Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - That was the year that was

Have you ever heard the advice “Never Volunteer?” I know there are plenty of good reasons not to. I have run into trouble consistently by volunteering and then getting my ego bruised after doing too much. I am going to start out 2009 by not volunteering.

This year has been tumultuous with the end of the Bush Administration and one of the biggest economic problems in a century. Global climate change and a society that needs gratification instantly will bring lots of new opportunities to figure out how to do things differently. It may be painful getting there, however. It seems to me the first step will be how to get along - with less. As unfortunate as it may be, lots of people are going to find themselves unemployed and looking for work.

I have been laid off from work more than 8 times in my work career and I must say it is never a good experience. It’s tragic and one of the most painful experiences of your life. I began my work life an optimist thinking if I did a good job I would succeed and be rewarded. Well, life doesn’t work that way. Common sense like poetic justice, are ideals that don’t come that close in the real world. Fifty years later, I confess I have become a pessimist when it comes to work and my fellow man in getting fair treatment. So yes, I started out an idealist like most youngsters. I tried my hand at several jobs; got my education, paid my dues and at the end of the road felt empty and resentful.

Not being a quitter, I continued to go at the work world from different perspectives. I started over in lower jobs and tried to work my way back up the ladder. Finally, I just volunteered, basically gave it away (my work product that is) until I finally realized it doesn’t matter and I won’t get the rewards I sought.

It has been disgusting so I will end this piece here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

8-1 Cav Spur Ride 2008

Kevin completed his spur ride and earned his spurs the last week of November 2008. He also got a promotion to 1st Lieutenant. The order of the spur is a long standing tradition in the Cavalry of the United States Army. It actually dates back to the middle ages when knights would earn their spurs. The Army carries on this tradition and Cavalry units wear black Stetson hats and either silver or gold spurs with their uniforms. The spur ride consists of a two-day process of long road marches and obstacle courses sandwiched between qualification with weapons and exercises simulating battle skirmishes and first aid. Kevin was photographed enduring this tradition in the Northwest Guardian.
To really appreciate what soldiers go through during a spur ride, however, it may be beneficial to see one in action. Here is a link to a YouTube video of one that took place in Korea a couple of years ago.

Needless to say, we are very proud of Kevin and his accomplishments and hope he continues to spread his good cheer to everyone he meets.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jury Duty 101

I’ve had jury duty four times now and I must say it is a civic duty for which we are the least prepared. The first time I was called, I lived in Alameda County and had to drive into downtown Oakland to attend the first day of initiation into our esteemed legal system. After watching the requisite video about why we should all serve as jurors. I watched as the room settled into groups of people playing cards, reading books or magazines, taking naps or lining up to use the pay phone. This was before cell phones of course. Sometime after lunch break we were counted off into groups and were sent to our prospective courts for the jury selection process. While we watched from the audience area prospective jurors were called one at a time up to the witness stand before the judge, court reporter, defense attorney and prosecutor for questioning.

This querying is called voir dire which is probably Latin for jury inquisition. Some of the prospective jurors were very indignant about the whole process and when asked if they believed the defendant was innocent until proven guilty, they adamantly stated “No” and “If he was innocent he wouldn’t be on trial.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but these people had been through the jury process before and wanted no part of it. The lawyers asked each prospect whether they thought the testimony of police officers was honest and believable and whether they or any member of their immediate family, had been the victims of a violent crime. And so the day wore on with one person after another answering the questions and either being dismissed or selected into the jury box.

Now my first experience was a criminal case in superior court where 12 jurors would be required to hear the case and return a unanimous verdict. In order to have 12, we actually needed 15 because the alternates might be needed if something happened to one of the original 12. I realized that first day I needed to stock up on reading material because the pace of this activity was called speedy but, in my opinion, was anything but. In my search for reading material I looked for books that might be helpful for a prospective juror and picked up “The Onion Field”, “Till Death Do Us Part”, and "Fatal Vision ," a book on the Jeffery McDonald murder case and one on World War II. Unfortunately, I needed twice as many books because I had way too much time to kill.

