IN THE BEGNNING

In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.  We all know where this sentence comes from.  In the past few years I have given this sentence a lot of thought.  First let me state:  I am a religious man.  I grew up in the church and (for me) know and accept Jesus is the Son of God. 

I love the National Geographic Channel.  It and Discovery channel teach me a lot and also give me a lot to think about.  I grew up from very small learning God created the universe and everything in it in 7 days.  In my human mind I was locked into the 24hr day, seven days a week thing.  Then I was exposed to the evolution theory.  How everything evolve from some single cell organism, into the complex life forms we have today.  I remember how lines were drawn and it was stated that the evolution theory was trying to disprove the Bible and such.  But what if the evolution theory has proven there really is a God?

We can’t dispute the existence of the dinosaurs.   Their bones have been preserved in the layers of ground and we know they were there, but they aren’t mentioned in the Bible – so what!  If one stops to look at the writers of the Bible, they never knew there was another part of the world, yet along how old the earth really was.  The conception of something being billions of years old, well most during this period a thought like this didn’t even compute.  It has only been since men of science have investigated, found the tools to look forward and into our past that we are beginning to understand the earth and how it was formed.  I believe God created, or allowed the development of everything.  I guess this is where faith comes into play.  How else could it start? 

I was watching a program airing on National Geographic last night about the cosmos.  I only caught the last twenty minutes or so, but it was just another proof of God.  The host of the program was making the evolution pitch as usual.  He was talking how our eyes developed from water born life forms and adapted to dry land existence.  Then he made the statement that every other evolutionist uses – spark of life.  “They” don’t know where this spark of life came from, but it happened!  When he made this statement, I found myself say, “I know where it came from”.  This is what I mean, the evolution theory gives light to the existence of God and who provided that “Spark of Life”. 

I’m not a Bible scholar and don’t even pretend to know as much as most do.  But I do have my faith.  There have been many programs about the writers of the Bible.  Who really wrote the Bible and what was selected to be in it and what was left out.  Yea, I’m talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls.  No doubt these do exist as well.  Yes they are great historical documents, but why didn’t they get into the current Bible?  “They” (that word again), say it was man who decided which writings were set in and which ones weren’t.  I guess this is the point where we Believers can come with Divine intervention.  The Bible talks about that still small voice which speaks to us and if we listed we can hear it.  I have chosen my path in life, but there are many cases where I believe I’ve received a push in a certain direction or to make a certain decision.  I guess this is the point where non-believers say it’s just chance, luck of the draw.  But if everything was left to the luck of the draw, for me, there would be some emptiness.  I feel my life has some purpose and my Faith gives me that purpose.  And for believers this purpose gives a great fulfillment to our lives.  I feel that’s what makes the sun rise so great every morning, and a feeling of completion seeing a sunset in the evenings.

I’ve seen a lot of programs debating the existence of places and events in the Bible.  Many times some of the explanations given makes some sense.  Sometimes I find myself asking where did they come up with that?  I guess this is where we must listen to that still small voice inside to help discern what is what.  In the program Who Wrote the Bible, right from the start the presenter stated his own personal belief in the Bible and his personal faith.  Yet when he presented the series he remained objective in his presentation.  Yet in the end all roads pointed back to the establishment of his faith.  I found this very interesting.  Of course one could interpret everything the other way I guess if one was so inclined.

Every civilization I can think of has had a belief in the afterlife.  This is what gives us, me a piece of mind there is something more than just this existence here on earth.  I’ve established my faith and belief in Christ and His teaching and it give a peace of mind knowing I will have something after this. So I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter who wrote the Bible, who’s trying to prove this or that.  It boils down to what we got inside and that still small voice we believe in and choose to follow.

DREAMS

We all got’em, but what do they mean, if they have a meaning at all?  Do dreams drive our lives?  Do they tell the future, or are they just a mixed up jumble of gunk running around in our subconscious mind?  I’m no expert and I’m not going to try to give any meaning of things, but just give some of those thoughts that cross my mind, and I’m guessing there are others who have thoughts on this subject as well.

