Wednesday, December 31, 2008

National Lampoons Family Christmas II

Well, today is my birthday, and I am finally in the mood to write about our vacation and cruise taken in December.

We decided that as our kids were graduating from college and from high school in 2008 we would take a little trip to celebrate. Then as summer was busy, and so was the fall, December looked like a promising month to accomplish this task.

We put together this cruise through Dateline International Travel in Milwaukie, Oregon, and they helped us book reservations for nine. Another family traveled with us, and that of course made things easier and harder all at the same time.

To begin with, our first day of travel was also a work day, so we took the red eye. This was great advice from Steve, our agent, as you can never be sure the airlines won't mess up your travel plans. Our first plane was canceled I believe because something unfortunate happened to someone on the inbound flight. I still don't know what it was, but they wouldn't use that plane. That caused missed connections in Atlanta, but given our time frame, we still made it to the boat on time. We taxied from Ft. Lauderdale, to the Miami pier, which cost us $160 dollars, and was still cheaper than landing in Miami.

We were cruising on the Jewel of Norwegian Cruise Lines. I don't think that we received the level of service that Norwegian would have advertised, but I will save that for a different article. We did arrive on the ship and it is a beautiful ship. It is also fast, which allowed us to see 5 different ports on our trip. We visited Samana, Dominican Republic, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, the home of Pussers Rum. From there we went to St Johns, Antigua; which is where I ended up waking up with some kind of bug. Little did I know the best thing I could have done was not ask any questions, I found out that several people came down with something at about the same time, so I let curiosity kill the cat, and asked how long I was supposed to be sick, and was then quarantined for 24 hours, even though by the time I was asking the question I was pretty much better. That meant that in addition to missing most of St. Johns, I also missed about half the day in Barbados. On the other hand, the thong bikini is alive and well in Barbados and we should celebrate that...

The final stop was St Lucia, which is a beautiful island, we rented a taxi for the day, which ended up costing us about $200, for 6 people, and saw a lot of the island, and had lunch at Ladera Restaurant, which looks over the Pitons, and was spectacular.

I think you have to be aware and very specific with the Taxi Drivers there, the driver we had was very good, although the driving is a little crazy, with switchbacks and what not the entire way. Our driver took us through a road which ended up being a toll road for the volcano, and really mislead us about that, The folks at the Toll wanted $5 per person, and we of course wouldn't have gone through that road had we known we were not going to be allowed to pass without paying more money. The driver wasn't particularly helpful, and we got through with 20 dollars, which again kind of tainted that part of the trip.

From St. Lucia we were at sea again for a couple of days, then into Miami, to the Airport, and flying to LAX. That was great, but meanwhile back at the ranch Portland was under 16 inches of snow, and we were not able to fly in until Christmas Day.

Enter Craig, Sue, Jake, Geena and Megan, we invaded their house, and shared there Christmas Eve party with them. Three nights of unplanned for guests... 9 of us. Wow. Good thing he is my cousin. In any case that was a fun part of our diversion, and we did make it home on Christmas day, although we did not celebrate Christmas until Saturday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

As I reflect on this past year many things come to mind. As I overlook the pain and sorrow of caring for the wounded and their families I realize that joy and peace overshadow grief. I have been richly blessed with many wonderful people who support and encourage me, who read my stories, actually like my musings and take time to write. You have helped me through a difficult year and I am grateful.

May we all have an amazing 2009, one filled with blessings, peace and happiness. My sincere wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday and a healthy, happy New Year. Be well!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Please Stop The Snow!!!!!!!

Ever hear that song "Stuck in Lodi again"? Well this isn't a CCR song, but I am stuck in LA until Christmas Day, beauty aye?

In any case this will not be the worst Christmas I have ever had, although some might think so. I will get to spend the Eve at least with my Cousin Craig and his family, and that is cause for celebration in itself.

Merry Christmas to all of you out there, and of course be safe and have a great New Year.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Quick Note

Just a short post to say The Onion people have taken down the offensive video. While they never really came out and apologized I guess the removal of the tape is all we're gonna get. Where has the common sense and decency gone?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pitchfork Brigade

Holy Hell People! If you are not as shocked, appalled and disgusted as I am after you finish reading this and watching this video there is something seriously wrong with you! Below is an email I received from another military bud, complete with links to a spoof that was done regarding our wounded warriors. I want you to know I lasted exactly 10 seconds before I was ready to rip someone's head off Every single person who has read anything I have written clearly knows how I feel about these wounded warriors. You also know from many of my posts exactly what these folks endure.

Clara, I am not sure if you have seen or heard of this issue that the milblog
world (we now call ourselves the Pitchfork Brigade) are having with The
Onion. I am putting up a post about this today too. Since you guys have
caring heart for our American men and women who are wounded, I thought
you may want to see this.

I apologize for being sooo IT challenged and can not figure out how to get the video on this blog. Actually I really don't want to lower myself as to even place that disgraceful crap on this site. SO, please wander over to my bud, Troy's blog and he has all the info. Then after you've watched the video please join us, the Pitchfork Brigade, in expressing our utter outrage at the travesty someone decided to make of our wounded. and then click on Afghan & Military Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Introduction

I received the following letter today, and thought I would post this for people to check out.

