I’LL HAVE A BLOODY MARY, A STEAK SANDWICH AAAND A STEAK SANDWICH

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Archive for June, 2008

BEYOND THE BAND OF BROTHERS

I just finished this book last week.
 

Whoa.  It’s written from the perspective of Major Dick Winters, the man who led Easy Company 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during WWII (the mini-series BAND OF BROTHERS is about Easy Company).  America’s victory during WWII is due largely to the intense sacrifice and honor that this small group of men offered up for America’s freedom.  The book is written from the man who led them through (FYI-he was in his early 20’s as he led this regiment of 18-25 year olds through brutal battles of war). 

As you know, I love America, but moreover I am humbled by the thousands of men/women who have sacrified to defend her (whether in death or in time away from family or whatever).  You also know that I have several family members who serve in several branches of government, so it’s personal (well, shouldn’t it be to every American?).  So, with that predisposition, I read this book and was amazed and grateful and blown away…the lifestyles of honor, bravery, dignity, justice…they moved me.  There are hundreds of quotables from this book, but here are a few of my favorites…

1) re: a night of leave in Paris “I certainly didn’t raise hell, never did, and had no intention of doing so in the future.  Why not? First and most important, I had my own conscience to answer to.  Next, I refused to dishonor my parents, and thirdly, because I was an officer in the U.S. army.  I was damn proud of it and with the rank and position I held.  I would not think of doing anything to bring discredit to my outfit, my paratroopers, my boots, my wings, my airborne patch, or to the army.”  Can you imagine if everyone nowadays cared this much about dishonor ?  Not just in the military, but EVERYONE?  Can you imagine if Christians cared this much about dishonoring God (myself included)?  Wow.

2) re: leadership, “As a commander, a leader must be prepared to give everything, including himself, to the people he leads.  Sound like a principle you’ve heard before?  like from the Bible?

3) re: coming upon their first concentration camp (near the end of the war) “By now the men and I were seasoned veterans, but the sights we witnessed when we arrived at the camp defied description.  The horror of what we observed remains with each paratrooper to this day.  You could not explain it; you could not describe it; and you could not exaggerate it.  It did not take long to realize the Nazis were intent on eliminating all of the Jews, the gypsies, and anyone who disagreed with Hitler’s regime.  The memory of starved, dazed men who dropped their eyes and heads when we looked at them through the chain-link fence, in the manner that a beaten, mistreated dog would cringe, left a mark on all of us forever.  Nor could you underestimate the barbarity of the Nazi regime, even during the latter stages of the war.. . . As I went through the war, it was natural to ask myself, Why am I here?  Why am I putting up with the freezing cold, the constant rain, and the loss of so many comrades? Does anybody care?  A soldier faces death on a daily basis and his life is one of misery and deprivation.  He is cold; he suffers from hunger, frequently bordering on starvation.  The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, if only to myself, ‘Now I know why I am here!  For the first time I understand what this war is all about.” 

It was a powerful read and I wish that every American under the age of 60 was required to watch the Band of Brothers mini-series and read books like this (yearly?).  I just wonder how differently people might view their freedom and maybe their abuse of freedom (mine included). 

 

VILLA LIVING IN THE VALENCIA SUMMIT!!!

I just listed this property last night and I’d like to hear your feedback (and if you or anyone you know would like to purchase it 🙂 )

HERE IS THE VIRTUAL TOUR 

As you step into this tranquil 1,678 sq ft, 4/2 bath cul-de-sac Summit home, you may feel like you’re stepping into a villa on a tropical vacation.

As you’re drawn in by the neutral custom paint, the 24 inch tile flooring, the calming archway leading into the living room, the multiple patios, courtyards and fountains throughout, the ample dining area, the tastefully themed villa-style family room, you can easily picture yourself entertaining guests either indoors or outdoors with your built in BBQ (with sink and fridge) beside your private pool/spa or simply having a quiet family meal as the gentle breeze flows with the help of ceiling fans throughout the whole house.

Though close to shopping and freeways, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation in this well maintained Summit home! Come home and relax, like you’re on vacation.

This is a traditional sale NOT a short pay! This is also a no zero-lot line home!

HE’S BACK…MY CONSTANT PERPLEXING TV CRUSH

I’ve missed him.  He’s been gone for a year.  He’s back now and I am gleeful!!!!
I love him because he’s neurotic, truthful, ridiculous, bizarre, childlike, tenacious, highly skilled at what he does, charming in a ‘koo-koo’ kind of way.  I want to know him, in all of his bizarre weirdness!.  I want to drive around town running errands having ridiculous conversations. 

