Bravery

Bravery —  at its finest!

In today’s world, where you are sometimes left shaking your head as you observe people’s indifferences towards each other — it is the dramatic story of two U.S. servicemen, traveling with an American student, that fills your heart with hope, inspiration, admiration and gratitude.

As we speak, there are an undisclosed amount of people that were on board the express Thalys train yesterday as it sped through the Belgium countryside between Amsterdam and Paris that owe these men their lives.

Also aboard that train was an alleged 26-year-old Moroccan with Islamic ties, armed with a Kalishnikev assault rifle, nine magazines, a Luger semi-automatic pistol, and a box cutter who, according to his own admission, had the intent to rob the passengers.  Quite the arsenal for a train robbery.

It began when an unnamed French national walked toward the men’s toilet and came face-to-face with the Moroccan who had the assault rifle slung over his shoulder.  The Frenchman reacted quickly, trying to take the gunman down and, in the struggle, a shot was fired.

The two U.S. servicemen — young Spencer Stone, a member of the U.S. Air Force — and Alex Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — quickly ducked down upon hearing the shot.  Then, adrenalin and military training immediately kicked in.  Alex, just returning from Afghanistan, looked towards his friend Spencer and simply said, “Let’s go.”  Spencer jumped to his feet first, and ran 30 feet directly towards the still-armed gunman, before tackling him.  In the struggle that followed, the gunman used the box cutter to cut Spencer’s neck and thumb severely while trying to thwart the attack.

Alex, several seconds behind Spencer, joined the fray and pulled a Luger from the gunman’s hand, throwing it aside.  The assault rifle now was on the floor at the feet of the gunman.  Alex lunged for it, retrieved it, and began to “muzzle-thump” the gunman about the head while Spencer’s strong arm squeezed the gunman’s neck until he lost consciousness.  With the help of other passengers and their American student friend, they tied the gunman’s hands and feet to further restrain him.

The shot that was fired had hit another passenger and, with the gunman now subdued, Spencer went to aid the passenger — in spite of the fact that he was bleeding badly from his own wounds.  Some say he saved that passenger’s life.

In an odd twist, Alex found that the gunman had either failed to load the Luger, or lost its magazine.  As to the assault rifle, only one shot was fired because the primer on the second round was defective, which caused it to misfire.  An extraordinary stroke of luck.

The train pulled into the City of Arras where the young men were awarded an honor by that city.

Since that time, President Obama and the U.S. European Command Commander, General Philip M. Breedlove, have sung high praises for these brave young men, as well they should.

Interestingly, the motto of the U.S. Air Force is “Aim high … Fly/Fight/Win.”

And the motto of the Oregon National Guard is “When we are needed, we are there.”

Mission accomplished, gentlemen …..

 

Dog Days of Summer

As we wake to another day of being subject to an Excessive Heat Warning in the Desert Southwest, the phrase “Dogs Days of Summer” came to mind.  I had the image of a dog laying down, too hot to do anything but rest and pant, on the porch of a Southern Plantation.  Curious, I started poking around.

Actually, the images associated with that phrase couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Instead, it really has everything to do with astronomy.

The star Sirius is known as the “Dog Star,” prominent in the constellation of Canis Major (Greater Dog).  It is a binary, main-sequence star with a white dwarf companion, making it one of the most common stars in the universe, as they orbit around a center mass (4/5 of every star you see in the night sky is a binary!).

It is a star visible everywhere in the world.

In ancient Egypt, it marked the flooding of the Nile.  A bright sighting often meant hot temperatures which would scorch the crops; a “blurry” rising (inhibited by the atmosphere) was associated with a milder climate and a more bountiful harvest.  For the Polynesians, it was an important star in their navigation in the Pacific Ocean, as it rises with the sun.

Greek astronomers described Sirius has having a reddish hue.  This hue was often associated with a “glowing” or “scorching” effects which is where the modern-day association with heat comes from.  To most of us with an untrained eye, it appears to be flashing red, white and blue hues at horizon levels.  It is estimated as being 230 million years old and its brightness will be visible to us for the next 210,000 years.  Pretty humbling figures.

And so, as the Desert bakes away at record temperatures like 117 degrees a few days ago on August 14th (and 122 degrees in June 26, 1990 – the hottest ever recorded), I will turn my eyes to the sky and see Sirius making its bright, flaming appearance in the sky in the constellation of Canis Major, marking the Dog Days of Summer.

Join me.

(Wikipedia.com; space.com)

Just Another Day At The Office

With the election cycle slowly cranking up again, it takes my thoughts and concerns to the American economy.

The world needs a little economic stability in the coming years as other countries who have been oppressed ache to be free of the economic shackles of the Old Guard who, unjustly and for a very long time, lived off the backs of many of their countrymen.  The world needs to welcome them to a better place.

China is struggling as an economy and, as a result, so is their stock market.  Greece has been all over the European map begging for assistance.  The Saudis are borrowing money (who would have thought?) because of the low oil prices.  Turkey is struggling to stand up in an extremely volatile area.  And then there are the emerging markets like those in Asia, Latin America and even some in Africa.  Last year, investors pumped $50 billion (with a “B”) in mutual funds that are investing in developing countries.  We should welcome them, too!

The tides of the world economy are changing and for that reason, America needs to tread lightly and, at the same time, stay strong.  Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  He was actually quoting a West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”  Good advice then — good advice now.

Why does it matter?  It matters because there are millions of folks that have worked and contributed greatly to the American economy for decades.

We believe in America and we are vested in America.

I, for one, have devoted most of my life to working hard and I guess I would just like to be assured that with the right leader, the view from the office which vibrates with such prosperity will stay the same.

The Corner Office
The Corner Office

 

 

 

 

Business at its Best
Business at its Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

… We have much to think about in the coming days …

Advice

While I was driving to work the other day and listening to the radio, I heard the radio host mention she had recently read an article in a magazine centered around one question:

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

Intriguing question.

I had to do a little reflecting on just what my mental state was at 16 and quickly concluded that unless it had to do with boys, or my sorority sisters, it pretty much didn’t make it to my radar screen.  Deep, I know.

But, after a little more thought, here’s my short list:

  •   Appreciate the complexities of life — it’s what keeps it interesting
  •   Relax
  •   Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in — others may be counting on you to speak up for them
  •   Say “I love you” often
  •   Smell the roses along the way
  •   Never miss an opportunity to say something kind (or offer to help) someone in need, but step lightly — their independence may be involved
  •   Worrying never solves anything — it just makes you tense
  •   Appreciate what you have
  •   Don’t complain about what you don’t
  •   Trust your heart
  •   Be courteous to and respectful of others — you know not what burdens they may carry
  •   Finally — smile!  It’s a universal symbol — and quite contagious!

So, now the question now begs itself to you:

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self??