MY RYDER CUP

Competed in my first match play game of golf – it was fantastic. I thought being hooked on golf was something, but now I have discovered match play. This is where handicap has no play, you against the other guy, counting strokes to win a hole. Whoever wins the most holes wins the match.
I couldn’t believe how good I played, yea if I could reach around I would pat myself on the back! I believe it brought out the best play in me because I was counting not only my strokes, but his as well. My short game was almost perfect. I only really screwed up a couple long chip-ins, and one of my short chips. If I screwed up, had a bad shot, then I would start thinking, “Ok he’s a stroke ahead, where can I make it up”. I found myself focusing more on the ball when shooting, thus getting more good shots. For example: One par five was about a forty five degree bend to the right. My tee shot was way too much to the right, just about inside the trees. I looked at my opponent’s ball, he was sitting good in the middle of the fairway, crap, I was going to get a shot behind getting around the corner – unless I could go over the trees. The only problem was there was a little tree almost in my way, I looked at it and thought if I got a good shot I could make it – go for it. I got my hybrid 4, picked my direction and thought, “Watch the ball, rotate the body, now hit the ball.” I did, a good shot, I could feel the solid whack and hear the sound as well. It climbed over the trees, I watched I could see it bounce on the fairway, I did it. That was my second shot. My third shot I landed on the green, but rolled just across to the other side. Now I had about a 12-14 meter putt. My opponent hit the bunker and had to get out, now I was a stroke ahead. My putt was good, I was short, about two feet from the hole. My next shot was in – par. I won the hole all because I took the chance.
I had some bad shots as well. One hole (par 5) I duffed my tee shot, lucky enough it ran a ways, but I was only half way to my opponent’s ball. My next shot with my fairway wood I topped the ball and watched as it just went over a little rise – directly for a ditch crossing the fairway! I just knew I lost my ball. My opponent was sitting great, he took his next shot and came to help me look for my ball. He found it just about a foot below the edge of the ditch, playable but tough. I took my sand wedge, tried my best to get a good footing on the side of the ditch, whack, amazingly enough it popped out about 30 meters forward. I was relieved, he was a stroke ahead. We both got on the green. I missed, he went in. I lost the hole, but just had to putt the ball in for a finish to a bad hold.
Lots of give and take, him winning a hole, me winning it back, coming even on many holes. I won the first two holes outright. We tied the next couple. I won another couple, only first dropping a hole on the eighth. I wasn’t keeping score, and I wasn’t keeping count of how many we tied, but I was keeping track of my wins. Finally after hole 17, as he picked up after I holed my ball, he stuck out his hand and said, “Congrats, you won”. I must have looked surprised because he repeated it. I stuck out my hand and said thanks, then I remembered I screwed up – forgot to take my hat off (guys must do), so I apologized, removed my had, stuck out my hand and did it right. He then said, “Shall we play the last hole just for fun?”, of course I said, after all I have no idea when I will play this course again. So we played the last hole, not keeping track of strokes.
I know it’s not the same, but I understand how the guys playing the Ryder Cup must feel when they win a match! Yea, for me there was no crowds, no big prize (in fact it cost me to win, I had to buy his first drink), but this was my first match play game and I had WON, bringing home a win for my team. I was on cloud nine. I just wanted to jump up and down and shout to the world, but I didn’t, somehow I remained proper and respectable. Afterwards the opposing team had food ready, all I had to do was buy my opponent his first drink (their rules), I didn’t mind. This first win ranks right up there with the first deer I ever shot, the first saddle bronc I came out on, calling in a bull elk within about 10 meters. Yea, it is one for the memory books.

