Too Stupid To Quit

My friend Frank and I have been doing races of some kind for about 20 years. We’ve done a full marathon in 90 degree muggy weather, we’ve done 1/2 marathons in the rain, we’ve snow-shoed across frozen golf courses at temperatures that need no second digit, and we’ve walked across the metro in pursuit of donuts and scenery.

Now, as we close in on our 6th decade as full-fledged morons, we’ve decided to branch out. Because none of the above really was tough enough for us, we’re going to do a 1/2 marathon wearing 35 pound backpacks.

Why? I think I’m responsible for this fiasco. I saw a news article about some 90 year old vet doing a full marathon this last winter, and goaded Frank about having no excuse or something stupid like that. Further, I have often complained over the years that while a lot of skinny little runners can kick our butts on the course, not many of them could put a full pack on and do the distance.

I guess it’s time to put up or shut up. Saturday morning at 0800 we will be assembled for the Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon. Okay, so it’s the Brainerd Bataan Memorial March, but who’s quibbling. Many times in my life I was told to quit whining during some physical training evolution. Often, the instructor would say, “This isn’t the death march.”

That means something to me. I am in awe of the fact that those guys made it marching across the Philippines after the fall of Manila. So off we go to see if we really can do what I’ve been claiming all these years.

Before you scoff, go put a 35 pound weight on your back and walk just one mile. Then you will get the idea. I’ve done 6 miles with a 43 pound pack a time or two, and a bunch of 3 milers with a 60 pound pack, and it’s really hard. I’m hoping that the 35 pound weight is relatively light over a slightly worse distance. By 1600 on Saturday I should have my answer. Below are the before and after pictures.

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We made it. Under our target time with smiles on our faces.

Before the race

Everyone knew the words to the National Anthem. No knees except during the invocation.

The herd leaves the start

Now, a few words about the race. It was about 70 degrees, sunny, a nice breeze. Neither Frank, nor I, found the weight to be particularly oppressive. We both drank a lot of water. One small blister between us. And, best of all, we out-walked quite a few soldiers young enough to be our children, or even grand-children. Not bad for a couple of old coots who were in the Navy. And some more pictures.

The route was lined by American flags held by relatives of the men who died on the Bataan Death March. Very moving, and they were great cheerleaders as we passed by them.

After a few miles, unit cohesion fell apart and there were a lot of guys walking on their own. The course was beautiful.

We made it. We were far from last, and we made it under our goal time.

The reward was a mess-hall spaghetti dinner. It was delicious.

Kids. They just can’t hang with the old dogs.

We’re imbeciles, but we’re happy imbeciles.

And, now, a new thing for the blog – video. Let’s see if it works.

A few words about the local populace are in order at this point. This is the America where I want to live. Flag-waving, patriotic, kind to strangers, and heavily armed. Hunter’s plaid with patriot blood. Everyone was exceptionally encouraging and nice. The good folks at Rutgers were most hospitable, and I will stay there again.

Remember Bataan.

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17 Years And The War Will Never End

Today’s blog will be short. On September 11, 2001 we were subjected to an attack from jihadist forces who would have used a nuke if they’d had it.

Today the war continues. It started in Mecca during the year 610 A.D. with a pedophile prophet named Mohammed. It spread, like a cancer, across Arabia, Asia, and Africa, eventually trying to overthrow the European world as well. It was driven back by unrelenting effort, massive amounts of bloodshed and the Crusades. It continued through the 20th century, and ignited into a shooting war that nobody could ignore in 2001.

Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of conquest and submission. Convert or die. Nothing less.

The fact is, the civilized world has been at war with Islam for centuries. This is nothing new. However, if we relent, blink, or give them an inch with today’s technology, they will destroy the civilization we have. They will vanish in the counter strike, but that’s part of their goal: to bring on the end times where Islam triumphs according to their prophets.

I honor those men and women who have given their lives, and health, in this current fight. My book, Assault on Saint Agnes is a story about the continuing fight.

We must continue the fight. It is not easy to pick up the gun and march to the front for most. But if we fail to do so, we will all perish.

It is that simple.

Never forget.

Always fight.

Never give up.
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I Wear Women’s Makeup.

Before you ask, I do not press wild flowers. The only suspenders I own are on my suits. Bra? Nope. Why, I’ve never even wanted to be a lumberjack.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

However, I do have some temporary facial scarring from my recent browplasty. Mind you, it’s healing even better than I’d hoped, but I recently had an audition for a television commercial. Yes, they shoot Christmas commercials in July and August. This left me with two very visible scar lines above and to the side of my eyes. In three more months they’ll be invisible, and I won’t need anything to hide them except my bushy eyebrows.

