Marhaban Min Janub Florida

That’s a terrible transliteration of “Hello from south Florida” from Arabic, but since most of you have never used military standard transliteration systems, I figured only a few rocks would be thrown this way.

Memory is a strange, and powerful, thing. Supposedly the sense of smell is the strongest link for most people. I don’t doubt that in the least. Today I was watching a video of a Sheriff on patrol in Ramsey County, Minnesota. His name is Bob Fletcher, and the broadcast is called Live on Patrol. (Not to be confused with On Patrol Live on the REELZ network.)

At any rate, my wife and I enjoy the show because he cruises all the places I grew up in, and where we lived for the previous 28 years. It’s like being home for a visit. I lived there most of my life, and the instant the live feed comes on I can usually tell you where he is within a block or two. I love that and it is fun to watch for us. But we’re old and boring, so there.

This day I could smell the grass as he drove around. I could tell what it smelled like by the color. Minnesota summer generates a certain odor and it’s distinct from Florida where I live now. That smell also hits me when he drives past certain restaurants I’ve walked past for decades: they each have a unique odor. It tugs at my heart more than a bit. I felt like I was run out of my birthplace early by the violence that followed the riots. It was time to leave, and watching Sheriff Fletcher on patrol tells me we made the right decision: things are not good in the Twin Cities. Ramsey county doesn’t yet circle the drain, but it will be pulled down with Minneapolis and Hennepin country before long.

So, now that I’ve covered the most common sensory/memory link, let’s talk about my top linkage: sound and memories. I think this one applies to a lot of former military linguists. Our lives, and those of others, depended on our hearing and discernment. We were very well trained listeners, and most of us got really good. We got so good, in some cases, we could tell what kind of radio they were transmitting on, what kind of vehicle it was (helicopter, tank, fighter) by background noises. All of which mattered, since most likely a tank was no threat to your submarine, but an Anti Submarine Warfare helicopter was a big deal.

Last night we didn’t feel like watching television or doing anything else but read. I pulled up a channel that played R&B from my youth, and we listened for hours. I know all of the words. Some are wrong, but I know them. And they all evoke memories. 

The number one on my list of memory shakers was STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE by the Supremes. I sat there and sang along, in Arabic, with my eyes closed.

Why Arabic? Because in 1985 I was in a basic Arabic class with a dozen of the smartest people in the military. We were unique, as our section had collected the cream of the class. And, because we were smart and strange, we used our dictionaries extensively. As a result, when we learned one of the words in that song (and I don’t remember which word) we realized we knew a bunch of the others as well. We looked up the rest. 

Within a couple of days we were ready. The instructor, who we called “Elvis from Baghdad” because of his hairstyle (he was a really good guy), walked in and we stood up and four or five of us sang the song, in Arabic, with all the hand gestures and swaying. In uniform. Camouflage, working Navy uniforms, and Marine Corps greens. 

And we killed it. He was surprised and gave us a slow clap before telling us to shut up and get to work. High praise from him. 

Well, last night after I sang along to the song, I realized I’d forgotten a few of the words. After I went to bed, my brain engaged and talked to me all night in Arabic. For starters we did the whole song in that classroom just like we did 37 years ago. All the words. And then the rest of the night I had a ton of dreams in Arabic. Vocabulary, and situations from decades ago, cascaded through the night. 

I woke up this morning smiling. All that hard work and study were not lost. It was all there waiting for me to reach out to it. 

I can still smell that room when I pause a moment: starch, cigarettes, coffee, and the warm sunshine of Monterey heating the dust on the windows. 

I like that feeling. I can only hope tonight I dream of bakeries.  


Is This A Good Time To Babble?

Just letting you all know that a major milestone kind of audio book is due out in the next two weeks. 

The name? The author? Eh, well, there’s this Non Disclosure Agreement thing I agreed to… But you’re going to love it.

What I can say is that almost 20 years ago my first major project was for a software package called Times Tables The Fun Way. Over the years it has been revised, and my voice no longer does 20+ characters in the software. That’s okay, the technology is much better. But it was an incredible experience and a great way to stretch my talent as a new voice over person.

Now, almost two decades later, I’ve done a science fiction novel that required voices. Lots of voices. Lots of different voices. And it was a great story to work with. The author had a few different ideas than I did about what people should sound like, so some revision was needed. 

But, man did it turn out to be a monster hit. With me. And the author. 

So, save your pennies and I’ll put up a post once it is available. 

Another Hit From The First Responder Reading List

You may have noticed my recent string of books. Yes, it’s been a busy summer in the studio. The latest dropped today on Audible. 

I met Rabbi Cary Friedman (the author) almost two years ago in  a training class for Navigating Adversity. We hit it off right away. His work is excellent, and I knew I had to do the audio book. 