There was a dream, rather a nightmare I had as a kid, several times and I still remember it today, and yet I have no idea why I had the dream or where it ever came from or why.  There was this trailer house, long and narrow.  On the side I was looking at, there were two doors, each about five feet or so from the ends.  I’d enter the left hand door and go down stairs.  It was a basement, dark, damp and cold.  My heart would begin to race and I’d get very anxious.  I had to go through the basement to get out because after I entered the door, it would disappear.  There was something in the basement, something large and was going to get me.  I never made it out as I always woke up, heart racing and head wet with sweat.  I remember having this dream several times.  After the first time, in my dream I’d remember being there, but always had to enter the house, even when I knew I didn’t want to, and I knew I’d be scared speechless when I did, but forward I went every time I started the dream.  And why,  I never came to a place like that in my life (so far).  

But mostly my dreams have been some jumbled up stupid stuff I for the most part don’t remember.  Many times right after I woke up I’d remember some dreams for a very short time, but then after an hour or so if I tried to remember them I couldn’t.  But then came a point in my life when dreams changed, and they changed my life. 

After I moved to Denmark I found myself having many dreams (and still do) about my job as a guide.  I’ve been on lots of river trips, hunting, fishing and all sorts of stuff dealing with that type of work.  Mostly what I remember so many of them are really jumbled up and crazy, but they are fun.  Sometimes I wake up and get a good laugh at what I’ve done that night.  Then there are the other type of dreams.

I’ve been deployed to Bosnia/Croatia, Kosovo and Iraq with the army.  After the deployments my dreams changed my life.  Some of my dreams have become rather graphic.  After a couple times of waking up and finding myself on my knees punching my pillow out, which scared the bejeebes out of my wife, she no longer sleeps with me.  I’ve killed people and been shot in my dreams.  I guess the scariest ones are when I can’t find my weapon.  During the times I was deployed, I was married to my weapon.  I ate with it, slept with it.   It was everywhere I was and I knew where it was all the time, right along with its buddies – ammo.  I’ve found myself waking up in the middle of the night, feeling around my bed for my weapon.  When deployed, I slept with it, always in the rack with me.    The other thing that scares the crap out of me in my dreams is I can’t make a decision.  On my deployments I was in many leadership positions and required to make decisions all the time, sometimes decisions were tough to make because if things went wrong, well there was a high price to pay. 

Dreams – I guess there are a lot of people out there who can tell me what all this means and what it means to my life.  One thing about dreams, when I wake up in the mornings, a fresh day has started.  Time to have a fresh cup of coffee, enjoy the sunrise, thank God I’m able to get my pants on and enjoy another day.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Birthdays come and go, and what do you get; another year older and deeper in debt! Yea I had a birthday and it’s gone. There was nothing spectacular, the sun still came up and went down as usual. I really stopped celebrating birthdays a long time ago. I have spent so many of them in the army somewhere on some exercise or deployed to some country, they no longer really mean much.

When I was a kid, I loved birthdays. Mom always made my favorite cake with candles and all the fixings. There were presents and when I turned 18, she even fixed a special dinner and invited some of my close friends to join. I will always remember that one as it was something special she did. As I grew older, for me, life took over and birthdays began to not mean so much. It soon became just a day to mark the passing of a year for me.

Now I’m a little older (58) and I’ve began to look at birthday in a different way. My wife and I don’t really celebrate birthdays and such, which is fine with me. But the last few years I’ve began to look at them in a different light. I use the day to do reflections of the past year and maybe look forward to the next year and maybe try to figure out what I want and where I am going.

This year as I was driving to my different customers shoeing their horses, I use that time to reflect on the past year. What did I really do? Well I got a book published: THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN. It was fun writing it, but I will say, I if I knew it was so much work, I don’t know if I would have done it. And the cost – well, I’ll guarantee I won’t quit my day job! I really don’t plan on getting rich over this writing thing. Getting published the traditional way, getting a publisher and such is very hard today as there are so many out there. I went with the self publishing bit which means I fork out all the money for the costs up front. And me, I have a limited income to work with, so I can only do so much, but hey, I got a book published and it was fun.