It was the end of the second day or the morning of the third when I was called to the stand and answered all the questions to the best of my ability. I was struck by the last question as to whether I could find the defendant guilty if the preponderance of the evidence showed him to be so. It seems like such an obvious question and it is. I learned later people will say things they may not really be willing to do when the time comes. It was a sad lesson in human behavior.

So I was selected into the jury box and I was either juror 10 or 11 and waited another day before we had the required number to proceed. When the judge explained what the case entailed and how long it might last, those of us who wanted to get back to work were not very happy while those jurors who wanted time away from work were quite pleased that the trial might last 6 or 8 weeks. And so began the murder trial of the defendant.

The trial part of jury duty was pretty easy all we had to do was stay awake and pay attention to the testimony given by the witnesses. The prosecution presented their case and the defense countered until the trial was over. The judge gave plenty of instructions to the jury and we retired to the deliberation room. This is where you find that you have nothing to go by. No reference, no clues, nothing.

We were all intelligent adults and we figured out on our own that we needed to select a foreman, a spokesman for the group. I was selected as the jury foreman and I suppose my ego was delighted. The first thing I wanted to do was take a vote to see where the jurors fell on guilt or innocence. This was my first mistake. Some of the jurors did not want to do that just yet. They wanted to discuss the case first. So we took a vote and there were a few for guilty, a few for not guilty and a bunch for neither. It was then I realized I may have gotten myself into more than I could handle. So we proceeded to discuss the case. This exercise went on for more than a week and my goal was to find out how long a work holiday some of the jurors intended to get.

During the deliberations, the court did provide a sack lunch on a few days but I did not find this activity to be a holiday. Among the jurors who were about half and half men and women, was an employee of the IRS, a Seven-Up delivery driver, a senior salesman for a leasing company, and a technician at Sandia. When all was said and done, the defendant, a man from a large family in Oakland, shot his wife 5 times but claimed self-defense because he was a cocaine dealer and was suffering from paranoia.

During the trial, we learned about as much as you would want to know about how the brain works under the influence of cocaine addiction. While the evidence was fairly straight forward we could not come to a unanimous decision on a second-degree murder charge which is required in a criminal case. One of the jurors could not and would not find the defendant guilty of murder. He also would not step down from the jury and let one of the alternates take his place. By some stroke of luck we did find the defendant guilty of possession of cocaine for sale and if the district attorney’s office had not charged him with the second count, the defendant would have walked away scot free.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To all my artist friends

I am continually astounded and amazed by the work of artists I have known throughout my life. My mother was an art teacher and an artist and I spent a considerable amount of time playing music in several bands.

Some examples of people I have known who are artists now include my friend Pete Smith from Scotland who I admire greatly and whose collaboration provided many good moments working together at Agilent Technologies (formerly Hewlett-Packard). His site can be found at

Another friend I met in college, at San Francisco State, impressed me from the moment I met him with his exuberance, energy, and positive spirit, Bill Cone works at Pixar Corporation now in animated film but when we were in college we were kindred musicians. His blog provides ample evidence of the depth of his talents and is an inspiration to those who appreciate art at its finest.

Among the many musicians with whom I had the pleasure of jamming is Paul Jackson, a member of the Headhunters and Herbie Hancock’s band. Paul is an innovator and bassist extraordinaire. Paul worked at Sherman & Clay in Pleasant Hill when I attended Diablo Valley College and we never played in a band together. I did visit his home in Oakland and recall a wonderful time just jamming together.

Another old friend is Hal Miller who is probably the best keyboardist I have ever known. The fact that he has perfect pitch didn’t hurt anything either. We played together in Parts and Labor and we worked together at Digital Marketing and Computer Aided Management.

Dave Harvey is an old high school buddy who has maintained the artist label and is making a living at it. Among my other high school friends is Dave Moak who has maintained his musician chops as a hobby while making a living in construction.

I was reminded the other day when I heard the Aretha Franklin hit “Rock Steady,” of a time when I played with a bass player named Terry Davis in a club in Napa quite a few years ago. He used to admonish me because I counted the song off too fast and it was truly a workout for him to perform the bass line. Terry went on to play in a band called Stone Ground with a few other friends from those days; Vern Built, lead singer, Tim Barnes, lead guitarist and Mike Mau, the drummer.