Today that is a reality. SPIRITUAL SURVIVAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT  is now live on Audible. If you know a cop, are a cop, or care about cops this book is a great read!



The noble “calling” that once meant everything to you—has it become the burdensome “job” you can’t wait to get free of?

Have you lost your idealism?  

Do you wish you could recharge your batteries but you don’t know how?  

Would the idealistic recruit you used to be recognize the bitter, angry veteran you’ve become?

The career of policing is the most demanding there is. Cops confront situations that challenge some of their most deeply cherished notions and beliefs. A cop faces incredibly daunting tasks every second s/he wears that heavy badge. Many lose faith. They forget the ideals that brought them to the career. They no longer believe in God, in people, and, most importantly, in themselves. These challenges and disappointments are almost always spiritual in nature. 

Policing is a spiritual vocation. It’s a common phenomenon that the same families produce cops and clergy in abundance. The two careers are expressions of the same basic instinct—a desire to live for something higher, to serve an ideal, to minister to humankind, and to refine one’s character through a career of service.

Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement provides a solid, substantive foundation for nourishing the soul of the cop and replenishing his or her reservoir of idealism and spirituality. Jam-packed with exercises, tools, and insights, this is your one-stop practical guide to restoring inner peace and clarity. This book will show you how to:

  • Become emotionally and spiritually resilient
  • Understand what you truly need to heal your inner wounds
  • Find new meaning in the career
  • Rekindle your warrior spirit
  • Replace anger with peace, resentment with satisfaction

A “must-have” for all new and seasoned law enforcement officers!

Another Book In The Audio Offerings!

So, no post last week. This is because I currently have 4 books in progress. Well, make that three: Keeping It All Together: Building Resilience at Home While Serving the Community  by Dr. Renee Thornton & Rodger Ruge just went live on Audible.

Designed for the families of first responders, it’s the companion to the course NAVIGATING ADVERSITY: TACTICAL SELF-CARE FOR FIRST RESPONDERS.  

So, that leaves me with three in progress. Back to the microphone. One is done, awaiting approval by Audible. One is about 2/3 complete. The final one is in the early stages.

Thanks for your patience. I promise to keep them coming!


I Don’t Object To Rerunning A Good Post

Consequently, here is my 2017 post for Independence Day. Enjoy again.

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We celebrate our independence from Great Britain on July 4th. Big deal, right? I mean, the Brits are pretty cool. They have better bands, better medical for the poor, etc. So what.

To put this in historical perspective, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and the others all stood up and said, “Get out. Go back to England and take your tyranny with you.” Each knew they might be dead at the end of a rope for saying this, and that all their property would be forfeit to the King. They would leave their families nothing and die as traitors.

But these men, all of whom shared a vision, banded together and threw out the most powerful nation on Earth. How? Well, a lot of them had guns. The kind of guns that the opponents of the Second Amendment won’t acknowledge: privately owned guns. You see, a “well organized militia” at that time just meant that you couldn’t claim the protection of the Constitution if you were a lone jerk with a rifle shooting tax collectors for fun. Nope. But when you, and your fellow subjects, decided to become citizens and not subjects, that’s what the guns were for. Not hunting. Not even home protection. But your right to keep an oppressive government off of your back.

Recently, a very liberal friend of mine said, “I wanted to ask your opinion on this because you’re pretty anti-government.” I laughed. Then I thought about it some more. I am pretty anti-government. I like not having some jerk in city hall, or the state capital, or Washington, decide how many eggs I can eat for breakfast. Laugh if you will, but the Nanny State is already deciding how many ounces of soda you can buy in one serving. More than being anti-government, I’m anti-stupid. It’s just that the Venn Diagram of Stupid and Government overlaps almost perfectly.

Government should be far smaller than what it is now. The founders figured it would be good for collecting tariffs and organizing our defense. Not much else. Too many things are overly regulated by, and subsidized by government. The feds are the worst: they think that if it happens inside of the borders, they ought to have a piece of the action. Shall we explain federalism?

But for the Fourth, let’s go back to where it all started: individual freedom granted by God. Last time I looked, Nancy Pelosi and Orrin Hatch had about as much right to tell me where my moral compass is out of skew as Charles Manson and Ted Bundy. The second pair are better, only one is still alive. We, the American people need to vote these fossilized remnants of another age out of office. Term limits on every office. Once again, citizen legislators to represent the people, not their retirement check. Right now, the ensemble in most legislative bodies, as well as city councils, does not have the average citizen in mind when they rule.

I love this country. I have served this country. I will defend it if called upon again. I advocate no violence against any politician, but I do advocate a damned good thrashing at the ballot box in every election for every incumbent.

I leave you with a song that never fails to move me. I can still tell you where I was the very first time I heard it: University Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota outside a car dealership where I was helping my mom shop for a car. Enjoy it today, along with the freedoms so many have given their all to provide.

God Bless America.