I also expanded my knowledge this past year by attending some farrier clinics. By this time in my career, it’s not the big things I learn, but many of the small things and tricks of the trade I learn that helps me with my job.

Between Christmas and New Years I got a new floor put in part of our upstairs. Insulation, sheetrock and new ceiling tiles were also installed later and the room looks great! I also forked out a few bucks to get a new roof over our heads. It has a 30yr guarantee, so hopefully won’t have to do that again!

I also took my annual sanity trip to Portugal. Got a friend who lives down there and when I go visit John, it is back to the basics! He has a few things lined up but there is never really a schedule. My mobile phone is non-existent. And guess what – no one has his phone number so there is only outside contact if I want it. This year I did something I never thought I’d do – I took my laptop with me. Since I got into this writing thing, I’ve found it very relaxing. Almost every day I was there I pulled it out and banged out a few words. I found being in a relaxing setting I was able to write so much better. One thing I’ve found out – I can’t write at home. Too many distractions.

This past year I lost the most best, loyal friend I’ve had in the world – Jessy my 13 ½ yr old dog. Jessy was loyal beyond loyal and I miss her very much. It was 31 August and to this day, as I leave the house to go to work, I still say good-by to her and every evening when I get back I let her know I’m back. Sounds pretty crazy, but that’s the way it is and will be. On the last day of every month I always light a candle for her.

And we also got a new addition to the family. After the loss of Jessy, Coco found her way into our lives. This little ball of fur I instantly named – The Spawn of Satan, as she earned every letter. Now she has calmed down a bit and is slowly worming her way into my life. Every morning as I get my coat on and ready to leave the house, she is right there wanting to be petted and let me know she loves me. Every evening she needs to have her play time with me and we take that quality time and really enjoy it. Any time I am home on weekend and days off, she’s got a ball in her mouth and ready to play.

So in my reflections of my past year – over all it has been a good year. Some up and some downs. But no one ever said life was always a bed of roses! It was a good birthday. One of my customers gave me some chocolate chip cookies – fantastic. Another one had some fresh baked bread with cheese – what more can a guy ask for? I’m glad I do birthday like I do. I don’t need presents and stuff, but I do like the reflections of the passing of time.

WHAT IF

This has to be the largest most important beginning to a sentence or a question – What if ?

I was listening to the radio and heard the song, “Born in the U.S.A.” If you listen to it, the song talks about a guy being sent to Vietnam, and what for? What if we’d never gotten involved? During WWII we sent medical personal there to give their leader a helping hand. We led them to believe we supported their quest for independence from the French who’d been pushed out by Japan. But low and behold after the war, we sat around and let the French creep back in and assume their colonial position. We even got talked into supporting the French, material wise until the French got their pee pee spanked and sent home packing by a backward third world county. Of course they got help from China and Russia, I’m guessing because the cold war had started and it was them against us, and hopefully a way to bring their sphere of influence to another country. Once again another country got divided north and south by the political powers and I’m guess a little monetary and head trip reasoning was involved. An event was created – Gulf of Tonkin and boom, we were there. I know Ike had sent some advisors in before and our presence was growing, but Kennedy was going to bring people home and something happened to him. In the end Vietnam became one country, but it was the everyday ground pounder who paid the price: over 56,000 U.S. killed and God only knows how long the effects of the war will infect the rest of them who served. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians paid the big price, and are still paying the price of landmines, bombs, agent orange and whatever else was used. I wonder, what if after WWII we’d lived up to the direction we were leaning at the time, told the French to take their toys and go home? Would Vietnam been more influenced by America’s actions of such or would they have gone the other way?   Now all of this thinking has got me to thinking about my war.