But now, on 4K television, it’s not good if Santa has eyes with scars around them. Which leads me to the very strange experience of having to ask women I know about makeup. (Yes, I know the joke: I was just asking what kind of shampoo women were using. I don’t think they needed to start screaming and calling for the police. It was really loud in that shower room… bah-dum-bump!)

My beloved spousal unit doesn’t use makeup. She’s naturally beautiful and hasn’t indulged in the stuff except on very rare occasions. Like as in maybe 10 times in 34 years. So she wasn’t the perfect victim for the interrogation. A beloved coworker, however, was ideal as she does use makeup and looks good with the stuff.

After examination, she recommended a liquid foundation. For those of you in the audience that never use makeup, I can tell you that it struck fear in my heart. For, based on my limited experience with theatrical makeup, that meant something that would cover the scar completely. What’s wrong with that? It meant that I had to match it to the surrounding skin so it blended in neatly – invisibly.

Thus I found myself in Walgreens at eight at night, sitting on a little chair in the makeup department while my wife and I examined the multitude of products and tones that are available. Minnesotans of a certain sort (me) delude themselves and think that they “have color” by the middle of July. I must tell you that after a couple of attempts to match it with what my brain said was my skin color, I was reduced to the lightest shade they had on the shelf.

That’s me: Vanilla #06. Once I rubbed the drops in, you couldn’t see where it started and I begin. As I said, this is temporary. By October the eyebrow hairs will have grown back, and through, the scarred area. But at this moment it takes a couple of drops per eyebrow to cover the scars.

While we were sitting there, playing with makeup, one of the clerks came over. I thought that was great! She had makeup on, perhaps she had a suggestion.

“Hot date, eh?”

Not much wounds a manly-man such as me more than having a pretty twenty-something suggesting that my using makeup was for, uh, romantic reasons. (Please don’t bother to call me any kind of “phobe” or tell me how good makeup makes men look. If Audie Murphy didn’t wear it around the house, I’m not wearing it either.) I’ll admit, the blue eye-liner with pearl highlights that was on the counter would have really topped things out, but it wasn’t mine. As I tried to explain she walked away with a grin. Darned kids these days.

After wiping off as much of it as I could with a paper tissue, my wife and I retired to the local Dairy Queen. Sometimes a guy just needs a dip-cone.

This is me, post application of the beard whitener/eyebrow whitener, and a generous application of #06 Vanilla. I think it turned out pretty well.

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Sometimes No Means They Love You

This blog has all sorts of friends. Some are readers, some are real world friends, and some are virtual friends I’ve made over the years.

Some of these friends have demons. The kind of demons that hurt. Loneliness, disease, divorce, addiction, anger, poverty. If you’re out there, you’re either suffering from one of them or you have friends and relatives that are in the midst of them.

A dear friend recently had to put some distance into a toxic relationship. I know from talking to them about it that it hurt them to be forced into that corner.

But it made me acutely aware of something we dismiss: sometimes no means “I love you.”

No means you can’t ignore your health problems and continue to live with any quality.
No means that you’re broken spiritually and need to change your ways to survive.
No means I’m not going to enable you to hurt yourself, and me.
No means that all of your circle are concerned, and you’ve rebuffed them without listening.

But no means, most of all, that you are still loved. It means that your friend is hoping you hear them this time and get some help.
No means that you are not alone unless you choose that path.
No means that a crisis is at hand, and they’d rather see you control your blood pressure instead of visiting you after the stroke.

That’s what no means: I love you.

Hard message to hear. Harder still to give.

I love you. Great words and the ones that He spoke to us all.

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Three Greats On My Mind Today.

I can tell you where I was when Elvis died. James Brown – not sure, but remember being sad. Now Aretha Franklin. Never got to see any of them in person, but all three provide the soundtrack to a big part of my life. Two of the three had amazing Gospel careers. James Brown was… not a gospel singer. Man, was he ever not.

But I digress. Right now God’s got the band warming up with Elvis and Aretha doing duets later for the next 1000 years. Just a short time up there.

I just wanted to share three videos from them. Because it made me feel good.

In order of their deaths, I present Elvis, James, and Aretha.

First up, Elvis Presley with Suspicious Minds. At 2100 in Rota, Spain about 1987 we’d hear this every night from the apartment on the top floor. It wasn’t really bedtime until we’d heard Elvis.

Around that same time, James Brown was in part II of his career. He’d come roaring back with Living In America from one of the Rocky movies. I love this more than I can tell you.

Last, but by no means least, Lady Soul. Aretha had been part of my music word since I was a little kid. But she not only stole the show with this vocal performance – she outdanced everyone in the flick while wearing pink slippers. RESPECT is one of the best songs of all time. I will greatly miss her.

I hope this made you all smile. I know it made me grin.

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