When I was stationed with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, Germany, I lived in a sleepy little village named Kleinlüder, which was over the hill and through the woods from post. At the time that I lived there, a Surface-to-Air Missile Battery was situated on top of the nearby mountain. Actually, they were kind of annoying, because we could hear them from our apartment every time they had an alert. (Oh sure, they were protecting us from invasion and all that... but I still wanted a peaceful night's sleep.)
Anyway, it's been more than 25 years since I left, and the land where that missile battery was located has long-since been sold off. However, I found it interesting one day recently when I was scrolling through the area on Google Maps and I noticed that the SAM battery's motto has managed to survive on one of the old launch platforms:
Now, who says that the Military doesn't have a sick sense of humor?
Note: Click the following link for the original map: https://goo.gl/maps/1gAHfk62oYH2
I first mentioned this in my Ride Notes for Cool Breeze 2015 blog, but I like to rewrite classic rock songs with a cycling theme while I'm out on my weekly rides. As a reminder of past contributions, I came up with the following offerings during the Cool Breeze Century:
- Sung to the tune of "Safety Dance":
"We can pass if you want to,
We can leave your friends behind.
'Cause your friends can't climb, and if they can't climb -
Well they're no friends of mine."
- Sung to the tune of "Hotel California":
"Welcome to the Cool Breeze California,
Such a tiring race, such a grueling pace.
You'll question your mind at the Cool Breeze California:
I'm no competitor; why'd I register?"
- Sung to the tune of "Margaritaville":
"Climbing the hills again in California,
Wondering why I'm still here at all.
Some people say that there's a friend I can blame,
But I know - it's my own dang fault."
During this week's ride (on a particularly blustery day) I penned the following:
- Sung to the tune of Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around with Jim":
"You don't coast on all of your downhills,
You don't ride into the wind,
You don't pass the leader before the first mile marker,
And you don't buy a bike from Schwinn."
Okay, I have a confession to make - when I was very young, and by that I mean several months younger than the age of two, I was traumatized by the letter "Z."
Now I know what you're thinking; and it sounds ridiculous, right? But I knew that the letter "Z" was out to get me - and I had proof.
First of all, I was convinced that the letter "Z" was a real, live animal. And I knew this for a fact because I had learned that on Sesame Street. Here is living proof:
You can see my point, can't you? The letter "Z" obviously had a mind of its own; it had an attitude, it was reckless and passive aggressive, and it seemed to bring out the worst in Kermit the Frog. There was no mistake about it in my mind: the letter "Z" was a nasty character, and it was something which I wanted nothing to do with.
And yet, the letter "Z" had somehow followed me home, and it was living in my backyard. I saw it there - every day - lurking just outside the sliding glass door, and watching my every move.
But what was even more unsettling for me was the fact that my parents, who were supposed to love me, would plop me down in my high chair and turn it so that I was facing outside. And there I would sit, staring at my nemesis, who wouldn't move an inch. The letter "Z" was sizing me up, and I knew that it was waiting to see if I would fall asleep in my high chair... and then it would attack. So I kept my eyes open, and I never took naps in that house. Oh sure, that meant that I was cranky toddler, but that wasn't my fault; I was a victim of my circumstances, and my parents needed to pay for their transgressions.
Thankfully, I no longer live in that house. Our family moved, and the letter "Z" did not appear to have followed us. But I remember vividly what that terrifying scene looked like every day, and here is my feeble attempt at an artist's rendition...
You can say what you want, but I'm telling you the truth - that letter "Z" was out there; and somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm sure that it still is.
An old Army buddy of mine recently posted the following joke on Facebook:
WHY I JOINED THE AIR FORCE
DoD was conducting an "All Service" briefing and the leader posed this question:
"What would you do if you found a scorpion in your tent?"
A Sailor said, "I'd step on it."
A Soldier said, "I'd squash it with my boot."
A Marine said, "I'd catch it, break the stinger off, and eat it."
An Airman said, "I'd call the concierge desk and find out why there was a tent in my room."
Truer words were never spoken.
Well, suffice it to say that 2016 was a weird year. The United States endured one of the worst presidential elections in decades, in which Americans were forced to choose between two utterly non-presidential candidates. (And of course, everyone on the planet knows how that turned out.)
Nevertheless, one of my favorite traditions each New Year is to read Dave Barry's Year in Review, which examines all of the newsworthy items for the past 12 months. Dave's reviews always remind me that no matter how stupid things seemed to be during the previous year, we should each take a moment to step back and thoughtfully contemplate just how stupid things really were...
And with that in mind, here is Dave's year-in-review for 2016:
My wife was mentioning how the following pseudo-80s music video for "Pop! Goes My Heart" from the movie "Music and Lyrics" was ridiculous...
I replied that the video from the movie was make-believe; if she really wanted to see a cheesy 1980s music video, she should watch Dokken's "Breaking The Chains"...
It's like a train wreck - it's a disaster, but you can't stop watching...
You know, for all those hundreds of times that my kids would tell me "The Internet is Down," today the Internet actually goes down and none of my kids lived at home to complain about it. I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing...
FYI - For news about the Internet outage, see the following URLs:
I've been going through my emails, and I'm beginning to get the feeling that all of those "Hot Deals Just For You" messages that I've been receiving for the past 20 years aren't just for me...
During my time in the Army I knew some people with very interesting names for their chosen profession, and here are just a few of my favorite examples.
When I was at DLI our unit had someone named SGT Kill. Considering the fact that the Army's unofficial job description is to "kill people and blow things up," her name was amazingly apropos.
At Fort Devens I knew a German Linguist named SPC Lauscher, whose last name means "eavesdropper" in German; it's like he was born for the job.
There was also a SGT Major at one of my units. He was actually a Sergeant by rank, and his last name just happened to be "Major," so for obvious reasons his name sounded downright powerful, didn't it? I never followed up to see how long he stayed in the Army, because his name could have been a lot more fun as he went through the ranks: Staff Sergeant Major, First Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major Major, Command Sergeant Major Major, etc.
But the following true story is the best:
When I reported to Fort Huachuca, I had already been in the Army over 4 years, so I had seen lots of instances of practical jokes played on new arrivals at each duty station. For example, a lot of pranksters employ "supply lists for newbies" to poke fun at their victims. (Everyone remembers new recruits asking for "Squelch Grease," "Chemlight Batteries," and "Grid Squares," right?) However, on one occasion when I actually needed something specific for one of our trucks, one of my coworkers said, "Go see Private Parts in the Supply Room." I laughed and replied, "Look, I didn't enlist yesterday; who really works in supply?" My colleague quickly responded, "No really - that's his name."
Feeling that I had been duped but still needing repair parts for my vehicle, I headed to supply, where I actually met with a guy named Private Parts. I'm not sure who had the bright idea of assigning a guy with that name to the supply room; that was either a cruel practical joke or a job that he was destined to do. In either case, I took one look at him and said, "Dude, the drill sergeants at Basic Training must have unleashed hell on you." He winced slightly and replied, "You don't know the half of it..."
I've decided that I'm voting for this guy this year...
Don't put him down as arrogant. (Unlike some other candidates,)
PS - Yeah, sure he's Canadian, but since when has a lack of citizenship slowed down anyone's chances for candidacy?