Sunday, October 31, 2010


Washington National Harbor didn't exist thirty-six months ago.  Before, the area was a vegetation covered river bank along the Potomac on the Maryland side across from Alexandria.  Doreen and I vacationed in Alexandria a few weeks ago and crossed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to see the new attractions.  All you see in the pictures below have been constructed in the past 3 years.  Retail shops, condos, docks, yachts, restaurants, Gaylord Resort and Convention Center, and the beginnings of a Disney presence.

Click on the picture to enlarge them for better viewing.

Have a good week!

View of Washington National Harbor from a water taxi on the Potomac

The pictures below are inside the Gaylord
Click to enlarge

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Watering Lives

While I was growing up, my father would sometimes say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."  I've seen these words play out in real life with horses and people.

I recently cited this quote at the beginning of a period in a high school classroom as a warm-up to the lesson we were about to undertake.  I then expressed this analogy.  I said to the students: "A community can build schools, hire teachers, buy books, and send busses to bring children to the classrooms, but only students can desire to learn."  "Students learn by having desire and responding appropriately to the resources at hand."

All the students understood the significance of what I was saying and most settled into the lesson plan to learn it.  Half-way through the period, I asked the class this rhetorical question, "Imagine your parents or grandparents standing in the hallway looking through the door window at you and me. Would they be pleased with what they observe?"  After I asked the question while pointing to the window, I followed with my own answer. I said, "Yes, I believe they would be pleased."  I then thanked them for their work ethic and cooperative spirit of learning the lesson that had been prepared for us by the regular teacher.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For Sale

My collection of Swiss Army wristwatches
all battery powered

As a result of the change reported last week, I now have a retired inventory of watches.  I'll probably keep one or two and  put the others on craigslist for sale.  I see no need to save them.  They take up space and will need batteries every year or two at $20 each.  What would you suggest I do with them?

Have a good week!
Watch presented to me for 30 years of service at Sara Lee Branded Apparel

Swiss Army pocket watch

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Changed a Habit

Why are these products needed in this modern age?

I recently changed a habit I had for fifty years.  There was no compelling reason to make the change from a habit I started around age thirteen.  It was something my father did and I followed because it was a good thing in that period.  A few weeks ago I stopped wearing a wristwatch.

I reached my decision by observing the time on my iPhone, which is seldom separated from me except in bed.

I'm always aware of time. I am mindful of the ticking away of minutes and hours.  If anything organizes my life, it is time and the date.  I realize time is a finite number for us all and I desire it to be filled with good health, peace, contentment, love and happiness just as most people desire the same.  I can't think of anything I keep track of closer than time.

I press one button on my iPhone and instantly the time, day, and date appear.  The measurement system is displayed in the official time of AT&T.

You may have heard this saying: "If a person has a clock, he knows the time.  If he has more than one, he's never really sure of the correct time."

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Book Review

I realize the author is a decorated Vietnam veteran who was a Marine Corps officer in 1969.  I'm aware he was a Rhodes Scholar who entered the Marine Corps following his graduation from Oxford University one year before William Jefferson Clinton graduated the same place.  I greatly admire these two accomplishments of Mr. Karl Marlantes, the author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War. This March 2010 book was published by Atlantic Monthly Press.  I read it on my Kindle over a two month period. It took this long because I continually stopped reading because of my dread to continue. However, I persevered and finished it while vacationing in Alexandria, Virginia a couple weeks ago.

The book is over the top with exaggerations.  I can verify that leeches in the jungles of Vietnam were bad and would attach to tender body parts to suck blood from infantrymen at night, but, entering a man's urethra, attaching itself, and blocking urine flow?  I don't think so. This was described early in the book as a marine reached an emergency backup of urine which required his buddies to slice the man's penis to remove the leech.  Urine and blood spewed over everyone involved during the procedure in the field.

The book says, "half the company came from broken homes and had wives or parents who were drunks, dope addicts, runaways, prostitutes, or child beaters."

2nd Lieutenant Waino Mallas, USMC Reserve, the main character described his Marine company by saying, "... They all talked the same, too, say f**k, or some adjective, noun, or adverb with f**k in it, every four words."  "Mellas had gone to some fancy private college and graduated second in his class at the Basic School."

The 592 pages of Matterhorn teem with gutter language throughout. Here is a count of some profane and vulgar words used:  f**k 209 times, f**ker 32, f**king 654, motherf***er 44, p**s, 20, s**t 274, Godd**n 99, ni**er 25, b*tch 15, and bast**d 31.  These statistics were computed using my Amazon Kindle.

These words and other derogatory language average 3 or more times per page. The author actually served in Company C, First Battalion, Fourth Marines of the Third Marine Division (Reinforced) in 1969.  If his experiences formed and shaped his foundation for writing this novel, then his words reflect poorly on the officers and enlisted men who served in that marine company at that time.

Here is the frequency of other words used in the book: freedom 1, honor 7, honorable 0, truth 6, love 14, devotion 0, duty 31, thanks 43, praise 1, goodness 0, South Vietnam 3, General Westmoreland 0, Robert McNamara 0, Ho Chi Minh 2, Hue 2, President Thieu 0, Vietnam 69, Ho Chi Minh Trail 0, DMZ 14, Paris Peace Accords 0, and Richard Nixon 0.

The stories and dialogue among and between these Marine officers and enlisted men should not be used to characterize the Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel who served throughout Vietnam.  I was a Private First Class infantryman in the Army in VN in 1966. My experiences and observations with enlisted men and officers did not come close to what is described in the behaviors around Matterhorn.

The book is about a Marine junior officer and his perception of inferior military personnel. Lieutenant Mallas becomes a hero by bringing out the best he could in the men he had to work with.

Have a good week!