Till they all come home….

Whether you support the policies or the politics, conflicts or peaceful resolutions…Please support the people… Hate the game not the player

Happy Memorial Day…

This video was created by Joe Curtain.  He is still an active Navy officer… The only link he has is his Twitter page. His Twitter handle is: @FR33SpeechMusic

I spent 20 years and 9 months in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserves.  I joined when I was 16 years old and went to bootcamp between my junior and senior year in high school.

I spent a year on a ship and visited dozens of foreign ports. I learned how to create and be a part of an extended family that your biological family may never even know about.  Like a biological brother or sister, sometimes you hated them and sometimes you loved them but you always supported them.  I was trained to have very high work ethics for self and how to expect and obtain the same from others. I grew up to be adaptable, creative and accepting of others and to reach out a helping hand to those life long friends I have made over the years as well as to random strangers on the street.  I made friends I may never, ever see again but know that at the drop of a hat if I did see them we could reunite as if no time at all had ever passed between us.

I was trained to give and receive orders.  I took entire courses on how to build things and how to immediately tear them down.  I practiced the art of self-defense and learned how to shoot a variety of guns, studied crowd control measures and sometimes fought the art of self-control. I had to practice how to never use these skills unless under extreme duress and then I was trained in how to handle extreme duress.  Most of the people I have worked with over the past near 21 years have considered themselves peacekeepers and not war mongers.  Through all of these times I was fortunate enough to mostly serve with people who could laugh at themselves as often as they laughed at me.

We have all believed in our country and gave up a lot to support it.  Most of us would do it again if asked with absolutely no hesitation.  We do not expect everyone to agree or believe in our purpose when we leave.  However, we do hope that we will be accepted and welcomed home on our return.

“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.” 
― John F. Kennedy

There are always two sides to every story. Two opposing thoughts to every situation.

We must never forget why we have, and why we need our military. Our armed forces exist solely to ensure our nation is safe, so that each and every one of us can sleep soundly at night, knowing we have ‘guardians at the gate.’ – Allen West

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country”  ― George S. Patton Jr.

 “As long as a population can be induced to believe in a supernatural hereafter, it can be oppressed and controlled. People will put up with all sorts of tyranny, poverty, and painful treatment if they’re convinced that they’ll eventually escape to some resort in the sky where lifeguards are superfluous and the pool never closes. Moreover, the faithful are usually willing to risk their skins in whatever military adventure their government may currently be promoting.”

― Tom RobbinsSkinny Legs and All

“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor… This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!”

― Albert Einstein

So long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home. – Barack Obama

The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.–   John F. Kennedy

I started to make a study of the art of war and revolution and, whilst abroad, underwent a course in military training. If there was to be guerrilla warfare, I wanted to be able to stand and fight with my people and to share the hazards of war with them.   – Nelson Mandela

The U.S. Military is us. There is no truer representation of a country than the people that it sends into the field to fight for it. The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them, because they’re protecting us.   –  Tom Clancy

We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might. – Theodore C. Sorensen

  1. How America Treats Illegal Aliens vs. Veterans
  2. Friday Night Think Tank:  Memorial Edition
  3. Growing up after Graduation
  4. What Heroes Gave
  5. Memorial Day is not about your aunt
  6. To all our service members
  7. Thanks Dad


Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Bubbles in the aquarium

Bubbles in the aquarium

This first photo was one I just took recently in the Baltimore Aquarium and I’ve been obsessed with it.  I actually want to blow it up and frame it.  There’s just something about it I love.  Thankfully for me I was able to re-use it for this specific by the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Lost in the Details.

The following pictures have also been favorites of mine and were taken while I was in Australia back in 2006.  They were some of my first attempts at really focusing in on a picture and though I wouldn’t really print and frame them.. I still love them.  I hope you enjoy.

Travel Theme More signs – Some of my favorites

“What’s that supposed to mean? A wolf’s head on a stick. Big wolf barbecue tonight? Bring your own wolf?”
― Eoin ColferArtemis Fowl: The Lost Colony

Ok.. I don’t usually like repeats but was inspired by Untitled Adventures Blog that focused her Wrong Theme on Konglish.  I love signs.  I think I said that in my own Travel Theme Signs blog.  I’m going to say it again.  Signs are cool.  They can give direction, a warning, inspiration, a quick laugh or simply cause confusion.  My favorite signs are literal translations in other countries, but don’t be mistaken we in the U.S. have our own goofy, inspirational and hard to understand signs as well.  Here are a few of my favorite signs from around the globe.. Enjoy.

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“I come to a red light, tempted to go through it, then stop once I see a billboard sign that I don’t remember seeing and I look up at it. All it says is ‘Disappear Here’ and even though it’s probably an ad for some resort, it still freaks me out a little and I step on the gas really hard and the car screeches as I leave the light.”
― Bret Easton EllisLess Than Zero

Travel Theme: Leading Lines

It was difficult for me to find the perfect photo for this weeks travel theme. Not because I couldn’t find a photo to use, but because there were too many lines to choose from.

