Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beat Navy (Part 1)

"From the Far East I send you one single thought, one sole idea — written in red on every beachhead from Australia to Tokyo — There is no substitute for victory!"
― General Douglas MacArthur
We marched back from Lake Frederick after a relatively relaxed week in tents.  Our class motto, “With Honor We Strive,” led the way, emblazoned in gold letters across a black background.  To my amazement, the entire West Point community came out to give our class a legitimate hero’s welcome.  I didn’t know what to think.  After six weeks of Beast Barracks, the mass cheering of all those folks lining the streets evoked within me some rather serious cognitive dissonance.  Similarly, my classmates and I were eager for the end of Beast Barracks but also nervous for what lay ahead.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#SBRLLR: Drinking Beer & Looking at Old Pictures

Spoiler Alert: When your folks die, you're gonna have to go thru a million old pictures.  Sally asked me to go through some old picture albums today since she's been cleaning up our garage, and I found one from one of my ancestors dated 1923 to 1924.  It details his literal trip around the world.  He's got pictures from Japan, China, Egypt, and every point in between.

Dude was, like, a member of the landed gentry from the farmlands of Middle Tennessee.  An honest-to-God Southern Gentleman.  It's crazy.  At times, I badly want to go back in time and lecture my one-time family members about the values of financial responsibility.  I've had to start rebuilding the family wealth almost from scratch, and that's fine in the sense that I had a few advantages when I started, but it's also maddening, all things considered.  But what can you do?

I'll share the pics from that trip some other time.  Documenting it will be much more work than I want to put in today.  For now, I'm three beers into a Yankee game, having already put in the best swim workout I've had this season.

I'm reloading calories, if you will.  One of the virtues of distance athletics.

Anyway, these pics are from another album, and I'm sharing them today because I'm not sure I'm going to get all the way through editing the next chapter of my memoir this week.  On the off chance that I don't make it all the way through the next bit, these will have to tide you over a week.  Sorry in advance if that happens.

Pics after the jump.

Friday, June 15, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Building on Momentum

Before we get started this week, I’ve got a couple of announcements:
First, my Swim Across the Sound team still needs your support.  We’re about halfway to our fundraising goal, and I know that a lot of people have been on this site lately checking out the happenings.  Most of you fins folks can easily afford to support Team RBG.  Please do that.  It’s for a good cause.
Yes, this is me swimming.
My second announcement is about #SBRLLR.  This week’s post did gangbuster numbers, which is awesome.  Thank you for that.  
If you’re wondering what to read next, well… I personally think the whole thing is worth reading, especially if you care about context.  However, most folks have liked Chapter 2.  If you also like Chapter 2, then I hate to say it, but you ought to just bite the bullet and read the whole damn story.  
It’s free, you cheap bastards.
Finally, if you liked #SBRLLR, and you’ve been thinking about doing something similar, please reach out.  As I said earlier this week, one of the reasons I wrote the memoir was as a way of starting this conversation.  Ideally, you should have a set time period to write about along with a collection of anecdotes.  With that, we should be able to draw up an overall outline and lay out scene structure for the first chapter or two.  That should be enough to get you going.
Alright.  Let’s get it on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beast (Part 2)

My roommate John turned out to be a prior-service soldier who’d just finished a year at the Academy’s Prep School, getting his grades up so that he would be able to compete with a bunch of high school heroes once the Academic Year started.  If R-Day or Beast Barracks ever fazed John, I never saw any sign of it.  I don’t know if they put me with John because his last name was near mine alphabetically, or if somebody somewhere thought that maybe I would need a little extra help with some of West Point’s overarching military bullshit.  John was a huge help, and I was extremely grateful for it.  However, we came from radically different pre-Academy backgrounds, and so we didn’t hit it off immediately—not in a deeply personal way at any rate.  We got along well enough, but I think my shell-shocked military stupidity and ongoing emotional numbness must surely have tried John’s patience.  He was a few years older, and he’d already been through Basic Training and had served in the Regular Army.  The last thing he wanted, I can well imagine, was to deal with a barely eighteen-year-old newbie who didn’t know his head from his ass.  However, he taught me as much as he knew, and for that I was extremely fortunate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Entry-Level Thoughts on Writing a Memoir

As my memoir slowly enters its West Point years, its readership has increased dramatically, especially among my Academy classmates.  That’s a good thing.  I wrote the book for a lot of reasons, but one of the more outward-thinking ones was as a way to discuss the idea of writing about experiences with some of my friends.  As our current class president said a few years ago, “Classes get remembered when they tell their stories.”  Our class has done a few things.  We therefore have to find ways to tell the story.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Musings: Monkey See, Monkey Do

A few random musing from the last few days.



So what is the most honest way of talking about the Trump economy? It goes like this: The president inherited an economy that had come a long way toward healing. During his administration, the economy has continued growing at about the same rate it did before he took office, pushing incomes, employment and output to yet higher levels.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Swim Across the Sound 2018

I out this out on FB and Twitter on Tuesday, but let me say it again here: we're still looking for some support for Team RBG in this year's Swim Across the Sound.  A lot of folks have "liked" and "retweeted" the links for our quest, and that's great, but as of this writing, we're still quite a ways short of our total fundraising goal.

Link: Team RBG and the Swim Across the Sound

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thoughts on Solo & the Star Wars Universe

We saw Solo: A Star Wars Story over the weekend.  Everybody liked it okay.  I don’t think it was anyone’s idea of a great movie, and even my kids saw some of those closing double-crosses coming, but it was still entertaining, and that’s fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beast (Part 1)

"If the fresh skin of an animal, cleaned and divested of all hair, fat, and other extraneous matter, be immersed in a dilute solution of tannic acid, a chemical combination ensues; the gelatinous tissue of the skin is converted into a non-putrescible substance, impervious to and insoluble in water; this, sir, is leather."
― Plebe Knowledge, “The Definition of Leather”22 
I met my friends Amber and Rose outside the auditorium on Reception Day.  The three of us had met during our recruiting trip back in March, and Amber and I had hit it off particularly well.  We were three swimmers with no idea what lay ahead of us, save that all three had gotten a pair of black leather low-quarter shoes and started breaking them in per West Point’s instructions to cadet candidates.  I’d tried to talk to my dad a little about what it was going to be like to join the military, but he had brushed off most of my questions, save to push me to keep running and doing pushups by way of being ready for Beast.  Beyond that, Dad seemed content to let me enjoy my last weeks of freedom.  He did try to teach me to shine my shoes, but that particular lesson was one I chose to ignore.

Friday, June 1, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Praying for a New Plane

I’m back.  I’ve been busier of late, so I don’t know that 5 Things' return is necessarily going to be a regular occurrence, but there’s so much going on that I thought maybe we ought to talk about at least some of it.
Let’s get it on!