OLD YEAR GONE, NEW YEAR BEGINS

So I have once again successfully completed another vacation. Sitting here in the Lisbon airport with a few hours to kill is giving me time to reflect on the passed year. My year begins with the ending of my annual trip to vegetate in Portugal with John. It is a time of reflection, regeneration and just plain whatever. This year’s trip will have a little different meaning for me as when I return, the following Monday will go under the knife for a new left knee. Am I worried about it, apprehensive or scared – not really. I am just put out at myself for falling apart.
You see, my whole life I have been fit as a fiddle, able to do what I wanted, go where I wanted to go and such. Now I find myself acting like the “old” guys I used to see coming to my hunting camps when I was a guide. Or the old guys walking down the street. I used to, well not really think about them, but I would in the back of my mind, without thinking about it, run through my head – “Boy, sure glad I’m not that old guy.” I got out of bed this morning in my hotel room and looked at the person staring back at me and I almost didn’t recognize him. I just stood there for what seemed like hours (actually less than a minute) wondering how I had changed into this old gray bearded, fat guy, instead of what I used to be. I remember back so many years ago, an “old” guy once told me: If you see something is life you want to do, then do it because there will come a day when you won’t be able to, and if you didn’t, you’ll look back and say, I wish I’d have done that. Well most of my life I have always taken that chance, gone out on a limb and tried something different. I look back and I have had a good life. I have had many great opportunities and gone ahead with them – it has been fun.
I got paid to do things many people pay to do. Being a professional guide was good. It was a lot of work. I remember so many good times, fun times. There were also many long days, hard work. Times where it was cold, wet and I wondered if it was worth, but that thought only lasted about two seconds – even on a bad day (which there never really were).
Growing up I used to hear: Join the Navy – See the world. Well I joined the Army Reserve and have seen more places in the world than I ever thought I would. Yes, may times it wasn’t that great vacation place, but many times I got to visit history, to see where history was made, to walk in the steps of men who’d gone before me I had only read about
I have meet people from all over the world. This morning I had breakfast with a former princess of Russia – Anastasia ( we laughed about that one). She was a beautiful 24yr old gal living in Moscow who have been in Lisbon for an international web seminar. She came from a small island in the northern Pacific, attended university in Moscow, went to work for Microsoft, but now has her own business. Before her I shared a cup of coffee with a great young man from Spain who had also attended the same event. He was great to talk with. Having the chance to meet and talk with people from all over the world lets me expand my knowledge and vision.
But the thing I am most thankful for is the beginning I had. My brother and I were adopted, and the people who wanted us were the best in the world. I was give fantastic values and a direction in life. I had a great life where I learned as a very young kid what hard work was and to accept responsibility. I learned early life wasn’t always a bed of roses and I wouldn’t always get what I wanted, but I would have what I needed. So many times our wants out race our needs and when it come down to it, our needs are very small compared to what we really think. I also learned after I left home, two things I never ask God for – a place to say and something to eat. God provides this for the birds of the air, so I knew and have always had faith these two things would always be provided to me. I may not have always had the best place to stay, nor the fancy foods to eat, but I have never needed.
So now I begin a new year, and it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

HOW I SEE LIFE

John and I just got back from our traditional “dining out”. Once again a fantastic meal, but it is more than just the food. It is a great time for us to sit, enjoy a good house wine, superb food and no dishes to do(I always do the dishes here, but don’t ever tell my wife!!)
As we ended a fantastic meal, (all meals here begin with wine, bread and olives), John and I have had some great time for reflection. Even though we grew up in two different parts of the States, we grew up the same – same values of life. Something I have come to accept, I am a citizen of the world. In other words, I make due where ever I am.
They say home is where the heart is. Idaho will always be home for me, I will always miss the mountains, rivers, hunting, fishing, friends and family, but I also accept the fact I am where I am and there are also good things here as well.
There are no mountains in Denmark, to me hunting and fishing are way below second rate, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good things in Denmark. I have found many good things and friends there. In fact some of my friendships have let me to other countries and adventures which I would have never experienced had I not moved to Denmark.
John and I were beginning our last meal at a local place we enjoy going, not because the food is great, but the owner is always full of smiles and grace(but the food is fantastic as well). It truly shows she cares about what she serves and her customers. The food is worth waiting for(we don’t have to) and I I always insist we stop there at least a couple time when I am down.
While there we get to reminisce about army meals, those of the C-rat type. John got the earlier versions than I did, even though he was in Vietnam, he got many of the Korean war era, where I was graced with Vietnam era rats. Then I will never forget the dehydrated pork patties in the first MREs issued.
When I left Idaho it was December 1992, time stopped for me – music, TV, most everything American. To prove it, in 2013 I was driving from Nampa to Caldwell. Now I know that road is straight between, but I got lost! Half way between I didn’t recognize anything – I didn’t know where I was. Finally I came to the “out skirts” of Caldwell and I knew where I was. I was a little shocked, amazed and bewildered. I truly knew I didn’t belong there. So where do I belong?
I guess that depends on where my hat is hanging. I’ve got 25 yrs in Denmark now. Is that home – good question. I don’t consider myself Danish, I still have an American passport. When I visit John in Portugal I feel at home there as well. The first year I was here to visit, John took me down and I got a “Fiscal” number, which is kind of like a residence number. Today I wouldn’t be able to get one. But I am a planner, I never leave a stone unturned. I now have another option to my life if I so choose. I know my wife would never leave Denmark, but what if something happened to her? What would I do? Good question. In life we always need to plan for the “unforeseen” , the thing which might happen but probably won’t. If we go through life thinking everything is cut in stone we will be surprised, maybe get a rude awaking we don’t want.
I guess for me I will always be flexible, able to overcome and adapt. Almost sounds like I believe in evolution??!!