I have some new friends who amaze me with their talent including my future daughter in law’s mother Robin Burgert. Robin is quite an accomplished artist who does sculpture and painting in her spare time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2007 Graduation Week at West Point

Shelley, Brian and I left San Francisco at about noon on May 22, 2007, of graduation week. We had a layover in Chicago where we had a fitful lunch and a 2-hour flight to Stewart airport in Newburgh, New York. It was dark, around 9 PM by the time we got to the Holiday Inn in Fishkill across the Hudson river and we settled in for the night.

We tried to meet Kevin for breakfast at 9 AM on Tuesday but since it was the first time navigating from Fishkill to West Point we didn’t arrive until after 11 and Kevin was a bit impatient with us. Shelley was driving the rented Kia minivan and we just didn’t know where we were going until we got there. All of us were a little frustrated, but that’s the way it goes when you’re traveling and not from around there. We decided to visit Fort Putnam which is the original West Point from Revolutionary war times. It sits at the top of a mountain overlooking the Hudson River, above the Cadet Chapel, with a great view of West Point and gnats galore. The temperature was moderate, however, for the month of May. Afterward, Kevin wanted to practice throwing the hammer since he was traveling to Gainesville, Florida for a championship track meet the following day. The most interesting point of this is he would miss many once-in-a-lifetime events of his graduation week at the Military Academy. After careful consideration, he thought it best to finish out his track and field career by participating in the NCAA championships. So we all went down to Shea stadium behind Gillis field house to watch him throw. After a couple hours, we decided to go out to eat at Pineapple’s Steakhouse in Montgomery where we had a delicious dinner and said our goodbyes and good luck to Kevin. We traveled back to Fishkill and the Holiday Inn and made our plans for the following day.

Wednesday morning we met Kevin for breakfast just down from Benny Havens at Andy’s in Highland Falls before he left for the airport. We got to West Point with ample time to visit the cemetery and sign the guest book at the old cadet chapel. I stopped by Maggie Dixon’s grave as well as Emily Perez’ and Earl Red Blake’s. We watched the drill team perform on the plain before the parade and skydiving exhibition. After that, we walked over to Thayer Hall for a presentation of awards by the language department and a speech by the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations. The temperature was heading upwards and beginning to get our attention. It was a brief respite in the cool auditorium. During the presentation, Shelley accepted Kevin’s Portuguese award in his absence which made me chuckle and we posed for a photo with his Portuguese teacher.

On Thursday, I had breakfast at the Holiday Inn and wished I asked what brand of coffee they served. I’ve had it before and it is memorable, but I still don’t know what it is. We visited the West Point museum and gift store where I searched for a brimmed straw hat, but they were out. We saw another parade and made the necessary changes to move to our hotel in Westchester, county. The hotels take advantage of graduation by doubling the rates at nearby hotels so we moved to the hotel our parent club had reserved. It was a Marriott and much nicer than the Holiday Inn. We met my aunt, uncle and cousin before Shelley drove back to the Stewart airport to pick up her sister Carol and our daughter, Michelle. I had breakfast the next morning with my relatives and let the family sleep in before we took off for West Point.

Friday, we saw the firsties participate in their last parade as cadets. We left West Point and headed to a big shopping center where I thought we were going to pick up the tuxedos I rented for Brian and myself. Much to my disappointment the store at which we were supposed to get the suits was on Long Island (a couple of hours away) not in the shopping center were we had lunch and cried in our soup. We went back to our hotel to change into our fancy duds for the graduation banquet. Again we were on our own as Kevin was not there but we made the best of it. Shelley, Carol, and Michelle ate in the mess hall while Brian and I ate at the West Point Club with the overflow crowd. We skipped the hop and headed back to the hotel right after the banquet since we had to get up before daylight to catch the parent club bus to Michie stadium for the 9 AM graduation.

