NFL Team Kidnapped!

There I was, ready to see the Epic Game this morning.  I’d been looking forward to it all week long.

My prior hometown team – the Buffalo Bills – hosting my now-hometown team – the Cardinals.  It was a total win-win!  I was pretty sure I’d be happy, regardless of the outcome, if I could just see my two favorite teams play each other.

And then it happened.  Slowly at first.  A misdirected pass, a pass too short, a pass too long.  Players dropping the ball.  Another pass, straight into the arms of a Bills player.

Yikes!  Who are these guys and what have you done with my team??  Surely, what I saw clearly was not the Arizona Cardinals!

The Bills, in the end, gave them a solid whomp and, frankly, they completely deserved to win the game. They played like the professional football players that they are.  Not sure I could say the same for the Cards.

The final straw was the high, missed snap, the scramble for the loose ball, and the head’s up pick-up by the Bills for the run into the end zone.  Gads.  It was in an epidemic phase now.

In the end, it was the Cards scattered to the wind …. yup, skimming right across Lake Erie, passing the “You Are Now Leaving Buffalo” sign.

I think I’ll treat myself to a relaxing evening tomorrow night and watch a similar scenario between The Donald and Hillary ……. in the First Debate.  See you then.

 

Imagine!

When — and what — we’ve eaten in the past, may not be when or what we eat in the future.  And along the way, we just might make a dent in solving World Hunger, too.  How?

Vertical farming.

It’s being successfully done in the Chicago area, where the original concept was to make use of abandoned warehouses (preferably ones with multi-stories), and refit them with LED lighting, regulated oxygen/humidity levels, and water sprinklers (among other things), in an effort to simulate a growing season.  Think of the positive contributors to this idea.  No pests and, therefore, no pesticides needed (pure, organic food).  An even light exposure, utilizing the perfect light ratio for plant growth.  (No waiting for a sunny day here!)  Even moisture and humidity would enhance an already-good growing environment.  (Droughts would no longer plague our food sources.)  No expensive machinery like tractors would be needed to manage the crops.  And, finally, the ability to harvest a continuous crop with a predictable volume.

And now, added to this great idea, is another.

Shipping containers that are used to export goods usually return to their home ports with empty cargo containers.  Vertical farming is one way the ships can guaranty additional income to their companies.

Imagine a country able to ship cargo to distant ports for sale in exchange for the return of much-needed food?  Something as simple as this could help resolve the food-shortage issues that Venezuela is currently experiencing.  And, they aren’t the only country to face this growing issue.  As the world population grows, the demand for food will grow exponentially.

Imagine being able to actually predict what foods will be needed — and where — to all the regions on our planet.

Imagine ending World Hunger.

Imagine healthy children able to grow and contribute without the fear and horror of famine.

Yes, imagine.

 

The World Today – September 11

They say if you want to know what the world’s thinking, check Social Media. Taking the world’s pulse today gives us a wide spattering of what people are thinking about.

For some, it’s the first professional football game of the season! So many die-hard fans ready to watch and cheer on their favorite teams.  Football fever has struck again!

Others are out and about and enjoying the weather, good food, children and grandchildren, and each other.

And there are those that posted, reposted, tweeted and shared some of today’s headlines. The ones that reminded us of exactly where we were 15 years ago when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Sadly, we remember the sheer shock of it all — the horror — and the random, senseless loss of life. We had let our guard down and they struck at the soft underbelly of America. We had forgotten about all those radicalized people who hate who we are and what we represent. The thugs are still out there today, they just follow another leader filled with anger and hate. And they’ll be there tomorrow, too.  They will just be called something other than ISIL.

And we can look at the bigger, world picture and see unrest in the China Sea, which I have written about before.  Why, you might ask, does it matter?  Does the figure of $5 trillion (yes, that was with a “t!”) worth of goods being transported through the South China Seas’ shipping lanes every year mean anything to you?  That’s a full one-third of all maritime traffic in the world.  We should care — after all, we all depend on each other for our economies.

So much to digest — what’s going on in front of you, what’s going on in the country, and what’s going on in the world.  What, if anything, can we do about it anyway?

I think you can begin by being mindful. Mindful means living in the present.

While we can honor our past, as we have done today in our remembrances of 9/11, we cannot dwell there.

And we can have concerns about the future, like the effect of actions in the South China Sea.  But it is what we choose to do today, this hour, this minute, that will shape our destiny.

We can begin with a nod to the past, a face of hope towards the future, and a sense of fulfillment today for having lived — and been grateful for — all that we have in the present — right now, right here, right in front of us.

Shalom — peace.

 

One Week-Four U.S. Ships Endangered-What Is Iran Trying To Tell Us?