YA EVER JUST WONDER?

Do you ever wonder “Why”? Being down here in Portugal, my mind has had ample time to vegetate. I have thought back on many things – for instance: Why do we need to know how long ago and why the universe started?
On the boob tube there’s a program on the National Geographic channel I watch about this subject. “They” tells us many millions of billions of years ago all of a sudden there was this BOOM, the big bang which started the world. From what I gather there are lots of people who have been given lots of money to figure this out, but what for? Why is this information important to you or me? I mean, who could really give a rats behind how the world started?
Now I grew up in the church, I have faith in God and I believe God is responsible for the creation of the world and everything here in. In accepting this, people don’t have to spend so much money, hire so many people to figure out how the universe started, we just accept it for fact. Now if you read Genesis 1:1 and 2, King James version, it reads: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
To me this sounds like the beginning of the universe and we didn’t have to spend so much money to find this out. The thing with we people our thinking is so limited. We think in terms of time, and guess what? – God is not limited.
I wonder if the high powered guys learning about the big bang ever wondered if it was God who allowed the “big band” to create the world. Ask any of them they can’t tell you where the big bang came from. Ask any of them if they believe in Newton’s third law of Motion – For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So tell me what was the action which caused the big bang? I bet they will look at you with a blank stare, not knowing how to answer it.
I remember as a kid being taught God created the world and everything in six days and He rested on the seventh. So tell me, how long is a day to God? We really don’t know. Ya think it might be something like a hundred millions of our human years?
We can’t deny the existence of the dinosaurs, we got the bones and such to prove them and how many millions of years old are they, When the Bible was written back in those days, they didn’t know how to explain many of the things we look at today and are able to explain through science.
The other thing science can’t explain is “How did life start?”. Well it just started they will say. They will talk about the spark of life, but where did this spark come from? I like how they explain how water came to earth by comets and such, yes this is practical. I have seen how they explain how the planets were formed, water came to the earth (evolution), but where did the spark of life come from? Where did the seeds for plants come from? Here we got them stumped.
I guess what I am getting to is: the more science tries to prove the start of the universe, our planet and lives, the more they are proving God did what the Bible said he did. All you got to do is point out Newton’s third law, and ask them what caused the big bang – after all, in their own thinking, nothing just happens.

6 JUNE

In a few days it will be 6 June. Why is it special? – all the military types know and many civilians as well – Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe.
A few years ago I was privileged to do a Battle Staff Ride to the Normandy Beaches. About a month before going each of us were assigned a unit to research and their part in the battle, drew the 121st Engineers. On the ride over on the bus we watched “The Longest Day”. The next morning we were standing on Omaha beach at day break, I was not prepared for the feelings I felt.
I was standing at the low water mark and looked up the beach. It was almost flat with the dunes and banks rising high above it. My first thought was, “My God, how did these guys have the guts to cross this killing field?” As I slowly walked towards the high ground I began to look: to my left was a firing bunker, but the firing ports weren’t straight forward it was at a 45 degree angle. I looked to my right and saw another one mirroring the effect – then it hit me = interlocking, grazing fire made to kill anything in range! How anyone survived I’ll never know. As I slowly went up, the slit trenches were still there and behind were the mortars. Placed along the beaches were some bigger gun emplacements as well. I learned on the beaches, aiming stakes had been set so the mortar men, machine gunners knew exactly what their ranges were. The entire beach was dialed in. I don’t have to explain the meaning of this to any of my Grunt Brothers, I know the hair on the backs of their necks will rise just thinking of this. The soldiers landed and got bogged down, but then they broke through and we know the rest. You can read this but unless you have walked that battle field you will never understand (unless you’ve been under fire as well).
Once they secured the beached then they got funneled into killing fields of fire again when trying to breach the hedge rows. It was a killer. Walking the roads, seeing the actual remains of foxholes still there, I have no words. The average age of WWII soldiers was 26, so maybe this helped them “suck it up”, draw from within and drive on. They knew they would die, but someone had to.
I have no doubt about the will and intestinal fortitude of our soldiers today, I’ve seen what they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan if let along to do the jobs they are trained to do and not restrained by our political leaders who sit on their soft chairs thousands of miles away.
Sometimes I look at our systems and think we got it all wrong. Our leaders should be military and they should be right out in front leading the men into battle. War has gotten too far away. Yea we think it is something when a guy can sit behind a joy stick in the western U.S. and kill bad guys half away around the world. I wonder how politics would be if war was once again close up and personal? If our elected officials were also required to be out front – There would be no need of term limits for Congressmen then, most would pull out in a flash.
Anyway I want to salute all my Brother Grunts who led the charge across those flat sands into the certain death many received. As I walked the green grass dotted with white stone in the cemetery above the beaches I could only look and read names.
The table is set and I raise my glass – SALUTE!