We were all up in arms over the World Trade Center deal. Many lives were lost, it was an attack on our soil by a rebel group, we were told was headquartered in Afghanistan. So our focus was put in this neck of the woods and we had a man hunt on but somewhere along the line we went astray. The Russians, Alexander the Great and others have given it a go in this country with no luck, so the U.S. decided they needed to give it a go. I could see going in and getting the bad guy, but after that, what happened to our focus. What if we’d stayed focused on our objective, got it done and got out? Maybe I’m just too simple minded. After all some of us only know how to grunt and point at the sky!

We were told Saddam, who we’d supported against Iran, gave him all types of weapons and abilities, was now in league with this other guy(but no evidence was ever presented). It was put so good the public got worked up good and plan and simple, we invaded another country. Now I was there from the beginning and got to see the way Saddam and his buddies were living and the way he treated his people. And I must say I felt good we got rid of him, but did it give us the right to do so? After I was in Baghdad for a while I was in position to see a few things. For some (not many Iraqi), Iraq became the land of milk and honey, while at the same time for others it was hell(mostly Iraqi) on earth. While for others it became the play ground for every radical dud who wanted to kill someone. They came from many different countries to exploit the people, religion, and try to assert their way of life on a people who really didn’t want them(I got to include the U.S. as well).

In all the above cases one thing a person has to do first before shooting me down is follow the money and power. In every case, for me it isn’t that difficult to follow the money. Even before we got into WWII, great fortunes were made by some very influential families doing business on both sides of the coin. Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan pockets have been lined and filled all in the name of freedom and advancing the “American Way”. I wonder what if ?

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

As a Drill Sergeant in the Army, I remember one time after we’d just shipped all the newly graduated Privates, I walked back into my platoon bay, sat down on a bunk and asked myself, Did I give them everything they needed to know in order to make it? All had successfully passed the end of cycle test, but there is so much more than just the test to get a successful military career started and I hoped I had. I never got to meet any Privates I had in Basic Training later on so I guess I’ll never know the answer.

Later on I was a 1st Squad Leader in my Combat Engineer platoon. I now had eight other soldiers I was directly responsible for. I was also the newest guy in the platoon, so I was the unknown factor. How was I going to present myself as a leader? Did I know my job well enough to lead these guys even though they didn’t know me? I started in and used my two team leaders to their fullest, letting them do the jobs they did and tried not to micro-manage them. I guess in doing this I was being a good leader. This and other leadership skills must have worked, because my squad ended up winning the Company wide squad competition in 12B skills that year. I felt I made a difference there.

It must have been around March 1996 and I found myself a Sergeant First Class, NCOIC of a team of soldiers living at a place called Cowboy TOC over the Sava river between Croatia and Bosnia. Our team had been regulating traffic crossing the pontoon bridge for some time, and now we had some people up from the museum in Zuponja wanting to document the crossing area. I got to talking to one of the translators and ask her how she felt with NATO being there. She told me that for at least one year she didn’t have to worry about being shot at or being shelled. They could plant their gardens and enjoy the summer evenings. I never stopped to think about it, but what difference were we making in these people’s lives, and how long would it last?

I spent six months in Kosovo in 2001 as the Senior NCO of the U.S. Nation Support Element in Pristina. During that six months I worked with many service members and civilians all belonging to the U.S. Element there. I look back at it sometimes and wonder what difference I made there?

In 2002 I went to Kiev, Ukraine and gave courses to the Ministry of Defense, General Staff. I always wondered what effect I had and if I made a difference, especially now with all the unrest and turmoil in that country now. Was what I did forgotten or was some of it put to use? Was there any long term effects or were they short term – probably never find out.

I did the Iraqi thing, departed home in January 2003 and didn’t get back until end of March 2004. With all the happenings since I was there, I wonder what difference I really made? I know in the overall picture of things, I did nothing, but down at the personal level, the people I met, what difference did I make?

Now after my military career, I got my own business traveling around shoeing horses. I meet people every day in the course of my work. I’ve also made a hobby of writing a couple books: GUIDE’S LIFE and THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN. Many asked if I sell many, well I don’t plan on quitting my day job!