Jeff Lewis: FLIPPING OUT! 
Flipping Out

OPEN WATER…CERT

So, it’s Monday morning and as I layed in bed and watched the first Meet The Press without Tim Russert moderating (I DVR’d it), I realized that my mind had wandered to the sounds of life under water, wandered to swimming through the towers of gently swaying kelp, wandered to the sting ray that gracefully emerged in the gray blue abyss and beautifully performed under the shafts of sunlight beaming down through the ceiling of kelp, I wandered to instances of Jennene and I silently pointing at all the different beautiful and obscure creatures that are below the water’s surface, I wandered to the feeling of gliding through the water feeling like a welcomed visitor in a strange, complex and highly sophisticated other-world.  Then I heard the faint voices of the debating politicans grow louder as they pitched their responses to Obama’s recent decision on public campaign funds.   🙂   NOW, I know why people LOVE scuba diving! 

Well, this last weekend, Mike, Jennene and I went to Catalina Island and finished out certification for Open Water Diving.  Mike is actually still there as he is getting the next level of cert…ADVANCED (oooo, and we know him!).  Mike is actually a complete natural at the diving thing.  It’s cool. 
J & I did a total of 5 dives this weekend…4 dives with our dive instructor (Mr. Reuben R.) and our other classmates (Rob & John) and 1 dive on our own as newly certified scuba divers!  If you need clarification, SCUBA stands for ‘Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus’ … I’m totally an expert now.

It wasn’t all roses getting to the spot now where I absolutley love it.  Oh no, my friend.  But, it’s true what they say ‘anything worth having is worth working for’ (except salvation…that’s through grace by faith…you know).  Here’s the truth about me & getting certified…

POOL DIVES 1st weekend 
DAY 1-
did ok, but had 2 controlled moments of panic, was confident that I was fine and our instructor wasn’t going to let anything bad happen, but still… 
DAY 2-did 6,000 times better because I made a few adjustments to my gear (got the right size BC vest…the small that I wore on day 1 was actually the 15 year old kid’s in our class…had it accidentally switched with mine which was a large…YEAH, not feeling like you’re in a vice…THAT makes a difference.  Also, de-siliconed my mask so I could actually see everything our instructor was doing underwater..which also really helps.  AND, I put my hair in a pony tail so it wasn’t flailing about in my face.)  The pool work was SO much more fun once those minor details were hammered out.  🙂

OCEAN DIVES 2nd weekend
Saturday-diving from the King Neptune; LOTS of other divers; fantastic dive master
Dive 1-started out a wee bit rough, I initially couldn’t properly descend, J had trouble equalizing, blah blah blah; our instructor, Reuben, a patient creature, got me down to the bottom and once we all finished, he went back out in the water with J.  I can’t even remember what our skill objectives were.
Dive 2-Tons better for me!  We did underwater skills (taking mask off, losing our regulators, etc) rescue tows, etc.  It was actually really fun and I felt like the ocean was becoming a place I was comfortable in.
Dive 3-Horrible.  I had a raging headache going into the dive, there was a super strong current, there wasn’t much to see and I felt like I was fighting an unseen force the whole time.  Everyone else has a pretty good time…note to self, ‘don’t dive with a serious headache’.
Sunday-dives were at Casino Point in the marine reserve..specifically for divers/snorkelers
Dive 4-I can’t totally remember, but it must have been fine (overall).  All I know is that at the end of that dive, I was certified!  There was no music or changing the tassle from one side to the other, but it was rewarding as Reuben sentimentally journeyed through our first day at the pool, afraid to breath through our regulators, to now being able to chill at the bottom of the ocean.  He’s sweet and sweet, but mostly sweet.
Dive 5-J & I did our first dive ALONE…without our instructor and without our class mates…just us and the open water!  It was SO much better than all the dives combined!!!  J & I had clear objective going into the dive (in addition to constantly checking our air and time, we worked on controlled descents, work on buoancy, and making our safety stop at 20ft for 3 minutes) and we had SO much fun!!!  It confirms that the big group thing is not my favorite: I like space and no rushing.  J was a fantastic dive buddy (!) and I think it was dive 5 that ignited a true desire to dive regularly!
While there’s a million more details…I close with Pros/Cons of SCUBA life…

CONS
1) Requires LOTS of gear, set up, tear down, hauling (upper body strength is a GREAT thing to have in this sport…I can barely type this recap, my biceps are so mad)
2) Requires contortionism skills to get in/out of the wet suits, the booties, the fins, etc
3) Requires mental stamina to avoid gear claustraphobia …had a few moments of feeling like a trapped rat (still can not stomach the neoprene hood…would rather have a freezing head that don that thing for more than 2 seconds).
4) It’s definitely NOT free

