Thursday, September 23, 2010

Made to Order: The Arrival


     Nom, nom....

     I don't think that's what they mean by having good taste in clothing...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thoughts while Driving

     Why would you buy a perfectly good little car...

...and then ride around in the box it came in?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day...

...from Tam :

     "...people want to vote for someone who promises to make the trains run on time without ever asking where exactly those trains are headed."

     Think about that carefully until November. Then wait two years and think about it again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Made to Order

     When the Grandson was born, we naturally wanted to go bonkers getting stuff for him. Daughter said that toys were on hold for now (something about turning her home into Plasticville), but that books, clothes and college tuition would always be welcome.
     As a result, he has a fine wardrobe, and will be reading Dr. Seuss and Little Golden Books well into his teens. Still working on that college thing.
     The other day, an idea for a clothing item occurred to me: since he was (however inadvertantly) named for the Army's chosen .50 caliber disciplinary device, I thought I'd check out their storefront.
     Lo and behold, Barrett Rifles makes infant onesies with their logo. In digital camo, of course:

          And since right now his weapon of choice seems to be a sudden, overwhelming deployment of toxic waste, I thought I'd better get two.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Gaping Hole... my heart.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Labor after Labor Day

     It was universally agreed upon by everyone at work that yesterday was the Monday of all Tuesdays.
     Our customer-service faces were very thinly plastered on, and Surly, Pissy and Snappy joined the dwarf squadron.
     "Oh, but you just had a three-day weekend. You should be happy!"
     Yeah, well, bite me. Three days is almost enough time to get used to the idea of what life could be like without work. Then Tuesday morning yanks the frickin' rug out from underneath you.

     *Grumble, grumble*

     I need a vacation, and I need to go shooting. For the sake of the firearms community's public image, I'll try to wait until I'm off duty to indulge in the latter.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Old Men

     The town I live and work in is adjacent to a large military base. We not only have the usual complement of active-duty folks in town, but also quite a number of retired military who have settled in the area.
     Our practice, naturally, sees a fair share of these. They run from middle-aged on up, but I like the old men. They are friendly, gregarious, and a lot of them have The Hats. These are black ball caps with gold embroidery. They'll say something like "Korean War Veteran", and be bristling with various unit and flag pins and whatnot. One guy yesterday had all of his fruit salad (chest ribbons) embroidered on the front of the cap.
     The girls in the office think these old guys are cute, and they are. Tiny, bent over, suspenders pulling their pants up to their chest, suit jackets two sizes too big for their bony little shoulders. And The Hats.
     I think they're great. Not only are they a lot of fun to work with, even (sometimes especially) the cantakerous ones, but I also respect them. They earned every gold stitch on that Hat, and that American flag lapel pin isn't just an expression of patriotism, it's a membership badge.

     The fellow I want to talk about didn't have the Hat or the pins. He didn't present himself obviously as military. He was just an old fellow in his 80's with sore legs. I was giving him an arterial Doppler exam, checking for "PAD", as they say on the TV commercials, or "po' circa'lation", as it's more commonly known.
     I always do a good general physical exam first; check pulses, look for ulcerations, etc... basically a good going-over to see what I'm getting into before starting the exam proper.
     This guy had missing toes. Now, amputated toes (or feet, or legs) are nothing unusual, but these looked more... random. Not surgical. He must have sensed my question, and said, "Frostbite."
     I looked up, and was deciding whether to ask him about it. Hunting? Ice fishing?
     He said, "In the Bastogne."
     I stopped dead. The little hairs on the back of my neck rose up. "The Bastogne? The Battle of the Bulge?"
     "Yep. Coldest I've ever been in my whole life."
     Then he rested his head back down on the pillow, and didn't say another word about it.
     Nothing about the misery, the blood, the noise. The confusion, and the overwhelming fear.
     I almost asked him about it, and didn't. I realized that my perception of that event came from watching "Band of Brothers".
     As well-done as that show was, I was humbled, ashamed even, to see the simple reality in front of me, and know that my best understanding of his ordeal came from a movie.
     I almost said, as I had to other soldiers, "Thank you for your service". It's an honest sentiment, and is expressed too seldom. This time, it seemed trite and inadequate.

     So we simply proceeded with the exam. Neither of us said much, but the atmosphere was friendly and casual. In the unspoken understanding that sometimes happens between men, we each understood the feelings of the other without cheapening the situation with words. My every action and tone conveyed respect, but without an embarrassment of deference. He was relaxed and appreciative of my professional efforts and my demeanor. It was a gentleman's agreement.
     He and his comrades had fought and suffered more than I could understand, and had literally saved the free world. I looked at the old man lying on the bed in front of me, and tried to see him as a twenty-year old, up to his hips in muddy snow, half-deaf from the incessant barrage, nearly out of ammo, and watching his best friends die around him. I couldn't.
     It was a situation where words were truly inadequate. But the understanding was there, and it was enough.

     We finished the exam, and I told him to come out when he was dressed and ready. At the front desk, I gave him his follow-up instructions and opened the door to the waiting room for him.
     He turned, and held out his hand. I looked him in the eyes, grasped his hand and said, very honestly, "It's been a pleasure to meet you, sir."
     He shook my hand, and as a small smile passed across his eyes, said, "Likewise."