As the cadets marched up the hill to the stadium on Saturday we saw Kevin who returned just in time for the graduation ceremony. We had to pass through strict security upon entering the stadium since Vice President Cheney was the commencement speaker. It was a scorcher of course and too hot for the blazer I was wearing. The cadets marched up, saluted, got their diplomas, returned to their seats and tossed their hats to seal the deal. Then we scurried out the stadium, back down the hill to Shea stadium for Kevin’s pinning ceremony. By then I was huffing and puffing. Poor Kevin was dashing here and there to change uniforms and turn in his gear and check out of school for the last time. The pinning ceremony consisted of the firsties on the track team. We took some pictures and rode a bus back up to Ike hall where we waited for a shuttle to the Thayer Hotel. The parent club reserved a large room for a luncheon where we finally settled down and had a good lunch. Kevin arrived in civilian clothes and we presented him with some cards and gifts and then brought Kevin with us on the parent club bus back to the Westchester Marriott.

Not to be outdone, Kevin, Brian, Michelle, Shelley, Carol, and cousin Jean took a train to New York and sailed around New York harbor taking in the sites before scrambling to catch the last train back to Terrytown. Our flight on Sunday from Stewart was uneventful although we were all exhausted from jet lag, the east coast heat, and humidity. We had another layover in Chicago and then a 5-hour flight back to San Francisco where we picked up our van and made the hour and a half drive back to Santa Rosa.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2007 Indoor Track & Field Championship

You probably haven't heard the sage advice to visit your West Point cadet during the “gloom” period, January - March before.

My wife, Shelley and I flew back to West Point for the President’s Day weekend in 2007. We decided to fly in and out of Stewart/Newburgh airport to determine any advantages over flying to Newark or JFK. Ordinarily we would fly Jet Blue and we’re thankful we didn’t this time. The only disadvantage of flying to Stewart (SWF) is there are no direct flights from the bay area so we had a layover in Chicago’s Ohare airport.

There was a pretty bad storm that preceded us by a couple of days and the effects were still evident. Our plane in San Francisco was an hour and a half late to begin with and we couldn’t land on time at Ohare because, by the time we got there, they were reconfiguring the runways. But all in all, we made it to Newburgh, New York at 11:30 instead of 10:00 PM.

The cost was $350.00 per person round trip. If you add up the price of the flight to one of the other airports plus the cost of transportation to West Point, it’s about the same. Stewart is a small regional airport. It’s very clean, not crowded, and there are 8 gates. Ticketing, security, and baggage claim are at street level while the gates are on the second floor.

We left San Francisco at 10:00 AM and the flight to Chicago was approximately 4 hours. The 2-hour layover at Ohare allowed us to try the Chinese food at the food court. The flight to Stewart was 2 hours and Kevin met us at the airport and drove us to the 5 Star Inn just outside the main gate next to the West Point Museum.

Here are some photos from the hotel as well as the Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championship.
The weather as you can see was below freezing and we got to eat brunch on Sunday in the cadet mess hall. Every time we visit West Point we are astounded not only by the beauty but by the positive and professional environment our sons and daughters enjoy at the Academy.

We discovered a few eateries we had not known before and thought we would pass these tips along for your enjoyment. We had breakfast twice at Andy’s which is a block off the main drag in Highland Falls. We also had dinner one evening at Pineapple’s Steakhouse in Montgomery. You pass it on your way into town going to the Thayer gate.

The accommodations at the 5 Star Inn are as nice as the Thayer, only at half the price. The building we were in was part of Ladycliffe College at one time. So was the West Point museum. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at West Point and highly recommend Stewart Airport and the 5 Star Inn.

Kevin did very well and took 3rd place in the Shot and 2nd place in the Weight throw.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I’ve Never Been to Williamsport

Every August the sound of aluminum bats clanging as they hit baseballs makes its appearance in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Little leaguers from around the world gather to play in the annual event known as the Little League World Series. Back in 1961, we still used wooden bats, so the clanging was more like loud cracks when the bat struck the ball. As a 12-year-old boy in Zweibrucken, Germany, like 12-year-olds everywhere else, I grabbed my glove and headed over to the baseball diamond which was situated down the hill behind the Officer’s club. Our team was called the Orioles and was made up of kids whose fathers were in the military stationed in Zweibrucken - which means two bridges. My teammates included Frank Mills who played first base, Hector Conde at second, Tommy Doyle at third base, Joe Harmon on the mound, Robert Ames catching, Joe Hauser at shortstop, Ricky Westerman in Left, Richard Johnson in center and I was in right field. We practiced every chance we got and we were pretty good.