We are surrounded by lines from the moment we are born to the moment we die.  There are lines we follow, lines we wait in, lines we create.  Many natural lines are not straight and barely look like lines but you know they are.  There are the lines we cross and the lines we should NEVER cross.  Then finally, there’s the end of the line.  Here’s my interpretation of this weeks travel theme.  Enjoy

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Related articles

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food” ― Erma Bombeck

“What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.”
– Michael Chiarello

Memories of my childhood seem to revolve around family food fests.  Aside from Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July and Memorial Day, there were camping trips, visits to the lake, jeep club races and trail running events all which produced some of the most amazing and lasting impressions of my youth.  All of these recollections can be quickly brought to the front of my mind by the simple smell of a turkey, hamburger, hot dog or fruit salad.
“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”
― Calvin Trillin
During my childhood I didn’t know this, but in retrospect it’s very obvious.  My mother wasn’t the best cook in the world.  She did ok and it wasn’t terrible.  As a matter of fact my recollections of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and a vegetable still make my mouth water.  However, I remember even more distinctly many meals my mother prepared each week that were simply named goulash.  Goulash was in fact, every container of leftover food in the fridge combined in one large pan and heated up.  Sometimes it worked out fine and sometimes it REALLY didn’t.
Aside from goulash, the other thing my mother loved to experiment with was odd foods.  When I say odd foods, I am saying foods that other parents in our neighborhood would not have dreamed of using.  I remember an entire octopus sitting in our freezer for months before my mom felt confident enough to attempt to cook it.  I like to call that one an epic fail.  There was cow tongue which she over-salted causing extreme thirst when eaten.  Still can’t eat it.  As a child her sweet potatoes were one of my favorite “every holiday” foods.  As an adult I realize that I loved them only because they were covered with a 2 inch layer of marshmallows.
Now before anyone starts thinking I am only complaining about my mom’s food and cooking I want to say I’m not.  As a matter of fact, if it were not for my mom’s verve for food experimentation and her demand that we finish EVERYTHING on our plate, no matter WHAT was on our plate, I probably never would have taken some of the craziest cooking classes or tried some of the foods I have tried as an adult.
“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”
― Kurt VonnegutJailbird
My overall point is that the making and eating of foods create memories.  There isn’t a food out there that I cannot trail back to a certain very specific time, person or place in my life.   So here’s to my fondest memories of food exploration.  Here’s to the foods I will never, ever forget.
Guam During my time in Guam I worked with many Philippinos who would host barbeques every day they were not working.  Between pig roasts with Guamanians and Phillippino bbq’s I was able to enjoy a variety of “chomorro” cooking styles that included whole pig roasts (lechón) fresh or fried spring rolls (lumpia) Balut and Spam.
Spam is a meat product that is not usually considered a primary meat source on most American’s menu. In places like Guam, Hawaii and the Phillipines, it is used in many main dishes.  Overall, it wasn’t bad.  You can use spam in everything and it’s relatively cheap.  You can fry it, blend it with other foods and can even make simple spam sandwiches with it. 
Balut is a fertilized duck egg. It was the most terrible experience for me.  Admittedly I was dared to eat it and did not consume it in a traditional manner. I didn’t season it or eat it with any sauce. I simply shoved it in my mouth, tried to chew it and ended up chasing it with the closest beer.   All I really remember is needing to fish out of my mouth bits of beak, feather and claw.  I also remember feeling quite ill for the next couple of days.  I’m convinced it was psychological, but I do not see me giving it another try.
Cambodia,   Colombia,  Thailand,  China,   Australia  and Venezuela  Through these countries I have tried all kinds of foods ranging from snakes, crickets, frogs, spiders, kangaroo and crocodile to arepas, amok, Khmer rice porridge, Ajiaco soup, cuy, street foods and a few unknown meats.  I’ve even taken a variety of cooking classes in Cambodia, Thailand and Venezuela in order to try to preserve some of my favorite food memories.  In these classes we were taught to shop for the freshest meats and veggies and how to dice and slice, puree, and blend the ingredients to create the best texture and flavor in all of your dishes.  More importantly, we were shown how to enjoy the food you are eating with the people you are near.
I have saved my favorite for last….
Korea   While in Korea I was exposed to many different foods.  It was possibly my favorite place to eat.  Korean dishes are focused around rice, meat and vegetables. I loved everything about Korean food from how it was prepared to how eating it became a group event.   Korean bbq’s usually involve choosing the meat yourself, cooking it at your table and eating it in a fresh lettuce or sesame leaf.  Tteokguk (soup) is also often prepared at your table with all the ingredients fresh at your disposal.  I loved Kimchi from my first bite but with my daughter it  took a little longer.  Aside from Kimchi my 2nd favorite dish was Bibimbop.  This is a mixed dish of rice, vegetables and meat cooked in a stone bowl and often topped with a raw egg.  We used metal chopsticks in Korea just like we use metal silverware in the U.S.  Aside from childhood memories, these dishes and experiences were really by far my favorite food memories.
 Sadly, the re-creation of all of these events are never as good as the original largely because the foods were location and people specific.  This will not stop me from trying to recreate them and that plan alone will ensure that I will have many more food explorations ahead of me.