Archive for Personal/Family – Page 2

Zipless Death, PTSD, and Suicide…

The guided missile attacks that are an important part of Putin’s assault on Ukraine remind me of my own sharply contrasting experience as a fighter pilot in the 1960s. Combined with a recent story of a University of Washington graduate turned drone pilot, it’s brought the horror of today’s remote killing machines home in a heart-wrenching manner.

For seven years I flew state-of-the-art Marine Corps fighters in air-to-air combat, but it was peacetime and my aerial combat took place over California’s Salton Sea. It was the Marine Corps vs. the Air Force. We flew out of MCAS El Toro and the Air Force from bases in the So Cal desert. Engagement was unplanned but both sides entered the restricted area over the Salton Sea looking for targets of opportunity. Our F8s would jump their F-100s or vice versa, and the fight was on. Then, having burned thousands of gallons of JP4, we would return to base and regale comrades at Happy Hour with “war stories” of how we kicked Air “Farce” ass. read more

You Can’t Beat Haydn…

Once upon a time, in what seems like a galaxy faraway, I was living the perfect life. Perfect wife. Three perfect children. East Coast boarding schools. A mountain house near Sun Valley. A large manicured lawn. My own tennis court. A large clear-redwood deck. Flying for Pan Am. Commuting to Europe. A month on.  A month off. Berlin-based. In and out of European capitals. A classic high-ceilinged Alt-Bau apartment on the edge of the Grunewald. Training for marathons.

And then one day the perfect life ended… I came down with a neuromuscular disease. Symptoms included double vision, drooping eyelids, legs too weak to climb into a van, and jaw muscles too weak to bite into an apple. Then my sick pay ran out, income went to half, Pan Am went bankrupt, income went to zero, and I lost most of my pension. read more

Thoughts on Holy Week…

At one time I considered myself a seeker. In college I had a split major in English and Philosophy, and during that period I dipped my toe in the waters of youth group born-again evangelism. It didn’t last long. I found the waters contaminated, but it was a stage in my spiritual life.

Buddhism also piqued my curiosity as a young man, but I found sitting “lotus” was so uncomfortable my efforts to reach a higher state of being was doomed. I continue to admire its principles but I dropped the practice. read more

Reunion Follies…

I hope it doesn’t sound arrogant, but I’m not a fan of reunions. I’ve always thought they were too focused on the past – and often more sad than joyful. Lately that feeling’s been reinforced as a consequence of Stephen Sondheim’s death. Sondheim’s musical theater work is not traditional in the Rodgers and Hammerstein sense. No tunes to whistle. No catchy one liners. No surrey with the fringe on top. I had a philosophy professor who told me Kierkegaard was hard work but worth the effort. I feel the same about Sondheim. read more

Celebrating Journalists…

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the mob assault on the US Capitol. That its nature and provenance remain subjects of debate is a symptom of the deep division in the American electorate. That President Trump empowered the mob by refusing to accept the results of the election and perpetrating the lie that the election was stolen speaks to his character and the loyalty and gullibility of his followers.
 
The antidote to this Big Lie is education, accountability, and rigorous investigative reporting. Thanks to a fearless, on the spot, dedicated group of journalists and photographers we were able to see the events unfold. Americans saw live coverage of that violent assault. We watched as the mob knocked down barriers, rushed up the steps, broke windows and doors, stormed into the House and Senate chambers, ransacked offices, erected a gallows, threatened to kill Vice-President Pence, and injured more than 140 law enforcement personnel. Nevertheless, there are those who, to this day, are trying to convince us that what we saw was not what we saw.
 
Despite a lack of cooperation from Republicans, a bipartisan Congressional investigation is underway into its origins. Trump partisans continue their widespread effort to keep those responsible from being held accountable. If not for the words and pictures of the Fourth Estate, we might never have known the magnitude, carnage, and sequence of that violent attack.
 
But this story is more about journalism than the events described above, although those events exemplify the importance of journalism and the courage and integrity of its practitioners. Every day, reporters and photographers roam the world and report back to us on everything from climate change and genocide to financial corruption and drug cartels. The world is a dangerous place, and journalists put themselves at risk to tell us about it. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), 45 journalists were killed while doing their jobs in 2021 – 50% more than in the previous year. read more