Earlier this week, the USS Nitze, while in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, experienced four Iranian vessels on a high-speed intercept approach, crossing each other’s paths as they grew closer.  Nitze had all eyes on these ships and it was officially observed and reported that the Iranian vessels’ weapons were “uncovered, manned.”  The Nitze, abiding by maritime rules, fired flares and blasted the ship’s horn five times in succession, in an effort to communicate that a collision was imminent. The Iranian ships finally turned away after the flares were fired.

The next day, an Iranian ship came within 200 yards of the USS Tempest and the USS Squall, while the Tempest attempted to hail the vessel with twelve bridge-to-bridge calls; it finally fired its warning flares.  At the same time, the USS Squall fired its .50-caliber gun into the sea, all before the Iranian vessel finally turned away.

That same vessel later crossed in front of the USS Stout three times at high speed, before the guided missile destroyer employed maneuvers to avoid a collision.

So, what is it that Iran is trying to say?

That they are a force in the Middle East?

That they are not afraid to kick sand?

That they are not afraid to provoke us?

They have repeatedly stated that they could close the Strait of Hormuz, which at its narrowest is 30 miles wide, at any time, choking of the flow of one-fifth of the world’s oil from that region.  Could they pull that off?  Extremely doubtful.

Iran has always had an inflated perception of their seat at the international table (hence, their unending quest for nuclear capabilities).  These actions this past week in the Strait of Hormuz was simply a “hey-look-at-me” … they knew no U.S. Naval ship would engage without their Commander-in-Chief’s green light … so, it was just an opportunity to show the world that their seat, while occupied, is not a “forgotten seat” at the international table.

Recovering Our Lost

I recently became aware of an awesome group of volunteers whose objective is to recover the remains of 78,000 U.S. servicemen and women who were reported lost or missing in the South Pacific Theater during the Second World War.

Historyflight.com was founded by Mark Noah, a pilot with 10,000 hours of flight time, rated to fly T-6s, B-727s, B-757s and B-767s , who has donated over $500,000 of his own money to further his quest to find these veterans.

His one of his most recent missions, he and his team of volunteers spent six weeks on the Tarawa Atoll (Pacific Ocean) where a residents accidentally unearthed 20 American skeletons.  They were also able to locate five large burial sites and three individual sites that contained over 200 Marines – “the largest single MIA find in the history of the American Armed Forces.”

Imagine the closure this would bring to the surviving families who could now finally know what happened to their loved ones.

His team of volunteers (and I emphasize that word “volunteers!”) include:

  • Forensic Anthropologist
  • Forensic Odontologists
  • Geophysicists
  • Forensic Archaeologists
  • Land Surveyors
  • Former FBI Special Agent and K9 Handler
  • Flight Instructors
  • Medics
  • Field Technicians
  • Emergency Medical Expert
  • Former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Tech

That’s an amazing list — and all committed to locating our veterans’ remains.

Overall, there were 84,000 missing service members from America’s wars.  It is Noah’s commitment to find as many as he can.

History Flight is a non-profit organization where 96% of its donations go directly to these recovery efforts – if you are interested in learning more, check out historyflight.com for more information.

Together, we can accomplish so much more!

 

DNC Reflections

I realize at times that I am a bit of a “flag-waver,” but, if you heard President Obama last evening in his speech to America at the DNC, you would understand what is beneath that deep pride I feel in being an American — living in the greatest country on Earth!

And if you ever wondered what motivates our President — he showed you last night.  I felt his deep love and deep compassion for the people of America.

This is a man who has been there with us — every step of the way — making all the hard decisions — for the benefit of all of us.  Who among us would step up to do that?

I am one of those people who get up every day and go to work, hoping that what I can contribute will be enough to make some small difference in someone’s life.  I am proud to have the freedom to achieve that every single day.

When I hear Donald Trump, I am instantly appalled.  His choice of words, his actions and his alliances raise every alarm bell within me.  President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are right.  This isn’t who we are.  This isn’t the face we want our allies to see.  The all-out childish behavior — the sheer selfishness and “what’s in it for me” attitude — it only contributes to the negative “Ugly American” image.

We are better than that. And we are smarter than that.

For the sake of America, start thinking about our future.  Think about your children and their children.  Don’t they deserve a chance to live the same lives we have? Or live in a better world?  What legacy will you be proud to have left them?

People, this is your chance. Get out there and vote this November.  Make your voices heard. Make a difference in our future.

Everything you do will determine how we live the next four years — with honor and grace in a global world — or living in a deeply dark, divisive and destructive world.

The choice is yours ….

Get Ready to Welcome the USS Detroit!

Something new is on the horizon!

The USS Detroit has just completed its acceptance trials — a necessary step before it can be presented to the US Navy.  So far, it has proved itself on launch and recovery missions and surface and self-defense exercises.

Photo: Michael Rote/Lockheed Martin Corp.
Photo: Michael Rote/Lockheed Martin Corp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This ship is the fourth steel littoral combat ship and seventh in its class (LCS 7)  — able to operate in as little as 14 feet of water — and is only 389 feet long.  Size doesn’t mean a thing here!  It can travel at 40-plus knots and is capable of being configured for submarine warfare, surface or anti-surface warfare and mine countermeasures.

