Sunday, November 21, 2010

The clusters of teachers huddled in the hallways as we came in from recess were nothing new. That they stayed there so very long after the bell had rung had happened before as well. Last time they had whispered to each other; the words inaudible but the tone of worry obvious.

But the stifled sobs were something we hadn't heard before...the wiped tears as our teacher came into the classroom and dismissed us for the afternoon. There was no doubt for any of us that something was wrong.

Last time I had walked to our babysitter's house to find her husband there, slightly snockered, telling her how we were all going to die from the radioactive fallout of the missiles that were going to hit the SAC base at Omaha, Nebraska and the Air Force base at Topeka, Kansas. I didn't really understand the Cuban Missile Crisis at 6 going on 7, but the fear of every adult in my life was palpable.

This time I didn't know what to expect...

But the last thing I expected was to walk in the front door of the babysitter's to see Walter Cronkite removing his glasses as he announced the death of John F. Kennedy. The lump still rises in my throat these many years later, and the tears still well in my now old eyes.

I told someone not long ago that sometimes I think I've lived through too many events like this. Too many times the vise has gripped my heart and extracted its price. Still, though you'd think I'd be smart enough to steel my heart against the horrors wrought by human against human, I've never been able to.

Not so many years later, I was invited to attend a summer band camp at the University of Kansas. My first extended trip away from home, my mother lectured me all the way there about do's and don'ts and not "disappointing" my parents. As we arrived she finally stopped and I turned on the radio.

The announcers were discussing the death of Robert Kennedy, early that morning. In my luggage was his book "To Seek a Newer World", my first "venture" into modern political thinking. Fueled by all I was seeing on television of the Vietnam War and the protests; the race riots both on television and at home in Kansas City following the murder of Martin Luther King, I had heard Kennedy reading a bit of one piece of it and was spellbound by not just his voice, but by the words he spoke; by the heart that spoke through them.

I've written before of that feeling of a bright burning flame that was dimmed to a flicker that day. Of the spirit of "can" and "can do" drowned out by the voices of selfishness; of greed; of dividends and tax-cuts.

I've seen the America I grew up believing in reduced from a country that was "ours" to "mine". A place for "everyone", to a place for "us".

I've watched as those I served with gave their all off the coast of Vietnam; I've mourned as they died in their barracks in Lebanon, on rescue missions in the desert of Iran, or while in peaceful harbor aboard the USS Cole. Never "ours to question why", history will judge some of those who spilled their blood much more harshly than they could ever dream.

I've watched as the nation that (justly) pursued, prosecuted and executed war criminals for waterboarding civilians turned her back on history; on all that was good and just about her self, and did the very same thing to others...

On this sad anniversary, I look back and wonder how different things could have been...

And I wish, sometimes, I could close my eyes, for just a little while...

I'm tired of seeing train wrecks!

May the week be kind to each of you!

And on Thursday, whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I'll be giving thanks for each who find their way here!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


of so many things has occurred since my last entry here...

Discovery that having given up the assembly line in 1999 and gone to a mostly forklift job at GM left me very unprepared for spending 12 or 13 hours on my feet, climbing steps, climbing ladders and constantly walking, most of it "with a sense of urgency".

My job is much the same as it was at GM those last years; unload it, or put it away; find it and deliver it; find it and schedule it's delivery. The forklift has been replaced by my legs, along with dollies and pallet jacks; the RF monitor that was on the forklift the last few years replaced by a "gun" that has at least 7 or 8 screens I've found or been told of so far, only 3 of which can you be "logged into" at any one time.

I've filled part of a little notebook with how to make "the gun" do this or that; each day it seems I learn one more thing, especially when I work with someone I haven't worked with before. None of the hours of training I went through dealt with any of this; that was all about dealing with customers, or benefits, or some of the paperwork for shipping things...mostly things I never deal with.

I do deal with customers sometimes when I deliver a "rush" to it's intended department or the front of the store to await the customer's checkout. Usually it's a "can you tell me how much this is" or "where can I find...". I know how to get the price out of my RF gun now, and some things I can give a vague idea of location, though usually I try to use the "walkie" on my belt and get someone who works in the department to help them.

I'm being a bit vague because given the "conservative" bent of my employers and the knowledge that I'm not (in most things, anyway) I don't want to identify them or them to identify me here.

Between training, then following people in the warehouse around for 3 days on half-shift, then pulling three 8's in a row, it took 3 days for my legs to stop aching the first week. The 2nd it was two; last week I did 4 and the 3rd night was miserable. That last day I remembered something from the body building magazines and added a teaspoon of Glutamine to a glass of Quik and 3 hours later my legs hurt less than they did that morning when I got up to go to work...I'm hoping I'm onto something here!

My weight is dropping rapidly; about 15 pounds in a month; I've punched 3 holes in my belt in that time...

All in all, I think this is going to work out.

Sorry about the lack of time to update of late, let alone for Facebook or Twitter...'til I hit on that Glutamine, it was several days before I felt like doing anything but sitting (or lying) and by the time I recovered I either had things to do at home, or it was time to go to work again.

Time to go buy an oil filter for my truck...running it on Mobil 1, it's been 18 months since I changed it, though barely 4,000 miles. The Silverado has some kind of sensing system in it that decides when you should change it, and the other night as I left it said "it's time". Funny, it still looks almost new, though I know it's probably the moisture it's picked up from the short trips it usually is driven. In the manual it says it might come on at 3,000 or at 15,000...had it been anything but synthetic I'd have changed it at 12 months even though the mileage wasn't there yet.

I'll be here more often now, given exceptions for Dottie having some vacation days coming up and the Holidays...

Not sure how I'm going to like my first "Black Friday" in "retail" since 1972...

May the week be kind to each of you!