Through-out my entire life, from school through adult and now I have made some difference in life. My biggest question, I guess – was the difference good or bad?

DRIVING

Well, it’s taken a while, but I finally got this driving thing figured out in relation to driving in a different country. I’ve learned it matters what time of day you drive, what you are driving, and weather will also determine what set of laws to obey. And then there are laws that apply to all the above.

Time of day is very essential to the speed limits. If you’re driving early in the morning, and there’s not much traffic, speed limits don’t apply, especially here in Denmark because the traffic police are not out that early, everyone knows that. I know this because many mornings I am on the road around 0530 or so and even though I am driving the speed limit, 90% of the vehicles pass me like I am standing still. It’s either there is an un-posted speed limit or everyone else knows your allowed 10 -20kph (kilometers per hour) over the speed limit during this time. I have not read all the Danish driving laws, but I’m just guessing all these people can’t be wrong?

Trucks have governors on so they can’t drive over 90kph on the motorways, so even on the normal highways they just do the same – go as fast as they can. I know this for sure as when I’m driving 80kph, the posted limit, trucks I see way back are soon right behind me. Now if they were driving the speed limit when I’m driving the speed limit, how can they get right behind me so fast?

Motorcycles are not held to the same laws as we are. I’ve come to learn there must be a completely separate set of laws for them. Their speed limit is – just go faster! It doesn’t matter about the posted limits anywhere. And this is all times of the day, not just morning times. Especially good weather evenings. The road in front of our house is awash in the summer time with crotch rockets winding their rpms to the max. Normally, when outside I can hear them as they top the hill about a half a mile from our house. Once topped, I hear the rpms start to wind as the gears are shifted to high. Screaming past our place I can never tell what type of bike it is because they are traveling too fast.  On the main highways it’s the same – varoom – and away they go. I mean, can all these crotch rocket riders be wrong?

One thing I’ve noticed that’s the same, no matter what country you’re in – traffic lights. We all know red means stop; green means go; and yellow means go faster! This is standard in the States and here in Denmark as well. It is nice to know that some traffic laws are the same. Holding a telephone in hand while driving, by the secret traffic laws is ok. Even though it’s preached it is illegal, I’ve come to learn it must not be. When I see the so called professional drivers (truck drivers) holding the phone up to their ear, well it must be ok. I wouldn’t think trucking companies would let their drivers do anything illegal. And I know it doesn’t apply to anyone driving farm equipment on the roads – all the time I see the right arms bent holding the phone to the ear while they drive. And I know bicycles are not covered under any type of laws. They can even have both hands busy doing the “send a text message” thing instead of controlling the bike. I’ve always wondered why I spent the money to get one of those hands free ear pieces so I don’t have to hold my phone while driving?

STOP signs are pretty much universal. There aren’t many here, but those I’ve seen and from observing the Danish drivers, I’ve come to learn they are more or less kind of like the YIELD signs. But with the STOP signs one might slow down a little more than with the YIELD signs.  YIELD signs, one pretty much takes the corner as fast as they can while keeping control of the vehicle. The STOP sign, I’ve noticed there is a definite slowing down, especially if there is a vehicle approaching from the left or right.

I have yet to see weather really effect traffic much. Fog is only dangerous if you’re driving a white vehicle. Other than that, it’s just peddle to the metal and go for it. I’ve been in fog so thick I couldn’t find my behind with both hands and yet distances between cars is never extended and speeds don’t seem to change. I’m guessing there is some sort of emergency type of system built into the roads which helps driver avoid accidents in the fog, or more and more cars are now equipped with radar! Snow and black ice do seem to have some effect, but this is only temporary. Once a vehicle has entered the traffic, there must be some sort of energy field taking over the situation because sooner or later most vehicles start to speed up. I’m guessing there is some type of energy field that is activated to effectively keep the tires of vehicles from sliding around. Boy, I wish I’d had something like this when I grew up!

So if you’re going to take a trip to Denmark and rent a vehicle, don’t worry – here you can do pretty much anything you want to do, just as long as there are no fender benders or such – so I have observed!