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Sunday, May 25, 2008

God Bless 'em All

My friend Lt. Colonel Joseph Narlo flew one of these into jungle strips in Vietnam. He said you'd hear this popping like hail on a tin roof and holes would appear in the floor of the plane as you were coming in for a landing. He never told his wife about that, but during his later years when he was dying he told me a lot of stories about his time in the Air Force.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941


I missed entering service because I turned 18 during the draw down after Vietnam and I can't see worth a flip without my coke bottle glasses I used to wear, so they didn't much need me. I've always appreciated the folks who did serve. My wife and I ran a day program for older folks who were in failing health and couldn't be left home alone, but their families didn't want to put them in nursing homes. It was a privilege to serve these folks. We had Air Force guys, paratroopers who were at the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, submariners who went up against Japanese fleets when their torpedoes were duds about 3/4's of the time. We had guys that flew astronauts around and guys that were test pilots and crews. One guy served in the destroyer shield between the battleships and the shore at Normandy, Anzio and North Africa. We even had women who worked as Rosie the Riveters in P-38 plants in California and in B-24 plants in Ft. Worth. We helped them record their stories and helped put up museum exhibits of their memorabilia.

I couldn't serve myself, but I could offer exceptional care for our heroic men and women as they faced aging with dignity and the courage they showed when they took up arms and tools in defense of our nation. We owe them nothing less than the best we can give. Even though our center was closed because the church was afraid of the insurance risk, we still do our best for them as advocates for better care and treatment of our vets. I spent $35,000 of my own money keeping the place open in a temporary location as long as we could so our little group wouldn't have to go to nursing homes. God laid most of them to rest in those last months and we were able to shut down and no one went to nursing homes. It was the saddest thing I've ever been through. We loved those guys. My wife suffered severe depression for two years partially as a result of losing the center and her beloved soldiers.

"God bless 'em all!", but especially,

Lt. Col. Joseph Narlo, Airman Joe Tolbert, SSgt. Bill Mathew, Seaman 2nd Class Don Peterson, Sgt. Edward Moore, Lt. Bill Tillery, Seaman 1st Class James Callanan and the dozens of others who were our friends.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Good Advice

A gentleman can be analytical
Or cogent, laconic or critical
But in a fight with your wife
If you value your life
Always avoid being witical.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rev. Doctor Tom Speaks Out!

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, anyone can now become a minister. One day, I was cruising the obituaries and finding I wasn't listed amongst the dignitaries therein, I was merrily reviewing the histories of those of my peers who had gone on ahead of me to their reward.

To my surprise, I discovered that, Arlo Entwhistle, a crusty old reprobate I knew from neighborhood jam sessions and community theater productions of questionable quality was actually a licensed minister of the Universal Life Church. I wondered how in the world that ever happened.

So, I did a quick google search and found his accrediting institution, located somewhere in a nondescript house off a golf course near Tuscon Arizona. Within 15 minutes I had a certificate that permits me to marry people and conduct funerals and baptisms and start my own church.

Now how convenient is that?

For just $30 I can become a Doctor of Divinity.

Always wanted my doctorate and this saves me all that pesky classwork and tuition and the 3 years of indentured servitude that goes with your typical university doctoral program.

Maybe I'll start myself an on-line church. I, being what a friend of mine, Mike Gregory, calls a "Smartastical Philosopher" could set myself up in the video preachin' business and make some pretty good money if I could actually get my naggy old conscience to shut up and let me work the crowds a bit.

Maybe I should start myself a Smartasstical philosophy University and award degrees and sell funny hats. I could sell nice colorful certificates and graduation photos and stuff.

I hear that after you clear that first million, the guilt pretty much goes away!

I'm just sayin'


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grandma Arrives in Heaven

This little clip from Steve Marshall's "Grandma on the Sea of Glass" is Steve's account of his grandmother's likely reaction to seeing the "Sea of Glass" for the first time as only Steve could tell it.

What is Eternity?

This clever little story gives us a little glimpse of eternity; delivered as only Steve Marshall can.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Operation Chaos - 1972

I've been accused on more than one occasion of having a problem with authority. I suppose I do when it comes right down to it, but I like to think it's more of a problem with "oppressive" authority than with authority per se.

I ran my own version of the soon to be infamous Operation Chaos during my senior year of high school. There were 5 girls that ran the school pretty much the year I graduated from Academy (1972). It was a little boarding school down in Weslaco, Texas just 3 miles from the Mexican border. Lovely school, but the good old girls network that determined pretty much everything that went on amongst the student body really were beginning to get on my anti-authority genes by year's end. So I, being me, started a subtle campaign to drive them crazy.

I come from a long line of folks who left their home countries because they didn't want to be bossed around by people who believed they had a right to boss everyone else. I can't resist poking little holes in well-deserving gas bags, so I spent the last couple of months of school merrily deflating things.

The campaign culminated in a classic protest march.

It was near the end of the year when we had the annual Picnic in the Orange Grove - the big student body event of the year. Debbie, our Student Association President and leader of of the 5 was even going to make a speech. A couple of other hairy revolutionaries and I got together and I proposed a Men's Liberation March. It was the 70's and ever other day, angry women were getting together to burn their bras. So we got together a bunch of the geekiest guys we could find, mixed in a couple of jocks (literally as you'll see in a moment) and made some signs.

Just as the wing ding was getting under way, a bunch of us guys came marching out of the grove doing the Winkie Army marching song from the Wizard of Oz - Yo wee oh, yo ho....

Leading the group was this skinny fresman kid with a sign that read "How would you like to be a mere sex object?" We had lots more signs of a similar nature. We gathered in front of the podium (an early 70s version of speaking truth to power).

I climbed on a picnic table and did an Abbie Hoffman-style speech complaining about mistreatment of males by our oppressive matriarchal overlords and then we lit up a jock strap and a pair of Fruit of the Looms.

What was even funnier was that our 5 Amazons thought we were absolutely serious. They even wrote snotty comments in my yearbook about it weeks later. I went back and asked them if they thought we were serious.


They did find a couple of ways to get even with us by ratting us out one night, but it was worth getting detention for skinny dipping in the school pool at 1AM  for a chance to tweak the noses of our oppressors.

There's an appropriate text in Revelation that comes to mind. "The smoke of their torment riseth up forever and ever...."