Our coach was a baseball fanatic who taught us how to win as a team, and we did. Anytime our pitcher who might have been Joe Harmon, Joe Hauser or Tommy Doyle, walked a batter, our catcher Robert would throw the ball to Frank at first. If the walked player was a hot dog and took an early lead, Frank who had the ball would just reach over and tag him out. (This is known as the hidden ball trick.) That season we only got one player out with it but the anticipation was always fun and made us concentrate on the game.

Coming of Age in Zweibrucken is a book now available from Amazon and describes my experiences living in Europe during the Cold War.

We didn’t win every game that year, but we won enough to qualify for the playoffs to see who would represent our area in Germany at the little league world series. It all came down to a final game in Pirmasens against our cross-town rivals. Tom Doyle was hit in the face by a curveball in that game but since our team was short players, had to play through the pain with a swollen face. Some of us missed the game because we were at a Boy Scout Jamboree in Giessen leaving our teammates to survive without us. Much to our chagrin, we lost and Pirmasens went back to Pennsylvania and lost three games to the team from Taiwan. I earned a few merit badges that summer including knot tying and my swimming merit badge. We had to dive down to the bottom of the deep end of the pool on a chilly morning in Germany and retrieve a rubber weight. By the time we got back from the Jamboree, I had toothpaste all over everything and a terrible ear infection which required a waxy shot of penicillin in the buttocks and a week’s stay in bed trying to recover.

Some of my fondest memories are of organized athletic activity. The first one I remember, I was 8 years old and signed up at the YMCA in Berkeley, California for swimming lessons. After our first or second lesson was over, on the way to the dressing room I decided to try jumping off the diving board. Why I don’t know. I survived; dog paddled over to the side, got out and proceeded to the dressing room. Life has been like that. Trying things most people don’t -- because they know better. I played organized basketball at Meadow Homes Elementary school. On one Saturday morning, I recall the coach who was refereeing the game asked for the ball when I threw it to him, it hit him in the face. Boy was I embarrassed.

The summer between the 5th and 6th grades, I got my first taste of organized baseball. I remember playing catcher and the father of my best friend, Steve Marcoux, was umpiring. Unprotected, without a face mask or chest protector, he wasn’t happy with my catching skills, or lack thereof. He used pebbles to keep track of balls and strikes and made comments under his breath when I missed the ball. He was in the Navy while my dad was in the Army so Steve would get the best presents when his dad came home from sea duty. Of all my teammates, Steve had the best glove. His dad picked it up on a voyage to Japan. Sometimes those memories come flooding back and make me smile. Funny, isn’t it, how the small things make such a difference in our lives.

Coming of Age in Zweibrucken is a book now available from Amazon and describes my experiences living in Europe during the CVold War.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Plebe Parent Weekend 2003

We arrived at JFK around 6:00 PM on Thursday and got to our hotel around 9:00. We only got lost twice and accidentally stumbled into our hotel in Nanuet, NY. On the way, we were hungry and stopped at a McDonalds in Nyack. A very funny customer there who resembled Bob Marley and had eyes for my daughter Michelle. I was teasing her about the Rasta Farian man when he snuck up on us. He was harmless but really got Michelle going. I also think he was a bit off. He kept flinging his dreadlocks back and forth like he had water in his ears or something, quite humorous.

Friday morning we were up at the crack of dawn (which was like 3:00 AM our time) to get to the West Point main gate before the lines backed up for the security check. We went to the uniform factory where Shelley and I bought wool winter coats like the cadets wear. We rode the shuttle bus back to the museum and visitors center and wandered around until lunchtime. We were able to meet Kevin at 1:00 PM at Macarthur’s statue. Shelley and Michelle went to Kevin's history class while Brian and I went back to the car to take a nap. We got back together around 5:00 and had dinner in the gigantic mess hall where they feed 4000 cadets 3 times a day. We brought Kevin back to our hotel (30 minutes south) and I fell asleep while the family went to the lounge and played pool. Kevin got a ride back to West Point from another cadet's dad.

