Years ago, when I was still kicking in doors for a living, serving search and arrest warrants and chasing dopers of various sizes, shapes, and ethnic origins, I began keeping a book of personal debriefs. I did this because I cared deeply about — and still train scrupulously in my civilian incarnation — small unit tactics. When I was in the big leagues – the regional Narcotics Task Force — I was generally number one through the door on warrant services, which is both an art and a skill, and in every case extremely dangerous because one never knows what awaits on the opposite side, and also because narcotics enforcement is not synonymous with good tactics.
The cynicism of the National Football League is apparently boundless. After taking a break from mostly not watching the game – we were visiting with friends and there was some great food on the table and even better conversation in the next room – I was intrigued by the prospect of both Shakira AND Jennifer Lopez appearing in stages of near nudity on the halftime show. Most everyone knows that the halftime show is designed to pander to our basest instincts – wardrobe malfunctions and penis guitars – so what red-blooded American with a mouthful of chili would miss a chance to see that?
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves Britons never, never, never shall be slaves! Daughter Ceili is in London for the next five months, for a study-abroad term through the University of Oregon. This is the fulfillment of a dream she’s had since she was a very young girl, enthralled by the image of Harry Potter and his friends […]
A few summers ago, while lounging around the Munich Airport waiting for a flight to Reykjavik, I bought a book: “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World,” by Peter Frankopan. Frankopan is a senior fellow at Oxford University, and has written a convincing reassessment of world history. It is also a poignant and extraordinarily well-considered forecast of our possible future as a broader, Western culture.
My wife and I were down in Bend, Oregon, the other day, to visit with some friends and to spend the afternoon watching the Oregon Ducks smash helmets with the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl. I had no dog in the fight – my alma maters are both mired in long-term football mediocrity — so instead of pulling for one side or the other I played the role of annoying snarky guy while munching on some terrific jalapeno poppers and perfectly smoked – and I really do mean perfectly — short ribs. It was a great afternoon full of delightfully low-brow conversation.
On the same afternoon that I zipped my grandfather into a body bag – he was fortunate to die at home, in his own bed, and the last words he heard on this earth were my grandmother saying she loved him — I inherited one of his old rifles. It was a single shot .22 with a scope from the old regime – decent glass in its day – that he used to teach my father and uncles to shoot in their sprawling back yard in North Hollywood. Under the house he built a pistol range.
“History is human nature writ large, and the better you understand the past, the better you’ll understand people in general, including those of our own day.” — James Carlos Blake * There is a pernicious movement afoot to push aside liberal arts education in favor of more “practical” education. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what is […]
As I was reading and writing last night–sketching various attempts at an end of the decade post, I came across a wonderful passage from “The Powder River Expedition Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge.” This was a book I bought myself for Christmas because I maintain an abiding interest in that period of our history and also because I have a long-running fascination with immediate accounts written by the people who were on the ground when events unfolded. That’s true from Caesar to Tacitus, from Samuel Pepys to the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and beyond. I buy them and read them whenever I can.
May you feast on fat cow and may Father Christmas load your packs with gunpowder, ham hocks and guitar strings!
I’m growing older but not up My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck Let those winds of time blow over my head I’d rather die while I’m livin’ than live while I’m dead — Jimmy Buffett The winds of change have been blowing pretty hard around here of late. Some men of my community who were […]
At 0700 it is dead calm and coal-mine dark here on the Figure 8 Ranch. I’ve got a cup of tea on my desk and just came in from feeding the horses. My face is still cold. From the window where I work I can see the merest outline of the ponderosas, and a soft yellow light spilling out of the barn where I leave the stall lights on for the horses. The light glows yellow on the ice in the paddocks. I can’t prove it, but I think that light works for the horses the same way a night-light works to settle the nerves of children afraid of the dark.
You got to get behind the mule In the morning and plow… — Tom Waits A friend told me the other day that her daughter was complaining that none of her teachers or classes in school inspired her. My friend and I were both a little bemused; we couldn’t recall that we ever thought we were supposed […]