NEVER TOO LATE

This has been the story of my life – the things I want to do or enjoy have always come later in life. I guess through it all I have learned it is never too late to do something.
I wanted to join the army and fly, but 1 December, 1974 put a stop to that – I took a ricochet from a pistol in my right eye ending my flying and delaying my military career until late in life – age 26. By this time most guys have enlisted and completed eight or nine years. When I went to basic training I was called “old man” as I was the oldest in my platoon. Yet even with the late start and not getting to do what I really wanted to do I managed to have a Reserve career spanning over 22 years and I achieved the rank of Sergeants Major and now enjoy a retirement. In a way I felt a little left out as I already had a civilian career under way, but I was privileged to serve my country and contribute as I feel everyone should.
I’d been married and got divorced in 1984. After living in Pasco, Washington for a year, I moved back to Idaho and somehow got into riding saddle bronc. Here I am in my late twenties starting something which is a young man’s game (much younger than me). At my age most rough stock riders are in the second half of their career. I had a ball. I traveled to central Oregon, Northern Nevada, and many rodeos in Idaho. I didn’t make any money, but one thing I can tell you – there is nothing like coming out of the chute on that eight second ride!
I was around 30yrs old when my brother and I took a hunting trip with our horses in to the Salmon River Wilderness area in Central Idaho. While there I got offered a job as a guide and packer. On our way out my brother asked me, “You’re going to take that job aren’t you?” I replied, “You bet, this job has been offered to me and it is one most guys would give their right arm to do. Lots of guys pay to go to guide schools to get a job”. So began another episode in my life – professional guide/packer. I will have to say it was the best time of my life, so good I wrote a book about it.
Low and behold at age 36 I up and move to Denmark, half way around the world. The clincher to my move was there was an Army Reserve Command in Germany so I didn’t have to give up my long range goal of a military retirement. So here I planted roots and started a business as a farrier. Late in life I am beginning all over again. It was hard work and there were also hard times but I stayed with it and soon was able to enjoy a nice life.
My job in the army was infantry, but my war didn’t come until the end of my career. I was in year 19 when I answered the call to war. In 2003 I deployed and wouldn’t get back home for about 14 months. The worst part was I didn’t get to do what I was trained to do. I would have rather been in an infantry unit up front fighting the enemy, yet I ended up in the rear as the Rear G3 Sergeants Major of V Corps, doing a job we combat arms guys always detest, but I did my job to the best of my ability. After I moved up to Baghdad, I made contacts with an infantry platoon and was able to go out on night patrol with one of their squads. It was great, just being one of the guys, not in charge of anything, just taking care of my sector. I was out with these guys every chance I got, at minimum once a week. At age 47 I was finally getting to do what I was trained to do and enjoyed every minute.
So now I reach another late in life challenge – farrier competition. Last year I got talked into going to Las Vegas to attend the final for the World Championship of Blacksmiths. I entered the novice class, at first did I feel stupid – an old guy in this class with a bunch of young farriers, but no one said anything about it. I had a great time. I told a friend of mine I wanted to go back again this coming December so he said he would help me. I am not the best at forging. I can make shoes I need for the horses I work on, but for competition it takes lots of practice, practice. I got problems with my shoulders and arms, but it is fun and I am going to do it. I have just entered another competition in June, so I am pounding iron. Again I am entered in a lower class and will find myself against lots of younger farriers. I am having a good time and figure if I don’t do it now I may not have another chance.
We only go through life one time. If I’d put off things because I was too old, I would have missed out on so many good times in life. Yea, many times it is late in life, but at least I gave it a shot and had fun. After all, what is life if we don’t have some fun?