Saturday we got to West Point at 7:30 AM and attended the Commandant’s briefing at 8:30. There was a wonderful parade at 12:30 put on by the Plebes. We walked to the academic open house in Thayer hall then had lunch in Kevin's company day room before the TAC briefing at 2:00. After listening to Kevin's military advisor, we toured his barracks for about half an hour. Then we drove back to the hotel to change into our formal wear for the banquet and "hop." Brian and Michelle begged not to go so we let them sleep. We should have insisted, but we were too tired to argue anymore (we had been arguing non-stop for 2 days by then).
Shelley and I drove back to West Point at 5:00 and walked to Washington hall where we met Kevin and his friend Ryan Mehan. We attended the banquet and then walked over to Eisenhower (Ike) hall for the reception and hop. We stood in line for the reception for about 60 minutes and decided to go downstairs to have our picture taken. We stood in that line for another 45 minutes and finally got the picture taken. It was 11:00 PM by then and we just wanted to get back to our room so we said “good night” to Kevin and limped the mile back to where we parked for the drive back to Nanuet.

We slept in on Sunday. We were all very tired from the walking and flights of stair climbing. Who says I don’t get any exercise? We set off for USMA at 10:30 picked up Kevin and Ryan and visited the cemetery. Kevin just wanted to get out of Dodge so we drove to Piermont on 9W south and had lunch at a very nice restaurant on the Hudson. From there we drove to Nanuet and went to a movie at the mall. There were a lot of cadets there too. We had dinner after the movie and went back to the hotel to watch the 49er game. Shelley and I drove the cadets back to WP and got back to bed around 1:00 AM.

Monday we got up and out of the hotel by 10:00 and met Kevin at Trophy point around 11:00. We drove around and Kevin showed us where he throws the shot put. We visited the museum and gift shop and had lunch at the Park restaurant in Highland Falls. After lunch, we drove down to the south dock and sat by the river. Around 2:00 we drove back up to the barracks and parked in front of the Supe's house, chatted and took some pictures. Kevin needed to start on his homework so we thought we would get an early start back to the airport.

We got lost on our way to JFK of course. So I had to have my required upset and get us back on track. My wife finally asked me to meditate quietly - so I did.

We got to the airport with 30 minutes to spare before our flight, poured ourselves onto the plane and sat for another 6 hours before arriving in Oakland at 9:30 PM. It took an hour and a half to get the car and finally going on the hour ride home. We got in around 1:00 AM our time (3:00 AM EST) and crashed into bed, exhausted.

Acceptance Day 2003

I'm quite less a fan of flying since my weekend trip to NY Saturday 8/15 to see my son at school. Friday was the day after the Big Blackout Back East. The heat was bad but man, the humidity was worse. I rode with another couple from Santa Rosa from the Newark airport to the school. On Saturday, after the Acceptance day parade, I waited at Trophy Point until my son was released. A very nice young lady from Cleveland struck up a conversation and I discovered what trauma the power blackout caused hotel guests in NYC. She and her party were awakened in the early hours and evacuated from the hotel.

It wasn’t long before Kevin walked up and I gave him a big hug from his family. I took a couple of photos, we chatted for a few minutes and then 2 more cadets appeared. My son, his cadet friends and I walked into town, had lunch in Highland Falls, and walked back onto the post. It was brutally hot and humid, so sitting in Tony’s air-conditioned restaurant was a pleasure. Ray is from El Paso and he fenced last year at USMAPS. The other cadet had a very Russian sounding name and a wonderfully inquiring mind. My son lost 24 pounds during Beast. The others lost weight too. Although each was in a different Beast company their tales of the rain and problems it caused were consistent. All three agreed the march back was hard on the body and the mind. Kevin explained his was not the honor company but had won the Warrior Forge competition.