Dear Keith,

As I travel through the internet trying to reach those who serve I found your blogspot.
We have two songs that I'm trying to get heard by those who serve, their friends, and their families. The songs are "I Believe in America" and "I'm Alive", a song about one soldier's journey to Afghanistan.
I would greatly appreciate if you would go to our website and have a look and listen and if you like what you see and hear please give us a post to help spread the support.
I deeply thank you for your time and consideration.

So without further introduction, here it is: - Our homepage has our YouTube video of "I Believe in America" on it. - This page is dedicated to "I'm Alive" but can also be reached through our Music & Lyrics page.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday 9 Dec 2008

I found a couple of good links to other blogs and included them on the right side links for you. I hope that you find them interesting. Wounded Soldiers and the Oregon Military Dept blogs.

This year I keep coming back to one thing, over and over for various reasons. It is this: Do the right thing, if it is more difficult than the wrong thing, keep doing the right thing, and I have to believe that eventually it makes sense. Karma and all of that.

In any case, as I say to people I like, "Go forth and do good things well!" Enjoy your holidays to the fullest, and hug some one.



Saturday, December 06, 2008

Emotional YoYo

How many times have I said "I'm tired"? Well, I'm tired of being tired! So with that in mind I'm trying very hard to be optimistic and concentrate on the good things.

Case in point, one of my patients left for rehab today. During his recovery I discovered one day I was the first person he smiled at after he was shot in the head. Being moved to rehab was a great step forward for him. He's now closer to his family and will be able to spend Christmas with them instead of with us and that's a dang good thing! I loved it as he got better and was moved to a less acute unit and I enjoyed being able to go see him and watch his progress. Most of all I loved standing in the doorway to his room, hearing his family say "look who's here to see you" and then watching him slowly turn his head towards the door and absolutely GRIN when he saw it was me. On several occasions his wife was ready to take me out, I am quite sure but she never did, only laughed along at his reaction.

I am happy we've not received any new aerovacs. I'm glad to say the influx of wounded seems to have tapered off.

I'm trying to be optimistic but I'm still sad for all those we have lost this year especially with it being the holiday season. I come home from work to my brightly decorated house, festooned with lights on the outside, Christmas tree twinkling in the front window and my thoughts inevitably turn to the families and I wonder how they all are. And instead of being happy my heart hurts.

Ok, the puppy is demanding my attention so I will end this morose tale.

P.S. Hey Keith, I ready to talk now.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I think this is worth the time to listen to

American Businessman Rescued in Afghanistan

In Oregon we have the Oregonian, and the Oregonian uses the talents of writer Mike Francis to inform Oregonians about ongoing issues and events regarding conflicts that our fighting men are involved in, with special emphasis on Oregonians at War. I think his site is fantastic. Please check it out Oregon at War”. In his last article he highlights the story about the rescue of an American Businessman in Afghanistan, which I like and thought I would share with you as well, you will find it here written by Sean Naylor of the Army Times.

Regarding Clara’s latest post, Clara, I wish there was something to say or do that was adequate to the scope of your contribution. But I am left with a heartfelt Thank you for your continued service to our fighting men, who have come into harms way. They could not have a more compassionate caregiver and advocate.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Please Remember

We had two deaths in two days. Over the holiday weekend we lost two of our wounded. Two sets of families to comfort and console in two very long days. My heart is numb, I hadn't much to give. Please remember these men, women and their families especially now as the holidays draw near.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Can't bite my tongue today

Today I am typing this with my tongue numb, and part of it sent of to OHSU for analysis, to make sure I don't have some kind of tumor in my tongue. I believe that comes from biting my tongue too many times.

Seriously the pre-op interview took longer than the op procedure. Although I felt better as soon as I left the office the first time, and I still don't feel great right now, so we will see.

Everyone in my family with the exception of my niece who is 7 voted in the last election, and Oregonians decided to elect Jeff Merckley to Senate. I am frankly disappointed in the outcome. I listened to Mr. Merckley or observed his campaign for almost a year, and when he became overly emotional or less than rational in his campaign drumbeat on leaving Iraq he lost my vote. Mr. Smith wasn't trying to keep my vote either, but here is what I think about Mr. Smith: He was a moderate, and moderates don't make huge headlines. Moderation is good though, and I am really wondering who was better suited to work with the incoming president, a moderate Republican, or a vehement Democrat.

I also am very curious about the amount of money spent on the campaign, 40 Million dollars. Quite a sum really. There were 1.67 million votes cast in the senate race; that is about 24 dollars spent per voter. Mr. Merckley won the election by 51 thousand votes, which is certainly decisive, and Dave Brownlow took an additional 87 thousand votes from both front runners.

Given that information, and reading Dave Brownlow's position, one thing has become clear, something the now incumbent democrats should keep in mind. We as a people weren't thrilled with the job being done by our government. And frankly what Brownlow highlights is we aren't terribly thrilled with the normal choice of D vs. R. I think they might need to stop working so much on dividing our population and supporting legislation which highlights that division and focus on our common issues. Being an American means you already won one lottery. Voting means you deserve to continue to be here.

Okay, I have run out of thoughts, more later.