CHOICES AND LIFE

This morning I was watching National Geographic channel. They have a program called “Brain Games”. In this program they talk a lot about how our brain works and how we think it works – very interesting show. It got me to thinking about the choices I’ve made in life.
The other day I stopped to get a cup of coffee. When I went to pay for it, I noticed some rolls, I could buy one for a price, but I could buy 3 for another price. Well I only wanted two, so told the guy I wanted two. He then said I could get 3 for a better price. I looked at him and said I only want 2. After watching a couple episodes of “Brain Games” I’ve begun to wonder how merchants use our brains to influence us in how we buy things.
When we make a decision is it a snap decision or do we put some thought into it? According to the show, our brain tries to made logical decisions for us when we made snap choice. I don’t understand it all, but I do see the reasoning behind it. When we made a snap choice we then go into the mode of justifying the choice – better price, better deal, we need it, so on and so forth. After a period of time from making a snap choice, do you ever look at the choice and wonder was it the right choice? I have. I wonder, many times if we took a little more time to weigh out our options would we make the choices we do?
I see this with advertising as well. I’ve seen adds about borrowing money, you can get a quick loan approved within minutes, but did you get a chance to read all the fine print posted along with the add – of course not. They make the print small enough and it goes fast enough most normal people have no chance to read it and then some poor sucker gets one of these loans and gets stuck!
I am also a believer in God and if we ask He will help guide us in the choices we make. I am not saying He makes the choices for us, but I wonder if He gives us the little more logic to look at a situation and determine how to tackle the problem, buy the object, do the job? We are creatures of free will and choice. If I said I have made all the right choices in life you all would know I am a liar and blow this off. Of course I have made bad choices. But by making the bad choices I have learned the effects and also learned how to look at a situation much better. I wonder if this is the way God had helped guide me, by expanding my brain, giving me a little more reasoning and deduction of a situation. In my life’s experience I don’t ever remember important choices being done fast, it took some pondering and weighing out what I thought would be the results of my choices.
What is amazing is to look back over time and see how a choice has affects one’s life. I made the choice to become a guide for and outfitter in the Salmon River Wilderness Area in Idaho. It wasn’t a quick choice, I had a horseback ride to think it over, that along with some advice I’d received from an old guy. Putting the two together I made my choice and never been sorry about it.
Looking back over my life there’s been many forks in my road of life and thus far I can say the choices have been pretty good. Yea, I had those learning times where I know not to make choices like those again, but over all things have turned out pretty good.
If I can give you a piece of advice it would be: Keep in touch with God and ask His guidance, He won’t solve all your problems, but He will give you the choices to choose from, let you see things more clearly, it is up to you to make the right choice. If you don’t believe, well take that extra time to think about things. Just remember there are a lot of people out there who want to separate you from your money, influence you to do things, make things, or buy things that will advance their cause no matter the effects it has on you!

GROWING OLDER AND LOOKING BACK

This year I turn 60yrs old.  Many out there will scoff and say, “Hey your just a youngster.”, true, but it is a milestone in my life.  It’s also the first time in my life I’ve stopped and thought about getting old.  I guess the reason it hit me so hard was the fact I had to turn in my paper work to collect my Army Reserve pension.  As I was doing this it really stuck to me – PENSION!  I’d put in over 20yrs service in the Army Reserve to earn this right.  It was one of my long term goals.  Even when I got my 20yr letter stating I now qualified for a pension at 60yrs, it never really struck me as 60yrs old was still a long way away – lots of water under the bridge.  Now I’m finally crossing that bridge!

Growing up time was something I had lots of.  When going to school I remember the three months summer vacations.  Yea I worked most of the time, but there was always time for baseball, tennis, swimming, fishing, camping and a host of other things.  It was almost endless and as school time rolled around again in the fall I was ready for it again.  Then I advance to the grown up world.

I landed my first “real” job as a truck mechanic at J.R. Simplot company working the night shift.   Now I had to knuckle down to work schedule, but it was ok.  My Dad had taught me well the ethics of work and I’d somehow “learned how to work”.  It wasn’t just learning the job, but the self discipline, desire, responsibility and much more my Dad taught me.  These lessons have stayed with me all my life and all I can say is THANKS.  Even at this job I had plenty of time.  I’d bought my first car – ’69 Camero and a really nice Honda 750 (4) motorcycle.  I had wheels for every season and they got used!

My 20s slid by.  I got married and divorced, I’d landed a few jobs and got experience in many fields.  Then the dream job was bless upon me – professional guide.  I worked this job until I was 36 and moved to Denmark.  These years I look back upon as my golden years.  I was blessed to work, live and do what so many people only dream about.