PROS
1) While everyone on land was blazing hot in record breaking heat, we were under the water in temps between 50-80 degrees (?)   🙂
2) Thoughts of the Creator are abundant as you see so much intricacy in every little thing; I am still amazed that people think it all appeared from an explosion of gases.  No, once underwater, understanding the existence of a Creator is impossible to avoid 🙂
3) Meeting lots of cool and interesting people through the sport (on land, on the boat, etc).
4) Being near and in water….ALWAYS a great thing!
5) Absolutley NO fear of any aquatic life.  Even in murky waters…no fear of sharks, no fear of anything.  It’s really hard to explain and really great to experience!
6) Underwater communication provides for endless wonder and hilarity (especially if you’re with J & I)
7) Not just saying ‘Someday I want to get certified’, but ACTUALLY doing it…there is a great sense of accomplishment…and a great sense of the beginning of a new chapter in life!
and finally….

… A great instructor and the lesson in the need to wholly trust him.  It’s amazing how you will instantaneously trust a complete stranger with your life because you know he knows more than you and will only do what’s best for your safety AND enjoyment.  It’s a great illustration of who God is to each of us…He knows more and wants our best for His glory…and will care for us accordingly…starting with saving our souls…if we stop trying to control our own lives, but rather give in and trust Him.

All in all …  A+++  (in honor of Reuben)!
Pics forth coming..I left my camera in J’s bag.  🙂
If you’re interested in joining us…we got certified through CALIFORNIA DIVING COMPANY (in Saugus), ask for Lorenzo, he’ll get you started! 

 Cert class (minus Sam)

REALLY? IS THIS WHAT MY $250/M IS GETTING ME?

Ok, so, as usual, my life has funny moments.  The background…
I have NEVER had sinus problems, I have never had ear troubles (except during my recent trip to DC when I coughed so hard I broke some blood vessels in my ears).   Last weekend, Jennene and Mike and I completed the first phase of getting scuba certified: book work and pool dives (full gear).  So, after Sunday’s pool work, my right ear didn’t clear until late that night.  On Tuesday I swam laps for an hour and afterwards my right ear felt wacky again…like I had just gotten out from the pool dive.  Hmmmmm, THAT’s a problem since we’re going to Catalina on Saturday to dive in the ocean for 2 days.  If you have problems with your ears, you can’t equalize whilst descending which means you should cancel the dive.  OBVIOUSLY, I don’t want that…so, I went to Urgent Care tonight to see what was going on.  2 things worth noting…

In the waiting room, I got into a conversation with a woman who desperately believed in socialized medicine…whatever…except that it was like her gospel and she was actively hoping to convert me.  Trust me, I am NOT the right candidate for her gospel.  To give insight…on the front end, she asked why I didn’t want a reformed health care system and I responded with ‘Cuz I think the government should be involved in as little as possible…’  It ended with her telling me why I was wrong and with me giving her the ‘Oh, ok’ and opening my book and starting to read a new chapter.

Then, when I finally saw the doctor, he concluded that I did NOT have an infection, but that I did have signs of  hemorraging in my ears…’normal for divers’ (it was funny how he kept referring to me as a diver throughout our time together).  We discussed LOTS about how my ears are sensitive, how sudafed will need to become my friend, and how I just need to really make sure I equalize etc.  When I asked him to write some of this stuff down for me, I kid you NOT, he pulled out a tongue depressor and wrote down the highlights of our conversation.  He wrote ‘ETD eustacian tube dysfunction’ on one side and ‘pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)’ on the other.  I said, ‘Are you writing this all down on a tongue depressor?’  He smiled and said, ‘Oh yeah, I always do.’  Huh.  My $250/m premiums and $45 co-pay get me ‘paperwork’ on a tongue depressor?  Maybe I should upgrade…to the plan that offers an actual diagnosis on copy paper.  But that benefit is probably like $350/m, though.

Is it just me? Or….?

 

2 THINGS…

1) It’s June 14th and I have yet to turn on the air conditioning for the summer…let’s hear it for the WHOLE HOUSE fan!!!

2) Scott Burns is glorious…please read his comment on my last post and enjoy his wondrously creative  mind!  (Hey Burns, I just relocated the 50# rock…it’s in my front porch/patio area…I think of you guys often!)
Additionally, it was on Scott Burn’s recommendation that I got the whole house fan installed last summer!  Full circle.

I KILLED HER

I killed a black widow yesterday. 
I had a suspicion that one lived on my patio (due to the show Verminators!).  As I was sweeping/raking/hosing the place down, I turned around and having been flushed from her hole, she sat out in the open on a blank wall…as if saying, ‘I’m ready for my fate.  Do what you must.’  So, I did. 
Goodbye, Black Widow…and here’s a preemptive goodbye to any others that lurk.