Joe North, Vice President of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed Martin was quoted in The Detroit News as saying, “When commissioned, LCS 7 will provide presence where and when needed, with a level of force that will deter and defeat threats.”

It is capable of carrying two MH-60R Romeo helicopters — or one manned helicopter and three unmanned helicopters.

Photo: Michael Rote, Lockheed Martin Corp.
Photo: Michael Rote/Lockheed Martin Corp.

 

After commissioning, the USS Detroit (LCS 7) will sail to its new home port in San Diego, where it meet with its sister ships USS Freedom, USS Fort Worth and USS Milwaukee.

On board the USS Kitty Hawk on June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy once said:

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.’”

To those who will proudly serve her:

May the wind always be at your back and the sun always upon your face.

Sail on!

 

[Reference credits to: Breana Noble, The Detroit News, Beth Dalbey, patch.com; Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press]

Random Acts

Random acts of violence … something no one can prepare for.  No one can anticipate.

What can we do?

We can ask that our law enforcement men and women receive better training on how to apprehend an armed individual.  Surveys say there are over 300 million guns in America — one third of adults say they own one.  Our law enforcement needs to be better prepared and have better protection.

We can make our voices heard — with peaceful protests — and not provide a fertile playground to those whose motivations are provocative and self-serving.

We can stop reacting.

We can start thinking about how to solve our issues — without violence.

We can put more pressure on our Congressmen and women — and our Senators — to put away their childish, political agendas and concentrate on doing the job they were elected to do … and that would be to lead.  After all, weren’t you the ones with the unending rhetoric during your campaigns that assured us that you could make a difference?  That you could change Washington’s politics?  Well, why aren’t you doing it?

Living in a democracy is, at best, challenging and difficult.  Everyone has a voice.  Everyone deserves to be heard. Everyone has an opinion.

But no one deserves to be the recipient of mindless violence.

Pray for understanding.

Pray for peace.

 

 

May Our Flag Forever Wave

May It Forever Wave
May It Forever Wave

Who doesn’t look at our national flag and feel a swell of pride in their hearts?

Who doesn’t feel that lump in one’s throat, humbled by all of those who went before us and all they did to ensure our freedom — to ensure that our flag would forever wave?

As we celebrate today, I was reminded of the pride — and joy — that John Adams felt when he wrote on July 3, 1776: “The Second Day of July 1776 [the day Continental Congress voted in Philadelphia to declare independence from Britain] … ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

James Madison had an even broader vision that he expressed years later, on January 19, 1788, when he stated: “Every man who loves peace, every man who loves  his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”

So, perhaps today is a mix of these two visions: one of joy and appreciation and one that acknowledges the gravity of our obligations and responsibilities as we move forward.

We are also reminded that the authors of the Declaration of Independence, when declaring our independence from Britain, defiantly wrote:  … “That as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, [we] have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do.  And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

To all of our fellow countrymen — and allies from abroad — that have believed in our forefathers’ visions and commitments, we honor you — and thank you — for your allegiance and your courage.

May God always bless the United States of America.

 

Hot Temperatures — Cool Wine!

Living in the desert in the winter with temperatures that can range from night time lows of 32 degrees to day time highs of 65 degrees, quickly makes you the envy of all of your “Back East” relatives, friends and co-workers.  And rightfully so!  While they’re shoveling snow — we’re shoveling sunshine!

But it’s that other time of the year where no one envies you and one that nobody really talks about — the sweltering heat waves of the summer!

I remember my first summer in the desert – June 1981.  The local news meteorologist reported the weather every night at 10, usually pointing out that the current temperatures would be coming in at about 104 degrees.  Seriously?  The sun’s been down for hours — how could it still be that hot?  Disbelieving, I would open my front door only to feel like I just opened my oven and my eyelashes were being singed!  (I never doubted a meteorologist again.)

The past ten days in Arizona has pushed even the hardiest of us!  Check  this out:

Phoenix Temps June 2016
Phoenix Temps June 2016

Yes, you are reading last Sunday’s temperature high right — 118 degrees — officially.  Unofficially, it was registering 123.7 degrees on my patio and several moments later, it raised to 124 degrees!  OK, that’s totally frying, right?

So, in looking for a way to beat the heat, I decided that a trip to the wine store was in order (this time to Total Wine) and I found a lovely bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio that kept me cool and happy!

Bella Sera Pinot Grigio
Bella Sera Pinot Grigio

For all my fellow Grigio lovers — try it!  It was one of those wines that after the first sip, you say to yourself, “Wait!  What is this again?”  Yes, it was that good!

So, while we’re out here still shoveling sunshine, know that I, for one, am staying cool with “Bella Sera” … making it one “beautiful evening,” indeed!