I remember turning 30yrs old.  I’d always heard 30, wow, this was really the age.  As the day rolled around I waited – nothing really happened.  I felt no different, life didn’t change, but I did notice as I was planning things, time seemed to pick up a bit.  The back country really had an effect on time.  I’d be up working and I’d have to stop and count how many day’s I’d been there, think about which day I’d started up.  Days of the week really had no meaning.  All I had to do is remember the trip was so many days and just count.  As far as time went, I never carried a watch (still don’t).  My life was so in tune with nature I could look at the sun and tell you just about what time of day it was.  The sun came up and went down, that’s how I tracked time.

40yrs old rolled around and I found myself deployed on Operation Joint Endeavor – or Bosnia and many of you will remember (Dec 95 – Sep 96).  I’ll never forget my 40th birthday, I was looking over the Sava River running between Croatia and Bosnia.  My team, I say “my” as I was the Senior NCO of a team at Cowboy TOC.  We did the command and control for every vehicle crossing the river to and from Bosnia.  Not only did I do my share of the daily work, but I was also responsible for the health and welfare of the entire team.  Being deployed was different.   Sometimes time moved fast and other days time moved real slow.

50yrs old came.  That year I spent my birthday as a friend’s house.  He, like me was a farrier and we were getting ready to take our qualification test.  I spent the day helping him train for making shoes.  We had certain types of shoes to make and they had to be a specific size as well.  I never told him it was my birthday as it wasn’t important.  The important thing was I helped him train for his test which he passed!  A while later it was my turn to take the test and I passed mine as well.  But it was a little strange, time seemed to slip by faster now.  I’d find myself trying to juggle my work schedule to keep all my customers happy.  I’d look back and think – “I’ve been in Denmark this long?”.  It just didn’t seem possible.  It only seemed like last year I’d been working as a professional guide, but that was 14 years ago!  How could time have passed so fast.

April I will be 60yrs old and time is completely out of control!  There is no time any more.  Many times it seems like a day just started and I look at the clock in my van and it’s the end of the day – where did it go?  This past January/February I took a trip home.  I saw many people I hadn’t seen in years.  As I’d leave their place I’d think to myself, “Boy so-n-so looks old”  But then I got to thinking, “I wonder if they are saying that about me?” – I bet they did.  I’ve had time to look back at some of the things in life I’ve had a chance to do and did:  I dabbled in rodeo, saddle bronc and had a great time; drove truck for a while and got to see some country; road motorcycle all around the northwest and a few other parts and it was fun;  one winter and spring I rode a Honda CR250 playing on the flat track.  I completed over 22yrs with the Army Reserve and reached the rank of Sergeants Major – to include three deployments and assignments in many different countries.  I’ve traveled Europe and got a friend I visit every year in Portugal.  I’ve become an experienced train traveler and enjoyed the benefits.  I’ve experienced life, seen death.  I’ve been so scared that even years later it still stays with me.  I’ve been shot at, mortared, missed having my life taken by a thread.  I’ve experienced the best of people and seen the worst humans have to offer.  Much of this I’ve written about in my two book – GUIDE’S LIFE and  THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN.  Oh yea, almost forgot, I’m a published author (not famous and haven’t quite my day job).  I look at the friends I’ve made and to all of you – THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR GIVING OF YOURSELVES TO ME.  I just hope I’ve been able to a friend to you as well.

My life’s road has had many “Ts”, “Ys”, turns and ruts.  I’ve run into some dead ends, but never gave up.  An old guy many moons ago told me, “If there’s something in life you have a chance to do, do it.  Because there will come a time when you won’t have that chance and if you didn’t take it, you’ll look back and say – Gee, I wish I’d have done that!”  With this advice and the grace of God I’ve had a great life.  I’m on the downhill side now and still looking forward to it.  The only regret I have is I still can’t control that darn thing called TIME!