Sitting among the cadets at West Point was truly a treat for me. At lunch, waiting for the shuttle bus, on the bus, and waiting for it to leave again, I overheard so many interesting stories and experiences from their view. We went to the PX (post exchange) where they purchased their $65 printers and $8 cables to go with their new Dell D900 laptops. Kevin bumped into many of his new friends there and outside while we waited for the shuttle bus back to his barracks. The jovial banter bordered on hilarious, as they told stories of their experiences from the previous 6 weeks. Kevin and I returned to the barracks and I waited at the Macarthur statue while he put his printer away.

We walked over to the 4th class club in Ike Hall, a 5-story performing arts center with a built-in cafeteria, big-screen TVs, arcade video games, juke boxes, stage, and sound system. Big, and this was just a side hall, not the main auditorium with a very nice view of the Hudson River. I tried to re-hydrate (I was boiling) and just relax for a while. I let my feet rest about half an hour before another of my son’s friends parents agreed to take us to dinner so we went off-post and had a wonderful meal, after a long wait, at the Hacienda in Highland Falls. While we were waiting, an upperclassman came over to quietly tell my son’s friend something. As they were talking the stares our cadets were getting from two other upperclassmen dressed in civilian clothes were fatal if not dangerous. I was not the only one to notice. After they left, Ryan returned to our conversation to let Kevin know some “correcting” activities were going to happen in a certain place, and he should make sure he did not go there. After I got home and called Kevin, I asked him if there had been any incidents in the foretold place. He said no, it was just a spoof.

Thankfully, Ryan's parents offered to take me back to my hotel room in Newburgh. A hailstorm damaged the power lines where I was staying, which made finding the hotel challenging. We tried this way and that but were turned back by the police barricades or yellow tape strung across the roads. We happened upon another driver in an SUV who asked where we were going. We followed them back to the main road and to the hotel. When I got to my room it was about 11 PM, but no electricity and no light. Without which I could not find my medicine nor did my C-Pap machine work (for sleep apnea). I just slept on top of the bed with my clothes on until 4 AM when I awoke. The alarm clock was flashing 12:00 so I called the front desk and asked what time it was. A Power Engineers convention and a couple of baseball teams were also staying at the Clarion. The evening before, when we had electricity, the kids were running all over the place till 3 AM. The night of the storm, the kids were all very quiet from 11 O’clock on. It was the engineers with their flashlights walking by the rooms every few minutes...

Sunday at 7 AM I was determined to avoid any more brownouts, blackouts, or blowout weather hassles, so I called a cab for the Newark Airport (1.5 hours away). $145.00 (including gratuity) and 50 miles later, got to the airport fine, checked my bag and settled in for a 5.5-hour wait. An hour before my flight I checked to confirm I was in the proper place and all was well with the world. And ye verily they said it was! Then a few minutes later, an announcement, my flight was delayed and then another few minutes, announcement, canceled. So I scurried around the large Continental terminal/mall trying not to panic and find a new way home. I did. It was the flight from hell so we won't even go there.

The balls of my feet were throbbing by then so I took my shoes off for the 5-hour flight home. My wife picked me up in Oakland instead of San Francisco and the luggage was? No one knew. When I got home I took off my shoes and I had torn open one of the blisters I developed trying to keep up with three Plebes at West Point and doing the mad dash from terminal to terminal. Standing in one line and then another. Definitely worth the trip to see my son, but I think I’m going to do a few things differently next time…

Friday, September 5, 2008

On the Blog Again

Well, now I'm a blogger. I never thought that would happen. What's the harm right? This should give me an excuse to get my writing chops back. I'll start by providing a rundown on what the kids are up to.

Brian is looking for work and now realizes he shouldn't be so cavalier about quitting a job he isn't madly in love with.

Kevin is engaged to Natalie Messina an old high school friend. Here's a photo of them. Kevin is stationed at Ft. Lewis and the wedding is planned for April 4th here in Santa Rosa at St. Rose church.

More on this as the event nears.

Michelle graduated from SRJC with honors and is now applying to Nursing schools throughout California.