain, but it was very windy . Winds were over 25 miles per hour at times. My friend called and we said, "screw it, lets play golf". So out we went with the S.O. to play 18. So after calming the Chief of Staff with the advice that he was going to get hosed no matter what he did, ergo he might as well sit back and enjoy the ride, I went to the course. The wind made for some very interesting shots. When the wind was with you, boy there were some great drives to be had. However, teeing off into the wind was amazing. the ball would fly to the top of its arc and then just hang there for a second or too, before being pushed to one side or the other. Dropping down just one club was not enough in these circumstances, I needed a whole new strategy. Accordingly, my score suffered as a result.

Tonight I was watching the history channel. It usually airs programs here, about 3 weeks after they show in the states. Don't ask me why. I've been following their series about the Roman Empire pretty closely and have found it fascinating. Tonight's programs though, must have been aired on Sept 11, 2005. They had a series of programs that were riveting to watch. The S.O. kept complaining, as she finds the History Channel boring, just like I find NHK boring. But I had to see it. The first program was about the WTC, how it was built, why it collapsed and all the work that went into clearing the wreckage. I never truly realized how interconnected a city is and what chaos the fall of the towers created. I also gained a new appreciation of the science that firefighters and others have to put into their work to get out alive and be throrough in what they do. It was amazing to watch.

The next program was a "tick tock" of the hijackings with re-enactments and real tape of phone calls and radio transmissions. It was something I just could not walk away from even when the S.O. called me to dinner. ( It was on at 6). They had overlayed events with the writings of the Al Quaeda hijackers manual. I practically wept at the desperation of the flight attendants who were trying to get the word out, keep the passengers calm and try to get into to the cockpit with no success.

The final show was about the victims and survivors. Again full of tragedy and real heroism by the firefighters and first responders. It also, like the first program, tried to explain why the structure of the towers caused it to collapse and how people escaped and how some could not.

If you get a chance to watch these shows in re-runs or order them you should. They are truly fascinating and made all the more poignant because the recall events that we all watched live when it happened. I think the History Channel did a good job with the subject matter and they were not disrespectful of the memory at all. Well worth the time to watch. I'm in deep u-know-what with the S.O. now, because I kept her from Japanese TV for 3 hours, but its well worth it.

People want to thank soldiers serving and that is a great and noble sentiment. However , I think tonight, I would like to pay tribute to all the first responders out there: Firemen, utility workers, nurses, doctors, EMT's ( my son is training to become one), policemen, and EOD folks. Yes the military works hard and does thankless work, but many times we can choose the time and place of our engagement. First responders always have to take the hand they have been dealt. With 2 hurricanes in the US in a month, big typhoons here in Japan, and the normal business of life in a violent world, my hat is off to all of them. I could not do what they do every day. God bless all of them.

Here is to all the first responders! Great human beings all!

Skippy-san

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