MY EVOLUTION

I was on the internet forum this morning and one of the subjects appearing asked the question: What do you prefer – 32 bit or 64 bit operating system? I never responded to the question as I’m not a geek. My first thought was, “Who cares as long as when I turn it on, it works!” After I drove out this morning I got to thinking about my evolution in computers. I had to stop and think back to the first time I saw a computer up live.
In the early ’80s I had a friend who was going on vacation and asked if I could “baby sit” his computer as he didn’t want to leave it at home while gone, so I said OK. He brought it over, set it up and showed me out to start it. If I remember right, it had to start in the DOS mode. It had two games on it he showed me how to play – Star Trek and asteroids. While it was at my house I turned it on a few times and played a couple rounds, but it wasn’t as exciting to me as reloading, tanning hides and such, so it mainly just took up space. I didn’t have to feed it, water it, clean up after it, so was a fairly easy babysitting job! It wasn’t until many moons later I really got introduced to computers.
I’d moved to Denmark and transferred to the 7th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM). Since there were no combat units, I was put into a headquarters type unit, completely foreign to this guy. In this unit I was around computers, saw people working them, but my job didn’t call for me to use one, so I stuck to the good old fashion maps with icons! Slowly but surely I got sucked into the computer operator mode as I worked night shift and needed to input and extract data. Ok it was basic and I kind of learned. That all changed in 1994 when I went to work at the V Corps HQ Emergency Action Center (EAC) in Frankfurt, Ge. This was during the Rwanda deal. I’ll never forget my first shift. I was the night shift NCOIC. As I was coming on duty, the day shift Operations Officer, a Major came to me, handed me a 3.5 disk and said, “SSG Dawson, you need to get this power point presentation updated for my 0800 briefing.” “Yes Sir” I replied as he handed me the disk and walked off. I must have had that lost puppy look on my face because a Specialists 4, sitting in front of a computer looked at me, “SSG Dawson, don’t worry, I can do that.” I looked back at him and told him ok, tonight, but during our slow time he was going to give me computer lessons so I could do my job. I found out power point was a lot more difficult than setting explosives to blow a bridge(piece of cake for me). So during the next few months I was there I learned “computer language”. I wasn’t fluent, just good enough to stay afloat. Right then I realized I needed to get one and start learning for real. When I got home I told the wife we needed to get one. She couldn’t see why we needed one and was against it, but we ended up at a store looking and soon purchased our first computer – the latest, greatest, fastest model on the market: 256 mega-bite hard drive with a 4 mega-bite ram. I soon purchased an additional 4 mega-bites of ram and I was in business. You know what the best part of this computer was – it came with the Windows 3.0 system disks so I could reload the system after I crashed the computer (which I did several times)! I can remember having to reload the system twice in a single day!!
I needed to get use to using it, so I decided to write something – that’s how the book GUIDE’S LIFE was born. I just needed to use it, but at home there wasn’t much use, so I wrote because back then all my life as a professional guide was still very fresh in my memory!
Well life evolved. A couple years later I got called into V Corps to work with some of their planners. They were developing a terrain management program which would greatly assist my work, and as I’d developed extensive knowledge in this area I assisted them in developing a program. I have no idea where it went after I moved on.
By now I’d been promoted to Master Sergeant (MSG) and was the NCOIC of the 317th RAOC. The 7th ARCOM saw fit to issue me a laptop computer with portable color printer! So now I carried this back and forth every month to drill. While at home, we didn’t have the internet, so I’d make a collect call to the ARCOM HQ, then they’d call me back with the phone line connection. It was great (very slow compared to now), I could communicate with my commander, get e-mail and such. Soon I told the wife we needed to get the internet. Again, it was “What do we need that for?” She was totally against it, but we did. By now our PC had increased as well. After I got online and our PC up to speed, I no longer carried the laptop, I’d carry those 3.5 discs .
Windows advanced and so did I. I no longer crashed the complete program. I somehow learned to operate the thing. After we got the internet connection it took a while for the wife to get on it. Soon I’d never have a peaceful evening – it was always “Mike, can you come in here?” She was going through her own growing pains, but she got it. Now you ought to hear the fur fly when there’s no internet, the computer doesn’t work right or something. She also discovered “shop on line”! She couldn’t live without it!
After I retired from the military I found my “productive” use of the computer dropped. I can go a whole day without it I don’t care, except for my work, I do like it for my bookkeeping program and it’s been great in my new found writing career. What is the one thing I’m most happy with about a computer? The fact Mrs. Mills taught me to type in high school!!

4th OF JULY: REFLECTIONS

Today we celebrate the 239th birthday of my homeland, our great nation. Here where I am there is no celebration because it’s just another day, a Saturday. As I head out to shoe a couple horses my mind is spinning about 4th of Julys past.

It’s 0530 in the morning. A year ago I was sitting on the back deck of Delbert Douty’s house in Greenleaf, Idaho having a cup of coffee watching the day begin. Del has it great! His house is sitting on the rim overlooking the valley, facing east to see it all. It was a nice morning, still dark but one could almost make out the faint signs that the sun was going to muster its way over the mountains. Del had a pot of coffee already done by the time I enter his house so I headed for the cupboard, grabbed a cup and filled it. Del was already out on the deck so I pulled up a chair. We talked a bit, but mostly we watched the morning begin. We also listened to the morning sounds, the sounds of the day coming alive. I’d been at Del’s place for 2 days and each morning we’d celebrated the birth of a new day the same way. One thing that stood out was the lone, long train whistle as the morning freight train was moving east towards Caldwell. Even though the train was across the valley, in the crisp morning air it was fantastic. You can’t imagine the memories that sound brought back. Thanks Del for the memories and the sour dough pancakes for breakfast!

The reason I was at Del’s place is my graduation class planned their 40th class reunion for the 4th of July as Greenleaf always has a big blow out. I went to the breakfast and Larry showed up as well. We had a great talk as brother do. Soon people from Greenleaf, ones I hadn’t seen in 40 years started to come and we had a great time. After the breakfast was the parade and our class members road on a float driven by David and it was great! After the parade we were back at the lawn between the Church and School for the 4th Celebration. As I was walking to a booth where my books were being displayed, I saw a Marine Corps Color Guard and tears came to my eyes. I walked over to them, shook each of their hands and thanked them for taking the time to come. I’d retired from the military and it had been almost 10 years since I’d seen the Colors presented in person. As the ceremony began everyone came to their feet, the Color Guard posted and the National Anthem was sung. For me to be able to stand at attention and render a hand salute to my nation, well to this day I can’t express what I felt. This had to be the top of all 4th of Julys I’ve experienced.

Growing up, 4th of July was special. In preparing for it, the day before Dad would get a case of soda pop (in the bottles of course), orange, grape, root beer were some of the favorites. Chores were done, but after that the day was mostly free. The swimming pool was cool and filled. But the best part was Mom’s homemade ice cream! Larry and I’d get the ice cream machine out, cleaned it, get the ice out of the freezer and get it smashed into small pieces. Once we were ready, Mom would come out with the cylinder of her home made mix which we never knew what kind she’d made. Was it strawberry, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, we’d know when it was done. Once in was in the ice cream machine, we’d pack ice and salt all around the cylinder, put a gunny sack on top to sit on and while I was sitting on it, Larry would start turning the crank. When he’d get tired, we’d switch. The one sitting on top was also responsible for keeping the water drain hole near the top open so the salt water could run out. If not, the ice cream would be salty! Once it was done, Mom would come out and pull the center out. She’d always leave a little on the paddles for Larry and I to have just a little taste! One of our fresh farm raised chickens was fried for dinner along with potato salad, new peas and potatoes and our 4th of July meal was complete! Then in the evening we’d load up in the old ’54 Ford car and go to town to watch the fireworks.

2001 I was deployed to Kosovo as the Senior NCO of the U.S. National Support Element in Pristina, Kosovo which was NATO Headquarters. Being a Sergeants Major I was also the Senior NCO of all U.S. Forces assigned there, so I also ended up briefing an American General almost daily on things. After the Norwegians had a big party celebrating their national day, the General came to me and said, “SGM, I want you to plan a traditional 4th of July BBQ to feed the entire camp. And it would be nice to have some entertainment like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders here.” So it was in May I began planning the event. The complete story is in my book “GUIDE’S LIFE”, so I won’t ruin the story, but I will say it made the most memorable list!

Living outside the United States had really made me appreciate more what our country was founded for. I have to ask permission from the police to fly my flag – think about that! The values, traditions, freedoms and way of life are like none other in the world! I’ve traveled to 23 different countries and believe me, what the United States has is not to be found anywhere else! It really hurts me to see all the strife and problems in our country today. I wonder, what would happen if everyone would stop thinking of themselves and begin to think of others? So many are trying to live in the past and not look forward to the future. If more time was put to helping others instead of dragging up old wounds and continuing to think they are owed something because of the past, then progress would be made. In the recent past I’ve see more racial tensions being hacked about and stirred up by the race baiters and those who in my opinion don’t love the United States. There are many who can see what these people are trying to do and have made a stand, but it’s going to take many more of us to do so.

I think maybe we all need to take a step back and forget about ourselves and start thinking of our fellow Americans. No one is perfect and our Country isn’t perfect, but it’s done pretty good so far. There are a lot of people in the United States who aren’t happy, who want everything changed. If you’re not happy with the values, freedoms, traditions, way of life we have in the United States, then why not move somewhere else? I really wish all the race baiters, trouble makers would move to another country and live for a while. It might make them appreciate more what we have. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

So this 4th of July I’ll celebrate it in my own little piece of America. I got some ribs to slap on the grill and give a little reflection on the past and say a prayer for the future.